Thomas Brooke - Roman MaskDear readers, tonight with me in a man who witnessed one of the Roman Empire’s most iconic events. He is here to tell us about some of the wonders to be found across the Empire, and of its leading men and women.


What is Germany really like? Are the people there really as tall as the legends say?

Germany is awful.  No, really it is.  The lands are mainly covered in dark, thick forests that are often shrouded in mist, so finding your way through the impenetrable maze of woodland is all but impossible.  You don’t ever want to get lost in the woods there, trust me.  What isn’t forested, tends to be covered in bogs, or stony fields unsuited for anything but the basest of crops.  Their winters are so cold, with a harsh wind that comes in from the East, that you’re likely to freeze to death unless you find shelter come nightfall.

But worst of all are the people.  The German tribes are made up of a variety of warlike people all full of giant muscle bound warriors, with blonde or red hair, and fierce cold pale eyes that bore through you with hatred and malice.  Their women are almost as bad, often following their men to the battlefield to hurl insults and spit anger at their enemies from behind the lines.

What is life on campaign like, for a young tribune of the soldiers?

I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.  I once was a great soldier, there were few better.  I was highly regarded by the men, a veteran of countless campaigns in Syria and Germany.  That all changed one night in Germany, when I was forced to hold the Western-Gate Pass with only a cohort of men under my command.  It was a terrible night, and I have never quite been the same since.

What is Livia like? Have you met Augustus himself?

I have only met Augustus once, and despite his slight frame and ageing visage, you’re instantly struck by the power that emanates through him.  You know instantly you’re in the presence of someone whose every decision may change the fate of nations, and that same burden he manages as lightly as you or I do deciding what to wear each day.

Livia I know better, although not through choice.  It was Livia who directed me to leave for Germany, as she gave me an offer I really couldn’t turn down. Well, not if I had wanted to live to see the next day.  She made it very clear in her own special way, that refusal wasn’t an option.  She is not a woman to cross.

What is the most decadent party you have been to in Rome?

Any party hosted by my friend Seneca, who makes sure he only ever invites people just the wrong side of respectability.  Not only is the un-watered wine always flowing, he is known at times to spike it with the infamous Spanish fly, the iridescent green insect that is known to be a powerful aphrodisiac when crushed and added to food or wine.  His parties have been known to go on for days, and the Spanish fly ensures that events are frequently scandalous.  It is best that I don’t repeat all that happens behind those doors, as some very influential people have been known to attend.

It was at one of his parties that I met my ex-lover Tita, although in hindsight, that probably wasn’t one of my smartest moves.

Why do you say that? And why is she your ex-lover?

I saw her sneaking into the chambers to of a gladiator, to bed him the night before his next bout.  I know this is a practice that has become more common of late, but even if her husband could turn a blind eye to such behaviour, I couldn’t bring myself to.

What does the future hold for you?

I have no idea.  The last time I was in Germany, I swore never to return but that never turned out too well.  It is a large Empire, with many lands and people, who knows where I’ll turn up next?

If you were exiled beyond the empire, what would you miss the most about Rome?

Rome is a city of wonders and sophistication, which is un-paralleled as a centre of culture and civilisation.  However, it is the seedier aspects of the city that I’d miss the most.  I often travel the back-streets late at night, with no outward sign of my rank or position, among the bustle of the evening entertainments.   I’m not the only one who enjoys this, I hear even Augustus has been known to do it from time to time, hidden under a cowl so no one recognises his face.  I hear he especially enjoys watching street brawls!

Thomas Brooke lives in London where he works in the exciting, and sometimes crazy, fashion world. You can find Cassius on the pages of Roman Mask

Next week we will host a dynamic duo, an army commander straight out of the sandy deserts and his weather magician lover. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right), via Twitter or like our Facebook page to be notified when the next interview is posted.