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
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  ~075 Epistle Coming Soon
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  ~083 Epistle Coming Soon
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Phallic Amulets

Turning Tables


How long since my last letter to you? A month? However many days have elapsed, it might as well have been but an hour. For in all this time, there has been no movement on the part of Hadrian to name and embrace a new favourite in the wake of Corinthus.

The Gelotiana is awash in breathless rumor and endless conjecture. Additionally, Phlegon, Mordanticus, Salonius, Macedo and Statianus, Cyprias, and, of course, Anaxamenos and Vitalis have each offered me their private theories as to the cause of Hadrian’s delay in calling upon me. Yet however plausible or outrageous their explanations are, they each have very widely missed the mark that Hadrian himself quite openly revealed to me: he is reticent to call me Favourite on account of the title’s limitations and the formality of the relationship it would prescribe for us.

Perhaps it is for this reason that I am able, far more easily than I would once have expected, to accept the current state of affairs and be by it not quite so perturbed as many of my friends. Then again, if I am completely honest with myself, there is an entirely different reason that I am not perturbed, and it concerns a new and delirious distraction called Decentius.

I have seduced him. Ought I to be embarrassed by that? Probably. But I consider myself to be living an extraordinarily remarkable life – one for which I demand to be forgiven for turning the tables on convention. After all, I am a page upon the Palatine, yet without a clearly defined set of industrious duties to distract or exhaust me. I am the favourite of the Emperor, yet he refuses to acknowledge me as such by taking me into his bed. Thus I am considerably under-sexed relative to the other boys around me, and quite envious of them!

Behold Decentius: a beautiful and rugged man, with a heaviness upon his brow and a weightiness in his heart that is at once pitiful and edifying. He is like some heroic incarnation of Prometheus: strong and intelligent, yet chained forever to the pain in his murky past. And the fire in his possession (a working knowledge of Greek) has not been given by the gods, but by me. Thus again am I turning the tables; being, as Hadrian called it, audacious in my novel retelling of the stories of the gods.

Yet in all the time that Decentius and I have spent together, I have sensed in him a profound reticence to seduce me, despite my ardent hope that he would. Certainly, I have made it very easy for him, and given many clues as to my willingness for it and the enjoyment I derive in providing pleasure for those I respect and admire. But not once has he seized from me the opportunity.

That is why I very recently lost my considerable patience. “You cannot convince me,” I said to him, “that from Calidus, whom you loved and honoured upon the border of the northern frontier, you did never take your pleasures.”

He gazed at me for a long time before answering: “All from whom I have taken my pleasures, or given my love, or shared my soul, have been ripped from me in one way or another. It is as though the gods refuse to grant me my happiness for any more than a few years at best, before they bring down upon the souls of my beloveds untold tragedy, and leave me to wander again in the world bereft of their joy. I cannot have you, Antinous, or even allow myself to want you, else I shall just as surely lose you in some unfathomably dark way.”

“That is nonsense,” I said. “You came to Rome, promoted as a Praetorian, to effect a new beginning, and that is exactly what you have done. You have learned to read Latin. You have learned to speak and read from the Greek. You have found a stable and nurturing peace in your life, far from the hardships of the frontier. Is that not good and promising? Have not the gods, at long last, been appeased in their hostile regard for you?”

He considered my words carefully, and seemed unable to formulate a retort. I took this as both my victory and my permission. I pushed him down to the grass – for we had come to our regular spot on the riverbank, the same one that I had frequented with Anaxamenos – and he lay there uncomfortably. I took his trembling hands from his belly and placed them by his side. And then I sat upon him, gazing down into his confused and struggling face. “I am your tutor,” I said to him, “and as such am committed to teaching you once again your proper role in achieving good and prosperous relations with the youths in your life who admire you.”

At last I felt him stiffen beneath me. I smiled at him, and encouraged it. Finally, the man allowed himself to laugh. I shed my loincloth, and pulled down his own. I spit upon his manhood, and guided it into me. Our union was brief but intense. His hands unshackled themselves from his mind’s hesitations and reached up to hold and explore me above him. He released himself within me, and I upon his belly did the same. And then I collapsed upon him, my face in the hair of his chest; his arms around my back. “I am yours,” I said, “until Hadrian takes me from you, assuming he ever will. And if, one day, he finally does, it shall not be your tragedy, Decentius, but your triumph.”

As the man walked me back to the Gelotiana, he marveled at my forwardness; at my ability to conceive of what I wished to see happen, and immediately strive toward its achievement. “But there was nothing immediate about it,” I corrected. “For you have not witnessed (or should I say, you have ignored?) my long list of failed attempts over the last few months to engage with you. This evening’s achievement, as you call it, was merely the bubbling over of my long and increasingly unbearable impatience with you.”

“But how did you know that tonight I would not reject you, Antinous?”

“What a silly question,” I said. “I knew nothing! All I knew was that, if you did happen to reject me, I would at least have had an indication of how best to alter my behaviour in your midst. But I would never have known that without trying.”

“But what was it that told you, this evening as opposed to any other, that the time was right to try?”

I considered that for a long time. Finally I replied: “It takes a certain courage and skill to properly analyze life’s constant stream of occurrences. But even more importantly, such analysis must be brought to bear upon each new situation with a varied duration and intensity. Sometimes, the analysis counsels me to wait, watch, observe, and continue analyzing. At other times, it demands a swift action. It is this ability, I think, to know how to vary my analysis, that has caused me to be so successful upon the Palatine. For he that always and consistently acts without analysis will sooner or later blunder into error, and he that always and endlessly observes will never find occasion to move forward. Yet I am fortunate, for I seem to have honed in myself a particular skill of both lengthy and short reflection. It is alive in my letters to Lysicles; it is present in my daily thoughts. I intuitively know when to limit my analysis or indulge it. To continue thinking, or to begin acting. It has served me well in the past. It served me well tonight. And I’ve no reason to believe it will not continue to do so in the coming years.”

Decentius did not answer. He merely absorbed that, and I felt happy at prolonging my role for him as a tutor, despite the inversion of it which we had just performed in the flesh. At the gates of the Gelotiana, he kissed me warmly and bade me a good night.

In the few days since that union occurred, I have felt a great and burgeoning happiness. At last I am complete. I am Greek. I have achieved in Vitalis a beloved; in Decentius a lover. I am buttressed, as is ancient and proper, on both sides of my age by fellows with whom I feel warm and safe and alive. If Hadrian delays, it is his own loss – not mine. Perhaps that is uncharacteristically hubristic of me. Yet I cannot deny what I am or what I crave for myself.

Alas, in this new configuration, there is only one problem: Hadrian requires me on his trips to Tibur, meaning that both Vitalis and Decentius must, for unspecified and unpredictable lengths of time, be left behind. But I shall endure those voyages as the soldier on campaign endures that formless absence from his family. I shall survive their days in anticipation of those glorious returns into the warmest embrace of my lovers’ company.

Yet why do I ponder such times? Why do I fret for an as yet unspun future, when I am here tonight in Rome, in the Gelotiana, and Vitalis has just finished another drawing? By the gods, he is dashing and fresh, warm and lovely. I’m afraid this letter, therefore, must end abruptly here. A.

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