Chapter XXIX - Finis et Novum Initium


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NOCTIS SPATIUM AD MEMENTO

'A Night to Remember' -

"Petronius ! ..... Petronius ! ..... I think something really terrible has happened !"
"Why ? What's the problem ?
It's only a little storm, and it seems to be over now." Petronius answered calmly, smiling.
Inwardly, however, Petronius knew, but part of him rationalised that this might be some sort of continuation of Marcus' problem with his previous illness.
"I saw you - but it wasn't really you, - out in the garden, and another figure in a black cloak.", Marcus babbled.
"And you asked me what I was doing in the garden - and you said it was dangerous - and then something about an owl - and the you fired an arrow over to the villa  - and then disappeared !
Do something !", Marcus begged.
"Adonios !", Petronius called.
"Go down to Terentius, and ask him to check that there is no problem for the Dominus, and get the guards to check the villa gardens.
Tell him that the Iuvenes Dominus has concerns about our security."
Adonios obediently ran out of the atrium.
"Now calm down Marcus, I am sure that all will be well.", Petronius said gently, knowing all the time of an overwhelming tragedy, but trying his best to calm Marcus.
Petronius took Marcus by the hand and guided him to a couch.
As he did so there was a tremendous flash of lightening, and moments later, a deafening roll of thunder.
Marcus looked up at Petronius, obviously not convinced.
"Now listen, Marcus - if there is a problem, then you must get hold of yourself and be strong.
So I will get you some wine, and remember  - you are the son of the Dominus, and we all look to you for an example.
Aurarius looked puzzled.
He still thought that the people in the villa were very strange.
"It's only a storm, master, and I'm not frightened.", he said, encouragingly - in Greek.
There was then a frantic banging on the door.
"Where are the guards ?", Petronius shouted, running over to the large, bronze doors.
One of the doors the opened suddenly, nearly hitting him in the face.
It was Adonios - looking terrified.
"Petronius - the Dominus ! He's dead !", Adonios spluttered.
"Where are the guards ?", demanded Petronius, a second time.
"They are with Terentius, preparing to find whoever did this.". Adonios replied, tearfully.
"And how do you know the Dominus is dead ?", Petronius asked, trying to get to the bottom of the story.
"I saw him !", Adonios shrieked - obviously becoming hysterical.
"In his study - there was blood !...blood !...", the sobbing boy continued.
"All right, .... you go and sit down quietly, and Marcus and I will deal with this.", Petronius said, trying to  calm the trembling boy.
"I know who did this !" Marcus said, coldly.
"Maybe, ...... but let's get to the study, and see Terentius.", Petronius said, ignoring Marcus' odd statement, and moving towards the half open door.
As Petronius and Marcus moved through the corridors there seemed to be guards everywhere, checking doors and rooms.
Eventually they arrived at the doors to Gracchus' study.
The guards there bowed respectfully to Marcus.

  NOVUM DOMINUS

Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus
'A New Master' - Marcus entered the room, thinking of the first occasion, so long ago, when as a frightened slave boy, called Markos, he had his first nerve-racking interview with the Dominus (Chapter IV).
Now, to his horror, he saw Gracchus sprawled, face down on the marble topped table, which was drenched with blood.
Terentius was standing by the table looking gaunt.
"We must do this quickly !", he said, in a strained voice.
He took from the folds of his tunic a large, heavy gold ring.
As he did so  Adonios and Aurarius crept into the room.
Terentius began speaking slowly and carefully.
"This is the seal ring of the House of Gracchus, passed on to each dominus for hundreds of years.
As the most senior servant of the House of Gracchus it is my duty to place this ring on your finger, and confirm you as Marcus Octavianus Gracchus, true heir and son of the deceased Dominus, Gnaeus Octavianus Gracchus, and to pronounce you from this moment as Dominus of the Noble House of Gracchus.
He placed the ring on Marcus' ring-finger, bent down on one knee, and kissed the ring.
"I am always, and ever will be your loyal and honoured servant."
"And friend.", Marcus added.
After Terentius, Petronius swore his fealty, followed by Adonios and Aurarius.
And at that point, Marcus took command, as if he had been born to it.
 "Adonios and Aurarius - go back to my apartments and prepare for my return later !"
"Yes Dominus !", they both replied, and ran off to what were now the Dominus' apartments.
"Terentius, send a carriage to Novius. I want to speak to him.", Marcus then said.
"But Dominus, it is so late, and there is a storm.", Terentius said, forgetting himself for a moment.
"I want to speak to him now !", Marcus insisted.
"Of course, Dominus !", Terentius replied, and hurried off to make the appropriate arrangements.
"So..... How do you feel now ?", Petronius asked.
"Lost - without Gracchus - but I still have you !",
"But you are Gracchus - now !", Petronius reminded Marcus.
"Yes, I suppose so.", Marcus said sadly.
"And what did you mean by saying that you knew who had done this ?", Petronius asked intrigued.
"Well, it's Servius, of course - he was the only one who had a real motive.", Marcus replied.
"You are almost certainly right - but there is one other who could have a motive, but I think is too young to have done this.", Petronius said, mysteriously.
"And who could that be ?", Marcus asked.
"My answer to that question must wait until we have had time to talk to Terentius and Novius.", Petronius replied.
"So, is there something important that I haven't been told ?" Marcus asked. 
Yes !", Petronius replied, "But first you should attend to the matter of Servius, if you will forgive me for suggesting it."
"Of course !", Marcus said.
Now today, if we came across someone who had obviously been murdered we should immediately contact the local police force - who would investigate, and hopefully arrest a suspect, who would be prosecuted by the state.In Roman times (as has been stated before) there was no police force as such, and no public prosecutor - no state run law courts, and no long term prisons for murderers.Normally individuals and families would rely upon a patron to deal with the matter  - usually in the form of rough justice.Marcus, however, now that he was Dominus, was a patron himself, so he was expected to deal with such matters - using his retainers and slaves.
Marcus reaction was simple.
He ordered a group of villa guards to ride out to Servius' villa and find Servius.
He gave express orders that Servius was not to be harmed, and that Servius was to be taken to the Ludus.
Any of Servius' slaves found at the villa were to be 'disposed of''.
"Dominus," Petronius interrupted,
"Servius had a boy with him - now one of your slaves - what should happen to him ?"
"Just bring him back to the villa - Terentius and Nerva can sort that out later.", Marcus replied, not knowing of the significance of the boy.
Meanwhile, slaves carefully removed Gracchus' body, while other slaves cleaned the study of all traces of blood.
Gracchus' body was then taken to his private apartments, to be washed and prepared for the funeral.

   CONSILIARIUS

'Councellor' - Eventually Novius arrived at the villa.
Novius
"My dear Marcus !", he exclaimed, "I am devastated !", the old man said - with tears n his eyes.
"How could this have happened ?".
"This, my dear Novius, is what we plan to find out.",  Marcus replied.
"But first I have something important to do.
I am appointing you my Consiliarius (a counsellor, one who participates in the decisions, a trusted adviser), and I require you to pledge your fealty to myself as Dominus, and to the House of Gracchus." Marcus stated, with the new sense of authority that he seemed to have acquired.
"I am an old man, Dominus, but if you think that I can be of help I will serve you as best as I can.", Novius replied.
Marcus then held out his right hand, and Novius bent low, and kissed the seal ring of the House of Gracchus.
"I am grateful.", Marcus said, "and I have work for you tonight."

"Of course, Dominus.", Novius replied.

γλαύξ - GLAUX

'Minerva's Owl' - As Terentius came into the study,  a small owl flew in from the open door.
The Arrival of Glaux
It fluttered once round the room, and then settled, rather unsteadily at first, on the back of the beautifully inlaid chair where Gracchus usually sat.
"That, Dominus, is an omen.", Novius whispered.
"I know.", Marcus replied.
"But it's just a baby....", Marcus added.
"Of course - it belongs to Athena.....", Petronius said letting his comment fade away.
"And how would you know ?", Novius asked.
"Just guessing". Petronius replied looking strangely at the bird, which was fluffing it's feathers, and then at Marcus.
"You mentioned an owl, when spoken to in the garden." Petronius said.
"Yes.", Marcus said.
"The owl of Athena - Athene noctua- ('Athena's owl has taken flight') -
"Don't disturb it.", Novius said.
"Let it stay here ..... It will bring you wisdom.", Novius quietly added.
And they all watched the cute little bird - wondering.
"We should call him Glaux (γλαύξ), and invite him to stay." Novius said.
"But isn't he an evil omen of death ?", Terentius asked, eyeing the bird nervously.
"According to the Greeks and the Etruscans he can be - when he perches on the roof of a dwelling. 
But this little fellow has already done his warning of death - and now I feel he is a gift from Minerva - to bring this House, and it's new Dominus wisdom.", Novius explained.
Glaukes - γλαῦκες,
Athenian coins bore and image of the owl of Athena (Roman Minerva) and in daily use the Athenian drachmas were called glaukes (γλαῦκες, owls) - as Marcus well knew.
"And what did you say Dominus, about  an owl in the garden ?", Novius asked.
"Well, it's a strange story, Novius.
When the storm cleared for a short while, I went out into the garden.
I thought I saw Petronius standing in the garden, with a bow and a quiver full of arrows - stupid I know.
Then he spoke to me - but it didn't sound like Petronius' voice.
He said something like - 
'What are you doing out late - this is a night to remember - a dangerous night - Thanatos hides in the shadows, and arrows fly.' and then he said 'Athena's owl takes flight - so take care, and remember -  Deus veniet cito !'".
"So the prophecy - 'Deus veniet cito' - and the figure, - I think was the God himself - Apollo."
You are a strange young man, Dominus - and the Gods show you such favour, as I have never seen before.
Be grateful !". Novius concluded.
"I am grateful, Novius - but often fearful also.", Marcus replied, shaking his head.
"But no problem, you have fine friends, and now you have little Glaux to guide you." Novius said, smiling.

CONFERENTIA

'The Comference' - "But enough of this", Petronius interjected.
"We have some important matters to discuss."
"Terentius, you and I spoke at length yesterday, and now that our late master is no longer with us, and we have a new Dominus, we need to make him aware of certain facts." Petronius stated, taking a lead well above his station.
"You are right, Petronius - let us all be seated.", Terentius replied.
Novius looked puzzled.
Marcus, sitting in the chair on which Glaux was perched, and Novius and Petronius seated on other chairs, drawn up round Gracchus' marble topped table, now clean and shining (thanks to the work of some slaves) prepared for a momentous discussion.
"To begin with, Dominus - and gentlemen, everything that is said round this table is confidential, and we must swear by Athena's owl, little Glaux there, that we shall not reveal anything that we hear tonight to any other person without the permission of our Dominus.
Is that agreed ?" Terentius said.
They nodded in agreement, while Glaux awkwardly stepped off the back of the chair, and settled himself on Marcus' shoulder.
"The matter concerns a boy called Demetrios.", Terentius began.
"Excuse me, Terentius, but why are we discussing this 'Demetrios', rather than Servius, who has just committed murder ?". Marcus asked, somewhat confused.
"This is the whole point of our discussion.
The motive for the murder may well be Demetrios - but information about Demetrios was withheld from you by the 'late Dominus'.", Terentius replied.
"And why was that, Terentius ?", Marcus asked, slightly angered.
"That, if you will excuse me, Dominus, is what I am coming to.", Terentius replied.
"The 'late Dominus', when he was somewhat younger, had a child by a slave girl, here at the villa.", Terentius explained.
"Did you know about this, Novius ?", Marcus asked, looking completely perplexed.
"I'm afraid that I did, but the late Dominus forbad me to discuss the matter with anyone, even, and maybe especially you."
Marcus stood up - obviously angry - and Glaux nearly lost his balance, and looked at Marcus, with a hurt expression, having almost lost his dignity.
"So the late Dominus had a true son..... so am I, or am I not the Dominus ?", he demanded, looking particularly at Terentius.
"Of course you are the Dominus.
The boy Dimitrios is just a slave." Terentius answered quietly, trying to calm Marcus.
"And where is this boy ?", Marcus asked, resuming his seat.
"The boy to whom you refer, Dominos, was the boy who was with Servius.", Terentius replied, waiting for another explosion from Marcus.
Marcus just sat, numbed and shook his head in disbelief.
"The boy is probably now at this villa - locked in a cublicum, under guard, and awaiting your pleasure."
"I take no pleasure in this boy !" Marcus said coldly.
"It were better that he were still-born !".
"I agree, Dominus, but he is here, and I fear he may be involved in another conspiracy against you and the House of Gracchus.", Terentius said, wearily.
"So what's this new conspiracy ?" Marcus asked , not entirely convinced, as Glaux nibbled gently on his ear.
"What is this stupid bird doing ?" Marcus said, tickling Glaux's head.
"I think it's his way of saying that you should listen carefully." Novius said, smiling.
"Now you're not telling me that this crazy bird knows what we are talking about ?", Marcus said, incredulously.
"Oh yes." Novius replied. "Athena's owl is very, very intelligent - that's why he's been sent to you."
"Well now I've heard everything." Marcus said in resignation.
"But what's this conspiracy, Terentius - and yes, Glaux, I am listening.", Marcus continued, humouring Novius.
"As I think that you know, Servius and Petronius went to Rome to collect your new pugio - which I have here with me, incidentally, - but they also went to arrange for the assassination of Marcus Sabinus.
Now the only proof that we have that Marcus Sabinus is dead is a seal ring that Servius brought back in a wooden box.
It is a cheap seal ring - low quality gold - marked with the letter S.
I could have had one made for next to nothing here in Baiae, let alone in Neapolis or Rome."
Terentius pushed the box over to Marcus.
Marcus opened it, and took out the ring.
"I see.", Marcus said.
"So we have to take the word of Menelaus." Terentius continued.
"A man who seems to be, according to myself and Petronius, too well informed of matters in this villa.
Now Menelaus, - whom I know, and whom Petronius met, - was the person who selected Demetrios, of all people, to guide Servius and Petronius round Rome - and Demetrios is the boy who is not supposed to exist.
Now Demetrios is very handsome, and I gather that Menelaus knows that Servius has an insatiable lust for attractive boys, and it appears that Demetrios was encouraged - one assumes by Menelaus - to make himself available to Servius.
Petronius, for example, knows that Servius and the boy had sex in Rome, on at least one occasion.
And it also seems that Menelaus encouraged Demetrios to get Servius to take him back to this villa - and presumably the boy escaped from the villa with Menelaus' connivance."
"Well that is all making sense - but to what purpose ?", Marcus interrupted.
"To the purpose of creating a problem between Servius and the late Dominus - a possibly murderous problem - or perhaps Servius was given gold to kill the late Dominus.
Then it was simply a matter of presenting Demetrios as the natural son of the late Dominus, and ensuring that the inheritance did not go to you, but the boy - to be possibly shared by Menelaus, his guardian (Menelaus had looked after the boy for many years), and Servius, his lover - enabling Marcus Sabinus, whom I do not believe is dead, to take his revenge on the House of Gracchus.", Terentius concluded.
Novius, Petronius and Glaux all nodded in agreement.
"Well, it's complicated, but makes sense.", Marcus agreed.
"So what should we do ?", Marcus asked, looking obviously worried.
"If I may make a suggestion," Petronius said, "I think it might be wise to send some guards to Rome to escort Menelaus back here, on the pretext that he should meet the new Dominus, and attend the funeral of the late Dominus - then we can question him, and if required - deal with him."
Marcus looked to Terentius and Novius.
"Do we agree ?", he asked.
Both nodded.
"So do I - then we are all in agreement !".
"Right, Terentius.
When we finish this meeting please attend to that !", Marcus briskly ordered.
"Yes Dominus", Terentius replied.
"And Terentius - is there another Freedman at the Domus ?" Marus asked.
"Yes Dominus - there are a number.", Terentius replied.
"And who is the best and most trustworthy ?", Marcus queried.
"A boy called Nicander.", Terentius said, after thinking for a moment.
"Good - get Quintus to draw up papers appointing him as 'dominus domus' - but do not have the papers handed to him until Menelaus leaves."
"Very wise.", Dominus." Terentius answered.
"And the Magister Equitum, who arranged the killing, Dominus ?", Terentius asked.
"We don't have time to waste on him - have him disposed of.". Marcus said, coldly.
"You mean killed ?", Terentius asked, surprised.
"Yes.", Marcus replied.
"As you say, Dominus."
"Now what about Servius ?, Marcus asked.
"Should we torture him to get the truth about Menelaus and Demetrius before we have him killed ?", Marcus asked, somewhat brutally.
"There is another way, which Terentius has knowledge of, and which I used on Petram and Glykon, with the permission of the late Dominus, - to good effect.", Novius interjected.
"Indeed, Dominus." Terentius added.
"It is a method of obtaining the truth, that uses no torture, and which those who are subjected to it do not even have a recall of the information that they have given away.
It gave the late Dominus all the information he needed from Petram and Glykon, and I am sure that Novius could make it work with Servius to good effect." Terentius said.
"You intrigue me.
So Novius, what is this method ?", Marcus asked.
"All we do is give the subject a special - and harmless potion, and then send them into a half-sleep, and open their thoughts and memories to our inspection.
At the end they are commanded to forget all that they have been asked and all that they have said - and if all goes well, we have the information that we desire.", Novius explained.
"That sounds excellent, Novius," Marcus said enthusiastically.
"And when can we do this ?", Marcus asked, eagerly.
"I think it may be possible tomorrow evening." Novius replied.
There was a pause.
"And so finally, gentlemen, we must decide what to do about the boy - this Demetrios.", Marcus stated.
"Well may I suggest that that will depend on the boy's knowledge of his origins, and previous life, and his knowledge of any possible 'conspiracy', and also what Menelaus has told him, and what passed between him and Servius.", Novius suggested.
"And then, when we know that - can you, in some way manipulate his memories so that he no longer poses a threat ?", Marcus asked.
"I have no affection for the boy, but I see no reason to eliminate him if we can effectively simply turn him into a harmless slave-boy - to work here in the villa.", Marcus continued.
"It may be possible.... ",Novius replied, thoughtfully.
"He is young, and I would imagine that he could be easily influenced."
"Before we do that," Petronius interjected, "maybe, as I know him, I could go and speak to him and try to discover what he knows and understands - in, what shall I call it - his normal mind."
"Yes, Petronius, I would be interested to know what you could discover." Novius replied.
For some time Glaux had been stamping around on Marcus' shoulder.
"I think our little friend is getting restless, so perhaps we could draw this meeting to a close.", Marcus said, looking at the little bird and smiling.
"So - Petronius, go and see this boy Demetrios, when you have time, but also I want the scaffolding removed in the Amphitheater, and appropriate preparations made for the funeral and the munera.", Marcus said.
"Novius !", Marcus then said, and the old man, now Consiliarius to the House of Gracchus, looked up expectantly, "I hope to see you tomorrow evening."
"Of course, Dominus !", Novius answered obediently.
"And Terentius !"
"Yes Dominus !", Terentius replied.
"Have Quintus prepare papers granting freedom and citizenship to Petronius.", Marcus ordered, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
Petronius jaw dropped, and Terentius, and Novius smiled broadly.
"And about time !", Novius said, patting Petronius on the back.
"What can I say, Dominus ?", Petronius mumbled.
"Nothing needs to be said." Marcus replied.

  ET  AD  LECTUM

'And So to Bed' - "What's wrong with this stupid bird ?", Marcus exclaimed, as he walked down the corridor to his private apartments, with Glaux still  sitting on his shoulder.
"I think that you are stuck with Glaux, like you are stuck with me.", Petronius said, carefully avoiding mentioning the unexpected instruction that Marcus had just given to Terentius.
"Very likely." Marcus replied.
When Marcus arrived in the Atrium of his apartments, Adonios and Aurarius ran up, waiting for orders.
Immediately they saw Glaux.
Adonios reached up to Marcus' shoulder, and Glaux, in a most dignified manner, stepped off Marcus and onto Adonios' hand.
"He's beautiful !", Aurarius exclaimed.
"Where did you get him from ?", Adonios asked.
"From Mount Olympus.", Marcus replied with a smile.
"Now Novius says that we must look after him - so be good to him, but show him respect - he stands very much on his dignity, as he is very wise.", Marcus explained to the two entranced boys.
Immediately Adonios and Aurarius sat down together on a couch, tickling and fussing over the little owl.
Glaux appeared to be enjoying every minute of the attention, but Marcus found that he had to go and get his own goblet of wine, as his two slaves seemed to have forgotten all about him.
"I think Petronius, that in the end I will have no slaves.
They will either be freed men - or the slaves of little Glaux!", Marcus joked, as he poured some wine for Petronius.
Strangely, the horror of the night seemed to have faded away - and an odd kind of peace and serenity had enveloped much of the villa.
Glaux - Late Night Hunting
Novius, of course would have seen it as the work of the God, - protecting his chosen ones from the violence and horror of death and separation - by the simple expedient of a sweet, fluffy little bird.
Marcus, after taking a drink from his goblet, lay back, and was lost in the oblivion of sleep.
Petronius laid a silk coverlet over Marcus, and gently kissed his sleeping friend goodnight. 
Adonios and Aurarius snuggled up together on the couch, and Glaux, rather peeved that no food had been provided for him, flew off noiselessly into the peristyle garden to do some hunting.
Petronius left the Atrium, and went to his apartment, to snatch some sleep before going to the Amphitheater in the morning.

MANE  NOVUM

'A New Dawn' - As the sun rose, Glaux fluttered back to his new home, landing somewhat awkwardly on Marcus' pillow (owls are designed to land on tree branches, and not soft pillows).
Marcus stirred from his sleep, and as he awoke the enormity of the previous night's events hit him hard.
If Adonios and Aurarius hadn't been up, and preparing a light breakfast, Marcus would have certainly given in to uncontrollable sobbing, but he remembered that he was now the Dominus, and never again should he give in to the ordinary weaknesses that were permitted to most people.
He rose from his bed, and dressed.
In deference to the death of the late Dominus, he dressed, like everyone else of any standing  in the villa in black, but his tunic was decorated in heavy gold bullion embroidery.
Marcus and Glaux
As he straightened his tunic, and prepared to greet Adonios and Aurarius, Glaux fluttered up, and took his place on Marcus' shoulder.
Normally, Marcus would have flicked the little bird away, but taking note of Novius' advice, he allowed the small owl to sit by his ear.
It was obvious that the two boys had been crying - but Marcus was not prepared to indulge them, and sent them off to find out what was Petronius was doing.
As it happened, Petronius was, at that moment, riding into Amphitheatre, having already travelled all the way to Neapolis to order the endless yards of black embroidered material that would be required for the decoration of the Amphitheatre, for the funeral ceremony, and later the Munera, for the 'late Dominus'.
The wagon carrying the cloth, and other essentials was further back down the road, following Petronius.
Already the slaves were working on the removal of the scaffolding, and making good the final refurbishments of the Amphitheatre.
As soon as Petronius arrived, he supervised the unloading of the cloth.
He then went to his office in the ludus, and quickly prepared some sketches, indicating to his foremen how he wished the cloth to be draped over various parts of the structure of the amphitheatre.
While he was doing that, Adonios and Aurarius arrived, closely followed by Marcus.
Marcus and Glaux at the Amphitheatre
All the slaves stopped working as Marcus entered the arena, staring in surprise at little Glaux sitting on his shoulder.
Owls were known to be omens, particularly when they appeared in the daytime (unusual, as they were nocturnal birds - so owls usually sleep during the day - but they are only 'half asleep' so they don't fall off their perch, and are partly aware of what is going on around them).
The slaves, realising this, looked upon their new Dominus with a certain awe, and even more respect.
Soon the rumour spread round the villa that the owl was a personal gift from the goddess Minerva to the new Dominus, which he had received on Mount Olympus.
Terentius, wisely did nothing to discredit this rumour.
They all obediently lined up, and bowed to Marcus.
Marcus decided that some words were required:
"As you probably know our beloved Dominus was cruelly murdered last night by his own tribune.That tribune will be punished, as is required, at the next Games.Meanwhile we must prepare for the funeral of our beloved, late Dominus.As your new Dominus I expect you all to show your devotion to the 'late Dominus', and the noble House of Gracchus by giving your best efforts to making the funeral, and the subsequent munera the finest ever seen in Baiae.Now return to your work !"
The slaves all applauded and cheered their new Dominus, and swiftly returned to their duties.
Hearing the noise, Petronius left the Ludus, and walked over to the arena.
Arena Funeral Decorations
Once in the arena, Petronius and Marcus looked over the drawings that Petronius had made, and then started supervising gangs of slaves to put up the curtains and swags of black material.
At the same time, Marcus was able to admire the newly completed Propylaeum (Gateway for the Pompa - see right of image) - which now bore his name, and the also inspected the enlarged Pulvinus.
In addition, the top, marble columned arcade also bore an inscription of dedication to Marcus and the God Apollo.
As the middle of the day was approaching, Petronius left Marcus to continue the supervising of the funeral decorations, and rode back to the villa.
The previous evening he had offered to speak to the boy Demetrius, on behalf of Novius, so he went to the partly disused wing of the villa, where the boy's room was locked and guarded.
The guard had been previously told to allow Petronius access to the room.
LOQUI  CUM  DEMETRIOS
     
'A Talk with Demetrios' - As Petronius entered the room where Demetrios was being held, a young slave-boy came rushing up the corridor.
"Petronius !" he shouted.
"I have a message for you from Terentius !", the boy said breathlessly.
"Don't be too long in there !", the young guard said gruffly to Petronius.
The boy messenger passed Petronius a rather bulky scroll, and stood waiting obediently in the corridor.
Petronius took the scroll, and broke the seal.
It was no ordinary message - Petronius recognized the handwriting.
It was Quintus, writing in Latin, and then a very formal Greek translation, below.
It had been sealed by the Dominus, Marcus - and it was notice that Petronius, as a 'libertus', a freeman, and a Roman citizen, now held the position of  'M. tribunus et dominus amphitheatro' - which is very formal Latin for 'Tribune to Marcus and Master of the Amphitheater'.
"Do you read, young man?", Petronius asked the rather officious guard.
"Yes, as it happens, I do.", the young guard said casually.
"Then read this !", Petronius said.
The guard slowly read the text, then stiffened to attention.
"My apologies !", he said nervously.
"I didn't realise who you were."
"Be sure to tell your friends !", Petronius said grinning.
"Of course, Tribune !", the guard said, stiffly.
"Boy !", Petronius called to the young messenger.
"Tell Terentius that I am very grateful !", Petronius said, and then shut the door, and concentrated on Demetrius.
"Well hello Demetrios ! - Do you remember me from our time in Rome ?", Petronius asked, trying to be friendly.
"Yes Domine.", Demetriosanswered nervously.
"Now the Dominus has asked me to come and have a chat with you, because he wants to know a little more about you.", Petronius explained.
"From what I have been told, you have lived in the Domus Gracchii in Rome, and it seems that you have met Terentius before.
Is that correct ?", Petronius probed gently.
"Yes Domine. Terentius sometimes came to the Domus. I saw him, but he never spoke to me.", the boy answered.
"And what did you do at the Domus Gracchii ?", Petronius asked.
"I was personal slave to Menelaus.", Demetrius answered.
"Did that mean that you were expected to let Menelaus fuck you !"
Demetrios looked decidedly uncomfortable.
"Yes Domine." Demetrios replied, and then added, "Quite often."
"Was he rough with you ?", Petronius asked, gently.
"Yes Domine - he whipped me sometimes."
"Because you had done something wrong ?", Petronius asked, intrigued and concerned.
"No,", the boy relied - "because he enjoyed it."
"So why did you leave the Domus and go with Servius.", Petronius then asked, getting down to the important questions.
"I went because Menelaus told me to - and because Servius was Tribune to the Dominus - and anyway I wanted to get away from Menelaus." Demetrios answered.
"I thought the Dominus wanted me to come here, and that was why he sent Tribune Servius - but then, when Terentius was angry with me - and had me locked up, I didn't know what to think.", Demetrios mumbled, almost close to tears.
"And then Servius took me on horseback to his villa, and later men armed with swords came, killed the slaves in the villa, and put me and Servius - tied up, in a waggon, -  and brought us here - and I have been in this room ever since.", Demetrios continued.
"Tell me, Demetrios, where were you born ?", Petronius asked, changing the subject.
"In Rome, I think.", the boy replied, vaguely.
"And how did you become a slave ?" , Petronius asked.
"I think that I always was - probably born  slave.", Demetrios replied.
"Well, you have been very helpful.", Petronius said, smiling.
"And tonight there is a kind old gentleman - a friend of the Dominus, who would like to have a talk to you also- so just answer him clearly and truthfully, like you did for me - and I think that things will turn out well for you.".
"Thank you Domine.", Demetrios said, obviously relieved.
Petronius knocked on the door for the guard.
The door opened, and a very nervous looking guard appeared.
"Move him to a good cubiculum, in the guest wing, and get him a good meal and some wine - with plenty of water in it - and tell Terentius where he has been moved to.
I want him bathed and dressed for early this evening, as he is to see the Dominus.". Petronius ordered.
"Yes Tribune !", the guard smartly replied.
Essentially, Petronius felt sorry for Demetrios, assuming that the boy was telling the truth.
Puzzling over the lad's story, Petronius walked back to the main wing of the villa, to Terentius' study.
There, not surprisingly, Petronius found Terentius up to his eyes in scrolls and papyrus, and in the middle of an argument with Quintus - (now Marcus' libellis - secretary - and apparitor Gracchi).
This was nothing unusual.
Quintus, who was just a slave, however, was a stickler for detail, and was always nitpicking with Terentius.
"Thank the Gods you're here !", Terentius said in relief.
"Quintus is driving me crazy with his obsession with perfect Latin grammar."
"So .... did you get time to speak to the boy - and also, how are preparations going in the amphitheater for the funeral ceremony and oration ?", Terentius asked, trying to get his table cleared of rolls of papyrus.
"Well, Marcus seems to have everything sorted out in the amphitheater, and yes.... I did speak to the boy.... and a messenger boy also brought me your scroll - beautifully written, may I say, by Quintus.", Petronius added, trying to placate Quintus, who calmed down when he realised that at least someone appreciated his work.
"Yes, and Quintus - now please don't take this the wrong way, - but I need to speak to Petronius privately for a moment, so could you leave us - just get on with writing some of your scrolls."
Quintus, realising that Terentius had some difficult business to deal with, picked up a bundle of scrolls and left the study, muttering under his breath about Horace
Quintus Horatius Flaccus (December 8, 65 BC – November 27, 8 BC), an associate of Maecenas - and renowned for the superb style of his Latin verse, - Gracchus had named his slave 'Quintus' because of his obsession with Latin style and grammar.
"Petronius - this business about you being granted your freedom.
I want you to understand that the late Dominus dearly wanted to do this for you, but he also knew that Marcus needed your help and support.
" Terentius paused for a moment, to work out what he was going to say next.
"So he transferred ownership to Marcus, and you became Marcus' slave - and then he was unable to free you, but had to leave that decision to Marcus.
Marcus felt then, that if he freed you, he would appear to be ungrateful to the late Dominus - and it was only with the tragic demise of Gracchus that he then felt able to give you your freedom.
Then, when Servius betrayed us, it seemed obvious to both Marcus and myself that, as 'dominus amphitheatro' - responsible for the secure management of gladiators and condemned prisoners, it would be appropriate for you to also be Tribunus (commanding officer), responsible for the villa guards, and the security of the Dominus himself and therefore for the two positions to be merged.
Just to make things clear to you - legally you are now a 'client' of the Dominus Marcus, as I am, and your legal name will include the name of the Dominus - so - Petronius Marcus Octavianus (Gracchii libertus) - as my legal name is Terentius Gnaeus Octavianus.
I hope that makes everything clear to you.
"
Petronius nodded.
"Quintus is probably now preparing papers allocating to you the salary for both your positions, and also complete ownership of the villa, previously used by Servius - although I would imagine that you will probably want to sell it - and I can arrange that for you also - but I will take no fee - as you are my friend." Terentius continued.
"I am grateful", Petronius replied.
And so it seemed that the slight breach that had occurred between the two men, with the appearance of Demetrios was now healed, as they worked together to help and support their new Dominus.

NOVIUS  EST  AUGURIUM  OPERA EIUS

'Novius Works his Enchantment' - Marcus had returned from the Amphitheatre, and had managed to get Glaux to stay with Aurarius.
Marcus then bathed and changed his clothes.
As soon as he came back into the atrium, Glaux abandoned Aurarius, and fluttered over to Marcus, and perched on his shoulder.
"Damn this bird !" Marcus said, looking at the now wide awake owl, who looked back at him defiantly.
Deciding it was easier to give up on the matter, he then went down to the 'Officium est Dominus' (as Gracchus' study was now called).
There Novius and Terentius were waiting for him.
"Ah, I see Glaux has brought you with him !", Novius said, with a mischievous grin.
"Greetings, dear friend !", Marcus said.
"Yes, I can't get rid of the damn bird !
"He sat on my shoulder, fast asleep all day, while I was at the amphitheater, - sat with Aurarius while I bathed, and then was back on my shoulder as I came here.", Marcus continued.
"Well, that's not surprising.
They don't like water.
But remember - you should start worrying when he flies away, and doesn't come back." Novius warned.
"Now I have a few things that I would like you to do for me, Dominus", Novius began.
"Go on..... ", Marcus said.
Glaux Stands Guard
With that Novius placed onto the marble topped study table a thin necked, stoppered jug, a small scroll and a gold Etruscan pendant.
Glaux immediately fluttered down, and paced warily around the jug, striking it with his beak a couple of times.
Satisfied that it was harmless, he then went over to the scroll and nibbled at it.
"That's enough Glaux !" Novius said firmly.
"That scroll is very valuable !",
Glaux cocked his head to one side, and gave Novius a suspicious look, and then decided to stand guard over the objects, on the table.
Presumably the pendant, in the form of an Etruscan spirit, was a little too intimidating for him to investigate.
"The first thing is for the slaves to curtain off one corner of the study, so that you can hear all that is said, but not be seen.", Novius said, returning to his theme, after the interruption by the inquisitive owl.
"Well that's easily done, and very sensible ", Marcus said.
"Can you arrange that, Terentius ?".
Terentius nodded, and left the room momentarily.
Novius turned to Marcus.
"Now the jug contains 'kykeon' (κυκεών), Dominus, which is a potent narcotic that is able to open the 'gates of the mind'.
The barley used in  kykeon (from κυκάω, "to stir, to mix"), is parasitized by ergot, and the psychoactive properties of that fungus trigger an experience of depersonalisation which intensifies the hypnotic trance associated with it. The use of hypnotic states originated in ancient Egypt, and the knowledge was passed on to the Greeks, and by them to the Etruscans. Such states were exemplified in the ancient practice of oracles – individuals employed by temples to divine the future. Like 'Sleep Temples' in Egypt and Greece, individual expectation and 'overload' were essential ingredients for both the oracle and the subject.These were accomplished through preparatory processes including the drinking of herbal mixtures (kykeon). The result of this process was a heightened suggestibility in the mind of the subject, creating a receptive environment for a profound emotional experience.
"The scroll contains a powerful 'invocation', which demands that the God Hypnos, the son of Nyx ("The Night") and Erebus ("The Darkness"), whose brother is Thanatos ("Death"), assist us in our endeavours.
The pendant is simply an attractive, glittering object, which, if concentrated on, can steal away a person's control and mastery of their thought and memories.
"
Marcus listened and looked at the paraphernalia, fascinated.
"Now we need to have exactly half the 'kykeon' taken to Servius.
He must drink it, and then, after it has entered into his system, he must be brought into this room, where I shall 'steal' and expose his thoughts and memories - for your benefit, Dominus.
" Novius concluded.
"Terentius. Can you attend to that ?", Marcus asked.
"Of course, Dominus", Terentius replied, taking the flask from the marble topped table, and getting pecked by Glaux for his trouble
"And Terentius - a little later, give the other half to Demetrius, so that he is ready when I have finished with Servius.", Novius added.
Terentius nodded, and then left the room with the flask, while Novius unrolled the scroll.
Novius burned a small pinch of incense , and read, in Oscan, from the scroll.
The room seemed to become strangely dark, and a very timid owl, flew up onto Marcus' shoulder.
Marcus then went behind the temporarily hung curtain, to await developments.

   SERVIUS LOQUOR
   
Servius
'Servius Speaks' - Terentius and a guard then brought Servius into the room.
Terentius then, unobserved by Servius, stepped behind the curtain to join Marcus in the alcove, while the guard left the room.
Servius looked somewhat emaciated (presumably he had not been well fed since having been brought to the villa some time previously) and was only wearing a brief loincloth.
His eyes looked strange, and he had a vacant expression.
"Come and sit down." Novius said, guiding the young man to a couch.
"You have nothing to fear...... I just want to have a little talk with you.", Novius continued, reassuringly.
Servius sat down.
He looked around the room - where presumably he had possibly committed the murder, but didn't seem to recognise it.
Novius then picked up the pendant, which was attached to a long gold chain, from the table.
"I have something here - very special - that I would like you to look at."
The glint of gold immediately caught Servius' eye.
"It's very old - from the time when Rome was founded.
Very....very...... very old.", and as Novus said this, he began to swing the pendant in front of Servius ' eyes.
"Very.... very .....very old.", and each time he said 'very' he swung the pendant.
Then as Servius' eyelids fluttered, there was an audible rumble of distant thunder, just as had happened on the night of the murder.
In a matter of moments Servius's eyes had glazed over and, it seemed, he was seeing nothing.
Novius then read, in Oscan, a second brief invocation from the scroll.
The 'Enchantment' of Servius
"That's good, Servius." Novius said, and paused, to make sure that Servius was fully affected by the kykeon, and the invocation.
"And where are you now, Servius ?", Novius asked.
"I really don't know.", Servius replied, sleepily.
"Well....I want you to go back to when you first came to the villa, and met Gracchus.
Tell me what happened."
"It was Tribune Marcellus - he was a client of Gracchus, and recommended me to him.
I was serving with the Legio XIII at the time.
Gracchus interviewed me, and said he had a slave boy, called Markos, who needed a coach to build him up, physically.
It all sounded very odd to me - but I presumed that this man had a 'thing' about muscular young boys, and wanted his 'favourite' to put on some muscle.
What was also strange was that this slave-boy had a Latin, and a Greek tutor.
Anyway, Marcellus had arranged it, somehow, that I still got my centurion's pay, and also got a ridiculously high salary from this Gracchus - who seemed to be enormously rich - at least he had a huge villa, hundreds of slaves, and his own amphitheater.
I was to live in the villa, which was in a really high class town on the coast - so I couldn't believe my luck." Servius said, enthusiastically.
"And what about the slave boy.?". Novius asked, gently moving the story on.
"I could understand why he might be this rich man's favourite.", Servius continued.
"He was quite attractive, very well spoken but had a funny accent - like a Greek.
He had a thing about training naked, which it seems he picked up in Athens, where he used to live.
I didn't mind, but it did turn my mind to fucking him." Servius said.
"And did you fuck him ?", Novius asked.
"Yes - on the beach, in a place we thought was hidden - but Gracchus' guards saw us, and reported us.", Servius replied.
"And what happened ?", Novius asked.
"Gracchus spoke to me - but he didn't do anything, and then later he made me Tribunus.
But he also adopted this slave-boy, Markos - so eventually Markos, then became Marcus Octavianus Gracchus - would you believe ? - and was above me, and I had to call him 'iuvenes dominus' - so I had this position, but no power - me a Roman citizen, being ordered around by a Greek slave-boy !"
"So why didn't you leave your post ?", Novius asked.
"Well, by then I had some rather heavy gambling debts from by dealings in Baiae and Neapolis, and so I needed the position for the salary - but with this slave-boy Marcus taking over everything, I was looking for a way to lessen his power.", Servius continued.
"And did you find a way." Novius asked.
"Yes. I got friendly with two slave-boys Glykon and Cleon, who had connections with Rome, through a young gladiator called Petram, and were planning to get rid of Marcus.
The two boys were very jealous of Markos.
Apparently Markos had 'dropped' both of them, having a new boyfriend - Petronius.
My part in their plan was to let Cleon escape, weaken the guard around Marcus, and generally not pursue any investigations into the matter - for which I was to be well paid."
"And what happened next ?", Novius said, continuing his questioning.
"The attempt to get rid of Marcus failed - Terentius killed Cleon, and the other two boys were locked up in the Ludus.
I was responsible for their interrogation and torture - but I didn't pursue the matter very vigorously, especially when Petronius was there - as I didn't want them to implicate me in any way.
Then Gracchus sent me and Petronius to Rome - it seems to arrange for the killing of Marcus Sabinus, the senator who had helped in putting the boys up to getting rid of Marcus.
He had a problem with Marcus because of the murder of Nymphidius.
It was there that I met Menelaus - who was working secretly for Marcus Sabinus, and it was through Menelaus that I discovered about the boy Demetrios - who was supposed to be the real son of Gracchus - but was really just another slave.
Sabinus wanted Menelaus, who was a sort of guardian of Demetrios, to put the boy up as the real heir of Gracchus - and so get rid of Marcus.
Menelaus therefore faked the death of Sabinus - who is now in Antioch - and told me to take the boy Demetrios to the villa in Baiae.
The problem was that - as soon as I saw the boy Demetrios - I got obsessed with him, and wanted him for myself - and forgot all about  Menelaus' plan - and I got this idea to buy the boy off Gracchus - which was crazy, as it seems the boy really was Gracchus' real son.
When I went to see Gracchus about the boy Demetrios, we quarrelled, and I lost my temper.
He was holding the pugio that we had brought him from Rome, and when I grabbed hold of him, he fell forwards onto the table , and the pugio went into him - but I didn't kill him !
So I panicked, got the boy, and rode back to my little villa in Baiae, where the villa guards found me, and took me and the boy back to Gracchus' villa.", Servius concluded.
"Well that is all very interesting - but now I am sure that you are very tired.", Novius said, very quietly.
Servius nodded.
"Now, when I click my fingers you will forget everything that has happened since you sat down in that chair.
Is that clear ?", Novius said forcefully.
"Yes !", Servius answered obediently.
Novius then clicked his fingers, and Servius opened his eyes and looked around, a little confused.
"So what were e saying ?",Servius asked, obviously confused.
"Oh - nothing in particular !", Novius answered, calmly.
"You may go now !"
Terentius then emerged from the curtained off area, took Servius by the arm, and guided him to the doorway of the study.
Marcus then pulled the curtains to one side, and emerged to speak to Novius.
Novius was smiling.
"What's amusing you ?", Marcus asked, seeming somewhat annoyed.
"Well in case you haven't noticed - you have a sleeping owl sitting on your shoulder.
At this time of night he should be wide awake - so I do hope he has not become 'enchanted', like Servius.", Novius replied.
"Well at least I might get a bit of peace if he stays like that for a while.", Marcus said, looking at his sleeping companion.
"So .... what did you think, Dominus ?", Novius asked.
"I found it very disturbing.", Marcus replied.
"I'm sorry.
I didn't realise that my methods might displease you, Dominus.", Novius replied, rather taken aback.
"No ....Don't misunderstand me.
Your methods I find fascinating.
What disturbs me is what Servius told us.
I first met Servius shortly after I arrived at the villa, and for a long time I thought of him as my friend.
Now I learn, from his own mouth, that for most of the time that I have known him he resented me, and has plotted against me, and deceived the late Dominus.", Marcus said angrily.
"People do not always mean what they say, young Dominus - and often dissemble - after all, why should  Centurion, and a Roman citizen, want to be the 'friend' of a 'Greek' slave-boy ?", Novius said gently.
"Yes..... I was a fool !", Marcus admitted ruefully.
"No....not at all.
You simply didn't know, at that time, what it meant to be a slave.", Novius explained.
"Do you believe him when he says that he did not murder the late Dominus ?", Novius asked.
"Yes... I think that - despite everything -  he is probably telling the truth.
I don't think that Servius is a cold blooded murderer." , Marcus replied - and then paused, thoughtfully.
"So, Terentius - let's hear from the boy Demetrios now !", Marcus said, as Terentius re-entered the study.
"At once.", Terentius said, turning on his heel, and disappearing to get Demetrius.


   DEMETRIOS  LOQUOR

'Demetrios Speaks' - Some moments later Terentius returned with a very frightened looking Demetrios, wearing a beautiful, newly cleaned, white Greek tunic.
"Come and sit down, young man." Novius said, guiding Demetrios to a couch.
"You have nothing to fear...... I just want to have a little talk with you.", Novius continued, reassuringly.
The 'Enchantment' of Demetrios
Demetrios sat down, and looked nervously round the room.
Novius then picked up the pendant, which was attached to a long gold chain, from the table.
"I have something here - very special - that I would like you to look at."
"It's very old - from the time when Rome was founded.
Very....very...... very old.", and as Novus said this, he began to swing the pendant in front of Demetrios' eyes.
"Very.... very .....very old.", and each time he said 'very' he swung the pendant.
But before the pendant had been swing more than a few times, Demetrios mouth dropped open, and his eyes stared, apparently unseeing, at Novius.
"That's good, young man - very good.
Now just relax."
Then Novius began the questions.
"Tell me, where do you live ?" Novius began
"In Rome, sir." Demetrios answered - in Greek.
(because of the effects of the enchantment - as his mother was Greek, and had brought him up speaking Greek )
"And how long have you lived in Rome ?", Novius asked.
"All my life.", Demetrios replied.
"Do you remember your parents ?", Novius continued.
"Yes - I remember my mother - but she's dead now.", Demetrios said, with a touch of sadness in his voice.
"And your father ?", Novius queried.
"No - I don't know who my father was.", Demetrios replied in an emotionless manner.
"And when were you bought as a slave, Demetrios ?" Novius continued.
"I think that I was always a slave, sir." Demetrios said.
"Where did you live in Rome ?", Novius asked.
"In a very big house - more like a palace - they called it the Domus Gracchii.
It was named after the rich man who owned it - but he didn't  live there.
He just visited, sometimes, and when he came I was not allowed to see him.", Demetrios replied, providing far more information than Novius has asked for.
"So tell me - why weren't' you allowed to see him, Demetrios." Novius asked becoming very curious.
"I think it was because he didn't like little boys.", Demetrios replied.
"And Terentius, the man who gave you a drink, and later brought you into this room.
Did you ever meet him at this big house ?"
"I saw him, but he never spoke to me.
I got the feeling he didn't like me." Demetrios said sharply.
"If the owner of the big house wasn't there very often - then who was in charge ?, Novius asked, probing more deeply.
"That was a man called Menelaus - but he treated me badly - beat me, and did other things.", Demetrios replied, bitterly.
"He used me as his personal slave when I was older, and always took me with him when he went around the city.", Demetrios continued.
"And on these trips round the city - did Menelaus ever visit a man called Marcus Sabinus ?", Novius asked.
"Yes - I remember that name, because the man had a very big house, and was always very nice to me.", Demetrios innocently replied.
"Now tell me,", Novius continued, "did Menelaus ever take you to a very big villa, in a town called Baiae, by the sea ?"
"Yes, quite a few times.", Demetrios replied.
Novius paused.
"So - recently there were two visitors who stayed at the big house in Rome.
How did you get on with them ?", Novius asked, bringing his questioning to recent events.
"The one called Petronius I really liked.
He was kind and friendly.
The other, called Servius , was more like Menelaus, but younger - and he and Menelaus got on well.", Demetrios explained.
"And what happened between you and Servius ?", Novius asked.
"Well - I didn't like Servius much, but Menelaus said that I should get friendly with him, and do whatever he wanted - as it was possible that Servius could arrange for me to be given my freedom." Demetrios replied.
"And did you believe him ?", Novius asked, incredulously.
"Well..... it was a chance, sir.", Demetrios replied.
"Did this Servius want to have sex with you ?", Novius then asked.
"Yes - he was like Menelaus - he liked fucking boys.", Demetrios replied, apparently unaware of the language he was using.
"So how did you come to be here in Baiae ?", Novius asked.
"Menelaus told me to go the the Forum Romanum, where Servius would meet me  - to take me to a place where he could buy me from my owner.
He said that after he had bought me he would give me my freedom.
But then I found myself in the big villa by the sea, where I had been before, - and with Terentius shouting at me - so I thought that Menelaus and Servius were making a fool of me.", Demetrius replied, bitterly.
"So what happened next ?", Novius asked.
"Then Servius came to the room where I had been put, and took me on horseback to a little villa in the nearby town.
Later men with swords came to the villa, killed all the slaves, tied up Servius, and took us both back to the big villa by the sea.
I was locked in a room - and the only person I saw was Petronius, who came to talk to me - but he looked odd, because he was all dressed in black and gold, and looked very important - not like in Rome." Demetrios explained.
"Well.... that was a very nice talk, Demetrios, but now I expect that you are very tired, so just sleep for a while.", Novius said gently.
Demetrios visibly slumped and his eyes closed completely.
For a moment the only sound in the room was Demetrius, breathing deeply.
"Demetrios ! Can you hear me ?" Novius asked quietly.
"Yes ....", Demetrios replied, sleepily.
"When I click my fingers you will forget everything that has happened since you sat down in that chair.
Is that clear ?", Novius said forcefully.
"Yes sir !", Demetrius answered obediently.
Novius then clicked his fingers, and Demetrios opened his eyes, shook his head, and looked around, a little confused.
"Can we satrt talking ?", Demetrios asked.
"Oh - that - it's nothing.", Novius answered, calmly.
"Go with Terentius. He will take you back to your room."
Terentius then emerged from the curtained off area, took Demetrios by the arm, and guided him to the doorway of the study.
Marcus then emerged from the curtained off corner, with a now bright and perky Glaux on his shoulder.
"I must congratulate, my dear Novius !", Marcus said, shaking the old man's hand.
"I can see now why you were such a good friend of my father !". Marcus continued.
"Your father ?", Novius said, surprised.
"I was wondering when you would make that slip, and show how you really felt."
Marcus, with a single tear running down his cheek, looked closely at Novius.
"You are very clever at getting the truth from people, my friend.", he said, carefully controlling his emotions.
"It's nothing to be ashamed of.", Novius said.
"He was a good father to you, and you were a very good son - and that's the way it should be." Novius concluded.
"Yes - you maybe right - at least about him being a good father.", Marcus said, as Terentius returned to the room.
"So, Terentius !
Now we know - thanks to Novius.", Marcus said, trying to put a brave face on the last few moments.
"Yes, Dominus.
It seems to be very much as we suspected.
The boy Demetrios I think can be trusted.
His account, given to Novius, matches almost exactly the answers that Petronius reported to me, after he had questioned the boy.", Terentius said, reassuringly.
"And what about Servius ? Do we believe what he said about the murder ?", Marcus asked.
"Does it matter, Dominus ?", Novius questioned, shrugging his shoulders.
"For what he has done - regardless of whether his hand was on the pugio or not, I cannot see that he can be allowed to live.", Novius continued.
"That's all very well, and I agree, Novius, but we must remember that Servius is a Roman citizen, and was previously a centurion.", Marcus said.
"Well, we can't let him live - so I suppose the answer may lie with Tribune Marcellus - who is now, apparently, a 'Legatus Legionis'.
From the time of Octavian Augustus, the emperor gave the title of 'Legatus Legionis' to senior commanders (former military tribunes) of a legion, except in Egypt and Mesopotamia, where the legions were commanded by a 'Praefectus Legionis' of an equestrian rank. The Legatus Legionis was under the supreme command of Legatus Augusti pro Praetore, of senatorial rank. A Legatus Legionis could order capital punishment.
"And who is this Marcellus ?", Marcus asked Terentius.
"Well, Dominus, he was a close friend, and a 'client', of the 'late Dominus', and the sponsor and 'patron' of Servius.
You may remember him.... he came to the villa for the Munera ad Augustum.
He almost certainly would know about the boy, and his family, and undoubtedly, once he knew of his friend and patron's death, we could 'lean' on him, as he is a 'Legatus Legionis', to ease the situation regarding the execution of Servius.", Terentius explained.
"That sounds good, Terentius.....
And would it be appropriate to arrange a meeting with him ?", Marcus asked.
"I don't see why not, Dominus.
My informants tell me he is stationed close to Rome - and it would be appropriate to invite him to the funeral ceremonies - and use that as an opportunity for you to be formally  introduced to him - as he is one of your inherited 'clients', so that he could renew his vows of loyalty and service to you.
Then it would be difficult for him to refuse any requests, regarding Servius, that you might make.", Terentius suggested.
"That sounds excellent, Terentius.
Get Quintus to send him one of his excruciatingly polite and formal invitations." Marcus said.
"I will get that done, Dominus.", Terentius replied.
"And now, if you will excuse me changing the subject, Dominus, I think that our next problem is Menelaus.", Terentius said.
"Yes.....and this interests me.
Now, Terentius, do you know why the late Dominus chose Menelaus to be the 'Magister Domus' in Rome and Tibur ?", Marcus asked, looking puzzled.
"I don't think it was really a matter of choice.", Terentius replied.
"Menelaus was originally a Greek slave.
He was very good and efficient at his work, and soon became the indispensable assistant to the 'Magister Domus' of the time - an old but experienced freedman - who subsequently died.
At the time, the late Dominus had started to spend many months here at Baiae, away from his wife, and decide to free Menelaus, in thanks for his support of his elderly 'Magister Domus'.
Obviously Menelaus filled the vacant post of 'Magister Domus'.
Unfortunately, the late Dominus, being so wealthy, had little understanding of the real value of coin, and was inclined to overpay, or more often underpay, those around him.
Fortunately he always paid me well, and he was extremely generous to you when he first freed you, but Menelaus always felt undervalued an underpaid.
Because of this, I felt that he was lax at his work - and he looked to others to help his financial position, which was always compromised by his tastes in expensive boys, drink and gambling.
I think that in that way he fell in with Marcus Sabinus." Terentius explained.
"Well he should be here tomorrow, and then, if Novius agrees, I think that we might try some Etruscan 'enchantment' on him - and get at the truth of the matter.", Marcus said, looking to Novius.
"That would be no problem, Dominus.", Novius replied.
"So,... gentlemen, I think that we have done well today - and now I am going to retire, to dine with Petronius, and hopefully this very alert bird will fly off to do some hunting, and leave me alone for a while.", Marcus said to Novius and Terentius.
"And Novius !", Marcus called as he was leaving.
"There is a carriage for you at the main entrance or, if you prefer there is a suite prepared, so that you can stay the night."
"Thank you, Dominus, but I would prefer to go back to my villa.
I will see you in the morning - tomorrow - if that is convenient ?", Novius said, as the large bronze doors were opened, and he left the study.
Marcus turned to Terentius.
"Things are going well, my friend, but we are running out of time.
Have the guest invitations for the funeral celebrations been sent" Marcus said.
"Of course, Dominus !", Terentius replied.
And with that Terentius left the room to go to his study, and Marcus left for his private apartments.
After a pleasant meal with Petronius, Marcus retired to his bed.
Previously, during the day, an artist from Neapolis had offered, for his approval, a death mask of the late Dominus.
It was a fine piece of work, and Marcus had given his approval, and instructed Terentius to make an appropriate payment - at the same time ordering three more copies.
Noble Roman families (like the House of Gracchus) often displayed a series of  'imagines maiorum' (images of the ancestors) (sing. imago, pl. imagines) in the atria of their villa or domus. These "images" were usually funeral masks. The "images" could be arranged in a family tree, with a title (titulus) summarizing the individual's offices held (honores) and accomplishments (res gestae), a practice that might be facilitated by hanging masks.Funeral masks were usually made of wax, and possibly molded as death masks directly from the deceased. They were also copied from wax masks and created in ceramic or painted bronze.They were often worn in the funeral procession by slaves or appropriate members of the family, and displayed during the funeral rites.The display of ancestral images in aristocratic houses of the Republic and the public funerals are described by Pliny, Natural History 35, 4-11.
That night however, the mask came to haunt Marcus' dreams.
He found himself by the river Στύξ - Styx.
In Greek mythology, Στύξ - Styx is a river that forms the boundary between Earth and the Underworld. The rivers Styx, Phlegethon, Acheron, Lethe, and Cocytus all converge at the center of the underworld on a great marsh.
There, by the river, was the same figure that Marcus had seen in the garden, the night that Gracchus was murdered.
This time he took it to be Thanatos - the beautiful young God of Death.
He then saw, superimposed on this vision of the River of the Dead, the death mask of Gracchus, along with the live face of a boy - who he took to be Demetrios - but then, it could equally have been Gracchus when he was a boy.
The boy was smiling at him, but the mask of Gracchus was eyeless, and without expression.
Marcus woke up in a cold sweat, wishing that Glaux was snuggled up beside him on his pillow - but Glaux was far away..... hunting in the night.....
ALIUM  DIEM

'Another Day' - And so preparations for the funeral of the late Dominus were frantically put into effect - with invitations being sent out to all those with significant connections to the House of Gracchus.
The funeral was an important social event, as many of those attending the funeral would have their first chance to meet the new Dominus, and his circle of advisers.
In addition, most of those attending would be clients whom the new Dominus had inherited, and the funeral would be the occasion on which they could offer their oath of fealty, loyalty and service to Marcus as their new Dominus.
Funerals usually took place soon after death, as bodies were not normally embalmed. The Roman funeral was a rite of passage that signified the transition between the states of life and death. It was very important to conduct the proper ceremonies in order to avoid having a malicious spirit rising from the underworld. The more wealthy and famous the deceased was in life, the more elaborate were these ceremonies - and Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus was undoubtedly wealthy and famous. Freedmen and clients of the deceased, also participated in the procession as a way of showing respect to their patron. After cremation, the ashes and remaining fragments of bones and teeth were interned in a funerary urn. It was believed that until the funeral rites had been completed, the “shade” (spirit) had not crossed the River Styx (see above) yet (the river that takes one from the World of the Living to the World of the Dead). Thus, there was a sense that the psychic impression of the deceased still lingered around friends and family, and the spirit would become angered if anything negative was said about it. The Eulogy ('laudatio funebris') was a formal oration or 'panegyric' in praise of the dead, which followed the cremation. It was one of two forms of discourse at a Roman funeral, the other being the chant (nenia). The practice is associated with noble families,. On the ninth day after the person died, the funeral feast and rites called the 'Novendialis' were held. A libation to the Manes (spirits of the deceased) was poured onto the grave, or for the wealthy, into a trench in front of the mausoleum. Also, in the case of the very wealthy, the 'Novendialis' could include a 'Munera' - as was being arranged for the funeral rites of Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus. The 'Novendialis' then concluded the period of full mourning. 
Later in the day, Menelaus arrived from Rome, by carriage, at the Villa.
He was instantly led through the newly decorated Atrium Magna, and escorted by guards into the 'Officium est Dominus'.
Marcus Octavianus Gracchus - complete with his inevitable companion - Glaux -  was standing at the large marble topped table.
Behind him, and to either side stood Terentius, Novius and Petronius and Quintus.
Marcus, before offering any greeting to a rather overawed Menelaus began very formally.
"This gentleman, who I believe you have met before," indicating Terentius, "is the 'Excelsum Procuratoris ad nobilium domos Gracchi' (High Steward of the Noble House of the Gracchus), and this gentleman," indicating Novius - "is the Consiliarius ad nobilium domos Gracchi (Counsellor to the Noble House of Gracchus).
This young man, who you have also met in Rome, is the Tribunus et Dominus Amphitheatro ex nobilissima domos Gracchi (Commanding Officer and Master of the Amphitheater to the Noble House of Gracchus)."
Finally Marcus indicated Quintus.
"This is the Dominus Secretarius ad nobilium domos Gracchi (Secretary to the Lord of the Noble House of Gracchus), and he will record all that is said at this meeting."
There was then an embarrassed silence.
Menelaus had looked surprised, but had tried to hide his concrn, when Petronius was named as 'Tribunus ex nobilissima domos Gracchi' - as he presumably believed that Servius still held that post.
"Salutem Dominus !", Menelaus then said, suddenly realising that Marcus had finished, and that he was expected to speak next.
"I wish to convey my deep condolences, and those of all at the Domus in Rome, and the villa in Tibur, for your tragic loss."
Marcus nodded, but said nothing - while Glaux, who had woken from his doze, sensing something interesting was happening, decided to try to look menacing (but not very successfully).
"I have heard so much about you Dominus, and now I am able to finally meet you, - but not, unfortunately, in the best of circumstances.", Menelaus continued, stuttering occasionally.
Petronius watched Menelaus closely, and he was very much surprised to see the rather arrogant and blustering individual that he had met in Rome, now reduced to the level of a stuttering slave.
"I think perhaps you have heard a little too much, and not all of it true.", Marcus replied, enigmatically.
Menelaus looked puzzled.
"With respect.... I do not understand you, Dominus." Menelaus said.
"I have been informed that your work in Rome and Tibur has left much to be desired, and that you have been involved with individuals who have not had the best interests of the House of Gracchus at heart." Marcus stated coldly.
"I'm sorry to hear that, Dominus.
I have always done my best to serve the House of Gracchus.", Menelaus replied.
"I think not.", Marcus replied.
"Terentius received a letter from you recently, saying that the slave boy, Demetrios had run away from the Domus in Rome.
I know, however, that you arranged for him to be taken from Rome by the young man called Servius, and brought to this villa - for reasons which I am  not prepared to discus at the moment.
Well ..... you may be interested to know that the young man Servius - now no longer my Tribune,  is chained naked in a cell in the Ludus here, awaiting execution.", Marcus continued.
Marcus then turned to Petronius.
Servius - Chained and Tortured
"Tribune....have this man taken to the Ludus, under guard!", Marcus ordered.
"No ! ... Please Dominus !.... You don't understand !...... It was all a mistake !..... ", Menelaus begged, but within moments he was hustled out of the door by Petronius' guards - his protests no longer audible.
As Menelaus was led away, Novius warned Marcus against letting Menelaus see Servius.
"Firstly they may communicate in a way that might interfere with your investigations.
Secondly if he sees what has happened to Servius, he may be too fearful for us to extract the truth from him. - Terror does not always loosen a man's tongue, or at least make him speak the truth." Novius said carefully.
"That is true.", Marcus replied.
"I suggest that Menelaus is only stripped to his lorum indusia (thong), and chained up." Novius added
Servius had been stripped completely naked, chained to a metal frame, and impaled through his anus on a large iron phallus. Servius had then become immediately 'priapic' [highly sexually aroused] - and the guards punished his erotic response by painfully binding his penis, and hanging a heavy weight from his scrotum. They were careful, however, not to make the weight too heavy, as Petronius had ordered that Servius was to have his testicles and penis cut off, (so it is not wise to lie to Petronius), while he was being publicly executed during the Ludi, in the arena.
Bulla
The God Priapus - Roman Bronze
The phallus was ubiquitous in Roman culture, particularly in the form of the 'fascinum', a phallic charm. Statues of Priapus - a phallic God - guarded Roman gardens. Roman boys wore the 'bulla' (which features in this story), which is an amulet that contains a phallic charm, until they formally came of age. A sacred phallus was among the objects considered vital to the security of the Roman state, which were in the keeping of the Vestal Virgins in Rome. Sexuality in ancient Rome is characterized as "phallocentric" (see 'Preface' and 'Sexuality in Ancient Rome').
"So go and speak to Petronius now, and then return to me, as I want to spend some time with you learning about the correct way to celebrate the rituals connected with the funeral." Marcus said, as Novius left the room to join Petronius for a moment.
"I will leave you now to make arrangements, with the help of Quintus, with regards to the funeral.", Marcus then said, turning to Terentius.
"Of course, Dominus !", Terentius dutifully replied, and he and Quintus went off to Terentius' study.
Marcus then sat and mulled over the recent events, and pondered on his disturbing dream of the previous night, while he awaited the return of Novius.

   MENELAUS  LOQUOR

'Menelaus Speaks' - That evening, after Novius had carefully explained to Marcus the complex rituals involved in celebrating the funeral of a man of wealth and renown like Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus (which would include an eulogy - to be composed by Lucius - and read by Marcus), Novius, Terentius and Petronius, (along with a wide awake Glaux), met in the 'Officium est Dominus', so that Novius could 'work his magic' on Menelaus, and maybe finally unravel the conspiracy masterminded by Marcus Sabinus, and the mystery of young Demetrios.
Menelaus had been brought over from the Ludus.
Then, Menelaus was brought into the 'Officium est Dominus', clad in only a tiny thong - and Petronius, being unsure of Menelaus' reaction to Novius, had taken the precaution of keeping the suspect bound.
The 'Enchantment' of Menelaus
Petronius, however, didn't take into account the effects of the κυκάω - kykeon - which not only acted as a hallucinogenic, but also as a sedative.
So, Menelaus sat quietly as Novius recited the incantation in Oscan, and gently swung the ancient pendant, and in a very short time Menelaus was amenable to answering any questions put to him.
"So you are the 'Magister Domus' of the 'Domus Gracchi' in Rome, and at the Villa at Tibur ?", Novius began, with an obvious and simple question.
"I am.", Menelaus replied.
"Let me take you back many years - there was a young boy born to a slave-girl - a slave-boy called Demetrios - is that correct ?", Novius continued.
"That is correct !", Menelaus answered mechanically.
"And who was the father of that slave-boy Demetrius ?" Novius asked.
"The father was Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus, the owner of the house, and the owner of the slave-girl - and the slave-boy - and my patron.", Menelaus answered, succinctly.
"And what happened to this slave-boy ?" Novius continued.
"Well....the father did not repudiate him - publicly at least - did not do away with him, or sell him - but rather hid him away, never seeing him, or even meeting him.", Menelaus answered.
"And why was that ?", Novius asked, arriving at an important point in his questioning.
"I really don't know.
Perhaps he feared public ridicule, or problems with his wife - he was married at the time - or he just couldn't face the boy... - I don't know... " Menelaus trailed off - seemingly baffled.
"So who cared for the boy ?", Novius asked, pursuing a different line.
"At first the mother - but then she died - and then it was put to me to be his guardian - as no one else wanted to care for him.", Menelaus answered. 
"So why did you decide to look after the boy ?", Novius asked, curious.
"Well as Gracchus - his owner, didn't want him, then I could have him as my own, personal slave.
At the time I didn't have any slaves - and I thought that when Gracchus died, there was always a possibility that he - as Gracchus' son - even if he was a slave - and he could always be freed -  might inherit - and I could well benefit."
"I see ." Novius said, reflectively.
"So tell me - how did you meet Marcus Sabinus ?", Novius asked - getting to the nub of the matter.
"Well... I have many friends in Rome, some freedmen and some patricians - whom I count as patroni'.
When I would visit in the mornings, I would take Demetrios - when he was older - as he was a very handsome boy - and popular with many of my friends.
One of my friends introduced me to Sabinus - who took a fancy to Demetrios.
He wanted to know about the boy, and eventually persuaded me, over much wine, to tell him of the boy's origins.
At that point Sabinus asked me to become his 'cliens', and I could see that as a great advantage to me."
Patronage (clientela) was the distinctive relationship in Roman society between the patronus and his cliens. The relationship was hierarchical, but obligations were mutual. The patronus was the protector, sponsor, and benefactor of the client; the technical term for this protection was patrocinium. Typically the client was of inferior social class (as in the case of Menalaus and Sabinus), From the emperor at the top to the local municipal man at the bottom, the bonds between these groups found formal expression in legal definition of patrons' responsibilities to clients. Benefits a patron might confer include legal representation in court, loans of money, influencing business deals or marriages, and supporting a client's candidacy for political office or a priesthood. In return, the client was expected to offer his services to his patron as needed. A freedman became the client of his former master.
"So how was Demetrios involved in this relationship between you and Sabinus ?", Novius said, probing more deeply.
"I later learned that Sabinus was a 'cliens' of the 'familia Nymphidii', and had an obligation to avenge, in some way, the House of Gracchus, who, they claimed, had been a cause of the murder of Nymphidius.
He wanted, through me, to place, as the head of the House of Gracchus, the boy Demetrios - who was sccording to Sabinus, the true heir, - displacing Marcus Octavianus Gracchus, on the death of Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus.
As his cliens I felt obliged to assist him in this, and set about arranging matters with the Tribune Servius to have Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus killed - his so-called heir 'Markos', discredited as a 'common slave', and his freed son Demetrius instated as his true heir."
"And what were you to gain by arranging this with Servius.", Novius asked.
"For this I would be well paid - by Sabinus -  and given the position of Senior Steward and Freedman of the House of Gracchus.", Menelaus replied, a little boastfully.
"And to aid in this I believe that you sent Demetrios with Servius to the villa at Baiae ?" Novius asked.
"That is correct.",  Menelaus answered, very formally.
"Well.... that was an informative session, Menelaus, but now I expect that you are very tired, so just sleep for a while.", Novius said gently.
Menelaus slumped forwards, as far as his bond would allow him, and his eyes closed completely.
"Menelaus ! Can you hear me ?" Novius asked quietly.
"Yes !", Menelaus replied, sleepily.
"When I click my fingers you will forget everything that has happened since you sat down in that chair.
Is that clear ?", Novius said forcefully.
"Yes - that is clear !", Menelaus answered obediently.
Novius then clicked his fingers, and Menelaus opened his eyes, shook his head, and looked around, a little confused.
"And what about these questions ?", Menelaus asked.
"Oh - that - it's nothing.", Novius answered, calmly.
"Go with the guard.
He will take you back to the Ludus !" Novius concluded.
CONCLUSIO

'Conclusions' - Marcus, Terentius and Petronius then emerged from their curtained off area.
They were silent - obviously very disturbed by what the had heard.
"I don't think that we need to hear any more.", Marcus said, with a note of resignation in his voice.
"Terentius, you have heard all these sessions - and I would be grateful if you and Quintus, between you, with the help of Novius and Petronius, could write up all this information for me to witness, sign and seal." Marcus asked.
"Of course, Dominus - that will be done tonight." Terentius replied.
"So gentlemen - I think that, as Dominus of the House of Gracchus, I have no option - kill them all ! - except for the boy." Marcus said, grimly.
"Agreed !" Marcus' three advisers said, in unison - and Glaux nodded and blinked.


and the story continues - 
'the Funeral of Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus - and we meet Titus Flavius Vespasianus - and later witness the planning of the Colosseum by Titus and Petronius.
Marcus gives a funeral oration over the funeral pyre of Gnaeus - establishing his position as Dominus of the House of Gracchus - and the Munera is prepared for Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus.
Chapter XXX
(The Funeral of Gracchus)
   
Please note that this chapter contains sexually explicit and violent images and text. If you strongly object to any of these images please contact the blog author at vittoriocarvelli1997@gmail.com and the offending material can be removed. Equally please do not view this chapter if such material may offend.


















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