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If you would like to know more about the historical background of The First Man in Rome, turn to page 937 for a glossary explaining some Latin words and unfamiliar terms. Marcus Aemilius Scaurus Junior, his son by his first wife Sertorius Quintus Sertorius, cadet and military tribune Ria of the Marii, his mother, cousin of Gaius Marius Sulla Lucius Cornelius Sulla, quaestor 107 B.The older boy should have been adopted out and both girls should have been promised in marriage to rich men years ago; the younger son should also have been contracted to a rich bride. Cold, windy, blowing a fine mist of rain that slicked the cobbles dangerously and intensified the stale stench of an old burning in the air.But he knew now that he would never be allowed to run for the consulship. Just as Scipio Africanus, Aemilius Paullus, Scipio Aemilianus, and perhaps a dozen others over the centuries of the Republic had been so called.
I daresay Marcus Minucius Rufus will try, but Spurius Postumius Albinus! Especially when the Claudius Pulchers also perpetually battled the enemies of the old nobility, too many children allied to dwindling land and money. The Greeks built their temples on the ground, but the Romans built theirs on lofty platforms with many steps, and the steps which led up to Jupiter Optimus Maximus were indeed many. Gaius Marius's family had been in Arpinum for centuries, prided itself upon its Latinity. Did it have an Oscan ring to it, just because there were Samnites and Volsci called Marius? Yet all of them looked down on him— Gaius Marius—as a bumptious nobody with more gall than grace.
Twelve years earlier one of the finest houses in Rome had stood there. "Come back here," she said, and added, "at once." They came. Down below in the Forum Romanum the procession was forming, as the long crocodile which had wended its way from the house of Marcus Minucius Rufus met up with the equally long crocodile originating at the house of Spurius Postumius Albinus.
Nowadays the site bore little evidence of its previous dwelling, just an occasional stone half-buried in grass. The knights came first, not as many as on a fine sunny New Year's Day, but a respectable enough gathering of seven hundred or so; as the light improved but the rain grew a trifle harder, they moved off up the slope of the Clivus Capitolinus to where, at the first bend in this short and hilly track, the priests and slaughtermen waited with two flawless white bulls on spangled halters, their horns gilded and their dewlaps garlanded. A feeling he hosted like a guest who refused to leave, no matter how inhospitably he behaved?
Now her two Julias had moved their campstools down to where the other girls sat unsupervised—where were their mothers? Nice, thought Marcia again as the sacrificial animals and their escort joined the procession, and all went on together until at last they clustered as best they could in the restricted space before the great temple on high. Simply because they had the right blood in their veins.
Somewhere among them were her husband and her two sons, a part of the governing class of this mightiest of all cities of the world. As an ex-praetor, he wore the purple-bordered toga praetexta, and on his dark red senatorial shoes he wore the crescent-shaped buckle his praetorship permitted. He had been a praetor five years earlier, should have been consul three years ago. Any one of them knew if the right circumstances came into being, he might be entitled to call himself the First Man in Rome.