Sunday, February 22, 2015

Spartacus: Character Study Lucretia


Having recently just finished watching Spartacus on Netflix, I thought I'd take a look at another villain of the series. This time, Lucretia.

How you view Lucretia may depend on how you watched the original series. If you watched it as aired for example, you might have a different mind then if you watched it in chronological order.

Lucretia is the wife of Quintus Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Batiatus. She brings no dowry, no name and nothing outside of her own cunning and ambition to the marriage. This is something that Quintus' father notes many times, even trying to get Qunitus to dissolve the marriage.

But perhaps 'beloved' father had reason to? Quintus has dreams far beyond being a mere gladiator owner. Far beyond providing blood and spectacle to the crowds. And his father doesn't approve.

Lucretia on the other hand, does. She helps Quintus wherever she can including doing things that may be beyond the standard of such services that a gladiator house may offer. 

Her initial motivation in taking 'the Undefeated Gaul' to her chambers are to get pregnant so that she may provide her husband Quintus a son. As the chronology advances, it becomes obvious that it evolves far past that and into a strange sort of lust/love/ownership issue. That she, a woman, has this thing with Crixus that is hers and hers alone. Something that she is willing to do much to keep.

This includes changing some of her services that she normally provides to others with the gladiators as sex slaves and does so in a manner that brings shock to all parties involved. See one of Lucretia's friends and allies is a bit of a cruel mistress herself, always looking down on Lucretia and her way of life, but enjoying it as 'scandalous' in its own way.

When said friend seeks the company of Crixus as sex slave, Lucretia instead substitutes Spartacus, a man that the friend has many reasons to hate. It works out well in Lucretia's favor as she then has sufficient blackmail material over friend.

Like any, when she feels wronged, she seeks her own brand of vengeance. When Crixus takes a lover of his own, Lucretia's own 'virgin' slave, it wrongs her on many levels. On one level, Lucretia is a proud woman. It hurts her to think that her slave would want anyone outside of her. On another, Crixus, despite status as gladiator, is still a slave, still property and this betrayal is one of defiance. On another, at this point, Quintus has already told her that he knows about it and allowed it because it made her happy.

With those elements in place, Lucretia works to have Crixus killed by Spartacus in an exhibition match by poisoning the Gaul.

After the Spartacus uprising and so many are left dead or left for dead, Lucretia survives but is a pale shadow of her former self. Her possessions are gone from her. Her husband is dead. Her lover is dead. She is taken against her will over and over by a former slave.

And yet she still possesses keen mind and is able to take advantage of a rapidly changing order. She manages to use her surviving status to appear as a oracle, a bridge between man and god. She stays close to her good 'friend' and eventually has the last laugh on her.

A former shadow that kills.

In looking at Lucretia's nature I'd peg her with some of the following attributes:

Loyalty: 

This may seem a strange one. She has her own lover outside of her husband but... With her husband, she seeks to further said husband's ambitions. This includes killing her husband's father with poison and making it appear to be a rival of said husband in order to further her husband's own schemes as she knows without a doubt that husband will strike back at false slight.

For Crixus, she works tirelessly to keep him at the top of the pecking order. 

For her old friend who is murdered, she works to avenge her.

Adaptable:

Her husband's fortunes wax and wane and Lucretia manages to take advantage of one and weather through the other. She forges alliances with those who think themselves her better and when her own status is completely destroyed in the rebellion, is able to reinvent herself as oracle and seer.

When she sees the nature of lust and decadence that some of the better placed Romans has, she is willing to indulge that whim at personal cost to the honor of her own slaves, which results in many secrets being kept in the house afterwards.

Despite her complete inability to fight, despite her standing as a woman in a society that does not value them, Lucretia navigate the world in both its highs and lows and is an interesting character study.