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Anyone any thoughts on who's job this might be in 197AD??

Say the friend / relative has vanished from his usual haunts and is living quietly, but is not actually going into exile outside the Empire.  Would anyone come looking for him?



( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
28th Nov, 2014 11:32 (UTC)
There were spies during that period. Your character could be what we would nowadays call a mercenary - an opportunist looking to curry favour with the Emperor, or he could be someone who is obligated to serve the Emperor. He could either be a Patrician seeking to protect his family, being blackmailed, or he could be a slave sent with orders.

He could also be a she, by the way, though it would be safer for a man to travel. A woman would be unlikely to risk going in search of someone by herself, for fear of rape and kidnap.

I would suggest a man with some military background. Depending on whether you want a conflicted hero or a villain, he could be someone blackmailed to protect his family, or someone ambitious seeking to climb the social ladder. A slave would have different conflicts of course - his master would have to trust him implicitly to send him alone, lest he think of escaping. But he might well be tempted to flee.

So, your choices:

Mercenary - doesn't have to be a Roman citizen. Could be someone who has chosen to be a professional spy.
Blackmail victim - probably Patrician.
Social Climber - Patrician or Plebeian. Different motives and backgrounds for each.
Slave. Not necessarily Roman - any ethnicity or original background is possible, but must be trusted by his master.

If you do go for a woman, either have her travelling with a protector, or make her a convincing cross-dresser.
28th Nov, 2014 11:34 (UTC)
Oh... and also you could have a vengeful member of the family who has been betrayed taking matters into their own hands and going out on their own initiative. A friend, lover, spouse, brother, sister, son or daughter.
28th Nov, 2014 19:11 (UTC)
Hey - thank you so much for all the detailed thoughts, that's really helpful!

The traitor in question was a Patrician supporter of a rival Emperor, Clodius Albinus, who was beaten by the emperor Septimius Severus at the battle of Lugdunum. Severus is now in charge, Albinus is dead, and Severus is rooting out his supporters.

So military background for the hunter definitely makes sense. I had been thinking vaguely that he would be an out and out villain, but I like the idea that he might himself be under pressure and feeling conflicted. Probably not blackmail victim, but social climber or mercenary-type... Hmm!
28th Nov, 2014 19:13 (UTC)
Ooh, awesome. And I always like it when you get a villain you can sympathise with. When you've written this, I hope you promote it so I can get to read it somewhere.
29th Nov, 2014 16:48 (UTC)
I fear this villain may not make it to the end of the story, but that just adds to the angst!
29th Nov, 2014 16:51 (UTC)
Oh, definitely. I've killed sympathetic villains before, and it's always interesting to give the hero something to feel bad about. I had a hero who had to kill someone who had been conspiring to murder him, and destroy his deep cover in the Mob - caused him trauma for the whole rest of the book, because he had considered him a friend. Go, kill your villain! Make your readers weep for him. Scar your hero. Sounds really good.
29th Nov, 2014 07:26 (UTC)
Possibly also someone like William Munny, the protagonist in Unforgiven- he doen't want to do it, but he has a family to feed.
29th Nov, 2014 16:49 (UTC)
Ooooh, I am not sure I could do that. This gentleman may not make it to the end of the story, I don't think I can bring myself to give him starving orphans!
29th Nov, 2014 17:17 (UTC)
Yes, he was a really well realised character. Now I want to watch the film again!
(Deleted comment)
29th Nov, 2014 16:43 (UTC)
Hmmm, thanks - I'll look that up. I guess the key question is how *much* military, and what sort.
(Deleted comment)
7th Dec, 2014 21:05 (UTC)
Sorry, I should have made it clearer that I wasn't demanding you drop everything and supply more info!

I went and read the bit in Tacitus that you suggested, and that led me to what seemed like a similarly relevant bit in Cassius Dio, and that was very helpful.

My traitor is not a senator himself, but a senior member of a provincial governor's staff - I think probably a broad stripe tribune or someone of that sort of level. He supported his governor's bid to become Emperor and they got defeated in battle: now the victorious Emperor is wiping out his surviving family. I think a centurion is about the right person to be leading that campaign.

EVERYONE seems to be vague once you get much after the 1st century! It's amazing how much stuff there isn't for the 2nd and early third centuries. I guess surviving/maintaining empires are less Memorable (in the 1066 sense) than expanding/developing ones.

(Deleted comment)
8th Dec, 2014 19:10 (UTC)
I love lack of sources. Many sources make me itch. :-D

I was never that into Romans, for I erroneously considered them too well documented. Only in recent years have I realised how delightfully minimal is the evidence for the second century onward.
29th Nov, 2014 17:53 (UTC)
Marcus Didius Falco's descendants?
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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