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
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  ~077 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~078 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~079 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~080 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~081 Epistle Coming Soon
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  ~083 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~084 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~085 Epistle Coming Soon
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  ~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
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Phallic Amulets

On Favorinus


All that I have heard whispered, and then spoken, and then exclaimed in regard to the orator Favorinus is true: he is a man with the overwhelming affect of a woman; he is a Celt who nevertheless speaks with a tongue shaped purely like a Greek’s, and he is – regardless of his many and very intentional improprieties of deportment – a masterful and erotic magician of words. I was dazzled by him, and not in my loins unaffected!

When he first presented himself to court, he did so in a manner that was so relaxed and familiar that I felt instantly as if he had been a longtime friend. Hadrian said nothing during the oratory; merely sat and listened with but a tiny, asymmetrical smirk that crept up the left side of his face. The topic itself was a treatise on the role of memory as a necessary lamp-oil for the imagination, and despite its swirling complexities, not once did I ever become lost or drowned in his ocean of propositions, arguments, refutations and explanations. I emerged from his spell, in fact, feeling thoroughly refreshed and ultimately quite edified.

“You do your city proud,” spoke Hadrian at last, when the initial wave of excited applause finally subsided. Favorinus bowed low: “I am, my liege, always pleasured,” he said, “and pleasured even when I am painfully pierced, by the heady swelling of Arelata’s ecstatic pride.” There was momentary pause then, while the room digested that. Was he suggesting that his very own city, through its enthusiasm for his success, was in a constant state of arousal and desired only to plow him in the backside? I must have been the first to recover from my shock, and so allowed to escape a tiny giggle. Hadrian glanced at me in my strange amusement, and a moment later erupted into a bellied laughter of his own. The rest of the court took this for permission to laugh as well, although I noted on the faces of a few old codgers the mark of considerable disgust.

Staging Masculinity“Such indeed is the liability of a priesthood in the Cult of Augustus!” bellowed Hadrian. And with that, the tone of the orator’s visit was set: a mood of raunchy and irreverent fun in the paradoxical service of an intellectually rigorous and physically exotic man.

He was, naturally, the guest of honour at dinner that night, a relatively intimate affair attended by no more than XXV people. I happened to be seated a few seats away from him – not so close as to be regularly by him engaged, yet not so far as to be altogether removed from the course of his conversations.

He was asked of and answered many things. He spoke of his education – first as a prodigy in Arelata, and then, through the enthusiastic recommendation of his teachers, in Massilia, and finally, upon the wings of a growing fame, in Athens under the illustrious tutor, Dio Chrysotom. He spoke of his home, and of a childhood spent reading upon the banks of the Rhodanus, always within sight of a marvelous bridge of boats. And he spoke of his parents, a mother and father still alive with whom he corresponds regularly and for whom he holds the utmost reverence.

For my part, I was content to keep quiet and simply listen – an activity that provided for a considerable amount of entertainment in itself and (even more relished) the luxury of being excused from the customary dinnertime pressure to proffer something extraordinary. Indeed, Favorinus seemed quite happy to supply the table with an abundance of just such a feast, and the majority of us were delighted to gobble it up. Commodus, naturally, worked hard (and not without success) to hold his own, and Hadrian joyously tossed in his insights whenever he could. From the ranks of the women, Balbilla provided the lion’s share of words, of which only about half were worth taking seriously. Favorinus, however, was always gracious and accommodating (for indeed it would have been dangerous to insult anyone, being ignorant of each of his audience member’s precise status or position), and not once, despite an abundance of opportunities, did he ever veer in the direction of insult or disdain. He positively sparkled.

You may be sure that I am accustomed to receiving on a regular basis the eyes of admiring men. And I am certainly no longer an amateur at returning them. Yet Favorinus offered a perplexing conundrum. On the one hand, I did, on several occasions, detect from him a gaze that signalled his attraction to me. But then a moment later, that same gaze was bestowed on an altogether different person – as likely to be of the female sex than my own. And while I struggled, each time our eyes met, to subtly indicate to him my arousal, it was clear that I was not the only one: there were several others at the table – Balbilla included – who were just as motivated as I.

In the end, he took no one. After several hours of revels and laughter, philosophical discussion and politics, he graciously took his leave of the assembly and retired to his bedchamber alone. Hadrian also went off alone, and upon his departure the crowd dispersed quickly. I remained for a time in the dining hall, simply sitting amid the vast space that was steadily becoming larger as the bodies flowed out. At last I was alone in the room – save for the slaves who busied themselves in the aftermath of yet another grand feast, the discussion from which they neither understood nor likely cared for, the leftover food from which they would secretly sample when the Officer of the Kitchen and his pages weren’t watching. They ignored me.

As I stepped out into the night and walked in solitude back toward to the Gelotiana, I reflected on the man who had so captivated my attention, and why he had not taken for himself, as is the standing invitation to any guest, the willing company of a lower-ranked soul. I believe his own restraint is easier for me to understand than my personal lack of it. For him, the absence of balls must surely diminish and make quite manageable the drive to find himself abed with anyone, while at the same time producing (inadvertently, I must assume) the natural charms of a woman that can so decieve an unwitting observer into believing that the hermaphrodite is perpetually aroused. Thusly do I explain to myself and try to comprehend his choice to have remained on that particular night (as on every other?) a celibate. As for me, I must wonder if my overwhelming and churning attraction toward him was (and still is) on account of his uniquely pansexual appearance, his astonishing and all-encompassing intelligence, or simply (and far less honourably) out of a burning curiosity to know what it is to exchange my pleasures with a eunuch; to touch for myself the shape and shiver of such an unusual being. If I am perfectly honest with myself, I must admit that it is a combination of all three – although with a considerable weight placed upon the third and least edifying reason.

The following day, all of Rome was abuzz with the fame of Favorinus, and the man was invited to make several more performances for a wider audience over the course of his month-long visit to the city. He did so happily and without arrogance, engaging his fellow sophists in a playful and respectful antagonism that both wooed and invigorated their listeners. I made a point of attending several more of his public appearances, and brought with me to have by my side Vitalis on one occasion, Maltinus and Decentius on another, and Anaxamenos on the third. Each of them, predictably, was dazzled.

As he was staying upon the Palatine in one of the guest chambers, I had more than enough opportunities to meet him across the dinner tables of our mutual host. I was able as well to spend with him a limited number of hours in the casual company of Hadrian and his court. In that time, Favorinus was always gracious and respectful toward me, and surely received from me an ample indication of my attraction toward him and my willingness to be for him whatever he wished. Yet not once did he make an overture to have me. Eventually, therefore, I decided to abandon the quest, and resigned myself to the unfortunate reality of his impenetrably asexual state.

He set out from Rome yesterday, after a glorious and acclaimed visit, to continue on with his tour. I write this in the wake of his departure, not a little unsettled by his brief presence in my life, and somwhat disappointed at not having had the occasion to share my bodily pleasures with him.

We are bound, in the next couple of days, for Tibur. There, it shall likely be for me more of what it has historically been: reading, hunting, bathing, eating, and masturbating. An idyllic life, to be sure. Yet I must wonder if it shall ever mature into something that is truly meaningful. A.

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