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
  ~109 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~110 Epistle Coming Soon
Phallic Amulets

The Christian Texts

Lysicles

To Salonius the Librarian I said, “What shall Hadrian think of me when you report to him that I requested to read from the Christian texts?”

“What business have I to say what Hadrian shall think of anything?” he responded.

“What of Salonius?” I asked. “What shall his Librarian think of me?”

“Why should you care?” he answered. “I am merely a servant, Antinous. One whose duty it is to remind you that you were given, by the Emperor himself, a very public permission to read dangerously.”

He was right, of course. I thought for a time on my own trepidation; on the fact that I should be so nervous and hesitant to access them. He gazed at me appreciatively. “Do these Sirens of alien philosophy sing to your soul, Antinous, or to your intellect?”

“To my intellect,” I responded hastily. “Truly, Sir, I am a proud and passionate worshipper of the Olympians. Yet I wish to understand what it is about these documents that makes their adherents so intransigent, and thus reviled by the rest of us. Why is it, Salonius, that to be called, as a manner of insult, a Christian, is deemed by some more offensive than to hear a father dishonoured? What is it about this strange and unruly cult that makes it so unfathomable to me?”

He smiled. “Do you wish for me to fetch you the Christian texts?”

I nodded gravely, and he went instantly to his cabinets. As I sat down at a table and prepared to receive the scrolls, he called out to me from across the room: “I suspect that Hadrian will be remarkably unperturbed by my report, Antinous, for you have demonstrated in the past a willingness to access considerably more incendiary documents. Whatever sensibility you believe yourself to be offending exists far more, I think, in your own mind than in others. The Christians and their absurdities are hardly worth a moment of the Emperor’s attention. Thus he will look on this day’s selection as a curiosity; an amusing anecdote concerning Antinous. He will merely chuckle when I tell him of your request.” He set the papers down before me and looked at my face for a long time: “Why, I must therefore wonder, are you so agitated to ask for them? That, my friend, is what you ought to be investigating.”

Wise Salonius! For indeed, the man saw right through me. Beheld as like a noxious cloud those uncomfortable memories that swirled through my mind: the recent and smouldering rage of Anaxamenos; the long-ago misery of Trenus; the mysterious and terrible monsters that you, Lysicles, and I invented for ourselves when we’d laugh uneasily about the existence of unseen Christians who prowled through our mutual childhood. And here I was, standing upon the threshold of their dripping cave, becoming visibly shaken by the prospect of nameless horrors that lurked within it.

The New Testament and Other Early Christian WritingsAs I began to read, I found myself increasingly relieved to discover that there was little by way of monsters within the Christian philosophy. Which is not, however, to say that their philosophy was not monstrous. I understood instantly why the Hebrews reviled it, for the Hebrews – an ancient and venerable cult – believe in a single and un-nameable God; a being so beyond the comprehension of mortals that even to be considered by us Hellenes as simply another manifestation of Jupiter is an unpardonable offense to their sensibilities. Imagine, then, how they should look upon the Christians – a rabid and fanatical group of heretics who have the audacity to suggest that the Hebrew God would so debase himself as to bring forth unto the world a second god, lesser than Himself, for no other purpose than to act as an intermediary twixt the ineffable One and the fleshy Multitudes. Wherefore should the Hebrew God even want such an interpreter? Or need one? Does not the Septuagint say enough to His people concerning His will?

Having offended the Hebrews, the Christians then seek to convert the world’s Hellenes to their strange doctrine by the promise that such an intermediary, whom they call the son of the Hebrew God, is capable of making immortal the soul of any earthly man that accepts their stories as truth. He promises, upon their death, to transport their souls beyond the orbit of the moon and into the blissful company of that very fearsome God whom the Hebrews assert is unknowable. And how shall we hapless Hellenes align ourselves to his word? Merely by stating that we wish to do so. For the Christians believe that when a man is anointed by the bastard son of the Hebrew God, he shall have had revealed to him the complete Christian truth. (It is laughable to me that there is nothing by way of logic, investigation, or wisdom to be pursued – one is expected simply to accept the information as it is conveyed to him by the Christian fanatic). Upon acceptance, he is suddenly deemed worthy of having been touched by the Anointing Saviour, the Christus Jesus, and may thereafter live out his days with the happy assurance of ascending into heaven upon his earthly demise.

To be sure, it is a very seductive doctrine, for it requires absolutely no exertion on the part of its adherents, and, further, promises to reward them for such laziness by a future admittance into the company of a great and mysterious god. Consider: You are told a story about a being whose sole purpose on earth is to anoint the minds of mortal men with two critical things. First, an awareness of his existence as one who saves mortal souls from destruction. Second, a promise of sharing in that salvation for the steep price of renouncing the Olympian pantheon and declaring his existence authentic, and, what’s more, provable by the fact that you were recently anointed with a knowledge of him. Behold: instant religion! That is all it takes to become a Christian – there is nothing more to it. What a circular and illogical doctrine it is! What a fraud!

And yet I shudder to think of all the mindless men in the world; all the thoughtless and uncritical fools who shall happily embrace such an easy and amicable promise. They who shall sneer upon the centuries-old work of the natural philosophers and recklessly abandon their reverence for our pantheon under the deluded quest for their immortality.

Of this I was afraid? Of this I trembled? Shame on me! It simply goes to show how powerful and persuasive one’s own ignorance can be. Had I only read these texts long ago, I might have lived a little less uneasily whenever the Christian spectre reared its head. But now, at least, I can say that I understand them, which is to say that I understand of their childish fancies absolutely nothing, and there is a great reassurance in that.

Yet what of Trenus? How is it that he could so strongly believe such an unbelievable thing? Did he not share with me in our education of all that was good and sensible and Hellene? All that was proud and powerful and Latin? All that was the essence of a great and gorgeous civilization? How is it that he could have lived, day by day, amid such conflicting worlds? On the one hand was reason and logic; on the other, gratuitous revelation and logic’s utter disdain. Among the Hellenes, a love of all the gods’ earthly gifts; among his Christian family, the distrustful renunciation of all that could satisfy and please the flesh. It is utterly perplexing to me, and thus am I doubly wounded by his death, for, would that Trenus were alive today, I should very much like to interrogate him with the matured wisdom of my present mind. I kick myself to think how happy I was, only a few years ago, to but shrug and accept without challenge his illogical world. If any needed saving, ‘twas he!

I returned the papers to Salonius with a sheepish smile. “No longer shall these haunt me,” I said, “for they are both the work and the inspiration of insipid minds. I thank you, my friend, for indulging me, and am considerably embarrassed by the thought of you reporting to Hadrian, not that I requested to see them, but that I did so with such an obvious anxiety.” He laughed at me, kissed me on the cheek, and sent me upon my way: “Be well, Antinous.”

There is happiness before me: the wedding of Anaxamenos is but three days hence, and I am eager to celebrate among joyous friends. Together, we shall dance proudly through the streets of Rome, watched from above by the many and wondrous gods of Olympia that I must earnestly believe delight as much to watch proudly over a happy Lysicles. A.

 
Optimythic
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