Chapter XXXII - Marcus Vindicta

© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
© 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
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© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
this Chapter is at present under construction

After the funerals and the Munera there was a distinct sense of relief at the villa in Baiae.
Marble Cinerary Urn
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Preparations were then made by Novius and Terentius for the Cēna Novendiālis (Feast of the Nine Days) - to be held at the villa.
In one of the Peristyle gardens in the villa, (in the absence of the Mausoleum to be built at a later date) a temporary altar was erected, on which was placed a marble cinerary urn, (designed and carved in Neapolis) containing the ashes of the late Dominus.
At the Cēna (feast), prayers and a libation would be made to the Manes at the temporary altar, and that would conclude all the ceremonies of mourning.
Gaius Julius Caesar
reproduced with permission from
the Roman Principate
Later, when Marcus visited Rome, a more elaborate and 'precious' Cinerary Urn would be ordered, created in Parian marble with gilded bronze decorations.
Meanwhile, Petronius, somewhat relieved that all the funerary events were coming to an end, and feeling very satisfied with the highly successful 'Munera pro Gracchus' that he had organised (almost single handedly), was busy preparing the 'Ludi ad Celebra Recuperatione Marcus' - which was to be the vehicle for Marcus' revenge on those who had conspired against him, and brought about the death of his adoptive father, Gnaeus.
Temple of the Divine Julius - Rome
reproduced with permission from
the Roman Principate
Marcus knew his history well, thanks to his tutor Lucius and, having been given the name 'Octavianus', he, like Gnaeus before him, actively modeled himself on the first 'Princeps' - the 'Divine Augustus' - whose patron, like Marcus, was the God Apollo.
Octavian
Also like Marcus, Octavian was the adopted son of a great, wealthy and powerful man, in his case, Gaius Jullius Caesar (who had been declared a God, 'Divus Iulius', in 42 BC, by the Roman Senate), and who had been murdered as the result of a conspiracy.
Octavian had subsequently taken his revenge, running down and viciously killing the conspirators (the so-called 'Liberators').
Despite his youth, like Marcus, (he was only nineteen years old at the time), he had taken the revenge expected of a true Roman son.
Eventually, in 42 BC, Octavian had defeated Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus (who both wisely committed suicide, rather that being executed by Octavian), at the Second Battle of Philippi.
So, in a similar, but lesser manner, the new 'Octavianus' - Marcus, was intent on revenge.

Cleon - Emasculated and Impaled
Glykon - Awaiting Execution
Already the leader of the conspiracy against the House of Gracchus had been poisoned, and the slave-boy Cleon had been raped, emasculated and impaled, and left for dead in the woods between Baiae and Neapolis.

That left the four, who were still imprisoned in the Ludus.
Undoubtedly, like Cassius and Brutus, their minds would have turned to suicide, but they were carefully guarded, and would have to meet their end in the full public glare of the arena.

Petram - Awaiting Execution
Servius - Awaiting Execution
Menelaus - Awaiting Execution
Petronius' task was to devise various suitable ways of executing the four remaining conspirators.
In addition he would have to organize a suitable 'Pompa', one or two tableaux, a series of wrestling bouts, and of course the essential gladiatorial contests.
To begin with, Petronius could get little assistance from Marcus, as his 'Dominus' was still recovering from the stress caused by the death of Gnaeus, and the funeral, - combined with the suicide of Ariston, and then the Munera and also the subsequent funeral for Ariston.
And to make matters even more difficult Marcus, during that time, had to 'play the perfect' host to Titus, the son of the Emperor Vespasian, along with numerous other guests.
There was also one other matter worrying Marcus, which was Demetrius.
Since the funeral for Ariston, Demetrius had spent most of his time with Petronius.
Petronius and Demetrius
at the Beach
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
In the morning he would accompany Petronius to the Ludus (although he was never allowed to see the imprisoned conspirators, who were awaiting execution), where Petronius was making preparations for the 'Ludi ad Celebra Recuperatione Marcus', and, in the afternoon, Petronius would take the boy to the public Gymnasion in Baiae (as he wanted Demetrius to mix with other boys from outside the villa), and to the beach - as Demetrius was by then able to swim - after a fashion.
In the evening Demetrius would have lessons with his Greek and Latin tutors, and would later eat with Petronius, and then sleep in his own cublicum (Petronius was not 'predatory', unlike Menelaus and Servius)
The problem with Demetrius, however, was the fact that he was very withdrawn, and all the tumultuous events that had recently occurred seemed to provoke little response from him.
Novius put this down to the fact that Demetrius had been almost totally isolated when he was younger, at the Domus in Rome, and had obviously been badly abused for some considerable time by Menelaus, and then later, briefly, by Servius.
Having allowed Marcus a number of days to come to terms with all the recent tumultuous events, Petronius finally asked if Marcus was willing to acompany himself and Demetrius to the Ludus, and also to their favourite  thermopolium in Baiae.
Much to Petronius' relief, Marcus agreed.



In Thermopolium et Ludus

Early in the cool of the morning Marcus, Petronius and Demetrius went to the main entrance of the villa, where the  Magister Equitum, and his grooms were waiting for them with appropriate horses. - large and pure white for Marcus, large and pure black for Petronius, and a moderately sized Sorrel for Demetrius.
Where and when Demetrius had learned to ride, and who taught him no one had yet discovered - for , as has been noted, he was disturbingly reserved.
Interesting fact - the Romans did not use stirrups - as far as we know - so, to get on a horse it was necessary for a slave to go down on hands and knees, so that the rider could step on his back in order to mount, or alternatively some sort of stool or step could be used. For this reason, Romans were not keen on long equine journeys. 
It was, however, not a long journey - the road was wide, and they rode three abreast to the town of Baiae.
Marcus and Petronius were well known in the town - Marcus being the most affluent, prominent and influential of all the residents.
(Little did many of the inhabitants also realise that Marcus was their landlord - as all legal documents were handled and signed by Terentius on Marcus' behalf - and, of course, when they went to the beach, the beach, and therefore the sand - used often in the arena - was also owned by Marcus.)
Arriving at the Amphitheater, Marcus briefly inspected the condition of the structure - which was good, as most of it was refurbished and new, and the went through to the Ludus, and Petronius' office.
"So, how far have we got ?", Marcus asked Petronius, while slaves busied themselves laying out drawings and lists, and bringing wine, cheese, bread and olives.
"The gladiators and wrestlers have been selected - Lucius is preparing a  suitable panegyric - about you (at that point Petronius started grinning).
A panegyric is a formal public speech, often written verse, delivered in high praise of a person, and is a generally highly studied and undiscriminating eulogy. In Athens such speeches were delivered at national festivals or Games. The Romans generally confined the panegyric to the living, and reserved the 'funeral oration' (see Gracchus' funeral) exclusively for the dead. One may be able to understand, considering the close,intimate relationship between Petronius and Marcus, why Petronius should consider a panegyric praising Marcus to be somewhat amusing.
Then, attempting to look more serious, he continued, "Arrangements are being made for the executions - but I will speak with you about that later.", Petronius explained - nodding towards Demetrius.
"So.... that all sounds good.
Excellent - now let's see the gladiators, and the wrestlers.", Marcus said, handing his goblet to one of the slaves.
They then went back to the arena, where the senior arena-slaves were marshalling two groups of young men and boys - the gladiators and the wrestlers, into two rows.
The gladiators (facing Marcus from the right), were lined up, wearing only their wrist guards and brief loincloths.
The Wrestlers, divided into two groups - boys and young men, (facing Marcus from the left), and were completely naked, apart from silver slave-collars.
Marcus had decided to continue Gnaeus' tradition of including boy wrestlers in the Pancratium.
The Pankration (known to the Romans as the Pancratium) was first introduced at the thirty-third Greek Olympics in 648 BC. One of the interesting facts about pankration is that there weren’t weight divisions, as is the norm for every modern combat sport; there were no time limits either and, like gladiatorial fights, a contest would not finish until one of the two opponents surrendered or was killed. The wrestlers used techniques from boxing and wrestling, but also other techniques, 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 boy's pankration officially entered the Greek Olympic Games in 200 BC. In Greek practice boys always fought against boys, but in Gracchus' Roman arena boys were often required to fight fully grown men - and usually lost the fight. The Pankration wrestlers were low status performers in the arena, - looked down on by the gladiators as they fought naked, and often the losing wrestler was publicly raped before being killed.
As regards the line of naked wrestlers, by this time young Demetrius seemed to be unaffected by male nudity.
Domus Gracchi - Rome
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
As far as could be judged, he had never attended any Ludi held in Rome while he was living at the 'Domus', and so had not seen public displays of nudity, or killings or executions, for that matter.
Equally, being kept practically in 'incommunicado', Demetrius was not allowed to attend the public baths, where nudity was commonplace, but instead used the lavish bathing facilities at the 'Domos Gracchi'.
The first time that Demetrius encountered male nudity (apart from when forced to have sex), was when Petronius took him to the beach at Baiae, to teach him to swim, and when he went to the Baiae public gymnasion, where most of the boys followed the Greek practice of exercising naked (hence gymnasion - meaning in Greek a place to exercise naked).
For Marcus, having been brought up in Athens, and spending much of his early years 'hanging around' the Athenian gymnasia, male nudity was of no consequence, and Petronius, being responsible for the training of the gymnasts, wrestlers and gladiators was equally unfazed.
As for the combination of nudity and violence, Demetrius had been present at the 'Munera pro Gracchus', and equally seemed unaffected by what he had witnessed.
Of course, it should be remembered that Demetrius, at that stage, had very little understanding of who Gnaeus Gracchus was or, for that matter, the man's significance, apart from the scant information that Novius had given him.
All that, however, was for the moment behind them, and it was Marcus' task, while Petronius and Demetrius looked on, to approve the individuals that had been selected to appear in the new 'Ludi'.
Some of the boys parading were no older than Demetrius, but all being well, there was a good chance that many of them, along with the older combatants, would survive these 'Ludi' as, unlike previous the 'Munera', the contests in the Ludi were not 'ad mortem' (to the death).
It was only the executions, and possibly some tableaux that would involve any killing.



to be continued and more images to be added.......