Wax, Soap, and Wool
So much has happened in the past while that it is difficult to
know where to begin, and even then, to find an ample stretch of
time to write it!
My visit with Maltinus was delightful. I found him lunching reliably
upon the Caelian and we spent a good chunk of the afternoon catching
up. I told him eagerly of my arrangement with Decentius and he was
very happy to hear of my new avocation, by which he gleefully claimed
that I was following in his footsteps. I asked him if I could borrow
a wax tablet on which to train my new pupil and he readily agreed,
as well as offering me some advice about how to go about helping
him to memorize the shapes of the Latin alphabet. And he also impressed
upon me how ardently he wished for both myself and Anaxamenos to
join he and his family at their home for dinner. I told him to name
a day, and he did so. I promised that both myself and Anaxamenos
would be there.
Tablet in hand, I took my leave and ambled down toward the markets,
for there was another destination I had targeted. As I descended
into the bustle, I experienced a rush of nostalgia for my days upon
the Caelian – especially because I carried with me the very
instruments of a schoolboy! I entered the shop of the soap-maker,
Cyprias, and looked around, letting my nose do as much of the exploring
as my eyes. Such a luxuriant place it is, Lysicles!
Moments after my arrival, Cyprias emerged from the back of the workshop
and beheld me with a broad smile. “Antinous!” he bellowed,
and I allowed him to embrace me happily. “Have you come to
replenish your stores?” I nodded and replied, “That
is indeed my purpose here.” Cyprias turned his head to look
at me from out of the corner of his eyes: “No other?”
he asked slyly. I laughed at that, and played along: “What
other purpose could there be?” He took the tablet from me,
set it down upon a nearby table, and then took both of my hands
into his. “Pleasure,” replied. His face was earnest
and warm, and I could not help but feel a fondness for him. “Indeed,
Cyprias,” I said, “that is a very worthwhile purpose.”
He ensured the shop door was locked and then guided me toward the
back. I stood in the exact same place as last time, and allowed
him to remove my tunic and my loincloth. He gazed upon me as I stood
calmly naked before him, allowing him to have his fill of me. “You
are taller, Antinous, than last I saw you. And you have broadened.
By the gods, look at these shoulders!” And he reached out
a hand to encircle one and squeeze it. And then his hand drifted
down my chest, down my belly, and into the small forest of hair
that had gathered there over the past several months. He took me
in his hand and kneaded me, bringing his face to mine. His breath
smelled of mint leaves, and I found myself thinking that this man
must have access to a very broad array of flavours and fragrances.
It did not take me long to harden at his touch, and, just as before,
he soon kneeled down in front of me and took me into his mouth.
His hands crept around my hips to grip my buttocks and pull me into
him. And then, after a small time, his fingers began to burrow ever
deeper into my hole, probing and pushing, desiring to widen and
prepare me for what I knew he wanted. And I was easily prepared,
for his mouth was warm and luxuriant, and in good time it drew forth
from me a gush of modest pleasure.
“I thank you, Sir,” I said as he stood up to face me.
And then I turned toward a table piled high with fragrant chunks
of soap, put my palm upon it, and bent forward into a great cloud
of wafting sweetness. Cyprias gazed appreciatively at my backside
for a long time. I knew that he was hardening himself; I could hear
his soft breath behind me. He stepped over to a nearby shelf and
took from it a jug. He poured out upon his palm a small pool of
yellow oil, spread it upon his manhood, and then rubbed the rest
into my backside. The sensation of his slippery fingers inside me
And then I felt his oiled hands grip my waist, and he pressed slowly
into me, allowing me the time I needed to adjust to his presence.
I was very grateful for his consideration, and not long after was
able to thrust backward into him as a signal that I was ready. His
rhythm was patient and deliberate. He sent his hands up my sides
and around my ribs; under my pits and over upon my shoulders; down
my arms and up again; across my chest and down my belly. All the
while he breathed deep and loudly, whispered my name, groaned out
the parts of my flesh he was visiting, and leaned forward to kiss
the bones of my spine at the base of my neck.
He took his time to climax, but I certainly did not mind. He was
a gentle and appreciative fellow; always concerned for my comfort.
When at last he gritted and groaned, pulling me tight against his
pelvis, I felt his pulsing deep within me and smiled at the thought
of the pleasures I had given him. He extracted himself slowly and
exhaled. I turned around to face him and saw that he was sweating.
He was obviously exhausted. And yet, he was happy. Blissful, in
“O Antinous,” he said, and then said no more. There
was long and languid silence, finally broken when he sighed heavily
and thanked me. “You are very welcome, Cyprias,” I said,
and then together we dressed. He kissed me my goodbye and sent me
on my way, ensuring I did not forget my tablet or the two large
squares of soap that he had expertly cut and wrapped for me.
As I look over the above passages, it has suddenly struck me as
odd that I expend such a considerable effort to detail so exactly
what occurs between myself and the people with whom I share my flesh.
Why is that? I must believe, Lysicles, that it is a way for me to
allow you to share in my flesh vicariously, through the story of
others who have possessed it. I hope you are not offended by this,
and that you cherish each image of my body as though it were a living
bit of matter before you, such that you receive from your private
pictures the pleasures as I sought to give them. It is a strange
sex we are having, isn’t it? Yet what choice have we?
It was a few days later that I gave my first lesson with Decentius.
He was very keen and very intense in his study, and, while I was
certainly very patient with him, he made it downright easy for me
by the magnitude of his ardency. By the end of our time together,
he had committed to memory just over half of the letters of the
alphabet, and was eager to learn more. We set a new time for what
will be a few days hence.
One final bit of news: Lucius Commodus has used his influence as the
Emperor’s former favourite to maneuver his own favourite,
Carisius, into a more prestigious position within the Imperial Household.
Carisius is now the Keeper of the Purple Robes. To effect this promotion,
Commodus was forced to place Carisius above a more senior boy –
one who is very well regarded and was widely believed to be the
role’s next incumbent. You can imagine how such an announcement
has rippled through the Gelotiana. Carisius seems to be losing friends
faster than he is making them, despite the constant presence of
Servilius, who remains to him blindly loyal as ever. I have a very
strong sense of the desperation that lives in Carisius’ heart:
he is grasping at hope; reaching far beyond where he ought in order
to prove (to whom? Himself, no doubt) that he is destined very shortly
to oust me from my increasingly assured trajectory as Hadrian’s
favourite. Whereas once I feared and loathed him, I discover more
and more that my thoughts of him are coloured by pity.
And such is my report, my friend. Four days hence, Anaxamenos and
I are expected at the house of Maltinus in order to dine with he
and his family. The two of us are very aware that there is much
more in store for us than merely a meal: Maltinus has daughters
he wishes to see married! Together we have laughed about it, yet
there is nonetheless a seriousness in the eyes of Anaxamenos that
suggests it is a distinct possibility. We shall see!
In the meantime, Lysicles, I send to you my coursing love, and urge
you to re-read the above lines, replacing the name of Cyprias with
your own. And let us pray that one day soon, we shall no longer
want for our touch of one another the flesh of a far too imperfect