Blood is thicker

Year 180. It’s about 20 years from the end of the Second Punic War. There has also been wars in Macedonia and Syria recently. As consequence of these wars Rome has created its first provinces: Sicilia, Corsica et Sardinia, Gallia Cisalpina, Hispania Citerior and Hispania Ulterior. To govern growing republic number of yearly elected officials is increased. Number of quaestores is raised from 8 to 12 and number of praetores from 4 to 6.

Expanding republic needs and produces more men eglible for consulship, as it is custom that one has to be elected praetor before one can step out as candidate for consulship. Social mobility is higher: new families are in the making. Chaotic years of the Punic Wars are past and one person gaining more than one consulship has become a rare occurrance. All this has boosted the social value of position of consul.

At the beginning of the year the elected consuls of the year assume their office: A. Postumius Albinus Luscus and C. Calpurnius Piso. Unfortunately a some kind of epidemic has been going on in Italy and Rome for some years and several illustrious deaths happen during the first months of the year. Amongst them are praetor Tiberius Minucius and newly elected consul C. Calpurnius.

The deaths awake general feeling of the Gods being dissatisfied to the Rome and its populace. To amend situation the Senate asks pontifex maximus C. Servilius Geminus to look for any solution from the pontifical library and also orders Sibylline books to be consulted. Remaining consul Luscus is ordered to offer for Apollo, Aesculapius and Salus.

However, some deaths caused more or less open public speculation of another kind. The speculation ran high enough eventually to push the Senate into action: investigation was opened for the causes of some of the deaths. The death of the consul Piso was the most high profile of the cases. His wife Quarta Hostilia was suspected of poisoning him.

In the elections for the consul suffectus to replace the Piso a certain Q. Fulvius Flaccus is elected. This arouses further speculations about the death of Piso, because Flaccus is a son of Pisos wife Quarta Hostilia from her first marriage! Flaccus had himself lost previous elections to Piso, and in fact this had been third time he had lost consular elections.

Forth also came witnesses who said, that they had heard the mother Hostilia to reproach her son Flaccus for losing again and that Hostilia has promised his son, that she would start immediately to campaign for him and that he would see how she would make him a consul in a few months time. Also some other condamning evidence was supplied and Hostilia was convicted of the murder of his husband.

Whatever was the motive of Quarta Hostilia this tells how much consulship meant to the families of Roman nobility. And also about the importance of the family!

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