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
  ~076 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~077 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~078 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~079 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~080 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~081 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~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
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  ~110 Epistle Coming Soon
Phallic Amulets

The Flesh of a Metaphor


As he did once before by the granting of admittance to his personal library, Hadrian has again provided me with a most remarkable gift of access. Yet whereas the first was given to welcome me into a guarded room of ancient wisdom, this latest has been tendered to admit me into the company of that astonishing sage whose name is Favorinus. What’s more, the current extravagance was presented to me quite explicitly under the auspices of my XVIIth birthday.

What a surprise it was – after several weeks of doing exactly what I had predicted I would be doing here in Tibur – to arrive, on the closing of my big day, at a very private dinner set for three, and discover at the table the supple figure of that sophist I had all but relegated to my fantasies.

“Did you think me blind?” asked the amused Hadrian on seeing my amazed face. “Did you think me unaware of your attraction to him?”

I smiled at him sheepishly, and replied, “With respect, it was not you, my friend, whom I assumed was blind.” And with that Hadrian laughed loudly and joyously. Favorinus looked at me with admiration: “Hardly was I blind, Antinous. On the contrary, I was positively stupefied by the revelation of your beauty. And yet, it did not take long to discover that you were also – how shall I put it? – reserved for another, and that to trespass upon the claim of that other could prove disastrous to my ambitions for a long and prosperous life.”

Hadrian seemed amused by that, and yet there was an obvious restraint in him when he replied: “Antinous has not yet been named a favourite, and is therefore quite free to arrange his own schedule of appointments, trysts, luncheons and conspiracies.”

“Indeed,” said Favorinus. “Which raises in my mind a most intriguing question – one that you may be sure has occupied me since I received your invitation. And that is simply: Why the delay? Surely this youth is ripe enough to at last be picked from the vine of your paedogogium?”

Hadrian stared at me for a long time before answering: “What is ripeness, Favorinus, but the prelude to something imminently after it?” Favorinus scoffed at that: “The fruit is made to be eaten and enjoyed. If that you do not, it shall but rot and die, and you who foolishly missed the opportunity shall never know what it was to taste it at the height of its sweetness.” Hadrian smirked, and replied, “Are there not other fruits to be eaten, Sir? All from a common vine and thus tasting exactly the same? To be sure, I have eaten of many fine and gorgeous youths. My concern is for this particular and perfect specimen: one whose flesh but wraps around a very promising soul that holds in it the seed of something great, yet still, I fear, unknowable.”

Favorinus considered that. “I do not understand your logic, sir,” he finally said. “Neither do I,” replied Hadrian, “which is ultimately the source of my problem. For it is hardly logical; hardly within the realm of intellectual comprehension. I would desperately love to eat of this fruit. To taste it. But what then am I to do with the seeds that I discover there remaining when the flesh has all but been consumed? Where shall I plant them? How shall I address them? Cherish them? At the very least, by keeping them wrapped in this uneaten form, I may preserve, for a time, their promise.” Favorinus looked at me for a moment, and then back to Hadrian: “So you would rather watch from afar as this beautiful fruit slowly rots upon the bough?” A profound sadness swept like sea-blown clouds across the face of Hadrian as he struggled with that.

“There is a problem, gentlemen, with your argument,” I said. They both turned to me, and I continued: “It so happens that the fruit to which you allude is not, in actual fact, a fruit. He is, rather, a conscious being – capable of love and admiration and the exchange of thoughts, therapies and physical pleasures. Thus he deems your extended metaphor to be annoyingly inappropriate, and is somewhat offended by his exclusion from your discussion.”

Both of the men smiled then, and by a silent gaze between them agreed that I was probably correct. “See?” asked Hadrian of the sophist: “Did I not tell you?” Farvorinus turned to me and said, “Forgive us, Antinous.” And with that, our meal began.

I was invariably amazed to occasionally disengage from my body and stand apart from it. From such a vantage, I could behold the youth, Antinous, who was seated within the innermost sanctum of an incomprehensible apparatus. Three beings – none of them, by birth, a Roman – engaged in a private, personal, and pleasant chat at the very summit of Rome’s mountainous heights. I saw a table laden with delights: the wine warm and sweet; the venison fresh and scented. I felt a wave of awe as I contemplated this young fellow’s unintended and decidedly undeserved place in the world. Who was he to be included among such a pair of greats? What was his worth, when objectively compared to those other two and their mortal accomplishment? It was a frightening awareness, and yet not so paralyzing as to render me incapable of enjoying myself. Thus I consistently willed myself back into my body; demanded of my own mind to fully engage in the discussion at hand.

We talked of the shared Hellenic heritage between Favorinus and I – marveling at the fact of its dispersion across the vastness of the earth – and of Hadrian’s boundless love for it. We talked of what it means to be a prodigy; to be one selected; one who stands apart from the common and synchronized existence of others. We debated its merits: was it a gift or a curse? We talked of morality – of the obligations to state and society, laws and propriety – that seemed forever to labour in jealous distrust of men’s carnal desire for the flesh. And we talked of rubbish: of wild boys, silly girls, and the futility of attempting to live one’s entire and unbroken life beneath the unwavering gaze of piety. I daresay it was this last item that made the night such a smashing success, for it rendered us completely undignified and utterly at ease, free from the constraints and expectations of a whispering world. This, in turn, no doubt enticed the gods to relax a little more in our midst. To recline and rejoice among us as we dined. It felt wonderful.

As the evening wound to a close, Hadrian announced that he had prepared for himself the company of a page he chose not to name. He bid us a good night and took his leave, making it clear to Favorinus and I that we were welcome to continue our revels without him. His meaning was unmistakable.

Favorinus looked at me with a smile. “Shall you join me in my bed tonight?” he asked. “Absolutely,” I eagerly replied, and thus went we together unto his chamber.

To watch him undress was an astonishing experience, for his flesh was at once soft, yet of a masculine character. I shed my clothes and climbed with him beneath his covers. It was clear to me who he wished to be active on this night, and I was very glad, for such had also been my desire as well. I maneuvered myself behind him and spoke softly into his ear: “May I confess to you, Favorinus, how profoundly your first oration moved me? For I have lived these past several weeks amid the warm glow of my imagination’s flame, with fantasies fueled most hotly by the lamp-oil of your unforgettable performance.”

Favorinus breathed luxuriantly, and pressed himself toward me. “Then I shall be forced to compose an entirely new treatise,” he purred, “whereat imagination in its turn becomes the lamp-oil of a man’s most erotic action.”

“Thus action begets memory, memory imagination, imagination action, endlessly,” I said. He shook his head, and replied, “It is not endless, Antinous. For there must always come a time when the lamp-oil is at last depleted; when one’s world falls forever into unrecoverable darkness.”

Indeed, it was a somber observation. And I admired him all the more, that even as we descended completely into the swirl of our physical pleasures, he could yet remain sagacious and alert to the subtleties of a potent metaphor. In deference to his gorgeous mind, I made a final and valiant effort to linger with him in its presence: “Then let us stay warm and visible,” I answered, “while the flame burns brightly still.” He mumbled agreement, and I took that to mean what I ardently desired: that at last we might shut off our brains, and become to our flesh and its urges wholly devoted.

From that point forward, the night was thoughtless, wordless, and succulent. A.

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