Chapter Twenty -- Another one bites the dust.
• "So these two histories, each of which I could have written in a year or two if I had been less conscientious, kept me busy for some twenty-five years." Heh.
• "This was only one of many recent occasions on which Caligula had spoken insolently to Germanicus, and Germanicus now decided that it was no use treating him in the gentle, friendly way he treated the other children--that the only course with Caligula was strict disciple and severe punishments." Uh oh. Somehow I don't see that going well in the long run. (Not that I have another option in mind!)
• Man, these poor guys can't win with me. I want Tiberius to Be Good, but at the same time, I want Germanicus to occasionally Be Bad. Case in point: I'd have approved if he'd abandoned Piso in the storm.
• Another character I'd like to see taken down: Sejanus. "Perhaps the best course of action for them to take, he said, would be to pay whatever protection-money was demanded with as little fuss as possible." GAH.
• "...incompetent, avaricious, bloody-minded sexagenarian debauchee." Okay, Germanicus just made up for not abandoning Piso. That was AWESOME.
• A page later: Oh, good lord. Please let Agrippina pull a Livia and poison Plancina. I think she's more likely to Be Bad in a Good Way than Germanicus.
• "...the great stone statue of Memnon, the breast of which is hollow, and which shortly after the sun rises begins to sing, because the air in the hollow becomes warm and rises in a current through the pipe-shaped throat." That's so cool!
• Germanicus is poisoned! (Maybe.) Not dead yet, though.
• "Germanicus had always been extremely superstitious like every member of our family but myself: I am only somewhat superstitious." Hee hee hee. A few paragraphs later: OH MY GOD. I can't blame him for being superstitious. And no wonder the house was smelly.
• He DIED?? I really thought the only way he'd die would be in battle or some other straightforward way. He just seemed like that kind of guy. Man, I'm more upset than I thought I'd be.
Chapter Twenty-One -- The trials of Piso and Plancina.
• This chapter had me so hooked that I didn't take any notes other than: WOW. No wonder Plancina and Livia are friends. Also, I'm glad that Gallus is still alive. And Sejanus and Livilla are a well-matched couple, even if they aren't married. And holy cow, can Livia and Tiberius even go out in public? Everyone HATES them.
Chapter Twenty-Two -- In which I become REALLY frustrated with the Senate.
• More on Tiberius' sexual depravity:
But one woman, a Consul's wife, committed suicide afterwards in the presence of her friends, telling them that she had been forced to save her young daughter from Tiberius's lust by consenting to prostitute herself to him, which was shameful enough; but then the Old He-Goat had taken such advantage of her complaisance by forcing her to such abominable acts of filthiness with him that she preferred to die rather than to live on with the memory of them.
Yikes. Once again, Claudius leaves it to the imagination.
• "Agrippina did not trust her, but it was clear that Livia and Tiberius were at enmity, and she felt, she told me, that if she had to choose between the protection of one or the other she would prefer to be under Livia's." Same here. But as Claudius points out, what will happen when Livia dies? (I LOVE it, by the way, that she's probably the one behind the nasty songs about Tiberius.)
• Livia and Caligula have a strong bond. Super. (And by super, of course, I mean not super at all.)
• "It was clear that Livia, not having been consulted about the marriage of one of her own great-grandchildren, had arranged for the child to be strangled and the pear crammed down his throat afterwards. As was the custom in such cases, the pear tree was charged with murder and sentenced to be uprooted and burned." Livia had been so much in the background for a while there that I'd stopped seeing her as a major player -- clearly these last few chapters have proved me wrong. Were the Romans the only ones who charged objects with murder? I feel like I've run across that before.
• On the story behind Castor's nickname: Ewwww. Aaaaand then he dies.
• The young people are really coming into their own, Livilla especially.
• The Leek Green party sounds like the least-scary secret society name ever, but Tiberius is super-paranoid and easily-led. (Have I mentioned lately that I hate him? Sejanus is horrible, but he at least gets points for having a Big Brain.)
• Silius. WOW. That was HARDCORE, right down to the pre-planning. Gallus continues to be wonderful.
• What is wrong with the Senate? Why don't they just rush Tiberius and Take Him Out?
• "So the tragedy, which everyone had laughed at because it was so lamely and wretchedly composed, won a sort of dignity by having all its copies called it and burned and its author executed." For the most part, these chapters have had me laughing a lot less -- but that line got a guffaw.