Chapter XXXVIII - Romæ in Occursum

© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2017
adapted from an image by Joseph Christian Leyendecker
('Meetings in Rome')

© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2017

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PORTA GRÆCOS AD GLAUX

'A Grecian Door for Glaux' - The next morning Elatos spoke to  Aurarius.
"I think the Dominus' bird is unwell.", he said in a worried tone.
"Yes." Aurarius replied. "I've noticed it. I think the little chap is missing Adonios."
Glaux, who was sitting on the back of a chair, excitedly moved from one foot (claw ?) to the other.
Finally his smaller humans had noticed, and seemed to understand what was wrong.
"Don't worry." Aurarius said, reassuringly, "I will speak to the Dominus."
Over ientaculum, which Aurarius now shared with Marcus, while Elatos served them, Aurarius spoke to Marcus about Glaux.
"Yes... I've seen it too.
The problem is that Glaux needs to be watching over me, but has a strong bond with Adonios, who looked after him from when he first came to us.", Marcus explained.
"Well...why not make it so that, in some way, Glaux could fly from our apartments to those of Petronius ?".
"Yes.....", Marcus pondered, and with that he got up from the breakfast table, and strode into the culina.
Aurarius followed his master, as Marcus surveyed the far wall, as Glaux fluttered onto his shoulder.
"I think that this wall abuts onto the culina in Petronius' apartments.
Now if we had a little 'owl-sized' doorway set high into the wall, then Glaux could go from one set of apartments to the other, and could see me and Adonios - and being in the culina, there would be no problem with privacy."
"That's a great idea, Dominus - but how do we do it ?", Aurarius enthused.
"Easy.", Marcus replied.
"I will have a chat with Terentius and Nicander this morning."
No sooner said than done, builders arrived at the apartments while Marcus explained to Petronius why a hole was being knocked in his kitchen wall.
All through the explanation Petronius wore a wry smile.
Meanwhile, Marcus had called Apelles up to his apartment, and was giving him instructions on the design of the little 'owl door' (in Greek, for Apelles - 'Πόρτα της κουκουβάγιας').
Glaux's Doorway
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2017
Later in the day, when Marcus saw Apelle's design, his first comment was:
"It's a bit grand for a culina (kitchen) !".....
"And it looks expensive, Dominus !", Terentius commented, looking over Marcus' shoulder.
"But magistris (masters), I was told that this was a very special owl !", Apelles tried to explain.
At this Glaux fluttered onto Marcus' shoulder, nibbled his master's ear and, leaning forwards, (and nearly toppling over), pecked at the drawing approvingly.
"Well alright...", Marcus sighed.
"Tell me, Terentius, can you get me a sculptor to make a good job of this - say in white marble ?", Marcus asked.
"You'll need two copies - one for your side and one on Petronius' side," Terentius reminded Marcus, "So what about Diodoros - if you've managed to forgive him for being rude to you ?".
"Yes....why not ?", Marcus agreed.
"But you're sure he's really good ?", Marcus added.
Terentius nodded, knowingly.
And so the rest of the morning was disrupted by hammering, as the builders made the initial opening in the dividing wall between the two apartments - in accordance with the dimensions given to them by Apelles.
Once the small passage between the two apartments had been completed, and even before Diodoros and his assistants had completed the Hellenic style doorways, to be affixed with bronze bolts, Glaux not only busied himself visiting Adonios and Petronius, but also got into the habit, as the wall between the two apartments was very thick, of using the doorway as a small, quiet retreat where he could doze during daylight hours.


EX EPISTULA AD TITUS

'The Letter from Titus' - Now you may have forgotten that Marcus had received a letter from Titus Flavius Vespasianus (eldest son of the Emperor Vespasian).
The letter - very polite, but also friendly - suggested that, now that Marcus was staying in Rome, it may be good if they met once again.
Titus left the matter open, saying that they could meet at Vespasian's Villa, situated between the Pincian and Quirinal hills, in the Horti Sallustiani (Gardens of Sallust), or on the 'Esquiline' (where Marcus' Domus Gracchi was situated) - ('my place or yours'),
It was his way of being friendly, as he didn't want the invitation to sound like a summons.
Wisely Marcus consulted Novius.
Novius was of the opinion that, as Vespasian may well also be at the villa, it would probably be wise to invite Titus to the Domus - and that would give Marcus a chance to 'sound out' Titus with regard to his father's intentions.
The letter that Aurarius had tried to read, (without much success), over Marcus' shoulder was the reply to Titus in which Marcus had suggested that Titus should come to the Domus, as Marcus would like to show him round, and also offer him a meal and some entertainment.
Subsequently, Marcus had considered using the slave-boy troupe that he had recently bought.
It would then be a matter of getting Petronius to see if the lads had a routine that they could use.
If not, as the boys were attractive, they could be used to serve food and generally 'decorate' the place.
It was known that, although Titus had been married, and had mistresses, he also 'went with' attractive slave-boys - so that could be a way of getting him relaxed and amenable.
C. Suetonius Tranquillus
Seutonius tells us that: 'he was also suspected of riotous living, since he protracted his revels until the middle of the night with the most prodigal of his friends; likewise of un-chastity because of his troops of 'catamites' (boy sexual partners) and eunuchs (castrated slave-boys)'. - from 'The Lives of the Twelve Caesars' - C. Suetonius Tranquillus - see: 'De Vita Cæsarum'.
The next step was to discuss the arrangements for the visit of Titus with Nicander.
Not only was the entertainment an important matter, but there was also the matter of the food.
Fortunately Titus was relatively abstemious with regard to food, (probably because of his less than aristocratic origins - which was good as Marcus disliked long banquets), but his long association with the Imperial court (under Nero), meant that while quantity was not an important matter - quality undoubtedly would have to be the finest.
For this it would be a matter of Nicander and Terentius coming together to agree on bringing in some outside caterers.
The gens (family) Flavia, rose from relative obscurity to prominence in just four generations, acquiring wealth and status under the Emperors of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty. Titus's great-grandfather, Titus Flavius Petro, had served as a centurion under Pompey during Caesar's civil war. His military career ended in disgrace when he fled the battlefield at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC. Nevertheless, Petro managed to improve his status by marrying the extremely wealthy Tertulla, whose fortune guaranteed the upwards mobility of Petro's son Titus Flavius Sabinus I, Titus's grandfather. Sabinus himself amassed further wealth, and possible equestrian status, through his services as tax collector in Asia, and banker in Helvetia. By marrying Vespasia Polla he allied himself to the more prestigious patrician gens Vespasia, ensuring the elevation of his sons Titus Flavius Sabinus II and Vespasian to the senatorial rank. The political career of Vespasian included the offices of quaestor, aedile and praetor, and culminated with a consulship in 51, the year Domitian was born. As a military commander, he gained early renown by participating in the Roman invasion of Britain in 43. What little is known of Titus's early life has been handed down to us by Suetonius, who records that he was brought up at the Imperial court in the company of Britannicus, the son of emperor Claudius, who would be murdered by Nero in 55.
Petronius discovered that the slave-boy troupe only had a limited repertoire, and had long been without a 'dancing master'.
The story emerged that they had been previously owned by an elderly business man, of obviously plebeian origins.
The boys had come onto the market, as so often happened, on the death of their master, who had no surviving relatives.
There had been a 'dancing master' but, as happened long before, in the case of the troupe that had been on the ship carrying Marcus and his parents to Brundisium, the troupe and their leader had been separated by ignorant sellers.
Marcus, recognising the problem, immediately sent Terentius out, (much to his annoyance, as he claimed he had so much other work to attend to), to obtain a suitably qualified slave to supervise and train the troupe.