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
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Phallic Amulets

Stables of the Palatine


Anaxamenos confronted me in the stables with a locked box that was quite familiar to me. “What is this?” he asked. I stared at it without expression for a long time before answering, “It is mine.”

Anaxamenos smiled at me: “Obviously. But what is inside it? And why was it discovered buried in the hay at the back of Epeius’ stall?”

“They are letters,” I confessed. “Letters to a friend whose whereabouts I do not know; a friend who shall likely never see them. Yet his memory demands attention; demands to be flattered as the one to whom the chronicling of my life is dedicated. I cannot send them; I refuse to destroy them; and I fear to have them seen by anyone save myself. Thus I hide them.”

Anaxamenos considered the box for a small time. And then he smiled and shook his head in wonder. “What is it with you silly boys and your little leaves of paper?” I was confused by that, and he beckoned me to follow him into his office. He unlocked a cabinet and opened it, revealing a small pile of parchment.

“Vitalis,” he said simply. He reached to extract the drawings and handed them to me. They were wondrous! Pictures of Antinous – both clothed and naked; pictures of Epeius; of Anaxamenos; of Decentius – both clothed and naked. I paused to look at the depiction of that soldier’s body I knew so well: how it languished in the grass; how the eyes of its face were closed in a contented slumber so characteristic of the man I knew. I looked up to Anaxamenos, who smiled at me.

“You are a very unreliable bedfellow, Antinous. Poor Vitalis never knows anymore when to expect you in Rome. Can you blame him for seeking out the company of your Decentius? Can you blame Decentius for embracing him? They are both in remarkable love with you. And each to the other appears as an avatar of the love that is given by you in return. Why then should they not express it in a mutual and convenient pleasure, when so often you are unavailable to satisfy their individual need?”

I felt a pang of hurt by his words – for they rang so incontrovertibly true. Far more frequently, over the course of the last year, have I been absent from Rome than actually in it. My bed in the Gelotiana has often lain empty while I slept alone in Tibur or, more recently, in Africa. And what was poor Vitalis to do? How could I begrudge him the need to seek out the company of a man whom he knew, by my own endorsement, to be worthy of the warmest – and hottest – affection? I was at once jealous – and angry at myself for being so. I was at once sorry for the revelation of their togetherness as I was made by it extremely happy. I felt myself to be part of a great circle of love – and at the same time coldly excluded from it. I could not speak. I sat down upon a nearby bench, brought to my lap the locked box of letters and clutched it tightly.

Anaxamenos sat down beside me. For a long time there was silence between us. At last he spoke: “There is no need for you to hide your treasure in the hay, where it is vulnerable to all manner of discovery. You may place your chest in my cabinet; you may call upon me to access it at any time, and enjoy the privilege of unlocking, depositing to, and sealing it up again in private. I shall not request or ever expect to invade its contents. You may trust in me, Antinous, to provide for your cherished memories a place of the most reliable safekeeping.”

How could I not be thankful for such an offer? How could I even think for a flash more brief than lightening to doubt his trustworthiness? I smiled meekly and handed it to him. He stood, placed it in his cabinet, shut the door and locked it. “Perhaps one day,” he said, “I shall have the honour of meeting this Lysicles – a fellow who so obviously fires the oven that is your soul. Until then, I shall take pride in knowing that I am the custodian of his memory, and do hereby pledge to remain so until such time as you deem it no longer necessary.”

“Thank you,” I said to him.

It was not long after that Vitalis arrived to begin his morning duties. He was lively and happy – a sparkling spirit that I found difficult to resist. I smiled at him and said, “Why do you keep your drawings hidden?” He looked at Anaxamenos with a playful anger. Anaxamenos merely shrugged, and Vitalis turned back to answer me, “Where would you have me put them?”

“On display!” I exclaimed. “But they are trifles,” he responded dismissively. “Exercises. Studies. What is their worth, if not to guide me in the creation of some future painting? One day I shall have a studio, and use my record of the gorgeous Antinous to design for the baths of Rome her most erotic and inspiring scenes!”

I laughed at the thought of my eager and engorged self rendered into fresco and mosaic, inciting to happy action the pleasure-seekers of an epoch. I slapped the massive wooden beam beside me: “Right here!” I said. “Let Anaxamenos gaze on me first. And let him see Decentius too, that he can marvel at the erotic love which courses between us all.”

By that utterance, Vitalis and I shared a silent understanding, and he knew that I was not angry about his communion with Decentius. It was, I think, the signal he needed to agree to have his drawings shown – even if it was only to those internal eyes that had regular and routine access to the office of Anaxamenos.

I went to fetch a tack as Anaxamenos opened up his cabinet once again. Vitalis searched through his pile and eventually chose a drawing that depicted me standing nude. It was a very heroic pose, rendered on a particular day – still within memory – that saw me emerge from my bath to hear his stern command: “Don’t move.” The drawing itself took him but a moment to complete, for he was a skilled and confident practitioner. I remember watching him as he gazed at me. I remember becoming hard for him, and his laughter at having foiled me: “I drew it first, you fool, for I knew exactly what would happen when you found me looking at it. You are so predictable.” What laughter we shared that day, and what pleasures! And here was that image now posted on a beam in the office of Anaxamenos. I felt happy to think that my friend would have the opportunity to gaze at me every day. And though he preferred his women, I had no doubts he would enjoy the sight of my body – a vessel that, not so long ago, was the bringer to his own of much pleasure.

It is fascinating to me to think on the Imperial Stables – a compound that has played such a pivotal role in my development upon the Palatine. It is there, among the stalls and the hay, the tack and the manure, that I first met and befriended Anaxamenos. It is there that I grew to know and love the horses that constantly moved across Italia. It is there that I accumulated the many memories of happy and industrious work; of good fellowship among a capable team of young men – Florentius, Bromidus, Dominicus, Quintillius – fellows with whom I was always on excellent terms. It is there that I was observed in those initial months by Hadrian and experienced the joy of promotion; of being recognized for the merit of my work. It is there that Anaxamenos was also promoted, and stepped into a role for which he is most gloriously suited. And it is there, of course, that I brought to my side Vitalis, and carved out for us both a private place in the hay where we could exchange our pleasures and our love. It is the stables in which I cared for Epeius. It is the stables from which I rode to Tibur with Hadrian. It is the stables whereat I hid my epistles, had them discovered, and saw them secured.

Truly, it is my life that is the stables! So much that I have lived in Rome has been lived among the horses. What does that say of my character? What does that say for my future? Then again, why must it say anything? Yet would my life be what it is today had I, upon arrival at the Gelotiana, been given to the Keeper of the Fowl in the Department of the Kitchen? I must sincerely doubt it. By the gods, I owe those horses much! A.

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