• Urgulanilla. Yow. Translation? Diminutive of... something, right? I should really learn this stuff.
• Oh, my. What an attractive description of marriage. That paragraph had a different tone and pacing -- rather than Claudius telling me about the ladies, I could see and hear the ladies themselves (well, a caricature of them) philosophizing to each other about their reasons for not marrying.
Zeeney from The Long Secret came to mind, oddly. (Even though she was married. It was more her personality -- consciously, carefully languid, deliberately world-weary.) I pictured Zeeney and an amalgam of characters Joanna Lumley has played. Anyway.
• "Knights, if they married at all, married for rich dowries, not for children or for love, and a freedwoman was not much of a catch; and besides knights, especially those recently raised to the order, had strong feelings about marrying beneath them." So that stereotype about people with New Money being more actively snobby than people with Old Money is a pretty old one, huh?
• "As time went on suitable candidates for priesthood were increasingly difficult to find." Yeah, I'll bet.
• "...but as you will soon see it did not trouble her for long..." Uh oh.
• I WANT TO KICK AUGUSTUS. I spluttered all the way through his conversation with Medullinus. Somehow, I'm not feeling very hopeful about the outcome of this love-match -- it would just be too nice of a thing for Claudius to marry someone he loved and who loved him back. And, of course, there was that mention of Urgulanilla at the beginning of the chapter.
• "...there would be no feast, merely the usual ritual sacrifice of a ram whose entrails would then be examined to see whether the auspices were favourable. Of course they would be; Augustus, officiating as priest, in compliment to Livia, would see to that."
• Yep. Now I'm feeling the hate towards Livia. I really liked poor Camilla, even though I only knew her for about a page and a half.
• Postumus, in love with Lavilla? He seemed so much brighter than that.
• A Pillow Debate on Force and Gentleness is just hilarious:
Livia answers: "You are quite right and I have a piece of advice to give you--that is, if you are willing to accept it and will not blame me for daring, though a woman, to suggest to you something which nobody else, even of your most intimate friends, would dare to suggest."
But in the case of the rest, whose errors, committed wilfully or otherwise, are due to youth or ignorance or misapprehension, we should, I believe, merely rebuke them, or punish them in the mildest possible way.
Ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Beastly woman. (Yes, I'm still mad about Camilla.)
Chapter Eight -- In which we meet Urgulanilla and her mother.
• The Livia/Urgulania plan is rather brilliant, but so very eeeevil. (I wouldn't have called it evil if it were just a means to an end, but they're getting a kick out of it too: "The two got a great deal of amusement out of this game and Livia plenty of useful information and assistance in her plans.")
• "Later, I shall tell how once, when summoned by a senator to whom she owed a large sum of money to appear before the magistrates in the Debtors' Court, she refused to obey the summons; and how, to avoid the scandal, Livia paid up." Well, thanks, Claudius. I'll be looking forward to you telling that story. ("Later, after the next two commas, I shall tell how once, ...") Sheesh! Did Robert Graves giggle when he wrote sentences like that? I hope so. I've been giggling as I read them.
• It would be nice to see Claudius and Urgulanilla team up like in Freak the Mighty and take out Livia and Urgulania, but somehow I don't think it's likely to happen.
Chapter Nine -- In which our young historian talks with two old historians and is given a piece of advice.
• "I see now, though I hadn't considered the matter before, that there are two different ways of writing history: one is to persuade men to virtue and the other is to compel men to truth. The first is Livy's way and the other is yours: and perhaps they are not irreconcilable."
• Here's the advice:
"Now listen! Do you want to live a long busy life, with honour at the end of it?"
"Then exaggerate your limp, stammer deliberately, sham sickness frequently, let your wits wander, jerk your head and twitch with your hands on all public or semi-public occasions."
Pollio also tells him that both his grandfather and father were poisoned, but no names are named.
Chapter Ten -- In which we are treated to some of Livia and Augustus' private correspondence and Postumus flirts with death.
• Livia on Postumus:
I consider that Death has been extremely unkind to take off his two talented brothers and leave us only with him.
Watch your step, Postumus! Also, didn't Livia orchestrate the downfall of his "two talented brothers"?
• Part of me feels insulted by Livia's condescension and dismissal of Claudius, but mostly I'm just glad she doesn't see his as a threat. Augustus surprised me a few times here, so much so that I didn't even feel like kicking him.
See? Postumus is practically ASKING to be bumped off:
"Soon he is reprimanded by Livia for his changed manner and for his surliness towards her. "What's poisoned you?" she asks. He replies, grinning, "Maybe you've been putting something in my soup."
Now I'm afraid to read Chapter Eleven.