Chapter XVIII - Finis Neronis

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Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus
Nero was a very strange boy !
Originally known as Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, Nero, was born on 15 December 37 in Antium , near Rome.
Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbu - Nero
For the reader: this first part of the chapter may seem, to some, a little dull, but it is important to the story to understand the links between Gracchus and the family of Augustus (the Julio-Claudian Dynasty) - particularly considering the 'munera' held 'ad Augustum' - held to celebrate the birthday of the 'Divine Augustus', which featured the bloody death of Ferox, and the 'villainy' of Atticus, but more importantly the veiled criticism of Nero in the presence of the guests, after the 'munera'. It was because there was no heir to the Julio-Claudian Dynasty that the revelation of the oracle of Apollo came to pass - bringing about a year long civil war. It was also because Gracchus came to realize the truthfulness of Apollo's prophecy, that he began to put into practice events that would radically transform the life of young Markos.... 
Nero was the only son of Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and Agrippina the Younger, sister of Emperor Caligula.
Nero's father, Gnaeus, was the son of Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus (consul 16 BC) and Antonia Major.
Gnaeus was thus the grandson of Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus (consul 32 BC) and probably Aemilia Lepida on his father's side, and the grandson of (yesMark Antony (the so called 'husband' of Cleoptra), and Octavia Minor on his mother's side, and thus, Nero had as his paternal grandmother Antonia Major, and also claimed more remote descent from Antonia Minor as a great-grandson - later grandson after Claudius adopted him.
Marcus Antonius
Queen Cleopatra
Marcus Antonius (M·ANTONIVS - January 14, 83 BC – August 1, 30 BC), was a Roman politician and general who played a critical role in the transformation of the Roman Republic from an oligarchy into the Principate. Antony was a supporter of Julius Caesar. Later he was a Triumvir with Octavian (Augustus) and Lepidus. Finally he was opposed by Octavian, and he committed suicide with the Ptolemaic Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra.
Octavian Augustus
Through Octavia, Nero was the great-nephew of  Gracchus' favourite Princeps - Octavian Augustus - the same 'DivineAugustus for whom Gracchus held a Munera.
Nero's father had been employed as a praetor, and was a member of Caligula's staff when the latter travelled to the East.
Nero's father was described by Suetonius as a 'murderer' and a 'cheat', who was charged by Emperor Tiberius with treason, adultery and incest.
Tiberius died, however, allowing Nero's faher to escape these charges.
Nero's father died in 39, when Nero was two - which was probably just as well.
Nero's mother was Agrippina the Younger, a great-granddaughter of that Octavian Augustus, and his wife Scribonia, through their daughter Julia the Elder and her husband Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa.
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa (64/62 BC – 12 BC) was a Roman statesman, general and architect. He was a close friend, son-in-law, and lieutenant to Octavian, and was responsible for the construction of some of the most notable buildings in the history of Rome, and for important military victories, most notably at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC against the forces of Mark Antony and Cleopatra.
Agrippina's father, the renowned Germanicus, was a grandson of Augustus's wife, Livia, on one side, and to Mark Antony and Octavia on the other.
Germanicus' mother Antonia Minor, was a daughter of Octavia Minor and Mark Antony.
Octavia was Augustus' elder sister.
Germanicus was also the adopted son of the Emperor Tiberius.

Agrippina poisoned her second husband, Passienus Crispus, so many ancient historians also accuse her of murdering her third husband, the emperor Claudius.
So...... quite some family !

Nero was not expected to become Emperor because his maternal uncle, Caligula, had begun his reign at the age of 24 with enough time to produce his own heir.
Nero's mother, Agrippina, lost favour with Caligula, and was exiled in 39 after her husband's death.
Caligula seized Nero's inheritance, and sent him to be brought up by his less wealthy aunt, Domitia Lepida, who was the mother of the murderous Valeria Messalina, Claudius's third wife.
Caligula, his wife Caesonia, and their infant daughter Julia Drusilla were murdered on 24 January 41.
These events led Claudius, Caligula's uncle, to become Emperor.
Claudius then allowed Agrippina to return from exile.
In 49 AD, Claudius married a fourth time, to Nero's mother Agrippina, despite her being his niece.
To aid Claudius politically, young Nero was adopted in 50, and took the name Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus .
Nero was older than his stepbrother Britannicus, and thus became heir to the throne.
Nero was proclaimed an adult in 51 at the age of 14.
He was appointed proconsul (underage ?), entered and first addressed the Senate, made joint public appearances with Claudius, and was featured in coinage.
In 53, Nero married his stepsister Claudia Octavia.
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus
Claudius died in 54 (probably poisoned by Agrippina) and Nero, taking the name Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, was established as Emperor.
As a boy, Nero had been brought up by Greek slaves - cooks, barbers and the like, while he was supposedly brought up by his aunt, Domitia Lepida - so Nero was not brought up as a Roman boy (he was, in some ways like Marcus - more Greek than Roman).
From his non-Roman slave mentors he developed a fascination for the less reputable aspects of Hellenistic culture, and also some very odd sexual tastes.
The 'die' was cast, and Claudius was undoubtedly too senile, and too much under the influence of Agrippina to realise that Nero was a disaster just waiting to happen.
Interestingly, Nero was popular with many in the plebeian classes in Rome, and other cities, particularly in the Greek east.
Undoubtedly his support of the most 'common' and vulgar aspect of the culture of the time endeared him to the people, who seemed able to overlook the fact that he murdered his motherand his wife, 'married' an adult man (who became his 'husband'), and had cute young Sporus - a slave-boy whom he freed, castrated.
Nero subsequently 'married' Sporus, who then took on the role of Nero's young wife.
For traditional Romans, like Gracchus, this was unacceptable behavior for a average Roman citizen, let alone an Emperor.
And so Nero was eventually declared an 'enemy of the people', (mainly because he was - destroying centuries old Roman traditions, and bankrupting the Empire), by the Senate, of whom Gracchus was a member.
Nero's response was to commit suicide - which left a problem, as their was no obvious heir - and so people like Gracchus were caught up in the frantic attempts to find an appropriate way to rule the vast and ungainly Roman Empire.

So this is why people were coming to the villa in Baiae - mainly Senators and Legates (generals).

The initial question, of course, was -  'Republic' or 'Principate' ?
Assassination of Julius Caesar
Many aristocratic traditionalists, like Gracchus, very much favored a return to the much vaunted Republic - after all, it was to restore the Republic that the 'Liberatores' had murdered Gaius Julius Caesar on the Ides of March.
However, it was Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) and Octavian (Augustus) who had begun the appalling civil war against the 'Liberatores' that had almost destroyed the Roman state, and only ended with the defeat of Anthony, and the establishment of the young Octavian as 'Augustus' and Princeps.
Princeps, however, is not, strictly speaking, the same as Emperor.
Princeps is the 'first Citizen', and legally the Republic still exists.
The title Emperor (in English) comes from the Latin - Imperator, meaning one who holds 'Imperium'.
Imperium is a Latin word which translates roughly as 'the power to command'. In Rome, different kinds of power or authority were distinguished by different terms. Imperium referred to the ability of an individual to command the military. It is not to be confused with auctoritas or potestas, different and generally inferior types of power in the Roman Republic and Empire. Imperium is primarily used to refer to the power that is wielded, in greater or lesser degree, by an individual to whom it is delegated, the term could also be used with a geographical connotation, designating the territorial limits of that imperium.
After Augustus, the rulers of the Roman state no longer referred to themselves as 'Princeps' but rather 'Imperator' - and were, in effect, a 'Royal or Imperial House', (despite the Roman aversion to kings), passing on the 'Imperium' to their familial heirs.
As a permanent title, imperator was used as a 'praenomen' by Roman emperors, and was taken on accession. After the reign of Tiberius, the act of being proclaimed imperator was transformed into the act of imperial accession. In fact, if a general was acclaimed by his troops as imperator, it would be tantamount to a declaration of rebellion against the ruling emperor. At first the term continued to be used in the Republican sense as a victory title but attached to the de facto monarch and head of state, rather than the actual military commander. In time Imperator became the title of the de facto monarch, pronounced upon (and synonymous with) their assumption. 
Gracchus, and many like him, although nostalgic for the Republic, realised, as had Gaius Julius Caesar, and his adopted son Octavian (later known as Augustus), that the empire was too large, complex and unwieldly to be ruled by a Republican government.
To such men, a Principate was the obvious answer.
A republican structure, moved and guided by the imperium of a 'dictator'.

So Gracchus hoped to see, after the death of Nero, a re-establishment of an 'Augustan Principate', and this was possible, as the Julio-Claudian Dynasty had come to an end (Nero had no heir).
The term Julio-Claudian dynasty refers to the first five Roman emperors - Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero - and the family to which they belonged. They ruled the Roman Empire from its formation under Augustus in the second half of the 1st century (44/31/27) BC, until AD 68 when the last of the line, Nero, committed suicide. Strangely, no Julio-Claudian ruler was a 'blood descendant' of his immediate predecessor. Although Tiberius and Claudius had potential heirs (grandson Tiberius Gemellus and son Britannicus, respectively) available for the succession, both were, in turn, ultimately succeeded by their great-nephews, Caligula and Nero, respectively
Unfortunately Gracchus was not aware of anyone who could take on the role of 'Princeps'.
(And just in case you were thinking that Gracchus could consider himself for the position .....
a Princeps had to be a military leader, supported by the Legions, and in addition would usually be actively involved in Roman  politics, which Gracchus was not.
A more subtle reason for Gracchus not putting himself forward as Princeps was the fact that the oracle of Apollo had told him that his time was limited, and therefore his position as Princeps would only put off the time when a long term candidate would need to be found.)
Gracchus, of course, through his complex business and financial interests, had a huge web of  'clientes' (who could act as 'informers').
As a result, couriers were constantly arriving at the villa, and much of the time poor Glykon was at a loss as to what to do, and needed a great deal of help from Terentius, (Gracchus' senior freedman - you met him right at the beginning of the story), in order to distinguish which visitors were worthy of Gracchus' personal attention.
More ominous was the arrival of Legates (military leaders) - representatives of various powerful political officials who were attempting to gain the imperium.
Gracchus felt that the sudden, precipitous events surrounding the death of Nero were directly related to the Sibyl's prophecy that had been given to him at Cumæ.
Nymphidius Sabinus
So far the prophesied four claimants to the Imperium had not appeared distinctly, although there were many - and more than four - struggling for power.
It was in June 68, that the Praetorian Guard prefect, Nymphidius Sabinus, as part of a plot to become emperor himself, incited his men to transfer their loyalty from Nero to Galba.
Praetorian Guard
It wasn't until Octavian's accession as 'Augustus', that the Praetorian Guard, as an institution, was established. In the turmoil of nearly a century of civil war and social strife, Augustus saw the need to establish a body of soldiers explicitly loyal to himself. These guardsmen, unlike other military units, engaged in combat or went on campaign only at the direct behest, or in the company of the Emperor, and the Emperor's family. Their primary role, of course, was the personal protection of the Emperor. Augustus set the number of Praetorian cohorts at nine following his establishment of the Principate.  By the reign of Caligula, the number of cohorts had risen to 12; this enlargement may have occurred as early as Tiberius' reign at the behest of his power-hungry Prefect Sejanus, who also consolidated the previously-scattered cohorts at a new walled camp in Rome, the 'Castra Praetoria'. At first each cohort was under the command of an Equestrian rank Tribune, but by the turn of the millennium, Augustus had created the overall command position of the 'Praetorian Praefectus'. The Prefects eventually became incredibly powerful political players themselves.
Gaius Nymphidius Sabinus (c. 35–68) was 'Praetorian Praefectus' during the rule of Emperor Nero from 65 until his death in 68.
He shared this office together with Gaius Ophonius Tigellinus, replacing his previous colleague Faenius Rufus.
During the second half of the 60s, Nero grew increasingly unpopular with the army, leading to a number of rebellions, which ultimately caused his downfall and suicide in 68.
During this time, Nymphidius gradually consolidated his authority over the Praetorians, but to do this he needed to bribe them.
To do so, he travelled from Rome to Baiae, where he attempted to gain the support of Gracchus, through their mutual friend, the Tribune Marcellus.
He also attempted to raise a substantial loan through Gracchus, but Gracchus, fearing rightly that Nymphidius himself was planning to become Emperor - and would probably fail, was only prepared to make the Prefect a moderate loan.
However, using the money he had obtained from Gracchus, Nymphidius succeeded in bribing the Praetorians into declaring for Galba during the provincial revolts of 68 A.D., which led to the senatorial rejection of Nero and to his suicide that same year.
No longer content to help others to the throne, Nymphidius then declared that he himself was a legitimate successor to Nero - a claim which he supported with the dubious assertion that he was the illegitimate son of the former emperor Caligula.
Probably to further his claim, he also took Nero's favourite young eunuch, Sporus, declaring the boy to be his wife, while Nero's body was still burning at the funeral pyre, and calling the boy Poppaea - in the same manner as Nero.
With his limited funds, and vulgar behavior, Nymphidius was killed by his own soldiers.
Gracchus, wisely, made no attempt to recover his loan, content that it would enrich the Praetorians, who finally seemed to have settled the question of the succession.
But it was Nymphidius' proposed visit to Gracchus in Baiae that encouraged Gracchus to push matters forward with regard to the prophecy concerning Markos.
Gracchus had already confided his plans with Terentius, arranging for his trusted freedman to begin the drafting of a Will.
Vestal Virgins
In order to be able to make a valid Roman will, the Testator must have the 'Testamentifactio', which term expresses the legal capacity to make a valid will.The testamentifactio was the privilege only of Roman citizens who were 'patresfamilias' (paterfamilias (plural patres familias), and was the oldest living male in a household. He had complete control of all family members.
The term is Latin for "father of the family" or the "owner of the family estate") so in Rome the making of a will was limited to only certain individuals - such as Gracchus. Originaly, a Roman will was was made in public 'vivâ voce'; - all knew of the legator's intentions, the testator declaring his will in the presence of seven witnesses (and perhaps a temple priest); and it could not be changed – nuncupative testaments - however, in the time of our story all testaments were ordered to be in writing. The objective of the will was to secure the perpetuation of the family, which was done by securing the due vesting of the family in a person who could be relied upon to keep up the family rites. The Romans were apt to set aside testaments, as being 'inofficiosa', if they disinherited or totally passed by (without assigning a true and sufficient reason) any child of the testator - Gracchus, however had no children). Patricians of high status would normally lodge a completed and sealed will with the College of the Vestals, in Rome, who would subsequently be responsible for breaking the seals, on the death of the testator, and making the will public.

In addition to the three documented 'Pseudo-Neros', Suetonius refers to imperial edicts forged in the dead Nero's name that encouraged his followers, and promised his imminent return to avenge himself on his enemies.
Belief in Nero's survival may be attributed in part to the obscure location of Nero's death, although, according to Suetonius, Galba's freedman, Icelus, claimed that he saw the dead emperor's body, and reported back to his master.
Nero was also denied the lavish burial that was accorded to popular emperors, and members of the imperial family, which may have left those plebeians who loved him dissatisfied and suspicious. 
Furthermore, he was not buried in the Mausoleum of Augustus with the other Julio-Claudian emperors, but in a tomb on the Pincian Hill at the family burial place of the 'Domitii Ahenobarbi'.
Mausoleum of Augustus
The post-mortem popularity of Nero among the Roman plebeians inspired them to lay flowers at his tomb.
Another possible source of inspiration for those who impersonated Nero was the circulation of prophecies that predicted he would regain his kingdom in the East.
These prophecies have been tied to Nero's natal chart, which has been interpreted as pointing to a loss of his patrimony, and its recovery in the East.
Tacitus may have been referring to such prophecies in veiled language when he wrote of the rumours that circulated about Nero after his death, which had contributed to the belief that he had survived.
Nero also appears more explicitly in this role in some of the books of the Sibylline Oracles.
Due to the short-lived success of the Nero impostors, and Nero's incorporation into prophetic literature, the belief in Nero's imminent return lasted for centuries.


So how was Marcus involved in these events occurring in Rome ?
To begin with, the rumour that the Emperor (Nero) was dead quickly spread throughout the villa.
It remained a rumour among slaves, however.
Talking politics in Rome - or even Baiae - was not a safe thing to do - even for the rich and powerful, like Gracchus.
It should be remembered that when Gracchus wanted to criticize Nero, he was not prepared to do it directly, but rather made a public event of the deeds of Augustus, in the hope that his influential guests would make a comparison between the deeds of Augustus and those of Nero (see Chapter X)
So while Marcus gossiped and speculated discretely about the death of the Emperor with Glykon and Cleon, and some of the other lower class slaves, he said nothing to his tutors, or to Servius - who was an officer in the Roman Army - or even Petronius - whose status was difficult for Marcus to ascertain.
Then Marcus was summoned to Gracchus' study.
Marcus was hoping that it would be news about his joint venture with Petronius to make an arena presentation of the story of Patroclus and Achilles.
Instead, Gracchus wanted to talk 'politics' - which was , in itself, very, very strange.
"You will doubtless have heard that our Emperor, Nerō Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, is dead."
"Yes Dominus.", Marcus replied, not knowing where this conversation could possibly go.
"Strange as it may seem..... this relates to our visit to Cumae some time ago."
Marcus didn't know how to respond.
"You know, of course, that a prophecy was given by the God Apollo - on a scroll ?", Gracchus continued in a questioning tone.
"Yes, Dominus.", Marcus replied, very nervous by then.
The Prophecy
"'s about time you read the scroll - as part of it is about you !".
"Me !", Marcus spluttered.
"How could it be about me ?"
"Exactly !", Gracchus replied, as he handed the shocked boy the scroll.
"Those who have seen the scroll were puzzled also that you should be mentioned, along with great events of state - but that, it seems is the way with the god !".
Marcus held the scroll in trembling hands, and started reading it.
"The Latin - it's so strange. I can barely understand it.", he muttered, his eyes fixed on the text.
"Well Novius says it was originally in Oscan, ... and to put it briefly - and this is very much the interpretation that Novius gave - and he really knows what he's talking about with such matters - the Emperor will die, there will be four individuals who fight for the Imperium, and one - coming from the East will be successful, and become Emperor.
It seems that shortly after all that has happened.... my time will be up.", Gracchus explained.
"No Dominus....that cannot be !", Marcus cried out, genuinely upset.
"Well I'm not a young man, so it may happen... and I am resigned to it.
But then it mentions a 'golden boy from the sea'....and that's you - who will be my heir !"
The final four word sounded like a thunderclap, although Gracchus spoke them softly and gently.
"Your what ?",Marcus said incredulously, rising from his seat, and putting the scroll down on Gracchus' marble topped table.
"You will be my heir after I am dead.", Gracchus said quietly, as if it were simply an inevitable matter of course.
"You will be the new Dominus - and all that I own, except for a few, small gifts to some of my friends, will become yours.
You will have my name, and you will be a Roman citizen - as I truly believe you once were - and not just a freedman, and therefore you will also inherit my clients, of which there are countless hundreds." he continued.
Clientela was not itself a legal contract, though it was supported by law from earliest times. The pressures to uphold one's obligations were primarily moral, founded on the 'mos maiorum', "ancestral custom," and the qualities of 'fides' ("trust, reliability") on the part of the patron and the 'pietas' ("dutiful devotion") demonstrated by the client. While the Roman 'familia' ("family," but more broadly the "household") was the building block of society, interlocking networks of patronage created highly complex social bonds.In the earliest periods, patricians served as patrons; both 'patricius', 'patrician,' and patronus are related to the Latin word 'pater', "father," in this sense symbolically, indicating the patriarchal nature of Roman society. An important man demonstrated his prestige or dignitas by the number of clients he had, and Gracchus had very many clients.

"And you will inherit all my property, including this villa, and other villas in Rome, and in Greece - and elsewhere.
The Amphitheatre here will be yours, and all my slaves will become your property, and my freedmen will be expected to serve you." Gracchus paused, while Marcus simply looked stunned.
And then Gracchus quietly continued, on that remarkable, quiet morning.
"And in the future, perhaps you will marry, and have a son, and he will be entitled to inherit all that I will leave to you.
And if you do not marry, or like me, you have no son, or male relatives, then you can, like me, adopt a suitable boy, as the Divine Julius did with his nephew Octavian."
Gracchus had spoken so gently and quietly to Marcus that there were tears in his eyes, and he was unsure of whether or not he was dreaming.
He wouldn't have been surprised to wake up in his nice comfortable bed in his first floor cubiculum.
"I'm sorry, Dominus, but I am finding it very hard to believe what you are saying.
Why me ?
What have I done to deserve such an impossibly large and magnificent gift ?.
Marcus was obviously distressed - shaking quite noticeably, and with tears running down his cheeks.
Now if you are not familiar with Roman society - and why should you be ? - you might think that this is all a bit unlikely. A rather talent-less author's way of getting his plot going, and getting his hero out of a rather boring situation. This is not the case, however. In ancient Rome, adoption of boys (boys only) was a fairly common procedure, particularly in the upper patrician class (to which Gracchus belongs) - and in a similar example, capture by pirates - see Chapter I - and being sold into slavery was remarkably common - (it even happened to Julius Caesar.) The need for a male heir, and the expense of raising children, and the Roman inheritance rules (Falcidia lex) strictly demanding 'legitimes' were strong incentives to have at least one son, but not too many children. Adoption, the obvious solution, also served to cement ties between families, thus fostering and reinforcing alliances. Adoption of girls, however, was much less common. It was every patrician's duty to produce sons to inherit the estate, family name and possible political tradition. Roman families therefore typically restricted their families to three or less children. Sometimes, not having enough children proved to be a wrong choice, as infants could die, and the lack of male births was always a risk (as in the case of Gracchus). Augustus (Octavian), the first emperor of the Roman Empire, is possibly the most famous example of adoption in Rome society.
"For me, you have shown 'fides' and  'pietas' (see above), to your tutors, and centurion Servius, you have shown 'obsequium' (respect), and to the other slaves you have shown friendliness and consideration.
In all things you have worked well.
But that, dear Marcus, is not the point.
You were chosen by the God, and that cannot be questioned !", was Gracchus' answer to young Marcus' impassioned question - 'why'.
"Now enough of this !", Gracchus said, suddenly becoming stern.
"If you are to eventually become Dominus, then you need a proper Roman haircut, and not all those boyish curls - so off with you now, to my barber - Terentius will organize it for you - and start looking like a Roman !".
Despite the stern words, there was just the hint of a smile on Gracchus face and a twinkle in his eye, as the conversation lurched from the extraordinary to the mundane.
The shock of Gracchus' change of tack was good, as it brought Marcus back to reality - with a thump - and he left Gracchus study, occupied with something simple, and straightforward - a haircut.
Gracchus' next step was to speak to Marcus' two tutors, Lucius and Aristarchos, his coach, Centurion Servius, and his colleague at the Amphitheater, Petronius.
The four men were lined up in front of Gracchus' marble topped table (desks, as such, hadn't really been invented yet)
"I have asked you here because I have some important news that each of you needs to know.", Gracchus began, in his most formal manner.
"Each of you is involved, in various ways, with the young man that you know as Markos.
For reasons that do not concern you, I have decided to make this young man my eventual successor and heir."
In the silence that followed, there was an audible gasp.
The tutors looked shocked, Servius looked surprised, and Petronius was smiling broadly.
"For this reason, you must redouble you efforts to prepare this young man for his future, onerous role.
Lucius, Aristarchos and Petronius - you should also should also remember that in due time Marcus will become your Dominus, - however, that fact will not effect your attitude toward him in the intervening time, before his adoption is made public - and I do not want you to discuss this matter with him.
Things must continue very much as before until such time as Marcus inherits.", Gracchus continued, formally and sternly.
"When the adoption is formally made, young 'Markos' will then be known as Marcus Octavianus Gnaeus Gracchus, and from then on you will refer to him as 'Iuvenes Dominum' - (Young Master), until I die, and when Marcus inherits, when he will simply become 'Dominus'.
I wish now to make it very clear to you that you are to say nothing about this to anyone, under any circumstances.
For the three of you who are my slaves, any breach of confidence will incur the harshest of all punishments - and you, Servius, will have to answer to Tribune Marcellus.
Now, unless you have any questions  - I wish to speak to Centurion Servius separately and, Petronius.... I want you to wait, and then come to me when the Centurion leaves."
"Thank you, Dominus. Lucius and Aristarchos mumbled, obviously stunned by the unexpected news.
They were accompanied by Petronius, who took up station outside Gracchus door.
Servius stood uneasily in front of Gracchus.
"I am very pleased with you, Centurion - and I am sure we can overlook your brief  'fling' with young Marcus on the beach.
It was understandable as he is a very handsome young lad.
But now things are changing."
"Yes, sir.", Servius began, blushing noticeably.
"About the times on the beach...", Servius struggled on.
"Enough !" Gracchus replied, wearily.
"I have more important things to discuss.
Centurion, my time is limited, and when Marcus becomes the new Dominus you will have to decide on your future."
Servius looked puzzled.
"You may, when Marcus becomes Dominus, go back to your position in the Legion, but I feel that Marcus would want you to stay on, not only as his coach, but also as his 'Tribune', dealing with his security.
If you were to agree to this, Tribune Marcellus has already agreed that you could be allowed to give up your position in the Legion - with a generous pension, of course.
And in your new position, while you would spend most of your time with Marcus - mainly in the villa, and possibly in Rome, you would also be provided with a modest villa here in Baiae, and a 'town house' in Rome.
So what do you say ?"
Servius looked stunned - 
"Well... Dominus - I can do nothing else but accept such a wonderful offer, but hopefully this will not happen until many years from now.", Servius answered, amazed at Gracchus generosity.
"It will probably happen sooner than any of us expect." Gracchus continued, resignedly.
"You may discuss the details of this with my friend, Tribune Marcellus, and when the time comes, Terentius will provide you with all the contracts and deeds that will be required.
Now please go, and send in Petronius."
Gracchus was obviously finding the morning quite and ordeal.
Petronius entered Gracchus' study, and approached Gracchus warily.
"So... young man, are you pleased for Markos ?",Gracchus asked, raising his eyebrows.
"Of course, Dominus - but I don't like all this talk about you dying !", Petronius stated, bluntly.
"Who says you're going to die ?" Petronius insisted, forgetting for a moment that he was just a slave - even if he was, after Markos, Gracchus' favourite.
"I appreciate what you are saying, and your concern for me, Petronius, but the God Apollo has said that after things are settled - and a new emperor is chosen - then my end will come, and Markos shall follow me.
That was in a prophecy, given to me by the Sibyl at Cumae.", Gracchus explained.
"Well then, perhaps it would be as well if they didn't choose a new emperor !" Petronius replied, rather foolishly.
"Well that won't happen !", Gracchus answered, sternly.
There will be a new Emperor, and eventually I will die - maybe soon, after the new Emperor is chosen, - but regardless, - sooner or later, and Markos will become your 'Dominus'.
Now you must think about what will happen then.
At the moment, in case you haven't noticed, Markos is in love with you - or at least infatuated.
So you must think about how you will deal with that, when you become his slave.
Or perhaps he will grant you your freedom, who knows - but that could still cause difficulties.
My advice Petronius, is to be very careful.
Markos had already had his heart broken when he lost his parents, and his freedom.
Make sure that you do not break it again !", Gracchus finished more gently, as he could see that Petronius was becoming upset.
"Of course, 'Dominus'.
I'm sorry about the way I spoke." Petronius replied, apologetically, looking shamefacedly down at his feet.
"But now I have a job for you.", Gracchus said, brightly.
"Markos is having his hair cut.
Go and see him - take this purse of money, and give it to him, and both of you have a sauna, and a massage, and go down to the sea-front and have a good meal - and hopefully Markos will start to get over this morning's 'news'."
"Of course 'Dominus', and thank you." Petronius said, smiling once again - at last.


'Freedom' - Once Gracchus had everything in place, as far as he could judge, with regard to his adoption of Marcus, he then considered it politic to introduce Marcus to certain influential individuals in Baiae, and the surrounding area, and also, more importantly in Rome.
Recent events were undoubtedly working in Gracchus' favour - and he took this to be yet another indication of the legitimacy of the Sibylline prophecy.
The favourable events were that - rather than laboriously travelling to his villa on the Esquiline Hill in Rome, or going to his villa in Tibur, and then meeting up with various senators and other influential individuals, these people were now coming to him, in Baiae, seeking his advice, seeking his support or looking for loans.
Before the trip to Cumae, just after the 'convivium' and 'munera', there had been many rumours at the villa about the relationship (supposedly sexual, as many of the rumours proposed) between Markos and Gracchus.
Subsequently, the rumours had been about the death of the Emperor.
Now, once again, rumours started about Markos (as he was known to most of those who lived at the villa), and the 'Dominus', Gracchus.
How these new rumours started Gracchus had no idea, and he doubted that any of his freedmen, or senior slaves and said anything, but in a place like the villa it was difficult to keep secrets.
The contents of the oracle, given by the Sibyl, however, seemed safe - and that was essential.
What people might wish to think about Markos, at least at this point in time, (Gracchus thought), was not particularly important, but if they knew anything about a prophecy regarding the 'Imperium', that that could mean there would be serious consequences, and some may even have to pay for their indiscretions with their lives.
Gracchus, therefore, decided to let it be known in the villa that Markos had been given his freedom.
That manumission occurred is attested by the many ancient references, both in literature and art, to the presence of freed slaves. Freedom could be granted by the owner but in most cases was actually bought by the slaves themselves, allowing the owner to replenish his workforce. Freedom could be absolute or might be limited and include certain obligations to the former owner such as inheritance rights or the payment of a portion (statuliber) of their earned assets (peculium). The freed slave often took the first two names of their former master, illustrative that manumission was rare, as the family name held great importance in Roman society so that only the most trusted individual would be allowed to 'wear' it. Also, former slaves could become citizens, and even become slave owners themselves. The act of freeing a slave was called manumissio, from manus, "hand" (in the sense of holding or possessing something), and missio, the act of releasing. After manumission, a 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 known as a 'libertus' ("freed person") in relation to his former master, who was called his or her 'patron' (patronus) so a link still existed. The two had mutual obligations to each other within the traditional 'patronage' network. The terms of his manumission might specify the services a 'libertus' owed. The freeing of the slave was a public ceremony, performed before some sort of public official, usually a magistrate. The owner touched the slave on the head with a staff, and he was free to go. Simpler methods were sometimes used, usually with the owner proclaiming a slave's freedom in front of friends and family, or just a simple invitation to recline with the family at dinner.
Because Gracchus was intending Markos to inherit, as well as become free, Markos' manumission was quite unusual.
A legal document was drawn up, stating that Markos would subsequently (after Gracchus demise) inherit Gracchus' 'clients', and that a normal relationship of patronage did not exist between Markos and Gracchus, but rather a 'familial' relationship. 
This meant that Markos' manumission was a partial 'adoption'. 
Two days after Markos' initial interview with Gracchus about his adoption, Gracchus summoned the local magistrate to the villa, and Markos was declared to be free, and 'Cives Romani' - a full Roman Citizen. 
This was unusual, but Gracchus' social position (and wealth) allowed him to ensure that all the appropriate documents relating to the matter could be sealed, without any problems, before the magistrate. 
Collegium Vestalibus
In addition, the Will, detailing Marcus adoption and inheritance, (in his new name), had already been sealed, and delivered by Terentius to the Collegium Vestalibus in Rome. 
It was usual for a freed slave to take the first two names of his former master.
In Markos' case, he was permitted by Gracchus to retain his original name, in Latin (Marcus), and also use the names Octavian Gnaeus (two of Gracchus names) - only taking the name Gracchus when he inherited, on Gracchus' demise (you may notice that now Marcus' second name was that of the great Augustus - Octavian). 
Gold Neronian Sestertius
Within the complex documentation there was also a stipulation that until Marcus inherited, he would be provided by Gracchus with a regular monthly allowance 800 Sestertii, (which for a teenager was a huge amount of money - an average skilled worker's monthly income was less that 40 Sestertii - Centurion Servius was earning 350 Sestertii). 
So, from that day Markos the 'slave' became Marcus Octavian Gnaeus, the Roman Citizen.
The little ceremony of Manumission was brief, and took place in the banqueting hall, where the 'convivium' and 'munera' had been held some time before.
Marcus was dressed in a new, pale blue tunic, and Gracchus was in one of his best togas (not that any of his togas were anything other than 'best').
Where the gilded bust of Octavian Augustus had been placed on the dais, there was now a newly sculptured, Roman style bust of Marcus Octavian (complete with Roman haircut), made by the same sculptor who had sculpted Petronius as Apollo.
Aristarchos, Lucius, Agathon, Nerva, Terentius, Quintus (writing everything down for posterity, of course), Centurion Servius Juvenalis (in full uniform), and the slave-boys Glykon, Cleon, Ariston, and Adonios (grinning from ear to ear, as usual), and, of course, Petronius, in the beautiful white and gold robe that he had worn when Gracchus visited the Amphitheatre with Marcus.
Novius, the old friend of Gracchus, who had been so invaluable in interpreting the Sibylline oracle, and identifying Marcus as the 'aurea puer ad mare', was also present.
Marcus' Silver Slave Collar
At the end of the ceremony Gracchus removed Marcus' silver slave collar, and gave it to him as a memento, and in addition he gave him a red leather purse containing a token amount of gold sesterces, representing the first monthly allowance of 800 sesterces.

Marcus then kissed Gracchus' right hand.
Calpurnius Flaccus depicts a son kissing the hand of his father, apparently as a sign of respect and deference - similarly Tacitus mentions soldiers kissing the hands of their commanders. It may be from this use of the kiss that is derived the metaphorical use of 'to kiss' meaning 'to praise or express admiration for'. Kissing the hand of a superior was also seen as an act of fealty - from the Latin 'fidelitas' (faithfulness), - a pledge of allegiance of one person to another.
Then each of the witnesses came forward and kissed Marcus' hand, the older slaves giving a slight bow,  Centurion Servius Juvenalis,  saluting, and the slave-boys going down on one knee.
Significantly, Petronius, who came last, kissed Marcus on the hand, and on both cheeks - and the meaning was not lost on those present.
And there was subsequently a small scale 'convivium' in the hall, with lots of polite talk, some bawdy jokes, and a general sense of a pleasant interlude, much needed in that time of anxiety.

and the story continues -
Marcus is now free - but the crisis in Rome continues.
Marcus meets Nymphidius Sabinus and
Marcus and Petronius then organize a 'Ludi' for the benefit of  Nymphidius, while Gracchus plots with the Praetorian Tribunes.

(The Year of the Four Emperors - Part III - The Crisis Deepens)

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 and the offending material can be removed. Equally please do not view this chapter if such material may offend.

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