Cleopatra's Daughter, p.40Michelle Moran
What’s come over you? Is it because I go to bed with the queen [Kleopatra]? Yes, she isn’t my wife, but it isn’t as if it’s something new, is it? Haven’t I been doing it for nine years now? And what about you? Is Livia really the only woman you go to bed with? I congratulate you, if at the time you read this letter you haven’t had Tertulla or Terentilla or Rufilla or Salvia Titisenia or the whole lot of them. Does it really matter where you insert your prick—or who the woman is?
Marc Antony, in a letter to Octavian that was preserved by the biographer Suetonius
In the Petronius quote, we recognize the very human fear of death and the sense of loss it creates for those who are left behind. In Seneca’s letter, we see that even though slavery had long been an institution, there were those who clearly felt uncomfortable with it. Ovid takes up the long-running abortion debate, while Marc Antony’s letter mocks Octavian for being a hypocrite where extramarital affairs were concerned. These sentiments now seem surprisingly modern, for we still live with the relics of their ancient world. The first newspaper is widely considered to have been Julius Caesar’s daily acta diurna, and the phrase Senatus Populusque Romanas, meaning “the Senate and the People of Rome,” is still used today. In fact, its initials, SPQR, can be seen throughout the city, on everything from billboards to manhole covers.
Yet even with such abundance before me, I did allow myself some deviations from the historical record. Because both of Octavia’s eldest daughters were named Claudia and both her youngest daughters were named Antonia, I changed two of their names for the sake of simplicity (to Marcella and Tonia). And while it was haruspices who examined the entrails of animals in order to determine favorable signs from the gods and fulguratores who interpreted lightning and thunder, I chose to call them both “augurs” so that I wouldn’t overwhelm the reader with too many foreign terms. Similarly, I have chosen to limit the use of Latin noun declensions for the sake of English reader simplicity.
Other changes I made included the invention of both Gallia and Lucius, who did not, so far as we know, exist, and a few of the dates within the novel, which were altered slightly. (Also, the month of August was known as Sextilis during the dates this novel takes place, and was only later renamed Augustus in Octavian’s honor.) I did not include the Roman habit of kicking instead of knocking on doors, and for the sake of storytelling, I had Queen Kleopatra act shocked upon hearing the news that Octavian had taken his uncle’s name, when in reality she must have known much earlier. And while I tried my best to remain anachronism-free, I admit to failure where some words, like books (which were really codices at that time), are concerned. Yet for the most part I attempted to remain as close as possible to proven history. After all, that’s why we read historical fiction—to be transported to another time, and to be astonished at ancient people’s lives and traditions, just as they would probably be astonished at ours.
akolouthos. Greek term for an acolyte or helper. The plural is akolouthoi.
Amphitruo. A popular sexual comedy written by Plautus.
atrium. An open area in the center of many Roman homes.
ave. A Latin phrase used by the Romans as a salutation and greeting, meaning hail.
bulla. An amulet worn around the neck by Roman children for protection against evil. A boy would wear his bulla until he became a Roman citizen during his toga virilis ceremony, while a girl would wear hers until the eve of her marriage.
calamistrum. A curling iron.
caryatid. A pillar or other architectural support sculpted into the shape of a female figure.
cavea. The semicircular seating area of a theater, arranged in tiers.
Cerberus. A three-headed mythological dog that guards the gates leaving Hades.
chiton. A long garment worn by both Greek men and women and held together at the shoulders by pins.
Columna Lactaria. A column in Rome at which unwanted infants were abandoned, and where wet nurses or adopting parents might feed those who survived.
cunnus. The female genitalia.
diadem. A royal crown and symbol of authority.
dies natalis. Birthday.
dies nefastus. An unlucky day in the calendar, during which no official business could be conducted. The plural is dies nefasti.
Domina. Mistress. Used when the female subject of sentence is spoken of as a superior; also used to address a female superior.
Domine. Master. Used to address a male superior. The plural is Domini.
Dominus. Master. Used when the male subject of sentence is spoken of as superior.
equites. Knights, who were members of the lower aristocratic order.
Fasti. A Roman almanac, listing festival days and dies nefasti, among others.
filius nullius. “No one’s son” (a bastard).
fornices. Archways or vaults. Roman prostitutes’ habit of soliciting in archways leaves its trace in the word “fornicate.” The singular is fornix.
Forum Boarium. The cattle market.
Ganymede. A young homosexual, after the beautiful lover taken by Zeus in mythology.
Gaul/Gallic. Terms that refer to continental western Europe between the Rhine and the Pyrenees, inhabited by Celtic tribes. This area included what are now the Low Countries, France, Switzerland, and Northern Italy (Cisalpine Gaul).
gustatio. The appetizer or starter course of a meal. Often consisted of a light salad, lentils, or pickled vegetables.
himation. A Greek garment that was worn over a chiton and often used as a cloak.
ignobilis. Of low birth.
judices. The jurors in a public trial, usually comprising of citizens, and drawn from the higher social orders. The singular is judex.
kyphi. Incense, used for medical purposes and in Egyptian religious rites.
lararium. A small shrine room for honoring the household’s gods.
Lares. The household gods or protective spirits that were honored in the lararium.
Liberalia. The festival of Liber Pater and his consort Libera, celebrated on March 17. This was also the day when boys who had come of age would put aside their bullae.
ludus. School. Also used to refer to the public games that were intended to serve as a festival of thanks to the gods. The plural is ludi.
lupa. She-wolf. A derogatory term for a prostitute. The plural is lupae.
lupanar. A brothel.
Lupercalia. A pastoral festival held February 13–15.
lustratio. A purification ceremony, often involving animal sacrifice, to purify people (especially newborns) as well as places, crops, armies, and buildings.
Mare Superum. The Adriatic Sea.
nemes headdress. The blue-and-gold-striped head cloth worn by Pharaohs of ancient Egypt (prior to action in story).
odeum. A building used for musical and theatrical events. The plural is odea.
ofella. The ancient Roman version of pizza made of baked dough but without the tomatoes, which were unknown to the Romans at that time. The plural is ofellae.
ornatrix. A woman skilled in hair arrangement and makeup.
palla. A shawl worn over the arms and shoulders.
pilum. A long spear or a javelin.
pleb. Plebian; member of the lower classes.
portico. The roofed entrance porch at the front of a building.
rostrum. Speaking platform in the Senate, made from the prows of ships that the Romans captured in various sea battles.
Salii: A group of young male priests of Mars, the Roman god of war.
salve. Greetings. Salvete is the form used in addressing more than one person.
silphium. An extinct plant commonly referred to as a “giant fennel.” The Roman author Pliny the Elder wrote about its use as an herbal contraceptive.
sparsor. The person whose job it was at the races to douse the smoking wheels of a ch
spelt-cake. A cake made from a precursor to modern strains of wheat.
spina. The barrier in the center of the Circus Maximus; it separated the outbound and inbound laps of the race.
SPQR. Senatus Populusque Romanus, or “the Senate and People of Rome.” This ubiquitous “signature” of the Roman state appeared on legionary standards, documents, coins, and a great deal more.
stadia. Plural form for a Roman measure of distance; one stadium was 200–210 yards in length.
stola. A long, pleated dress worn over the tunic; the traditional garment of Roman women.
stylus. A metal writing implement, used to inscribe on wax tablets. The reverse, flat end of the stylus could be used to scratch and flatten, or “erase,” mistakes.
taberna. A shop or alehouse. The plural is tabernae.
tablet. A wax writing pad that could be reused by warming the tablet and melting the wax.
thalamegos. A type of ancient Greek ship. The name means “cabin-carrier.”
tiet. The sacred knot of the Egyptian goddess Isis.
toga praetexta. A long woolen robe, worn by Roman citizens as a tunic. The praetexta had a single crimson stripe, and was often worn by magistrates, by priests, and by boys too young for the toga virilis.
tollere liberos. The lifting of a newborn into the air by its father, signifying his acceptance of it into the family.
triclinium. The dining room in a Roman household, so named for the three couches on which diners reclined and ate.
tunic. A garment worn by both men and women in ancient Rome, either under the toga or by itself.
Ubi tu es Agrippa, ego Claudia. “Where you are Agrippa, I am Claudia.”
umbraculum. An umbrella or parasol, typically carried by slaves for their wealthy Roman mistresses.
univira. A woman who has had only one husband.
vale. Farewell. Valete is the form used in addressing more than one person.
vestibulum. The narrow hallway that connected the atrium of a Roman house with the street outside. These hallways often contained welcoming messages or decorations in the form of mosaics or murals.
As always, I owe the greatest thanks possible to my infinitely patient and incredibly supportive husband, Matthew. After more than a decade together, you still inspire me to choose the great love stories of history to write about. To my mother and brother, who have always been supportive of my writing career, I am deeply indebted to you both. And to my father, who instilled in me his love of ancient Roman history—I only wish you could have been here to read this. I think you would have enjoyed a break from your heavy ancient tomes to do some lighter reading, and I feel sure that you would have loved the Red Eagle, given your interest in the doomed Spartacus and his slave revolt. An homage to the dashing heroes who populate the works of Baroness Emmuska Orczy, Alexandre Dumas, and Barbara Michaels, the antics of the Red Eagle—who was based on historical rebels who came before and after him—would have pleased you no end. Thank you for always taking the time to teach me and for being such a wonderful father.
I must also mention my debt of gratitude to the brilliant classics scholar, Dr. James (Jim) T. McDonough Jr., and his wife, Zaida, who were there to answer my many questions about ancient Rome. Jim, your careful notes and historical advice were absolutely invaluable to me, and this novel is immensely richer for your detailed input. Any mistakes are entirely mine.
For those who would like to read more about Selene’s life, I highly recommend Duane W. Roller’s excellent book The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene. Thank you so much, Duane, for taking the time to answer my questions about Selene’s world. And to Jon Corelis, whose translation of Ovid’s poem “Disappointment” appears in the book, I am incredibly thankful. Your website is a gold mine, and your translations inspired me during many a marathon writing session.
To my former students Amalia Calvillo, Chantelle Doss, Brynn Grawe, George Mejia, Ashley Turner, and Ashley Williamson, who helped me sort through my towering piles of research on such subjects as fermented fish sauce and peacock brains, I am deeply appreciative. If I can persuade you to be my research assistants for my next book, I promise to give you notes on things that are much less revolting! And to Shaun Venish, whose intricate map of Augustus’s Rome appears at the front of the book, I am in awe of your talents. (An interactive version can be found on my website.)
Of course, no acknowledgments page would ever be complete if it did not recognize the editors who molded the clay into something worth reading. Heather Proulx and Suzanne O’Neill have been absolutely magnificent, and I am a lucky author indeed to have had their discerning eyes on my manuscript. It’s not all the time that an author can say she’s found a great friend in her editor, so, Heather, I know how lucky I am to be working with you! And I am very much looking forward to exploring the world of Madame Tussaud in our next book together.
I also owe my gratitude to the wonderful copy editor Janet Fletcher, who worked tremendously hard to make this novel gleam. And, of course, a huge thank-you goes to Crown’s amazing team: Patty Berg, Tina Constable, Dyana Messina, Jennifer O’Connor, and the many people who have worked behind the scenes. I am deeply grateful to Allison McCabe, who originally purchased Cleopatra’s Daughter for Random House. And I’d like to thank my agent, Anna Ghosh, as well as my foreign rights agent, Danny Baror, who has seen to it that my novels can be read in more than twenty languages. With every published book, an author is indebted to more people than he or she can ever name. So to everyone who helped to bring Cleopatra’s Daughter to readers around the world, thank you so much.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Copyright © 2009 by Michelle Moran
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by
Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group,
a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
CROWN and the Crown colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Grateful acknowledgment is made to Jon Corelis
for permission to use his translation from Ovid’s Amores from Roman Erotic Elegy
by Jon Corelis, copyright © Jon Corelis (University of Salzburg, 1995).
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available upon request.
Map by Sophie Kittredge
Map on pp. x–xi by Shaun Venish
Michelle Moran, Cleopatra's Daughter
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