Seppicest – The Vengeance Gods Bless Us

This is going to be a productive month for me in terms of this blog.

It’ll probably be the only way in which I was productive, but that’s OK.

Firstly, I want to mention this appropriate article I found which poses the question “How Much Is Too Much Incest On TV?” We all know my answer to that. Of course the article and the comments bring up a lot of pseudo-incest storylines – people who are thought to be related but actually aren’t, step-siblings, adoptive siblings, relations that aren’t sexual and therefore aren’t technically incest, characters having two independent sexual partners who are related by blood, characters who share a sibling, etc.

I think it’s hilarious they brought up Supernatural. Jokes are made – most of them fanservice – but there has been ZERO incest, unless you want to count when poor Mary had to kiss her dead father while he was possessed by a demon – and again, not technically incest, just a kiss. If Supernatural was on HBO, you’d probably have to seal the deal with sex. But it’s on the CW.

I’m going to be an adult (sort of). After so much time spent on The Middle and iCarly, it feels weird to write about a show like this.

I mentioned Spartacus: Blood and Sand (13 episodes) in an entry about returning January shows last year when its prequel series Gods of the Arena (6 episodes) was airing. I would encourage you to go and read that quickly (it’s not very long, just a handful of paragraphs at the bottom) before continuing with this entry (which is much more relevant to his blog than the former one was). This entry is in sequel to what I have already written about the show.

The second season is entitled Spartacus: Vengeance (10 episodes), and I’m thrilled it’s finally here. I just rewatched Blood and Sand and Gods of the Arena in preparation, and I’m glad I did, because this isn’t a show that really gets old. The lyrical-ness of the dialogue and just all the pretty – the actors and the costumes and the – granted, CGI – landscapes and sky views – they all lend themselves to pleasurable repeat viewings.

I read a review of Spartacus’ return episode – 2.01 Fugitivus (which aired last Friday) – and the amused reviewer noted that while he (I just assume almost all paid reviewers are men, is that strange?) had just remembered all the gore and graphic sex, he was surprised to be reminded while watching the new episode that the plot is actually rather complex, and a knowledge of the complicated history between characters was necessary in order to make proper sense of their current interactions.

I mention this as an attestation to the show’s underestimated quality, and because I wanted you to know that I don’t think it would be wise to just dive in with this season if you were suddenly interested – I would vehemently recommend visiting both the prequel series and the first season. They’re both on DVD already, I’m sure, and it’s only 19 episodes. Another thing often said of the show is that it takes awhile to find its footing. I think the first few episodes have a lot of good things in them, but it’s not until around episode five that it starts to get really intriguing.

As I mentioned before in the other entry: don’t expect with this to be another Rome. It’s not. It’s different. People looking for another Rome will be disappointed, and this will inevitably be the case for the rest of their lives because there will never be another Rome.

Season 2 will be different in a variety ways, some sad, some strange, some promising. Amongst the most promising is the introduction of two new characters – Seppius and his sister Seppia.

I lamented the lack, not only of brothers and sisters, but of family in general when I first described the show. A lack soon to rectified, it would seem.

The chance of incest (with clouds in the afternoon) is much higher on premium cable channels. Even when such shows don’t have a brother and sister (or, less frequently, a mother and son) actually have sex with each other, most of them still flirt with it or tease. And usually it’s main characters, too, though sometimes the best stories are just visitors with good arcs. I mean, just off the top of my head as I’m writing this I can list Boardwalk Empire, Carnivale, Rome, True Blood, The Tudors, Nip/Tuck, Game of Thrones, Hung, Big Love, etc.

The chance of incest in such shows set in centuries past (or their fantasy equivalent) seems to be even higher. Or at least that’s the impression I carry around with me. Part of that comes from actual historical circumstances – Cleopatra married to her brother, Anne Boleyn executed for incest, etc. And part of it from traditional patriarchal customs – the sister being the responsibility of the brother until she is married if their father is dead, the stronger familial ties, general familial centrality, and the tendency not to move to faraway places. And most of it from the attempt of the writers/showrunners to create a sense that their setting is an entirely different place. What better way to do that than through incest?

I was surprised that Spartacus didn’t have any incest, just because it seemed like the type of show that would go for that. It really liked pushing the envelope, and showing different kinds of sexual interactions. So, yeah, I was disappointed, especially because my reasons for hoping were understandable.

But season 2 brings new characters, and new pleasures.

I’ll go into more detail further down, but from the first episode it seems likely that Seppia and Seppius are already having sex with each other, or on the cusp of it at the very least. And I bet there’s plenty to look forward to between them in future episodes. If luck holds they won’t murder or betray each other before the season’s over.

The Seppius/Seppia storyline won’t need any background, so I’ll treat that as an almost separate subject, but I’m in a Spartacus mood, so I’m going to go into specifics about my other thoughts on the show first. Feel free to skip it because it won’t make a whole lot of sense if you don’t know what I’m talking about. (The Spartacus/Ilithyia section is rather detailed, however.)

Not Safe For Work warning line. Some of the pictures and GIFs to follow verge on pornographic. Just thought you might want to know.

Spoiler warning line. I will be discussing details of what transpired in past seasons, and in Fugitivus.

To first continue with where I left off with the first entry:

Gods of the Arena was fantastic. The season finale couldn’t compare with 1.13 Kill Them All, but little else can. It was still a solid six episodes, especially given they were put together hastily once it was clear Andy Whitfield couldn’t return to filming.

It hurt when they killed Melitta (I really liked her, put her on my list of favorite female characters), but it was such a great scene. I shipped her and Gannicus hardcore, and will continue to ship them now that she’s dead. (Gannicus is supposed to be part of Vengeance.) I’m not interested in seeing him move on, I don’t think. Unless it’s something really special. (Some ships I just can’t resist because the chemistry and the tension and the circumstances are all perfect.) I’m sure the Melitta thing’ll come up between him and Oenomaus (Doctore) because this is TV.

Andy Whitfield has since passed away. He was so young. It’s not right. He will be missed.

Liam McIntyre was recast in the role of Spartacus. He’s doing a fine job, but it feels like another character. Andy was Spartacus, this guy…not Spartacus. When they were recasting I didn’t even realize how much I would miss Andy. But after rewatching, and then now seeing the first episode with a different actor – it’s awful. The loss… It’s just really hard to connect what happened to Spartacus before with this new guy who looks and sounds different.

That being said…

Fugitivus was f—king fantastic. With two years to write it, it really should have been. But it was.

I’m not even sure where to start.

I suppose I should explain my ships and unships, because 75% of what I care about has to do with them. I have only about 25% interest in other things. That’s just the way I am. I make no apologies.

Batiatus/Lucretia

Absolutely yes, forever and ever. I think she lost her mind because she lost her child and because she lost him. (Assuming she’s not faking it – which I don’t think she is but I like to cover my bases and assure you that I have considered the possibility). With what Crixus did to her (especially after Batiatus had already told her he knew about their “affair” and didn’t care because it made her happy), I hope she came to her senses and realized she should have loved only Batiatus.

Crixus/Naevia

I don’t really care about them. I don’t like Crixus. Naevia’s OK but boring; I liked Melitta more. She’s been recast, which will be weird. The scene where they were separated did get to me a little, though. It was heartbreaking.

Spartacus/Sura

I like that Sura was a woman of faith. And Spartacus needed motivation, so giving him a fridged wife makes sense. But I never felt for them. I’ve got a lot of Spartacus ships, so him dwelling on his dead wife isn’t fun for me, even if I appreciate his devotion. We only had one scene of them together before they were married and I didn’t find the dynamic particularly interesting, although I enjoyed learning Sparty was a bit of playa before the ball and chain.

Varro/Aurelia

I absolutely ship them. They can be together in Elysium now. It was rocky towards the end, but I think they loved each other very much.

Crixus/Lucretia

She wronged him in so many ways, and yet I feel what he did to her was worse somehow. I can’t wait for her to get it together and then try to get revenge. That brief moment where he sees that she’s alive, and she sees him and she’s terrified – it was perfect and wonderful.

Glaber/Ilithyia

I love how much I love all of these married couples, because I usually don’t take much interest in established couples. I think these two have an interesting relationship. He’s scary when he’s angry, but it’s not like she’s a delicate flower. I think there is still love there, and it interests me. Ilithyia loving anyone interests me. I also think these two could have a perfect marriage.  They don’t, but they could. Which I also find very interesting.

Spartacus/Mira

I like Spartacus and Mira, particularly at first when he’s just uncharacteristically rude to her even though she was obviously in love with him. But it’s not my favorite ship for him, not even my second favorite ship for him, and I fear it has already gotten stale. But it was pretty great between when she was introduced and the season finale. They seem to be together-together in Fugitivus. That’s a big jump from what they had before – all offscreen. It’s like they don’t even want me to care.

There was a lot of promo stuff for her – I doubt she’s going anywhere. I just hate viewing her as a placeholder for whatever more interesting relationship comes along. It’s not fair to her.

Katrina Law, though. What a gorgeous woman!Spartacus/Aurelia

Yes, I ship it. I shipped it since Aurelia came to work at the villa. Even though she blamed Spartacus for Varro’s death when Spartacus didn’t deserve the blame, you can understand why she might do that, so I certainly don’t blame her for it. Spartacus felt the need to take care of her because of Varro, not only because he was the one who had to kill him and he felt responsible, but because Varro was his friend and he loved him. And I love that.

And I might not have shipped it but that Spartacus was always watching her and looking at her and worrying about her. He was going to rebel against Batiatus even though Mira told him that Roman law would have all of the slaves in that household put to the death because of his actions. But then he saw Aurelia and decided on another plan. And Mira was so jealous.

And Fugitivus started out so well for them. He treated Aurelia like she was on this pedestal even though she was constantly critiquing him. And Liam – thank you, Liam – just looked at her like he was so in love with her. And Mira was jealous yet again. And then Spartacus and Aurelia had this scene out in the moonlight where he gave her all his money and told her he was going to send her to be with her son. And it was just so soft and beautiful and perfect.

And part of it is how much I love Varro and how much I loved his friendship with Spartacus, and I just love the idea of Spartacus being with Varro’s widow. Aurelia even tells Spartacus that she will tell her son that he loved Varro above all others.

And then they killed her! This show likes to kill people. I took the deaths of Varro and Melitta and Batiatus and Duro (characters I loved, characters I shipped and friend-shipped with other people) like a flipping champ! And then they do this to me.

I think it was supposed to be sad sad (well of course it was), but I’m just sad that the Spartacus/Aurelia ship is dead. And I’m sad that all reminders of Varro are gone. It’s like he never was. Aurelia was a constant reminder of Varro, and now it’s gone. For Spartacus, and for the audience. REMEMBER VARRO FOREVER! In fact, I wonder if that’s why they killed her. I mean, they can’t even show any relevant flashbacks of Varro because Andy Whitfield is in all of them.

Oh, readers, the way Spartacus looked at her! (Andy and Liam.) It wasn’t just compassion and guilt. And I’m perfectly willing to admit that it might have been incidental and not scripted, but it was there.

Well, as far as I’m concerned, they were in love with each other, I’ll still ship them to a degree for always even though she’s dead, like I continue to ship Gannicus/Melitta.

How perfect this episode would have been if they hadn’t killed her. Why did it have to be her that they killed? I’m certainly not surprised they wanted a death for the premiere, but it had to be her?

Plus I really like Brooke Williams. I like her face. Watching Legend of the Seeker, I was always saying, “Where is Jennsen?”

But here’s my Sue Heck silver lining: I don’t enjoy multi-shipping, I prefer worshipping at the altar of my OTP and that being that. With Aurelia out of the way, I can focus on:

Spartacus/Ilithyia

Folks, welcome to my OTP.

They legit hate each other. Put in the same room without bigger priorities, it would be a literal knife fight.

He tried to strangle her.

And I can’t get enough.

Their story below:

So, Ilithyia is married to Glaber (he was a legatus, he’s a praetor now – information you don’t need that I’m giving you anyway). Glaber betrayed Spartacus’ people, the Thracians. He made an agreement with them to work together and eliminate their mutual enemy the Getae, but then Ilithyia came to visit Glaber and made him feel bad about himself. So Glaber forced Spartacus’ people (who had joined the Roman military auxiliary) to follow him to a more prominent battle against a different Roman enemy. Spartacus refused and rebelled. The Getae burned down his village and killed everyone except for him and his wife. So Glaber came along, split them up, and sold Sura into slavery. He took Spartacus back to Capua to be executed in the arena. But Spartacus didn’t die in the arena. So now Spartacus has humiliated Glaber by rebelling and then by not dying.

Ilithyia hates him for this reason. And he in turn hates her, because she’s Glaber’s wife.

But then every time they met afterwards, they just made it worse by saying provocative things to one another. Spartacus spends just as much time facing off against and glaring at Ilithyia as he does talking about how much he hates Glaber. (And he doesn’t know it, but it’s half her fault Glaber betrayed him anyway.)

Spartacus becomes famous in the arena, beloved by the people, which just angers Ilithyia even more. She buys her own gladiator and tries to show him off to her bitchy “friends” (the term is used in its loosest sense), but they only want to see Spartacus, who insults her in front of everyone and makes all of her “friends” bring up Glaber’s shame. So Ilithyia tells her gladiator to kill Spartacus. But he fails. (The show’s not named after him, after all.)

Licinia

This pisses poor beleaguered Ilithyia off even more. Lucretia, who is angry at Ilithyia for trying to kill their cash cow, and for being out of control, and mostly for wanting to have sex with Crixus, decides to get revenge. She has convinced Ilithyia and her “friend” Licinia, secretly and independently, to give in to their savage lust and pay for the pleasure of a tumble with the gladiator of their choice. Licinia chooses Spartacus, and Ilithyia, much to Lucretia’s dismay, chooses Crixus.

But it’s to be done with masks – all very classy and anonymous. So Lucretia tricks them – and forces Spartacus (who thinks he’ll be “lying with” Licinia, and has been told to please her in every way possible, but to keep his mouth shut) to have sex with Ilithyia (who thinks she’s getting Crixus). Then Lucretia brings Licinia in to “catch” them and thoroughly embarrasses everyone.

Ilithyia is not really deserving of pity, but I do feel bad for her in that split second where Lucretia makes it sound like Ilithyia had actually requested Spartacus because how humiliating!

But then she turns to Spartacus, and they both rip each other’s masks off, and it’s pretty clear that she’s as horrified as he is, and uh-oh! Spartacus is FURIOUS. 

He growls and then tries to strangle her.

But the guards pull him off and take him away.

Licinia is having a good laugh about it, which Ilithyia does not appreciate. So she – I’m laughing right now – she kills her! Beats her head against the marble floor.

Licinia isn’t just anybody, she’s the cousin of Marcus Crassus, the richest man in the whole republic. And if you’ve seen the old timey Spartacus with Kurt Douglas, then you probably know the name. Or also if you prefer academics to movies and, like, actually know the history. Whichever.

Well, Lucretia is a little disappointed her connection to Marcus Crassus is gone, but blackmailing Ilithyia yields more results anyway.

Ilithyia goes into shock, and I think she feels a little guilty and is scared of the consequences, but I think to call he remorseful would be wrong. This is not a woman who cares about other people.

Here’s the thing about Spartacus and Ilithyia having their masked sex: IT WAS REALLY SUPER HOT.

Even with masks on you could tell they were REALLY SUPER IN TO IT. I mean, this is probably my favorite sex scene ever because it’s just so hot and beautiful. He’s been bronzed up, and she’s wearing some gossamer lingerie, and everything is just beautiful. And I remember the first time watching it, before we even knew it was Ilithyia instead of Licinia, I was amazed at what a gorgeous sex scene it was, and impressed with how…hmm how do I put it?…with how enthusiastic Spartacus was in the act. An act that had been ordered of him. And meanwhile, back in his cell, he’s turning down sex with Mira.

And then to find out it was Ilithyia…Oh man. I shipped them before that scene. Because they hated each other. Young and hot and hate each other (truly hate each other)? Ship it. Brother and sister? Ship it. The beginning of my rules. But after that scene? EXPLOSION.

I think half the reason – well, maybe 1/3 the reason (let’s not go crazy) – why Spartacus and Ilithyia are so horrified to realize what has happened, is because of how much they were enjoying it.

He slides his hand up her leg.

Do you see that? I mean, he’s already heard that it’s her, but he can’t quite believe it, and he can’t quite let go of her yet. His sex with Sura was so boring:

This is a dream…in case you couldn’t tell

I chose a bad visual.

So, Ilithyia, once she recovers her full mental faculties, decides some revenge is order. She takes a look at the gladiators while they are practicing, and sees that Spartacus and Varro are good friends. Spartacus and Crixus are supposed to do an exposition game at Numerius’ birthday party. Ilithyia seduces Numerius, convinces him to request Varro in place of Crixus, and then to have Spartacus kill Varro when he wins.

You’ve got to hand it to her. I mean, Varro was my favorite thing about the show – not the only thing I liked, but the thing I liked the most. So the fact that she basically killed him was hard to get over. But, well, you also kind of have to clap.

It’s hard to imagine Spartacus getting over it, though, if he ever finds out.

Spartacus spends the next episode mourning, but he’s also got an infected wound and begins to hallucinate. And he sees a woman walking towards him in a mask and some gossamer lingerie, just like Ilithyia.

I mean, it’s EXACTLY the same – even the walking towards him, except it’s his dead wife Sura instead of Ilithyia. Hmmmm. Makes one think, does it not? It’s obviously supposed to be significant in some way. It’s true that Ilithyia was the first woman he had sex with – was with in any way – since his wife. But I think it’s more than that.Spartacus and the other slaves slaughter the house in the season finale during a party. Aurelia kills Numerius, which is very satisfying. I’m sure Spartacus would have happily killed Ilithyia – Aurelia would have too, if she had known – but Ilithyia makes it out of the house and shuts everyone inside. A nice clean sweeping death of her blackmailers, she thinks. But Lucretia lives.

So, in Fugitivus, we find out that Ilithyia is pregnant. It’s probably Glaber’s. But depending on how much time has passed, it could be Spartacus’.  She wasn’t really showing, but some women don’t grow very big, and those back-then dresses aren’t exactly spandex. A few months had passed since the season finale, but I don’t know how much time passed between when they had sex and the season finale.

I mean it’s so soap-opera, but I just can’t love the idea any more than I already do: Ilithyia carrying around Sparty’s child, Glaber raising the son of his enemy. And if Ilithyia ever told Spartacus – whoa. That would be a crazy scene. Assuming she could get dialogue in without being murdered. Crixus may be able to murder his own child, but Spartacus is made of more sensitive stuff. Especially if the child had already been born.

Ilithyia is forced to go back to Batiatus and Lucretia’s house in the season premiere. You can imagine that she doesn’t like the reminder much. But then she sees a mask, and guess what? It’s the one Spartacus wore when they had sex. She kind of walks slowly over to it, and sits down, and picks it up.

Then she briefly remembers killing Licinia

Before spending a much longer amount of time on flashbacks of her and Spartacus having sex.

.

.

.

.Then she opens her eyes slowly and sort of exhales.

And…I really think it was supposed to be significant. More than just a friendly reminder of one of the events of the first season, but an important reminder that will be relevant. I think that woman has some desires she doesn’t like very much. She wants Spartacus. BAD. And again, there’s a substantial chance that this all has to do with her baby.

They glimpse each other in the market place at the end. He’s hiding in the crowd, and she sees him. She gapes for a minute, before panicking. Much longer than she should have. It’s delicious. It’s just all so delicious.

I can’t wait for more.

Mr. DeKnight: Please, don’t kill her.

(I don’t trust that man. He says that he studied under Joss Whedon, and any good television viewer knows that Joss Whedon was spit forth from hell to pulverize our hearts and send the dust back down to his master. However, like I brought up briefly in my first entry, Steven S. DeKnight wrote during Buffy’s sixth season aka Spike and Buffy’s hot and heavy era, and Spike=Ilithya, Buffy=Spartacus does not go far astray.)

I haven’t seen any trailers or read many interviews, but I did catch a snippet mentioning the fact that DeKnight has considered the possibility, and that Spartacus and Ilithyia will have some interesting scenes coming up.  And Andy Whitfield said that there was supposed to be a spark between him and Ilithyia when they pull off the masks – they were told to act that out.

I just read that, like a few minutes ago. After I wrote this. It’s pretty exciting. (I’m not going to lie – there was some shrieking.)

They certainly went for it at this photoshoot:And now, finally:

Seppius/Seppia

OK STOP SKIPPING NOW.

Just to be clear: these characters are brand new. We’ve never seen them, we’ve never heard of them.

So, in the town of Capua, Spartacus and his ragged band of ex-slaves have been terrorizing and killing.

A young noble, Seppius (Tom Hobbs), has set his mercenaries to the task of putting down the rebellion.

(For some reason his name got stuck in my head as Peppius, which just reminds me of Pippi Longstalking.)

So we see this:

And that’s all we know. We hang out with Sparty for a while, and then we cut to Capua’s upper crust viewing a gladiatorial fight. They’re bored because the fight sucks because all of the good gladiators are off, you know, looting and murdering their people.

A lot of Capua’s prominent citizens were killed in 1.13 Kill Them All (not all, however – whatever that title might lead you to believe).

But we’ve still got Mercato, who, I don’t know, does something, and then above him the new new magistrate Gallienus (a position similar to a mayor). (I wouldn’t recommend being a magistrate in Capua – it’s like being the teacher of Defense Against The Dark Arts.) I only mention them because they may be significant in later episodes.

Magistrate Gallienus

So, an unknown young lady is with them (Hanna Mangan Lawrence), and not only is she sitting in the pulvinus (THE box seat at the arena), she’s in the front row, so she’s definitely of high social significance.

She complains about the distraction of the games while Spartacus is still at large.

The magistrate says, “Your brother has the matter well in hand, Seppia.”

And I got pretty excited there. Finally, a brother! And she was young and pretty, he was young and in charge – I thought it all sounded pretty promising. And like I said, to expect incest from this show did not seem unreasonable.

And they even had matching names – Seppius (not to be confused with Peppius Longstalkingus): and Seppia! Which is something I just love.

Just like Octavian and Octavia from Rome! I already mentioned how siblings dressed to match is a kink of mine, but the matching names thing just as much. I mean, on one hand I can see how it makes it creepier, but I just like how it makes it seem like they belong together, and like they’re complementary – two sides of  a coin. Paired, matched, bound.

“Words of comfort…to the eight of his men slaughtered this morning,” Seppia replies to the magistrate.

Girl’s got lip. And a fun British accent. I have a feeling I’ll be saying her lines to myself for fun.

The magistrate did not know this piece of news. Clearly Seppia was with Seppius that morning – though whether they live together or not, I don’t know. I don’t know if they are married or not. I know very little. I would expect her to be married if she’s much older than 16. But she was next to the magistrate, not anyone who might be called her husband, and mentioning her husband’s absence would have been a great way to introduce the character if there was to be one. I suppose it’s possible she’s married to the magistrate, but I doubt it.

Seppia is amused that she was able to get one up on the magistrate – so, obviously, she’s not a very nice person – eight men have died! Works for me, though.

It’s only a minute later that Seppius himself arrives. The writers did not make me wait! I find out Seppia has a brother, I get excited about shipping them, and before I’ve even finished the thought I already get to see them interact.He apologizes that business delayed him, and takes a seat in the second row behind the magistrate.

The magistrate asks him if it is true that he lost eight of his men.

.

Seppius darts a look at his sister.

.

.

If he knows that she’s the one who spilled the news, then we practically have confirmation that they were together earlier. Which, again, not necessarily significant. But I’m picturing them lying in bed together and some messenger bringing him the news and him getting angry and throwing pottery at the wall.

The look Seppius gives his sister is disapproving but not exactly angry. It would seem he knows his sister well and takes the good with the troublesome.

Seppia giggles.

Her brother’s frustration amuses her.

Seppius assures the magistrate that it’s insignificant.

And Seppia adds that their beloved cousin Sextus will soon be avenged. He was the former new magistrate, killed by Spartacus in Kill Them All. I’m fairly sure that cousin doesn’t necessarily mean first cousin, because Seppius/Seppia and Sextus, and Licinia and Crassus are separated by a generation, I would guess. 

Seppia looks back at Seppius: “Or are you to join him, leaving me woefully unattended?”

Unattended in bed, she fails to finish. I’m sure you can tell from the GIF, but this is hardcore flirting. The way she says “unattended” – there’s something she does with her mouth and her tongue – the way she forms the word – and it’s easy to mimic but I wouldn’t know what to call it – anyway it’s pretty universally connotated with sexual advance. You don’t say a word like that to someone unless there’s something sexual between you or so much about to be that it’s actually reverberating back in time to that moment.

What I’m trying to say is that you don’t talk to your brother like that unless it’s incest. Just…that’s the way it is. This isn’t interpretation, this is fact.

I like her choice of words. Unattended is a good word for connotating a playful incestuous relationship – it implies a service rather different from just companionship, comfort, and love.

Her gaze lingers on him – not that it’s going to leave him because they are conversing – but there’s this look that chases what she has said. 

He leans forward towards her – like super close, kissing close – and says: “What kind of brother would I be to abandon such cherished blood?”

His tone matches hers. I don’t think I need to say anything else about it.

She smiles – again, not a warm, friendly smile, but a sexual/flirty smile – and turns back to the games.

I mean, they practically had sex right there in the pulvinus.

I can only assume the other people around them weren’t paying attention, because no brother and sister would flirt like that in front of others.

You should have seen the enormous smile on my face after this little 30 second exchange. Met them, shipped it, got canon – in two minutes flat. A record.

When the magistrate tells the one gladiator to kill the other one, Seppia leans forward excitedly. She likes her blood.

She seems an awful lot like another Ilithyia. That’s not a complaint – we all know I like Ilithyia.

The two of them have one more scene towards the end of the episode. Seppius is making an announcement in the market, trying to calm the anxious crowd. Her eyes keeping moving up and down him, like she’s evaluating his worth.

Seppia regards him with a slight smile on her face – I don’t know if she’s impressed with his oratorship or so unimpressed it’s amusing to her. It seems adequate to me.But he is interrupted by the arrival of Glaber from Rome with a small contingent to take down Spartacus.

Seppius pulls behind and stands with his sister. It’s weird – he’s actually got his back to everyone so that he can face her. His back is to the crowd. Do you see then there, in the middle?

Glaber shows off that Lucretia survived that slaughter at the house of Batiatus, which revives the mob.

“It seems you stand eclipsed,” Seppia taunts.Seppius gives her a dirty but troubled look.

She’s a viper. Obviously she’s not above saying hurtful things to him. Brothers and sisters traditionally taunt each other playfully, but this was fairly cruel if his reaction was anything to go by.

Glaber has quite won the crowd by the end of his speech, and Seppius rolls his eyes.

Glaber begins to exit.

“Preening little shit,” he remarks to her, though facing elsewhere.

“I rather favor him,” she responds, definitely trying to get a rise out of Seppius.

He turns to her sharply. She laughs. He grabs her arm angrily and pulls her away.

I’m not sure what she means by “favor”. If she only means she likes Glaber, then the teasing had more to do with Seppius’ failure regarding Spartacus. But if she means “favor” as in she fancies him sexually, then she’s teasing Seppius’ to make him jealous. It could be both, it could be either. Glaber is married to Ilithyia, so even if Seppia was interested in him in that way, it could probably only go so far, and Seppius would know that. If Seppia isn’t married she’ll have a lot of reasons not to engage in a casual affair.

It’s hard to tell how she feels about her brother. I’d say he loves her more than she loves him, but only because she tended to be cruel. However, she was the one who initiated all of the exchanges between them. Her attention towards him was far more consistent than his towards her.

But it could be the case that she’s using him. She knows he wants her, so she uses that to her advantage. That’s her only power – she’s a woman. I don’t know what the situation is with Seppius the Elder, but if he’s dead or dying, it’s likely that Seppius will be the one telling Seppia where to live and then who to marry. She would want to have as much influence as possible.

I’d rather they were madly in love with each other, of course, but I’d never assume that.

I do think that, from appearances, it would seem that Seppia has a rather large amount of affection for him, whether it’s less than what he bears her, I couldn’t say. But even when she’s turned her head away from him she keeps her smile. And in that very last part when she teases him about Glaber and he pulls her out of the market, she seems extremely pleased that she has angered him. Like extremely pleased. But not at all surprised. The smile on her face as he drags her away is very friendly/playful.

The set up here is rather trope-ish – scheming / antagonist (or morally grey central characters) incestuous / questionably unincestuous brother/sister pair (often twins). Alfred and Alexia Ashford (Resident Evil – game), Jaime and Cersei (A Song of Ice and Fire). Who am I missing? Zuko and Azula sometimes (Avatar: The Last Airbender). Sharpay and Ryan (High School Musical). Nuada and Nuala…less so (Hellboy II: The Golden Army) Klaus and Rebekah (The Vampire Diaries)? Cesare and Lucrezia depending (The Borgias). Quentin and Kit (Nip/Tuck). Sebastian/Katherine (Cruel Intentions).  None of these relationships are like the others, and yet you can see what I’m getting at…I hope.

There tends to be a bit more fidelity in these types of relationship, which is why I bring it up. I’m hoping Spartacus will stay true to that. While several characters have had sexual relations outside of their marriage – Ilithyia with Spartacus (heeee!), Lurezia with Crixus (which only started so that she could get pregnant), Aurelia (against her will) with Titus (whoa I remember his name), and Varro with that prostitute – their love remained first and foremost with their spouse. These weren’t the types of affairs that threaten a marriage. So, a good track record for twu wuv on this show. (Melitta with Gannicus is a notable exception, but she fought it, and only gave in because Gannicus was leaving.)

Can’t wait for Friday!

I’ll finish with this amazingly wonderful promo pic for Seppius and Seppia:He’s obviously supposed to be looking at her.

It’s hard to tell with these pictures. Sometimes I don’t even think the actors were there together. But however it was done, the message is clear enough.

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6 Responses to Seppicest – The Vengeance Gods Bless Us

  1. Sparky says:

    This show is so hot and I wish I had Starz so I could watch it. I will just ship this vicariously through your posts.

    • Shipcestuous says:

      I have great sympathy for the person who wants to watch the show and can’t! You should definitely check out the DVDs at the very least when they come out after the season is over. In the mean time: I will try to do my very best. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Beast of the Sea says:

    “Part of that comes from actual historical circumstances – Cleopatra married to her brother, Anne Boleyn executed for incest, etc. ”
    Technical point – it was USUAL for Pharaohs to marry their siblings. The degree to which these marriages were ceremonial and to which they were actually consummated/romantic relationships/etc. is debated. I doubt Cleopatra’s was more than ceremonial, because she tended to be pretty fertile when she was documented to have slept with a man (Julius Caesar, Mark Anthony), and didn’t have any children by sibling marriages. On the OTHER side of that, Tutankhamen is documented to be the son of Pharaoh Akhenaten and an unidentified full sister of Akhenaten, and his wife was his half-sister, a daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti. He had a number of congenital defects, including a club foot and scoliosis (warped spine), that were likely a result of this inbreeding, and his physical weaknesses may have contributed to his death. His wife also miscarried two female fetuses who were mummified and placed in his tomb (if I recall correctly).

    My father said, when I was having a long chat with family members about ancient civilizations, that everyone KNEW that the dynasties that practiced incest had a significantly higher-than-usual rate of birth defects, infertility etc., but that the priest class excused it as the pharaohs being gods incarnate and their congenital problems being just an awkward side effect of the flesh having trouble containing their divinity or somesuch. 😐 “Curses” were also an excuse in cases when no one was buying that or the monarchs lacked the excuse in the first place, such as with the branch of the Hapsburgs that ended in the mentally-retarded, physically-deformed, likely-impotent Carlos II, who himself stated, at around the age of twenty, that all his life people had believed he was cursed, and he was absolutely sure they were right. (I don’t believe he made it to thirty, or at least didn’t make it long past thirty.) He was the result of a family tree that included three or four uncle-niece marriages within four generations.

    “And part of it from traditional patriarchal customs – the sister being the responsibility of the brother until she is married if their father is dead, the stronger familial ties, general familial centrality, and the tendency not to move to faraway places. ”
    Most importantly, keeping the power in the hands of the family above all else, which was the reasoning behind the Hapsburg uncle-niece marriages. If the woman married out of the family, she would pass down blood that would provide a claim for any offspring (who would NOT ‘really’ be of the family) to seize power if an uprising broke out, etc. Heck, if a KING married out of the family, the wife’s family had a tendency to abuse their power from their closeness to the king – the Boleyns and, after them, the Seymours being prime examples – in part because, if a child resulted and became the next king, they WOULD be the family of the [future] king! So it was rather complicated, and almost unsurprising that some noble families would choose to ‘keep it in the family’ rather than spreading the blood around.

    [Keep this in mind if you ever want to write a HP fanfiction centered around some Pureblood family or other – helps provide an explanation for lenient attitudes towards incest, and is practically canon in the case of the Blacks. Remember that Sirius’s mother screamed in Deathly Hallows that Grimmauld Place was “the house of my fathers”…]

    I say “almost” unsurprising because Catholics had to get permission from the Pope to marry if they were within forbidden degrees of consanguinity (‘closeness of blood’, almost literally), so they should have taken the hint that it wasn’t the best idea. But that was what bribes were for. 😛

    (Oh, speaking of religions – TV Tropes mentioned that Abraham and Sarah in the Bible were half-siblings, and that this is stated explicitly at some point. I’m going to have to read that section to confirm for myself…)

    *turns red* Sorry, I got into the habit of reading historical fiction about the Henry VIII-to-Elizabeth period when I was younger, and never stopped (and picked up a few nonfiction books about that period, too) – so I’m a mild nerd about various things having to do with that time period.

    As for Roman-and-Greek incest, there are, infamously, Caligula, who bedded ALL THREE of his sisters – and deified his favorite one, Drusilla, after she died – and Nero, who at the very least exhibited an inappropriate interest in his mother (and also had her assassinated). There was also, however, the Athenian statesman Cleon, who was rumored to have had an affair with his sister during his teenage years (whether it was true or not, the siblings remained close throughout their lives), and the demagogue Publius Clodius, who was rumored to have had an affair with his sister, a notorious… The term for her these days would be “liberated woman”, put it that way. *whistles* Clodia’s reputation was not helped by one of her lovers, Catullus the poet, about whom my Latin 2 teacher had the following amusing thing to say [paraphrased]:
    “Well, at first [his poetry] is all about ‘Lesbia [Catullus’s poetic pseudonym for her] is so wonderful, Lesbia is so beautiful’, and then they broke up, and it suddenly changes to ‘Lesbia is a SLUT!'” *coughs*
    Anyway, that is to say that there were, historically, a few cases of incest rumored about various important men, especially the ones with a reputation for wildness and being willing to try anything once. Heck, on the non-Greek-and-Roman side, Napoleon was rumored to have had an affair with his sister Pauline! But now to get to the actual fictional side… 😛

    “I mean, on one hand I can see how it makes it creepier, but I just like how it makes it seem like they belong together, and like they’re complementary – two sides of a coin. Paired, matched, bound.”
    Aaaaaah, but you see, that’s how it WAS in Rome! Women received a female-gender copy of their father’s surname, and sons, of course, inherited their father’s surname. (A note for Roman names – if a man has three names, the last of the three names is a NICKNAME, while the middle one is his SURNAME. As we write, say, Tom “Voldemort” Riddle, the Romans would write Tom Riddlus Voldemort.) So we have Clodia and Publius Clodius, Octavia and [Gaius] Octavius, etc. So go forth and write Roman historical fiction or something, because you have an ironclad excuse. 😉

    (The second daughter would have “Seconda” tacked onto her name, the third “Tertia” [literally “the third”] tacked on, etc. This is horribly sexist, of course, in that the sons didn’t have to put up with that, but other cultures have done it to both sexes. For one example, if I recall correctly, “Jiro” – a fairly common Japanese name – originally just meant “second son”… and yes, it was handed out as a first name then, too. Sorry, off-topic.)

    “I’m fairly sure that cousin doesn’t necessarily mean first cousin, because Seppius/Seppia and Sextus, and Licinia and Crassus are separated by a generation, I would guess. ”
    Sextus is a first name. “Seppius” is probably the surname, and he’s referred to by it because Romans usually referred to fellows by their surnames or nicknames, much as people in Harry Potter who aren’t friends will refer to each other by their surnames. His first name is probably something like “Marcus”. (It really didn’t help that Romans only had a dozen or two first names, so referring to “Gaius” in conversation, unless talking amongst family members, would probably just get you a completely disgusted look and the question “Which ONE?” Referring to someone by both first and last name – e.g. “Sextus Pompeius” – did help to narrow them down, though, and was often used. The most famous example, of course, is “Mark Antony”, aka Marcus Antonius. …Sorry for the random exposition! Roman history nerd…)

    “I’m not sure what she means by “favor”.”
    In context, I think it means the same as “fancy”. In other words, it CAN mean “like” – “Fancy a walk?” – or platonic support – “I fancy he’ll win”/”I favor him to win” – but when used like that… “I rather fancy him” ~ “I rather favor him”, methinks. So yes, you’re right.

    [Jeez, I’m so verbose… must be those Cokes i had earlier. XD]

    “It’s hard to tell how she feels about her brother. […] I’d rather they were madly in love with each other, of course, but I’d never assume that.”
    Eh… I’m suspecting that the patricians are being portrayed here as decadent, depraved nobles – Slytherins by any other name. As such, I *know* there’s a cliche – Mind Game Ship? – where the less pleasant half of a villainous couple will needle the more [visibly] devoted half for entertainment – but when the visibly-affectionate half is killed by Our Heroes, it’s THAT half that will snap and lose all purpose in life except to make the heroes’ lives as horrendous and difficult as possible. The closest I can think of is (funny you mentioned it!) Alexia/Alfred, because Alexia is far less emotional (if even more ridiculously egotistical) than her brother, and, in one file, referred to him as “that inept but loyal soldier ant who is my brother” [ouch] – but when he dies before her eyes, of course, the next thing we see is a giant tentacle from nowhere smashing Claire and Steve’s snowmobile to flaming smithereens. (Interestingly enough, this earns Alfred the rare honor of being a *male* character Stuffed In The Refrigerator. Yes, he’s enough of a murderous sadist on his own to merit death, but you can’t argue that his death is specifically laid out to trigger Alexia’s Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the Redfields & Steve.)
    I swear it either is or ought to be a trope that the more callous half of a villainous couple, if they weren’t just using their partner, is the one who completely loses their mind from grief when their partner is killed. I’ve used it myself (not in fic, because I never remember to write things down, but in my head). Heck, it’s even used for non-couples – Sirius’s mother, if her portrait was any indication, was a most unpleasant, bigoted, and vicious woman and beheaded all but one of her House-Elves to boot, but, when her son Regulus went missing, Kreacher recounts that she went mad from grief.

    I know there are such tropes for the heroes/antiheroes (often involving copious amounts of Manly Tears), but I’m thinking SPECIFICALLY of villains – and it’s not Morality Chain, either, since any such Morality Chain was being pretty bloody ineffective with these villains. Tsundere?! Not strong enough, though… I suppose that the best example I can think of is, funnily enough, Axl’s behavior towards his siblings – he insults them a ton most of the time, but he truly loves them under the surface, and it would break him if one of them died. Do you know what trope I’m trying to refer to? Here’s what the formal summary might look like:
    So, the Complete Monster has a Love Interest who thinks the world of him. Predictably, he treats his Love Interest with amusement and mild contempt, which she [puts up with|Twilight]. Then, she dies before his eyes… So now is when he tells her You Have Served Your Purpose, right?

    Actually, no. In a Plot Twist, the Complete Monster was a Complete Tsundere, and he promptly pulls a Love Makes You Crazy and honors his love being Stuffed In The Refrigerator with a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Occasionally gender-flipped or used with a family member instead of a love interest. (And, even more rarely, [both simultaneously|Squick] – see Incest Is Relative and related tropes.) May be used to deconstruct the I Did It For Love/Freudian Excuse/Eye For An Eye tropes as the villain goes over Moral Event Horizon after Moral Event Horizon while claiming that he’s perfectly justified because the heroes killed his love – but this may backfire on the creator if the [audience thinks he’s justified anyway|Moral Dissonance].
    [Haven’t been to TV Tropes for a while, so this may be off.]

    Anyway, I’ll stop bothering you about my memory issues now – but my point is, I think you are SOLIDLY right, and, in fact, that this will come back to bite Spartacus in the rear later. I predict that Seppius will be killed by Spartacus’s men – or, more likely, Spartacus himself – and Seppia will swear revenge, likely seducing Spartacus before brutally betraying him and laughing that he was ever fool enough to trust her as her facade drops away and Spartacus – and the viewers – see through to the madness beneath. He’ll either kill her [too later] or she’ll make her getaway just in time to avoid having her skull bashed in, then be seen in the epilogue living it up, but forever wrong in the head.

    ===

    Anyway, to generally cover points –

    Incest is generally that Thing that really repels and disgusts some people, period, is treated by others as ‘oh, well, it happens’ with mild disgust, gets some others going ‘Ooh, incest! That’s so DARING and FORBIDDEN! How awesome that the author is trying to get a rise out of us!’… and then there are the ones who ask, in a very innocent and mild-mannered voice, if it would be possible to get more details. 😛 Guess which ones we are.

    There’s a long tradition that one of the fastest ways to signal decadence is sexual immorality, because after a lot of preaching about drinking and gambling, someone might speak up and say “But we ALL like a bit of fine booze, and I saw you tossing dice just the other day! And you’re not one to talk about spending profligately, not after you bought that new villa last year…” On the other hand, sexual immorality starts creeping people out immediately – you’re much less likely to hear “But I kiss my sister with tongue whenever I drop in at her place, and it never did US any harm!” or “Who doesn’t like to put on a bikini and prance around his house in full makeup on weekends?”, methinks… So, when signaling a decadent aristocracy, you want to make them as kinky as possible to make sure to exceed as many people’s tolerance-thresholds as possible, which means – INCEST!
    (It’s relevant for aforementioned reasons, too… but the squick-factor is a major part of it. Before it became viewed as improper to equate homosexuality with depravity, pederasty was often used for similar purposes – observe Wilbur Smith’s River God and Baron Harkonnen in Dune to see what I’m talking about.)
    Caveat – male promiscuity, also known as “lechery”, is often considered a borderline-acceptable form of sexual immorality… so it’s an exception to this rule. I think that’s the main exception by far, though.

    That’s the plan, at least – except that, funnily enough, the people who get grossed out enough by incest to flee in the opposite direction automatically don’t like to WRITE about it, either. Or, if they do, the writing grows noticeably curt and uninterested in details while the author rushes through the Bad Thing to get to parts he or she actually likes writing. (This is particularly noticeable, say, when straight men write about homosexual or pederastic villains, but also when some people tack on incestuous behavior to their villains.) However, if somebody keeps returning to a theme for purposes beyond hammering the reader over the head with ‘This is BAD BAD BAD!’… *cough* Yeah, he or she tends to have a liking for it. On the non-incest side, I needed brain bleach after learning Chris Claremont was into BDSM and then having a LOT of the Dark Phoenix Saga suddenly come into sharp focus…

    So I’m betting a decent amount of these writers have a bit of a thing for incest. And they swear that it’s all to be shocking, of course, but I reeeeally wonder… And, of course, it gets thrown in to spice up the villains, because then they can duck behind ‘But they’re evil and depraved, see?’ if anyone starts pointing out that they’re writing it rather too sympathetically. Why, that positively ties with ‘I’m just doing it to emphasize how screwed-up their situation is’ when thinking up justifications…

    And I babble about all of this (sorry!) because I think this show IS heading in that direction. I mean, good gad, unless she just looks that way at everyone, she’s flirting with him in those GIFs. Flirting with him hard. And it’s just what they need to add a whole new twist to the show… (Not to mention, it will help give Seppius and Seppia a distinctive trait. ‘You know, that decadent noble from Spartacus, the one who was a real b-‘ ‘Which one? The one who got killed, the one who shagged Spartacus -‘ ‘No, the one who was shagging her brother.’ ‘Oh, thaaaat one!’)

    Thank you for updating! (And for putting up with my endless babbling in this reply!) 😀 Looking forward to any other updates you might have coming down the pipe!

    • Shipcestuous says:

      Thanks for the details about the Egyptian pharaohs – you seem quite knowledgeable. I read a pretty fascinating biography of Cleopatra which described her lineage – it was hilariously complicated considering how much simpler it ought to have been with all of the sibling marriages.

      I really love that the priests associated the birth defects with the awkwardness of a god being in a human body. If you really believed in the divinity of the pharaohs then it makes complete sense.

      Most importantly, keeping the power in the hands of the family above all else, which was the reasoning behind the Hapsburg uncle-niece marriages.

      Of course! I knew there was something else that I hadn’t quite gotten to. Marrying in such a way as to retain power, wealth, and property in the family makes perfect sense, even when those marriages are incestuous. Most of the marriages were ceremonial and relatively loveless, I’m sure. I would guess that many were not even consummated. These traditions have died off (understandably) – all the more reason to have higher expectations of incest on shows that take place historically. And I bet if they were ever depicted on a TV show on HBO or Starz or Showtime they would go for it. Cleopatra’s marriage to Ptolemy on Rome was the only strategic/traditional incest marriage I recall seeing on TV, but he was quite young and her interests were solely invested in Julius Caesar so it’s not the best example. It is sort of averted on Game of Thrones with Viserys and Daenerys, although details from the book about them and the Targaryens in general expand the picture.

      Yes, the Pope seems to have been easily bribable on the matter of consanguinity. I believe there supposed to be SEVEN degrees of separation. Hardly possible when it came to the royal families.

      I went through a bit of house of Black phase. I read some pretty good stories about Sirius and Bellatrix. Never wrote anything though.

      Abraham and Sarah were half-siblings. It’s funny, because they go into a strange land and Abraham tells everyone that she is his sister because he is afraid to tell them that she is his wife, but it’s not a lie. The Old Testament is rife with incest – even if you don’t want to call Adam and Eve blood relations, then Cain, Abel, and Seth must have procreated with their sisters because there weren’t any other women. And after the flood, the only survivors were Noah and his three sons and their wives, so the next generation would all have been first cousins. Everyone knows about Lot and his daughters, but yeah, there’s also Abraham and Sarah.

      Thanks for all the details about those Roman men and their rumored incestuous affairs. I’m relatively knowledgeable about the Julio-Claudian dynasty, but my knowledge stops there. I wish I had taken Latin – I’m so jealous. I should have made time in college to fit it into my schedule!

      I’m suspecting that the patricians are being portrayed here as decadent, depraved nobles – Slytherins by any other name. As such, I *know* there’s a cliche – Mind Game Ship? – where the less pleasant half of a villainous couple will needle the more [visibly] devoted half for entertainment – but when the visibly-affectionate half is killed by Our Heroes, it’s THAT half that will snap and lose all purpose in life except to make the heroes’ lives as horrendous and difficult as possible.

      The plot of Spartacus could be described as decadent, depraved patricians being decadent and depraved. Which is exactly why I felt my hope for an incest storyline was not unreasonable.

      I love the scenario you described. Although except for Alfred and Alexia (which I really only know about from you, except for the cut scenes I watched – linked by you, of course), I can’t think of any perfect examples. There’s certainly some non-incest ones (like Sirius’ mother and Regulus), but my memory is not producing them.

      Your definition for the trope was masterful! I especially liked the bit at the end about moral dissonance. It felt like I was reading it right off TT&I. I feel like it must exist, but I don’t know what it’s called. I haven’t been over there in awhile, either. I should dedicate some time. I always feel so much smarter, and it’s usually good for laughs as well.

      Life expectancy on this show is not long, so a scenario that involves either Seppius or Seppia dying is probably not far off. I’d be very pleased to see their love for one another drive the plot in some way.

      Incest is generally that Thing that really repels and disgusts some people, period, is treated by others as ‘oh, well, it happens’ with mild disgust, gets some others going ‘Ooh, incest! That’s so DARING and FORBIDDEN! How awesome that the author is trying to get a rise out of us!’… and then there are the ones who ask, in a very innocent and mild-mannered voice, if it would be possible to get more details. Guess which ones we are.

      Three levels of deviation. LOL. “Please, sir, I want some more…” Yeah, that’s me exactly. More details are always wanted.

      That’s the plan, at least – except that, funnily enough, the people who get grossed out enough by incest to flee in the opposite direction automatically don’t like to WRITE about it, either. Or, if they do, the writing grows noticeably curt and uninterested in details while the author rushes through the Bad Thing to get to parts he or she actually likes writing.

      I know, right? I kind of feel like you can tell when the writers like it and when they don’t. Even if the ending/message is ambiguous or negative. Of course, it’s harder with TV shows because they have several writers, and then executive producers, and producers, and network execs and just billions of people with input. But still, I think the line between obligatory incest storyline and fun incest storyline is typically rather clear. Obviously, abusive dynamics are a grouping apart.

      Thanks for reading and commenting! It was an education. I feel like your reviews/commentary really round out my posts.

      • Beast of the Sea says:

        Thanks for the details about the Egyptian pharaohs – you seem quite knowledgeable.

        Oh, you’re quite welcome! I read a lot of Egyptian and Roman historical fiction when I was younger, so some of the knowledge trickled down.

        For Egyptian historical fiction, I recommend the Meren series by Lynda S. Robinson [actually set in Ancient Egypt] and the Amelia Peabody series [about an Egyptologist] by Elizabeth Peters – those may not be the series names, technically, but those are the names of the protagonists. They’re both detective fiction, so there’s always an interesting plot, but they contain quite a bit about Egyptian culture too (can’t help it, really). I think Elizabeth Peters was an Egyptologist in her younger years, too, which may explain how she can go into so much detail in her books. Write what you know, right? 🙂

        For Roman historical fiction, I recommend the Gordianus the Finder (Roma Sub Rosa) series by Steven Saylor and the Marcus Didio Falco novels by Lindsey Davis. The Falco novels are set in Imperial Rome, while the Roma Sub Rosa novels are set near the end of the Roman Republic and span decades of the main character’s life, starting during the reign of the dictator Sulla and continuing to the beginning of Julius Caesar’s brief reign as de facto king of Rome. They are EXCELLENT (though I believe they started a decline after Rubicon), and I credit them with my interest in Ancient Rome… which, despite appearances, actually only extends to one Roman History course and Latin 1, Latin 2, and Latin 100 academically, and reading the works of some Roman historians.

        Let me go on a brief tangent about this, lest you think that’s actually impressive. 😛 Understand that, in Roman and Greek times, history was supposed to be entertainment as well as stuffy academic writings. These histories often read like well-written, intellectually-fulfilling versions of the National Enquirer, complete with gossip about who was having an affair with whom, copious amounts of scandalous, unverifiable tales from supposed ‘insiders’, and pages and pages of nonsense prophecies and horoscopes – I mean, “omens”. Literally, Augustus’s biography in Suetonius contains three straight pages of nothing but omens about his birth, then-future greatness, and death. It is not uncommon, whenever a war has just started in the pages, for a Roman or Greek historian to devote half a page just to descriptions of the omens that were going on at the time. And remember that the Oracle of Delphi was often an important part of public policy decisions!
        [Sorry, it’s a pet peeve of mine that the classics are often portrayed as some esoteric, grand thing that only True Intellectuals who live A Life Of The Mind can appreciate. Do you know what they call ancient historians who wrote that badly? ‘People whose works didn’t survive millennia of very bored scribes having to copy their works out by hand’.]

        And, let’s face it, their political speeches were about as mature, well-reasoned, and objective as the typical political-extremist’s blog today, if much better-written and delivered with far more style. Here are some examples from Marcus Tullius Cicero:
        “O war much to be dreaded, when Catiline is going to have his bodyguard of prostitutes!”

        “But, I warn them, let them cease to be mad, and to think of proscriptions and dictatorships; for such a horror of these times is ingrained into the city, that not even men, but it seems to me that even the very cattle would refuse to bear them again.”
        When somebody starts spouting off about how the very COWS would object to something, I think we’ve lost all pretense of being highbrow. 😛

        I am sorry, I am SO off-topic –

        I really love that the priests associated the birth defects with the awkwardness of a god being in a human body. If you really believed in the divinity of the pharaohs then it makes complete sense.

        Indeed. It’s interesting to observe which diseases were classified as just something that happened and which were treated as a sign of divine favor/displeasure – epilepsy has been often treated as something holy, while, say, schizophrenia has been classed as possession by evil spirits. (There’s actually good reason for epilepsy – not all seizures are the grand mal type that cause people to fall down thrashing uncontrollably. There are many types, including fainting spells, auditory, visual, and/or tactile hallucinations, and sudden loss of muscle function – to name just a few. The hallucinatory type, in particular, can take the form of a spiritual experience, which would obviously incline sufferers who had such experiences to a spiritual life.) Mental retardation of the pleasant variety has often been labeled as a kind of “holy fool[ishness]” (“[god]touched in the head”, etc.), with people seeing them as more innocent, pure, and closer to [the] god[s] – but mental retardation of the unpleasant variety, at best, made everyone develop a long list of euphemisms.

        Look up Joan’s Mad Monarchs site if you want to read more – not the most objective write-ups, but entertaining reads.

        Most of the marriages were ceremonial and relatively loveless, I’m sure. I would guess that many were not even consummated.

        It… depends. If the siblings were raised together, yes, probably. (Medieval uncle-niece marriages were definitely consummated enough to produce children… unfortunately.) If not – remember, the primary anti-incest mechanism is the Westermarck Effect, which I think (admittedly, this information comes from TV Tropes) activates based upon exposure to the other person in infancy, toddlerhood, and early childhood. If the siblings didn’t get to know each other until they were shoved together and told ‘You’re getting married’ – I expect success rates would be about the same as any other arranged marriage. *shrugs*
        (This, however, is unpopular in fiction aside from *tragic and shocking discoveries of the genetic relationship*, because it rather wrecks the point of having two siblings get together aside from the shock value. Oh, you’re SIBLINGS! …And so what? You literally have no added bond beyond what you would have with some random person you’d met in a bar and fallen in love with, aside from your genetic relationship…

        Hence, if the incest is for anything more than the shock and drama, the Westermarck Effect tends to be hand-waved off with mumbling about how insanity demolishes the Westermarck Effect or decadence and depravity nullifies it. [Alfred and Alexia Ashford, Edgar and Katarin Tolstoff, probably Seppius and Seppia, etc. fall into the “decadence” category, though the Ashfords and Tolstoffs probably qualify for the former, as well. I can’t think of any exclusive-insanity examples in original fiction, though fandom’s interpretation of Sam/Dean probably qualifies, and it’s my fanon for Ariana/Aberforth.] After all, the part that activates the Westermarck Effect is the part that *makes* it a sibling relationship in more than shared genes.)

        I believe there supposed to be SEVEN degrees of separation. Hardly possible when it came to the royal families.

        You could probably play a “Six Degrees of Separation” game with respect to any of the royalty in Europe by the time of the Renaissance. 😛 (Within the Hapsburgs, it would instead be “How MANY ways is this Hapsburg related to another random Hapsburg?” 😐 )

        I went through a bit of house of Black phase. I read some pretty good stories about Sirius and Bellatrix. Never wrote anything though.

        I think that, in an AU where Sirius never turned against the House of Black’s ideals, Sirius/Bellatrix would be the most likely pairing. As long as the Blacks were pairing up relatives, they do seem to have been the most powerful witch and wizard that the House of Black produced in their generation, so it’s a natural breeding choice. Assuming Dark!Sirius, they probably would have gotten along well, too…

        But still, I think the line between obligatory incest storyline and fun incest storyline is typically rather clear. Obviously, abusive dynamics are a grouping apart.

        Yes, I’d say that if it’s portrayed at all sympathetically, the author tends to display a lot more of an… interest in it if left to indulge himself or herself freely for a while. I mean, look at Anne Rice. Lestat/Gabrielle (and, arguably, Louis/Claudia) are played for exploration, shock value, and so on rather than fanservice, per se, so it wasn’t really clear if she threw it in because she enjoyed it or just to push boundaries – and then we have The Witching Hour. (Of course, this isn’t true in all cases – I’m sure there are authors who just throw incest storylines in because they want to see what happens, handle the subject matter maturely and with some sympathy, and have no particular interest in incestuous pairings whatsoever.)

        However… I’d LIKE it to be true that abusive dynamics point to “obligatory incest storyline”, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. In the second book of Phillipa Gregory’s Wideacre Trilogy, for instance, the incest is through rape, and in The Boleyn Inheritance, Anne of Cleves’ abusive, obsessively controlling brother beats her on the exposed buttocks with a switch until she bleeds, insists that she cover herself with clothing as much as possible while ranting about his belief that she has a lustful, perverted mind, and obviously has a repressed, half-horrified lust for her. Anne claims in the book that she thinks that it was purely an overpowering desire to control her, the rebellious sister, utterly, and had nothing to do with *actual* lust… Which would be believable if Phillipa Gregory didn’t have a certain track record. *cough* Also, in Lasher, the sequel to The Witching Hour, Julien’s incest with his sister Katherine is revealed to have been a rape. I really have no idea what Anne Rice was thinking with that one. But, point being, sometimes the Author Appeal incest storyline gets hammered through with abuse, too. 😐

        Thank you for replying!

        • Shipcestuous says:

          I’ll have to check out those series that you recommended when I have some time for reading. I love to read, but I’m extremely particular my books. I usually check out four or five at a time, because I know I’ll only end up finishing one or two of them. But those series sound good.

          But, point being, sometimes the Author Appeal incest storyline gets hammered through with abuse, too. 😐

          Hmm, yes very true. I suppose it might sometimes be the case that the author who has a fascination with incest simply cannot write any more consensual incest storylines without getting a reputation, so they put an abusive one in there to throw everyone off, LOL. And happy relationships hardly have good literary reputations.

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