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

On Receiving

Lysicles,

Yesterday was the celebration to mark the attainment of my ten and eighth year, and to observe it there was prepared a grand feast in my honour, attended by most, if not all, of the royal entourage. Tidings had earlier come by horseback with letters from Maltinus and Anaxamenos, and I rejoiced in reading them aloud to a smiling Hadrian. In addition, I received from all of my travelling companions best wishes for a prosperous year. Carisius in particular engaged with me in a small conversation, and, although I could tell he was nervous and possessed of a somewhat awkward disposition, our exchange of words was very well mannered. But fear not! I am not so foolish as to think it is because he is warming up to me. On the contrary, Hadrian was seated directly to my left, and, owing to my lover's familiarity with his Keeper of the Purple Robes, Carisius knew better than to offer anything but the utmost respect.

When the feasting was done, Hadrian bathed with me in private and then invited me into his bedchamber. I was expecting for the evening our customary exchange of pleasures, but was surprised to hear him banish from the room the pair of attendant slaves who had become the fixtures among our lovemaking since we first took to the road. Truly, now, we were alone, and I amazed to find a most unusual request whispered into my ear: "You shall educate me, Antinous, as you did your stonesetter."

I paused briefly to digest what I had heard. "What could I possibly teach you, my love, that you have not already imparted to me?"

He smiled at me warmly and reached for a jug of wine. He poured some into a nearby bowl and called out, "Come Eros, and rejoice with us this evening; this night that belongs to Antinous!"

It dawned on me now that the slave who had attended upon myself and Alexander must have had specific instructions (from Phlegon? Hadrian himself?) to observe and report back upon our evening. I recalled having related its events to Hadrian solely in terms of the activity we made; I'd given little details of the conversation itself. But now, my lover obviously wanted to know more. "What is his name," asked Hadian, "the name of that fellow with whom you splashed through your childhood in Claudiopolis?"

"Lysicles," I responded. He nodded and replied, "A dear friend was he, no doubt."

"More than a friend," I said. "My first lover. Together we discovered our bodies' most basic pleasures, and learned such lessons as to inform and survive all future encounters of the flesh. It is with Lysicles I discovered how to open myself, and choose -- regardless of the girth or aggressive tendency of my partner -- to receive the experience in a healthy frame of mind. It is in observance of the wisdom I learned as a boy that I have both endured and enjoyed the company of many subsequent lovers, not least of all yourself."

"And who was it that taught you such wisdom?" he asked.

"A wineseller," I replied. "His name was Arkamedes. It was by his instruction that Lysicles and I discovered ourselves."

Hadrian nodded thoughtfully. I felt a tension in my throat, as though he had suddenly discovered in me a falsehood. But it was not a falsehood, I told myself. It was merely a choice to keep my private history from him. Finally, he spoke again: "It is to this Lysicles that you compose your letters, yes?"

I nodded. It occured to me that this was the very first time Hadrian had ever spoken to me of my writing. "How long have you known of my letters?" I nervously asked him.

He smiled as he poured the wine into a pair of goblets, and said, "Since you came to the Gelotiana."

I considered his words carefully before continuing: "And the parchment that awaited me with every arrival at Tibur -- that was by your instruction?" Hadrian nodded, and handed me my wine.

"Why have you never asked me about my writing, then?"

Hadrian sipped from his goblet. "I surround myself with spies, Antinous. My entire reign is defined by them. How else shall I govern Rome, when I am hardly ever there to see it? I know everything that happens -- here on the road, and there upon the Palatine. There is some security in this, to be sure. Yet I am not so foolish to be ignorant of the fact that I am, in a very real sense, a slave to my spies. Without them, my power shall wither and die."

I stared at him for a long time. I did not know how to respond to such words. Where was he headng with such an argument? Had I angered him? Was this the end of my time as Favourite? Was it a test? I had no way of knowing. He smiled at me again, and said, "Do not look so worried, Antinous." He sat down upon a couch and beckoned me to his side. I took my place beside him and finally felt comfortable enough to begin drinking my wine.

"You will not be surprised to learn that I have long watched you, my love," he said. "Sometimes with my own eyes; sometimes with the eyes of others. And you have never betrayed me. Never lied to me. Never hidden from me anything I should need to know in order to be assured of my safety and my throne. You are, I avow, one of the most constant, trustworthy, and impeccable spirits I have ever known."

"Thank you," I whispered, and felt the tears well up immediately in my eyes. It was the directness of his love that touched me; its clarity and gratitude. I felt redeemed. Justified. Vindicated for the arduous years of faithfulness.

"I long ago made the decision that your writing would forever be your own," he told me. "I vowed never to look at it. Never to ask of it. Never to intrude myself upon it. That you retain your privacy in its regard ensures that you retain for me your mystery. It keeps you human to me, and keeps me human to myself. So long as I live, Antinous, I shall never read those papers. No matter how hungry I become to know you; no matter how thoroughly I desire to inhabit you, your epistles to Lysicles are forever safe from my eyes. That is my pledge. It is my gift to you, this night, on your birthday."

I could find no words for him, so merely nodded in grateful, tear-stained silence. He reached over and wiped my cheek with his thumb. "Why have I never heard tell of this Arkamedes?"

"There is no compelling reason," I answered. I reflected for a small time before resuming: "But you have certainly benefitted from him. The ease with which I inhabit my body and give it to you is a testament to his long-ago instruction. If I have never spoken of him, it is because I wished not to intrude my childhood and my Lysicles into the space that we have made for ourselves. I have taken from Arkamedes great wisdom, but he is no longer present in my life as are you."

Hadrian was thoughtful then. There stretched between us a vast and reverent silence. Finally he spoke: "It has been a long time since I opened myself to a man."

Again the silence raged. I could barely fathom what was being hinted at. At last he continued: "Trajan was not an accomplished lover. He was impatient. Self-centred. Insecure. I never enjoyed his company. I never enjoyed... receiving him. It was always for me a painful ordeal." There was another long pause, in which I was terrified to speak. I waited breathlessly for his next words, for I dared not interrupt the intensity of his reveries. "I have always marvelled, Antinous, at the joy you take in receiving me. The deep and writhing pleasure that courses through you whenever we make love. I confess to be by it... mystified. If I am truly honest with myslef, I must also admit that I am envious for it. I wish to experience it as you do. I wish to know what it is to receive such sensation so happily. And there is but one person alive today from whom I would feel right and safe in receiving it."

And so it was, Lysicles, that I, on my birthday, received not only the highest assurance of my lover's respect for our continued privacy, but his additional request to receive me as I have long received him. Has there ever in the history of this wild world been so beautiful a gift as that?

"I am overwhelmed," I exhaled. Hadrian merely smiled and sipped more wine. I suddenly became aware that he was imbibing it at a somewhat more accelerated pace than I was accustomed to. I looked carefully into his eyes and saw the glint of his unease. Perhaps even his fear. On an impulse, I reached up and took the goblet from him. I set it down on a nearby table and said, "Arkamedes was indeed a wineseller, but his wisdom has nothing to do with its effects. You will not need to be drunk in order to receive from me your most exquisite pleasures."

Hadrian considered that for a small time. At last he said, "Well then. Tell me, Antinous, what I must command my body to do."

"No," I corrected, "for that is not what Arkamedes taught. But I shall gladly explain where you must lead your mind, and then, my love, shall your body respond as required."

I regret that I cannot, Lysicles, as is my custom, detail the erotic activities we enjoyed together, for such an explicit tale would blaze painfully ingenuous in contrast to the soft lamplight of Hadrian's deep respect for our privacy. But know this: never before have I received from my lover such pleasures, joys, tears, or expressions of gratitude. And when at last we fell to our slumbers arm in arm, an oblivious dawn was stretching from her bed in the skies beyond our window. A.

 
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