Chapter IV - A Graccho Disputatio

 © Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016

 © Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
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Then, after an interval of over two weeks, Terentius fulfilled his promise, made on the day that Markos arrived at the Villa Auri, and came to speak to Markos once again.
"So .... young Markos, how are you finding things here at the villa Auri ?", Terentius began tentatively.
"I cannot complain, sir." Markos replied carefully.
"I find my work is not difficult, and I am well looked after."
"But I think that you do not find your work challenging enough, or interesting," Terentius interjected, "and I think that you may be lonely, as the other slaves are - quite rightly - wary of you.... and anyway, we do not want you getting too friendly with the other slaves.
Your place is with us."
While Markos knew that what  Terentius said was true, he found the freedman's last statement very puzzling.
Who did he mean by 'us', and why was it desirable for him to avoid friendships with the other slaves ?
"Come with me, Markos.", Terentius then said to the puzzled looking boy.
"There is someone who wants to meet you."

 © Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016

Obediently Markos followed Terentius at a respectful distance, as the young freedman strode through the main Atrium, and then through a doorway leading to a wide, elaborately decorated corridor.
The Entrance to Gracchus' Study
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
At the end of the corridor were a pair of imposing bronze doors, with gilded panels and decorations in the form of double 'G' monograms, surrounded by wreaths of laurel leaves.
On either side of the door were tall, young slave-boys.
As Terentius approached the doors, the slave-boys carefully swung them open.
Just before he went through the doors, Terentius turned to Markos.
"You are meeting your lord - so show respect !" he whispered.
The room, despite its huge double doors was not particularly large, and was obviously equipped as a study or an office.
Markos stepped into the room, hesitantly - and there, sitting relaxed and at ease was the lord of the Villa Auri, and much else besides.
This was  Gnaeus Octavius Gracchus.
"So, at last we meet, young Markos - or is it Marcus ?", Gracchus, said gently, with a smile playing round his lips.

Gnaeus Octavius Gracchus
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
"And in case you haven't realised, I am your master.
I am Gnaeus Octavius Gracchus."
" lord." Markos replied.
He was terrified, but was intent on not showing it.
"Terentius has told me much about you ...... but there is still much that remains a mystery."
Gracchus settled himself in his chair.
"As you may have guessed, Terentius was in Brundisium the night the ship bringing the consignment of slaves arrived.
Intrigued by your appearance and manner, he immediately made contact with the captain of the ship, feigning that he was interested in a troupe of dancing boys.
He took the captain to a waterfront tavern and plied him with wine .... and discovered that a boy answering your description had been accompanied by his parents on the boat they had attacked, and that both parents had been killed in the attack.
Terentius also discovered that the ship had come from Piraeus (but Gracchus used the Greek, 'Πειραιάς', to see if it would evoke any response from Markos), and, therefore, presumably from Athens."
"Yes, lord," Markos said, careful to agree with everything Gracchus was saying.
Gracchus then turned to Terentius.
"You may leave us now.
I will speak to you later."
Terentius thanked Gracchus, and walked towards the doors, which mysteriously opened as he left.
The doors then closed with a soft thud, and Markos was alone with Gracchus.
"So now we come to the question of who - or what - you are .....
Terentius arranged for Arion, a local slave-trader whom he knew well, to buy you from the captain.
The captain sold cheaply, because he wanted to get away to the safety of Alexandria, and sell the remainder of his cargo.
Arion being Greek, would hopefully gain your confidence, and you told him the strange story about being a Roman citizen, and the son of a Roman official in Athens.
I have had inquiries made, and there seems to be no Roman officials missing from Athens, but then things in Rome are very difficult at the moment, and their records may not be accurate.
You are obviously well educated .... but then many Greek boys are.
Unusually, as well as speaking Greek perfectly, you speak Latin, but with a strong Greek accent.
I am also informed that you read and write both Greek and Latin.
And your physique indicates that you have undergone a considerable amount of athletic training.
You, Markos...are a puzzle !"
Gracchus looked at the boy keenly, as if expecting a response, but Markos just stood looking down at he floor.
"So, anyway, to continue your story, Markos ..... Arion and Terentius had already agreed a price before the auction - which was really just a sham, and you were then brought to Baiae, and the Villa Auri.
As soon as you arrived Terentius explained the situation to me.
And he handed me this !"
And Gracchus held up Markos 'bulla', which dangled from its leather cord, and glitterd in the sunlight that pierced the shadows of Gracchus' study.
"So where did it come from ?" Gracchus asked, quite aggressively.
"It's mine, sir.
I've always had it - for as long as I can remember.", Markos replied, beginning to panic.
"And what is a little Greek boy doing with a 'bulla' - my I ask ?", Gracchus asked persistently.
"But it's mine....!", Markos replied, unable to explain the matter any further.
Grachus looked long and hard at Markos.
He then put the 'bulla' into an elaborately veneered ivory and gold box.
"Well.... young man... I will keep it for you - and who knows, one day we may find a use for it.", Gracchus concluded, smiling weakly at Markos, who was very nearly on the verge of tears.
Gracchus then settled himself in his chair, and perused a scroll on his marble topped table.
"And now I have to decide what to do with you."
Gracchus settled himself more comfortably in his chair.
"Tell me, Markos, would you like to continue your education ?"
"If it is your wish." Markos replied deferentially.
"Look, boy ! I want to know what you want, not what you think I want !"
This was a new, less pleasant side to the urbane, polite Gracchus that Markos had imagined his master to be.
Gracchus was obviously annoyed, even angry, and Markos was fearful.
"I'm sorry,... my lord.", Markos stuttered.
"Yes, my lord, I would very much like to continue studying."
"That's better !", Gracchus continued, recovering his calm pleasant demeanour.
"Send me Quintus !, he called to one of the slave boys standing near the door, in the shadows..
Quintus must have been standing just outside the door, because he appeared almost immediately.
"Markos, this is Quintus, one of my secretaries.
Quintus ! Take this down ! ....
"I will engage two tutors for Markos. One to continue his education in Greek, and the other to continue his education in Latin. Markos will therefore study grammar, rhetoric, lectio, partitio, Law and  philosophy, and I will obtain monthly reports from his tutors regarding his progress. I will also engage for Markos an athletics coach. His duties will be to coach Markos in using a javelin, to fight in armour, and to ride a horse, and also to box, to wrestle, and to swim."
Lectio is basically literary criticism. Partitio is the analysis of poetry. Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the capability of writers or speakers to inform, most likely to persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Roman tradition
 Have you got that, Quintus ?"
"Yes, Dominus", Quintus replied.
Now make a copy for Terentius, and bring me the original, and the copy, for me to sign and seal, and then give the copy to Terentius, and tell him to get to work on it !", Gracchus continued.
"Of course, Dominus !", and with that Quintus, and his wax tablets quickly disappeared.
 © Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
A wax tablet (cerae) is a tablet made of wood and covered with a layer of wax, often linked loosely to a cover tablet, as a "double-leaved" diptych. It was used as a reusable and portable writing surface in Roman times. Cicero's letters make passing reference to the use of cerae. Writing on the wax surface was performed with a pointed instrument, a stylus. Wax tablets were used for a variety of purposes, from taking down students' or secretaries' notes to recording business accounts. Early forms of shorthand were also used.
As Quintus made his way out of Gracchus study, Markos summoned up his courage and spoke.
"May I ask a question, my Lord ?"
"Of course my boy, and I will answer it, if I can."
Markos screwed up his courage.
"Why are you doing all this for me ?"
There was a long pause, and Markos felt that he had made a terrible mistake in asking such a question - but Gracchus was still smiling.
"It's very simple, Markos.
Because it pleases me......"
There was then an awkward silence, as Markos waited for the rest of the answer.
But that was it.
Gracchus was being, possibly, deliberately inscrutable.
"Send in Terentius !", Gracchus ordered one of the slave-boys.
Moments later Terentius arrived.
"I have decided to continue Markos' education, and his physical training.
You are to make all the necessary arrangements immediately.
I leave the choosing of  tutors to you.
His athletic coach shall be a young centurion, and I will arrange prolonged leave for him through the tribune Marcellus, who is one of my clients.
Quintus is even now transcribing my instructions from his wax 'scrawl' onto a decent roll of papyrus which I shall sign and seal.
 © Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
A centurion (Latin: centurio; Greek: κεντυρίων) was a professional officer of the Roman army after the Marian reforms of 107 BC. Most centurions commanded groups of centuries of around 100 men but senior centurions commanded cohorts, or took senior staff roles in their legion. Centurions were also found in the Roman navy. Being held personally responsible for the training and discipline of the legionaries under their command, centurions had a well-deserved reputation for firmness - which undoubtedly would be good for Markos.
 © Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
The word papyrus refers to a thick paper-like material made from the pith of the papyrus plant, Cyperus papyrus. Papyrus can also refer to a document written on sheets of papyrus joined together side by side and rolled up into a scroll, an early form of a book.
When you have the document in your possession, add an addendum, to be written by Markos in Latin, in which he states that he will study and train diligently, and get him to sign it - in Greek and Latin, and then you must witness it with your own signature as a freedman.
"Yes, Dominus !", Terentius replied looking somewhat surprised.
"As soon as Markos' tutors and his athletic coach are in place, Markos shall assist Glykon in the morning for only two hours, then have his midday meal, and then start studying with his tutors - Greek one day, Latin the next.
Later in the afternoon, when it is cooler, he shall work with his trainer until just before sunset and then bathe and have a massage.
In the evening he shall work on his studies, and be provided with a desk, papyrus scrolls, ink, pens, and sufficient oil and lamps to do so.
Is that clear ?"
"Yes, Dominus." Terentius replied.
"Now you may take the boy back to the entrance hall, and we shall speak more of this later."
"Thank you, Dominus.", Terentius said, as he turned to Markos.
"What do you say, boy ?"
"Thank you, my lord.", Markos echoed, mechanically and obediently, as Terentius hustled the overawed boy out of Gracchus' study.
What Markos didn't see, as he left, was the broad grin of Gracchus' face.

'and the story continues - as young Marcus begins his studies and his physical training under the watchful eye of Terentius, and finds a friend in the young centurion, Servius .......'

follow the link below for the full story and more exciting images......

© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016

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