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

Disquieting Thoughts


I know that Hadrian is recovering because he is restless and eager to travel. The man has been gravely ill these past two months, with the most debilitating days of his infirmity stretched prostrate across the Kalends of January. You may be sure that the priests are now reading into this fact a very favourable omen, although in the darkest hour of his wretchedness they were doubtlessly fretting.

Lest I make it sound like I was immune from their concerns, be assured that I too was horribly worried for him. I did not write during his illness for I knew that any intensive bout of composition would be both cause and occasion for an onslaught of unthinkable speculations as to what my future might hold (or, more horribly, what it might suddenly let slip from its fingers) should Hadrian not survive. ‘Twas best, I shamefully resolved, to avoid thinking on it altogether, and plow through those dark and uncertain days in the twilight of a cowardly denial. Now that the danger seems to be passing, however, and the twilight has with the help of Janus magically transformed into a dawn, I can once again resume my journals with the sheepish relief of knowing that they shall remain vital and interesting by the continuance of he, Hadrian, around which they have, from the outset, been written. I daresay that if the fellow had died, I would very likely have eschewed the regime change and departed immediately for Claudiopolis, there to reclaim my father’s home in his ancestors’ ancient soil. And while this in itself is an appealing thought, I have suddenly discovered, by the re-reading of this very paragraph, that it is not so appealing to me as continuing on here in Rome in the brilliant light of my friend, my fiery Hadrian.

And so I am eternally grateful that Hadrian did not die. Perhaps this is owing to the expert care of the doctors who advised most adamantly that he return from Tibur when it first became evident that he was not well. Yet I can’t help but think that it is more on account of Hadrian’s very own will; his tenacity and his temperament; his need to be central and alert. You will not be surprised to learn that, despite his diminished condition, he nevertheless managed, in his relatively short intervals of lucidity, to administer the empire with all of his accustomed passion and expediency. He severely limited his audiences, and prioritized his visitors so as to receive first and foremost the regular reports from his senators, his servants and his spies – distinctions, I might add, which are certainly not mutually exclusive. After these, he took in his personal visitors, and although Phlegon reported to me that I was relatively high on the list of his welcome callers, I nevertheless only managed to see him but a few times, owing to the speed at which his energies fled in the aftermath of that first round of priority visits. You can well imagine that those in the third tier of petitions – people of relatively low rank who wished merely to effect some ad hoc, privately beneficial and ultimately non-essential administration, were not seen at all.

Given, therefore, that I was not too much in his company, my time was quite open. Favorinus departed the villa at the same time as did I – he to continue his tour, I to remain close to Hadrian – and thus our days together were cut short. We had only just begun to commune at a deep level; had only just started to know each other beyond what was physical and intellectual, when we were forced to untangle ourselves. But Favorinus assured me he would rejoin me one day soon: “I was delighted by Rome, and the mighty reception she gave me. And although I am not yet solidified in my thinking, I do believe I should like to return to her on a more permanent basis when I am finished with my tour. Naturally, Antinous, I expect you to be there, waiting.” I smiled at him and replied, “So do I.” And with that he departed from Tibur.

My arrival in Rome brought with it a grateful return into the arms of both Decentius and Vitalis. But owing to my perpetual disquiet at the state of Hadrian’s health, they were far more helpful to me in the offering up of their ears to my endless stream of midnight worries than in the provision of their flesh to my pleasures.

On a happier note, Palmetta has given Anaxamenos a son! The child (Rufus, naturally) is healthy and beautiful, with the first wisps of hair on his head being decidedly orange in hue. Both Vitalis and I have been frequent visitors at their house, both to see the child and endlessly celebrate, not only with his proud parents, but with his grandparents as well. Maltinus, I daresay, has adapted quite famously to his new role, and I can already see his mind churning as he plots the course of his grandson’s illustrious education.

I am compelled here to pause and make explicit the sentiment that my time in the house of Anaxamenos is invariably wonderful. I am made by he and his wife to feel like far more than a friend – I am embraced by them as a member of their very loving family. Perhaps this is owing to the long history of mutual esteem that Maltinus and I have held for each other; perhaps it is on account of the quiet pleasures that Anaxamenos and I used to share on the banks of the Tibur; perhaps it is because I am always at ease with Palmetta – always ready to laugh with her and share a bawdy thought that in a more public place would be considered supremely inappropriate. Regardless of the reasons, with that entire and glorious family I am always made to feel welcome and valued: their home is warm and their hearth is authentic.

I must wonder if they are excessively deliberate in their embrace for me out of a sense of pity. They know, for I am always quite forthcoming with, the history of my orphanhood. They have surely considered my status with regard to Hadrian, a position which serves to isolate me in direct proportion to the heights to which I am elevated. What they do not know, yet what they no doubt sense as a faint aura of melancholy surrounding my heart, is the secret fact of my daughter, Praeconina, who was never to be acknowledged as my own, and, what’s worse, is not even now available to me to be observed as she grows into her womanhood. Palmetta is not blind. She sees the way I look at her newborn and detects, I am quite sure, those discreetly woven threads of sadness that line the luxuriant toga of my joy.

And so she makes a home for me – becoming at once my mother, my sister, and my friend. She loves me as the friend and former lover of Anaxamenos. She smiles at me with the silent assurance that I am cherished. How can I not come to her house with anything other than the promise of perfect comfort?

I can hear you, Lysicles, wondering aloud if I should not then hasten to marry Palmetta’s sister, and thus further solidify my place in that marvelous family. But such a thought is not quite as appealing to me as it might at first appear, for I have been observing Corda and have come to the conclusion that she is not half so perceptive as her sister. Indeed, her attentions toward me, whenever we are present together in the same place, are informed more by a jealous desire to match, if not exceed, her sister’s success with Anaxamenos than to be authentically attuned to my person. Her responses to me are driven by her need to publicly perform the duty of a doting wife, rather than to respond as she naturally ought. Most men, I am sure, would be quite happy with such a wife. And yet I am equally as sure that I, personally, would not – especially when I behold what a truly remarkable wife could be if embodied by such a soul as Palmetta’s. In this regard, I very much envy my friend Anaxamenos.

And yet, having just written that, I would be prudent to recognize that it is I who is fast becoming the source of many people’s envy. For it appears that I am very soon destined to accompany Hadrian on his first voyage off the Italian shores since his return from Athens. Our destination is likely to be Carthage, for one of the most troubling of Hadrian’s recent reports is the news that the ancient city is experiencing a severe drought in what ought right now to be its rainy season. There is widespread fear that the crops will fail unless the rains begin in earnest very soon. Thus are the ships being presently stocked, and I suspect that before the moon is new I will have landed on the coast of Africa.

Perhaps this would be exciting to me if it were not occurring under such dire and worrisome circumstances. Perhaps this would indeed be enviable if I were accompanying Hadrian on a voyage of pleasure, rather than as the surveyor of impending catastrophe. O, my Lysicles! Wherefore is this life of mine always contorting into such an outlandish and conflicted mess of thought? Far too often do I pine for simpler and unambiguous days. A.

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