I – Journal of a Roman Citizen

Dear Journal:

I just got back from my usual morning walk through the streets of Rome. The air has a fresh spring crispness to it that makes me glad I am alive.


What do I mean by almost? Well, usually on my walks, people are talking and laughing as they go about their business. Not today. All of the people I met on my walk were strangely subdued, as if a radical, disturbing change was in the air. As I stopped in the Marketplace to buy my dinner for tonight, something felt out of place. Then I realized what was bothering me. It was too quiet. Everyone was doing business in near silence. Oh, everyone was talking and conducting business as usual, but it was done in low voices with very little laughter.

What had changed?

No one would tell me. The buyers and merchants kept their heads down and tended strictly to business. No excess banter. As they did their business, people would glance furtively over their shoulders as if to see if they were being watched. It was as though the people of Rome had lost their will to free speech. I say will, not right, because, as far as I know, freedom of discourse still exists in the Empire.

I walked to the toga shop to pick up some new clothes, and things were the same there. The clerk was happy to see me as usual, but he wasn’t his old talkative self. He seemed afraid to say too much, as though too much gossip would land him in trouble. He was polite, but kept his topics on simple subjects or the Games. He stayed away from politics and religion. I know because, every time I mentioned either one, my friend would steer back to a non-committal topic. Finally, I was getting depressed myself, so I headed straight home. I wonder what tomorrow’s walk will bring? I know one thing. Something has definitely gone wrong in Rome.

Chapter II

Published in: on July 24, 2009 at 9:14 PM  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Okay, Lady QKat, I’m delivering feedback unto you, as you requested. I’m certainly no skilled critic, but here goes:

    For me, the chapters I’ve–skimmed, admittedly–just don’t grab me. It seemed to me there was much more telling than showing. I don’t tend to like expository writing as much as I like writing that drops one straight into the action. Doesn’t mean your writing is objectively bad, just that it doesn’t suit ME. Frankly, I prefer your lord’s other work/that you mentioned some time ago at AC–as it’s rather more active than the ‘Roman’ chapters here.

    PS: while b & c may while generate more replies than anyone else, they specialize in firing people up and generating furor. It’s not surprising they got responses from more crossposting jerks than you got from a decent post to folks who hadn’t had time to skim your stuff or didn’t know how to reply…just my two cents’ worth.

    Both of you take care, and I *do* hope that you decide to stay around and keep posting. Frankly, I was sorry I hadn’t seen MORE of you at AC!

    • Thank you. This is the kind of feedback I was looking for.

      Not everything is going to appeal to everyone, but if you are honest enough to tell us why, as you did, then we know what we need to do in the future to either garner more interest or to make the stories more cohesive.

      This started out as a way for him to deal with his frustration over certain real world politics and soon took off in a direction neither one of us expected. And, by doing that, he realized that he did have a talent for writing.

      What you have stated is something I think both of us need to think about and work on. But at least it gives us something to go on!

      I hope you will check back later because some of the other stories do have a lot more thought and action behind them. Hopefully something that might appeal to you.

      I will be sticking around alt.c, it is just that these last few years have been pure hell for us and, hopefully, we seem to be heading out of it.


      • I appreciate the prose, but I agree with this long winded comment accompanying the first chapter.

        My personal response is that I get the feeling the author is only somewhat familiar with the histories and the lifestyles of the Ancient Romans; preventing the author from bringing us (the readers) into the action of what is happening directly within the story.

        I am no historian, nor am I a major of English – I am just a travellor. I found the idea of a journal written by a citizen of Ancient Rome to be beautiful; this one which I would like to see developed more confidently.

        I hope this diatribe does not strike you as bitter, really my intents are didactic.

        Best of luck in the future!

  2. All comments, unless downright vicious, are appreciated and considered. Yours are welcome.

    That said – this started as a way for my husband to deal with his disappointment in certain political happenings of a few years ago and was not meant to be an absolute ‘take’ on a true-to-life-Roman.

    He is a scholar of both history and English and was just having a bit of fun and ‘venting’ somewhat. And then the silly little story took off in a direction that was unplanned and unexpected, which, if you will come back and check in a few more chapters, was both amusing (at least to us and some of our friends) and, in some ways, interesting.

    If there were any possibility that the two of us, at our age, could become published writers, it might be worth the research investment to make it more true-to-life. As it is, the story, as written, does fit in with the universe he created at a much younger age.

    When we get to the stories dealing with that universe, we tend to play hob with the pantheons and deities of most known histories.

    Some of the things touched on this story have similarities to certain events within that time period, but with alterations that occured before the current time for this particular “Roman”.

    Silly? Yes. Fun? Can be. Based in real history? Marginally.

    So, if you are seeking an alternate history with just a few twists, this is not the kind of story you would want to read.

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