The Story of Gracchus - Preface

© Copyright Peter Crawford2017
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warning: this section features nudity and sexually explicit text and images
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© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2017
featuring Markos the slave-boy
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2016
reproduced with permission from 'The Roman Principate'

Sibyl of Cumæ
'Now is the last age of the song of Cumæ - and the great line of the centuries begins anew.
Now Virgo, and the reign of Saturn returns;
now a new generation descends from heaven on high.
A second Tiphys shall then arise, and a second Argo, to carry chosen heroes; and a second warfare too, there shall be, - and again great Achilles shall be sent to Troy.'

- And now, Marcus again leaves Athens for Rome, Gracchus shall once more die a bloody death, Petronius shall ever smile,
and a little owl shall watch over the golden boy from the sea....
and all shall be retold - time without end,
as the Sybil weaves her endless magic spell....

  Vigil -  adapted from the 'Eclogue'

Publius Vergilius Maro (October 15, 70 BC – September 21, 19 BC), usually called Virgil in English, was the preeminent Roman poet. His 'Aeneid' has been considered the national epic of ancient Rome from the time of its composition to the present day. Virgil was the favoured poet of the Divine Augustus (Octavian), and was also the favourite poet of Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus - and Gracchus ensured that his favourite slave-boy, Markos, studied Virgil with a thoroughness that only his Latin tutor, Lucius, could provide. 
The quote from the 'Eclogue' indicates clearly the difference between the contemporary view of time, as espoused by the relatively uneducated contemporary majority, and the view of time held by the ancient Romans (at the time of this story). Contemporary society is tainted by the Judaic, Christian, Islamic tradition, which views time as a linear phenomena - moving toward a 'culmination' in a projected future. In all the previous thousands of years of history, and in almost all other cultures and societies, time was seen as cyclic - with no beginning and no end - which is very much in accord with the speculations of many present day cosmologists and physicists and, of course, with Nietzsche's theory of 'Eternal Recurrence'. So the characters in our story believed themselves to be existing in an 'eternal present', and for them, our sense of  'progress', and of moving towards an eventual temporal culmination is totally alien, - and this should be borne in mind when considering the actions and motivations of the characters in this story.
The rise and fall of a great empire cannot fail to fascinate us, for we can all see in such a story something of our own times.
But of all the empires that have come and gone, none has a more immediate appeal that the Empire of Rome.
It pervades our lives today: its legacy is everywhere to be seen.

It is generally agreed that the Roman Empire was one of the most successful and enduring empires in world history.
Its reputation was successively foretold, celebrated and mourned in classical antiquity.
There has been a long after-life, creating a linear link between Western society today, and the Roman state, reflected in religion, law, political structures, philosophy, art, and architecture.
Because of this, the Roman Empire has become the focus of many fantasies, and much that is imagined and unreal.
Lauded in much modern literature, and even mass media as an exemplary and beneficent power, it was also a bloody and dangerous autocracy.

Rome began as a small town on the Tiber river, and grew into a powerful force for civilization, law, and order in the ancient world.
The Roman Republic, and its successor, the Empire, was a federation of teeming cities linked by arrow-straight roads.
Its much lauded, but only apparent peace and prosperity - the legendary 'Pax Romanum' - were safeguarded by the powerful legions, that held back the barbarian hordes.
But Rome also had a darker side: the cruelty of mass slavery and the bloody arena, the greed and opulence of the upper class, the unruly mobs pacified by bread and circuses, and the tyranny of many of the emperors, such as Caligula and Nero.
The Empire eventually fell into darkness, but its ghost haunted the Middle Ages, and inspired the Renaissance - and still haunts us today.


Our story is an attempt to bring just a small part of the world of that great empire to life - without the fantasy and unreality that has dogged so many tales set in that time,
The story of Gracchus, which features the slave-boy Markos,  is set at a time around the end of the reign of the Emperor Nero (right).

After the collapse of the Republic, the Empire, under the leadership of Gaius Octavian Augustus (left) - the Princeps (emperor), - had enjoyed a sustained period of peace, prosperity and growth, (the 'Pax Romana'), and this continued under his adopted heir Tiberius.
There then followed the brief, but in some ways chaotic reign of Caligula, followed by the relative peace and stability of the Principate of Claudius. More disruption, however, followed with the reign of philhellene, Nero.
This period - from Augustus to the death of Nero - is usually referred to as the 'Principate of the early Empire', to distinguish it from the Republic, and the even earlier Kingdom of Rome.
It should be borne in mind, when reading this account (the fictional 'Story of Gracchus'), that the culture of Rome, while superficially familiar to us, was in fact radically different in many aspects to European and American culture as they stand today.


Part of the blame for the superficial familiarity that our awareness engenders when we think of Rome is the result of plays (from Shakespeare to Shaw, and beyond), books (Lloyd C Douglas, 'The Robe' and General Wallace's 'Ben Hur'), and of course the plethora of films, from Cecil B. DeMille right up to the appalling 'Gladiator'.
The nearest that any works, either in drama, film or literature has ever approached to the 'real Rome' has been the film by Fellini of Pertonius' 'Satyricon', and television series, aptly named 'Rome' - created by John Milius, William J. MacDonald and Bruno Heller.
With the image of Rome such a powerful recurring theme in Western culture, and it is not surprising that it has played such a major role in the cinema, however, it is the filmmakers of just three countries who have mainly turned to ancient Rome for inspiration: Italy, the United States, and Britain.

The film industries of France and Germany have rarely drawn upon their countries' distant histories as province or adversary, respectively, of the Roman Empire for filmic themes.
Neither have Spanish filmmakers even though the Iberian peninsula settled down to be a loyal province after fiercely resisting Roman conquest for 200 years, even contributing two emperors, Hadrian and Trajan, and the philosopher Seneca.
Of course, the major factor is economics, because historical spectaculars that require the recreation of ancient buildings and cities, and the clothing of thousands of extras in period costumes, have always been extremely expensive.
But other factors are also operative such as culture and differing historical perspectives.
The Roman Empire at its peak of power and territorial extent also coincided with the pivotal event of the formation of European culture - the establishment and expansion of Christianity
The epic story of the birth of Christianity in the eastern extremity of the Roman Empire, and the subsequent spread of Christian teachings to the very heart of the great city of Rome would be an irresistible topic for generations of film-makers in various countries.
The 'Satyricon' (left), however, avoids any mention of Christianity, doubtless because it is based on a 'fantasy novel' actually written by a 'pagan' Roman.
It is a depiction of Roman society at the time of Nero, and is vastly more accurate than, say, 'Quo Vadis' or 'Barabas', which are basically 'plugs' for protestant Christianity, and the 'American Way'.
'Fellini Satyricon', or simply 'Satyricon', is a 1969 Italian fantasy drama film written and directed by Federico Fellini and somewhat loosely based on Petronius's work 'Satyricon', written during the reign of the emperor Nero and set in imperial Rome. The 'Satyricon liber' ("The Book of Satyrlike Adventures), is a Latin work of fiction believed to have been written by Gaius Petronius, though the manuscript tradition identifies the author as a certain Titus Petronius. The Satyricon is an example of Menippean satire, which is very different from the formal verse satire of Juvenal or Horace. The work contains a mixture of prose and verse (commonly known as prosimetrum); serious and comic elements; and erotic and homo-erotic passages. As with the 'Metamorphoses' (also called 'The Golden Ass') of Apuleius, classical scholars often describe it as a "Roman novel", without necessarily implying continuity with the modern literary form.
HBO 'Rome'
More recently, the television series 'Rome' 1 and 2, (right) has depicted the Empire in a slightly earlier period, at the time of Julius Caesar and his nephew and heir, Gaius Octavian.
Although its chronology was not quite right, and some of the events were, on occasions, invented, its general depiction of ancient Roman culture and society, particularly the aspects of Roman politics, sexuality and violence, was far more accurate than any previous depiction of Ancient Rome.
The Roman Empire, of course, was a pre-Christian society, and was the last great flowering of Classical Civilization.
The 'Story of Gracchus' takes a similar approach to the 'Rome' Series, interweaving fictional characters, (Gracchus, Marcus, Terentius, Petronius etc) into an actual historical setting (Nymphidius, Nero, Galba Otho, Vitellius, Titus, Vespasian etc), however, unlike the TV series, the 'Story of Gracchus' maintains the actual chronology and factual nature of the events portrayed, and does not introduce absurdities, such as a Roman Legionary fathering Caesarion - Ptolemy XV Philopator Philometor Caesar - (actually the child of Gaius Julius Caesar and Cleopatra VII Philopator).
The greatest historical inaccuracy of the 'Rome' series, however, did not involve representation of Roman culture, which was of a very high standard, but rather the presentation of Ptolemaic culture,  - representing the court of Cleopatra as barbarically 'Egyptian', when in fact it was sophisticated, and thoroughly Hellenistic.
Perhaps the name of the company producing the series explains the lack of historical accuracy - HBO 'Entertainment'.

for more information about Ancient Rome and the Cinema see



During the time dealt with in this story (The Story of Gracchus) there were, of course, Christians in the empire.
These were mainly of two kinds - the Jewish Christians, whom most people today would not recognize as Christians.
These Jewish Christians worshipped in the Synagogues, and in the Jerusalem Temple, and it was only their conviction that the Messiah (Joshua - Latinized to Jesus) had finally come that distinguished them from their so-called 'Christian' co-religionists.
The other 'Christians', that could be found in small numbers in Rome, some towns in Italy, and some of the cities of Asia Minor would be equally unrecognisable to today's Christians.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2016
reproduced with permission from
'The Roman Imperium'
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2016
reproduced with permission from
'The Roman Imperium'
These 'Followers of the Way', as they were called at the time, were part of the religious phenomena referred to as 'mystery religions', which were a prominent feature of Roman and Hellenistic society.
Their religious writings (those surviving are among the writings of the Hellenized Jew and Roman citizen, Paul of Tarsus) made no reference to Nazareth, Bethlehem, 'wise men' from the East, Shepherds, or the long and involved 'passion narrative'.
Their 'Jesus' (a Latin name), was a young god who died and then rose again, like Osiris, Dionysus, and Attis (right).
When they painted his likeness, they did not depict a Jewish rabbi, with long hair and a beard, but a young, cleanly shaved, short-haired Hellenic god, looking suspiciously like 'Sol Invictus' (left), or the Hellenistic Helios (below), or they represented him as an equally young, Hellenistic looking god tending his sheep, like the Phrygian god, Attis - and they did not use the symbol of the cross.
Art is silent for the first 150 years of Christianity, with no Christian images being made - but no one knows why there is this lack of imagery. Christian images first start to appear in the 3rd century, in Rome, (long after 'The Story of Gracchus') in the form of funerary art – sarcophagi, wall and ceiling paintings in the catacombs. However, this art concerns itself with the afterlife, not with possible events from the life of Jesus. From its onset, and for its first 200 years, Christian art deliberately avoids the subject of crucifixion. The very first work of art portraying the crucifixion dates to the 5th century CE.
The numbers of Christians in the Empire however, for a number of centuries, was so small that, contrary to popular imagination, they had very little impact on the social mores of the people in general, and you may be relieved to know that no Christians appear in the 'Story of Gracchus'.
So ..... during the period covered by the 'Story of Gracchus', the Empire is a pre-Christian, 'pagan' society and, as such, is very different from our own society.
Paganism is a term that developed among the Christians of southern Europe during late antiquity to describe religions other than their own. Throughout Christendom, it continued to be used, typically in a derogatory sense. The original word is Latin slang, originally devoid of religious meaning. Itself the word derives from the classical Latin 'pagus' which originally meant 'region delimited by markers', 'paganus' had also come to mean 'of or relating to the countryside', 'country dweller', 'villager'; by extension, 'rustic'. The later use referred to people who followed the religion of the traditional classical gods of Greece and Rome, along with the mores and morals associated with such beliefs.

In order to produce a believable and, where possible, a realistic story, it has been deemed necessary to attempt to make a literary reconstruction Roman society.
This, however, is a task fraught with difficulty.
It was the elite of the Empire, - the Emperors, senators, equestrians, and the local elites, - (the magistrates, town and city councillors and priests), who produced almost all the literature and the material culture which we think of as being, essentially, 'Roman'.
  • The Roman Senate was, initially the council of the republic, and at first consisted only of one hundred Senators chosen from the Patricians. They were called 'Patres', either on account of their age or the paternal care they had of the state. The word senate derives from the Latin word 'senex', which means "old man". Therefore, senate literally means "board of old men."
  • The Equites (Latin: eques nom. singular) constituted the lower of the two aristocratic classes of ancient Rome, ranking below the patricians (patricii), a hereditary caste that monopolized political power during the regal era (753 to 509 BC) and during the early Republic (to 338 BC). A member of the equestrian order was known as an 'eques' (plural: equites). 
  • Roman magistrates were elected officials in Ancient Rome. Each vicus (city or town neighborhood) elected four local magistrates (vicomagistri) who commanded a sort of local police force chosen from among the people of the vicus by lot. Occasionally the officers of the vicomagistri would feature in certain celebrations (primarily the Compitalia) in which they were accompanied by two lictors
It was the 'Imperial Elite' who stood at the summit of the Roman socio-economic pyramid.
To qualify as part of this elite a person had to be worth more than 400,000 sesterces.
The Sestertius, or Sesterce, (pl. sestertii) was an ancient Roman coin. During the Roman Republic it was a small, silver coin issued only on rare occasions. During the Roman Empire it was a large brass coin. The name Sestertius (originally semis-tertius) means "2 ½", the coin's original value in Asses, and is a combination of semis "half" and tertius "third", that is, "the third half" (0 ½ being the first half and 1 ½ the second half) or "half the third" (two units plus half the third unit, or halfway between the second unit and the third). The Sestertius was also used as a standard unit of account, represented on inscriptions with the monogram HS. Large values were recorded in terms of 'sestertium milia', thousands of Sestertii, with the 'milia' often omitted and implied. The hyper-wealthy general and politician of the late Roman Republic, Crassus (who fought in the war to defeat Spartacus), was said to have had 'estates worth 200 million sesterces'.
Among the possible 50-60 million people in the Roman Empire, at the time of our story, there were probably only 5,000 adult men (women were not counted), possessing in excess of 4000,000 sesterces.
An average of 100 adult males in each of the 300 or so cities or major towns in the empire would provide another 30,000 odd very wealthy individuals.
Because of the steep socio-economic gradient in the Roman world, the elite probably held in excess of 80 percent of the total wealth of the empire.
One of the great social problems of the ancient world was the lack of what we would term a 'middle class' - and, of course, the huge number of slaves.
As has been said, it was these elite individuals who wrote Roman history, either as literature, or in the form of architecture and art - and it is from them that we gain our (possibly distorted) image of ancient Roman civilization.
This story ('The Story of Gracchus') focuses, for much of the initial narrative on the lives of slaves, and those who have little power or influence - tutors, Roman officers, freedmen, slave traders, gladiators and the like.
There is some information about such people, and with some research we can, to a reasonable extent, reconstruct the lives, hopes and fears of such individuals.


The Poor

The poor of the Empire, in general, lived mainly in the countryside, scratching a living as subsistence farmers - or lived in small towns as labourers, porters and 'day workers'.
From the time of Gaius Julius Caesar onwards many of theses peasants were driven off their small-holdings, as the land was allocated to disbanded or retired Legionaries, or was acquired by patrician landlords.
Most of the land was then worked by slaves, and the landless peasants were forced into the cities.
Once in the cities such individuals were often unable to find work - and the unemployed citizens became a source of civil unrest, and a continuing problem for the Roman authorities.
Many were supported, to some extent, by the state, and 'scraped by' with casual work.
Such individual either 'slept rough', or were crowded into insanitary and unsafe 'insula'.

Roman Insula
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
In Roman architecture, an insula (Latin for "island," plural insulae) was a kind of apartment building that housed most of the poor urban citizen population of ancient Rome, including some people of lower middle class status (the plebs). The traditional, elite and the very wealthy (like Gracchsu) lived in a domus, a large single-family residence, (but also often owned additional villas), but the two kinds of housing were intermingled in the city, and not segregated into separate neighbourhoods. The ground-level floor of the insula was used for 'tabernae', shops and businesses, with the living space upstairs. Living quarters were typically smallest in the building's uppermost floors, with the largest and most expensive apartments being located on the bottom floors. The insulae could be up to six or seven stories high, and despite height restrictions in the Imperial era, a few reached eight or nine stories. The upper floors were without cooking facilities, heating, running water or lavatories, which meant their occupants had to use Rome's extensive system of public toilets (latrinae).

It was almost impossible for a member of the plebeian class to become rich - in fact it was more likely for a slave - on attaining his freedom - to attain riches, that for someone who was born a free citizen, but poor.
In Roman society there was a certain amount of social mobility, but it only came about through contact and involvement with the patrician classes.

A number of characters in 'The Story of Gracchus' become relatively rich and successful - for example Terentius, Petronius and Demetrius  (all starting as slaves and gaining their freedom) - and of course Marcus, who becomes fabulously wealthy.

The Rich

The wealthy, usually referred to as aristocrats, nobles or patricians, in almost all cases inherit wealth, which is in the form of land and property.
Patricians do not normally work, or become involved in any business activities.
The acceptable activities of a patrician are politics (which inevitably involves the military), literature and the arts - and other basically non profit making activities.
In the 'Story of Gracchus', Gnaeus Gracchus spends his time studying Roman and Etruscan religion and Greek mythology, and he has his own amphitheatre, which is run on a non profit making basis - as a hobby.
Gracchus does make very large sums of money every year, but like other patricians, he has freedmen (such as Terentius) to manage his financial affairs for him.
A patrician's time has to be his to manage, and he cannot be constrained by the requirements of 'making a living'.
This is a major flaw in Roman economics, as those who create wealth in the empire -  plebs, slaves and freedmen - are looked down on by those who rule the empire - and the patrician rulers have no understanding of the economic requirements of the Empire.
The world of the rich is totally different to that of the poor, or even the moderately wealthy small middle class.
The rich live in a huge Domus or Villa - (and in fact have multiple residences), and are constantly surrounded by hundreds of servants (slaves).
Quite literally they never have to 'lift a finger'.
One strange feature of this situation is that patricians are almost never alone - whether they are bathing, attending to their most intimate toilet activities, sleeping, having sex, eating, studying, entertaining, visiting friends or associates etc.
This, of course, can cause problems, as slaves can become too intimately connected with their masters, and also become privy to events and information which could subsequently be incriminating.
Roman history is littered with such situations.

(For more information about slaves and slavery see below - and go to: 'The Roman Principate - Slavery in Ancient Rome')

In the 'Story of Gracchus', Gnaeus Gracchus and Marcus Gracchus are comparatively frugal with their personal use of slaves, Gnaeus having only one slave-boy, Ariston, and the ever present Terentius - once a slave, and subsequently Gnaeus' senior freedman.
Marcus has only two slave-boys, Adonios and Aurarius, and his Tribune, Petronius (once a slave and subsequently a freedman - who acts as a close adviser, friend and bodyguard).
However, the House of Gracchus owns three main properties in Italy - a large villa at Baiae, a palatial Domus in Rome, and a large villa at Tibur - and other properties elsewhere - in Greece and Egypt, requiring literally hundreds of slave to manage and run them.


A lot of rules govern how the Romans take their names.
Traditionally, every male Roman has a nomen, the name of his family line, and a praenomen, which is a personal name that precedes his nomen.
Most of the praenomens are very common, (the Romans were very unimaginative when creating first names), and so few, that  Romans tended to write the praenomen as simple initials (so, for example, Quintus Horatius would write his name “Q. Horatius” and Sextus Pompeius would write his “Sex. Pompeius” and Marcus Octavianus Gracchus would be written "M. Octavianus Gracchus").
Noble, rich, distinguished or famous Romans often have at least one cognomen, which described some memorable achievement or characteristic.
After a while, these can become hereditary names in their own right, and sons adopted as heirs to famous families would often take the nomens and cognomens of their own families and their adoptive families as cognomens in their own right. P. Cornelius, for example, had the family cognomen “Scipio.”
When he defeated Hannibal, he gained the name “Africanus” in honor of his campaign.
At some point in the past, Marcus Aurelius Claudius’s family married into the Claudii, which is why he had the nomen Claudius as his cognomen.
When he defeated the Goths at the Battle of Naissus, he also earned the cognomen Gothicus, which he simply attached to the end of his name.
'Plebeian' (plebs - the common people) cognomens tended to be more prosaic, and sometimes obscene.
A butcher might gain a name such as Lucanicus (“sausage”); a criminal or a male prostitute might just as easily have a name such as Encolpius (“arse-crack”).
Cognomens and nomens came in different versions.
Often, they vary by changing the -us or -ius suffix for -inus, -ianus or even -inianus, so, for example, the cognomen Maximus can and does become Maximius, Maximinus, Maximianus and Maximinianus - (Octavian becomes Octavianus, and Vespasian becomes Vespasianus)
A name that ended in - ns - such as Florens or Constans - could change in the same way, only changing the “s” for a “t,” so Florens becomes Florentius, Florentinus, Florentianus and Florentinianus.
Women usually had only their father’s or husband’s nomen, although some had a cognomen as well.
Women’s names could have the same variations, but always ended in -a rather than -us.
Slaves usually only have one name.
This can be their own given name (relatively rare), which could be anything from Athalamer to Joseph to Xystus, depending on where the slave originally came from.
On the other hand, the slave was often given a name by his master - and the name might be more descriptive, such as Myrmex (“ant”) or Onesimus (“useful one”).
In the 'Story of Gracchus' Terentius buys a young slave boy for Gracchus.
Having been simply called 'Boy' for most of his life, the slave has forgotten his real name, and actually has the name 'Boy' - (Pusus).
'Boy' is later given the name 'Aurarius' (meaning golden one - because of the color of his hair), as required in a prophecy from the Cumaean Sibyl.
English-speaking writers sometimes leave the -us from the end of Roman names, so, for example, we often write Pompeius as “Pompey,” Valentinianus as “Valentinian” and “Augustinus” as “Augustin” or “Augustine.”
In the end, most Romans knew each other by only one or two of their names, whether praenomen, nomen or cognomen, no matter how many names they actually had.
M. Aurelius Claudius Gothicus Augustus might be a mouthful, but since everyone simply knew him as Claudius Gothicus, it wasn’t a problem.
Thascius Egnatianus Hostilinus Numida Pestilens is, to his contemporaries, Thascius Hostilinus, or sometimes just Pestilens.
In 'The Story of Gracchus., our main character, Marcus, normally has only three names.
One is his given name - Marcus - two more are from his adoptive father, Octavianus Gracchus.
However, he could legally use Marcus Gaius Agrippa Aelianus Octavianus Gracchus - as he was also entitled to his natural father's names.
Equally his name could be abbreviated to M. Octavianus - which he favored - relating himself to the 'Divine Augustus'.


Rome was originally a small village on the banks of the River Tiber.
As the years passed, the sheer aggression and drive of the original settlers forged a vast Empire (which in the end they were completely unable to control or direct).
The reason for Rome's aggressive and thrusting rise to power lay in the Roman attitude to morality, which they had inherited from the 'heroic age' of the Hellenic world.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2016
reproduced with permission from
'The Occult History of the Third Reich'
In this 'heroic' morality, (perfectly described in the wrings of the German philosopher Frederich Nietzsche) ‘good’ picks out exalted and proud states of mind, and it therefore refers to people, not actions, in the first instance.
Bad’ means ‘lowly’, ‘despicable’, and refers to people who are petty, cowardly, or concerned with what is useful, rather than what is grand or great.
The good-bad dichotomy identifies a hierarchy of people, the noble masters or aristocracy, and the common people. - 
in Rome the patricians and the plebeians and, of course, slaves.
The noble person only recognises moral duties towards their equals; how they treat people below them is not a matter of morality at all - and this, of course lies at the basis of slavery - a key theme in the 'Story of Gracchus'.
The good, noble person has a sense of ‘fullness’ – of power, wealth, and ability.
From the ‘overflowing’ of these qualities, not from pity, they will help other people, including people below them.
Noble people experience themselves as the origin of value, deciding what is good or not.
Good’ originates in self-affirmation, a celebration of one’s own greatness and power.
They revere themselves, and have a devotion for whatever is great.
But this is not self-indulgence: any signs of weakness are despised, and harshness and severity are respected.
A noble morality is a morality of gratitude and vengeance.
(Marcus display his vengeance when he has opponents executed in the arena.)
Friendship involves mutual respect, and a rejection of over-familiarity, while enemies are necessary, in order to vent feelings of envy, aggression and arrogance.
All these qualities mean that the good person rightly evokes fear ( as Marcus does) in those who are not their equal, and a respectful distance in those who are.
This struggle between masters and slaves recurs historically.
According to Nietzsche, ancient Greek and Roman societies were grounded in master morality.
The Homeric hero is the strong-willed man, and the classical roots of the Iliad and Odyssey exemplified Nietzsche's master morality.
Historically, master morality was defeated as the vicious 'slave morality' of Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, causing the noble classical culture to be destroyed.


In attempting to reconstruct Roman society, it is essential to take into account the immense significance that religion had on Roman attitudes to all aspects of life, from marriage, to sexuality, the family and the home, and most significantly the political decisions taken by the state.
Roman religion was basically 'syncretic', deriving many features from the cults of Latium, Eturia and Alba Longa - the precursor of Rome.
In addition there was the influence of Greek colonies in the south of the Italian peninsular.
From a range of deities adopted from the Greeks, the Romans altered the gods' identities, but left their characters unchanged.
Jupiter Optimus Maximus
The Greek king of the gods, Zeus, was in Rome the god Jupiter.
The Romans believed that Jupiter granted them supremacy because they had honoured him more than any other people had. Jupiter was "the fount of the auspices upon which the relationship of the city with the gods rested." He personified the divine authority of Rome's highest offices, internal organization, and external relations. The cult of 'Iuppiter Latiaris' was the most ancient known cult of the god: it was practised since very remote times near the top of the Mons Albanus on which the god was venerated as the high protector of the Latin League under the hegemony of Alba Longa.
Hera was called Juno, Aphrodite was called Venus.
Most of the Greek gods could be found in Rome: going through the same drama, the same complications and conflicts.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2016
reproduced with permission from 
'The Roman Imperium'
Both cultures, Greek and Roman, incorporated the idea that the gods were susceptible to making mistakes, much like humans.
Gods and goddesses were just as likely to fall into temptation as mortals, in fact, Roman gods were even prone to sexual liaisons, both heterosexual and homosexual, as their Greek counterparts.
Beginning in the culture of the Greeks, and then moving onward through that of the ancient Romans, there was also a tangled parallelism of human and divine action.
In the absence of rational explanations for what the people of these cultures witnessed around them, it seemed as if everything that happened, good or bad, was due to the intervention of the gods.
Military triumphs were seen as a sign of the celestial rewards, regardless of the comparative strength of the armies involved.
Defeats were seen as an example of divine retribution, and an indication that certain gods demanded to be appeased.
During the intense battle sequences depicted in the last book of 'The Aeneid', Aeneas is badly injured. For a moment, it looks as if he would not survive.
However, instead of leaving it to happen naturally, Aeneas' mother, the goddess Venus, intervenes.
There were all types of religious and mythological examples found sprinkled throughout Virgil's epic, all leading to the adoption of the mythology and beliefs of the Greeks by Roman society.
Even the fables, actions, and faults have a direct correlation to those that had been believed in Hellas (Greece).
To the Romans, religion was less a spiritual experience than a contractual relationship between mankind and the forces which were believed to control people's existence and well-being.
The result of such religious attitudes were two things: a state cult, which was a significant influence on political and military events of which outlasted the republic, continuing on into the Empire and Principate, and a private concern, in which the head of the family oversaw the domestic rituals and prayers in the same way as the representatives of the people performed the public ceremonials.
As has been stated, to the Roman mind, there was a sacred contract between the gods and the mortals. As part of this agreement each side would provide, as well as receive, services.
The role of the mortal in this partnership with the gods was to worship the gods.
The Romans also had a goddess called Furrina.
All anyone knew was that she was terrible, and thirsty for blood.
Even Cicero could but vaguely guess that she might have been a 'Fury', and yet she had her own flamen (priest), her own priesthood, as befit one who had been one of the first 13 gods of Rome.
Before the Greeks came with their bright, sunlit versions of the myths, the Romans had their own worship.
The three first gods of Rome were bloody Mars (to whom the victorious horse in the Campus Martius chariot races was sacrificed every October 15), death-dealing Jupiter, and Quirinus, a fertility god of sanguinary aspect. (Quirinus’s plant was the myrtle, which prophetically runs with blood when Aeneas plucks it in Book III of Virgil's 'Aeneid'.)
Quirinus’s Quirinal Hill, as we’ve seen, seems more prone than most to rains of blood.
Older even than those gods was Terminus, the god of boundaries.
His stone stood on the Capitoline Hill before anything else had been built.
By 500 BCE, the stone stood in the middle of a temple of Jupiter (Jupiter's Stone).
Terminus had refused to move, even for the king of the gods.
His lesser Termini were everywhere that a boundary or cornerstone was needed.
Each Terminal stone rested in a consecrated pit, one where priests had poured blood and ashes; every February 23, on the Terminalia, the stones of Terminus once more drank sacrificial blood.
The Termini remind us of the baetyls, sacred stones inhabited by gods, and perhaps also that Augustus’s first obelisk was made of blood-colored crystalline porphyry, the same as a pharaoh’s sarcophagus.
Do the stones of Rome move at night, or do some of its gaudily polychromed statues (of marble cold as death) refresh their vermilion and ocher paint with human gore? Something did.
According to Pausanias, the children of Medea returned from the dead and prowled Corinth - until the city fathers erected a statue of a Lamia.
Something also was reputed to prowl the Roman night - the 'Lemures', the restless dead.
Ovid writes that that “the ancient ritual” of 'Lemuria' “must be performed at night; these dark hours will present due oblations to the silent Shades.
By Ovid’s time, the ancient ritual consisted of dropping beans behind you and not looking back.
Lemuria took place over three nights in May, which the Etruscans named Amphire.
Amphire (or Ampile) is cognate with Greek ampellos, 'vine', and Roman wine was thick, and sticky and dark red - like blood.
The Romans made the same connection: the Flamen Dialis, the priest of Jupiter, could not drink blood, or eat raw meat or pass under an arbor-vine.
And the Romans feared and embraced Bacchus, the god of wine and of “all the flowing liquids,” in the words of Plutarch.
The Greeks called him Dionysus, with epithets such as Omadius (“Eater of Raw Flesh”), Nyctelius (“God of Night”) and Anthroporraestus (“Man-Slayer”), and knew him also as the god of frenzy and possession, hence as the god of drama.
The Dacians called him 'Zalmoxis', and knew he lived among the dead.
They impaled a human sacrifice every five years to carry him messages.
Be he Dionysus, or Zalmoxis or Bacchus, Rome embraced him.
Almost too fervently at times; the Senate rounded up 7,000 Bacchantes for treason, illicit rites and gross immorality in 186 BCE.
Among the Bacchantes too influential to exile or execute were the Piso family.
They survived and flourished; Julius Caesar’s third wife, Calpurnia, was a Piso.
The Pisonians plotted against Nero to restore the Republic, and interestingly, as devotees of the god of the theater, their conspiracy had some murky connection to the playwright Seneca.

(for more information about Roman Religion go to: The Roman Principate - 'Roman Religion, Magic and Mythology' and 'Mystery Religions')


© Copyright Peter Crawford 2016
reproduced with permission from 'The Roman Imperium'
Essential to the Roman concept of worship was prayer and sacrifice, and for both of these activities there were firmly defined rituals.
To perform these ritual correctly was of paramount importance.
One mistake and one would have to begin all over again.
The very nature of Roman religion itself, with its numerous gods, many of which had multiple roles, was cause for problems.
Particularly as in some cases not even the sex of a deity was clear.
Hence the phrase 'whether you be god or goddess' was a widespread in the worship of certain deities.
Many Roman gods also had entire collection of additional names, according to what aspect of life they were a patron to.
So, for example Juno was 'Juno Lucina', in her role of goddess of childbirth, but as goddess of the mint she was known as 'Juno Moneta', (this curious role came about because for a long time the Roman state mint was housed in her temple on the Capitoline hill).
For the official rituals of the state gods it was animals which most of the time were sacrificed, and for each god there would be different animals.
For Janus one sacrificed a ram - for Jupiter it was a heifer (a heifer is a young cow which has not yet had more than one calf).
Mars demanded a ox, a pig and or sheep, except for 15 October when it had to be the winning race horse of the day (the near side horse of a chariot team).
Such animal sacrifices were by their mere nature very elaborate and bloody affairs.
The animal's head had wine and sacred bread sprinkled over it.
The animal was killed by having its throat cut.
It was also disembowelled, for inspection of its internal organs for omens.
The most important organs of the dead beast would then be 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 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.
Roman religion did not as such really practice human sacrifice.
Although it was not totally unknown. in the third and the second century BC it was the case that slaves were walled up underground by demand of the 'Sibylline Books'.
Also the gladiatorial Munera were a form of sacrifice to the dead.
In 'The Story of Gracchus', Markos' (later called Marcus) first banquet at the Villa Auri - to celebrate the birthday of Augustus Caesar -  begins with sacrifices to Mars Ultor, Venus, the Divine Augustus and Mercury, and also features a Munera (see Chapter X) involving three pairs of gladiators.
A further Munera - on a grander scale, follows later in the story (see Chapter XXXI)

In 'Naturales Quaestiones'  (Natural Questions), Seneca writes, “Some say that they themselves suspect that there is actually in blood a certain force potent to avert and repel a rain cloud.
Or to draw one: like calling to like, as below, so above.
High on the hilltops priests of the gods raise their faces to the heavens, waiting for the fat red drops to hit.
The first known rain of blood on Rome occurred during the reign of Romulus, in 737 BCE.
From that time, rains of blood seem to have been regular, though never normal, occurrences, a portent recorded when such things could be spoken of aloud.
Repeated rains of blood fell on the Volcanal, a shrine to Vulcan on the slope of Capitoline Hill.
('I am quite aware that the spirit of indifference which in these days makes men refuse to believe that the gods warn us through portents, also prevents any portents whatever from being either made public or recorded in the annals. But as I narrate the events of ancient times I find myself possessed by the ancient spirit.… Two distinct portents had appeared in the Temple of Fortuna Primigenia on the Quirinal Hill: a palm tree sprang up in the temple precinct and a rain of blood had fallen in the daytime. — Livy, History of Rome - date of such a rain as 181 BCE.)
There was a rain of blood on the Comitium, at the Forum and at the Capitol in 197 BCE during the Macedonian War, and again in 183 BCE, the year Hannibal (lord of the child-burning cult of Carthage, which almost put Rome to the True Death) died.
At his approach, the sacred shields of Fortuna in Praeneste sweated blood.
But as Livy mentions above, at some point the portents were no longer “made public or recorded in the annals.
Perhaps they had become too gruesome, or too frequent for even Imperial historians to dare mention.
But the Romans still knew.
They poured their blood offerings out to the spirits of their ancestors, and to certain of their gods.
The Romans did so in increasing silence, and with increasing circumspection.
They might offer the blood libation into a lake that was known to communicate with the underworld, if they had country estates where such things were situated.
Or, if the Romans were city folk, they had the greatest, most blood-drenched shrine in the world all around them.


Of particular significance in Roman religion was the concept of augury.
According to ancient sources the use of auspices as a means to decipher the will of the gods was more ancient than Rome itself.
The Cumaen Sibyl
Detail from a painting by
John Collier
The use of the word is usually associated with Latins, though the act of observing auspices is also attributed to the Etruscans.
Novius, Marcus' adviser, in the 'Story of Gracchus', is an expert in matters of auspices and augury as a result of his continuing studies of Etruscan rituals.
Cicero describes in 'De Divinatione' several differences between the auspicial of the Romans and the Etruscan system of interpreting the will of the gods.
Though auspices were prevalent before the Romans, Romans are often linked with auspices because of both their connection to Rome’s foundation, and because Romans were the first to take the system and lay out such fixed and fundamental rules for the reading of auspices that it remained an essential part of Roman culture.
Stoics, for instance, maintained that if there are gods, they care for men, and that if they care for men they must send them signs of their will.
Associated with augurs are the oracles of the gods.
These were numerous, and in some cases renowned in Greece, and included the famous oracle of Apollo at Delphi.
The Romans had their own oracle of Apollo, in this case situated at Cumae, in the person of the Cumaen Sibyl.
Cumae, of course, is very close to Baiae, where, in 'The Story of Gracchus', the Villa Auri is situated and, in the story, Gracchus visits Cumae, and receives significant oracular messages from the Sibyl.

Central to the 'Story of Gracchus' is the concept of slavery.
The general Latin word for slave was 'servus'.
Slavery in ancient Rome played an essential role in society, and the economy.
for a more complete description of the institution of slavery go to;


Domestic Slave Boy
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
adapted from a painting by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tedama
Besides manual labour, slaves performed many domestic services, and might be employed at highly skilled jobs and professions.
Teachers (such as Αρισταρχος (Aristarchos) and Lucius - tutors to Marcus), accountants (such as Quintus - assistant to the freedman Terentius)), and physicians (such as Agathon) were often slaves.
Agathon appears in the 'Story of Gracchus' as a Greek slave, employed as a physician by Gracchus.
Greek slaves in particular, (and Markos was thought to be a Greek slave) might be highly educated.
Unskilled slaves, or those sentenced to slavery as punishment, worked on farms, in mines, and at mills, or were used in the arena.
The living conditions of unskilled slaves were brutal, and their lives short.


It is important to understand that slaves were considered simply as property under Roman law, and had no legal 'person-hood'.
Unlike Roman citizens, slaves could be subjected to corporal punishment (whipping and beating), sexual exploitation (both female and male prostitutes were often slaves), torture, and summary execution.
Roman slaves could, however, hold property which, despite the fact that it belonged to their masters, they were allowed to use as if it were their own.
Therefore, highly skilled, or educated slaves were allowed to earn their own money, and might hope to save enough, eventually, to buy their freedom.
Such slaves were often freed by the terms of their master's will (as in the case of Marcus), or for services rendered.
Rome differed from Greek city-states, and other ancient societies, in allowing freed slaves to become citizens.
After 'manumission', a male slave, who had belonged to a Roman citizen, enjoyed not only passive freedom from ownership, but active political freedom (libertas), including the right to vote.
A slave who had acquired 'libertas' was thus a 'libertus' ("freed person," feminine liberta) in relation to his former master, who (if still living) then became his patron (patronus).
Terentius appears in 'The Story of Gracchus' as a slave who has undergone manumission.
Being a freedman, he appears in the story as a 'client' of Gracchus (who is his 'patron'), and in this situation, Terentius is expected to work for Gracchus - in this case as his secretary and the supervisor of Gracchus' slaves.
When Gracchus dies and Marcus inherits, Terentius becomes Marcus' 'client', with the obligation to then work for Marcus.
If, however, a master freed a slave in his will on death, and left no heirs, but rather allowed the freed slave to inherit the master's wealth and property, then the newly freed citizen (the 'ex-slave') could choose a patron, if he so wished - and would be truly free.


A major source of slaves had been Roman military expansion during the Republic.
The use of former soldiers as slaves led perhaps inevitably to a series of en masse armed rebellions, the 'Servile Wars', the last of which was led by Spartacus.
During the 'Pax Romana' (see above) of the early Roman Empire (1st–2nd century CE), emphasis was placed on maintaining stability, and the lack of new territorial conquests dried up this supply line of human trafficking.
To maintain an enslaved work force, increased legal restrictions on freeing slaves were put into place. Escaped slaves would be hunted down and returned (often for a reward).
One of the problems regarding the re-capture of slaves was the fact that slaves were not immediately identifiable in the general population.
Normally they wore no special clothing (except some slaves of high status masters, who might wear the master's livery).
Markos wearing his Slave Collar
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Silver Slave Collar
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Some masters, (like Gracchus in 'The Story of Gracchus'), required slaves to wear a distinctive 'slave collar', (usually thin and made of iron).
The slave collars used by Gracchus, however, (in The Story of Gracchus), were unique, in being very heavy, and made of silver, with a distinctive medallion which was an amulet of Jupiter Optimus Maximus - the patron God of the Roman State - Marcus later gave some of his slaves gold slave collars).
It is also worth noting that the majority of household slaves were allowed to mix with the general population in the towns and cities of the empire, and were rarely confined the the master's domus or villa.
New slaves were primarily acquired by wholesale dealers who followed the Roman armies.
Many people who bought slaves wanted strong slaves, mostly men.
Julius Caesar once sold the entire population of a conquered region in Gaul, no fewer than 53,000 people, to slave dealers on the spot. 
Within the empire, slaves were sold at public auction, or sometimes in shops, or by private sale in the case of more valuable slaves.
'Roman Slave Auction'
Markos is Sold
adapted from an original painting by  Jean-Leon Gerome)
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
'Roman Slave Market'
adapted from an original painting by Gustave Boulanger
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016

Slave dealing was overseen by the Roman fiscal officials called 'quaestors'.

A quaestor (Latin for investigator), was a public official in Ancient Rome. The position served different functions depending on the period.

Usually, around the neck of each slave for sale hung a small plaque or scroll, describing his or her origin, health, character, intelligence, education, and other information pertinent to purchasers.
Prices varied with age and quality, with the most valuable slaves fetching prices equivalent to thousands of today's dollars.
Adult slaves were expensive, but the highest prices were paid for teenage slaves of both sexes, and in particular, well-educated, handsome young boys.
Because the Romans wanted to know exactly what they were buying, regardless of age or sex, slaves were presented naked. 
The dealer was required to take a slave back within six months if the slave had defects that were not manifest at the sale, or make good the buyer's loss.


Sexuality (see below) was a "core feature" of ancient Roman slavery.
Because slaves were regarded as 'property' under Roman law, an owner could use them for sex or hire them out to sexually 'service' other people.
The letters of Cicero have suggested that he had a long-term sexual relationship with his male slave Tiro.
The Roman 'paterfamilias' (father of the house) was an absolute master, and he exercised a power outside any control of society and the state.

Puer Delicatus
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
In this situation there was no reason why he should he refrain having sexual relations his houseboys.
But this form of sexual release held little erotic cachet.
In describing the ideal partner in 'pederasty' (sex with boys), Martial prefers a slave-boy who "acts more like a free man than his master," that is, one who can frame the affair as a stimulating game of courtship.
One particular class of male slave was the the 'puer delicatus' - a handsome slave-boy, chosen by his master for his boyish beauty.
Unlike the freeborn Greek eromenos ('beloved'), who was protected by social custom, the Roman 'delicatus' was in a physically and morally vulnerable position.
The 'coercive and exploitative' relationship between the Roman master and the 'delicatus', who might be prepubescent, can be characterised in some cases as pedophilic, in contrast to Greek paiderasteia.
The boy was sometimes castrated in an effort to preserve his youthful qualities;-  the emperor Nero had a 'puer' named Sporus, whom he had castrated, and subsequently  'married'.
Hellenistic Sculpture
The Beauty of the Pueri
The Kritios Boy
A somewhat more mature version of the 'puer delicatus' was the emperor Hadrian's 'Antinous', who mysteriously died before he reached maturity.
Pueri (boys) might be idealized in poetry.
The beauty of the Pueri was measured by Apollonian standards, - not too muscular, with smooth, pale skin, and absolutely no body-hair, with relatively small (obviously 
uncircumcised) genitalia, but with beautiful wavy hair, if possible fair in colour.
The mythological type of the 'delicatus' was represented by 'Ganymede', the Trojan youth abducted by Jove (Greek Zeus) to be his divine companion and cup-bearer.
(In Chapter VIII of 'The Story of Gracchus', Markos is given the title of 'cup-bearer' by Gracchus).
In the Satyricon, by Petronius, the tastelessly wealthy freedman Trimalchio says that as a slave-boy he had been a 'puer delicatus', servicing both the master and the mistress of the household.
A slave's sexuality was closely controlled, and normally slaves were no permitted to engage in sexual activity without their master's permission or knowledge.

© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
In the 'Story of Gracchus', Terentius instructs the Greek physician, Agathon, to fit Markos with  a metal penis cage, in order to prevent him for engaging in penetrative or oral sex, or even masturbating, however, this device is removed so that Markos can have sex with another young slave, Cleon, who has been specially selected to 'service' him at regular intervals. (see Chapter VI)
Slaves had no right to legal marriage (conubium), though they could, with permission, live together as husband and wife (contubernales).
An owner usually restricted the heterosexual activities of his male slaves to females he also owned; any children born from these unions added to his wealth.
Cato, at a time when Rome's large-scale slave economy was still in early development, thought it good practice to monitor his slaves' sex lives, and required male slaves to pay a fee for access to their fellow slaves.
Despite the external controls and restrictions placed on a slave's sexuality, Roman art and literature perversely often portray slaves as lascivious, voyeuristic, and even sexually knowing.


© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2017
Interestingly, at the root of this virile 'master morality' was the Greco-Roman concept of sexuality.
It is essential to note that Roman society was 'patriarchal' and 'phallocentric', and 'masculinity' was premised on a capacity for governing oneself, and others of lower status, not only in war and politics, but also in sexual relations.
'Virtus', "virtue", was an active masculine ideal of self-discipline, related to the Latin word for "man", 'vir'.
It should also be noted that sexual attitudes and behaviours in ancient Roman culture differ markedly from those in later Western societies.
Roman religion promoted sexuality as an aspect of prosperity for the state - prostitution, both male and female, was legal, public, and widespread (see Chapter XXVII) - and what we today would consider to be 'pornographic' art was featured among the art collections in respectable upper-class households.
It was considered natural and unremarkable for men to be sexually attracted to teen-aged boys and girls - and pederasty was condoned as long as the younger male partner was not a freeborn Roman.
"Homosexual" and "heterosexual" did not form a part of Roman thinking about sexuality, particularly as no Latin words for these concepts exist.
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2017
No moral censure was directed at the man who enjoyed sex acts with either females or males of inferior status (usually slaves), as long as his behaviours did not infringed on the rights and prerogatives of his masculine peers.
Most significantly, Roman attitudes towards sexuality were grounded in the terms 'penetrator' and 'penetrated'.
Male Roman citizens were, by definition, expected to take on the role of 'penetrator', and never be 'penetrated'.
Roman ideals of masculinity were thus premised on taking an 'active role' that was the prime directive of masculine sexual behaviour, as well as political, economic and cultural behaviours for the Roman male citizen.

© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2017
The impetus toward action might express itself most intensely in an ideal of 'dominance', that reflects the hierarchy of Roman patriarchal society, and the aggression that was responsible for the creation of the Empire.
The "conquest mentality" was part of a "cult of virility" that particularly shaped Roman 'male on male' practices.
It is no accident that one of the most common slang terms for the penis was 'gladius' - the name given to the Roman sword carried by legionaries, and used by gladiators, and male sexual activity was seen as essentially aggressive.
Roman male sexuality should therefore be seen in terms of a "penetrator-penetrated" binary model; that is, the proper way for a Roman male to seek sexual gratification was to insert his penis in his another individual - male or female.
Allowing himself to be penetrated threatened his liberty as a free citizen, as well as his sexual integrity.
It was expected, and socially acceptable for a freeborn Roman man to want sex with both female and male partners, as long as he took the 'dominating' role.
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
There are many deaths in The Story of Gracchus'.
Many take place in the arena - as the result of combat, and as executions.
There is an attempted assassination, and there are murders.
There are only occasional natural deaths - but among the 'plebs', and the very young, natural death through illness is shockingly common.
If a Roman child survived their first ten years, then there was a good chance that they would have a reasonable life-span, but very few children did survive those critical years - with most dying in the first year.
Accidental deaths are rare - but among slaves, particularly those who work in quarries, mines and other dangerous location, they are also common.
Romans were bound by their dead, in a web of ancestral rituals that not even they remembered the reason for.
The Romans had no taboo against suicide, although almost every culture believes that suicide leads to restless corpses.
For the Romans, the dead were always with the living anyway.
The Romans worshiped their ancestral spirits, the Lares, and propitiated the 'Manes', the shades of the dead, by prayers, invocatins, sacrifices of blood and incense.
For Romans, the world of ghosts and the world of flesh were barely separate.
The dead talked to the living in dreams and at night, taking flesh.
And death was all around the living.
'The grandeur that was Rome' could be seen in many ways as an 'abattoir' erected on a mass grave.
Beginning with Rome’s own sons, over the nine centuries between 500 BCE and CE 400, approximately 885,000 Roman soldiers died, to save the city and to line senators’ pockets.
With regard to soldier and civilian, perhaps 300,000 Romans died by political violence - under the blades of fellow Romans - during the century from the time of the Gracchi to the end of the Second Triumvirate.
Romans died for their city’s amusement, as well as for its enrichment.
Huge numbers of gladiators and other fighters died in the arena (not counting the 7,000 crucified with Spartacus), their blood soaking into the sand.
Many of the gladiators were foreign, but foreigners hardly had to come to Rome to die for Rome.
The legions slaughtered 80,000 Britons in the wake of Boudicca’s revolt, and Caesar may have killed as many as 100,000 Gauls in his conquests. (Plutarch claims a million dead at Caesar’s hands all told.)
In the second century BCE, Marius killed perhaps a quarter of a million Germans. During and after the three Jewish Revolts (from CE 67 to 135), the Romans practically extirpated Jewish Palestine, leaving 1,000,000 corpses behind (this was partly under the generalship of Titus - who appears quite prominently in our story.
Tacitus said of the campaign in Britain, “Rome makes a desert, and calls it peace.”
Rather, Rome makes a swamp of blood and bones, and grows fat on its fruits.
As Virgil says in the 'Aeneid' (favorite book of both Gnaeus and Marcs Gracchus), “the blood of victim beasts enriched the ground".

So ..... when reading the 'Story of Gracchus', it is wise to take into consideration the great differences between Roman society in the early empire, and current European and American society.
What may seem to us to be 'immoral', and maybe 'cruel' and 'sadistic'  to current sensibilities was, to the Romans, simply normalacceptable behavior - and in many cases laudable.
This story, therefore, makes no attempt to criticize, condemn or ignore Greco-Roman mores and values, and the narrative accepts, and presents unreservedly the moral and cultural 'status quo' of the times.
If you have any qualms about this, then perhaps this is not a story for you.....
if not... then read on for a raunchy, realistic and, a far as possible, an historically accurate serial novel, featuring the remarkable adventures of young Markos.

'Time erodes both steel and stone,
But the written word defies the years.'

© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
click below for the exciting first chapter

TEXT & IMAGES - © Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016

 © Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016


As far as is possible this story has bee made historically accurate.
Language, however, is a problem.
Many of the characters, Markos (some of the time), Gracchus (some of the time), Markos' Latin tutor Lucius, Terentius, the Centurion Servius Juvenalis, Nerva and others all speak Latin.
Markos (some of the time), Gracchus (some of the time), Markos' Greek tutor Agathon, Gracchus' physician Aristarchos, Glykon, Cleon (and other slave-boys), and others speak Greek - and this should be born in mind, as it is difficult to indicate.
Some words and phrases have been left in the original Latin or Greek, (usually with an English translation when first encountered).
Swearing, and what some consider to be obscene language, (which was common at the time - particularly among young male slaves), has been translated into contemporary English, as it would have little impact in the original Latin - (even Greek speakers, at this time, tended to swear in Latin, as Greek did not have a comparable vocabulary).
Peter Crawford

for more information and images regarding Roman society and culture
at the time that 'The Story of Gracchus' is set
go to:
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016


So far we are up to Chapter XXXIX - but we've only just begun !
(that's 39 for non-Romans)

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