epilogue

It was in the fifth year of Tiberia's reign that her people began to doubt her sanity. She whispered to herself at all hours of the day, yet sometimes she cried out to the voices in her head. She took numerous lovers of both genders in orgies of gluttony and lust. She sometimes refused to wear anything but see-through gowns of gossamer or robes of Chinese silk. She indulged in extravagance and exhausted all of Rome's spare money on such revelry. The Senate hated her as thoroughly as they had hated Manius, but they hated their female emperor with more enthusiasm. Even as she threatened them with exile and death, they did not step down from their places. They were angry with her for many reasons. She had named her fourteen year old son, Gaius, Tribune of the Plebs. He was only fourteen years old, how could he do such a job? His mother did not doubt him. She had named the fatherless Titus Pulcher as head of the Praetorian Guard. She prayed only to the goddesses Venus and Juno, refusing every other god and claiming that their worship was for the impotent.

Her reign was not at all like the previous emperor's. Manius had been a well-versed politician. Tiberia knew nothing about politics. His people had loved Manius. Not only her people, but also the gods hated Tiberia. There were storms, diseases, and other plagues terrorizing the cities for the years that followed her ascension. The empire was shaking under the weight of her ego and Tiberia did not realize it. She claimed that Rome had never had such a great emperor. "I am a woman of both intelligence and beauty. One does not hold power over the other. No woman besides me could boast such a thing." There was a little truth in her words. The men of Rome lusted after her looks and were intimidated by her intelligence. Intimidation was not something that easily came to Roman men.

After the death of Titus's distant cousin, Meir, Tiberia tried to kill herself. However, just as the dagger was poised above her chest, a guard came in to check on her. He stopped her and called for other guards to help her leave the temple. Little did Tiberia know, everything had been planned out before she had even become empress. Titus was Rome's darling. There was not a single man or woman that disliked him. He had planted the idea of becoming empress in Tiberia's head long before Manius had even been killed. While Tiberia disliked him, they were still lovers. As always, Titus was there for her while she grieved for his cousin Meir. She had loved him dearly, yet she felt as though she had been betrayed. Titus's matriarchal mother had led the Pulcher family into Rome. She persuaded Meir to move into the city and woo Tiberia with the innocence that he always seemed to possess.

After Meir began to fall in love with Tiberia, something that Titus and Tita had not expected, Tita ordered Titus to murder his cousin. It was surely the only way out. But, Titus failed. He fled to his father's home in northern Italy. His mother, Tita, was left to do the dirty work. She gave Meir a dose of poison, but the poison was too weak and the effects were slow in happening. It took four days for her nephew to die. After his death, Titus made his way back to the capital. He made an appearance to Tiberia, who fell into his arms and seemed to cry for hours. He was there for her in her time of grieving and this meant a lot to her. Soon, they were wed.

Now mother-in-law to the empress, Tita was beginning to feel most important. What should she do to attain the throne, though? She could always administer poison to the girl. This time, at least, she would give her a stronger dose. Four years after the marriage of Tiberia Corva and Titus Pulcher, Tiberia fell suddenly ill. She was dead within a day or two. Titus Pulcher was named emperor. In a matter of ten years, half of Rome's young nobility was dead. Decimus Scipio had been poisoned. Spurius Regulus the Lesser had been strangled. Marcus Atellus had been cut down in the Coliseum. Manius Dives had been stabbed. Mania Dives had been beheaded. Lucius Germanicus had killed himself. Servius Nerva had been gutted. Meir Pulcher had been poisoned, as well as Tiberia Corva. All of these deaths caused historians to think.

Why should people remember this time in Rome's history? The future generations would see these deaths and imagine Rome as a deadly, dangerous, and ugly place. It was not. It was on the order of Titus Pulcher that all records of the past ten years would be destroyed and rewritten. He did not want to be remembered as a murderer or the bastard that he was. He did not want people to mention Tiberia—his love—and Meir with an air of jealousy when they spoke of their tragic love story. He did not want Manius to seem weak, but tyrannical. The names of his past friends and enemies would be changed. Manius would be called Caligula. His entire history would be changed. There was no Manius Dives. Tiberia would be called Claudius I. There never was a woman emperor. There was only a weak male. Titus would be named Nero. He would have history rewritten. He would make it better. He would make it more interesting.

That is how their story ended. Think what you wish, but remember that history is easily modified.