Monday, April 13, 2009

Flaccus Fever!

Over half the readers of the Roman Mysteries want Flavia to marry the young orator and poet Gaius Valerius Flaccus, whom Flavia calls Floppy. But who is he? (right: Francesca Isherwood as Flavia, Ben Lloyd-Hughes as Flaccus)

For those who have only seen the TV series - or haven't yet read books 8 to 16 - here are a few excerpts to get you up to speed.

Flavia meets Flaccus

Flavia studied the young man as he came towards them across the moving deck. She remembered seeing him and his slave-boy come on board, but she had been too busy saying goodbye to Scuto and Alma to take much notice.

He was tall and muscular, with dark eyes and floppy dark hair. The two broad stripes on his short-sleeved tunic told Flavia he was a patrician, like Bato. She guessed he was a little younger than her tutor Aristo, about eighteen or nineteen years old. He was very good-looking, so she gave him her prettiest smile.

The young man ignored her smile and went straight up to Bato. 'Hello,' he said in a deep cultured voice. 'My name is Gaius Valerius Flaccus.'

'Marcus Artorius Bato,' said the other. 'Let me introduce you to Flavia Gemina, the captain's daughter, and her friends Jonathan, Nubia and – '

'How long do you think it will take us to reach Corinth?' said the passenger, not even looking at Flavia. He was chewing some kind of gum or resin.

'Four or five days,' said Aristo, stepping up to join them on the crowded platform. 'That's if the wind is favourable. It will take a week to ten days if not.'

Flaccus nodded and moved to the rail. As he did so, he jostled Flavia. She fought back an urge to thump him hard. 'Big oaf,' she muttered under her breath, and gave him a withering look.

But Flaccus was oblivious. He rested his forearms on the polished stern rail and chomped his gum. 'My father left me a nice legacy,' he remarked, 'and I thought I'd see the Seven Sights before I begin to practise law in Rome.'

'Oh, I know the Seven Sights!' cried Flavia, her desire to show off overcoming her irritation. 'They're the famous monuments which everybody says you must see before you die. Some people call them the Seven Wonders of the world.'

'From Delos I plan to go on to Rhodes or Alexandria,' said Flaccus to Bato and Aristo, with barely a glance at Flavia, who had begun to count on her fingers. 'There's the statue of Zeus at Olympia,' she began, 'the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of – '

'Let's go down to the main deck,' said Flaccus abruptly to Aristo and Bato. 'We can talk more easily there.'

'How rude!' hissed Flavia when the three men had left the stern platform.

Lupus nodded.

'I didn't tell him there would be four children on board,' said Captain Geminus. He glanced over his shoulder at them. 'Flaccus is very rich and he's paying me well, so keep out of his way.'

'Happily,' muttered Flavia and then made her voice deep and cultured: 'My father left me a nice legacy,' she said, mimicking Flaccus and pretending to chomp. 'I thought I'd see the Seven Sights before I become a pompous lawyer up in Rome . . . '

Lupus laughed and Jonathan grinned.

Flavia snorted. 'Look at him, chewing like a cow. And Flaccus is a stupid name. It means big-eared or flabby.'

'Well, he doesn't have big ears and he certainly isn't flabby,' said Jonathan. 'He's got more muscles than most gladiators I know.'

'Then it must refer to his floppy hair.' Flavia clenched her fists to make her biceps big and flipped an imaginary fringe out of her eyes: 'I'm Gaius Vapidius Floppy,' she breathed huskily. 'But you can just call me Floppy.'

(from Roman Mystery VIII, The Colossus of Rhodes)

Flavia gets advice from Flaccus

Flavia twirled the blue parasol Pulchra had loaned her, and she tried swinging her hips a little, the way Leucosia the slave-girl did. But it made her stagger and she almost fell off her cork-heeled shoes. Suddenly a muscular arm blocked her way and she looked up to see Flaccus glaring down at her.

'Where do you think you're going?' he said, his hand pressing the plaster wall beside her. He looked very handsome in a dark-blue tunic bordered with gold thread.

'To the beach banquet,' she said.

'Looking like that?'

'Looking like what?'

'Looking so grown up. As if you're sixteen years old, with all that dark stuff around your eyes – '

'Thank you,' she said, twirling her parasol. 'It's kohl – '

' – and the colour on your mouth and cheeks… Take it off.'

'What do you mean?'

'Go back to your room and take it off.'

'Who do you think you are?' she cried. 'You're not my pater!'

He leaned closer, his face still grim. 'And if your pater were here? What would he say?'

(from Roman Mystery XI, The Sirens of Surrentum)

Flavia encourages Flaccus

‘If there is any immortality to be had in this world,’ said Flaccus quietly, ‘it is through the things we write. Cicero made the right decision.’ He paused and looked up at her with his dark eyes. ‘You know, the anniversary of his death is the day after tomorrow.’

‘The day of the trial!’ breathed Flavia. ‘Do you think it’s an omen?’

‘I hope not,’ he said with a shrug, but she thought she saw him shiver.

‘Drink your wine while it’s hot,’ she said. ‘It will warm you.’

He dutifully took a sip from the steaming beaker.

A breeze from the garden brought a scent of winter jasmine and ruffled his glossy dark hair. Flavia tucked her feet under her and studied him. She always forgot how handsome he was, with his long, thick eyelashes and straight nose and sensitive mouth. She remembered that once she had imagined kissing those lips.

He looked up at her and she felt her cheeks grow warm.

‘Flavia,’ he said. ‘May I tell you something?’

‘Of course,’ she said brightly.

‘Something very personal?’

‘Yes.’ Her heart beat faster.

‘You won't laugh?’

‘I promise.’

He looked down at the scroll. ‘I’m terrified.’

‘Terrified? Of what?’

‘Of the trial.’ His voice was very low.

‘But why?’

‘I've never pleaded a case before.’

‘But you studied rhetoric, didn’t you?’

‘Yes. At the academy in Athens.’

‘And didn’t you say you were going to practise law in Rome?’

‘I’ve been so busy searching for a master criminal that I haven’t had a chance.’

‘Oh. But didn’t you plead cases when you were studying in Athens?’

‘Only practice cases, like the one about Cicero. This is real. Someone’s freedom is at stake. Maybe their life.’ He suddenly seemed very young and vulnerable, and she remembered he was not yet twenty.

‘Oh, Gaius!’ The leather armchair creaked as she sat forward. ‘You’ll be marvellous. You have the most marvellous voice, and you look marvellous in a toga and you know lots of Greek and... you’ll be marvellous!’ She felt herself flushing and wondered if she had gone too far.

‘You repeated the word marvellous too many times,’ he said.

But then he smiled at her, and she knew she had said exactly the right thing.

(from Roman Mystery XIII, The Slave-girl from Jerusalem)

Flavia gets a proposal from Flaccus

‘Flavia,’ he said, his voice deep with emotion. ‘Flavia, will you marry me?’

Flavia closed her mouth.

Flaccus smiled and moved out from behind her father’s desk. ‘We won’t have the betrothal ceremony until June,’ he said, ‘when you come of age. And we don’t have to have the actual wedding until you’re fifteen or sixteen.’ He took another step towards her and now he was so close that she could feel the heat radiating from his muscular body.

‘I just want to know that one day you’ll be mine,’ he said softly, and added, ‘I know you have feelings for me. I can see it in your eyes.’

Flavia’s heart was pounding and she could feel her resolve wavering. Floppy loved her. He loved her!

...From the house next door came the sudden thin cry of a baby...

Flavia swallowed and shook her head. ‘I’m sorry, Gaius Valerius Flaccus,’ she said. ‘But I have just this morning taken a vow of chastity. I made a vow to Diana. Nubia and I have renounced men forever.’

(from Roman Mystery XIV, The Beggar of Volubilis)

Flavia gets a shock

‘Floppy!’ She dropped the hat and ran across the marble floor and threw her arms around him. ‘Oh, Floppy! I can’t believe you’re here!’

For a wonderful moment she was hugging his slim warm waist and smelling his musky cinnamon body oil and hearing his heart thudding against her ear. But instead of greeting her in return, he took her gently by the shoulders and pushed her away. His hands were trembling and his face was very pale. ‘Flavia Gemina,’ he stammered. ‘Is it really you? We all thought you were… That is…’ He gestured stiffly towards two young women standing in the shadows behind him. ‘Flavia, I’d like you to meet Prudentilla. My sponsa.’

(from Roman Mystery XVI, The Prophet from Ephesus)

Eheu! Floppy is engaged to a woman called Prudentilla! What do you think? Is he the One? Or should Flavia forget Floppy and go for someone else? All will be revealed in the final book of the series: The Man from Pomegranate Street... In the meantime, vote for your choice in the poll at the top of this page on the left.

P.S. Gaius Valerius Flaccus was a real person. Not much is known of him, only that he started an epic poem called the Argonautica in about AD 79 and... but I wouldn't want to spoil anything.

[The 17+ books in the Roman Mysteries series are perfect for children aged 9+, especially those studying Romans as a topic in Key Stage 2 and 3. There are DVDs of some of the books as well as an interactive game.]


  1. Anonymous10:18 PM

    OMG!What a blow to poor Flavia...she must have been so excited to see him and then ..BAM!.. she finds out he's engaged!!
    I so totally think that he is the one, I mean they have strong feelings for each other and you can feel the intensity of their love.

  2. Anonymous10:30 PM

    Salve Caroline!
    I have read up until the Gladiators from Capua. I haven't come across Flaccus yet but reading this,I think I'm getting the Flaccus fever! I have been taken over and I totally think he is the one!! Hope that Flavia is happy in the end!:)

  3. Molly Ann12:18 PM

    Thanks for posting these! As I mentioned last night, I have only come across Flaccus in the TV Series...Now I now that they are totally cute together! *kyah* I thought it was so funny when Flaccus was ignoring Flavia, and then when Flaccus was lecturing her on what to wear! So sweet!
    Hopefully Flaccus or Floppy ditches this Prune-person, he had feelings for Flavia first! It's only fair!

  4. Salve, Molly Ann! You're welcome. If you want to discuss Flaccus and Flavia in a less public forum, email me directly: :-)

  5. Lucky1:27 PM

    OK... so I haven't read the Roman Mysteries, I only looked at the blog coz my mate told me to. But reading this I want to find out more about Flavia and Flaccus. What's the name of the book they first meet in? Will they ever get married? My mate said you can vote on who should marry Flavia but where is it... I can't seem to find it?

  6. Salve, Lucky! Start with The Colossus of Rhodes and then read the books I list in the blog up above. To vote for your choice, go to the very top of this page. Under the picture of me you will find the poll. You can vote there!

  7. Flavia and Floppy 4ever!9:59 PM

    OMG!! Thats it I know that I am down with Flaccus Fever!:O

    That is one match made in heaven.... so there is no way it should be broken!!!!

  8. The Bookworm (not logged in)4:10 PM

    I'm sorry but i just don't think it can work between them, I have read all of the books so far and i think that for once flavia might do what she's told and she'll marry Tranquillus, not Floppy

  9. Tranquillius' father doesn't approve of her! Do you think she'll win him over?

  10. Salve Caroline,
    May I just say that you seem to contradict and question the chances of Jonathan and Tranquillius....... So does that mean that Floppy has a chance or that Bato, Felix or someone else has a chance of marrying Flavia?

  11. Salve, Suzy! Anything is possible! But I'm trying to stay enigmatic and not give too much away. But if you look at my TWEETS you will probably get a good idea of what will happen...

  12. Salve Caroline,
    I just clicked on the link that you had posted and I saw a teaser from the book:

    ‘Great Juno’s peacock!’ gasped Pulchra. ‘It can’t be!’... ‘It is,’ said Flavia, her heart pounding. ‘That’s him. That's my husband.'
    So now I think that its Flaccus or Jonathan because why would Pulchra be so shocked?

  13. salve Caroline

    I think i might know what happens now i have looked at your twitter but i don't think i should say my idea here

  14. Salve, Suzy... Pulchra would also be shocked if Flavia was marrying Bato or... HER DAD!

  15. Salve, Bookworm! Email me ( with your idea. I won't confirm or deny it, but when the book finally comes out and you discover you were correct then I will be your witness!

  16. Salve Caroline,

    I don't think that its Felix because Flavia isn't in love with him anymore and he is also married to someone else. I don't think that Flavia likes Bato in that way or that Bato likes her in that way so..... But I think that Floppy has the highest chance.

  17. Salve, Suzy! I can tell you are a Top Fan who has been reading the books carefully! :-D

  18. Salve Caroline,
    Thankyou very much... I look at details very carefully, its a habit because I take GCSE History... thats why I even started to read your books because I am very interested in the Romans.
    I think I have figured out for certain who it might be that Flavia marries.

  19. Cathy9:46 AM

    Salve Caroline,
    From all the twitters about Domitian I have understood something:

    'Domitian was still staring at Nubia with his large dark eyes. He smiled. ‘Kiss my feet, if you desire my pardon.’'

    'Nubia would not give Domitian the pleasure of making her watch Aristo die. She would kill herself first.'

    'Domitian was peering through the smooth, lentil-shaped emerald and scanning the cheering crowd, like a smiling, nodding, green-eyed Cyclops.'

    From all of the above twitters I have realised that in the Prophet of Ephesus(I still haven't read it)Domitian is the one who will murder the Emperor and he will become the Emperor (he has the emerald to prove it). Does he also like Nubia?

  20. Salve, Cathy! Yes, Domitian likes Nubia. Remember this scene from The Gladiators of Capua?

    'Thetis the sea nymph and Hercules the hero!' exclaimed Domitian, rising from an elaborately carved ivory chair and coming towards them. 'But now I can see it's Hercula. You're no boy!'
    The Emperor's younger brother was not tall, but he was muscular and good-looking, with curly brown hair and large brown eyes. Nubia felt her face grow hot under his gaze and she dropped her eyes.
    'Caesar,' murmured Flavia, she moved forward and shakily kissed Domitian's outstretched hand. Nubia followed her example.
    Domitian lifted Nubia to her feet and she heard the quaver in Flavia's voice as her friend said: 'Thank you for saving our lives.'
    'You are very welcome. I enjoyed it. I'm an excellent archer and I never miss an opportunity to show off.'
    Nubia darted a quick glance up at him and then quickly lowered her gaze.
    He was still looking straight at her.
    You must rush out this very moment and buy The Prophet from Ephesus!

  21. Hmm, I hope she marries Floppy, but if she doesn't, I think I'd like to see her with someone new, hmm.

  22. Cathy5:59 PM

    Salve Caroline,

    Do you know when The Prophet from Ephesus will be in libraries? I don't think I have enough money to buy it so I was hoping to borrow the book but the librarian had said that its still not in libraries so.......

  23. The Prophet from Ephesus should be in your library now. If it's not, ask your librarian to order it. Even better, get your school librarian to order the whole set!

  24. Cathy8:35 PM

    Salve Caroline,
    Thankyou very much for the information and i'll try to get my school to order the whole set. Can I ask you why set up the poll for us to vote on when you have already written who Flavia's husband is going to be ... is it for you to see who your fans want the husband to be or is it something else?

  25. I set up the poll to keep anticipation high for the final book!

  26. Anonymous9:32 PM

    Thank you very much for writing these books, they are great. Personally I think that Flavia will marry Tranquillus and that Pulchra will marry Floppy. I think Lupus will marry Cleo

  27. Salve Caroline!
    Your books are great.I have read all of them so far and I don't think Flavia will marry Bato because of what he said in 'Death by Vespasian.' Also she probably won't marry Felix because Pulchra would have known. She probably doesn't marry Jonathan because he's a jew or flaccus because 'Flavia swallowed hard. She realised she was still completely and utterly in love with him.' This kind of implies that he got married to someone else. So I think that Tranquillus is the best bet. Thank you very much for writing these books!

  28. la la la la... (*singing a tune*)

  29. Anonymous10:06 PM

    What was the date of the final book and who won the poll on who people wanted Flavia to marry?

  30. You can see the poll on the left. Nearly 600 readers voted and Flaccus won with 56%.

    The book in which Flavia gets married is the final book, The Man from Pomegranate Street. It will be out on the 1st of June 2009, in the UK.

  31. Anonymous8:56 PM

    Hey Caroline. Im a total fan of your books and you are my favourite author of all time. One little curse/gift I have is I have a complete imagination. This is what I think will happen:
    Flaccus is invited with his wife to a dinner party at Flavia's house. Flaccus's wife shows intrest in Marcus Flavius Geminus, Flaccus gets upset at this and Flavia runs to her room in a tantrum and starts crying, Flaccus comes upstairs looking for her and tries to propose again and syas
    "Flavia my wife is leaving me, I know it, I hate her. Please marry me if you say yes then.."
    "I love you Gaius Valerius Flaccus of course I will"
    "Its to dangereous to live here in Ostia my wife, your father, wer'e in trouble, so we will run away to Rome."
    "I agree"

    a week later:

    "Flavia I think we should take a trip to Ostia and make sure that everything is okay"

    They leave for Ostia.

    They arrive in Ostia:
    It turned out Flaccus's wife left him and she quickly married again to :

    Marcus Flavius Geminus. Then they leave back for Rome both Flaccus and Flavia both horrifed.

    Then Flaccus and Flavia have a baby but Flavia dies in child birth because she broke her vow to Diana. Flaccus is so upset he gives the baby to a passing stranger called: Hepsiva who is walking with someone called Jonathan (jonathan ben mordecai and miriam's midwife Hepsiva) then Flaccus goes back to flavia lies next to her gets his dagger and kills himslef.

    This is just a daydream of mine! I love you Caroline!

  32. LOL: I wish I'd thought of that... too late now, though! The book has sadly gone to print... :-)

  33. Hello, I just love your books! I realy want that "Man From Pomagranet Street" because i'm doing a progect on domitian! Hooope you make mmore books!