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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  ~081 Epistle Coming Soon
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  ~083 Epistle Coming Soon
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Phallic Amulets

Father of the Country


Who is Macedo – and how does he know? How does he commune with the clouds and coax from them their rain? How does he predict with such accuracy that I shall rise with the sun? By what incomprehensible privilege does he secure his audience among the divine?

The daylight was streaming through the windows as I awoke this morning to find Phlegon above me. I was groggy and tired, for sleep had eluded until what I imagined was just before the dawn. I did not know what time it was, yet the room was empty of all the other boys, so I surmised it was late. All had gone to their duties, and left me to sleep. It is a wonder I was not once awoken by them.

“It is time, Antinous,” said Phlegon. I did not know what he meant. But then he smiled at me, and I suddenly knew exactly what he meant. I swallowed hard, and he nodded in silent confirmation. “Come,” he said, and helped me to rise from the bed.

We went to the baths, where I was washed and attended to by no less than three servants. Phlegon watched me quietly, and then supervised my dressing. The toga I was given was very fine, with a thin ribbon of gold woven around the hem. My sandals were new, and my fibula, bearing the image of Mercury, was of a highly polished gold.

From the baths I followed Phlegon deep into the Augustan halls and down a wide corridor to which I had never yet been admitted. There were busts on either side of us – a long line of portraits stretching backward in time to Homer. I recognized very few of the faces – although there were several that needed no explanation. We passed through a series of guarded doors, and finally entered what I knew was the sacred bedchamber. The first person I beheld was none other than Carisius. He was standing quietly, holding a folded toga completely dyed in purple and lavishly embroidered in gold. He dropped his eyes, refusing to look at me.

“How did you sleep?” asked a familiar voice. I turned to see Hadrian in another part of the sprawling room. He was tying his loincloth and receiving a delicate application of perfume from one of his pages.

“Not very well,” I responded. He laughed at that: “The same with me. And yet how can I not be grateful for the clarity I now possess? It has refreshed me as I suspect no amount of sleep possibly could.”

I smiled at him as he reached out his hand toward Carisius. Two other pages suddenly appeared and advanced with Carisius, unfolding the long and luxurious wool. They wrapped it expertly around Hadrian and secured it with a sparkling fibula. “Why were you angry yesterday?” I asked him. “Why did you leave so abruptly?”

He considered me intently as the pages took his hands and dressed his fingers with an assortment of rings. A crown of golden laurels was placed upon his head. “I was not angry,” he said. “I was consumed in a tempest of thoughts and emotions. I was terrified of opening my mouth, lest it spill something incomprehensible.” He sighed heavily. “Absolutely dazzling,” he finally said. “For a fellow with no balls, I daresay Favorinus is remarkably well stocked with courage.”

I laughed, and he smiled at me warmly. I stared at him: this resplendent man dressed in the clothes and colours of the highest earthly power. I wondered if the sunlight was indeed streaming inward through the open window to set his golden crown ablaze, or if it was the light from his soul, escaping outward through the casement to shine across the thirsty empire. “Will you walk with me to the Forum?” he asked. I nodded happily.

He stepped toward me and held out his elbow. I took it. Carisius and the other pages bowed low as we passed them, and I shuddered to consider the envious eyes that stared at my receding head as I left him there in the room.

But Carisius was soon forgotten. We emerged from the palace, strode past the Arch of Titus, and stepped onto the Sacred Way. Suddenly I was struck by the sheer number of Praetorians that surrounded us. The deafening cheer of excitement as Hadrian advanced was incredible – it was a far bigger crowd than usual, filled with the pomp of a lavish ceremony. It slowly dawned on me that there was indeed a ceremony underway, and I amazed at the fact that I had been so self-consumed these several past days to have completely forgotten what was elsewhere afoot. I turned again to look at the profile of the man who guided me. He stared straight ahead, soaking up the sublime revels. “Face forward, Antinous,” he said softly. I obeyed immediately, and together we crossed the threshold of the Forum.

It was there that a senator named Quadratus made a lavish display of bestowing upon Hadrian the title of Father of the Country, which Hadrian dutifully (and at long last!) accepted. The people were jubilant, and Hadrian proffered a fine and grateful address to bestow on them an equal share of the honour that had just been draped across his own shoulders.

From there the proceedings moved inside, and it was only then that I started to become aware of the awesome heft of planets around me. For just as the day’s business was about to begin, Hadrian called me forth to his side. He introduced me by name to the assembled Senate, praised the history of my schooling, and then announced me as his Favourite. I could barely breathe, for it became immediately clear to me how unusual a move it was. Past Favourites had become known in their designation simply on account of a regular presence in the Emperor’s bed. But I, Antinous, had been introduced. I’d been formally presented.

“He is starting early,” opined Macedo, as together we walked back toward the palace. “With what?” I asked. “Your career,” he answered: “He has high hopes for you, Antinous. And high expectations.”

We strode back down the hall of portraits, through the multiple and guarded doors. But we did not enter the sacred bedchamber. Instead, we turned into another room, also lavishly furnished. “Why are we in here?” I asked him, rather stupidly.

He smiled at me in amusement and said, “Because this is your room.” I blinked in astonishment. It occurred to me that I would never again be opening my eyes from a bed in the Gelotiana. Macedo continued, “Although it is not likely you will be sleeping in here too often.”

I turned to him. He was staring at me with a combination of stern pride and happy triumph. At last he spoke: “Your time is your own until sundown. Prepare yourself however you will. Sleep, bathe, play, work – whatever you wish. But be ready for him.” I nodded in comprehension. He bowed his head respectfully, turned and left, pulling the door closed behind him.

Once alone, I explored my environs, noting the luxurious linens; the array of fine togas, sandals, and overcoats; and – most tellingly – the ample stock of parchment upon a deep and spacious wooden desk. At all other points in the empire, the highest officials of government routinely write on wax. But here upon the Palatine (and even, remarkably, upon the Caelian!) I have consistently been spoiled with the luxury of writing on parchment. What shall I make of that? How shall I comprehend it? Perhaps there is no use trying. Let me scribble on, therefore – recklessly and with abandon – to pour upon these expensive pages my inky amazement at the unexpected and rarefied opulence that now encircles my life. A.

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