Chapter XXXIII - Ludi ad Auspicari Novam Aetatem

© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
'The Games to Inaugurate a New Era'
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
warning: this section features nudity, violence, explicit sexuality and language, in images and text - do not view if you may be offended
  to view images full size open in a new tab
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
this Chapter is at present under construction

© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016


And so the day of the 'Ludi ad Auspicari Novam Aetatem' dawned - eventually bright and fresh and sunny.
For Marcus it was to be the day when he could take his revenge, and rid himself of those who had tried to bring him down as the Dominus of the House of Gracchus.
For the four conspirators it was the day of their worst nightmare - a day of humiliation, agony and eventually - after much suffering - death.
For the young runaway slave-boy, Varus, it was to be his day to be famous, and a 'star' - but that would be short lived, and although he thought the day might bring him his reprieve, and freedom, in fact it would bring a swift - yet merciful - death.
And for many other prisoners, condemned to die in the arena, it would bring death - painful and humiliating.
For some of the fighters (gladiators, wrestlers and boxers) there would be victory, and glory.
And also recognition from their esteemed Dominus, and a chance to appear before the son of the renowned emperor, Vespasian -  and maybe a small reward - perhaps an hour or so with a young slave boy, or girl ,(according to taste), or perhaps a gold or silver trinket, given by the 'Magister Ludi' (Petronius), on behalf of the Dominus.
For the less fortunate fighters - defeat - and if they were lucky, a reprieve to fight another day, and if they were unlucky, an ignominious and horrific death.


THE MORNING OF THE LUDI

Adonios and Aurarius were awake just before the dawn, and made sure that Marcus got up and took some breakfast.
As for Glaux, he was suffering from an owl equivalent of a 'hangover', having allowed Titus the ply him with many pieces of roast dormouse most of the previous evening.
As a result, he was not fit to sit on anyone's shoulder, and he was left clinging on to the back-rail of a couch.
Once Marcus had been given his clothes, and his breakfast, Adonios and Aurarius went down the corridor to waken Petronius and Demetrius, and take them breakfast.
When everyone was fully awake, Adonios ran down to the main entrance to alert the grooms that the horses were to be readied for Marcus, Petronius, Demetrius and himself and Aurarius, plus an escort of four villa guards.
On his return the party made their way down to the main entrance to 'mount up'.
The air was cool and fresh, and the sun was just rising above the hills to the east as they trotted down the wide road to the amphitheater in Baiae.
As they rode through the streets of Baiae, the early morning deliveries were being made to the various shops.
By now, many in the town knew who Marcus was, and the way was made clear for them, and many of the male plebs' saluted, (not that there were many women or girls around at that time in the morning).
Ave Marcus
Octavianus Gracchus
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
As they arrived in sight of the amphitheater - which was covered in banners displaying images of Marcus (from when he was a little younger, however) with the text 'Ave Marcus Octavianus Gracchus' - there was a bustle of arena slaves, as they hurried to get Theon, the senior arena-slave (the position that Petronius had once held),
At the same time low wooden steps were brought forward the help the riders dismount (remember, no stirrups).
Grooms quickly came forward to take control of the horses, and the whole group, Marcus, Petronius, Demetrius, Adonios and Aurarius all dismounted.
Instantly Theom was bowing and greeting Marcus, Petronius and Demetrius, (incidentally, he didn't have a clue who Demetrius was, but by the boy's clothes, and lack of a slave collar he was obviously a young Patrician - and Theon was not foolish enough to ask).
He then guided them to to the amphitheater prothyrum (despite the fact that they very well knew the way).
Marcus then corrected Theon, saying that he wanted to go straight to the Ludus.
Quickly Theon redirected them, at the same time ordering the slave to take the refreshments to Petronius' rooms.
At that point Theon took Marcus and Petronius aside, out of ear-shot of Adonios, Aurarius and Demetrius.
"Dominus, Paris and Varus are about to have a run through of their scene together in the Ludus.
If you and Petronius wish to observe I will take you to where they are.", Theon said, rather quietly.
"Well, why not ?", Marcus said, turning to Petronius.
Petronius nodded, grinning.
"You boys - wait here. - Petronius, Theon and I have some matters to discuss." Marcus explained to the boys, as he and Petronius followed Theon.
Paris and Varus were in a room below Petronius' rooms.
The κλίνη - kline, which Marcus had recently obtained in Neapolis, had been set up.
Paris and Varus were partly reclining on the couch, apparently locked in a passionate embrace, and kissing.
It seemed to Marcus to be far from just 'acting', and he had the feeling that both the older dancer, and the young 'rent boy' had rather quickly developed some real feelings - or maybe just 'lust' for one another.
I was all to the good, and both he an Petronius looked on, fascinated.
Paris, of course, had a reputation in the Ludus of being obsessed with attractive young boys, although not in the rather unhealthy manner that Atticus, and later Servius had displayed, so it was not surprising that Paris was very attracted to young Varus.
Paris also was aware of the fate awaiting Varus (he had been told by Petronius), but was under oath not to reveal that information to the boy.
Knowing that he would only have a very limited time with Varus also probably made his attraction to the boy even more ardent.
As Marcus and Petronius looked on, they could see that both participants were obviously highly excited, and in a matter of moments young Varus was lying on his belly, with his legs wide, while Paris penetrated him slowly, but quite forcefully.
The naked boy groaned as the shaft of Paris' huge penis  disappeared inside him, while Paris ardently kissed the boy's neck.
Slowly Paris began move backwards and forwards, passionately fucking the moaning boy.
Theon whispered to Marcus - "They are under strict instructions not to 'cum'.
We just want them to maintain a level of high arousal, so the they will give a first class performance later this afternoon."
And that was exactly what happened.
After about five minutes of vigorous thrusting, Paris pulled his cock out of the boy's 'hole'.
Varus moaned, obviously inpatient for the stimulation to continue, but arena-slaves approached the couch, and helped the two 'lovers' up, and led them away to separate cublicum, where Agathorn (the Medicus) was waiting to fit 'cock-cages' to prevent any masturbation, until the next 'run through' a little later in the day.
"Very clever, Theon !", Marcus commented.
"By the time they get into the arena they won't be able to keep their hands off each other."
"We hope so, Dominus.
We want this to go very well for you and your honored guest.", Theon replied.
Marcus nodded, and then he and Petronius followed Theon back to where Adonios, Aurarius and Demetrius were 'innocently' filling up on olives, cheese, garum (a weird fish sauce made mainly of anchovies) and a little watered wine.
Not that any of the boys were really innocent, as most slaves were sexually experienced, in some form or another, very early in life (remember that Demetrius had been a slave - and had been abused by Menelaus- one of the 'conspirators' who was to be tortured and executed that very day).
After joining the boys for a quick snack, Marcus and Petronius continued to to check all the numerous preparations for the Ludi - which was to start in the late morning.
Satisfied that all was well, Marcus then took Adonios, and two arena guards, back with him to the villa to collect Titus, leaving Demetrius and  Aurarius in the care of Petronius.
When Marcus got back to the villa, he found Titus chatting to Terentius in the 'Officium est Dominus', where Terentius had been going through the accounts.
Titus and Terentius had much in common, as both knew the city of Rome intimately.
Titus was very interested to know more about the late Dominus, and how he had come to adopt Marcus.
Terentius, of course, was very careful with his answers, but generally found Titus very pleasant and amenable, despite his grim reputation.
Marcus, however, had to interrupt his honored guest, as he needed to question Terentius regarding messages about the delivery of an essential item for the Ludi - which was now only a couple of hours from starting.
Titus immediately turned to Adonios.
"So where is my little owl this morning ?", he asked in an avuncular fashion.
"Well, sir, Glaux is indisposed,", Adonios replied, very seriously.
"I think that he ate too many dormice last night.", Adonios explained.
"I see.", Titus replied, charmed by the young boy's seriousness.
"Well, I think that I may be partly to blame.", Titus continued, "And I'm very sorry."
An this, you should consider, was coming from a man who had recently ordered many thousands of Jews to be crucified during his recent pacification of Judea.
"When I went back to Rome, I asked about buying a little owl like Glaux for a pet, but I was told that they were very hard to keep.
If you didn't cage them they just flew away, and if you did cage them then they pined away and died.", Titus continued.
"So.... I was possibly hoping that perhaps your Dominus might let me have Glaux as a present ?", Titus suggested, hopefully.
"I'm sure that the Dominus would be only too happy to give you Glaux as a present - but, you see, he can't.
Glaux is not really just an owl.
He's a gift from the Goddess Athena to my Dominus - and he flew down from Olympus.
So to try to give him away would anger the Goddess - and anyone who took Glaux would simply die.", Adonios said, perfectly seriously.
Titus was taken aback.
Not only did people rarely refuse his requests, but equally they didn't threaten him - but at the same time Adonios' seriousness, and the story that Marcus had told him about what had happened in the peristyle garden the night of the late Dominus' murder, and the events at Cumae unnerved him - and he though it wise not to pursue the matter.
"Of course,  Adonios. I understand.", he replied, trying to mollify the boy.
"Well perhaps I can visit him tonight, if he's feeling better - and I promise not to feed him too much.", Titus concluded, hoping that he had not damaged the trust between himself and the boy.
"So... is the delivery sorted out ?", Titus then asked Marcus, making no mention of his conversation with Adonios about Glaux
"Yes, but we shall have to take it with us, as it has been delivered to the villa rather than the amphitheater.", Marcus replied
"And what is this important item, may I ask ?", Titus said.
The God Janus
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
"Yes indeed.", Marcus replied.
"It's a sculpture of the God Janus for the Ludi ad Auspicari Novam Aetatem - and as I'm sure you will understand, we couldn't really continue without it.", Marcus added.
"Of course - so may I see it ?", Titus asked.
"Yes - it's in the small Atrium.", Marcus answered, showing Titus the way.
And there it was......
In Roman religion and myth, Janus (Latin: Ianus) is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. Janus presided over the beginning and ending of conflict, and hence war and peace. The doors of his temple were open in time of war, and closed to mark the peace. As a god of transitions, he had functions pertaining to birth and to journeys and exchange, and he was concerned with travelling, trading and shipping. Janus had no flamen or specialized priest (sacerdos) assigned to him, but the Rex Sacrorum himself carried out his ceremonies. Janus had a ubiquitous presence in religious ceremonies throughout the year, and was ritually invoked at the beginning of each one, regardless of the main deity honored on any particular occasion. The ancient Greeks had no equivalent to Janus, whom the Romans claimed as distinctively their own. Janus was always invoked at the beginning of any period of time, (such as the new year or beginning of the month) or any new event. 
As the Ludi that Marcus was holding was the 'Games to Inaugurate a New Era', it was obvious that Janus would have to be represented, and a sacrifice and invocation would be made to the God in the arena before the Ludi began - and it was for this reason that Marcus had commissioned the statue from Neapolis, according to the design of Apelles, Marcus' new artist 'in residence'.
Interestingly, Marcus had the statue designed in the 'Neo Attic style, despite the fact that Janus was a god of Etruscan origins.
He did this, possibly as a homage to the 'Philhellenism' of the late Dominus, but maybe also in deference to the Greek origins of the town of  Baiae.
Neo-Attic Classical Style is a sculptural style, beginning in Hellenistic sculpture and vase-painting of the 2nd century BCE, and climaxing in Roman art of the 2nd century CE, copying, adapting or closely following the style shown in reliefs and statues of the Classical (5th–4th centuries BCE) and Archaic (6th century BCE) periods. It was first produced by a number of Neo-Attic workshops at Athens, which began to specialize in it, producing works for purchase by Roman connoisseurs, and was taken up in Rome, probably by Greek artisans. The Neo-Attic mode, a reaction against the 'baroque' extravagances of Hellenistic art, was an early manifestation of Neoclassicism, which demonstrates how self-conscious the later Hellenistic art world had become. Neo-Attic style emphasizes grace and charm, serenity in adapting a reduced canon of prototypical figures and forms, in crisp and refined execution. Marcus was particularly fond of the Neo-Attic Style.
"So, if you are ready, sir, I think it would be good if we made our way to the amphitheater.", Marcus said, turning to Titus, who was admiring the statue of Janus.
"Of course !", Titus replied.
"Wouldn't do to be late !".
Terentius, who was to accompany them in a second carriage with Novius, who was sitting patiently in the atrium, waiting, then ordered slaves to cover the statue with a dark cloth and place it in a third carriage.
Four slave were to accompany the statue, which was treated with great deference. The three carriages, complete with outriders then set off for the Amphitheater. 
After the Funeral for Gracchus, and the Munera, most of the citizens of Baiae recognized the carriages and, because of the posters, which mentioned Titus, guessed that the son of the Emperor was riding to the Ludi - so, for the first time, Marcus' arrival at the amphitheater was treated with cheers and applause.

ARRIVAL AT THE AMPHITHEATER

Amphitheater at Baiae - Exterior - en fête
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
They pulled up at the ornate main entrance - another fine piece of work by Gracchus' architect, Lucius Septimius Severus - while arena slaves hurried to open the doors of the carriages as Petronius and Aurarius stepped forward to greet the honored guests (young Demetrius, who was not officially part of the amphitheater staff, was waiting in the prothyrum - entrance hall - for the guests.)
The whole exterior of the amphitheater was 'en fête', with banners depicting Marcus placed in every archway.
In addition, Marcus had a real flame issuing from a marble vase, in the form of a Greek 'kylix', mounted on the uppermost arch of the arcade, above the main entrance, to indicate that Ludi were in progress.
A kylix (κύλιξ, pl. κύλικες;) is type of wine-drinking cup. The word comes from the Greek kylix "cup," which is cognate with Latin calix, the source of the English word 'chalice'. Unlike the original form of the 'kylix', the huge marble 'kalix' that Marcus had Apelles design for the amphitheater was simplified, and dispensed with the usual double handles.
Petronius then led the guests to the prothyrum, where they met Demetrius.
There was then a pause, to give time for the arena slaves to install the statue of Janus in the arena, and during that time Marcus, Titus and Petronius discussed the program of the Ludi, while slaves served the guests with refreshments.
Adonios and Aurarius, who spent the time chatting to Demetrius, particularly enjoyed occasions like this, as they were treated as guests, and served by the arena slave-boys.
(as has been pointed out previously - in Roman society there were endless gradations of status, and in many cases low status slaves would attend to high status slaves. Adonios and Aurarius, despite their youth - being the personal slaves of the Dominus had the highest status among the slaves of the House of Gracchus.)
All during this time the interior of the amphitheater was slowly filling.
The attendance was excellent, not only because of the publicity organised by Marcus' new 'artist in residence', Apelles, but also because Titus had returned to the town to attend this 'inaugural' Ludi - and many of the citizens saw this occasion as a new beginning for the town, under the dynamic leadership of the new Dominus of the House of Gracchus.
Of course, it should not be forgotten that there was a religious aspect to the Ludi, even although they were not a 'true' munera.
It was believed that the blood of the those slain in the arena would form a propitiatory sacrifice to the Gods, and in particular Apollo, who was the patron of the town, and also the patron of the Dominus of the House of Gracchus, and the blood would also be a sacrifice to the God Janus, the God who presided over 'beginnings' and new ventures.
Votive Statues in the Arena
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Eventually the positioning of the plinths and statues directly below the Pulvinar was achieved to Theon's satisfaction, and an arena-slave was sent up to the prothyrum to tell Petronius that the Ludi could begin.
The statues of the Gods were essential to the proceeding in the arena. Without the appropriate libations and sacrifice to the Gods no Munera or Ludi could take place. This particular Ludi, being a 'celebratory inaugural' Ludi required special attention to the image of the God Janus - for it was believed that the whole future of the House of Gracchus, and the amphitheater - and even the town itself - depended on the rites being performed correctly in the presence of the image of the God.
Petronius then sent the messenger back to Theon - telling him to check the 'Pompa', and if all was ready, to send a message to the trumpeters to give a fanfare, announcing the opening of the vast gilded bronze gates of the 'Porta Sanavivaria', so that the litter, bearing an additional bust of Marcus, could be carried into the arena, followed by the various participants in the Games.
THE GAMES BEGIN

Moments later the blare of the 'tubas' sounded, and the audience could be heard clapping and cheering as the great gilded doors opened.
At the sound Petronius ushered the guests up the grand stair case to the Pulvinar, with Marcus and Titus leading the way, followed by Terentius and Novius, and then Demetrius, and finally Adonios and Aurarius.
As Titus and Marcus appeared on the balcony of the Pulvinar, a roar was heard from the waving, cheering audience.
This was the part that Adonios and Aurarius really enjoyed, as they fantasized that the people were cheering them.
New Era Pompa
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
The trumpeters were now arranged on either side of the Pulvinar where some of the elite in the audience were once seated, (none of the audience were allowed anywhere near the special guests now - considering Petronius' concerns for security).
Again the fanfares were sounded, as arena slaves, arrayed as Greek warriors (Petronius had a surfeit of Grecian style helmets), carried an elegant marble bust of Marcus into the arena, on a litter.
Apelles had copies made of the wooden sculptures of Apollo (now burned to ashes and modeled on a nude pose by Petronius) that had graced the coffin of the late Dominus, but now these sculptures (cast in hollow, gilded bronze) held a victor's golden wreath of laurels over Marcus' head.
Copies of the eagles, (also cast in hollow, gilded bronze), that had been used at the funeral of the late Dominus, also now decorated the corners of the ebony and gold litter.
The idea of Apelles was to make a direct link in people's minds between the recently deceased Dominus, and his new, young successor, and heir - and the applause from the audience indicated that Apelles' plan had been successful.
And so the 'Ludi ad Auspicari Novam Aetatem' had begun.
After the marble bust of Marcus had been set before the cult image of Janus, the priests offered prayers for the success of the Ludi, the continuing affluence of the House of Gracchus and the good of the town of Baiae.
Closely linked to ritual action prayer was often formulated as imperatives. Prayer was 'performative' and mistakes could not be corrected, unlike incorrect actions, which could through a piaculum (expiatory sacrifice). Once uttered they had their effect for good or ill, which is why they were read from texts. Gestures could be ambiguous, words could not. Great care was taken over the correct names of the deities involved, the beneficiaries and the exact effect desired. This was particularly important in rites designed to encourage a deity to provide a service, prayer was not to provide metaphysical or spiritual basis for the ritual, nor to explain it; it was simply to express it in words. Some rituals included hymns (carmena) sometimes sung to a musical accompaniment. Hymns are not strictly prayers but rather works of art to please the gods, they could be addressed to several at once, prayers could not.
The priests then sacrificed, two pure white, 'intact' (not castrated), rams (which was the accepted sacrifice to the God Janus).
Animal sacrifices were, by their mere nature, very elaborate and bloody affairs. The animal's head had wine and sacred bread ( mola salsa) sprinkled over it. The animal was killed by having its throat cut. The most important organs of the dead beast were burnt on the altar. The rest of the animal was then either moved away, or later eaten as part of a feast. A priest would then say more prayers, or better he would whisper them. This too was a closely guarded ritual, by which the priest himself would be wearing some form of mask or blindfold to protect his eyes from seeing any evil and a flute would be played to drown out any evil sounds Should anything about the sacrifice go wrong, then it had to be repeated. But only after another, additional, sacrifice had been made to allay any anger of the god about the failure of the first one. For this purpose one would usually sacrifice a pig. Thereafter the real sacrifice would be repeated.
During the sacrifice the audience sat in silence, patiently awaiting the outcome.
The sacrifice was successful, with no negative auspices (the priests were well paid to ensure that all went well), and the priests declared that the Games were favored by the Gods.
There then followed two 'paeans', the first to Vespasian and his son Titus, and the second to Marcus - both composed by Lucius (Marcus' Latin tutor), and sung by a chorus of boys culled from the most patrician of the families of Baiae.
A paean is a song or lyric poem, expressing triumph or thanksgiving. Such songs were originally addressed to Apollo. In classical antiquity, it is usually performed by a chorus. It comes from the Greek παιάν (also παιήων or παιών), "song of triumph, any solemn song or chant." "Paeon" was also, appropriately, an epithet of Apollo. The most famous paeans are those of Pindar (in Greek), on which Lucius based his paeans (in Latin). Typically the paean was in the Dorian mode. and was accompanied by the κιθάρα - kithara, which was Apollo's instrument. 
 κιθάρα - kithara
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
The cithara or kithara (Greek: κιθάρα - Latin: cithara) was an ancient Greek musical instrument in the lyre or lyra family. The kithara was a professional version of the two-stringed lyre. As opposed to the simpler lyre, which was a folk-instrument, the kithara was primarily used by professional musicians, called kitharodes. The kithara's origins are likely Asiatic. The barbiton was a bass version of the kithara popular in the eastern Aegean and ancient Asia Minor. The kithara had a deep, wooden sounding box composed of two resonating tables, either flat or slightly arched, connected by ribs or sides of equal width. At the top, its strings were knotted around the crossbar or yoke (zugon) or to rings threaded over the bar, or wound around pegs. The other end of the strings was secured to a tail-piece after passing over a flat bridge, or the tail-piece and bridge were combined. Most vase paintings show kitharas with seven strings, in agreement with ancient authors, but these also mention that occasionally a skillful kitharode would use more than the conventional seven strings. It was played with a rigid plectrum held in the right hand, with elbow outstretched and palm bent inwards, while the strings with undesired notes were damped with the straightened fingers of the left hand. The kithara was played primarily to accompany dances and epic recitations, paeans, odes, and lyric songs. It was also played solo at the receptions, banquets, and Games.
Hydraulis - Water Organ
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
There was then a brief pause in the proceedings - while arena slaves removed the temporary altar, used for the sacrifices, and laid new sand - and during the short interval music was played on the newly acquired ὕδραυλις (Hydraulis or water organ).
A hydraulis is an early type of pipe organ that operated by converting the dynamic energy of water (Ancient Greek: ὕδωρ húdōr) into air pressure to drive the pipes (Ancient Greek: αὐλός aulós). Hence its name hydraulis, literally "water (driven) pipe (instrument)." It is attributed to the Hellenistic scientist Ctesibius of Alexandria, an engineer of the 3rd century BC. The hydraulis was the world's first keyboard instrument and was, in fact, the predecessor of the modern church organ. The hydraulis was played by hand, and the keys were balanced and could be played with a light touch, as is clear from the reference in a Latin poem by Claudian, who uses this very phrase (magna levi detrudens murmura tactu . . . intonet, “let him thunder forth as he presses out mighty roarings with a light touch”). Marcus had another hydraulis installed in his private apartments, and one installed at the Domus, as they were 'all the rage' in Rome.
Meanwhile the doors of the 'Porta Sanavivaria' had opened, and Theon was marshaling a group of Pankration wrestlers - all stark naked - who were about to engage in the first contests of the Games.
It was Petronius' custom the begin a Ludi in a low key.
Wrestling, and sometimes boxing would come first, as they were slower moving and less violent (or at least less bloody) than fights between gladiators.
Normally executions would come before the gladiators, as the executions required little concentration on the part of the audience.
Equally, in any section of the program, Petronius favored using the less attractive 'performers' first - and he reserved the very attractive, and usually younger, 'performers' to when the audience was beginning to become blasé about the proceedings.
The first of the Pancratium contests was between two slightly older wrestlers.
Patronius had taken care to ensure that the least attractive of the pair was also the least experienced, and the weaker wrestler - in the relatively safe knowledge that the more attractive combatant would win.
It was a simple matter of the audience almost always preferring the good looking competitor to be the winner.
Beauty, nobility and success, it seemed, were always inseparable.
While most of the slaves used in the Ludus were given Latin names (see the PREFACE for information about Latin names - you will need to scroll down), Pancratium wrestlers were often Greeks, and were permitted to keep their Greek names.
The reason for this was that the Pancratium derived from the Greek Pankration.
Pankration - παγκράτιον was an event introduced into the Greek Olympic Games in 648 BC and was a combat contest with scarcely any rules. The athletes used techniques from boxing and wrestling but also other types, such as kicking and holds, locks and chokes on the ground. The only things not acceptable were biting and gouging out the opponent's eyes. The term comes from the Greek παγκράτιον [paŋkrátion], literally meaning "all of might" from πᾶν (pan-) "all" and κράτος (kratos) "strength, might, power". By the time of 'The Story of Gracchus', the Romans had adopted the Greek Pankration (spelled in Latin as Pancratium) into their Games. Pankration itself was an event in the Olympic Games for some 1,000 years.
The other main factor which was responsible for 'Greeks' (or at least slaves purporting to be Greek by having Greek names) being considered suitable for the Pancratium was the fact that the Pancratium was always staged with the combatants performing completely naked - as was the Greek custom.
The Romans were somewhat 'put off' by nakedness in the arena, apart from where executions were concerned (it was part of the humiliation of execution to be naked in public), and so Pancratium wrestler were always presented as being Greeks.

PROTEAS & THIBRON

So - for the first event of the Games we had Proteas, a very large, well muscled and experienced wrestler, put up against Thibron (both wrestlers named after famous Greek generals).
Thibron was not so good looking, not so muscular, and not so aggressive, and had very little fight experience - and Petronius was pretty sure that Thibron would lose the bout - which would be bad news for Thibron, as this bout, (like many Pancratium fights), was 'ad morte' (to the death).
Because weapons were not used in the Pancratium, killing your opponent usually meant either strangling (throttling) him, or breaking his neck.
Alternatives were stamping on the rib cage, or jumping on the man's back - to break the spine - both moves performed when the defeated opponent was lying flat on the sand
The good thing about the Pancratium was that it immediately caught the attention of the audience, manly because the wrestlers were naked.
The bout began with a lot of preliminary grappling before the pair really got started.
Right from the start Thibron was erect, probably in anticipation of fucking a defeated Proteas, however, trying to fight while sexually aroused was not the best strategy - despite the fact that it amused the audience.
Many Pancratium bouts were decided by blows to the groin, which were quite permissible.
This was the move that Thibron made, after a session of grappling on the sand.
It was a good move if it landed well, crushing the opponent's testicles, and completely disabling him.
Proteas Disables Thibron
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Thibron's attempt, however, was not completely successful, and the enraged Proteas grabbed his opponent from the rear by both arms.
Proteas then rammed his knee into the small of Thibron's back, and pulled his helpless opponent's arms wide and back.
The result was that both Thibron's shoulders were partially dislocated, and he was simply unable to fight.
"I 'give' !", Thibron groaned, looking up the the Pulvinar.
But it was a contest 'ad morte', so Petronius, bending over the Pulvinar balcony, waved Proteas on.
The Death of Thibron
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Thibron was still sitting on the sand, and Proteas first raised his fists in triumph, as the audience applauded, and then put his helpless opponent into a standing leg-scissors, with Thibron's head poking out between Proteas's thick, muscular thighs.
"Shit no !....", Thibron screamed.
"Mercy !...", - was Thibron's final plea, as Proteas grabbed his defenseless opponent's  head.
"Fuck !" Thibron groaned - long and loud, as his still stiff cock jerked up, and his seed squirted over his chest and belly in the moments before his neck was broken.
By then the audience had quietened down, fascinated by the scene, - and then, as Proteas forcefully twisted Thibron's head right round, there was an audible crunch as Thibron's spine snapped, followed by a long, noisy fart as the dead wrestler voided the stinking contents of his bowels onto the sand.
Proteas released his dead opponent's head, which flopped over at an impossible angle, and Thibron's body flopped back, his still stiff cock continuing to dribble the last of his semen onto the sand.
As Proteas raise his hands once again in triumph, the dribble from Thibron's twitching cock was no longer of creamy spunk, but rather pale steaming piss, as his bladder emptied.
Thibron and Charun
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
figure of Thibron derived from 
Felix d'Eon's 'Male Nude Stock'
Because of the debacle at the 'Munera pro Gracchus', when the munera gladiator Impavidus was found to be still alive when he arrived in the Spolarium, Petronius (with Marcus' agreement) had re-introduced the role of 'Charun'.
'Charun' was a masked arena slave who had the duty of ensuring that fighters who appeared to be dead - really were dead.
He would be accompanied by a slave with a red-hot iron, who would prod the possibly feigning fighter, and if there were any signs of life, he would use a large, heavy hammer to smash the skull of the fighter, and usually, just to make sure, decapitate the presumably now dead individual - and this was done with Thibron, despite the fact that his neck was obviously broken.
'Charun' was popular with audiences, and Marcus was unsure as to why the late Dominus had discontinued the practice in the arena.
Undoubtedly a smashed skull made a spectacular climax to a fight, and 'Charun' was a grim reminder of the fate of those who were defeated, and a link with the Etruscan origins of the Ludi, by way of the Munera.
In Etruscan mythology, Charun (also spelled Charu, or Karun) acted as one of the psychopompoi of the underworld. His name was imported from Greek Charon, although it is uncertain whether Etruscans had a native name for a god of the underworld before this.  In Roman amphitheaters a Charun-like figure, called Dispater, would hit the loser with a hammer to make sure he was dead. The hammer might also be used to protect the dead; it is sometimes swung at serpents attacking the deceased (as shown on the Orvieto amphora). An Etruscan krater from François Tomb depicts Charun with Achilles slaughtering Trojan prisoners (an inspiration for Marcus tableaux to appear later in the Luid)
Thibron's death was the first killing of the Ludi.
Theon immediately ordered the arena-slaves to drag the naked wrestler out of the arena, through the 'Porta Libitinaria', while Proteas was escorted through the 'Porta Sanavivaria'.
Quickly the mess that Thibron had left on the sand was shoveled up, and fresh sand was laid, ready for the next bout.
The Pancratium bouts continued - each one featuring younger wrestlers, and eventually coming to the boy-wrestlers, who were favorites of the audience.
DRACON & GLAUCUS

Dracon and Glaucus
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
it's not a mistake - the new arena -slave is left handed
Dracon and Glaucus appeared in the middle of the Pancratium program, being neither older and well muscled, or boy-wrestlers, who were usually 'gracile'.
Fortunately for Glaucus, Petronius had not scheduled this bout as 'ad mortem' (to the death), partly because both slaves were quite attractive, and he wanted the opportunity to use them again.
The boys put on a good fight and, much to the satisfaction of the audience, both lads early on became quite obviously very 'horny'.
Petronius, though, at this point in the Ludi had forbidden any fucking in the arena, as this would be reserved for later - after midday.
Glaucus was undoubtedly the weaker wrestler, and ended up over Dracon's knee having his balls twisted and crushed.
This obviously ended with Glaucus 'giving'.
Normally the fight would continue until the defeated fighter raised his finger (or his hand or whole arm) to signal to the 'Magister Harenam' (Petronius) that he was 'giving in' to his opponent, and the fight should stop.
Unfortunately for Glaucus he was unable to raise a hand or arm because of the position he was in.
His cries of "Stop !... I fuckin' 'give' !..", were initially not heard by Petronius, partly because he was talking to Demetrius, and partly because of the noise of the audience cheering, laughing and applauding.
Eventually, Petronius realized there was a problem, and signaled for Dracon to release the squirming, squealing boy.
In the end, Glaucus  had to be helped on his way to the 'Porta Sanavivaria' by two arena-slaves, as he was unable to walk after the vicious treatment that he had been given by Dracon.
As a recompense, Petronius tossed down some coins to the limping lad, as he passed close to the Pulvinar.

REFLECTIONS ON THE PANCRATIUM

While Marcus was quite used to the Pancratium - or Pankration as he had known it during his time in Athens', many Romans considered the Pancratium 'un-Roman' - firstly because it was Greek (and therefore not part of the original Munera), and also because of the nudity, and close physical contact, which could be viewed as distinctly 'sexual'.
Gladiatorial contests, on the other hand, avoided physical contact, as both combatants were armed.
The Pancratium, however, became increasingly popular, particularly as  Philhellenic culture was espoused by the ruling classes.
Nero, of course was a Philhellene, and so were those around him, including many who were closely involved in the 'Year of the Four Emperors'.
In addition, the late Dominus had been a Philhellene, and Marcus himself had been brought up in Athens.
Philhellenism ("the love of Greek culture") and Philhellene ("the admirer of Greeks and everything Greek"), from the Greek φίλος philos "friend, lover" and ἑλληνισμός hellenism "Greek", was an intellectual fashion prominent in Rome towards the end of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty.  The literate upper classes of Rome were increasingly Hellenized. There were however, some Romans during the late Republic, who were distinctly anti-Greek, resenting the increasing influence of Greek culture on Roman life, an example being the Roman Censor, Cato the Elder and also Cato the Younger who lived during the "Greek invasion" of Rome, but towards the later years of his life he eventually became a philhellene. The lyric poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace) was another philhellene. He is notable for his words, "Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit et artis intulit agresti Latio" - (Conquered Greece took captive her savage conqueror and brought her arts into rustic Latium), meaning that after the conquest of Greece the defeated Greeks created a cultural hegemony over the Romans. Roman emperors known for their Philhellenism include Nero, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius and Julian the Apostate.

It should be remembered that Baiae itself was far more Greek that Roman, having originally been a Greek colony before it became part of the Roman Republic. The overt sexuality of much of the Games should be viewed in the light of Roman culture which, at the time of our story had not been influenced by Jewish/Christian morality. Sex was seen as essentially healthy and natural, and this included sex between males (within certain social norms - see the Preface for more information). There is documentary evidence that the external arcades of amphitheater were the haunts of both male and female prostitutes during and after the Ludi - indicating that the events in the arena were found by many men to be highly arousing. These arcades were called "fornices," from which derives the English word "fornication".

AETOLUS & ION

'The final section of the Pancratium in the 'Ludi ad Auspicari Novam Aetatem' was a series of bouts between boy-wrestlers.
The most outstanding was a fight between Aetolus and Ion.
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
boy wrestlers derived from Felix d'Eon's 'Male Nude Stock'
The Boys Pancratium was based on the Greek example, when the boys (paides – παῖδες - boys) Pankration - (παγκράτιον) was established at the Olympic Games in 200 B.C - nearly 300 years before our story. The boys' Pancratium, in the Roman Games, was very popular, not so much because of the display of strength, endurance and wrestling skills, but more, not surprisingly, because the boys were, by and large, extremely attractive. While Marcus understood that there was a strong element of 'voyeurism' on the part of the audience, with regard to this event, he was at pains to give it a gloss of Greek professionalism. To this end, he had employed a Greek freedman called Timon, who had achieved Roman citizenship, as 'Palaestra Lanista' (wrestling coach) specifically to be responsible for the slave-boys who were used as Pancratium wrestlers in the Baiae amphitheater. Timon was independent of Theon, Petronius' deputy, (as Theon was a slave and was not permitted to have authority over a freedman), and was directly responsible to Petronius, and thereafter Marcus. During a Ludi, when the boys fought, he would take the duty of 'Referendarius Palaestra' - (Referee), beating the boys with his cane for any infringement of the rules (not that there were many rules) and, in addition, beating them for any lack of enthusiasm in their performance. His decision was also final with regard to the winner, if there was no submission, 'knock-out, or even death (unless Marcus declared otherwise), with regard to the winners and losers. He undoubtedly gave an aura of formality and respectability to the boys' bout, as he always wore a toga (as he was entitled to as a Roman citizen).
Ion's 'Victory Fuck' in the Arena
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
The boys, Aetolus and Ion, in this bout, were exceptionally slim, lithe and agile, which made for a 'fast-moving' contest.
From very early on both boys were also very 'aroused' - one of the main reasons why this aspect of the Games was so popular with audiences.
Timon had no need to intervene as the fight proceeded, and both boys kept to the rules, and fought with remarkable enthusiasm.

Both boys obviously hoped that they would be allowed, if they won, to sexually dominate their defeated opponent, as a public 'Futuo Victoria' (in plain English - victory-fuck) in the arena was something that all the boy-fighters aspired to.
As this was the last of the Pancratium bouts, and as the two good-looking boys were so popular with the audience, when Timon gave the victory to Ion, Petronius, (with the permission of Marcus) sent down a message from the Pulvianr to say that Ion could 'have his way' with Aetolus.
Ion immediately got Aetolus on the sand on his back, pulled his opponent's legs up and wide, and penetrated him - in good Roman style - despite the fact that Ion was a Greek slave.
After a magnificent fuck, Ion pulled out and, stepping back, allowed Aetolus legs to flop back onto the sand.
Then, surprisingly, he gave his defeated, and probably humiliated opponent a hand up, put his arm round the boy's shoulder, and the two of them strolled off to the 'Porta Sanavivaria', apparently the best of friends, to the tumultuous applause and cheers of the audience.


THE SUPPLICIA

The 'Punishments' - And so the first part of the Ludi ad Auspicari Novam Aetatem came to an end.
It was now approaching noon, and many of the audience had a snack, either in the amphitheater itself, or outside, in a thermopolium close by the amphitheater.
The guests in the Pulvinar, of course, had a light, airy atrium, where they were served snacks and wine by the arena slave-boys.
While they chatted about the sacrifices, Pompa, and the Pancratium wrestling, particularly the last bout, Petronius grabbed a bite, slurped some wine, and rushed down to the Ludus to give last instructions for the next part of the Games - the 'Supplicia' - the punishments of those condemned to the arena.
After about a half and hour, a fanfare from the trumpeters either side of the Pulvinar announced the start of the 'Supplicia'.
People hurried from the thermopolia, and the guests made their leisurely return to the Pulvinar.
This was the part of the Games that Marcus had been particularly looking forward to - the time when he would get his revenge.
When the guests returned to the Pulvinar, they saw opposite them a number of evil looking contraptions, mainly composed of black iron frames - designed by Petronius, and the work of the villa blacksmith, Vulcan (Vulcan had been one of the first people that Marcus, [or 'Markos' as he was], had met when he was first brought to the villa as a slave).
First on the agenda, however, were a number of common criminals - slaves who had been condemned to death in the arena by the local magistrates.
Marcus was under contract to perform these executions within a certain time limit, and for these slaves their time was up.
It should be noted that all these public executions were of slaves, as it was illegal to publicly execute Roman citizens - except in certain very exceptional circumstances - so.. (the death of Marcellus, in film 'The Robe', along with numerous other executions staged in films and TV series, are totally inaccurate). Equally, crucifixions, while a normal form of execution for slaves, were normally not carried out in the arena (so.. the scene in 'Demetrius and the Gladiators', where the arena is awash with 'Christians' on crosses is again inaccurate). Occasionally, in the Baiae Amphitheater, slaves were crucified, but only when this was combined with emasculation, impaling and/or disemboweling - to be 'finished off' with a slit throat. Normally crucifixion was a long drawn out affair (taking days) and was usually conducted on the roadsides leading into towns and cities - and no one was going to sit in an arena for two or three days, just to watch a slave being crucified.
Most of the common criminals - about ten in all, would simply be garroted (decapitation was not permitted for slaves).
The advantage of garroting was that it was relatively quick, although appallingly painful, and not too messy.
Then the arena could be quickly tidied up for the the elaborate tortures and executions that Petronius had prepared for the four who had conspired against Marcus.
The four, in case you need reminding, were Servius - the late Dominus' Tribune, Menelaus - the late Dominus' Magister pro Domo in Rome, Glykon -  Custos Portæ of the Villa at Baiae, and Petram - Iuvenes Gladiator.
Menelaus in the Stocks in the Ludus
Awaiting Execution
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
All four had been held, incommunicado, for many weeks in cells in the Ludus - not knowing anything of the happenings in the outside world, and unaware that their end had come on the fine day of the Ludi.

Thoughts about 'creepy dungeons' - Now if you have watched such mini series as 'Spartacus', in its numerous incarnations, or classic Hollywood movies about ancient Rome, you will have noticed that all prisons, torture chambers and gladiator schools are disgustingly filthy.
Are we to believe this ?
One point to consider that is that a filthy dungeon has lower 'production costs' movie-wise, than one that is clean, and maybe even elegant.
Strange as it may seem the Romans did use soap.The word sapo, Latin for soap, first appears in Pliny the Elder's 'Historia Naturalis', which discusses the manufacture of soap from tallow and ashes. The Romans' preferred method of cleaning the body, however, was to massage oil into the skin and then scrape away both the oil and any dirt with a strigil.  'Galen', the great doctor, describes soap-making using lye, and prescribes washing to carry away impurities from the body and clothes. This is significant reference to true soap in antiquity. It should be noted that the Roman Empire reigns supreme, by historical standards, in cleanliness, sanitation and water supply, and the Romans were well aware that dirt spread disease (although they didn't know why)
 But back to the Ludus.
The late Dominus, and also Marcus and Petronius, insisted that the Ludus was well kept, and clean.
By the standards of the day it was an expensive group of buildings, designed to be easily cleaned by slaves.
Being a place to house, feed and give medical care to slaves who fought in the arena, it was essential that infections were not spread.
Even the holding cells for condemned prisoners (such as Servius, Menelaus, Glykon and Petram) needed to be kept clean, as Petronius did not want the place crawling with cockroaches and other vermin that could spread infection to his valuable arena-slaves and arena-guards.
In the case of condemned prisoners Petronius had and interesting attitude towards presenting them to the audience.
Servius Chained in the Ludus
Awaiting Execution
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
The main intention of public executions and torture was as a deterrent to the spectators.
Petronius wanted the spectators to see the condemned as similar to themselves, (and not as hairy, dirty barbarians) - with the object of implying that such a fate could befall them if they infringed the Roman law - and this particularly applied to slaves - as there were many slaves in the audience (and even in the Pulvinar) accompanying their master and mistresses.
Petronius therefore made sure that condemned slaves, while held in the Ludus, should be fed adequately, allowed to sleep, be kept clean, and be regularly shaved.
He also permitted the wearing of loincloths, for the somewhat devious purpose of making their appearance in the arena, stark naked, all the more humiliating for them.
Servius, Menelaus, Glykon and Petram were confined to stocks during the day, to prevent possible escape), and were chained by the wrists to the walls at night, when they were given a clean, straw-filled mattress to sleep on.


EXSECUTIO SERVI

The Execution of Slaves - Before Servius, Menelaus, Glykon and Petram were to be executed, it was the time for the execution of condemned slaves.
Roman society, being obsessed with matters of status, had differing methods of execution depending on an individual's position in society.
Patricians, in normal circumstances, were never executed in public, and were usually given the option of suicide (sometimes assisted, however) - the usual methods being to 'fall on one's sword' (for military types), open a vein (usually in the wrists), or take poison.
For slaves, however, there were numerous kinds of execution, often depending on the nature of their (supposed) crime - standards of evidence being far from strict
In the case of the slaves at this Ludi, Petronius had decided to get this part of the proceedings over quite quickly.
This was a stroke of good fortune for the slaves concerned, (not that any form of execution could really be described as 'good'), as they were to be garroted.
Garroting Slaves in the Arena
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Garroting was usually quite a speedy death, but did involve a lot of humiliating writhing, squirming and thrashing around - which, of course, the audience enjoyed, particularly as the slaves who were being executed were naked.
Another feature of garroting which made it a popular spectacle was the fact that very often the victim of the garroting developed a very strong erection, (referred to as priapism), which often culminated in orgasm and ejaculation as they died.
The unfortunate slaves were led into the arena, with their wrists bound behind their back and wearing a brief thong.
Then, one at a time they were tied to an iron post, set in the arena floor.
Once tied, the slave, somewhat ceremoniously, had his thong removed - to be executed completely naked.
Thick cord was then looped round the slave's neck, and while the other slaves were forced to watch, an arena-slave inserted a metal bar through the cord loop, and then slowly twisted the bar - thus tightening the loop round the slave's neck.
Eventually, after a lot of useless struggling, the slave asphyxiated, and flopped forwards.
Checks were then be made that the slave was really dead, and the naked corpse was then be untied and pulled to one side, to make way for the next victim.
Servius, Menelaus, Glykon and Petram had all been led into the arena, along with the other condemned slaves, and Petronius intended that they would presume that they were to be executed in the same manner.
So, under guard, they watched the series of executions, unaware that their own execution would be neither as quick or a simple as the executions that they were then watching.
Once the garroting was over, the naked corpses were dragged to the 'Porta Libitinaria', while arena-slaves shoveled up the soiled sand, and removed the iron stakes that had been used to restrain the recently executed criminals.
New, fresh sand was then laid, and arena slaves fixed some new iron frames to the arena floor in preparation for the executions of Servius, Menelaus, Glykon and Petram.


PRODITORIBUS EXECUTIONES

The Execution of the Traitors - Having made preparations for the main executions, a cute, naked little slave-boy - who was attached to the Ludus, (maybe a future Petronius), paraded round the arena, holding a large placard, held modestly, apparently to hide his 'privates'.

The Execution of Prisoners who Betrayed their Master
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
On the placard was the following inscription, beautifully lettered by Apelles, so that even Quintus approved:
'Exsecvtione vinctos qvi traditur eorvm Dominvs'
roughly translated as - 
'The Execution of Prisoners who Betrayed their Master'

So... no one would be in any doubt as to why the 'gang of four' were to be publicly executed.
The audience were looking to the Pulvinar - and particularly to Marcus, who was leaning forward, eager to observe every detail of the ensuing executions.
The cheers and applause of the audience made it obvious that, without any direct publicity, the rumors that had circulated round the town, after Marcus' funeral oration, meant that everyone was satisfied that the four individuals in the arena were undoubtedly responsible for the attempt on the life of Marcus, and the murder of the late Dominus (Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus).
Theon indicated that Petram was the first of the four to be dealt with.
Regardless of the relatively quick deaths that he had seen the previous prisoners undergo, he had also seen the iron frames that had been erected opposite the Pulvinar, and he was sure that his death was going to be neither quick, nor easy.
Petram - Hung,Impaled, Fucked and 'Hard'
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Having been trained as a gladiator, even although his experience had been limited, he had known some killing, (see The Ludi for Nymphidius), but regardless, he was shaking and terrified as his shackles were taken off, and his tiny thong was cut away, and he was taken, naked, over to one of the iron frames.
The other three could only watch as their 'companion' was led away to his inevitable death.
In some ways Petram was the least guilty, having only supplied the conspirators in Rome with information - probably unintentionally, and Marcus had given orders to Petronius that Petram should be executed without excessive torture and humiliation.
Naked Petram was then bound by his legs, thighs, waist, chest and wrists, and hung from an iron frame.
One of the arena-slave then rammed a short, metal shaft into Petram's exposed anus.
Not content with penetrating the helpless boy, the arena-slave, scarcely older that Petram (who was only a teenager), then roughly fucked Petram with the shaft, while another arena-slave held Petram's shoulders, to prevent him from swinging uncontrollably.
Almost immediately Petram started to get aroused, and very soon had a huge erection.
Petram's writhing and wriggling then ensured that he remained 'hard' as his movements caused the shaft to move in his rectum.
And so the first prisoner was suitably humiliated, providing a good distraction for the audience while the other prisoners were attended to.


to be continued - more images to follow .........