Chapter XXX - Gracchus' Funeral

© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016

© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016

warning: this section features nudity, torture, explicit sexuality and language, in images and text - do not view if you may be offended
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Nocte Conventus

A Late Night Meeting - Glaux was puzzled.
His two humans were strangely quiet, and he was unable to penetrate their thoughts - as if a dark veil was thrown over their feelings.
Petronius and Marcus said a quiet, reserved 'bonam noctem' (good night).
Marcus then entered the vast atrium of his private apartments.
Adonios and Aurarius, as if anticipating their master's reserved mood, stood quietly.
"Good evening boys !", Marcus said quietly, as Glaux fluttered over and perched on Aurarius' shoulder, and pecked gently at his ear.
"It has been a difficult day." Marcus said sadly.
He then turned to Adonios.
"Find me Novius - he should be in the small guest suite - and ask him to come and see me !".
"At once, Dominus !", Adonios replied, and ran off.
Glaux, sensing that something interesting was happening, flew off in pursuit.
Some moments later Novius appeared with Adonios and a perky looking Glaux.
"You wanted to see me, Dominus ?", Novius queried.
"Yes ! I'm sorry to disturb you so late, but there's one thing on my mind.", Marcus said, hesitantly.
"And that is, Dominus ?", Novius asked.
"It's about Demetrius.", Marcus said.
Adonios and Aurarius looked at one another, puzzled.
At least, so far, they had not heard anything about a person called  Demetrius.
Marcus turned to Adonios and Aurarius.
"Boys - please leave us now......
Go and get some food and wine for myself and Novius - but knock before you enter !", Marcus said, wishing his conversation with Novius to be private.
"So what's the problem ?", Novius asked.
"Well... as you know, although it was decided to execute the four conspirators, it was decided to let the boy live.
What I want to know is how much you think that the boy knows about the truth, and how much of a danger is he to us !", Marcus said.
"According to Petronius he believes that he was born in Rome, has always been a slave, 
When he was under the effects of the kykeon, and the enchantment, he said he didn't know who his father was - and that's crucial.", Novius, replied
There was a quiet tap on the door.
"Enter!", Marcus said, loudly.
Adonios and Aurarius came into the room, bearing trays with two wine goblets and a flask, and choice pieces of meat, along with cheeses and fruit - and of course, clasping the edge of one of the trays was a very inquisitive, and probably very hungry owl.
"Ah...food !" Novius said, appreciatively.
"Many thanks, boys  !"
"Now Glaux... ", Novius continued sternly.
"Why don't you go and get your own food ?"
Glaux looked at Novius, somewhat crestfallen, blinked, and then took to his wings, disappearing out through the open ceiling of the atrium.
The atrium corinthium had an large opening in the ceiling, and below it was the impluvium, which was a shallow pool sunk into the floor to catch the rainwater. It was by this impluvium that Marcus and Novius were sitting on couches, with small bronze, marble topped tables beside them for their papers, and in this case their food and drink.
Novius waited until the two slave-boys had laid out the food and the napkins, and had then left the room, quietly closing the door behind themselves.
"If Menelaus or Servius - or anyone else, for that matter -  had told him that his father was Gnaeus, then I am sure he would have told us that.", Novius continued, ignoring the boy's departure and the earlier soft flutter of feathers.
"And does he know that Gnaeus Gracchus is dead - probably killed by Servius ?", Marcus asked.
"That I do not know - but I don't think he does.", Novius replied.
"And do you think he knows who I am ?", Marcus asked.
"Well....as far as I know he hasn't met you, or seen you, and has no idea who you are.
If he was told that you were the Dominus of the House of Gracchus, and his master, my guess is that he would simply accept that.", Novius answered.
"I see.", Marcus said, thoughtfully.
"So - as Consiliarius, what do you recommend ?", Marcus asked.
"Well, with all respect, Dominus, before I recommend anything, I would be interested to know why you are so concerned about the boy ?", Novius asked.
"I will be honest with you, Novius.
It would have been easy for me to have had the boy killed, but in the back of my mind is the constant thought that he is the son of Gnaeus, and with Gnaeus' spirit still haunting this villa, these rooms, and my sleep, I cannot just be rid of the boy - who has, after all, done nothing against me." Marcus said, and Novius nodded.
It was believed that until the funeral rites had been completed, the “shade” (spirit) had not crossed the River Styx yet (the river that takes one from the World of the Living to the World of the Dead). Thus, there was a sense that the psychic impression of the deceased still lingered around friends and family, and the spirit would become angered if anything negative was done or said about it.
"I will now tell you my secret thoughts - which are, until I may say otherwise, for you, and you alone.", Marcus said seriously.
"I understand.", Novius said gently.
"There is no one to inherit from me, and I have no plans to marry, or have children.
In the future, if Demetrios grows strong and true, it would be possible for me to free and adopt the boy, as Gnaeus adopted me, and then the blood of Gracchus would flow true.
Gnaeus was not expecting to die - and he was still relatively young - despite what the oracle said.
He adopted me just in time to ensure that the House of Gracchus could continue.
Equally I do not know when Apollo's arrow might strike me - so I should look to the future - and this boy - if properly prepared - may be the answer.", Marcus explained.
"Your thinking is good and right - and beyond your years, Dominus - but first I would seek permission to work my 'enchantment' one more time on the boy, to probe the boy's mind, and maybe prepare him for the plans that you have revealed." Novius said.
"I think that is wise, and I give my permission.", Marcus said.
"You will do that tomorrow ?"
"Tomorrow, Dominus.", Novius replied, taking a sip of wine.


Securus Dormientes

Sleeping Easy - The night passed easily for Marcus.
The crisis had passed, and the only challenges that now lay before him were the Funeral of the late Dominus, and the Munera, and then there would be the satisfaction he would take in the Celebration Games, when his enemies would meet their 'just deserts'.
Glaux landed with a thump on Marcus' pillow, as the first light glowed in the cool morning sky.
He had obviously had a good night's hunting - and Marcus ruefully reflected that he was probably condemned to a life of early awakenings.
That morning he rode with Petronius to the amphitheater to watch the heavy carts arriving with the long logs of wood that were to be used to make the funeral pyre for the following day.
Later, a carriage arrived from Neapolis bearing the exquisitely carved, painted and gilded wooden coffin that would contain the late Dominus' embalmed body, which would be smothered with piles of Frankincense to produce a beautiful perfume as the body was burned.
Another cart arrived from Neapolis, a little later, bearing a gilded wooden statue of 'Απόλλων ο τοξότης' - Apollo the Archer - and four gilded wooden sculptures of Roman eagles.
These were to be fixed atop the coffin.
Terentius, who had by then arrived by carriage, was there to inspect the items, obtain Marcus' approval, and make the appropriate payments to the artisans.
Removeable top to the 'Loculum'
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
It was then the task of Petronius' assistant foremen to organise the slaves to build the pyre from the heavy wooden logs.
At the same time, the craftsmen from Neapolis were securing the eagles and the Statue of Apollo onto the removeable top of the 'loculum' - coffin.
While the removable top was kept overnight at the Ludus, the 'loculum' was transported to the villa in a wagon swathed in black drapes.
At the same time part of the wooden flooring under the sand of the arena was being taken up, and a raft of granite slabs were being installed to replace the sand covered floor which would support the burning pyre.
While these preparations were being undertaken, three 'flamens' - priests - from the Temple of Apollo at Cumae ('clienta' inherited from Gnaeus) came to the amphitheater to offer their 'consolantibus', and to speak to Marcus about the funeral arrangements - particularly about the sacrifices.


Demetrios et Novius

Demetrios and Novius - Earlier that morning a slave had awoken Demetrios and given him, along with a small morning meal, a drink of Novius' 'kykeon'.
Later a slave had escorted him to 'Officium est Dominus', which was not in use, as Marcus was with Petronius and Terentius at the amphitheater.
When the huge bronze double doors were opened for him, Demetrius found Novius waiting for him.
"Servus sum !", Demetrios began, respectfully.
"Bonum mane, Demetrios !", Novius replied, smiling.
"The Dominus has asked me to speak to you once again - so sit down and relax.", Novius explained
Novius then went through the ritual of showing Demetrios the Etruscan pendant, and reciting the invocation in Oscan, neither of which Demetrios seemed to remember from the previous occasion.
"Now, Demetrios .... tell me where you were born.", Novius began.
"As far a I know - in Rome.", Demetrios answered - once again in Greek.
"And who was your father ?", Novius asked.
"I don't know. I was never told.", the boy explained.
"I believe that your mother died when you were quite young, and that you lived in a big house in Rome - is that true ?", Novius asked.
"Yes, sir. It was a big house - like a palace - but I never saw the man who owned it. I don't think that he ever lived there.", Demetrios explained.
"And were you ever told the name of the man who owned the house ?", Novius asked, pursuing the point.
"He was only ever called the 'Dominus' - so I thought he must be someone very important and very rich.", Demetrios answered.
"Now tell me, Demetrios, is everything that you have told me the truth ?"
"Yes, sir....everything." Demetrios answered.
Novius then brought the 'enchantment' to an end, and Demetrios 'awoke', unaware that he had been questioned.
"Demetrios - later we will go out to buy some things in Baiae - but first I must have a serious talk with you." , Novius said.
"Now tell me, are you feeling alert and rested ?", Novius asked, anxious to check that the effects of the incantation and the kykeon had passed.
"Yes sir, I feel fine.", Demetrios answered, cheerfully.
"So... I need to tell you that the man who owned the large house where you lived has recently died ..... and I'm afraid to say he was probably murdered by the young man, Servius, who you met in Rome recently.", Novius said slowly.
"Oh !", Demetrios said, obviously shocked.
"Can you tell me why he was murdered, sir ?", Demetrios asked, struggling to cope with the idea of Servius having killed this wealthy and important man.
"Well...I'm afraid that I don't know, but it is of no matter for you to worry about.", Novius answered, carefully dissembling.
"I see.", Demetrios replied.
"That man was the Dominus of the house where you lived, and was the Dominus of this villa, and also many other houses, villas and properties.
The young man Servius was his Tribune, but he and your old master Menelaus - betrayed the late Dominus, and both will be punished.", Novius explained.
"The young man's son is now the new Dominus, and wants to care for you, as he believes that in the past you have been mistreated.
He will meet you later today, and you must be very polite and respectful to him.", Novius continued.
"Tomorrow you will attend the funeral of the late Dominus, and today we must buy you some clothes for the funeral - so until the Dominus decides what will happen to you I will look after you.
Do you understand, Demetrios ?", Novius gently concluded.
"Yes, sir, - thank you sir.", Demetrios replied, obviously relieved that at least some things had been explained to him.


Visita Baias

A Visit to Baiae - Novius then called for a carriage, and after a brief wait he and Demetrios rode in style to Baiae.
Once there, Novius let the boy explore the sea-front as Demetrios had never seen the sea.
He was also fascinated by the many expensive shops.
Eventually Novius took him to a high class tailors.
Novius explained that he required a tunic for the boy - and made it clear that this was being bought on behalf of the Dominus Gracchus, for the funeral the following day.
As Marcus had inherited the ownership of half the town of Baiae, and the late Dominus was well known to all the residents, the service that that and Demetrius received instantly became of the very best.
The shop owner gave his  somewhat excessive 'consolantibus' regarding the recent demise of the late Dominus, and Novius selected the finest black, richly embroidered material, to be decorated with gold bullion, and made it clear that the tunic had to be ready that evening, to be delivered to Terentius at the villa, when full payment would be made if it proved satisfactory.
The shop owner insisted that no payment would be required, as the item would be a funerary gift to the House of Gracchus.
Demetrios was obviously impressed as, for the first time, he realised the the nature of the respect that his new master commanded.
Novius then took Demetrios to a high class thermopolium for a meal.
"So, Demetrios .... how do you like Baiae ?", Novius asked, as he watched his young charge happily munching his way through his meal.
"It's wonderful !", Demetrios said, with boyish enthusiasm.
"In Rome there were rich people, but too many very poor people, and it was very noisy and smelly.
Here, there are some poor people, but most of the people seem rich, polite and friendly, and the sea smells so sweet, and the buildings are all clean and new.", Demetrios explained.
"Well what happens, Demetrios, is that the rich people in Rome get tired of all the smelly, noisy poor people, and decide to take a holiday here - or in some cases they decide to live here, at least for part of the year - but living here is expensive.", Novius said.
"So am I going to live here, from now on ?", Demetrios asked, hopefully.
"That, young man, is in the hands of the Dominus, and if you are polite and respectful...then he may decide to let you live here - but you will have to earn your keep.", Novius replied.
"That would be so good - and I will do anything to stay here !", Demetrios said excitedly.
"That is not a wise thing to say, Demetrios.
Always think before you speak, especially when you are speaking to the Dominus - which reminds me - we must return to the villa as the Dominus wishes to speak to you - so finish your food !", Novius said reprovingly, as he paid the manager of the thermopolium.
He then stepped into the street with Demetrios, where their carriage was waiting.


Occurrentes Dominus

Meeting the Dominus - The carriage rolled into the long driveway leading to the main entrance to the villa.
As Novius and Demetrios left the carriage one of the huge bronze doors was opened by a young successor to Glykon.
They then made their way to the 'Officium est Dominus'.
The double doors opened, and Novius gently pushed Demetrios forwards to meet the Dominus.
Marcus was sitting behind Gracchus' large, marble topped table, with Petronius standing to his right, a little behind him.
Marcus, for the sake of appearance, had managed to get Glaux to sit on Petronius' shoulder.
Demetrios stared incredulously.
"Servus sum.", Demetrios mumbled almost incoherently, unable to stop looking at Glaux.
"He's got an owl on his shoulder !", the amazed boy blurted out in Greek.
Instantly Glaux took flight, noiselessly crossed the room, and perched delicately on Demetrius' shoulder, and started nibbling his ear.
"So...Dominus ! Another omen.", Novius said quietly, smiling.
"Perhaps.", Marcus said, studying the boy.
"But you're too young to be Dominus !", Demetrios spluttered, still speaking Greek, while Novius tutted, and shook his head, and Petronius gave one of his famous grins.
"Again - perhaps.
Maybe the boy is more clever than he seems."
Marcus stood up, and Demetrios looked suitably intimidated, while Glaux took flight again, this time landing on Marcus' shoulder.
"I am Marcus Octavianus Gracchus, Dominus of the House of Gracchus......and this is Glaux, the guardian of wisdom, a gift from the Goddess Minerva, and fresh from Mount Olympus ...", Marcus said, smiling 
"And are you ?", Marcus asked speaking now in Greek, as he suspected that the boy didn't speak much Latin.
"I'm just Δημήτριος (Demetrios).", Demetrios said quietly, looking overawed, and a little dejected.
"I think more that just Δημήτριος (Demetrios), Marcus said, in perfect Greek
If Glaux favours you, then you must be someone special.", Marcus said, resuming his seat.
Novius took a step forward.
"Forgive me, but if I may interrupt for just a moment, Dominus", Novius said.
"Of course, Novius", Marcus answered, handing a rather annoyed looking Glaux over to Petronius.
"Today Demetrios and I had a completely satisfactory discussion, and all is well.", Novius explained, emphasising certain words, and speaking in fine Latin, so that Demetrios would not fully comprehend what they were talking about.
Marcus nodded.
"And then later I took Demetrios to Baiae, and ordered a fine mourning tunic for him for the funeral tomorrow - and the tunic will be delivered this evening for you to inspect.
The young man likes Baiae, I am pleased to tell you. ".
Again Novius accentuated some words - this time about the funeral, so that Marcus would be alerted to the fact that Demetrios knew about the death of the late Dominus, and the imminent funeral.
"That's very good, Novius
I look forward to seeing the boy in his new clothes.", Marcus replied politely.
'Now, Demetrios,", Marcus continued, reverting to Greek, "As Dominus, I am going to change your name.
Here we behave 'Romanæ modo' (in the Roman way) - and you must have a Roman name - so no more 'Δημήτριος' (Demetrios) - you are now Demetrius - do you understand ?"
"Yes, Dominus.", Demetrius replied.
"So, Demetrius, how do you like the villa ?, Marcus asked, feeling his way, carefully.
"It's very beautiful, but not as large as the house in Rome.", Demetrius replied - somewhat undiplomatically.
"That's just because it's only my holiday home - but it's got beautiful gardens, a couple of swimming pools - one inside and one outside, a gymnasion, a private beach and views of the sea."
"Truly ?", Demetrius exclaimed, wide eyed.
"Truly.", Marcus replied.
"And in Baiae the Dominus has an amphitheater - and that's my job.
But don't go too near the sea - unless you can swim.
Can you swim ?", Petronius asked in perfect Grek.
"No Sir.", Demetrius replied, looking a bit dejected.
Marcus turned to Petronis.
"How come you get called 'Sir', and I don't get called Dominus ?", Marcus asked - joking.
"I'm so sorry Dominus !" Demetrius exclaimed, panicking.
"But I've never spoken to a Dominus before."
"That's alright, Demetrius, but just try to remember.
Petronius, Terentius and Novius are all called Sir - and I am always called Dominus."
"Now I have limited time, so call Terentius.", Marcus said.
Terentius was duly summoned.
"I believe that you met Demetrius at the 'Domus Gracchi' in Rome ?", Marcus asked Terentius.
"That is correct Dominus." Terentius replied formally, and a little nervously.
"Now Demetrius - I want you to understand that Terentius was under instructions not to make any contact with you.
Do not make the mistake that he did not like you.
Is that clear ?", Marcus asked.
"Yes Dominus !", Demetrius replied, meekly.
"I rely almost completely on Terentius, and I hold him as a dear and faithful friend, (Terentius modestly shook his head), and I am sure that he will be a great help to you as time passes.
Always feel free to ask his advice on any matter. - Do you understand ?", Marcus stated firmly.
"Yes Dominus !", Demetrius replied again.
"Petronius !"
"Yes, Dominus."
"I am handing this boy into your care, for the time being.
Make arrangements with Lucius and Aristarchos to see him daily.
In addition I hold you personally responsible for his fitness, and his ability to use weapons - and teach him to swim !", Marcus ordered.
"Yes, Dominus"
"And get Vulcan to take off the collar.
Terentius has a 'bulla' which Demetrius can wear from now on - it once belonged to a very frightened little boy." Marcus continued.
Petronius smiled, knowing just who that 'frightened little boy' was.
"I want to see Demetrius in my private apartments when his new tunic arrives.", Marcus concluded.
"Yes, Dominus.", Petronius said, as he guided Demetrius out of the room.
"Well," Terentius quietly said to Novius, "It's just like old times."
"I heard that !", Marcus said, smiling,
"But this time we'll do it right !", Marcus retorted.


Novum Puer

New Boy - Marcus returned to his private apartments, accompanied by Glaux.
It had been a busy day, and the funeral would be the next day - but late in the afternoon - and the morning would be taken up with receiving guests.
As always, Adonios and Aurarius were waiting at the doors.
As soon as he entered the atrium Glaux hopped onto Adonios' shoulder.
"Bring me wine, boys !", he ordered, too tired to even greet them properly.
They were not 'put out' however, as they could see that their Dominus was worn out.
They returned with a tray containing a gold goblet and a gold flagon.
"Sit down boys - I have something important to talk to you about."
The lads sat at his feet.
Marcus took a sip of wine, pondering as to how he would explain the situation.
"We have a new boy in the villa.", he began.
"He is not a slave - he is more like family, and about your age.
Now strictly speaking Demetrius was a slave, and it was not normal for slaves to be freed before they had 'come of age' - but it was very much up to the 'pater familias' (owner of the family estate) to make such a decision. Within the 'familia' (which included blood relatives, freedmen and slaves), law and tradition ('mos maiorum' - see below) allowed the 'pater familias' powers of life and death. In this way, slaves could be executed, sold or freed. No special ceremony was needed to free a slave - and it could be enough even to invite a slave to eat with the family, as a sign of the slave's freedom. The wearing of a 'bulla' (which had originally belonged to Marcus), in Demetrius' case, was an indication of his free status.
At the moment Demetrius is being cared for by Petronius.", Marcus continued.
The two boys looked at one another - a little surprised - but they guessed from what Marcus had said the previous night.
"His name is Demetrius.
He has had a bad time in the past, and has no family, apart from us - so I want you both to take it easy with him, and not ask too many questions.
He is a very pleasant young man, and I think that you should both get on well with him.
Glykon
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Cleon
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
It would be nice if you could become friends.", Marcus paused for a moment, trying to gauge the boy's reaction.
I am sure that you are both aware of the problems that jealousy and misunderstanding have caused in this villa recently.
What's left of the mutilated remains of the slave-boy Cleon, who you knew, Adonios, hangs from trees between here and Neapolis.
Glykon, who you also knew, and Petram, who you saw in the arena, are locked up in the Ludus awaiting execution.
Petram
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Servius
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Also Servius, who was the previous Tribune is to be executed.
The fates of these individuals is the result of their lack of 'self control', their jealousy and their scheming.
Here, in the House of Gracchus, we abide by the 'mos maiorum', and those who do not will be destroyed, rather than us see infamy in the House of  Gracchus.
With regard to this boy you will offer him the courtesy and respect that is part of the 'mos maiorum'.
I hope that I make myself clear.", Marcus concluded.
"Of course, Dominus.", both the boys replied, almost in unison, and suitably affected by the intensity of Marcus' warning.
The 'mos maiorum' ("ancestral custom" or "way of the elders,") is the unwritten code from which the ancient Romans derived their social norms. It is the core concept of Roman traditionalism, as exemplified by the 'reforms' of Octavian (the Divine Augustus). The 'mos maiorum' was collectively the time-honoured principles, behavioural models, and social practices that affected private, political, and military life. Roman society stresses the importance of 'disciplina' and moderation as related to education, training, discipline and self-control. 'Gravitas' was dignified self-control. 'Constantia' was steadiness or perseverance. In the face of adversity, a “good” Roman was to display an unperturbed façade. 'Fides' encompasses trust and trustworthiness, good faith and faithfulness, confidence, reliability, and credibility.
"Thank you for listening so attentively - and now let me rest.", Marcus said as he stretched out on the couch.
The boys got to their feet and went off, very subdued, to tidy up.
By then the light was fading, and Glaux flew up to the rectangular opening in the ceiling of the atrium.
For a moment he perched on the ornate moulding, looking down at Marcus, blinking reflectively, and then he flew off, to hunt in the darkness of the night.
Moments later there was a soft knock on the door.
Adonios answered it.
Demetrius
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
It was Petronius with Demetrius.
"Dominus ! Petronius and Demetrius are here to see you."
Marcus got up, and instantly noticed Demetrius' beautiful new black tunic.
"Well, young man - you do look elegant.
I think Novius has very good taste, but I would hate to think of the cost of all that gold embroidery.", Marcus said.
Now Marcus had hardly needed to make his long speech about jealousy, as Adonios and Aurarius had equally magnificent black and gold tunics for the funeral.
The boys tiptoed into the atrium to see the new boy's finery.
"Well, what do you think ?", Marcus asked.
"A credit to the House of Gracchus.", Adonios said, very diplomatically, and Aurarius, equally diplomatically, agreed.
The one thing that Marcus did notice, but did not comment on, was that Demetrius was wearing his gold 'bulla'.
(It was the bulla that had been taken off him when he entered the villa, but given to Terentius for safe keeping).
"You approve ?", Petronius questioned.
"Yes ! Very much.", Marcus replied.
"Well in that case I think that we should go now.
Demetrius needs to get to bed, as it will be a busy day tomorrow, and I need to do some last minute checks in the amphitheater.", Petronius said, apologetically.
So they all said their goodnights, aware that the next day was going to be extremely difficult for all of them, and especially for Marcus.

Sollemnia de Morte

The Solemnities of Death - The day began very early, and very badly with a loud knocking on the door of Petronius' apartment.
Petronius, wearing only a brief thong, answered the door.
It was a young, and obviously upset slave-boy.
"It's Ariston !", the boy blurted out.
"Come quick !".
Petronius slipped on a tunic, and followed the running boy down the corridor.
The boy took him to a cubiculum next to the private apartments of the late Dominus.
"It's Ariston - he's in here !", the slave-boy said breathlessly.
Death of Ariston
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Petronius opened the door to find young Ariston - naked, and hanging from a rope tied to a beam on the ceiling.
He was obviously dead.
"Get a guard - NOW !", Petronius ordered.
"Yes, Tribune !" the boy answered, and ran off down the corridor.
Almost immediately guards arrived, and cut down the dead boy.
Ἀρίστων - Ariston, a Greek slave-boy, who we first met at the convivium held before the Munera ad Augustum, was the personal slave of the late Dominus.
When the late Dominus was murdered, Ariston was virtually forgotten, and mourned alone in his cubiculum - and it seems that in the end, overcome by his grief, and seeing no future for himself, he took his own life on the morning of his dead master's funeral.
"Lay him on his bed, and cover him decently - I must inform the Dominus, and I want two guards stationed outside this door.
No one is to enter without my permission - is that clear ?", Petronius ordered.
"Yes Tribune !", the guards replied.
Ἀρίστων (Ariston)
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Petronius then went to Marcus' private apartments.
Adonios answered the door.
"Wake the Dominus - we have an emergency.", Petronius ordered.
Marcus quickly appeared, followed by Aurarius.
"The slave boy Ariston has hung himself in his cubiculum, next to the private apartments of the late Dominus.", Petronius reported.
Marcus looked shocked.
"He's been cut down. What shall I do with the body ?", Petronius asked.
"He was a good boy - and I suppose he couldn't go on after his master died.
We should have helped him more - I blame myself.
Adonios - get me Nerva !", Marcus ordered.
Very soon Nerva arrived.
"Ariston is dead. Get the body properly washed and prepared, and get it embalmed.
I want the boy cremated the day after the Munera, with a decent funeral.", Marcus ordered, his face  and voice strained.
"At once Dominus !", Nerva replied, and disappeared as silently as he had arrived.
"And Petronius - see that everything is done correctly, and then supervise the transport of the body of the late Dominus to the Amphitheater.", Marcus concluded.
"Aurarius - get my clothes laid out, and some food and wine !", Marcus said to Aurarius.
Marcus then slumped onto a couch, wondering what else could go wrong.
At that point Glaux fluttered into the atrium, and perched on the small, marble topped table facing Marcus.
Marcus in Ceremonial Armour
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
He then blinked, and gave Marcus one of his looks - which Marcus took, on this occasion, to mean 'stop feeling sorry for yourself, and take command'.
"Alright, Glaux, let's get to work.", Marcus said to his little friend, and took a sip of wine and started getting dressed for the day's events.
Marcus selected a beautiful piece of black armour, that the late Dominus had obviously been saving for some special occasion - and probably for Marcus.
The armour that Petronius and Servius had brought back from Rome, which was still wrapped, he decided to wear later.
With  Aurarius and Adonios, already dressed in their black and gold tunics helping him, Marcus put on the elaborate ceremonial armour, and the boys were suitably impressed.


Receptio

Petronius in Ceremonial Armour
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
The Reception - So, with Glaux on Adonios' shoulder, the three of them made their way out of the atrium and down the corridor, to make a grand entrance in the huge reception hall of the villa.
When they reached the hall, they were joined by Petronius and Demetrius.
Petronius, for the first time, was wearing the piece of armour brought back from Rome.
Appropriately it was black with gold ornamentation.
(It should be noted that only Marcus and Petronius [by the custom of the late Dominus] were permitted to wear the armour of a legatus.)
Demetrius, of course, was wearing his new black and gold tunic, with Marcus' gold bulla.
Moments later they were joined by Terentius, who was an essential member of the party.
As Excelsum Procuratoris (High Steward) - he was able to whisper into Marcus' ear the names and titles of the various guests who would be greeting the Dominus of the House of Gracchus - as he was a compendium of such knowledge.
Also joining the group was Novius, who now had the official title of Consiliarius.
The group, after a number of greetings, then took their places on the raised rostrum at the far end of the hall, which had been appropriately draped with sombre black curtaining.

from left to right: Aurarius, Adonios, Glaux (sleeping), Excelsum Procuratoris Terentius, Dominus Marcus Octavianus Gracchus, Tribune Petronius, Demetrius and Consiliarius Novius
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Quintus, it seems, had sent out a very large number of invitations.
There were of course the local magistrates - from Baiae, Cumae, Neapolis and Pompeii.
Also various prominent citizens from those towns.
Then there was Marcellus, now promoted to Legatus Legionis.
(The last time that he had seen Marcus was when Markos was still a slave, acting as 'cupbearer' to Gracchus, at the now legendary Convivium and 'Munera ad Augustum'.
There were also the Templi Apollinis Sacerdotes - priests from the Augustan Temple of Apollo in Rome, and also the priests of Apollo from Cumae.
There were inevitably Senators, and a number of Tribunus Laticlavius, Tribunus Angusticlavius, Tribunus cohortis urbanae (tribunes commanding the security cohorts in Rome).
In addition there were various business associates of the late Dominus.
The one guest that Marcus particularly wanted to meet was Nicander, who was the new 'domo domini' (Master of the Household) of the 'Domus Gracchi' - who had replaced Menelaus as a result of the advice of Terentius.
"Salutem Dominus !", Nicander said respectfully.
"I am pleased to meet you, Nicander, and I wish to speak to you after the funeral.
Make sure that you wait in the atriolum of the Officium est Dominus.
Terentius will show you where it is.", Marcus ordered.
"Yes, Dominus!", Nicander replied, looking somewhat nervous.
"Between now and then you are to speak to no one about matters relating to the 'Domus Gracchi' or the 'House of Gracchus'.
To put it bluntly - 'keep your mouth shut', until I have spoken with you after the funeral.", Marcus said, forcefully.
"Yes, Dominus!", Nicander replied, now looking somewhat alarmed.
Terentius, who had listened approvingly to the conversation between Marcus and Nicander, continued to work well, identifying all these individuals, but then there was a murmur in the large reception hall.

Titus testimonii

A Meeting with Titus - A 'Praefectus Praetorio' (Praetoria Prefect), accompanied by a number of Praetorian Tribunes appeared.
The last 'Praefectus Praetorio' that had visited the villa was the infamous Nymphidius - but he was now dead.
It didn't take long for Terentius to work out who this 'Praefectus Praetorio' was.
"You have a special guest." Terentius whispered in Marcus' ear.
"This is Titus Flavius Vespasianus - the son of Vespasian !".
Titus Flavius Vespasianus
As a young man, Titus was dangerously like Nero in his charm, intellect, ruthlessness, extravagance and sexual tastes. Gifted both physically and intellectually, exceptionally strong, short with pot-belly, with an authoritative, yet friendly manner, and an excellent memory, he was an good rider and renowned general. He could also sing, play the harp and compose music. He was not the kind of man that Marcus would choose as a friend, but as the heir to Vespasian, and a person of enormous power and influence, Marcus had no option but to show Titus due respect and consideration.
What had happened, unfortunately, was that Quintus had left a note that the 'Praefectus Praetorio' (Nymphidius at the time), should be invited to any important event at the villa.
When Nymphidius was murdered, and his supporters became involved in a plot against Marcus and Gracchus, this note should have been amended, but wasn't, - and an invitation was sent to the 'Castra Praetoria' in Rome, which landed on the 'desk' of  Titus Flavius Vespasianus, the recently appointed 'Praefectus Praetorio'.
And why did he come ?
The obvious reason was that he was fully aware of the part that the House of Gracchus had played in clearing the way for his father to become Emperor.
While Marcus was somewhat taken aback by the unexpected appearance of this individual, the appearance of the heir to the Empire at the side of the Dominus of the House of Gracchus would undoubtedly be an unbelievable boost to Marcus' reputation and standing.
Petronius, seeing the heir to the Imperium, immediately sent for a slave to give orders for the bronze Imperial Eagle, stored in the ludus since the the Ludi for Vespasian, to be hung on the front of the Pulvinar - which involved the slave in a very swift gallop to the Ludus, some frantic polishing, and the placing of the imperial insignia - and all before the guests took their places in the recently re-built Pulvinar.
Titus came up to the raised rostrum.
"Dominus, may I present the Praefectus Praetorio, Titus Flavius Vespasianus !", Terentius said in his best, formal Latin.
Marcus put out his hand, guiding his distinguished guest up the steps to join him on the rostrum.
"So you are Marcus Octavianus Gracchus that I have heard so much about.....", Titus said somewhat enigmatically
"I am - but I do not think that there is much to tell.", Marcus replied, somewhat taken bemused.
"Well, Marcus, - my father and I are indebted to you, and the late Dominus for ridding us of certain individuals who would have only prolonged the war of succession."
"I can assure you that it was all of the late Dominus' doing.", Marcus replied, modestly.
"But introduce me to you staff.", Titus continued pleasantly.
"This fine young man, for example, wearing finer armour that any I possess - who is he ?"
"This, sir, is Petronius Octavianus Gracchus, recently freed, and a proud bearer of the name of the House of Gracchus.
He is my Tribunus et Dominus Amphitheatro.", Marcus explained.
"Well in that case I need to have some discussions with this young man.", Titus replied - but failed to explain why he wanted to have discussions.
"And the handsome boy standing beside him ?", Titus asked.
"He is Demetrius - a distant cousin of mine - whom I am looking after, and educating.", Marcus replied - hoping that Titus would not pursue the matter.
"And the owl - with your slave-boys - that is rather strange !", Titus commented, standing next to a rather intimidated Adonios.
"Well, sir, there is a story to that.", Marcus explained
Like your esteemed father, I have been - but to a lesser extent - favoured by the Gods.
It was Apollo himself, in a vision, here at the villa, who told me that an owl would be given to me - the wisdom of Minerva.
He's called Glaux.
You must excuse him, however.
As it's early he is still sleeping, but if you remain with us until the sun sets, then I am sure he will greet you - probably by nibbling your ear.", Marcus said, hoping that Titus didn't think he was crazy.
Then I think that we are all going to get on very well.",Titus said, chuckling to himself.
While in Egypt Vespasian visited the Temple of Serapis, where reportedly he experienced a vision and, as the 'New Serapis', healed two men. Vespasian had spent time alone in the sanctuary of Serapis saw, in a vision, a man named Basilides,who, being detained by illness, was supposedly miles away. Basilides conferred upon Vespasian certain objects – loaves, crowns, and boughs – that were associated with Ptolemaic royalty. The experience appears to have been a kind of miraculous 'coronation ceremony'.
Exequiae

The Funeral - At that point a slave approached Petronius to tell him that the funeral cortege was ready to move off.
The cortege was led by a wagon, decorated with black drapery, and golden garlands, containing the magnificent black and gold, open wooden coffin, containing the embalmed body of the late Dominus, almost completely covered with fragrant frankincense.
It was pulled by four black oxen (castrated bulls), with gilded horns, and decorated around the neck and head with gold garlands, and led by young slave-boys in black tunics.
The oxen would subsequently be sacrificed before the funeral pyre - hence their black colour and the fact that they were castrated.
Chthonic gods such as Dis pater, the di inferi ("gods below"), and the collective shades of the departed (di Manes - which would include the late Dominus) were given dark, infertile victims. Animal sacrifice usually took the form of a holocaust or burnt offering, and there was no shared banquet, as "the living cannot share a meal with the dead". Color had a general symbolic value for sacrifices. Demigods and heroes, who belonged to the heavens and the underworld, were sometimes given black-and-white victims.
There followed the numerous carriages of the various guests, with Marcus' carriage (bearing Marcus,  Aurarius, Adonios with Glaux, and Demetrius) coming first, and the carriage for Titus and his tribunes coming second.
In the front to the whole procession rode Petronius, escorted by guards from the villa, on a large all black stallion, with qold equipage.
The streets of Baiae were crowded - as word had quickly spread that the day was the day of the funeral.
All stood in respectful silence as the black and gold draped wagon, containing the open coffin of the late Dominus trundled down the cobbled streets.
Many, who had never seen the new Dominus, thought that the young man on the huge black stallion, in black and gold armour was the new Dominus, and bowed respectfully - but of course it was only Petronius - entrancing everyone, as usual.
The wagon was guided by the slave-boys into the rear entrance of the 'Amphitheatro Gracchi', Gracchus' beloved amphitheater, where the funeral rites were to be held.
The carriages began stopping at the 'Ingressus Magni' (Grand Entrance), in the main street.
Young slaves quickly moved forward to open the carriage doors, putting in place a portable wooden steps, and ensuring that the crowded pavement was kept clear.
Marcus  stepped out, and was followed immediately by  Aurarius, Adonios with a sleepy Glaux, and Demetrius.
As the slave-boys bowed respectfully, Marcus waited for the carriage bearing Titus.
Titus stepped out, with one of his tribunes, and the group made their way to the main prothyrum (foyer), where Petronius, who had dismounted and preceded them, was waiting for them - with his flashing smile, forgetting for a moment that it was a funeral.
They then waited in the prothyrum, taking refreshments from slave boys, while the other guests made their way to specially allocated places in the amphitheater.
Funeral Pompa
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Then Petronius led the special guests up the newly installed grand staircase to the enlarged Pulvinar.
As they reached the Pulvinar, they heard the blare of tubas (Roman trumpets), and cornu (horns), and the thunder and roll of timpani - which sounded out across the whole town.
As they took their places they saw, for the very first time, the huge, gold plated, bronze doors of the new Propylaeum open slowly.
The Propylaeum was the late Dominus' last great work, raised in honour of his 'son', Marcus, and bearing the inscription 'MARCVS OCTAVIAVS GRACCHVS APOLLINIS DEDICATA EST DEVS'.
The sound of the drums, beating out a slow, sombre rhythm, grew louder as the massive doors opened, and then the procession (pompa) began, with the coffin being carried into the arena.
The cover had now been fixed to the previously open coffin.
The cover bore a wooden statue, covered in gold leaf, of the God Apollo, with his bow, (modelled once again on Petronius), and wooden sculptures of imperial eagles, covered in gold leaf, on each corner of the gilded coffin.
Slowly the coffin was brought in, and set down beside the huge pyre, built of massive logs.
Then the amphitheater became silent, the drums and tubas stilled.
Marcus stepped forward, a scroll in his hands.
He unrolled the scroll, and in a remarkably sonorous, slow and steady voice he read the eulogy.
(the eulogy, of course, had been written for him by Lucius, his Latin tutor, in the most refined and noble Latin.)
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
"My noble friend, Titus Flavius Vespasianus,
Senators, Magistrates, honoured guests - 
This is the funeral of the renowned Gnaeus Octavius Gracchus - an honourable and noble Roman, a Senator, a dutiful son, a devoted husband and a caring father. A help to the poor and the sick, and a scourge to those who would defy the Laws of Rome, and the venerable 'mos maiorum'. Always he held the Divine Augustus in the greatest esteem, and took him as his model, and expected me to do likewise. It was not simply Augustus' remarkable success in creating the Principate, but also his restoration of the greatest traditions of Rome - the 'mos maiorum' - and so I now possess one of the names of the Divine Augustus - the name 'Octavianus'. Gnaeus Octavius Gracchus was also a benefactor to this town of Baiae, and to Cumae, Neapolis and Pompeii. This very Amphitheater is a testimony, and monument to his unbounded generosity to this town, and its people - just recently made even more magnificent and beautiful in the last weeks of his life. To my father I owe everything, and my gratitude is unbounded. This funeral is just a poor attempt to show to you all my deep gratitude to him, and my unbounded admiration for him as a man, and my admiration of all that he has done. The tragedy of this funeral, however, is in the circumstances by which it came about. All funerals are tragic, but this funeral is the result of an infamy that cries out to the Gods for justice and retribution. This amphitheater is dedicated to myself, by my father's wish, and also to the great God Apollo, who guided him in his later years - therefore I, as the servant of Apollo, and the true heir to my father, will bring that retribution down on the individuals who plotted and schemed to destroy the House of Gracchus. As the sweet smoke of the funeral pyre ascends to the heavens, so equally the wrath of the God will descend in this very same arena on those responsible for the death of the most noble of men - Gnaeus Octavius Gracchus."
There was an almost overwhelming, stunned silence, as the guests were obviously moved by the nature of the eulogy, and Titus turned to Marcus and embraced him.
The eulogy, for a 'Roman eulogy', had been remarkably short, but also remarkably effective.
Although in style it was the creation of Lucius, in content it was the carefully crafted creation of Marcus and Novius.
Gnaeus Octavius Gracchus was described as a 'family man' - 'a devoted husband and a caring father' - despite the fact that he had separated from his wife, and had an illegitimate son, whom he had repudiated, and hidden away - a fact that, in the end, almost certainly contributed to his death.
However, Marcus carefully associated Gnaeus Octavius Gracchus with Gaius Octavius - later known as 'Augustus' - who was given 'divine' status upon his death - hence 'the Divine Augustus'.
The link was also made between Augustus' apparent restoration of the Republic, and his re-establishment of the 'mos maiorum' (traditions of the ancestors) in public and private life.
Just as the 'patron god' of Augustus had been Apollo, so Marcus indicated that there had been a special link between Gnaeus Octavius Gracchus and the God Apollo, and pointing to the dedication of the amphitheatre, where the cremation and sacrifice - and later the Munera, were to take place, he had established that link between himself (Marcus) and the God Apollo.
The final part of the eulogy centred on the theme of retribution which would be meted out to those responsible for Gnaeus Octavius Gracchus' death - a retribution that would occur in the same place - the amphitheatre, as the cremation of the late Dominus, and that retribution was ascribed to Apollo, and to Marcus, who portrayed himself as a servant of Apollo, and the 'true heir' of Gnaeus Octavius Gracchus - thus negating any criticism of his actions against the conspirators, and effectively preventing any questioning of his position as Dominus of the House of Gracchus.
Once the guests had been given time to ponder on the contents of the eulogy, at a signal from Petronius the drums and tubas started again - the noise drowning out the bellowing of the four oxen, stationed at the four corners of the funeral pyre, as they were sacrificed, and their blood gushed out onto the arena sand - the first of much blood to be spilled in the arena before the end of the period of mourning.
Cremation of Gnaeus Gracchus
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Once the sacrifice was finished, a polyspaston crane was wheeled into the arena, and set next to the pyre, and was used to lift the heavy coffin onto the top of the pyre.
When worked by four men, at both sides of the winch, a polyspaston crane could lift 3000 kg.
Marcus, Petronius and Demetrius then descended from the Pulvinar down to the sands of the arena.
It was the Roman custom for the heir of the deceased, or closest family member to light the pyre.
In this case it did not seem strange for Demetrius to take part in this ceremony, as he was known to be a blood relative (though not known to be the late Dominus' illegitimate son - except by a few individuals close the Marcus).
Petronius was handed a flaming brand by an arena slave.
Petronius then held out the brand, and both Marcus and Demetrius took hold of the brand and, as they thrust it into the pyre, the drums sounded along with the horns.
Moments later other slaves came forward with flaming torches, and ensured that the pyre was well alight, and more slaves threw powdered incense on the blaze from large, copper craters, sending clouds of sweet smelling smoke into the air.
All over Baiae the huge cloud of smoke could be seen hovering over the amphitheater, and the sweet scent of the incense could even be smelt on the seafront.
After some time the huge pyre began to fall in on itself, sending showers of glowing sparks, and more sweet smelling smoke skyward.
Marcus, Titus, and the rest of the group then started to leave the Pulvinar, which was the signal for the other guests to start leaving.


In Villa

At the Villa - On arrival at the Villa, Titus asked Marcus if he could spend some time discussing matters with Petronius.
This suited Marcus admirably, as he wished to speak urgently to Nicander, although he was puzzled as to what Titus and Petronius might have in common.
Marcus found Nicander waiting for him in the atriolum (antechamber) of the 'Officium est Dominus', along with Terentius.
Marcus went into the 'Officium est Dominus', and sat behind his marble topped desk.
Nicander and Terentius
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Moments late Terentius brought in a very nervous looking Nicander.
"I hope that I have done nothing to displease you, Dominus !", Nicander began, hesitantly.
"Nicander - understand this.
When you come into my presence, you wait for me to open the conversation - in other words, you only speak when you are spoken to.
Is that clear !", Marcus said forcefully, establishing his undoubted authority from the outset.
"Yes Dominus !", Nicander replied.
"So... you are the Magister Domus in Rome ?", Marcus questioned, rhetorically.
"I am, Dominus, and I am very grateful,", Nicander replied.
"Don't thank me .... thank Terentius.", Marcus replied.
Domus Gracchi - Rome
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
"And speaking of thanks ... you should know that it can be a thankless job .... especially for those who make mistakes.
Your predecessor, Menelaus, is now awaiting his execution, which you are to witness -  in a few days.", Marcus continued.
And, of course, there was no answer to that.
"Tell me, Nicander, how well did you know Menelaus ?". Marcus asked.
"Not well at all, Dominus.", Nicander replied, warily.
"Most of his friends were outside the Domus, so he only spoke to me when he gave me orders.", he continued.
"And did you meet any of his friends ?", Marcus asked.
"No, Dominus. He usually met them outside the Domus.
We only heard about them when he needed to send them messages or letters.", Nicander answered, looking increasingly nervous.
"Did you ever hear of a man called Marcus Sabinus ?", Marcus then asked, more pointedly.
"Yes, Dominus ....once or twice, when messages were sent to him by slave-boys.", Nicander replied.
"Did you ever meet him ?", Marcus asked.
"No, Dominus.", Nicander replied, apparently oblivious to the significance of the name.
"Now this is important ... "Marcus stressed
"You have met Terentius a number of time, and also my Tribune, Petronius.
Did you see anyone else today, at the funeral, that you recognised ?", Marcus asked.
Nicander looked very worried.
"Yes Dominus." he answered, quietly.
"The young man on the Pulvinar, standing next to Tribune Petronius, who also held the torch with you."
Marcus allowed a short silence before he continued.
"And who was that young man ?", Marcus queried.
"I knew him as Demetrius - a slave at the Domus, and a favourite of Menelaus .... but he never mixed with the other slaves - had his own room."
"What else do you know about him ?", Marcus asked, trying to coach Nicander to say more.
"Nothing - I was told he was born in the Domus to a slave-girl, but no one seemed to know who his father was.
The slave girl died when he was very young, and Menelaus 'looked after him'."
"I see - you mean he was Menelaus' 'bed-boy ?", Marcus asked bluntly.
"I'm afraid so, Dominus", Nicander replied.
"And you speak the truth ?", Marcus replied forcefully.
"Yes, Dominus. Every word.", Nicander answered, beginning to panic.
"So here's how it is, Nicander;
You will be my Magister Domus in Rome, under the authority of Terentius.
You will speak to no one about Demetrius, Menelaus or any of his friends.
Is that clear ?", Marcus said.
"Yes Dominus - I swear." Nicander said, nodding.
"In the future, the Gods willing, I will be spending more time at the Domus.
You, as one of my senior freedmen, will have very large sums of gold pass through your hands - my gold.
Always keep in your mind what happens to Menelaus, and his friends, in the upcoming games that you will be attending - and if you ever betray my trust in you, know that you will suffer the same fate." Marus concluded, threateningly.
"I understand.
Thank you Dominus."
"Good - a suite has been prepared for you - and I will see you at the Munera tomorrow."
And with that Nicander was dismissed.



Once Nicander had left them, Terentius began on a long and complex explanation of how Nicander, and the other freedmen under his authority, would be conducting various financial and mercantile activities, from Rome and the port of Ostia, which would be highly beneficial to the overall finances of the House of Gracchus.
He had just got on to enumerating the various and vast property holdings that they managed on behalf of Marcus in the city (in a rather boring manner that reminded Marcus of his tutor Lucius), when a slave announced that Petronius was seeking to speak with Marcus.
Petronius came in, looking quite pleased with himself, accompanied by young Demetrius.
"So, Petronius, what did our friend Titus want to 'discuss' with you ?", Marcus asked, suitably intrigued.
"It was the amphitheater !", Petronius said.
"His father, Vespasian, wants to build a big amphitheater in Rome, and Titus was so impressed with our amphitheater here that he wanted to know all about it.", Petronius continued, enthusiastically.
"So..... tell me more..?", Marcus said, encouragingly.
Nero's Golden House - Rome
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
"Well, as no one is using Nero's 'Golden House' anymore, and as Vespasian wants to gain popularity with the people in Rome, he has decided to knock most of it down.
And the small lake, in the gardens of the house, he is having filled in, and there he plans to build his amphitheater.
He has architects working on plans and designs, (mainly Greeks) but he really likes our amphitheater, so he would like some of his architects to come here, and make drawings that can be adapted to his own building.", Petronius explained.
"Well.... I can see no problem with that, afterall, we are not in competition with Rome, and as most of the wealthy visitors to the town come from Rome, then it would be good for them to find that Rome's amphitheater is based on our amphitheater here in Baiae .", Marcus replied.
"Anyway, Vespasian is planning to call it the Amphitheatrum Flavium (what we now call the Colosseum), which is similar to the way that we call our Amphitheater here after Gracchus.", Petronius concluded.
Boy Watching the Crowds
entering the Amphitheatrum Flavium

© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2017
Section Through the Completed
Amphitheatrum Flavium
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2017
The site chosen by Vespasian was a flat area on the floor of a low valley between the Caelian, Esquiline and Palatine Hills, through which a canalised stream ran. This densely inhabited area was was devastated by the Great Fire of Rome, following which Nero seized much of the area to add to his personal domain. He built the grandiose Golden House on the site, in front of which he created an artificial lake surrounded by pavilions, gardens and porticoes.  Vespasian's decision to build the Amphitheatrum Flavium on the site of Nero's lake can be seen as a populist gesture of returning to the people an area of the city which Nero had appropriated for his own use. In addition to the new amphitheater, Vespasian also built gladiatorial schools and other support buildings, and these were constructed within the former grounds of the Golden House. In contrast to many other amphitheatres, which were located on the outskirts of a town or city, the Amphitheatrum Flavium was constructed in the city centre; in effect, placing it both symbolically and precisely at the heart of Rome. The Amphitheater of Gracchus in Baiae, however, like the Amphitheatrum Flavium, was also built in the center of the town.  Construction of the Amphitheatrum Flavium began under the Emperor Vespasian in AD 71-72, and was completed in AD 80 under his successor and heir, the Emperor Titus. Further modifications were made during the reign of the Emperor Domitian.
use the link below for more information about the
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"So ...... did our honoured guest view our amphitheater.", Marcus asked.
"Yes indeed.
Myself and Titus and Demetrius rode out to the amphitheater.
I left Demetrius in the Prothyrum, having a snack, and Titus and I went to view the Ludus, where he caught sight of some of the condemned prisoners, in the cells.
He also was impressed with some of our young fighters who will be appearing in the Munera tomorrow.
Part of the Ludus and Practice Arena
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2017
I then took him round the other buildings; the Armamentarium (where the armour and weapons were stored - under heavy guard), the Summum Choragium (where the scenery and various other devices were stored), the Sanitarium (the medical facilities under the supervision of Agathon), and the Spoliarium (where the dead from the arena were stripped and the bodies prepared for disposal) - I think that he was a little disappointed that there were no corpses to view.
Marcus smiled.
Petronius continued:
"I also showed him the practice arena - but of course there were no fighters training as today was the day of the funeral.
I then took him onto the sand of the main arena, and got some slaves to dig away some of the sand to show him the construction of the floor of the arena.
The only thing that troubled him was the lack of a 'velarium' (awning over the seating of the amphitheater), but I explained that it was not being used because of the danger of it catching fire as a result of the burning funeral pyre.
What particularly appealed to him was the arched colonnade at the top of the building, which he thought was very grand, and very Roman, reminding him of a series of triumphal arches - (unfortunately this was a feature omitted from the finished  building that Vespasian and Titus constructed - probably because of considerations of cost).
He was also very impressed with all the Porphyry - particularly the perfume burners, and was interested to know where you had them made.
I said that as that part of the renovation was your own project, you would talk to him about it later.
", Petronius continued.
"And what about the new Propylaeum,?", Marcus asked.
"That he was not very keen on, as it was Greek style, and he would have preferred it arched, but he was very taken with the gilded bronze doors, and the large statues of Hermes.", Petronius replied.

Arched Colonade of the Amphitheatrum Gracchi - Baiae
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2017
The origins of the Roman triumphal arch are unclear. To fully understand this development however it is important to understand the importance of basic arches in Roman civilization. The Romans had learned how to construct effective arches from the Etruscans, who lived in central Italy. This knowledge had a major impact on the architecture of Roman civilization. As a result, the Romans used arches for things such as aqueducts, amphitheaters, bridges, and domed temples. They had effectively used the arch in various aspects of their civilization and city structure, and the arch symbolized, for them,  perfection and triumph in Roman society
"So he was generally impressed ?", Marcus asked.
"Yes, Dominus, very much so.", Petronius replied.
Marcus then looked to Demetrius.
"You enjoyed your snack at the Amphitheater, and your ride ?", Marcus asked.
"Yes, Dominus - very much.", Demetrius replied.
"That's good - but now I would like you to go to Petronius' apartments and wait for him there, as I have some private matters to discuss with him.", Marcus said.
"Yes, Dominus.", Demetrius replied, and he left the 'Officium est Dominus'.
Marcus then turned to Petronius.
"I'm glad that you didn't take him to the Ludus - I'm not sure how he would react to seeing Servius again."
"Yes - that's what I thought......
But I'm worried about the boy.
I sometimes think that, perhaps, he's still under that 'enchantment' of Novius - as he just doesn't seem to react to anything.", Petronius said.
"Yes -  know what you mean.
I think that I will chat to Novius about him, and maybe get Novius to talk to him again.
Meanwhile, take him to the beach.
Get him swimming and running around - perhaps that will help - and it should also be a break for you before the Munera tomorrow.
Anyway.... I will see you this evening - when we dine with Titus.", Marcus concluded.


For Marcus, however, there was more to worry about that just Demetrius.
With Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus, his adoptive father, now well and truly gone, he found himself on his own
Not long before he had been a carefree youth, running around with teenage street gangs in the dusty streets of Athens,
Then he was a meek and humble slave-boy.
Now he was Dominus - with wealth, power and authority beyond imagining - with senators grovelling and looking for his favour, and he was now finding himself rubbing shoulders with the young man who was soon to be the ruler of the vast Roman Empire.
But essentially he was still Marcus - or was he ?
But there was little time to reflect.
That night he would be dining with Titus, and the following morning he would preside over the Munera

  
'and the story continues - 
After the funeral of Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus, Titus, on behalf of his father,Vespasian,  offers Marcus the position of Roman Senator - the Munera, organised by Petronius, is held in the amphitheater, in the presence of Marcus, Demetrius and Titus Flavius Vespasianus

    go to the link below to continue the story


© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Chapter XXXI
(Munera for Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus)

warning: this chapter features nudity, extreme violence and explicit language and sexuality, in images and text - do not view if you may be offended




2 comments:

  1. It's a shame that no one noticed Ariston's intense sorrow. He might have been consoled by an offer to participate in the upcoming munera. The officiating priest at the previous one for Augustus interpreted the "please" as an acceptance of sacrifice, and that actually would have been true in Ariston's case. I question the validity of all religions, but in the context of the time, why not send Gracchus' soul off with a devoted servant willing to make the trip? Or is Ariston's death a murder connected to some new plot against the house of Gracchus????

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    Replies
    1. It would have been appropriate to allow Ariston to participate in the munera, but unfortunately everyone forgot all about him in their desire to get to the bottom of the conspiracy against Marcus and the House of Gracchus.
      Aristons' suicide is intended to show that a number of the leading characters, including Marcus, had become self preoccupied.
      Ariston's suicide, like the suicide of the individual chosen to play the Minotaur in the Games, is simply an example of the 'flip side' of Roman society, (and many societies), where the 'favoured' simply do not notice the despair of those who are less fortunate. Ariston's death has awoken Marcus' conscience, however.
      It should be noted that he does suggest a proper funeral for the boy, and wishing to placate the Gods he will try to make amends with a ritual in excess of what would usually be provided for a young slave.

      Aristons' death is not associated with any new plot, however, and the immediate future will be occupied with Marcus attempts to emulate Gnaeus', in preparing the future heir (Demetrius), and in establishing his own position as Dominus, and as a leading figure in Rome.

      Many thanks for your comments.
      Vitto.

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