It worried Flaminius how the sheep had followed the wolf that was Barbatus, like lambs to the slaughter they obeyed him. His solitary walk back to his Palatine home gave him lots of time to reflect on the meeting that day.
‘I had them!’ He screamed to the twilight! ‘I was minutes away from a command to capture Macedonia for Rome’s glory, for my glory, Barbatus will pay for this! I am Consul and I will get my command for it is rightfully mine.’
‘That’s the spirit brother!’ Interjected Flaminius’ brother in law, Quintus Claudius Rufus, who held such a close bond with Flaminius that they were known to call each other brother even in public.
‘Ave Rufus! What a fright you gave me, but how is now the question; come dine with me tonight and we shall work out a plan to defeat Barbatus. I’ll invite Lucius Didius Niger as well; maybe he will help us out. It has been a bad day Rufus, we have lost face today.’
Niger and Rufus did indeed join Flaminius to dine that evening; they were joined by Flaminius’ wife Porcia and the wives of Niger and Rufus; Tertulla and Servilia. They had barely sat down before Demetrius, Flaminius’ slave, cautiously popped his head around the door to say that dinner was being served. Flaminius led the party on the short way to the dining room. On a grander occasion all five couches would have been around the knee-high table which was situated in the prettiest and brightest part of the room. Today though three of those couches were backed up against the wall so all the party could dine within talking distance.
Servants came to help the men out of their togas, such unwieldy items made reclining practically impossible. Bowls were presented before them to wash their hands in and soft towels also to dry them, such was custom.
‘Good evening Servilia, you are looking well.’ Exclaimed Flaminius.
‘Thank you brother, yes, dear Rufus is treating me well. We are trying for a baby’.
‘That’s great news!’ Cried Niger. ‘Bring in some wine Flaminius.’
‘Always looking for the wine Niger, some people never change!’ Joked Rufus.
Wine was brought in to them and the males happily drank to Rufus and Servilia, the food was delicious and in n time at all it had all been devoured.
‘Well, I think it is time us women left the men to their business’ Declared Porcia. ‘Come, we shall go to my rooms ladies.’
The males visibly relaxed when the women left the room. They could now begin to discuss Barbatus and more importantly, what to do about him.
‘I want that command’ Began Flaminius. ‘We know’ Said Niger. ‘But how?’
‘He will try to give it to Italicus for sure, the people love him, and the Senate love him. He is a hero to them.’
‘Quite right Rufus but I am Consul. Surely I must be able to do something eh Niger?’
‘We could try to get Italicus to put his weight behind you Flaminius, if he agrees then it will be plain sailing’.
The evening wore on until darkness fell around them and after hours of though they came back to Niger’s solution. ‘Very well then, I will go and see Italicus tomorrow, I believe his legs are getting bad, he could cry bad health. It’s a long shot; he is a stubborn old goat!’
Morning broke and Flaminius made the short trip to Italicus’ house, his thoughts racing, if this meeting did not go well then he could shout farewell to his Macedonian dream. He knocked twice on Italicus’ door.
‘Ave Senator Flaminius, Italicus is expecting you.’ Greeted the slave and showed him into the lounge where Italicus was waiting for him with refreshments, water at such an hour.
‘Ave Flaminius, I got your letter requesting a meeting, Demetrius made quite sure the letter was received, he brought it himself. You are exactly on time, not too early, not too late. You are welcome in my home.’
‘I thank you Italicus, yes Demetrius is very trustworthy, an asset to the household. I trust you know why I am here.’
‘Of course Flaminius, I had Barbatus around here just yesterday, barely three hours since Aurelius Cotta formally closed the meeting.’ The Hairs on the back of Flaminius’ neck stood up and he visibly stiffened, so Barbatus had come grovelling had he? And old man Italicus here had a finger in each pie, oh how I envy such a man.
‘Ah, he beat me to it did he?’ Joked Flaminius.
‘He was not fooling me though. I knew that you would want the command; if I were still Consul I would want it too. No, I refused him outright, no arguments. He wasn’t happy mind you but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I have seen too many wars and this one sounds like a farce alright, protect the freedom of the Greeks? Not for me I am afraid.’
Flaminius breathed a breath of fresh air, oh how wonderful it was today, the birds singing in the trees outside the door of Italicus’ house, the smell of fresh bread wafting in from the kitchen.
‘I thank you most sincerely Italicus, it was hard for me to come today. I am sorry to leave you so early but I have a campaign to prepare for!’ I shall see you in the Senate tomorrow.’
‘You will, goodbye Flaminius and good luck.’