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
  ~107 Epistle Coming Soon
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  ~110 Epistle Coming Soon
Phallic Amulets

On Grief


I write to you this day bereft of yet another of my life’s warmest friendships. Vitalis was two days ago vanquished by his long illness, and those terrible Fates – oblivious to my ardent prayers – did cut his spinning thread after but ten and seven years upon the earth.

What more, in the wake of such unhappy news, shall I now uselessly report? The details of Megara – of Hadrian’s glorious contributions to its civic life – seem absolutely inconsequential to me, though I certainly recognize that Vitalis to History will be seen even more inconsequentially still. Would that my friend were a temple, ordered by Hadrian rebuilt! His pillars of laughter and love, restored to eternal health, would rise up again and be by their grateful city celebrated for centuries to come. But no, it is Apollo who receives the Emperor’s benefactions for Megara, and Vitals must be content, at most, with a meagre inscription upon his modest tomb.

We arrive in Athens tomorrow. It would be a time of abundant joys and happiness for me were it not for the sudden absence of my friend. Hadrian, my beautiful lover, is well aware of my grief, and has given me what space I require to mourn. He too, naturally, is saddened, for he has in the recent past spent some nights with Vitalis and has always enjoyed beholding the youth’s wondrous creations. But Hadrian is a man with many pressing duties, and these afford him the luxury of meaningful distraction from his sorrow. I, alas, am not so lucky.

Last night, alone with Hadrian, I wept. It was certainly not intended, and I was embarrassed to be seen by him in such an unexpected and emotionally ambushed state. But he would brook from me no apologies: “Let no reigning fashion of manhood dictate to us how we shall grieve for those loves we have lost,” he said. “If tears are the noblest expression of your pain, Antinous, then let them tumble in great and aching abundance.”

And so they fell. We sank to the bed together and Hadrian’s arms wrapped tightly around me from behind. I could feel his beard upon my neck and the air from his nostrils blasting through my hair. “When you tremble in my arms, it is both a blessing and a triumph. I am blessed by your trust and affection, by the unabashed beauty that gives itself so generously to my desires. And I am made triumphant by your acceptance of me as a man worthy of your love returned.”

“How could you possibly doubt your worthiness for it?” I whispered. “My love for you is the easiest love imaginable. It gushes like a springtime river.”

Hadrian was silent for a moment before replying: “I imagine you, Antinous, years away, weeping for me with as much ardour as you do now for dear Vitalis.”

“Say not such a thing!” I snapped. I pulled away, sat up, and turned – both terrified and angry – to look at him. There was snot upon my most undignified face and I was ashamed as I wiped it away.

Hadrian smiled. “It is not an evil thing to say, Antinous. I am mortal. I shall die, as is good and natural. And yet, of all the official and public grief that inevitable day shall engender, I am most comforted by the assurance of a very particular, private grief from my Favourite love. How, in the glow of such a warm and embracing image, can I not but sigh in perfect contentment for my mortality? That you, Antinous, will live to so ardently grieve for Hadrian is the single fact that shall make the day of his death a most glorious occasion.”

I had no reply for him, for it was a terrible thought – regardless of its lofty wording.*

I am writing this evening from Eleusis, where our train has stopped for the night, even though the Mysteries are still five days away. The plan – as Phlegon had it briefly explained to me – is to continue on to Athens, settle ourselves into residence, and then return when the rites begin. Nevertheless, Hadrian went today (without me) to consult the priests, and, when I asked after his intended conversation, refused to disclose its details. Perhaps it is owing to my dismal state of mind, but I found myself hurt by his secrecy, despite the obvious fact that he is entirely within his rights to keep from me whatever he wishes. And so to occupy myself (which is to say: to set my ass in a place where it would not be in anyone’s way while I allowed this colossal numbness to inhabit me), I staked for myself an isolated place along on the shores of the town, and spent the afternoon watching a great swarm of boats jostle for what limited space remained in the harbour. The population here, as I’m sure you can imagine, is swelling. This in turn has no doubt excited the sea birds, who, to these forlorn ears recently primed to hear only the miseries of the world, squawked an endless onslaught of argumentatives.

Forgive me, Lysicles. I am right now feeling far too sorry for myself and, quite predictably, this letter is becoming tedious. My grief is immense and my capacity to deal with it limited. This reed in my hand has suddenly become my most immediate and necessary comfort, for it obliviously dances with the industrious joy of thoughts directed exclusively in your direction. It is impervious to my sorrows.

Or is it? This instrument and its playmates; this parchment and its fellows, had as much of an intimate acquaintance with Vitalis as they do with me. What shall be done with his drawings? Where shall they be kept? With whom shall they be entrusted? The answer, I think, is obvious. Poor Decentius! I have not seen him of late – his agony must no doubt be as acute as mine. I am suddenly resolved to seek him out, that we can provide for each other some comfort on this unexpectedly dark leg of the journey.

Here, then, is my parting thought. But unlike so many past others, I must warn you, Lysicles, that it shall not be for you. I trust, of course, you shall not so jealously begrudge me for it. I know you shall embrace it, as you would have embraced the departed soul in whose honour it is so inscribed:

Whenever should the Gods demand of mortal artists to exalt them, let them ponder, briefly yet invariably, on the theme of Promise Destroyed. And when they behold what those still living have produced, let them sigh and repent; let their private, Olympian consensus admit that a grand and myopic mistake was made in stealing so recklessly from the earth such a burgeoning talent as Lucius Marius Vitalis.

My grief, now upon this paper, may at last permit me to slowly take my leave of it. To Athens, thus, I turn, hopeful its dazzle might sear from my eyes the tears of recent days. A.

* The themes of this conversation are echoed in Psalm 006 – Such a Flesh.

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