Friends and Foe

Petronius Longinus

Vigile Watch Captain and best friend to Falco

Petro, as he is affectionately called, is the father of three daughters, with his wife Arria Silvia (from whom he is currently very much separated! Is there perhaps a new love in the air for Petro?). He is a big, strong man, with the gentlest of hearts and a way with women! He is not as street wise as Falco and thinks that Helena Justina could do much better for herself, but like a true friend, he accepts and even helps their relationship. Petro is the sort of man who is great to have around if there is any trouble. He is also a bit handy with the carpentry, a talent which Falco was not slow to capitalise on when it came to refurbishing his new apartment in Time to Depart. Petro now lives in Falco’s old apartment and has started buying plants.

Most notable deed: Being struck on the back of the head in Oplontis and surviving!


Slimy Palace Spy (trying to justify his job)

Anacrites has made quite a transformation throughout the novels. At first he was actively against Falco, and tried to thwart him at every turn, even trying to get him killed in one novel. It is probably possible to pin point the reason for Anacrites initial hostility to the fact that Falco represented a threat to his own position in the Imperial workforce. Anacrites is a Freedman, who has gained the Equestrian rank and has substantial sums of money squirreled away in banks, plus a villa by the sea. In later novels, since Anacrites had a bit of a near-death adventure, he has mellowed towards Falco somewhat, probably a result of the hit on the head, and the subsequent care from Falco’s Ma. In Two for the Lions Anacrites even works with Falco on the census – well, ok, he still gives Falco some grief, but at least he isn’t trying to get him killed, is he? Anacrites has now moved back to his large house on the Palatine, and has resumed his job as Chief Spy – and therefore is dangerous to Falco again, although Falco does have a certain piece of information regarding gladiators to keep Anacrites off his back!

Lenia and Smaractus

A laundress & Falco’s Landlord – married

Lenia lived on the ground floor of Falco’s old apartment building, and is noted for making people pee in her laundry vats because of Vespasian’s tax on urine (urine was used in the laundry process!)*. After much doubt and many more arguments, Lenia and Smaractus (the owner of the apartment block), married – probably for each other’s money. On the wedding night Smaractus’ apartment caught fire, thus starting off a marriage made in Hades. It is anyone’s bet on how long those two will stay married, and who will kill who first [note – now divorced!]

* Anorak Moment: This is why in France toilets are still referred to as Vespasians (pr. “ves spais ee ens”). Also, in Italy, urinals are still called Vespasiani.


The Snake Dancer

Falco meets Thalia and her snakes Jason, Zeno and Pharaoh in Venus in Copper, and in Last Act in Palmyra she hires him to find her missing water organist – a star attraction – who has run off (in love!). She is a likable, larger-than-life, blustery person, who makes constant innuendos, but doesn’t mean them… probably.