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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the protagonists of your favourite books

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Ancient Rome

Thrasius (of Feast of Sorrow, by Crystal King)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a man, working in a profession we do not normally come across. He’s a former slave, originally bought as a cook.

However, he found himself the cook of none other than the Roman empire’s most notorious gourmand, Apicius. As anyone who have met Felix and me know, we are forever indebted to that great man, for relentlessly documenting the ancient cuisine we all know and love.

This makes this interview one of the most anticipated on our little blog, as the interviewer is a big fan of the interviewee.

Without further ado, let us have Thrasius tell us about his life.


Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

My very early childhood was in Greece. I was a twin, born to a slave woman who died in childbirth and whose name I never knew. My sister and I were raised by another slave in a respected house in Pompeii until we were four. When that patrician died, the household slaves were willed to several different relatives and we were separated. I never knew what happened to her. I barely remember anything about her, except her name, Thecla. I was lucky and my master saw that I was smart and had me taught to read and write from a very young age. I think he thought I might eventually become a scribe.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

One of the slaves in the household where I grew up carved some wooden animals for me. I played with them often and even back then I think my true colors as a cook were showing through. I often would pretend to capture and slaughter the animals, then take them home and roast them over the fire.

What do you do now?

I am a freedman working in the household of Marcus Gavius Apicius, one of the wealthiest men in Rome. I began my time in his household as a cook but eventually have become one of his most trusted advisors. My duties are wide. I do have a secondo, what would you say—a sous chef? But I am generally responsible for every dish in the kitchen, overseeing all the banquets, for managing the extensive guest lists and advising my master who should be invited; and I also am in charge of the Apicius School of Cooking. Continue reading “Thrasius (of Feast of Sorrow, by Crystal King)”

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Aurelia Mitela (of Aurelia by Alison Morton)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a woman from Roma Nova, the sole remnant of the Roman Empire to survive into the 20th century.

A former Praetorian, she is sent to investigate who is smuggling silver – Roma Nova’s lifeblood. Mysterious smugglers, lethal traps, gang bosses, and back-stabbing countrymen are only the beginning.

She is here to tell us about her thrilling adventures.


Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

Roma Nova? It’s in my blood and bones. Mountains, a big river, alpine pastures, vines, olives and grain fields, the smell of pines, the blue skies and the snowfields to the north, towards New Austria and west to the Italian Confederation. Then there’s Roma Nova city, the ‘urbs’. Gods, it’s beautiful; marble forum, statues, temples – our new Rome. Well, (grins) new since AD 395! Oh, and for my first adventure, it’s the late 1960s.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

I loved my first gladius. Our estate carpenter out at Castra Lucilla made it for me. She polished and polished the oak until it almost shone like metal. Maybe that’s why I was so keen to become a soldier. I spent a lot of time at the farm as a youngster as my mother was busy as senator and the imperatrix’s advisor as well as running her businesses. I swam in the lake, rode, helped with the lambing and grape picking as long as I finished my schoolwork, and sometimes not. Continue reading “Aurelia Mitela (of Aurelia by Alison Morton)”

Hannah Valerius (of Hannah’s Heirloom Trilogy by Rosie Chapel)

the-pomegrante-tree-rosie-chapelDear readers, tonight with me are, in a way, two women named Hannah. The modern Hannah, while on an archaeological expedition to Masada, started to see the life of the ancient Hannah Bat Avigail – a woman straight out of biblical times. Hannah saw the Great Revolt of Masada, saw the life of the times, and even fell for a Roman legionary.

She is here to tell us about life in ancient Israel.

 

 

Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

I grew up in Jerusalem; it’s a huge city and used to be very cosmopolitan – now I’m not so sure, I expect much has changed. Of course, it was my home and all I knew; families looked out for each other and it was a very happy community. Unfortunately, tension replaced concord, political unrest led to violent clashes between pro and anti Roman supporters and my beautiful city descended into chaos.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

Toys! Ha! I never played with toys, not sure we even had any in our house. If I wasn’t outside playing with my brother and his friends, I was helping my uncle in his surgery; he was a great physician you know. Far more interesting than toys! My mother would have preferred me to be more feminine — pah! Who wants that? Certainly not I – give me the sick and injured over girlish games any day.

Cherished memories? Ahh, well that’s a bit difficult. Oh dear, how can I explain this? Okay, here goes – I have a descendant, also called Hannah, whose soul connects to mine. She shares her knowledge of what will happen in order that I can save those I love from disaster (such as the slaughter on Masada, just before the Roman army re-took the fortress). Thing is, the first time our minds collided, almost everything that came before was lost. I experience the occasional flashback, but nothing of any substance. My cherished memories began on Masada. Continue reading “Hannah Valerius (of Hannah’s Heirloom Trilogy by Rosie Chapel)”

Thea (of Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn)

Mistress of Rome - Kate QuinnDear readers, tonight with me is a woman who came to us as a Judaean slave girl, only to catch the eye of our divine emperor. she is here to tell us of her remarkable journey, and about the highest echelons of Roman society.

 

 

What were your first impressions of Rome, after being sold to slavery in Judea?

I survived the suicide massacre of Masada when I was about four years old; one of seven survivors. The rest of my family died, and then I was enslaved and brought west. I don’t remember much of Judaea, but even so, Rome has never felt like home to me. It’s hot, teeming, raucous, and quite frequently cruel.

Is Emperor Domitian as bad in person as the senate makes him out to be?

It depends which side of him you see, and he has as many sides as a set of dice. To his soldiers he is blunt, honest, brave–they worship him. To the Senate he is arrogant, overbearing, dismissive–they despise him. To his family is he capricious, fearful, fickle–they quiver before him. To me . . . well. I fascinate him because he doesn’t frighten me. He likes to test that, and it’s kept me alive so far. Continue reading “Thea (of Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn)”

Gaius Petreius Ruso (of Vita Brevis by Ruth Downie)

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Dear readers, tonight with us is a combat medic, servicing in the legions assigned to one of the Roman Empire’s most notoriously dangerous provinces – Britain. He’s here to tell about his adventures, and accidental involvement in crime.

How does a Roman army medic end up solving murders?

I’m glad you asked that, because the answer is: reluctantly. I’m supposed to be in the business of making people feel better, so despite what anyone tells you, I’m not keen on stirring up trouble. I wouldn’t have gone near that business of the dead girl back in Deva if anyone else had been willing to deal with it. Oh, and if the lady who is now my wife hadn’t been quite so insistent.

(Of course as the head of the household, I’m the one in charge. Not my wife. I want to make that clear, because some of the people reading this may be Britons, who often have trouble remembering the proper order of things. I know this because my wife, Tilla, is a Briton. On the other hand, since very few of them see the point of reading and writing, this paragraph may be redundant.)

To return to the subject of murders—I certainly don’t go looking for them, but in the course of my work I stumble across suspicious injuries, and now word seems to have got round that if you’ve found an unexpected body, Ruso’s the man to deal with it. My author tells me that in the future there will be a specialist unit called the Police Force who are called in to sort out these things, while doctors can get on with seeing their patients and writing reports for the Treasury administrators. I’m sure she must have got the second half of that wrong. No-one in their right mind would pay a doctor to work as a scribe. Continue reading “Gaius Petreius Ruso (of Vita Brevis by Ruth Downie)”

Cassius (of Roman Mask by Thomas M. D. Brooke)

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. Continue reading “Cassius (of Roman Mask by Thomas M. D. Brooke)”

Felix the Fox – guest appearance on PureJonel

Web Cover-miniDear readers, some disturbing news tonight.

Felix seems to have done a runner, and gave a guest interview on PureJonel: http://purejonel.blogspot.ca/2016/01/FtF.html

The mentula has also answered a few more questions than he did for us… I need to have a chat with him!

So while I sort out the voices in my head, feel free to head to Jonel’s blog and read his interview 🙂

 

Marcus Falerius Fronto (of Marius’ Mules by S. J. A. Turney)

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Dear readers, tonight we have with us Marcus Falerius Fronto, commander of the Tenth legion and long-time companion of Julius Caesar. Marcus Falerius comes to us off the pages of Marius’ Mules series of novels.

How was it progressing through positions to command the Tenth under Caesar?

Trouble. Seriously, no one can work alongside Caesar for any length of time without questioning what they are doing. The thing is: I remember him in Hispania as a quaestor, when I was just a fresh faced tribune. He was only in Hispania for two years and then went back to Rome, but when he came back as the governor a few years later I was still there and still in the army. Since we’d last met I had gone from being an innocent lad on the first steps of the ladder to being a battle-hardened officer, putting down endless troubles with the vicious native tribes. I had served for years then with the Ninth, refusing to quit my post after a year like most tribunes and head back to Rome to count coins or some such. Instead, I found I had something of a talent for war. The legate at the time – I forget his name, but he had a big nose and really hairy ears – held on to me. Considered me his lucky charm, I think. Anyway, by the time Caesar came back I’d fought up and down and back and forth across most of the country, and when the old coot in command of the Ninth died, Caesar gave me temporary command as a legate. Wasn’t really official, as it wasn’t a senatorial appointment and I was still quite young, I suppose, but I proved myself enough during his governorship that when he returned to Rome, I went with him and he secured me command of the Tenth. I was still their legate more than a year later when the old man led us into Gaul. The rest, as they say, is history. Continue reading “Marcus Falerius Fronto (of Marius’ Mules by S. J. A. Turney)”

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