Page 259. " the twenty-fifth day of November, that date kept sacred to Proserpina, Queen of Hades "
Seated Goddess, Probably Persephone (Proserpina)
GNU Free Documentation LicenseSeated Goddess, Probably Persephone (Proserpina) - Credit: Ealdgyth/Wikimedia Commons

 Proserpina was the Roman name for the goddess Persephone, the daughter of Demeter (Roman Ceres) who was desired and carried off by Hades (Roman Pluto), god of the underworld. She spent half the year in the underworld, during which time the plants would die in the world above as her mother mourned, creating autumn and winter. When she returned to her mother for the other half of the year, Demeter’s joy would bring the spring and summer again. Proserpina was offered cult as an underworld deity.

Page 261. " I was going to be another Achilles, albeit of the law courts rather than the battlefield. "

Achilles Fights Memnon at Troy, Black Figure Vase
Public DomainAchilles Fights Memnon at Troy, Black Figure Vase - Credit: Bibi Saint-Pol/Wikimedia Commons
 Achilles was a famous Greek hero who was renowned for his strength and skill in battle. He was given the choice of an easy, happy life after which he would eventually die a nobody, or an early death in the Trojan War that would win him everlasting fame and glory. He chose the latter. This is perhaps Cicero’s way of saying that he, too, chooses everlasting fame over the easy life.

Ajax Carrying the Body of Achilles, Black Figure Vase
Public DomainAjax Carrying the Body of Achilles, Black Figure Vase - Credit: Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons
Achilles Ambushes Troilos, Black Figure Vase
Public DomainAchilles Ambushes Troilos, Black Figure Vase - Credit: Bibi Saint-Pol/Wikimedia Commons

Page 263. " The consular war fleet had been set on fire in its winter anchorage at Ostia. "

Ostia warehouses along the Tiber banks
Public DomainOstia warehouses along the Tiber banks - Credit: Nashvilleneighbor/Wikimedia Commons
 Ostia was the port city of Rome.

Page 263. " It was all the work of pirates "

Cilicia on a map
GNU Free Documentation LicenseCilicia on a map - Credit: ThomasPusch/Wikimedia Commons
With Rome’s defeat of large naval empires such as Carthage, the policing of the waters was no longer as thorough as it had been. Small communities around the Mediterranean left to fend for themselves were forced to make deals with pirates, becoming havens for them. These ‘pirates’ probably included the ships of various peoples and city states found around the Mediterranean that were not under the control of Rome, such as Crete and Cilicia. The Cilician pirates in particular were strong, organised and very frightening to Rome. By attacking coastal cities in Greece, Asia and Italy, they seriously threatened the city’s grain supply, a situation guaranteed to cause panic in Rome.

Page 265. " One of Pompey’s peculiarities, I later discovered, was that he always tended to love his wife, whoever she happened to be at the time. "

Roman Marriage
GNU Free Documentation LicenseRoman Marriage - Credit: Aranzuisor/Wikimedia Commons
Roman marriages were not usually formed out of love, but out of a desire to create new family connections, forge or bind political alliances, marry into money, or honour a respected friend. Thus, marriages were usually arranged, either by the parents or by the prospective husband and his desired wife’s guardian; girls married young and were rarely given much of a choice, if any, of potential husband. Funerary inscriptions, however, provide evidence of the love and affection that could develop between Roman married couples.

Page 267. " along with their retinues and their symbolic rods and axes "

Cincinnatus holding the Fasces. Statue from Cincinnati, OH
GNU Free Documentation LicenseCincinnatus holding the Fasces. Statue from Cincinnati, OH - Credit: Ellywa/Wikimedia Commons
The fasces, a bundle of birch rods tied into a cylinder, sometimes with one or two axe heads projecting from the sides, were symbols of power and authority in ancient Rome. These were held by the lictors (personal bodyguards) of important magistrates, and carried before them in processions.

Page 269. " from the Pillars of Hercules here in the west to the waters of Egypt and Syria here in the east "

The Pillars of Hercules was the ancient term for the strait of Gibraltar (specifically the land on either side of the narrow stretch of sea leading out to the Atlantic Ocean). So, from the Pillars of Hercules to Egypt and Syria, Pompey basically means the entire Mediterranean Sea.

The Pillars of Hercules
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumThe Pillars of Hercules - Credit: John Eckert