The Sacred Antinous - Erotically-charged, Explicitly Illustrated, Queer-Themed Historical Fiction about Antinous and Hadrian
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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
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  ~110 Epistle Coming Soon
Phallic Amulets

Winged Mercury

Lysicles

Carisius was recently observed wearing wings on his sandals – prancing through the palace halls as though a living, breathing incarnation of Mercury himself. Ordinarily, you might think that such a display would be cause for some embarrassment, but the boy was (and still is) quite proud of his adornment. The reason for this is simple: those pretty little wings have come to signify a very particular status among the pages of the Palatine: any boy who wears them is known to benefit from the favour of Lucius Commodus.

How the two of them met was reported (loudly) by Carisius soon after the event occured: Carisius was serving at a banquet, as is common for those in the Department of the Kitchen. He caught the eye of sensual Commodus, and was immediately taken into the man’s bedroom. Part of that immediacy is no doubt attributed to the passion with which Commodus gusts through his days. But a much larger part of its quickness, I sincerely believe, is the result of Carisius’ inexhaustible opportunism. Normally, a page is invited to be somewhat coy; to playfully resist the advances of a suitor; to acknowledge that the favour of a paramour is offered (and, in many respects, earned) by way of a vigorous dialogue of courtship. Yet based on the Mercurial speed with which Carisius acquired his wings, I must assume that he observed none of those unwritten rules. He simply gave himself uncontested unto Commodus.

To be fair, Commodus is quite famously a lover of luxurious women – and one who delights in sharing with them from an assortment of Rome’s most labour-intensive meals. Carisius, therefore, may have correctly surmised that there would not be too many demands placed upon his flesh. Yet even still, I find it somewhat distasteful to consider the boy’s lack of decorum.

I can hear you laughing at me, Lysicles, and accusing me of holding a bitter grudge against the man who so perfunctorily dismissed me under the assumption that I was a luddite. Sensibly, you should ask me if I would not have been just as quick to do what Carisius had done. Indeed, it is a good question, well worth considering. For what aspiring page can afford to risk the unpredictable impatience of a courtier such as Commodus – the former favourite of Hadrian himself? Is it not more advisable to be for him as readily attainable as possible, especially when his attentions – known by all to be fleeting – are at the present moment so clearly focused?

Yet I must on principle believe that to make oneself so quickly and easily available to another somehow diminishes one’s own sense of personal worth, for it signals quite clearly to both the suitor and the rest of the watching world that there is (in that instant) little else worth knowing other than what is on the surface. If a boy can subsequently prove that there is more to him than merely his flesh, then he is as lucky as he is laudable. Yet far too often, I suspect, the suitor instinctively understands his too-easy target as being without much depth, and this only serves to shorten the duration of his attraction once his lust has been sated. As a result, the boy is discarded before he has had a chance to fully demonstrate his other, non-sexual talents.

Therefore, it behooves any young page to use his burgeoning intellect in the service of some modest resistance, and demonstrate by it that he is capable of being far more than a man’s mere pleasure-toy. After all, is this not the Greek way? And – what’s even more prescient – is this not Hadrian’s way?

After what Phlegon told me before he took me into the library, I have been thinking a great deal about what Hadrian’s distant attentions must mean to my future. There is no doubt that I am being watched. And by the ready admission that my choice in books is being monitored, I am also quite clearly being tested. The transmission to him of my title selections is, in a strange way, a large part of the courtship dialogue between myself and my suitor, who circles me like a silent eagle high above. In essence, I am being evaluated for my depth of character long before (and, remarkably, physically away from) the immediate experience of my body. How striking it is! For suddenly I have found myself playing some colossal game of courtship that has been elevated to the rarified heights of a philosopher king.

That Hadrian finds me attractive is not in question: what is far more perplexing is how long he intends to maintain his distance from me before summoning my flesh into his arms. Perhaps he is also testing himself? If so, I would certainly not be surprised. The very act of postponement is, in itself, a remarkably powerful statement in the context of our mutual “conversation.” I must, therefore, not only accept, but embrace it, for it is a clear demonstration of his exceptional character.

In the meantime, I have been reading. The list of titles is growing daily, although it’s growth will temporarily pause tomorrow, as Hadrian is scheduled to return. I am demonstrating to Salonius a broad and enthusiastic curiosity; he is often moving between many of the cabinets, pulling out for me an assortment of works in all manner of subjects. I believe he likes me very much, for I have very quickly demonstrated to him that I am well versed in many of the basics, and so am keen to be guided by him in what is considered to be more advanced study. Together, we have enjoyed several conversations with regard to the contents of the manuscripts. I daresay he is fast becoming a friend, although, understandably, one whose professional duties (and, perhaps, personal trepidations) command him to remain from me emotionally distant.

The way in which Salonius relates to me is beginning to occupy a greater portion of my thoughts, for it is but one particular expression of something far more general that I am slowly beginning to detect in the faces that surround me. It is as though I carry around me a peculiar kind of atmosphere that is somehow thicker than what surrounds other men. Which is to say, there is a quality of the invisible air about me that others have become cognizant of. It is not that they resist entering it – it is merely that they are aware of it. When they see me coming near, or when they approach me directly in order to enter my immediate vicinity, their aspect suddenly changes – although I am at a loss to itemize its exact manifestations. Something shifts; their manner of being becomes minutely more laborious.

If nothing else, this development reveals to me just how isolating the mantle of distinction truly is. I need only extrapolate from these accumulating experiences to imagine how heavily such a mantle must drape itself across Hadrian’s shoulders. And this imagining, in turn, leads me to understand why he reacted so positively to my callous indifference when we met upon the Caelian. He delighted not in my directness, nor my honesty, elocution, or thoughtfulness. His amazement sprang simply on account of the fact that I was so mysteriously unaware of the heavy ether that surrounded him. I spoke to him easily. I breathed without effort – as people are meant to.

I dare say it is upsetting to me to think that, just when I find myself emerging from the awkward isolation of my time at the elementary school, the distinctions being conferred on me by Hadrian are wrapping me up in a very different kind of solitude. Whereas before I was alone for being hated, suddenly I am alone for being loved – by the Emperor. Granted, he has not yet expressed his love directly, and yet I am not so foolish as to remain blind to that which the rest of the palace so clearly sees. If I consider who it is among my friends that haven’t yet detected my thickening atmosphere, I must conclude that list is quite limited: Anaxamenos, naturally, and perhaps Mordanticus – although there remain other considerations with him that I am never quite able to fully dismiss. It will be a sad day indeed if I ever detect in Anaxamenos that tiny hesitation; that involuntary signal that he has distanced me in a way I am powerless to reason with. Let us hope it never comes.

And what of you, Lysicles? Wherefore are you so distanced? Is there between us some peculiar atmosphere that is thicker than anything else in the universe? O, for the dedicated and dutiful service of that authentic god – winged Mercury – who may take this little parchment in his fingers and, within the span of a young Olympian’s freshly victorious heartbeat, drop it neatly into yours. A.

 
Optimythic
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