MARCUS DIDIUS FALCO: CURRICULUM VITAE
Family: Born AD41, Rome, Italy, to M. Didius Favonius (aka Geminus) and Junilla Tacita. Plebian rank, father an auctioneer. Brother M. Didius Festus, legio XV Apollinaris, killed AD68, Bethel, Judaea; awarded Palisaded Crown.
Marriage: Helena Justina, d of D. Camillus Verus, senator, and Julia Justa. d Junia Junilla Laeitana, b AD73 Barcino, Hispania Tarraconensis; d Sosia Favonia, b AD75.
Career: cAD59, legio II Augusta, service in Britain (legion disgraced, AD69); subsequently a speculator, location unknown; discharged on ? medical grounds, cAD66. Active as an informer (delator) in Rome; few details survive. Recorded engagements as imperial agent: Britain, AD71/2 and AD75 (conjectural sightings at Fishbourne Palace and Londinium); Magna Graecia/Campania, AD71; Germania/Germania Libera, AD71; Nabataea/Syria AD72; Baetica/Tarraconensis, AD73; Tripolitania/Cyrenaïca, AD74. Sighting in Greece, AD77, now thought to have been a private visit.
Ascendancy believed to date from AD74, possibly after work on the Great Census, ? due to influence of Antonia Caenis, though she is known to have died in that period. Recorded as holding a procuratorial position at Temple of Juno Moneta, conjecturally identified as associated with the Sacred Geese and Augurs' Chickens (though this is contested on grounds of improbability). A period of relative prosperity almost certainly followed, when he may have dabbled in literary pursuits and the law. Took up with the Camillus brothers, relatives of his wife; they were subsequently notorious for political intrigue.
Connections: Vespasian and Titus thought well of Falco and used him for missions requiring discretion; Domitian loathed him, reason unknown. Camillus Verus was a supporter, but had awkward family background. Falco formed friendships with influential members of the Flavian court, notably Julius Frontinus (for whom he worked under cover in Britain) and Rutilius Gallicus with whom he shared an interest in poetry (putative joint recital, AD74). There are recently identified links with élite informers Paccius Africanus and Silius Italicus, against whom he spoke in the Basilica Julia, in AD76 or 77.
Publications: (Fragments only) The Spook Who Spoke, a Plautine comedy, tentatively identified as the prototype for Hamlet; known to have been performed in Palmyra in AD72. Love poems (the Aglaia sequence) have not survived. Contemporaries deemed his Satires his best work, the favourite being a contemplation on parrots addressed to his personal friend L. Petronius Longus. Speech against Paccius Africanus, In re Calpurnia, appears to have been suppressed for political reasons.