|© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016|
(Lust - Death and Apollo)
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|© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016|
Goodbye to Rome - It was 'the morning after the night before' - at least for Servius.
He and Petronius said their rather formal farewells to Menelaus - who looked far from pleased with his departing guests - or was that just Servius' guilty conscience.
Their horses were waiting at the main entrance, along with a pack-horse that Menelaus had provided, loaded by the slaves of the Domus with the armour for Gracchus, Marcus' pugio, in its carefully packed ebony box, and numerous clothes and sleeping rolls.
Demetrius was not there to see them off, which surprised Petronius, after what he had heard happening the night before.
And then it was a long ride, beginning at the Forum Romanum, and passing through the Porta Capena, and then out onto the open road to Capua.
There was a problem, however.
|Demetrius Waits for Servius|
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
As they reached the Forum Romanum they met Demetrios.
"Good morning, Demetrius !", Servius cried out cheerily.
"Get up on the packhorse !"
"What ! You must be crazy !", Petronius shouted to Servius.
"You can't bring him with us !"
"It's no problem." Servius replied, deceitfully
"When you left us, last night, I asked Menelaus if we could take him with us - back to the villa at Baiae - and he said it was no problem.", Servius lied, brazenly.
Petronius looked at Servius, disbelieving.
"Well - let's make it clear, his coming with us has nothing to do with me.", Petronius said.
They travelled on to Capua in almost complete silence.
Arriving in Capua they stayed the night at a high class taberna.
Petronius had his own room, while Servius shared a room with Demetrios - which seemed to surprise the inn-keeper.
For their time in Capua Petronius kept to himself, wondering all the time what would happen when they reached Baiae.
The following day they resumed their journey.
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Perveniens in Baias
Arrival in Baiae - They arrived at the villa in Baiae in the early evening.
They arrived quietly at the villa, and all was well until Terentius came to greet them in the main atrium.
"What is this boy doing here ?", Terentius questioned incredulously.
"I brought him here because I wanted to buy him from the Dominus.", Servius said, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
"What have you done ?", Terentius asked,almost rhetorically.
Terentius turned to one of the Atrium slaves.
"Send for Nerva ! Instantly !", Terentius ordered - obviously very angry.
Petronius was puzzled by Terentius' extreme reaction to the presence of Demetrios in the villa.
"You're a fool, Servius, bringing that boy into the villa.", Terentius raged, as a very worried Nerva came into the Atrium.
"You know what to do, Nerva.
Take him to his room !", Terentius ordered.
"He has a room here ?", Petronius asked incredulously.
"Yes - of course !
And what is your part in this nonsense, young Petronius ?", Terentius asked, being unusually rude to the 'Master of the Arena'.
"I had no part in this, Terentius !", Petronius answered sharply.
And now may I go and see my own master, the Iuvenes Dominus, Marcus ?", Petronius asked, pointedly indicating that he was not a slave of Gracchus.
"Yes, of course.
And come and speak to me later, when the Iuvenes Dominus gives you leave." Terentius replied, more calmly, obviously trying to placate Petronius.
"As for you, Servius, on no account are you to meet with, or speak to the slave Demetrios until you have been interviewed by the Dominus !
I that understood ?", Terentius ordered.
"Yes - but I don't understand what the problem is." Servius pleaded.
"Explaining the problem is up to the Dominus - and you must wait until he has time to speak to you.", Terentius replied, obviously wearying of the whole matter.
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Fond Reunion - Petronius left the large Atrium, puzzled and hurt.
If there was a problem between Terentius and Servius he couldn't see why he should be involved.
So he mounted the marble stairs, and made his way up to the Marcus' private apartments.
The door-keepers greeted him and, relieved to see his return, immediately opened the large bronze doors leading into Marcus' atrium.
Petronius was instantly greeted by young Adonios, looking even more handsome than usual.
"Greetings Petronius ! My Dominus will be so glad to see you - and I too am so happy to have you back in the villa once more !" Adonios said enthusiastically.
"Thank you Adonios !", Petronius replied.
"And where is the Iuvenes Dominus ?", Petronius asked.
Marcus is at the Amphitheater.", Adonios replied.
"Every day, while you have been away, he has been there, supervising the building work and exercising the gladiators and wrestlers.
He wants everything to be right for your return.", Adonios continued.
"Well, we'd better go and see him !", Petronius suggested.
Petronius called for slaves to make ready two horses, and then Petronius and Adonios gallopped off to the town of Baiae, and the Amphitheater.
When Petronius arrived the amphitheater looked like a building site, with work underway on the new Propylaeum for the pompa and, quite unexpectedly an enlargement of the Pulvinar (what had previously been known as the Editor's Box - but had now been upgraded).
And there, in the centre of the arena stood Marcus (the Iuvenes Dominus), looking oddly taller, but perhaps that was because he was thinner, (having lost a lot of weight while he was unwell), and far more the young man (after all - he had 'come of age'), rather than the boy.
And beside him was Aurarius (the new golden boy), now his good friend, and constant companion in the arena.
And before them was a row of young gladiators, stripped down to loincloths, and carrying practice swords and shields, and about to start training.
Many ludus (Gladiator training Schools) used wooden practice swords, but at the Ludus Gracchi the 'practice' swords and shields were of metal - and of equal weight and balance to the equipment used in actual combat. The only difference was that the 'practice' swords were blunted, both along the blade, and at the tip. Gracchus had always insisted on this as, regardless of the fact that a metal 'practice' sword could inflict quite serious injuries - it was essential that the fighters developed a feel and a technique commensurable to the actual weapon they would handle and fight with in real combat.
As soon as the gladiators saw Petronius stride across the sand, they all bowed in deference to the Dominus Harena, and Petronius raised his right hand in recognition.
He then went over to Marcus, went down on one knee, and and kissed the seal ring (not yet the seal ring of the house of Gracchus, which only Gracchus wore) on Marcus' right hand.
All the gladiators, in recognition, struck their shields with their swords (as a form of applause), the noise instantly attracting the attention of the slaves working on the building projects in the arena.
Petronius then went over and shook hands with Aurarius, greeting him warmly.
"I see that you have taken over my work !", Petronius said to Marcus, with a cheeky grin.
"Perhaps I am no longer needed here, and you should sell me.", he concluded, in mock sorrow.
"When you are no longer needed," Marcus said, now strangely serious, "The Gods will fall from their thrones on Olympus, and the sun will no longer rise."
"Yes, well, I was only joking", Petronius said, obviously highly embarrassed.
"Well I wasn't,", Marcus replied, as he gave the order for the gladiators to start their training routines.
'The boy has undoubtedly changed - possibly as a result of his illness, and that strange dream.', Petronius thought.
"So.... how was Rome ?"... ,Marcus asked casually, apparently back to normal.
"Noisy and very crowded, but the buildings are beautiful.", Petronius replied.
"Did you know that I was born there ? But I was so young when I left, that I have no memories of it."
"I didn't know that - but we must soon go there - together." Petronius replied.
And he wished they could go very soon, for he had dark foreboding about what might happen at the villa in the near future.
So Petronius and Adonios (who, unlike most boys, was not very interested in gladiators), stayed and idly watched the trainees going through their paces.
"Well, Iuvenes Dominus, I must leave you, and go to speak to Terentius." Petronius said
Officially Terentius was the Lanista of the Ludus Gracchi - although this was only one of his many functions. Such a position was normally only open to freedmen, as it of a low social standing. However, 'low social standing' in this case means a person who is not a patrician, aristocrat or noble. For this reason neither Gracchus nor Marcus were considered to be Lanista, (they would have been insulted if they had been called one) although when he inherited, Marcus would be the owner of all the slaves in the Ludus - gladiators, wrestlers and boxers, and all ancillary staff. Dominus Harena was a special title, (held by Petronius), similar to Doctore, but of far higher social standing, although still restricted to a slave. This role was not restricted to training gladiators (as a Doctore was), but included the planning and organising of Games, and the control of all arena slaves - in conjunction with the Dominus - or in this case, the Iuvenes Dominus, Marcus.
A Long Story - Petronius left Adonios with Marcus and Aurarius, mounted up, and galloped off to the villa.
On arriving at the villa, Petronius handed his horse to a 'servo equitum' (a slave who specialised in looking after the horses), and went straight to Terentius' study.
"Thank you for coming to see me, Petronius !", Terentius began, trying to be polite and friendly.
"I think that I may have upset you earlier today, but I was very 'taken aback' when I saw the boy Demetrios with you and Servius." Terentius explained.
"Well, may I say first that Demetrios was not with me - he was with Servius, and I have nothing to do with the boy being here !", Petronius said forcefully.
"But what interests me is how you know Demetrios - as I have never seen him in the villa.
Or perhaps you met him in Rome ? - But that doesn't explain how he comes to have his own room here.", Petronius continued, trying to force Terentius to give some believable explanation.
"Now you begin to ask questions that I find very hard to answer.", Terentius said weakly.
"Yes - I know the boy - have known him even before you became a slave of the Dominus.", Terentius began.
"Demetrios has spent most of his young life in Rome, in the Domus Gracchi, and at Tibur."
However, he has a room here in Baiae, a room at the villa at Tibur, and a room in the Domus Gracchi in Rome.", Terentius explained.
"And why does a simple slave have a room in all theses places ?", Petronius asked, unable to understand what Terentius was telling him.
"That is a long and difficult story.", Terentius said, looking truly weary.
"It is difficult for me to explain as you are now a slave of the Iuvenes Dominus, and owe him your loyalty - and strictly speaking you owe no loyalty to the Dominus.
We have now two households, with two masters.
Of course by Ius Civiler (Roman Law) all in this house come under the rule and authority of the Dominus, what I am talking about is loyalty, which is not covered by law.
I am loyal to the Dominus, but also to his heir, Marcus - your loyalty now, I think, is divided.", Terentius spoke slowly and carefully.
"That is not so, Terentius ! My loyalty is always with the Dominus before all others, even Marcus - the Dominus is like a father to me, but second to the Dominus come my master, Marcus." Petronius answered firmly.
"That is strange !"- Terentius said, with a faraway look in his eye, "because so many of these matters are about fathers and sons."
There was a sudden coldness in the pit of Petronius' stomach.
"I think that you are going to tell me something that I do not want to know.", Petronius said, shaking his head.
"Yes - and I think that you may have guessed it.", Terentius replied.
"To explain the matter I must first go back many, many years", Terentius began, settling back in his chair.
"As you well know, the Dominus was married to a most beautiful woman.
Everyone who met her fell in love with the Domina.
They were very happy, but there was one problem.
She could not give him any children.
They travelled the Empire seeking the help of physicians, and even those who dealt in the arts of magic - but to no avail.
Slowly a wall came between them, because the Dominus dearly wanted a son.
In the end they wouldn't even speak to one another, and the Domina retreated to the villa at Tibur.
Dominus was till quite a young man, and there were, at that time, many beautiful young slave-girls at the villa here at Baiae, and the house in Rome - unlike now where all the slaves are boys or young men.
One particular girl took the fancy of our Dominus - probably because she strongly resembled the Domina.
Eventually she became pregnant by Dominus, and gave birth to a baby boy in the Domus Gracchi, in Rome.
"And that was Demetrios.", Petronius interjected.
"Of course.", Terentius agreed.
"But Demetrios, by law, was born into slavery.
And the Dominus couldn't give the boy his freedom without admitting his connection to the boy - as he hadn't bought, or been given the lad.
In addition, the Dominus had his reputation to consider, and foolishly hid the boy away, as yet another slave.
Above all he couldn't let the Domina know - as she would probably ruin his reputation in revenge because of his infidelity - infidelity with a slave-girl !
He considered having the boy killed - which he couldn't do, as the boy was the son which he had so desperately longed for.
Equally he could have had the boy adopted by some good family, but he couldn't bear the thought of his son looking to another as his father.
When the boy was about ten, the slave girl, who was his mother died - so the boy only had the Dominus to care for him - but Gracchus was unable to do even that, and Menelaus was given the task of caring for the boy.
When the Domina died - quite recently, as you probably know, it may have been easier for Gracchus to accept his son, but by then he had become involved with Marcus.
He was able to adopt Marcus, give him his freedom and make him his heir, because he had legally bought Marcus as a slave.
There was no dishonor in that.
But he was left with the problem of having an illegitimate son, who was born into slavery, whom he could not adopt, as he was already the father, - a son to whom he was unable to admit."
"And so he simply left him in the Domus Gracchi in Rome, hoping that no one would ever find out about the boy.", Petronius interjected once again.
"Yes." Terentius agreed, dejectedly.
"And now Servius has become infatuated with the boy - and may even know the boy's secret.",Terentius added.
"But how did Servius come to meet Demetrios ?", Terentius asked, obviously puzzled.
"Well, Menelaus selected him to be our guide round Rome - and we thought that he was just any other slave.", Petronius replied.
"Madness ! What was Menelaus thinking of ?", Terentius said, shaking his head in disbelief.
"But Petronius, you must please swear, for the sake of the boy, not to tell anyone about this, particularly Marcus.
I have told you this because it has weighed so heavily on me for so many years - that I desperately needed to tell someone.", Terentius said with obvious passion.
"Of course, - I understand.
The lives of a number of people hang by a thread because of what you have said.", Petronius replied.
Strange Thoughts - Petronius was still struggling to take in what he had been told.
"And does the boy - this Demetrios - know who his father is ?", Petronius asked pertinently.
"I don't really know.", Terentius answered - slowly.
"But surely he must have his suspicions. - The way he has been treated over the years. - And perhaps his mother told him." Petronius continued, obviously exasperated.
"Who knows ?", Terentius replied.
"And you have never discussed things with him ?", Petronius went on, desperately trying to make sense of the situation.
"To be honest, I avoid the boy as much as possible.", Terentius said, candidly.
Petronius shook his head, and paced round the room.
"Now you want me to keep this from Marcus, - but when he becomes Dominus he will obviously find out.
He will find out because of all the records that Quintus and his scribae (secretaries) so assiduously keep, a well as your correspondence, Menelaus' records and correspondence, and the correspondence of the Dominus and the late Domina - unless you plan to burn all those records - and if you do, Marcus will probably have you executed.
And he will find out anyway because of the physical presence of the boy."
"I know - but what am I to do ?", Trentius said in despair.
"I think that young Aurarius was right when he told me that he thought that all the people in charge of the villa were a bit crazy !", Petronius said, exasperated.
"He said 'crazy but harmless' - but I am beginning to think far from harmless !", Petronius added.
There was a pause, and the two men looked at one another warily.
"Well, my friend, I need to think this matter through carefully - and let me know if you plan to do anything - and please don't do anything foolish." (the thought of Terentius' suicide, or some scheme to have the boy Demetrios killed had crossed Petronius' mind.)
"We must speak of this again, soon, but first I must help Marcus plan the new Games.", Petronius said, hoping to conclude a long and difficult conversation.
"Of course - we must talk again soon." Terentius said hopefuly, as Petronius turned and left the freedman's study.
Terentius sat back in his chair, slightly relieved, but puzzled that he had unburdened himself in such a manner to a mere slave - but then Terentius reminded himself that he had once been a slave, and Petronius, while also being a slave, had a mysterious aura of authority - as exemplified in his statue - posing as the God Apollo.
And a strange thought then crossed Terentius' mind....
'No ! Impossible ! - I must be going crazy ! - but what did Aurarius say ? - 'Crazy but harmless' - But are we ?'
Terentius shook himself, and called for Quintus to bring him the financial records of Servius' recent visit to Rome.
A Renewed Friendship - Petronius thoughtfully made his way to Marcus' private apartments.
Marcus had returned from the Amphitheater with Adonios and Aurarius.
Petronius was pleased to see that Marcus' two new personal slaves seemed to be getting on very well, with no sign of the competitive jealousy that had marred the relationships between Marcus' previous slaves.
The boys were undressing Marcus in preparation for a bath, to wash off the dust and dirt of the arena.
"Come and bathe with me, and we can talk.", Marcus said.
Marcus had a luxurious private bath suite in his apartments, and while Adonios and Aurarius tidied up, and started preparing the evening meal, Petronius and Marcus luxuriated in the warm, scented water of the bath.
For Roman men the bath and bathing was not a private matter. Much of a Roman man's social and business life was conducted at the public baths. For those who were very rich, private bath suites would be installed in their villas or domus, but even when they had private bathing facilities, Roman men rarely bathed alone. Communal bathing was also to be found in very expensive brothels, where clients could indulge themselves with girls or boys in bathing facilities, as Petronius had discovered during his trip to Rome. However, for a master to bathe with a slave was quite unusual - but being probably the most senior slave in the villa, with a special status, an exception was understandable with regard to Petronius, - however, slaves and masters did bathe together for sexual purposes, but this did not apply with regard to the relationship between Marcus and Petronius.
"Tell me, Marcus, how much do you know about what happened on the night of your 'coming of age' convivium ?", Petronius asked.
"Well, I can't really remember very much - but while you were away the Dominus told me that someone in Rome had bribed Glykon - who, it seems was very jealous of me - to try to kill me.
He was instantly caught by you and Servius.
It seems that Cleon was involved in some way, and ran away from the villa, and was killed when trying to escape by the villa guards. I was unconscious for so long that I was unable to attend his funeral.", Marcus explained.
|Cleon in the Woods|
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
"Also the slave Petram was involved, as he gave away information when he was in Rome with Nymphidius.", Marcus continued to explain.
"That's correct.", Petronius agreed, as he tried to bring the conversation to the point where he could discuss with Marcus what was to happen to the two remaining members of the conspiracy to attack Marcus.
|Glykon - the Door Keeper|
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
"Now the Dominus has told me that Glykon must be executed - and this should happen during the next Games."
"Yes.", Marcus said, seemingly unfazed by the suggestion.
"And Petram should be allowed to have a last fight as a gladiator,, but he will be drugged before the fight, and his gladius blunted, to ensure that he loses, and is killed.", Petronius proposed.
"Or.....we could finally stage the Trojan tableaux, and have Petram as Patroclus - so he gets fucked first by a slave playing the part of Achilles, and then he can be killed in combat by the gladiators playing Trojans.", Marcus added, enthusiastically.
"And.... Glykon can be one of the Trojan captives sacrificed at the Games for Patroclus - 'Games within Games'.", Petronius concluded.
"So I think that we need to have a word with Aristarchos and Lucius (in case you have forgotten, Aristarchos is Marcus' Greek tutor, and Lucius is Marcus' Latin tutor) to check up on the Homer, and have some lines in Latin to explain to the audience about what is happening.", Marcus said, getting out of the bath.
"And tomorrow, if you are not busy, we could select our Trojan warriors, and the condemned slaves who are to be the Trojan captives.", Petronius suggested, following Marcus out of the bath.
"Yes...that would be good.....and we need a backdrop....like a tent, and a couch for Achilles and Patroclus before the combat starts - so we need to order something from Neapolis.", Marcus said, not bothering to call Adonios, but drying himself off.
Those born as patricians or aristocrats never thought of doing anything for themselves - always relying on slaves, but Marcus, having been a slave, would normally dress, and wash himself, and even go and get his own food or wine, and this endeared him to Adonios and Aurarius, and the slaves in the amphitheater.
"And when are the Games scheduled ?", Petronius asked.
"That depends on the building work, but very soon, so once the work has been completed we must go the the Dominus and seek his permission to set a date." Marcus said, slipping on a loose tunic and making his way to the atrium.
"Now I must go to have my meal with the Dominus - but you may stay here, as Adonios and Aurarius will look after you. They are preparing a meal for themselves, and you are welcome to join them.", Marcus said to Petronius.
"And please give my greeting to the Dominus, and apologise to him, for me, that I have not seen him yet.", Petronius said.
Cenæ cum Dominum
A Meal with the Master - The large bronze doors of Gracchus' triclinium were opened noiselessly, and Marcus entered.
Gracchus stretched out his right hand, and Marcus dutifully kissed the massive seal ring of the House of Gracchus.
"My boy..... how are you today ?", Gracchus said gently, smiling.
"Well, sir ..... and yourself ?
Gracchus sat down slowly on his couch.
"Well, but worried.", Gracchus replied.
"Wait until the slaves have finished, and then we can talk.", Gracchus said, watching the slave boys placing the various dishes of food on the marble topped tables.
"Are you finished ?", Gracchus then said, rather gruffly, to the senior slave.
"Yes Dominus ! I apologize for the delay.", the boy said nervously.
"Then go !", Gracchus said.
The slaves bowed, and hurriedly left, realizing that their master was not in the best of moods.
"I have much difficulty in trusting my slaves since young Cleon betrayed us - and also Glycon."
Gracchus said ruefully.
"Those who are still alive shall be punished - Petronius and I have been working on the new Games - and the form of execution that shall be used for Petram and Glykon.", Marcus explained
"Good, but I don't want to know about it.
I am a true Roman, and the shedding of blood is no problem to me - but, after Cleon, it is difficult to contemplate.", Gracchus said, obviously moved.
"I know you were fond of Cleon, and so was I - but he must have known what would happen to him if he ran away.", Marcus said.
"Well, my boy - I think that you are becoming more Roman that I am.
And that's not a bad thing.
The future, even though we now have a good, strong Emperor, may still be difficult, and I can see in the future there will be many hard decisions for you to take - so you must be strong, and at times hard and brutal."
"I understand, sir.", Marcus replied.
"I do hope so - but now let's eat while the food is still hot !", and in a fatherly way Gracchus poured some wine into Marcus' gold goblet.
"I must tell you now that Petronius sends his deep apologies for not having seen you since his return from Rome.
He has been busily concerned with the planning for the new Games.", Marcus said.
"That is no problem.", Gracchus replied, "But it is that trip to Rome that worries me."
Unsettling Thoughts - While Marcus was dining with Gracchus, Petronius was sharing a meal with Adonios and Aurarius.
The two boys chatted away - but softly, and they did not attempt to bring Petronius into the conversation.
They could see that he was preoccupied, and out of the great respect they had for him, they talked quietly, and left him to his thoughts.
Petronius was thinking back to the trip to Rome, and his first meeting with Demetrios.
The first thing that troubled him was why Menelaus had chosen Demetrios as their guide, considering the boy's problematic history and position ?
Also, Menelaus had said that Demetrios had actually been bought personally by Gracchus, about three years previously, on a visit to Athens, and that Demetrius had originally come from Corinth.
If Terentius was telling the truth, then Menelaus was lying - but in the circumstances that was understandable.
Then there was the question of Demetrios managing to get out of the Domus to be waiting for Servius at the Forum Roman.
Seemingly Demetrios wanted to go with Servius to the villa at Baiae.- although he must have realised that his presence there would be unwelcome, and that Gracchus would not be prepared to give or sell the him to Servius.
Servius, of course, had almost certainly lied when he said that Menelaus had given permission for him to take Demetrios to Baiae.
There was also the question of whether Demetrios knew about Marcus - perhaps Servius had told him.
And there was also the problem of the possibility of the boy having some sort of plan to regain his inheritance - and maybe Servius was a partner in such a plan.
Going back to the beginning - Petronius was also puzzled about Gracchus' reaction to the birth of Demetrios.
The master of a Roman household was free to have sex with any of his slaves, as in Roman Law slaves were property and not persons.
The result was that there were many unwanted pregnancies, and illegitimate children.
This is one reason why so many wealthy Roman men prefered sex with boys, rather than sex with girls.
Unwanted babies, born into slavery, were the property of the master of the house, and he could dispose of them as he wished.
He could bring them up in the household, as slaves - but this was unwise, and rarely done, - or he could sell them to someone in some distant part of the empire - far enough away never to be a problem.
Unfortunately, the most common solution was to leave them on a public rubbish dump, to die of dehydration and exposure, or the have them suffocated, and dumped into the Cloaca Maxima.
Gracchus had unwisely decided to keep the boy - leading to a trail of complex lies.
Cloaca MaximaAccording to archaeological evidence, infanticide was a practice that was common throughout the Roman Empire. Mass graves have been found from Israel to England, containing hundreds of bodies of babies that seem to have been otherwise healthy. Evidence suggests that unwanted babies were suffocated shortly after birth. Roman texts refer to infanticide as an accepted practice,. (In fact, Rome's foundation myth involves twin boys, Romulus and Remus, who are left to die by their mother, but are saved by wild animals.) It should be noted that in Rome, babies weren’t considered fully human upon birth. Instead, they gained humanity over time, first with their naming a few days after birth, and later when they cut teeth and could eat solid food.
At the present time, however, the only person who was really threatened by the existence of the boy was not Gracchus, but Marcus, as the boy Demetrios could claim to be the natural son of Gracchus and, regardless of the fact that his mother was a slave, the boy could make a good case that he was Gracchus' legitimate heir.
But....Terentius didn't want Marcus to be told about Demetrios.
The obvious solution, as far as Petronius could see, was that Demetrios had to die - and the sooner the better.
And there the problem lay......... until....
Alea Iacta Est - Seutonius - attributed by Suetonius to Julius Caesar on January 10, 49 BC as he led his army across the Rubicon river in Northern Italy.
The Die is Cast - Petronius slept badly that night - and so did Terentius.
The following morning Petronius was up early and at the amphitheater, supervising the renovation to the pulvinar, and putting some of the gladiators through their paces.
Terentius had received from an exhausted courier, letters from Rome.
Having read them through, he was debating how he was to approach Gracchus on the information that they contained.
Fearfully, Terentius entered Gracchus' study.
"I have correspondence from Rome, Dominus.", Terentius said quietly.
"And ?", Gracchus asked.
It's about the finances relating to Tribune Servius - and 'the boy'". Terentius said, almost in a whisper.
"You mean Demetrios ?", Gracchus questioned, obviously exasperated.
"I have to report, Demetrios, that the boy is here - in the villa.", Terentius said, fearfully.
"What !", Gracchus shouted - more than just exasperated but instead seething with anger.
"How !", Gracchus asked, incredulously.
"Servius brought him - when he returned from Rome, Dominus.
He told me and Petronius that Menelaus had given his permission, but Menelaus has sent word from Rome reporting that Demetrios is absent from the Domus, without permission, and is therefore classed as a runaway slave.", Terentius stated, trying to be calm, as he could see Gracchus' anger rising.
"What is going on ? That fuckin' boy Servius !", Gracchus shouted, bringing his fist down hard on his marble topped table.
"And where is the boy Demetrios now ?", Gracchus questioned, trying to calm himself.
"Locked in his room, and guarded. - Dominus", Terentius replied.
"And has Marcus seen him ? Gracchus asked.
"I truly don't know, Dominus.", Terentius replied nervously.
"You don't know ?", Gracchus shouted, mimicking Terentius.
"He must not know about the boy, under any circumstances - and make arrangements for the boy to be taken back to Rome as soon as possible.", Gracchus continued.
Gracchus sat down heavily on his chair.
"And tell me, how did the young fool Servius come to meet the boy ?", Gracchus asked, still seething.
"This is where there is a problem", Terentius began.
Gracchus raised his eyes to the heavens, expecting even more trouble.
"It seems, according to Petronius, that Menelaus selected the boy to guide Sevius and Petronius round Rome.", Terentius explained.
"By the Gods, first my Tribune, then my senior freedman in Rome !....... I'm surrounded by fuckin' fools !
And all because of the boy.
Get rid of him, Terentius, ... I don't care how you do it...... get rid of him !", Gracchus shouted hysterically, almost sobbing.
"Calm yourself, Dominus.
You are not yourself this morning, so I will ignore your last order, and simply send the boy back to Rome, when transport and a chaperone is available.", Terentius said gently, trying to calm the situation.
"You are right, Terentius - but I must do something about Servius.
I should have realised when I got reports that he was fucking Marcus, when Marcus was still a slave, that he had a real problem with boys...... and then he was unable to protect Marcus at the 'convivium', and allowed Cleon to escape, and didn't search Glykon's dormitory - and now he's trying to filch money off me.
He is useless as a Tribune, and can't be trusted - so I will dismiss him.
So, Terentius, get Quintus to draw up papers for dismissal, and papers ending his lease on his villa in Baiae, and I will serve the papers, and dismiss him, when I speak to him tonight." Gracchus said, slowly calming down.
"Yes, Dominus - immediately !", Terentius replied, and managed to get out of the study with no more problems.
The question, however, on Terentius' mind was - who was to be the new tribune - as, until one was appointed, those duties would fall to him.
The ideal person for the job would have been Petronius, but the tribune would have to be at least a freedman, and preferably a Roman citizen, and preferably an 'eques'.
The Equites - singular - eques - constituted the lower of the two aristocratic classes of ancient Rome, ranking below the patricians (patricii). A member of the equestrian order was known as an eques (plural: equites). During the Principate, equites filled the senior administrative and military posts of the imperial government. Equites bore the title 'Eques Romanus', were entitled to wear an anulus aureus (gold ring) on their left hand, and enjoyed privileged seats at Games and public functions. Augustus' legislation permitted any Roman citizen who was assessed in an official census as meeting the property requirement of 100,000 denarii to use the title of eques
The day passed easily after Gracchus' outburst - with Terentius and Quintus preparing the papers for Servius' dismissal, and Petronius, later joined by Marcus, working at the amphitheater.
Servius was, apparently, sulking in his own small villa on the outskirts of Baiae, as he had been deprived of any contact with Demetrios, and Demetrios was locked up - apparently out of harm's way, in a cublicum in a disused wing of Gracchus' villa.
|The Coming Storm|
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Seeing the possibility of a storm, Marcus dismissed everyone from the amphitheater, and for the day the construction and refurbishment stopped - but it wasn't a problem as they were well on schedule, thanks to Marcus' dedicated work.
Marcus and Petronius rode back to the villa as the first drops of rain fell.
At the villa Adonios and Aurarius were waiting to hand the horses over to a couple of equum servi, and then escort their master, Marcus, to his apartments.
As Petronius had a separate apartment, next door to Marcus' spacious and luxurious accomodation, they said their goodnights in the corridor.
Marcus went out onto the balcony, and then down the steps to his private garden, watching the darkening clouds gather.
Meanwhile, Petronius lay on his bed in his apartment, unable to stop thinking about the seemingly intractable problem between Marcus, Demetrios, Servius and Gracchus.
Suddenly there was a flash of light, and an ominous peal of thunder.
Now most Romans were highly superstitious, including Gracchus.
Marcus, who considered himself an educated, rational (we would say 'modern', but the word hadn't been invented at the time of our story) boy, was not a strong believer in signs from the Gods, despite the prophecies of the Sybil.
The thunder and lightning startled him, momentarily, but he did not allow it to overly affect him.
Meanwhile, back in Gracchus' study, the Dominus had called for a rider to take a message to Servius' private villa in Baiae, summoning Servius to his study - despite the rain and the storm.
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016The Romans called signs from the Gods auspices. There were five different types of auspices. Of these, the last three formed no part of the ancient auspices. Ex caelo [from the sky] - This auspice involved the observation of thunder and lightning, and was often seen as the most important auspice. Whenever an augur reported that Jupiter had sent down thunder and lightning, no comitia (a gathering deemed to represent the entire Roman population) could be held. Ex avibus [from birds] - Though auspices were typically bird signs, not all birds in the sky were seen as symbols of the will of the Gods. Owls and Eagles were particularly significant birdsIn addition there was Ex tripudiis [from the "dance" (of birds feeding)], Ex quadrupedibus [from quadrupeds], and Ex dīrīs [from portents] - This category of auspices represented every other event or occurrence which could result in an auspice which does not fit into the above categories. Often actions of sneezing, stumbling, and other slightly abnormal events could be taken as a sign from the Gods to be interpreted. The interpretation of auguries originated with the Etruscans, and Novius was an expert in such matters.
Sometime later and rather bedraggled Servius was given entry through the huge bronze doors into Gracchus' presence.
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Marcus, sensing the change, stepped out into his private garden.
He saw, partly hidden by the columns of the peristylium, a figure that he took to be Petronius - but carrying a bow and arrows - which Marcus thought was strange.
"Petronius ?" - Marcus called out.
"So what are you doing, young Marcus, out so late, on a night like this ?
This, Marcus, is a night to remember - and a dangerous night - when Thanatos hides in the shadows, and deadly arrows fly.
Athena's owl has taken flight - so take care !
Remember - Deus veniet cito !", the figure said, turning and releasing an arrow towards the main building of the villa.
As the glittering arrow took its course, the young man's outline faded - but Marcus caught sight of another figure, dark and ominous, and yet at the same time beautiful, hiding in the shadows at the far end of the garden - but as Marcus approached the figure, it too faded like the drifting smoke of incense.
Marcus became frightened.
He knew that something terrible was about to happen.
He ran back to his apartments, calling for Petronius.
"Tribune Servius !", Gracchus began, absentmindedly handling Marcus' new pugio, which he had been previously examining.
"I have called you here, tonight, because I am not satisfied with your recent behaviour.
After the debacle at the convivium for Marcus' 'coming of age' you offered me your resignation - and I was foolish not to take it then and there.
Subsequently I learned that you had failed to prevent the escape of Cleon, or organise his recapture - which was left to Terentius, - and then Novius discovered that you had not even searched Glykon's dormitory, after Marcus had been attacked.
Now, today, I receive communications from Rome telling me that you abducted one of my slaves, and lied to both Terentius and Petronius about the matter, and finally Quintus informs me that there are anomalies in the financial records regarding this pugio."
Gracchus held up the Pugio, pointing it at Servius.
"And it seems that you want to buy the boy Demetrios, and that's why you stole money." Gracchus continued, raising his voice.
"Well, Tribune Servius...... That boy you want to buy is my son !", Gracchus shouted.
Servius, incredulous and losing his temper, lunged forward, to get as close to Gracchus as he could.
"You're Crazy ! That boy is a mere slave ! No more than that upstart slave Marcus - or your 'fancy slave-boy' Petronius, who you would believe rather the myself - a Roman citizen !
Gracchus grabbed hold of Servius.
|Thanatos - God of Death|
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
So, Tribune Servius, you have signed your own death warrant !"
They tussled for a moment, and then Gracchus slumped over over the marble topped table, with dark blood staining the finely figured stone.
Realizing that no one seemed to be aware of what had happened, Servius left Gracchus' study, ran to the disused wing of the villa, and ordered the guard outside the door of Demetrios' cublicum to release the boy.
The guard, without question, obeyed his Tribune's order.
Servius then took Demetrios down to the stables, mounted his horse, sharing his saddle with the boy, and rode off into the starry night - with Thanatos stalking after him.
'and the story continues - in LIBER IVThe death of Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus - Enter Glaux ! - Marcus inherits - takes his revenge on Servius - but - thanks to Novius - a new conspiracy is also revealed
go to the link below to continue the story
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
|© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016|
(An End and a New Beginning)
warning: this chapter features nudity, explicit language and sexuality, in images and text - do not view if you may be offended