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.”“Usually because they’re drunk,” Julia added.“Or racing into the arms of one of their lupae.” Marcellus laughed, but I noticed that this time Gallia didn’t smile.“Was that what those cubicles were for?” my brother asked.“Beneath the arches?”Julia giggled.“The fornices.And they’re always crowded, night or day.”When we reached the top of the stairs, the Circus Maximus slumbered beneath us like a giant in the sun.The track extended from the slopes of the Aventine to the Palatine, and all around it the seats rose in three tiers.As soon as we reached Caesar’s box, a portly man appeared below us asking for bets.“Over here!” Marcellus shouted, waving the bet-maker toward us.The man puffed his way up the stairs, and I wondered how he could have such a stomach when his job demanded so much rigorous activity.“I have seventy-five denarii,” Marcellus said.Gallia sucked in her breath.“Domine!”“What? It’s for Alexander and Selene as well.And Julia, if she doesn’t have any.”But Julia tipped a handful of coins from her bag onto her palm.“I want twenty denarii on the Whites,” she said, handing them over.“It won’t be until the next race,” the bet-maker warned.She made a small gesture of indifference with her hand.“Doesn’t matter.”“And for you?” The man looked at Marcellus.“What will it be?” Marcellus turned to us.“Each team has three chariots in every race, and there’s four different teams.The Reds, the Whites, the Blues, and the Greens.”“Which are your favorite?” Alexander asked carefully, his eyes on the horses.“The Whites.”“Are they better?”Marcellus frowned.“Who knows? I always bet on the Whites.”“But shouldn’t you bet on which drivers are most capable? Or which horses have won in previous races?”“Who thinks of those things?” Marcellus exclaimed.“You should, if you want to win! Look at the rider in red,” my brother said.“He’s the only one left on his team because he’s light.His horses don’t have to pull such a heavy burden, so the chariot goes faster.”Marcellus and Julia both stared at him.“So you favor the Reds?” Marcellus asked hesitantly.“I don’t know.I’d have to watch the races for several days to see.”“Well, you don’t have several days,” the bet-maker said sourly.“I have other customers, so place your bets.”“The Reds, then,” Alexander said firmly.When Marcellus turned to me, I said, “My brother wouldn’t waste his time drawing a portico, and I won’t waste my time pretending I know horses.Whatever he says.”“ Twenty-five on the Whites, and fifty on the Reds.” Marcellus handed a bag full of coins to the man, and I saw Gallia flinch at the sum.It was probably a hefty percentage of what she would need to purchase her freedom, if Octavia allowed it, and half of what Magister Verrius made in a year as a teacher at the ludus.But she didn’t say anything, and Marcellus went on.“I come here every day,” he said cheerfully, “and Gallia is good enough to put up with it.” She gave a weary smile, and even when she looked hot and bored, she was beautiful.“We will have to ask my mother to go to the Temple of Saturn and withdraw several bags of denarii for you both.”“Then we will go shopping,” Julia promised me.“I’ll take you to the markets and we’ll pick out something we can wear to the theater.When my father’s here, we go once a month.” The sound of trumpets echoed in the Circus, and Julia became distracted.“The Reds are out in front, just as Alexander said!” She stood up, and while she and Marcellus shouted for the Whites to hurry, I took out my book of sketches.She looked back at me.“You’re not going to draw right now?” she exclaimed.“Why not? There is nothing like this in Alexandria.”“No stadia?” she shouted over the jubilation of the crowds.The charioteers were on their final lap.“Certainly, but nothing this large.”When the Reds won, Marcellus sat down and clapped Alexander on the back.“You know your horses, don’t you? But you think they’ll really win a second time?”“If the Reds have the same kind of riders, I don’t see why not.” Below, the track was being cleared, and the body of a charioteer who’d fallen under the hooves of an opponent’s horses was being dragged away.A troupe of musicians appeared to entertain the crowds while the track was being smoothed, and slaves clambered toward us to pull an awning over the western section of the Circus, where the wealthy had their seats.Julia watched as I began my sketch by drawing the long spina in the center of the track.Unlike the stadium in Alexandria, where the spina had been a plain stone barrier, the Circus had two rectangular basins filled with water.In each basin were seven bronze dolphins spouting water from their mouths, and with every completed lap, an official turned a dolphin in the opposite direction.And for those whose eyes weren’t good enough to see whether the dolphins were facing north or south, there were seven bronze eggs and a second official to take one down for every lap.“Those were built by Agrippa,” Julia explained.“How much has he constructed?” I asked.“It seems to be half of Rome.”She laughed.“That’s because he’s my father’s greatest builder.”“So he does it himself?”“He just comes up with the ideas and the denarii.I suppose the architect Vitruvius does the drawing.Have you seen him?” she asked.“You know, he’s Octavia’s lover.”“I saw him in the villa.How long have they been living together?”“Since your father announced he was going to divorce her.She’d already been alone for several years.”“Do you think she loved him?”Julia looked at me askance.“Your father? Of course! Why do you think she raised all those legions for his eastern campaigns?”My response was cut off by the sudden clamor of people below us.Thousands of spectators were on their feet, looking in our direction and pointing above us.“The Red Eagle!” someone next to us cried, and when I looked up, I saw that the vast gold awning that the slaves had fastened above the western end of the Circus had been painted with a bird.Its wings were spread and from its outstretched talons a pair of children were struggling to be free.I didn’t have to see the Egyptian wigs or the white diadems to know who they were supposed to be.“That’s you,” Julia whispered, aghast.Immediately, Gallia rose to her feet.“Go!” she shouted, and then we were moving.“What about our bets?” Marcellus cried.Gallia spun around [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]