Blood of Rome
The Porticus Minucia
The poor of Rome are supported by a dole of bread, and should it fail, they first riot, and then starve. This dole is brought from Egypt and Sicily in great grain barges, and the urban Prefects offer sacrifices to Castor and Pollux, or to Isis, for their safe arrival, even under Christian Emperors.
The dole is distributed in the Porticus Minucia, a long colonnade divided into 45 sections. The columns are more than 30 feet tall, with fine Corinthian capitals, but the bases and lower sections are decorated only by the graffiti left by people waiting for the dole.
Everyone entitled to a dole has a metal ticket, which indicates the day of the month, and the section of the Minucia, to which they should go. These tickets can be passed down through families or sold to others, and although inheritance is common, sale is much less so. Most people who hold these tickets rely on them for food.
In theory, the Minucia (also called the frumentarium) starts distributing at dawn, and finishes at dusk. In practice, since the Minucia must distribute all of a day’s grain on that day, the place rarely closes until well after nightfall. Once one day’s distribution is completed, city officials begin transporting the grain for the next day’s dole from the warehouses to the storage rooms at the Minucia, so the place is never quiet.
There are always a large number of guards present, more to guard against fire than theft. Everyone is very sensitive to anything that might disrupt the dole, and starting trouble here is a good way to draw the immediate wrath of several hundred Romans, and the delayed wrath of the Senex.
The Kindred of Rome mainly use the Minucia as a place to recruit unskilled servants. Most of those who rely on the bread dole have no money and no jobs, and while some are happy with their bread and circuses, otherswant luxuries, and thus are willing to accept offers of rather dubious work.
The dole has existed for centuries, and Kindred have recruited from it for as long. As a result, the poor of Rome know that, if you collect your dole after dark, you might be offered well-paying work by a monster from the underworld. A few think that is pure legend, most think that it refers to criminal gangs, and some know that it is literally true. There are more than a few free ghouls who attend the dole at night, and bargain for Vitae rather than money. The older ones, such as Marcus Colonnus Tornatus, are older than many of the Kindred, and powerful and reliable. They know about the Vinculum, and thus are always seeking new patrons, which means that they have to have, and keep, a reputation for doing the job they were hired for, and being discreet about the details.