Tabula Rasa, by Chris Bone

Nobody knew where Livilla came from. Neither did Livilla.

Just off the Julian Forum lay the Temple to Venus Genetrix, as built by Caesar in his desperation to prove his line was descended from the goddess herself. Livilla had been discovered by the priests of the temple shortly after a particularly raucous Saturnalia. Naked and fetal, she lay asleep before the statue of Venus.

Surely she was an earthly manifestation of the goddess herself. Her curvaceous appearance and beauty suggested that indeed she was. Livilla did not know. Livilla remembered nothing. She was clutching a piece of lead into which was scratched the word ‘Livilla’. This was the only clue to her identity.

The priests took her in, fed and clothed her. Livilla returned their kindness with certain services. She seemed to remember some skills of her previous life instinctively. Some said she had been a courtesan. Others said she was a disgraced Vestal Virgin. Nobody really knew.

She had fallen for Caius Aurelius Corvus, the youngest son of a senator as soon as she had set eyes on him. The goddess of love worked her charms and he fell for her in equal measure. Roma backwards spelt is amor, after all. And so it was for Livilla and Caius. Until that is the day that Livilla caught him in flagrante delicto with the wife of a Syrian merchant. Livilla—filled with jealous fury—snatched a bronze javelin from a conveniently placed statue of Hippolyte , Queen of the Amazons. She thrust it down with all her might, skewering the couple and pinning them together on the bed like two insects on a board.

Murdering the son of a senator is never wise. Fearing for her life she fled from the Capitoline Hill and lost herself in the maze of streets of the Subura. Nobody would find her there. Once more using her ‘skills’ to survive, she came to the notice of Creon and his gang. She joined them, rapidly earning respect for her natural talent with the javelin, hitting the mark every time.

Maybe that was it? Perhaps she was an Amazon…?

…Whatever the case, she still couldn’t remember.

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