Rome: 71 B.C.
She hated the city and hated it most in August. The streets burst with filthy life; rats and flies and the sneering, diseased poor of the Empire. Carts piled with everything from sausages to silks poured through the gates, choked the narrow alleyways, jammed into the forums. Exotic crowds from the edges of the world shoved and brawled and stole in every corner. Over it all a blue haze of smoke from countless sausage-stands and bakeries hung like dead fog. Rome was drowning in humanity: naked slaves, nobility preceded by lictors and followed by streams of clients, soldiers in creaking leather and clanging...