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Claudia Seferius is a fictional character created by British author Marilyn Todd. The heiress to a wine merchant's business, she is also an amateur sleuth, living in Ancient Rome during the reign of Augustus Caesar.
Claudia was born in the Subura, a slum of Rome in about 35 BC (as of the first novel, taking place in 13 BC, she is twenty-two years old). Her father was a camp follower with the Roman Army, who died under mysterious circumstances in Gaul when Claudia was only ten. A short time later, her mother committed suicide.
Forced to make her own way in the world, Claudia earned a meager living as a striptease dancer in a tavern (and occasional prostitute). Eventually, she married wealthy wine merchant Gaius Seferius, a businesslike arrangement through which she gained security, in exchange for allowing Gaius to gain a young, beautiful, and lively trophy wife.
A few years after their marriage, Gaius died unexpectedly, leaving his entire estate to Claudia. Unwilling to admit a woman, the Winemakers' Guild offered to buy her out, but she was too proud to accept. Thereafter, the Guild has tried, in all manner of ways, to drive her out of business.
Unwilling to give up, Claudia has fought a never-ending battle to keep the business afloat, including engaging in a host of semi-legal or illegal schemes to cut costs and raise capital.
In the course of her life, she also takes a keen interest in several mysteries, both in Rome and throughout the Empire, applying her quick wit and investigative skills.
Family and friends
Claudia's greatest admirer is Marcus Cornelius Orbilio, an investigator with the Imperial Security Police, of patrician rank. A dogged and clever detective, Orbilio is aware of most, if not all, of the crooked dealings she engages in to survive, but refrains from turning her in because he is so deeply in love with her - and because, despite what she might think, her dealings are often petty crimes compared with the murders, rapes, and conspiracies against the state he is usually investigating.
Claudia lives in a state of denial about her own attraction to Orbilio, instead viewing him as her nemesis, angling to win election to the Senate by catching her in her illegal activities. This fear of exposure often comes between them, though they do manage to collaborate on several bigger cases.
Claudia also inherited Gaius's family as her in-laws, including his shrewish sister, Julia, Julia's lecherous husband, Marcellus, and Gaius's daughter by his first wife, a sullen teenager named Flavia.
- I, Claudia. 1995. ISBN 0-333-65022-0
- Virgin Territory: A Roman Mystery. 1998. ISBN 0-330-34477-3
- Man Eater. 1998. ISBN 0-330-35407-8
- Jail Bait. 2000. ISBN 0-330-37737-X
- Black Salamander. 2000.
- Wolf Whistle. 2002. ISBN 0-330-37199-1
- Dream Boat. 2002.
- Dark Horse. 2002.
- Second Act. 2003.
- Widow's Pique. 2004.
- Stone Cold. 2005.
- Sour Grapes. 2005.
- Scorpion Rising. 2006. ISBN 0-7278-6375-4
- "Girl Talk" in Past Poisons: An Ellis Peters Memorial Anthology of Historic Crime (1998)