Daytime. In the courtyard of his building, Vorenus is telling his bored daughters and his so-called grandson (now a very cute toddler) about the victory at Thapsus. He's got a wall of domino-sized stones or some such set up on the table as a visual aid to represent the city walls. Whoa, whoa, whoa, don't bust your budget there, Rome. As Vorenus goes on at excitable (and uncharacteristically foul-mouthed) length, Pullo notices J. No carrying water, and gets up to do it for her, over her objections. Vorenus's war story has gotten to the point where Scipio's nine hundred elephants panic and charge right back into their own lines. "Boom! Chaos!" he shouts, sending the dominoes flying. Little Lucius bursts into tears and runs away. Vorenus tells him not to cry: "It was only a game." It's not that you scared him, Vorenus; he's sad because, like this show's entire viewing audience, he just realized that he got screwed out of another spectacular battle scene. Get used to it, kid. Niobe pointedly remarks that Vorenus must be bored sitting around the house all day. Apparently, he's been home for a month, and although they're not short of money, she would really prefer that he started doing something with himself besides annoying the kids. He's not keen on going to work at the butcher shop, but she insists that "it's something to do."
Apparently, that's all it took for her to talk Vorenus into it, because we next see him and Pullo in butcher's hats. Except these aren't neat white paper chapeaux perched on their heads like you see in old cookbooks, but rough leather skull-condoms that are depressing even to look at. They're laboring away at pig carcasses in a busy alley. "Smells like old times," Pullo cracks. Is he getting paid, or is his labor going toward room and board, or is he simply there because the surgical technology to detach him from Vorenus's hip doesn't yet exist? Pullo and Vorenus sit down to reminisce for a moment, but Niobe's sister Lyde quickly puts a stop to that. "You'll not learn a trade sitting on your pugas," she advises, a sentiment of which I heartily approve. Not because I deplore laziness, but because I'm always open to learning a new synonym for "ass." Perhaps later I'll go kick some pugas in the forums. For now, the boys get back to work.
Vorenus has barely finished hacking off his next hunk of pork when he notices a commotion a short way up the street. A couple of baldish toughs are hassling a frightened debtor, and are just about ready to cut the guy's nose off for him when Vorenus hollers at them to stop. Leaving off their harassment, one of them asks what it matters to Vorenus. Vorenus explains that every time he meets somebody without a nose, he just ends up having to kill him. Not really. He just says, "Bad for trade," like we don't all know that he'd just rather get mixed up in someone else's fight than do any actual work. Although the street is still crowded, it's suddenly gotten very quiet, a large empty space having opened up around Vorenus and the thugs. They ask Vorenus who he is. He approaches threateningly, introducing himself. One of them has heard his name before: "Soldier boy, isn't it? Up by the dyeworks. Tasty wife." Vorenus grits at them not to mention his wife as Pullo quietly picks up the meat cleaver Vorenus left on the counter. Vorenus orders the thugs off the street and turns his back on them, which gets him spat on. The taller guy says that Vorenus isn't a soldier anymore: "You're a fucking shopkeeper's clerk." Vorenus turns back with a lightning quick backhand to the man's face. The crowd gasps. Threats are exchanged, but then the two thugs notice Pullo and his cleaver waiting in backup, and turn to leave. Lyde, having seen the whole thing, looks worried. She tells Vorenus that he just made a mistake: "Those were Erastes Fulmen's men. He won't take disrespect like that." Then how will he take his disrespect? Would he like it in the Forum? Would he like it with decorum? He will not take such disrespect, he's very likely to object!