By Steven Saylor
The 12 months is 52BC, and Rome is in turmoil. Rival gangs prowl the streets as Publius Clodius, a excessive born populist baby-kisser, and his arch-enemy, Tito Milo, struggle to regulate the consular elections. but if Clodius is murdered at the Appian means and Milo is accused of the crime, town explodes with riots and arson.
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A bodyguard. The man has been with Publius for years. " "My nephew, I imagine. Our brother Appius's oldest boy. He came with me in the litter, along with Metella. " She shook her head. "Publius's own little boy was with him down at Bovillae. We don't know what's become of the child. " This was suddenly too much for her. She began to weep. Eco looked away. It was a hard thing to watch. Her weeping subsided. " The question seemed to baffle her. She wrinkled her brow and blinked back tears. "I'm not sure.
These had pale faces and scraggly red hair. The crowd in front of us compressed. Eco and I were squeezed together, with his bodyguards still in a ring around us. Someone stepped on my foot. My arms were trapped at my sides. I caught a glimpse of the approaching litter, supported on the shoulders of bearers who dwarfed even the giant gladiators. Suspended above the crowd, the red and white striped silk canopy shimmered in the flickering torchlight. My heart skipped a beat. I knew that litter. I had been carried in it myself.
By the dim lamplight the two of them still looked suspiciously like magpies. I closed my eyes. " I sighed, thinking an appeal to mercy might gain me just one more blissful moment of sleep. But before my head reached the pillow, Eco gripped my shoulder and pulled me upright again. "No, Papa! " I was irretrievably awake now, and grumpy — until I realized who was absent from the conspiracy to wake me. I looked around the room, blinking, and felt a sudden thrill of panic. "Diana! " She entered the room and stepped into the circle of light.