The Sacred Antinous - Erotically-charged, Explicitly Illustrated, Queer-Themed Historical Fiction about Antinous and Hadrian
Sacred Texts
  ~000 Introduction
  ~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
  ~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
  ~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
  ~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
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Phallic Amulets



I had not realized that the books of Epictetus were not written by him. In fact, it was his student, Flavius Arrianus, who took careful note of all that the philosopher uttered, and then set down for us upon paper his wisdom. How can we not be grateful? I have spent many hours before his Discourses, moving very slowly, chewing lengthily upon each idea and struggling to comprehend it in its entirety before moving on to the next one. To read Epictetus is a very challenging endeavour – yet ultimately quite rewarding. I am enjoying his teachings very much, for they are directed at helping his listeners to achieve contentment and tranquility, regardless of their station in life. To do so, we are directed to see the world according to two distinct influences upon our persons: those that we may control and those we cannot. Of the former, we are urged to approach them virtuously. Of the latter, we are reminded that we have the freedom to choose whether or not we shall interpret such uncontrollable circumstances in a fair light, or in one more grim. Thus, the path to contentment is revealed: The exercise of virtue in what we may influence, and the happy acceptance of whatever it is we cannot. A very solid approach, no?

I felt compelled to ask Florentius if I could store my books at the lock-up in the stables – a place to which only he has access. I cited for my request the fact that I did not trust that the five books in my keeping would be safe – either from damage, theft, or disrespectful eyes – in the general chaos of the dormitory. He was very accommodating, and thus my books are secure. The only negative consequence, however, is that my reading time now restricted to those occasional respites in my daily work, when both Florentius and Anaxamenos are assured that I have completed all of my duties. Holidays, of course, are much different, and I have passed more than a few of them nested in the fragrant hay from sun up to down, reading.

What I had not counted on, nor even anticipated (although I certainly should have) was that, as a result of the involvement of Florentius, my taste in books was soon after communicated to Hadrian. And so it came to pass that on a particular day in which Anaxamenos and I were polishing the tack, we witnessed Hadrian and his train’s quiet arrival into our small universe, and then the Emperor’s regular consultation with Florentius. Then, without warning, Hadrian was escorted on a private tour of the lock-up, and my chest constricted with the realization that he was about to be shown my books. I lamented this fact to Anaxamenos, who but smiled at me: “Is it such a bad thing, my friend, for the Emperor, who knows you to be precocious, should be curious as to what it is that engages you? I should think it a very fine complement.”

He was right, of course, and yet still the question accosted me: Why should Hadrian be so interested in such a pedestrian boy as myself? I had no rank to speak of; my family name was thoroughly undistinguished. I was utterly mystified, and not a little perturbed, by his attentions. At last he emerged from the lock-up and turned to look at me. I looked away in what I can only describe as embarrassment. “He is approaching,” said Anaxamenos.

We both bowed low to greet him. He smiled at us and addressed Anaxamenos first, as was proper. And then he turned to me, calling me by name before Anaxamenos could make his introduction. He asked me how I was enjoying my duties in the stables, and I told him they were very agreeable to me. He asked me then from what place I had acquired my books. I replied that the one was a gift from Mordanticus; the others were on loan from Maltinus. Hadrian bade his secretary make note of both those names, and I worried that I had somehow betrayed them. But the emperor was smiling, and it appeared to me to be a smile most unperturbed. Perhaps they were to be rewarded? I did not know, nor did I think, at that moment, to ask, for his questions continued. He asked me what I thought of my authors: which of them I liked most. I replied that it depended upon my mood: I would read from Martialis when I wished to feel debauched. From Juvenalis when I wanted to atone. And from Epictetus when I felt a need to exercise. He laughed heartily then, and responded very warmly.

In the wake of his departure, Anaxamenos smiled widely and clasped me on the shoulder. “You have greatly impressed him, my friend.” I smiled at the pride I could hear in his voice, “You are a good friend, Anaxamenos.” He slapped my rump then: “And you, boy, are destined for the Emperor’s bed!” At this I protested, “Surely not!” But Anaxamenos laughed, and pressed ahead with his argument. “Do you not believe me? Then why did he ask after Mordanticus? Do you think that just because he is the Emperor, he is immune from human jealousies?” Yet this made little sense to me. “If the Emperor is jealous, he has only to take me and Mordanticus can do nothing! Why then should he not exercise his immediate right?” Anaxamenos smiled, “A very good question, Antinous. Perhaps, as he is known to do, he is assessing your character from afar, ensuring for his own satisfaction that you are worthy of his considerable embrace.” And to this I could make no objection, for it was far too sensible.

The next day, there was announced a new position in the stables: Keeper of the Personal Horse. Florentius explained that it was created as a result of a direct order from the office of the Emperor. In its purview was but one narrow task: a single page was to attend perpetually to the needs of but a single horse – the Emperor’s own. Owing to the relative laxity of the position’s demands, the incumbent was expected to make good and productive use of his spare time, such as (it was innocently suggested) more reading. Hadrian then made a very strong recommendation to Florentius concerning its inaugural incumbent. And for his part, Florentius understood perfectly.

“Is this a promotion?” I asked, rather dumbly. “It most certainly is!” sang the joyous Anaxamenos. “A title created just for Antinous!” And then he grabbed my arm and walked with me to the stall of Epeius, who was Hadrian’s favourite horse after the death of Borysthenes. “He is all yours,” said Anaxamenos – to the horse! And then he thrust me forward into the stall, and he and Florentius laughed as they jokingly locked me inside.

You can be sure that Anaxamenos spoke long and loudly unto the boys in his dormitory, and it did not take long for the news to spread evenly throughout the paedagogium. If there was any doubt before, there was considerably less of it now: Antinous, according to the general opinion, was on a course to succeed Corinthus and become the Emperor’s next favourite. It is not difficult to imagine the jealousy of Carisius, nor the shame he must have felt at attempting to undermine me so nearly in advance of this latest development. To be sure, his stature has been greatly diminished in many eyes – in perfect proportion to the increase of mine. In the aftermath of the news, he and Servilius became even more intensely insular: I have little doubt that they are concocting some sort of retaliation to oppose my good fortune. And although my list of allies is growing, I worry about what Carisius shall do.

Yesterday, Anaxamenos asked after the animosity that was evident between myself and Carisius. I told him about my sad history upon the Caelian, and he assured me that I need not fret: “Carisius is Keeper of the Goblets, in the Department of the Silver and Gold Plate. It is a solid duty – nothing for which to be embarrassed, and yet nothing about it to distinguish. His crony, Servilius, has been stationed at the Department of the Personal Toilet as Regulator of the Hot and Cold Water for the Bath. This is a much more prestigious role, for it demands a considerable confidence while in the presence of the bathing Emperor. Therefore it seems to me your Carisius is destined to lead a very respectable, albeit unremarkable career at the palace. You, my friend, are far and away above him in both present stature and future promise.”

I was moderately comforted by this very true assessment, yet confess that I am still disquieted by an inexplicable sense of creeping danger. I do not trust Carisius, nor even Servilius, and doubt that anything, save their permanent absence from my world, shall put me truly at ease.

In the meantime, I rejoice in my promotion and in the fact that I now shall both care for and deliver Hadrian’s horse to him whenever he desires to ride. It is an exciting and nerve-racking duty, but one for which I feel quite able to succeed. I look forward to telling you more as the days unfold.

With much love. A.

The Sacred Antinous is an ongoing work of Historical Fiction, for contemplative and educational purposes.
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