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Titus Calidius Severus
Fictional Character
Household Gods
Time-travel Story Set in OTL
Type of Appearance: Direct
Nationality: Roman Empire
Religion: Roman polytheism, with a particular preference for Mithras
Date of Death: AD 170
Cause of Death: Measles
Occupation: Dye-maker, formerly soldier
Spouse: (deceased)
Children: Gaius Calidius Severus


Titus Calidius Severus was a retired soldier from a Roman Legion who settled down in Carnuntum in Pannonia province, where he worked as a dye-maker. As dye was made from urine, his profession caused him to smell like a chamber pot. Nevertheless, he began a romance with Umma, the widow who owned the tavern next door.

One day in the spring of AD 170, Titus noticed that a change had come over Umma. She seemed as if she no longer knew him, calling him by his formal name rather than his given name Titus. She also developed a sudden aversion for the wine she sold, and no longer liked to watch death combats involving large animals and condemned criminals in the arena. She also had a newfound obsession with personal hygiene, and insisted he visit the public baths more often. Unbeknownst to Titus, Umma's body had been indwelt with the time-displaced psyche of Nicole Gunther, her 20th-century American descendant, by a miracle granted by the wine gods Liber and Libera.

For her part, Nicole, who had declared a hatred of all men as a result of conflicts of her life in the future, regarded Titus as one of the better personalities she met in the past, even though he made periodic misogynist remarks such as saying that a silly idea was "just like a woman to come up with." (Never once did it occur to her that such an attitude mirrored her own obsessive misandry.) After some icy resistance, she consented to a romance with him, and had to concede that he was a very good lover and a truly decent person. After a brief period of profound happiness with the woman he believed to be Umma, Titus was laid low by the measles epidemic which struck the city in the autumn of 170. Like nearly a third of the city's population, he did not recover. Nicole, who subconsciously regarded her time-displaced life as unreal and illusionary, nevertheless grieved his death sincerely.

Titus' son Gaius took over his father's business.

Literary commentEdit

The name Titus Calidius Severus, and several of the character's broader biographical details, come from a gravestone which was discovered in Carnuntum in 1880. However, the grave seems to pre-date the setting of Household Gods by about 60 years, so the character is not the historical figure.

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