Chapter V - Opus Non Ludem

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.

 'All Work and No Play' - In the mornings Markos will be expected to assist a Greek slave-boy called Glykon.
Markos and Glykon become good friends initially, but subsequently the friendship sours, ending in a far reaching tragedy.
In the afternoons Gracchus expects Markos to take lessons in Greek and Latin with two tutors that he has bought specifically for the purpose, ('bought' because they are slaves - most teachers at this time were slaves).
Marcus is also expected to undertake physical training with a young centurion - Servius - that Gracchus has managed to second from the famous Thirteenth Legion, through the offices of one of his 'cliens', Tribune (and later Legatus) Marcellus.
All goes well for a while, and Markos, rather than living the unpleasant life of a slave, finds that he has a well appointed, beautifully decorated room, with fine furnishings, good food, bathing facilities, personal tutors, the attentions of Gracchus' own Greek doctor, and the use of a gymnasion and indoor pool - along with a 'coach'.
He is, in fact, far better off than many free plebeian boys of his age, and treated as well a many sons of wealthy patricians.
The only problem for Markos is that he never leaves the villa - and is not allowed to even use the extensive grounds and gardens, or the private beach - so he is not free.


'Introductions' - one day, after Markos' interview with Gracchus, Terentius came to the entrance hall in the early morning.
"Come with me, Markos, - there are people I want you to meet."
Terentius led Markos down a corridor - one that he had not seen before, - and took him into a large room.
It was obviously Terentius' main office, and there were a number of slaves, including Quintus, who Markos recognised, working on tablets and papyrus scrolls.
Surprisingly - to Markos, Quintus seemed to be the senior scribus, with other slaves approaching him deferentially to have documents checked, and asking his advice.
At one end of the large room was a pair of imposing doors, leading to a smaller room - obviously Terentius' private 'officium'.
It was lavishly decorated and furnished, and Markos began to realise just how important a person Terentius really was.
There was an imposing table at one end of the room - a table with gilt bronze legs and a marble top, with various documents scattered on it.
Around the table stood three men - obviously in awe of Terentius - and Markos began to think that he should not have been so casual and relaxed with Terentius, and more particularly, with the Dominus.
One of the men was fairly young, and obviously a Greek, - the other was older, and dressed in Roman style, with a voluminous toga, and the third was young, and very athletic looking.
Markos, in his own mind hazarded a guessed who they were, but obviously let Terentius introduce them.
"These gentlemen will be responsible for your education, and your training.", Terentius announced, in his most formal manner.
Terentius then turned to his three guests.
"This is the young man that we have been speaking of.
As you already know, he has an excellent command of spoken Greek and Latin, and also reads and writes in both languages.
What he needs, however, is to lose his Greek accent when he speaks Latin - that is essential, - and his style of speech need to be polished in both languages.
Also he has only passing knowledge of the masters of Greek and Latin literature, I mean, of course, in the first place, Homer and Virgil.
He has little knowledge of rhetoric, and no knowledge of philosophy or law.
He also needs a basic grounding in mathematics, geometry and astronomy.
As for his physical training, he has undertaken some athletics in the past, and has an above avergae physique for his age.
I think you will agree that he is just at the right age to put on some muscle, and in the process he must learn all the martial arts.
Also he cannot swim, and this is not permissible, as the villa itself it built right by the sea.
I know that we have already discussed this, but I am reiterating this in the presence of the boy, so that he realizes that we are all aware of his shortcomings, and are aware of the need for him to make a consistent effort in his studies and training."
The two tutors, and the trainer, all nodded gravely as Terentius finished speaking.
And by this time Markos simply wanted to sink into the marble floor and disappear.
"This is  Αρισταρχος (Aristarchos).", Terentius said, gesturing to the Greek looking gentleman, "who will be you Greek tutor." - and Aristarchos bowed, politely.
Aristarchos, of course, was a slave, although, like many well educated slaves, he had the poise and demeanour of a patrician, which highly annoyed many real Roman patricians, who considered all Greeks to be effeminate and weak.
"And this is Lucius, your Latin tutor.", Terentius said, gesturing to the Roman looking gentleman, in the bulky Toga, who nodded briskly in Markos direction.
Lucius was of Italic origin, and Italic slaves, particularly well educate ones, were difficult to find.
Slave did not normally wear togas, but Gracchus had made an exception with Lucius, in deference to his age and considerable erudition.
"And, finally this is Servius Juvenalis, a Roman centurion of the Legio XIII, who will be your athletics coach."
Servius smiled broadly at young Markos.
Legio Tertia Decima Gemini
Legio tertia decima Geminia, in English the 13th Twin Legion, also known as Legio tertia decima Gemina, was a legion of the Imperial Roman army. It was one of Julius Caesar's key units in Gaul and in the civil war, and was the legion with which he famously crossed the Rubicon on January 10, 49 BC.  Its symbol was the lion.
"And this, gentlemen, is young Markos, about whom we have already discussed - in some detail."
Marcus blushed , and stood with his hands behind his back, looking at the floor.
"A fine looking lad.", centurion Servius commented, while the two tutors nodded in obvious agreement.
Then Terentius concluded the interview by turning to the coach and the tutors.
"You will begin your work, gentlemen, with your, hopefully, keen pupil tomorrow."
Terentius then turned to Markos.
"So, Markos, - tomorrow, after two hours in the entrance hall, a slave will collect you and take you to your study room.
And now you may leave us."
"Thank you, Domine", Markos said respectfully, and bowed as he left, to return to the entrance hall.
Back at the entrance hall, despite what Terentius had previously told him about not talking about his studies, Marcus felt that he had to give some explanation to Glykon as to why he would be spending to little time at the main entrance.
Glykon spoke very little Latin, so Marcus pretended that Terentius wanted him to improve his Latin by having some lessons.
The explanation seemed to satisfy Glykon - at least at that time.


'The Work Begins' - And so ..... the next day, a slave came to the doors at the entrance hall where Glykon and Markos were on duty.
"'Morning, boys." the young slave said cheerily.
"I've been sent to get Markos."
"That's me." Markos replied.
"Enjoy your lessons, Markos." Glykon said - jesting, but also, to some extent, jealous of his friends privileges.
The two slaves then went off for their midday meal, and then to the rooms that had been allocated by Terentius for Markos' study.
The young slave left Markos outside the door.
Markos then knocked, and a stern voice told  him to enter.
It was his Latin tutor, standing behind a table on which were piles of scrolls.
"Good day, Domine." Markos said, deferentially.
The tutor nodded, and beckoned him over to the table.
And so the first day, after his midday meal, was filled with a dissertation by Lucius on the glories of Virgil, and the adventures of Aeneas - but you will probably be pleased to know that while Markos had to listen and take notes, you may, if you wish, just read this very brief explanation of the importance of Virgil, and the 'Aeneid' - or you may go on with the story.
Publius Vergilius Maro
Publius Vergilius Maro (October 15, 70 BC – September 21, 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil in English, was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period (the period when Gaius Octavian was Emperor, many years be- fore Marcos was born). Virgil is known for three major works of Latin literature, 'the Eclogues', 'the Georgics', and the epic 'Aeneid'. Virgil is traditionally ranked as one of Rome's greatest poets, and his 'Aeneid', about the foundation of Rome by the Trojan hero Aeneas, has been considered the national epic of ancient Rome, and a favourite of Gracchus, which was one of the reasons why Markos had to study it.
There is more to Virgil than the basic facts, however.
Virgil, when young studied in Neapolis, and later in life settled near Cumae.
His greatest work, the 'Aeneid', has episodes that involve the Cumaean Sibyl, and the 'Oracle of the Dead', situated at Baiae - and the connections between Virgil, Octavian (Augustus), the 'Aeneid', the God Apollo, and Cumaean Sibyl all have relevance to later events in the 'Story of Gracchus'.
All of this, however, is obviously completely unknown to Markos, as he sits, sweaty and sleepy, at the feet of Lucius - when he would far rather be lounging around, chatting and joking with Glykon.
To Markos, at this point, it seemed that one of the things that he had spent much of his young life trying to avoid - the boring dullness of the school-room, had now become something that he was completely unable to escape.
In the villa, all the doors to the outside world were locked, and even if he could escape, if he were recaptured, his eventual fate would be appalling - as he discovered on his first day in the villa.
As his first lesson came to a close, Markos, discovered that his studies would pursue him beyond the school-room.
It semed tha Lucius required him to write a précis on the lesson about Virgil, so he knew that he would be busy for the rest of the evening, and possibly late into the night.
Fortunately Markos had been listening, but for him his studies seemed never-ending.


'The Gymnasion' - But it was now later in the afternoon, and the slave who had brought Markos to Lucius, now returned to take Markos to Servius Juvenalis, the young Roman centurion of the Legio XIII.
Markos was taken to the γυμνάσιον or gymnasion, the private exercise area of the villa, where Servius, Markos' gymnastai, (coach/trainer) was waiting for him.
The word gymnasion, of course, (and as Lucius - Markos' Latin tutor - would undoubtedly tell us) is the Latinisation of the Greek word for "gymnastic school", which is derived from the common Greek adjective γυμνός (gymnos) meaning "naked", by way of the related verb γυμνάζω (gymnazo), whose meaning is "to train naked".
The verb had this meaning because Greeks always trained naked, as Markos well knew from his regular and clandestine visits to his local gymnasion in Athens.
The Villa Auream also had a Palaistra, that was the part of the gymnasium devoted to wrestling, boxing and ball games.
Marcus in the Gymnasion
Romans had a problem with nakedness. It was one of their cultural quirks, that separated them from the Greeks. While the Romans were not prudish in any way (with naked sculpture, and painted and carved phalli (phalluses) on everything from jewellery and charms to signs outside shops, it was not deemed appropriate for male Roman citizens to expose their genitals in public - hence the loincloth or thong. For slaves (who were not citizens - in fact not people, legally, but 'things') there was no problem, however, and it was quite acceptable for them to be naked in public - both male and female. 
for more information see 'The Roman Principate' - Sexuality in Ancient Rome

Markos arrived at the large, beautifully equipped gymnasion, which was deserted, apart from Servius, who was waiting for him.
The gymnasion floor, like much of the villa, was laid with the most intricate marble mosaics, in complex geometrical designs.
The walls, also like much of the villa, were panelled with veneers of the most expensive marbles, and in the gymnasion the marble used was mainly an almost translucent, grey veined variety.
After their formal greetings Servius told Markos to strip, as he was to train naked, wearing only his slave-collar.
Fortunately, Markos was quite used to this, as he had trained naked for a couple of years previously in the  gymnasion in Athens.
Servius, however, as Markos' 'gymnastai' (trainer), and an adult Roman citizen, would remove his tunic, but retain a brief loincloth.
Servius appraised the naked lad's body carefully, getting him to flex one set of muscles after another.
"For your age, Markos, you have a very well developed physique.
You are a credit to your 'gymnastai' in Athens."
Markos blushed, and starred down at his feet.
"Thank you, Domine.", he mumbled.
"I think that Gracchus did well to choose you, - but tell me, do you shave your body ?", Servius asked, hesitantly.
"Of course not, Domine - and the Dominus didn't choose me, it was Terentius.." Markos replied, rather surprised, and embarrassed by the question.
"Well I only ask because most boys of your age, and physical development, have at least some pubic hair, and you appear to have none - and I thought, maybe, that you had shaved, as I'm told that Gracchus likes his boys without body-hair."
Markos look confused.
"You did know that Gracchus likes boys ?", Servius asked, trying to explain matters.
"No, Domine." Markos stammered, now looking even more confused, and concerned.
"And you can leave off the 'Domine' - you're not my slave - just call me Servius".
"You see," Servius went on to explain, "according to my Tribune, Marcellus, Gracchus is married, but has no children, and his wife never lives in the same villa as Gracchus - and as you may have noticed, all the slaves here are male, and mostly teenage boys."
Markos looked around, uneasily ..............

for more information about 'homosexuality' in ancient Rome go to

"I didn't realize - I never thought.", Markos mumbled.
"But don't worry," Servius went on, "I don't think he's interested in you in that way - at least not for himself.
And as you are, in some strange way, his favorite, you are strictly off limits to all the other slaves, and myself, for that matter, and your tutors and Terentius."
At this Markos looked somewhat relieved.
"But, Markos, if you don't mind me saying, I think you are somewhat inexperienced in these matters." Servius went on.
"Perhaps.", Markos replied, trying, somewhat unconvincingly, to be non-committal.
"That's no problem." Servius said, encouragingly,
"And I am sure that, if you wish it, I could make some arrangement with Gracchus and Terentius to find someone appropriate, of you own age, to improve matters for you in that respect."
"Perhaps.", Markos replied, still being non-committal - wondering exactly what Servius was meaning.
"Well then, that's settled. - so let's get on with the training."
The training session was long and hard, and it was clear to Markos that Servius knew his business, and after a couple of hours Markos was exhausted.
"You work well, Markos - and so I will see you tomorrow.", Servius said in parting,
"Now get some rest - and be sure to have a massage."


'Burning the Midnight Oil' - That night, after his bath and massage, Markos worked on late, writing the précis which Lucius' would require the next time they met - but all during the time he wrote thoughts kept popping into his mind about the various things that Servius had said about Gracchus, teenage boys and sex.
Markos also wondered about how Servius would spend his free time, for his working day, with Markos, was extremely short.
The following morning, after assisting Glykon in the entrance hall, Markos was once again taken to the study room.
Glykon had been eager to know about Marcus' lesson, and Markos was careful to make it all sound very boring and mundane - and he made no mention of his training in the gymnasion with Servius.
On arriving at the study room, Markos found that he was to study Greek, and his Greek tutor, Aristarchos, was waiting for him.
Aristarchos was younger, and more friendly that Lucius, but was just as single-minded in his determination to instruct and educate his young charge.
The subject of Aristarchos was Homer - but as before, you will probably be pleased to know that while Markos had to listen and take notes, you may, if you wish, just read this very brief explanation of the importance of Homer and the 'Iliad' - or you may go on with the story.
Ὅμηρος - Homer - is best known as the author of the 'Iliad' and the 'Odyssey'. He was believed by the ancient Greeks to have been the first, and greatest, of the epic poets. When he lived, as well as whether he lived at all, is unknown. Herodotus estimates that Homer lived no more than 400 years before his own time, which would place him at around 850 BCE or later. The importance of Homer to the ancient Greeks is described in Plato's Republic, which portrays him as the 'protos didaskalos', "first teacher", of the tragedians, the 'hegemon paideias', "leader of Greek culture", and the ten 'Hellada pepaideukon', "teacher of all Greece". Homer's works, provided models in persuasive speaking and writing that were emulated throughout the ancient Roman world - so it is easy to see why Markos had to study his works.
Marcos, not surprisingly, was required to write a précis of Aristarchos' talk about Homer, so now he had two pieces of work to complete.


'Visit to the Physician' - It was now later in the afternoon, and the slave who had brought Markos to Aristarchos, now returned - but instead of taking Markos to Servius Juvenalis, the slave had instructions to take Markos to Gracchus' personal physician.
Like almost all good physicians in the Empire, this physician was a Greek slave.
The physician, middle-aged, dark-haired, bearded and tall, introduced himself as Agathon.
"Well, Markos ... as you are new here at the villa, Terentius has asked me to have a look at you to check that you are healthy ....... so take off your clothes, and let me see you.", Agathon said in fine, educated Greek.
Markos started to strip.
"So tell me, where, in Greece, do you come from ?", Agathon asked casually, as he carefully watched Markos strip.
"I was born in Athens." Markos replied, warily, not wanting to mention Rome as he presumed that Agathon had been told  he was a Greek slave
"Ah, that is quite close to where my family come from - Aegina." Agathon said, as he started to feel the muscles in Markos arms and shoulders.
"And your appetite is good ?"
"Yes, Domine." Markos replied politely.
Markos had quickly learned to call everyone older that himself, slave or not, Domine (Sir), as it seemed to make things easier.
It was only Gracchus that he called Dominus (Master).
"And you use the toilet regularly, and have no trouble making water ?" Agathon asked.
"No problems, Domine."Markos replied.
"And what about sex ? Are you sexually active ?", Agathon, as casually as if he were asking the time of day.
"Do you want me to be honest, Domine ?" Markos answered nervously.
"Of course boy - I'm your physician. We must be honest with each-other."
"Well - since my parents died, quite recently, I have had no sexual feelings at all." Markos replied.
"I see." Agathon said, in a non-committal manner.
"I also note that you have no growth of pubic hair, which is unusual in a boy as well developed as yourself." Agathon continued, bending down an gently feeling Markos' smooth, hairless scrotum.
"You are well endowed, but there seems to be a lack of some essential sexual characteristics - which is unusual."
Agathon stepped back and looked at Markos directly.
"Tell me, do you prefer girls or boys ?" he asked.
"I don't know, sir.
I have not had real sex with either, Domine."
"Well - at least you seem to be honest." Agathon said, smiling.
"Well, my boy, you are very healthy, but I think that your recent experiences have depressed you slightly, which is why you have no sexual feelings at present.
As for the physical development I will ask for you to have roast goat's testicles on a daily basis, along with extra garlic with coriander - to be taken in neat wine, and also the water of boiled wild asparagus.
It's all very tasty, so it will be no hardship."
Yes ... these are genuine cures for sexual dysfunction in Rome at he time of our story, but how effective they are is difficult to tell, and if you wish to experiment with these remedies, you do so at your own risk.
"But I think to really help you you will need to indulge in some penetrative sex, on a fairly regular basis.
A strong lad like you, once my remedies have started working,  needs a physical outlet - but not too much, mind you - and after my dietary treatment I think that you will need empty yourself of your excess seed in an appropriate manner.
So get dressed, and I will call for you in about ten days."

Greek and Roman physicians at the time of our story were convinced that to remain healthy a young man needed to indulge in penetrative sex (with a boy or girl) regularly in order to ensure that there was no unnecessary build up of male seed (semen)  in the body.

And so Markos left Gracchus' Greek physician, and went to train with Servius Juvenalis, who was waiting for him in the Gymnasion.
Now ... as you will have probably guessed, the physician's check-up was not accidental, but was rather the result of a conversation between Servius and Terentius.
They were, quite rightly, somewhat worried about Markos, and without letting him know, were intent on making him as content in his new situation as possible - after all, the happier Markos was, the happier Gracchus would probably be - and that was important for everyone involved with the the Master of the Villa Auream.

and the story continues -
' as young Markos 'finds' love - or is it rather - lust ? - in the form of the beautiful young slave-boy, Cleon.'
(Love Finds Markos)

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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