Seppicest: Secundus

My thoughts on Spartacus: Vengeance episode 1 are here. Like before,


Episode 2 was not great, for a lot of reasons, but most relevantly, because Seppius and Seppia didn’t have any scenes together, and only had one scene each apart.

Oh well. Not every single episode can be great. Might as well get the duds out of the way.

Glaber’s right hand man – a tribune, it would seem, who is named Marcus like half the male population – convinces him that they need Seppius’ men in order to search for Spartacus. (There’s something up with this guy. He hasn’t acted suspicious in the least, which makes me think him very suspect indeed. He just seems very loyal to Glaber and very wise and cool-headed and NO ONE IS THIS GOOD ON SPARTACUS, so I’m piqued. I guess we’ll see. Tell us your secrets, Marcus.

Glaber is reluctant to call on Seppius because Seppius is in collusion with Varinius, an enemy of Glaber’s in Rome. But he finally agrees.

Seppius, however, has no desire to cooperate.

He doesn’t stand on ceremony for long, and ends up saying some truly terrible things to Glaber, reminding him that he was the one who brought Spartacus to the Republic, that he owes his position as Praetor to Senator Albinius – Ilithyia’s father – and that the people wouldn’t like to hear that Ilithyia and most of Glaber’s men left Batiatus’ house just before (the lie)/at the beginning (the truth) of Spartacus’ massacre, and that it might have been stopped then and there if they had remained.

Glaber walks out, furious.

I was impressed with Seppius. It wasn’t clear to me which man was supposed to be the superior from last week’s episode. We’ve seen Glaber embarrassed and defeated and blackmailed and belittled, but he was still a man of great power and position in comparison to Batiatus. And he certainly outshone Seppius when he spoke in the market at the end of last episode. But the way Seppius handled Glaber in this scene made me wonder whether they’re not actually on rather equal footing, in terms of political/connectional advantages, and intelligence. In parallel, Ilithyia encounters Seppia in the market. They greet each other as great friends, and very amicable. Curious, since Glaber and Seppius seem to hardly know each other.

I’m now even more convinced that Seppia is another Ilithyia. It was like watching two Ilithyias talk to each other. It sort of reminded me of the smack-talk show down between the cybermen and the daleks in Doomsday (Doctor Who). (Can I win an award for nerdiest reference ever?) Except that they pretend like they’re getting along. Actually, they’re quite warm at first, but it gets catty quickly.

Seppia mentions Seppius briefly, saying only that she had just parted from him so that he could go meet with Glaber. She wants to know the gossip from Rome, but Ilithyia claims ignorance, focused on “husband and coming child”. Seppia is surprised, because she knows that Ilithyia is acquainted with everyone. “And desired by more than a few” Ilithyia adds. They laugh.

Seppia: “How I envy such attentions.”

Ilithya: “And how I miss them. “

Seppia: “Must all joy be so abandoned when weighted with husband.”

Ilithyia: “It must. If a woman is of proper breeding.” Right, Ilithyia. Whatever. We know the truth.

Seppia: “Oh, how miserable…

…Perhaps I should entreat the gods to shield me from such dour fate.”Ilithyia is insulted; hides it. I don’t think Seppia meant offense, exactly, but she was thoughtless. It was exactly like Ilithyia and Lucretia’s first scenes together.

And it’s not like Ilithyia is unhappy in her marriage. She and Glaber have had some pretty ugly moments between them, but they’re still sweet sometimes:Well, we now know that Seppia is definitely not married, and possibly shows little interest in it. Interesting that she even considers that a possibility. Hmmmm? I guess if she’s got a big brother to take care of her, then she doesn’t need to…?

On the other hand, I find it highly unlikely that Seppius wouldn’t marry her off for some political advantage. Not just because almost any man would do that in his position, but Seppius in particular strikes me as prone to that sort of maneuvering.

I liked how the two scenes were parallel: Seppia meets the wife while Seppius meets with the husband. We also learn that Seppia and Seppius were together prior to that. They seem to have always been together recently when we see them. I think they do live together and probably spend a lot of time together.

Also of note:

I ship Seppia with her position #2 palaquin-bearer:See how he’s watching her!

And I’m not surprised that Seppia and Seppius didn’t have a scene together in this episode, because Seppius made sweet love to his piece of fruit during his meeting with Glaber:I’m serious. These two needed to get a room.

So, yeah, very little to speak of, nothing to get excited about. Next week has to be better. Friday can’t come soon enough.

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5 Responses to Seppicest: Secundus

  1. Beast of the Sea says:

    Seppia: “Oh, how miserable… …Perhaps I should entreat the gods to shield me from such dour fate.”
    Reeeeeally stretching here, but when a character very close to his or her sibling expresses a disinterest in marriage, it sometimes means there’s something more going on there. (Similarly, when a character is a “confirmed bachelor” and is veeery close to his male “best friend”…)

    Ah, yes – of all the things, the example I’m going to pull out comes from Dungeons & Dragons’ Exemplars of Evil handbook (3rd edition). In it, there are the Tolstoff siblings, They’re discussed a bit here ( – and the designer for the handbook says “Of the ones I designed, I think my favorite is the two-headed villain [Read “two-villain team”], the Tolstoff twins (but don’t tell the others… they get a bit fussy when I play favorites).”, how sweet – but that doesn’t give too much background, so let me copy out their flavor text here. And yes, they are explicitly incestuous For The Evulz, as TV Tropes would say. Oh, and it’s a case of them decadent nobles, too! 😛

    [Credit for text goes to ROBERT J. SCHWALB, as does the rest of Exemplars of Evil, etc.]
    It was destiny. They had known since they were children that they would be together forever. They shared an uncommon connection: completing each other’s sentences, experiencing the same dreams, and wailing when the other was hurt. Their inexhaustible curiosity kept them together – and their home and the surrounding village gave them plenty of places to explore. They would slip out of the keep and watch the peasants, but sharp whispers and cold stares made them feel uncomfortable, and they ventured forth less and less, turning their attentions to their own crumbling demense.

    They prowled the cavernous corridors below the keep, discovering hidden rooms, secret passages, and many other oddities – but their strangest finding of all lay in the catacombs, a place their mother had strictly forbidden them from entering. Edgar and Katarin knew that the Tolstoff clan had its secrets; knew that not all of their ancestors were kindly or good, despite the self-conscious placidity of their official family history. The catacombs held the evidence of the Tolstoffs’ corrupt past, and so had remained untouched for years. The vaults within bore strange glyphs and dire warnings to leave the dead alone. Aside from the occasional creak or susurrus of webs, it was quiet. But one vault was not so silent.

    The children heard a guttural whisper coming from within, a demand for them to wait. Intrigued, Edgar and Katarin stopped and listened. The male voice asked for their company – just a small amount of their time – and offered to teach them magic in exchange.

    Katarin was thrilled; stories of sorcerers and wizards had always captivated the girl. Edgar, on the other hand, was fond of nature, hunting, and exploration, and he had little use for intellectual pursuits – the voice made him frightened and suspicious. He wanted to flee and never return, but he loved his sister and indulged her every whim. With some hesitation, he agreed to stay, and the pair took their first steps on the path to damnation.

    Over the next decade, the children descended into the catacombs several times each week. They would relate their experiences to the voice within, and little by little, they learned magic. Their master, as they called the voice, seemed pleased and eager to teach them. Edgar never made a great effort to embrace this power, but his sister surprised him with her skill and subtlety.

    The baroness, their mother, had hoped to wed Katarin to an important lord, in order to lift the family out of its slow slide into poverty. However, each time she brought a suitor to the keep, Katarin rejected him. Frustrated, her mother tried to force the issue, but any time she set a date for marriage, the young man would go missing, die in a hunting accident, or flee from the hold in fear.

    The baroness came to believe that her son, who was equally uninterested in marriage, had something to do with this string of failures. She began to investigate her children, instructing her servants to spy on them and issue regular reports. Yet she learned nothing – all her suspicions seemed groundless. Then, one night, she resolved to follow Edgar and Katarin herself, hoping to confront them directly and expose their wickedness. By doing so, she believed that she would put their unnatural closeness to rest.

    In the dead of night, the baroness followed them through a secret door int he feast hall, down the old stairs, and into the dusty tunnels. With each step, her apprehension grew. She dreaded their destination, for she knew what evil lurked below.

    Her fears were confirmed. Edgar and Katarin stood before the vault of their grandfather, their very souls at the precipice of annihilation. Terrified, she ran out from her hiding place and pulled at them, screaming, urging them to flee the dreadful thing.

    The master spoke, his sadness clear with each word. He told his pupils that their mother would never let them be together, that she would force them to wed others and break up their happy family. His speech had the desired effect. Katarin turned, stared at her mother with hate-filled eyes, and spewed a stream of profanity that shocked the baroness to the core. The woman was filled with revulsion at what her children had become, and she tried to flee to warn others. But Edgar, knowing that she would bring trouble to him and his sister if she escaped, cut his mother down where she stood, spilling her blood onto the dusty tiles of the family tomb.

    Since that tragic night, Edgar and Katarin have never been the same. The stain on their souls is too dark, too pronounced for them to resume a normal life. Instead, they live in service to their grandfather, allowing him to extend his influence beyond his prison and corrupt those in and around the keep. He demands that they find a way to loosen the bonds of his vault – promising that, once he is freed, he will usher them into the power of the Worm that Walks.
    More than anything, Edgar and Katarin want to be left alone, but they are also pragmatic, understanding that their unnatural affection makes them a target for the forces of good. […]

    To sum up the rest of their background, Katarin took up a life at court as a seductress/blackmailer/poisoner to raise money, while Edgar is busy being a depraved Complete Monster and terminal Body Horror case, since apparently his grandfather is so foul that prolonged exposure to him causes cancer. They are also having Relationship Issues, for the heroes to exploit if they so choose, over the “seductress” part Of course, their grandfather has no intention of living up to his side of the bargain should they free him…

    So, as I said, this is an example of the “uninterested in marriage” variety. Here’s an interesting quote from the interview with the author:
    […] Go back to the twins example above. The sister is a reprehensible villain as described, but she needn’t be. Maybe instead of trying to find a way to release grandpa, she’s hunting for a cure for her beloved brother. She can’t operate in the open because if she did, her brother would die at the hands of an unforgiving paladin. So, circumstances and love force her to use less than savory techniques to get the funding she needs to hire the right sort of spellcaster to remove whatever curse has befallen her family.
    Ah, yes, fantasy – where a horrendous case of metastatic cancer is grounds enough to be killed by a pissy paladin. (I think he ought to have mentioned Edgar would still be a sadistic monster if that would be retained in the AU…) Also, where “unnatural affection”, and not matricide, peasant-terrorizing, and general wickedness, is the main reason the “forces of good” would want to come down on their heads. *confused laughter* Sometimes it sounds like the Designated Heroes only do battle against Complete Monsters by sheer accident. “Oh, okay, you killed your mother, you make the peasants’ life a living hell, you’ve lied, cheated, and murdered to get what you want… but you’re not incestuous, so we have no quarrel with you. Have a good day, then, and give us a call if the rabble ever become too bothersome!” -_-;;

    Joking aside, Exemplars of Evil is really a cool handbook, and goes into detail on constructing villains even in non-D&D settings, talking about motivations, archetypes, villainous plots, and so on and so forth. It’s kind of like an exceedingly compressed TV Tropes for villains. I recommend picking it up if you can find it, even if you’re not into D&D.
    (And if you are or might be, this link gives some advice for converting Exemplars of Evils stat blocks into 4th edition:

    Incidentally, as a kind of redeeming feature:
    Both Tolstoff nobles are extraordinarily loyal. Once they declare their friendship to someone, they are loath to jeopardize it. However, they interpret friendship in unusual ways. They try to anticipate a person’s needs and desires, often committing terrible acts because they think the outcome will please their erstwhile ally. (This is reflected by their alignment being Lawful Evil.)

    But enough about those two. :);;

    I’ll lay my bets on Ilithyia’s child being Spartacus’s, and that either the child will be miscarried/aborted/etc., she’ll be killed while pregnant (possibly even by Spartacus), or the child will survive to the epilogue and innocently ask someone about the slave revolt, only to be told sharply that it is not spoken of and that whoever put it down was a hero. Also – SPOILER ALERT (from history! XD):
    The response of the Romans was hampered by the absence of the Roman legions, which were already engaged in fighting a revolt in Spain and the Third Mithridatic War. Furthermore, the Romans considered the rebellion more of a policing matter than a war. Rome dispatched militia under the command of praetor Gaius Claudius Glaber, which besieged the slaves on the mountain, hoping that starvation would force the slaves to surrender. They were surprised when Spartacus had ropes made from vines, climbed down the cliff side of the volcano with his men and attacked the unfortified Roman camp in the rear, killing most of them.[20] The slaves also defeated a second expedition, nearly capturing the praetor commander, killing his lieutenants and seizing the military equipment.[21] With these successes, more and more slaves flocked to the Spartacan forces, as did “many of the herdsmen and shepherds of the region”, swelling their ranks to some 70,000.[22]
    I’m betting Seppius will be the commander of the second expedition in the show’s version. Of course, historical shows always take liberties, so I suspect he may not get out alive…

    Hm… anything else? Well, I’ve noticed that male villains (or antiheroes slanting towards the villainous end of the scale) tend to butt heads constantly and jockey for power, while female villains (or antiheroes of the villainous variety) tend to buddy up and work together. (VILLAINS, I say. If any female innocents stumble into a female-villain social group, they get torn to shreds in record time.) I suspect this has something to do with what the opposite sex finds most irritating – ‘Men! Can’t they ever get along? Why must they let their egos ruin everything?’ versus ‘Women! What do they talk about when we’re not around? What are they plotting against us?’ 😛 So Seppius undercuts Glaber while Seppia is delighted to see Ilithyia (even if she gets a bit catty at one point). It’s interesting to think about these dynamics.

    I still think Seppia is a time bomb, even if the timer hasn’t started running. She’s almost innocent, but flirty and possessed of a razor-edged tongue – I suspect she’s rather spoiled by her dear old big brother. That said, right now, she doesn’t seem like she’s much of a plot-driver, and it sounds like every single character on this show drives one plot or another… which must mean that she’s going to get moved into plot-driver territory. How? Why, simple. She’s got to lose that light-heartedness and go for blood. And how is she going to lose that light-heartedness? Why, simple… she’s got to lose her beloved brother.

    In retrospect, that “Or are you to join him, leaving me woefully unattended?”-“What kind of brother would I be to abandon such cherished blood?” exchange is probably designed to be a tearjerker when people go back to watch it on the DVD. You DID say the writer studied under Joss Whedon…

    Anyway, well, let’s see what happens on Friday!

    • Shipcestuous says:

      I really liked the story of Edgar and Katarin. I don’t really mind if the incestuous couple are evil (even though I think that making them evil is a refuge) as long as their loyal to each other, and it sounds like these two are (mostly). It is amusing that they fear the heroes because of their “unnatural affection” and not because of their crimes. Downright ridiculous, in fact. The same thing happens with Jaime and Cersei.

      I fear for everyone’s lives on this show. Of the major deaths so far, 5 I have not minded, two hurt, and three devastated me. Those aren’t great odds, because I usually only attach myself to a few characters.

      I have a strong sense that Ilithyia may be in danger at the end of the season. Someone speculated that Lucretia will kill her and steal her baby. That struck me as being highly possible. Spartacus killing her with his baby inside her is exactly the sort of omg-moment these writers love. Either way, it doesn’t look good to me at the moment.

      You make a really good point about Seppia not being in a position to drive the plot at this point. She’s been featured rather prominently for someone who seemingly lacks the power to move and shake. I hope they don’t kill of Seppius to make her vengeful, obviously, though it makes a certain amount of sense. But something’s coming for her to change things up. It has to be. At first I thought she just might be there as more of a backdrop for Seppius, but she’s far too prominent for that now.

      • Beast of the Sea says:

        It is amusing that they fear the heroes because of their “unnatural affection” and not because of their crimes. Downright ridiculous, in fact. The same thing happens with Jaime and Cersei.
        Well, from what I’ve heard about ASOIAF, “Oh, okay, you killed your mother, you make the peasants’ life a living hell, you’ve lied, cheated, and murdered to get what you want… but you’re not incestuous, so we have no quarrel with you. Have a good day, then, and give us a call if the rabble ever become too bothersome!” sounds like a perfectly normal in-universe reaction. 😛 (And, admittedly, I’ve only read the fanfiction which is not supposed to exist by Word of Martin, but isn’t one of the [multiple] problems with Jaime and Cersei’s incest that she was the queen of Robert Baratheon? Henry VIII, in real life, declared Catherine Howard’s adultery high treason and had her beheaded, along with her lover Thomas Culpepper and ex-lover Francis Dereham, for same. Thomas Culpepper was not a nice fellow, having raped a gamekeeper’s wife and killed her husband when he came to rescue her, but Henry had no quarrel with him until he screwed Henry’s wife. So I’d say Jaime and Cersei would be right to be paranoid about their affair above and beyond various other things, even had they NOT been brother and sister…)

        I don’t really mind if the incestuous couple are evil (even though I think that making them evil is a refuge) as long as their loyal to each other, and it sounds like these two are (mostly).
        I don’t mind, either. And Katarin’s affairs are stated in the chapter to be focused on gaining information for blackmail, so they’re more of business affairs, as I see it. (It isn’t as if he’s an option for “relief”, since he’s stated to refused to even touch her these days for fear of passing on the cancer which has spread throughout his entire body.)

        And, while they’re being played as straight decadent villains, it would be fairly easy to make them tragic villains (or at least seem less terrible in comparison to their surroundings). Edgar is suffering from nightmarishly bad cancer, likely alive only due to the magic-keeps-you-alive-at-all-costs hand-waving in fantasy settings – he’s probably in excruciating pain all the time, possibly has brain tumors, and is stated to have a freaking sentient tumor growing inside him that chatters to him telepathically all the time. Little wonder he’s turned into a “paranoid psychopath”, to use the description of the handbook. As for Katarin, the author already described how to make her more sympathetic, and if one wanted to lay it on even thicker, one could switch the usual twin-telepathy trope to actual twin telepathy – not a great thing, in the state Edgar would be in… *shrugs*

        [And yes, it is easy to use “They’re eeeevil!” as a refuge – which, I think, is the cause of fandom often going wildly off-track and loving villains far more than the supposedly-wonderful protagonists. ‘Villains’ are allowed much more character complexity, variation in behavior, and active-instead-of-reactive behavior than ‘heroes’. I’m beginning to wonder if this is a sign of a hack writer [and am working to correct any such tendencies in my own stories], because classics such as Dune, anything by Robert A. Heinlein, and the original Star Wars trilogy feature protagonists who take control of their own destinies (though, in Luke’s case, he starts off following orders and then grows beyond that), such that the mainly-active heroes are more interesting than the mainly-reactive villains. (And in Star Wars’ case, Darth Vader is THE classic Memetic Badass – again reinforcing what a take-charge attitude can do for a character!)

        To make this relevant, I think this is part of why shows full of depraved nobles are so entertaining – it’s not so much a fascination with ‘our darker sides’, as commentators often love to spout, so much as a fascination with people who do things. They get drunk! They have sex! They revenge themselves upon those who have done them ill! They plot and scheme to advance their futures! They snark on people who have screwed up terminally! This is as opposed to our Virtuous Protagonists, even if they’re just-barely-on-the-side-of-good Virtuous Protagonists, who are mostly persecuted by the cruel and uncaring world, give emo-poetry voice-overs about this, and feebly fight back against the cruel and uncaring world – succeeding, if it’s a usual good-always-triumphs show, so that they may narrate more emo-poetry-about-all-they-have-lost in peace, or failing, if it’s a Darker and Edgier show, so that they may moan even more about how life is hopeless and there’s no place for good in this fallen world. Sorry, I seem to have a bit of PMS tonight. 🙂 Anyway, I’m just offering an alternative view as to why villains often gain a disproportionate amount of popularity…]

        Sorry! Went far off-topic!

        I have a strong sense that Ilithyia may be in danger at the end of the season. Someone speculated that Lucretia will kill her and steal her baby. That struck me as being highly possible. Spartacus killing her with his baby inside her is exactly the sort of omg-moment these writers love. Either way, it doesn’t look good to me at the moment.
        Ooooh. Highly possible, since it sounds like the writer is using every tragedy as a future plot-point… I wonder what the trope name should be for using totally unexpected past events as weapons? Chekov’s Cast-Iron Poker? (Chekov’s Gun, strictly speaking, should only apply to an optional prop with an obvious purpose – such as a gun hung above a fireplace. This would be more throwing someone INTO the fireplace.) Heck, they could even combine the two, with Spartacus killing her and charging on to the next target, and Lucretia coming out of hiding the moment he’s gone and performing an impromptu Caesarian section.

        I would especially not bet on Ilithyia surviving because Seppia has been introduced. Two of a character archetype in a very tightly-plotted show, such as this one, is one too many. A “How To Draw Manga: Super-Deformed Chapters Vol. 1, Humans” book which I own discusses the same thing, but with character appearances – “Finally, I would like to stress that characters become recognizable not when they all have similar silhouettes, but when their silhouettes are widely varied.” Since Seppia has a slightly different personality [more innocent and spoiled], I’d say Ilithyia survives for now, but once she moves into a more ruthless, plot-moving-and-shaking role, the axe comes down for her predecessor. It’s a bit like software models – while the new edition’s becoming accepted, the manufacturer still provides support for the older model and releases a few things for it, but once the new edition’s firmly in place, the manufacturer pulls the plug…

        Touching briefly upon Oenomaus and Crixus, they WERE his two historical second-in-commands, so I suppose it makes sense to have time devoted to them. Ah, well, maybe they’ll get plotlines that will make them more interesting to you.

        I’d like to analyze more [though with my tangent up there, I’ve probably analyzed more than enough :);;], but I can’t think of anything more (esp. as I don’t actually watch the show…). Looking forward to your recap of thoughts on today’s episode!

        • Shipcestuous says:


          I agree about everything.

          And once again, you bring a lot of insight to Seppia. Her similarity to Ilithyia is not a good sign for Ilithyia’s life expectancy. While I did find it curious how similar they were, it never occurred to me to fear Seppia replacing Ilithyia. I’m glad I’m spending all this time fearing her demise. Like Varro’s death, it’ll be easier to take knowing it’s coming.

          Of course, a part of me always hopes…

          True about Crixus and Oenomaus. Knowing they won’t die keeps me from hoping they will, and since I would be disappointed, that’s probably a good thing.

          I haven’t watched the episode from last night. My download took forever and I’ve been distracted by another entry I’ve been working on. I’m such a busy little bee these past few weeks.

  2. Kiirby says:

    Blonde girl is Chadara (:

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