The Egeria of the title episode is a nymph, and not only any old nymph but the same nymph that was Numa Pompilius‘s personal guide in establishing the original Religio Roma. It was a curious choice for the name of a sex-worker, but perhaps Roman sex workers were all named such things.
One of the most charming scenes was Titus Pullo sharing his dinner with his Penates. The scene is so everyday and intimate; it’s really one of the best moments of the show so far for me. Even though he just tortured and murdered Niobe’s brother in law last epi, Titus Pullo still seems like a good guy. He’s even nice (overly nice, in Vorenus’s opinion) to his chance-got slave girl.
Niobe, grief-stricken at her sister’s repudiation, prostrates herself at the feet of a living idol. I wasn’t at all aware that Rome had these. The living idol is Bona Dea, the good goddess, one apparently in charge of forgiveness as well as general blessings for women, considering the requests made by women dropping coins into her bowl as they come by. I’m having a hard time reconciling naked woman with a lot of red body paint with Bona Dea, but that might be my ignorance talking.
Octavian, meanwhile, seems to be having a coming of age ceremony that involves visiting a prostitute, the Egeria of the title. I thought that Roman boys had a coming of age ceremony on Liberalia in March when they were 16, at which time they gave their bulla praetexa to their Lares and put on a toga for the first time. Whatever else went wrong with this notion in the show, Octavian did show up without his bulla and in a toga later, so at least the costuming was right. He’s promptly shipped off to Mediolanum, as “Rome is not safe for men of the Julii”. This seems to be the moral equivalent of being shipped off to college or boarding school.
Pullo entrusting his Lares statue to his slave girl was breathtaking and a bit weird, but I guess he had no one else to look after it, since he doesn’t have a wife or seemingly any other living family. Niobe says something like “Bellona (the Roman goddess of war) protect you”, and Vorenus tenderly replies “and Juno (Roman goddess of the house) protect you!”. And then Pullo and Vorenus are off in Marc Anthony’s train to Greece. And everyone is lost at sea, as seemingly the offering to Triton wasn’t as well-accepted as Vorenus wanted Pullo to believe. Or Vorenus is right, and Pullo’s irreverence is severely punished.