The Sacred Antinous - Erotically-charged, Explicitly Illustrated, Queer-Themed Historical Fiction about Antinous and Hadrian
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LEGEND TO ILLUSTRATIONS
  CONTAINS X-RATED IMAGES
  CONTAINS R-RATED IMAGES
  CONTAINS G-RATED IMAGES
COMMENTARY
  ~000 Introduction
I - THE YOUNG SCHOOLBOY
  ~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
II - THE COURT PAGE
  ~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
III - THE IMPERIAL FAVOURITE
  ~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
IV - THE SEARCHING SOUL
  ~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
  ~107 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~108 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~109 Epistle Coming Soon
  ~110 Epistle Coming Soon
Phallic Amulets

Announcements and Pronouncements

Lysicles

Why am I so disturbed by the news, quite ordinary under the circumstances, that Hadrian has invested Fuscus with the office of Pontifex?

Is it jealousy? Possibly; despite the fact that I’ve never possessed the personal ambition to become such a rarefied administrator of our religion. And even now that the notion has been articulated and considered, I still don’t imagine that I would want it. If I am jealous, it is, I think, on account of the attention that Hadrian has lavished on his nephew. But then the fault is mine, for I should not be jealous of such a thing. I receive plenty of the man’s attention, although in a private and personal sphere beyond the scrutiny of public office. I ought to be content with that.

I think what is really agitating me is the confusion and disappointment I’m feeling with respect to Hadrian’s apparent blindness. How can he – who has shown time and again an uncanny ability to touch the mind of others – be so oblivious to the fact that Fuscus is entirely ill-suited for such a resonant post? The appointment is completely inconsistent with Hadrian’s much-demonstrated reticence to reward the undeserving. Then again, perhaps he is quite aware of Fuscus’ unsuitability, and is hoping that the office itself will, in time, shape the youth into someone worthy of it. Maybe Hadrian is seeking to craft or compel a certain degree of dignity in his nephew who has, until now, shown little else but irreverence and self-absorption.

And yet, is that not just my own perception of him? Perhaps I am far more infected by jealousy than I am admitting. There can be little doubt that Fuscus is destined for the throne. He is already being groomed for it, and this appointment is the clearest evidence so far. Who am I in relation to that? In the final analysis, I am reduced to nothing more than the emperor’s catamite – a word that Favorinus himself used quite openly to describe my peers (and, by extension, myself) in his oratory. Is this how history shall remember me? As but an orifice for the emperor? Fuscus shall have statues, arches, and inscriptions to his wisdom placed all across the world. And I? I shall be forgotten; I shall grow old, die and rot, as all men must.

Indeed. I am quite jealous of him; of the blood bond he enjoys with the man I love so deeply. I despise the fact that his destiny is already ordained, and Hadrian is dutifully helping to realize it on schedule and on cue.

Yet still the image of Fuscus in such an office is jarring. Who is Fuscus to consecrate a temple? How shall he preside upon a ceremony of such gravity as to expiate for the damage done by a pestilence? How shall he smooth the bridge ‘twixt gods and men, much less hope to maintain the peace of the gods themselves? It is a farce, Lysicles! But I am unable to laugh: I am forced against my will to observe it from an uncomfortable proximity, and offer to Fuscus my gushing congratulation and heartfelt blessings.

Gods? Hear this: I shall not gush, nor shall I be heartfelt. I shall do my duty to acknowledge his ascendancy – but I shall do nothing more. If such is not enough, let Zeus strike me down as I write!

It appears I am still here. Good. Onward, then, to better news:

Far more sensible is Hadrian’s declaration of Sabina as Augusta. She received the announcement with a composure and a self-assurance that sent a surge of happy reverence through my bones. I am truly coming to appreciate her as a woman of calm and intelligent poise. And it is clear to me that, although she and her husband maintain relatively separate lives, when they are together there is a great deal of mutual respect. As Hadrian favours his chosen fellows over random girls, it appears that Sabina favours her chosen women over random boys. And thus there exists between the royal couple a fair and silent understanding that their separate nights belong to their private selves while their unified days belong to a very public empire.

And what of her women? I confess to see little of them and thus know of them even less. There is Cassia Parthenia, a woman of serenity and soft, downcast eyes who is favoured, I think, for her silence and self-possession. There is Julia Balbilla, a maven of bolt and upright posture, who seems to serve the opposite role in orbit around Sabina, for she is always thrusting her opinionated self upon the affairs of the world. And then there is Julia Melino, a woman of laughter and levity; the female equivalent to Commodus who no doubt takes many a cue from him when they dine together. I can see how the chemistry of those four women works well together; how Sabina has surrounded herself by an array of personalities from which she can fashion and sculpt her desired company depending upon her mood.

Of his wife’s three closest friends, I suspect Hadrian holds the least affection for Balbilla, for it is clear how she grates upon his intelligence. For Parthenia I believe he holds a deep and abiding respect, and for Melino there is no doubt the happy tolerance of a woman who reminds him so much of Commodus, whom he cherishes.

Otherwise, my dearest, little has changed. Still with Decentius and Vitalis I exchange my pleasures, although with far less frequency than before. Still with Anaxamenos and Vitalis I sometimes lunch, especially when Hadrian is elsewhere occupied. My most enjoyable occasions in recent days (apart from the private time I spend with Hadrian, naturally) is when the maps of the world are laid down for him upon the tables. They are intricate and astonishingly detailed, with the names and precise locations of cities placed marvellously upon the strange shape of the earth’s lands. Hadrian will pore over those maps (as will I), comparing the city names with the various reports he has received from messengers, steadily outlining a travel itinerary to Phlegon.

You can imagine how busy such developing plans are keeping the palace. Anaxamenos has noticed a steady increase in traffic as horses and messengers are dispatched at an accelerated pace. I am only barely beginning to comprehend the immensity of the storm that is raging, much of it far beyond my field of vision. And all the while I stand, quite awkwardly, at its very nexus, where the mouth of Hadrian calmly utters the words and pronouncements that multiply over the endless miles into gusts of gale and days of work for untold hundreds in anxious preparation for his arrival.

What a strange life I lead, Lysicles, to enjoy such privileged witness to this marvellous machinery of humankind! A.

 
Optimythic
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