The Sacred Antinous - Erotically-charged, Explicitly Illustrated, Queer-Themed Historical Fiction about Antinous and Hadrian
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Sacred Texts
LEGEND TO ILLUSTRATIONS
  CONTAINS X-RATED IMAGES
  CONTAINS R-RATED IMAGES
  CONTAINS G-RATED IMAGES
COMMENTARY
  ~000 Introduction
I - THE YOUNG SCHOOLBOY
  ~001 Arrival at Caelian Hill
  ~002 Life at the Paedagogium
  ~003 Monsters and Heroes
  ~004 The Private Baths
  ~005 The Soaps of Cyprias
  ~006 The Treachery of Gryllus
  ~007 Assurances and Endurances
  ~008 The Demise of Trenus
  ~009 The Surprise Inspection
II - THE COURT PAGE
  ~010 Little Donkey
  ~011 Whispering Hope
  ~012 Epigrams for Antinous
  ~013 Books from Maltinus
  ~014 Little Signals
  ~015 Promotion
  ~016 Juvenalis IX
  ~017 A Frothy Idea
  ~018 Evening on the Riverbank
  ~019 Across the Leagues
  ~020 Unprecedented Access
  ~021 Winged Mercury
  ~022 Dinner Guest
  ~023 Causes of Nausea
  ~024 New Pupil
  ~025 Wax, Soap, and Wool
  ~026 Four Daughters
  ~027 Vitalis Atones
  ~028 Futures and Histories...
  ~029 The Triumph of Desire
  ~030 An Image of Antinous
  ~031 The Ride From Rome
  ~032 The Villa at Tibur
  ~033 The Ride To Rome
  ~034 Praeconina
  ~035 Foolish Carisius
  ~036 The Christian Texts
  ~037 Married Pleasures
  ~038 In Tibur, Alone
  ~039 The End of Corinthus
  ~040 Turning Tables
  ~041 A History & Fantasy...
  ~042 A Sad Collection
  ~043 Rafts in a Raging Sea
  ~044 Rome, Home and History
  ~045 A Caravan of Monologue
  ~046 On Favorinus
  ~047 The Flesh of a Metaphor
  ~048 Disquieting Thoughts
  ~049 Purple Reign
  ~050 The Heart of Numidia
  ~051 Stables of the Palatine
  ~052 Hadrian's Deprivation
  ~053 Transcripts and Categories
  ~054 In the Wake of a Paradox
III - THE IMPERIAL FAVOURITE
  ~055 Father of the Country
  ~056 The First Night with Hadrian
  ~057 A Place in the World
  ~058 Hard Resolution
  ~059 Announcements...
  ~060 Keeping Company
  ~061 The Stallions' Ride
  ~062 The Tour Begins
  ~063 On the Isthmus
  ~064 On Grief
  ~065 The Eleusian Mysteries
  ~066 A Playful Wager
  ~067 The Delights of Athens
  ~068 On Receiving
  ~069 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~070 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~071 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~072 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~073 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~074 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~075 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~076 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~077 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~078 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~079 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~080 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~081 Epistle Coming Soon
IV - THE SEARCHING SOUL
  ~082 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~083 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~084 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~085 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~086 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~087 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~088 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~089 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~090 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~091 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~092 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~093 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~094 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~095 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~096 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~097 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~098 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~099 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~100 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~101 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~102 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~103 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~104 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~105 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~106 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~107 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~108 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~109 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~110 Epistle Coming Soon
Phallic Amulets

The Soaps of Cyprias

Lysicles

Tell me, friend: What is Frustration? To me, it is a rabid rodent caged and antagonized within my breast that, half-afeared and half-delirious, savagely screeches and claws and gnaws at my viscera in a futile attempt to escape. My mind is a torrent of confusion and rage, my limbs quake, my heart weeps, and all I wish is to hold you. Here is why:

Since last I wrote, Gryllus has returned at regular intervals to bathe me and swathe me in his presence. Up until now I have for the most part surrendered to him, as he grew to represent far too much effort to resist and, more importantly, for the sake of my career I resolved to become acclimatized to the nearness of powerful men who prove themselves unlikable. Thus I have made my body resigned to his, and with a reasonable reciprocity have given to and taken from it equal pleasure.

On his most recent visit, Gryllus announced for us an outing. He stripped me of my uniform and placed me in plain clothes so as not to draw attention to myself as a truant from school. And then we walked down the hill together into the beating heart of Rome, and I admit to finding in myself a surge of excitement as I imagined the resources that were poised to become available to me through the opening purse of Gryllus. I was not disappointed. In what he called my “reward” for bending obedient to his will and accepting his admiration, we stopped at a vendor’s cart where he bought for me a skewer of spiced lamb. Then onward to the shop of a fellow whom I was surprised to discover that I actually liked, with the surprise stemming from the fact that Gryllus professed him to be a friend. The man was named Cyprias, and he was a maker of soap.

Natural SoapmakingI can hear you asking, What is soap? That is exactly what I said! Cyprias sang that it is a substance made from goat’s tallow, wood ash, sea salt, and any combination of perfumes a patrician could wish for. When I laughed at his concoction (which he claimed in all seriousness to be a substantial improvement over oil and strigil!) he merely smiled at me and informed me that most of the exclusive baths were making it available to their clients and that he boasted of many private customers of the highest caliber as well. He then proceeded to hand me a selection of bars from his kettles and bade me sniff. I confess to have been wooed by them, Lysicles, and was amazed at the beauteous fragrances that combined into these wondrous little bars of promise. “Shall they truly render a body clean?” I asked. To which Gryllus answered slyly, “Let us go and find out.”

He took me then to a bathhouse that he told me was renowned simply on account of its exclusivity. And indeed, Gryllus was charged by it and happily paid well more than what a reasonable nobleman should expect. I was nervous at first that he would compel me to engage in acts not suitable for public eyes, but discovered to my relief that such acts were commonplace within its walls. And then I wondered at my relief, for should I not instead have been dismayed? It simply goes to demonstrate how quickly I was adapting and becoming for Gryllus what he wished of me. As I stepped into the hot water room, all before me were men and their boys, washing and scrubbing, soaking, talking, and taking from each other their pleasures. I took a deep breath, for I sensed there was an ordeal before me, and what had only moments before been a brilliant, happy, sun-dazzled day had suddenly darkened into a gloaming of dim and steamy, lamp-lit apprehension.

Gryllus pulled me into the water and wetted the bar of soap. He began to rub it over me and I was perplexed to see it foam and lather upon my skin. I could feel the coarseness of the salt and surmised that its role was the same as the strigil’s: to scrape away all that was dirty upon me. As Gryllus moved the bar around my shoulders and across my chest, the scent of it was quick to mix with the steam and in moments my face was surrounded by a blossoming fragrance that soothed my brain and put me quickly at ease. I was enraptured by it, Lysicles, and thoroughly seduced. Then he dipped his hand into the water and raised it to my shoulders, and I watched as the foam slid down my front and scurried away onto the waves. And I was amazed, for I glistened effortlessly clean!

“Miraculous,” I breathed, and Gryllus laughed heartily. “You see?” he chided, and I smiled at the remembrance of my skepticism before Cyprias. Then Gryllus reached down into the water with the bar of soap and rubbed the rest of me, causing me not unexpectedly to harden for him and present myself as desirous for more. I confess to feeling a sensation of supreme comfort at that moment; of allowing the sensuality of the man and his lather to envelop me in a tingling and tantalizing serenity. But it was cut short by the approach of a burly fellow that addressed Gryllus by name and fell into a familiar conversation with him. It was quickly apparent that the man, who had with him a boy that was several years older than I, was stealing appreciative gazes in my direction, and it wasn’t long before he made Gryllus his offer to swap in our company for a time. I swallowed, knowing well that such was Gryllus’ prerogative and it certainly was not beneath him to do so, and, what’s more, the man with whom he was speaking seemed only interested in taking from me his pleasure and returning nothing. At the very least, Gryllus had learned that I expect from him a certain degree of exchange.

I know you will be surprised to read, as was I when I heard it, that Gryllus declined the offer. He explained to the man that today was a day given solely to the pleasuring of Antinous, and that he was unable to oblige. The refusal was met good-naturedly, and they parted quite amicably. I looked at Gryllus then with a newfound respect, for it appeared to me that he was at last beginning to take my interests and my dignity to heart. As Gryllus then massaged my body, it occurred to me that there was no ordeal to fear, for although it had indeed come calling, it was denied. The day was indeed my own, and the man who accompanied it was committed to my immediate and present happiness. I turned to him and smiled and thanked him. And then I kissed him.

He was delighted, and not unmoved by it. It seemed to me that we had crossed a certain threshold together and I found myself thinking that if he wished to remove me from the Paedagogium and make me his own, I would not be wholly disappointed. And then he took me into his mouth and brought me to a climax. I felt my body untangle upon his tongue, and I was contented.

When we emerged from the bath back into the blinding sun, I was refreshed and invigorated and happy. I imagined all the privileges of manhood lining both sides of the street like competing merchants, courting me and flattering my beauty and proffering all that was available to be had from life. For the first time ever, I became aware of the power I wielded and the advantages I could exploit, simply on account of the pleasing shape of my body. I was both humbled by it and at the same time emboldened; thankful yet feeling the drunkenness of some divine entitlement. The wooden sword with which I used to battle you at war was suddenly a gleaming blade forged of the most perfect silver, and its weight in my hand was exhilarating. I suddenly realized how and why a man’s beauty could become one of his most powerful weapons. And knowing that the gods had bestowed it upon me, I felt as like Achilles armed from the forge of Hephaestus.

We strolled amicably past the Amphitheatre and back up the hill toward school. At the gates, Vestinus was there to greet us and claim me, which he did without comment. Gryllus bid me a simple farewell and turned in the direction from whence we came. As I watched him retreat, I confess to have looked on him as a man most impressive; most in his element. Vestinus commanded me to my chamber, and I obeyed him.

When I returned to my bed, Trenus greeted me with an incredulous face. “Where have you been?” he demanded. “I was with Gryllus,” I replied smoothly, feeling quite satisfied with myself for having temporarily escaped the quotidian drudgery of the school. And that’s when my world began to darken, for Trenus shook his head in disbelief. “You missed it,” he said. “You missed the General Inspection.”

The General Inspection happens twice a year and is rarely pre-announced to the boys. It is an opportunity for the administrators of the Imperial Household to observe the pupils in their natural habitat and begin to deliberate about possible offices upon graduation from the paedagogium. It is a critical moment in the life of a future page, for not only does it help to familiarize the higher powers with his appearance and disposition, but is also an opportunity for him to demonstrate to his superiors the athletic vigour and intellectual keenness that animates him.

And I had been absent.

Or rather, Gryllus had caused me to be absent, for he must surely have known beforehand that it was scheduled to occur. And while I was aware that it would have no immediate effect upon my life at the school (which was already quite dismal), it was perfectly obvious to me that I had missed the opportunity to be seen, to be remembered, and to have the Powers take note of me for their future and unfathomable reference. I was devastated. But what was far more painful than the knowledge of my sudden disadvantage was the mortifying shame at having only moments before thought myself to be privileged, celebrated, and favoured in the eyes of the gods. How wrong I was! Instead, they were laughing at my conceitedness, mocking my vanity, and reveling in the delicious comedy by which Gryllus had so completely swindled me. The crush of his betrayal was shocking and sickening, and I crumpled down upon my knees to vomit.

Terseus was instantly sympathetic, for I believe he perceived but moments after I that it had never been my intent to be absent. He saw instantly the machinations of Gryllus, and quickly set about to tend me. He lay me in my bed and went to fetch a shovel with which to scoop away the reeking slop that once had been a delicious morsel of spiced lamb. I was humbled, Lysicles. Thoroughly and devastatingly humbled. Nevermore, I resolved, would I look on or employ my beauty as a weapon, rank, or tactical advantage. To do so was the recourse of fools and cowards who were but accidentally and temporarily blessed. If anything, this beauty was a curse, for was it not the very thing that effected to rend our twin souls asunder?

The night closed in about me, and as the other boys came to bed I could hear them snickering at my obtuseness and my foppery. I slept little. Then, somewhere beyond midnight, the sniffing rodent discovered my festering heart and burrowed into it, making of my heavy lungs a nest. Sunrise found me still awake, and all that was shame had turned to an implacable anger that like a cruel child delighted to randomly antagonize the little beast while refusing at the same time to let it escape. Such is my Frustration, Lysicles, and such is my ignominy. I have written it down and shall now dispatch it to you in hopes that it will be carried distantly away on this parchment. And while I should be sorry to burden you with it, I am desperate to be rid of it. Perhaps if it never finds you, that will not be such a bad thing: let it be lost forever in the wilds of the Empire. But if that it succeeds in reaching you, I beg of you to pray earnestly and long to the gods on my dismal behalf. A.

 
Optimythic
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