Chapter XXIII - Ludi Honorem In Vespasiani

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Then everything, for both Rome, and for Marcus, Gracchus and the villa, seemed to come to  a standstill.
Vespasian lingered in Alexandria - a latter day, and rather corpulent and elderly 'Alexander'.
There were still problems in Judea - and Vespasian wisely left his very competent son, Titus (see previous Chapter) to sort things out.
The Temple at Jerusalem
The Roman province of Iūdaea (Judea - Greek: Ἰουδαία), incorporated the regions of Judea, Samaria and Idumea, and extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel. It was named after Herod Archelaus's Tetrarchy of Judea, but the Roman province encompassed a much larger territory. The name "Judea" was derived from the Kingdom of Judah of the 6th century BC. Judaea was the stage of three major rebellions against Roman rule. The rebellion that concerns us is 66–70 CE - first rebellion, ending in the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of Herod's Temple. Before the war Judaea was a Roman province of the third category, that is, under the administration of a procurator of equestrian rank and under the overall control of the governor of Syria. After the war it became an independent Roman province with the official name of Iūdaea, and under the administration of a governor of praetorian rank. 
The Sack of Jerusalem
Titus, having been given  control of the Legions in Iūdaea by his father, moved to besiege the center of rebel resistance in Jerusalem in early 70.
The first two walls of Jerusalem were breached within three weeks, but a stubborn rebel standoff prevented the Roman Army from breaking the third, and thickest wall.
Following a brutal seven-month siege, during which Zealot infighting resulted in burning of the entire food supplies of the city (?), the Titus finally succeeded in breaching the defenses of the weakened Jewish forces in the summer of 70.
All three walls of Jerusalem were eventually destroyed as well as Herod's Temple and the citadels
The Second Temple
The Second Temple was an important Jewish Holy Temple (בֵּית־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ הַשֵּׁנִי‎‎,) which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period, between 516 BCE and 70 CE. Reconstruction of the temple under Herod began with a massive expansion of the Temple Mount. Religious worship and temple rituals continued during the construction process. When the Roman emperor Caligula planned to place his own statue inside the temple, Herod's grandson Agrippa I was able to intervene and convince him against this. Ironically, the Temple complex was only a few years completed when Titus destroyed the Temple in 70 CE.
The city was then put to the torch, with most survivors taken into slavery - making a glut in the market, much to the annoyance of Gracchus - who dealt widely in the slave trade.
Following the fall of Jerusalem, Titus left for Rome, leaving Legion X 'Fretensis' to defeat the remaining Jewish strongholds, finalizing the Roman campaign in Masada, previously the site of one of Herod's' palaces, in 73–74.
Legio X Fretensis ("Tenth legion of the Strait") was a legion of the Imperial Roman army. It was founded by Augustus Caesar in 41/40 BC to fight during the period of civil war that started the dissolution of the Roman Republic.
Roman Triumph
The Arch of Titus - Reconstruction
Not surprisingly, Vespasian and Titus became very wealthy as a result of their activities in Iūdaea, mainly from the selling of slaves (which was one of the privliges of a conquering Roman general) - despite the fact that the market had become very depressed.
One of the main results of the successful conclusion of the action in Iūdaea was that Vespasian became so wealthy, and obtained so much support from his Legions, that his position was unassailable, and the future of the 'Flavian gens', as holders of the Imperium, was secure for some considerable time - hence, the 'Flavian Dynasty'.
The Arch of Titus, located in Rome and built to commemorate Titus's victory in Judea, depicts a Roman victory procession with soldiers carrying spoils from the Temple, including the Menorah; which were used to fund the subsequent construction of the 'Flavian Amphitheater' (Colosseum). Note the lavish use of gilded bronze.
Marcus had been disturbed by the last conversation that he had in the tranquil garden of the villa with Gracchus.
So far, he had not really thought of what inheriting from Gracchus would entail.
Initially he had not taken the prophecy of the Sybil very seriously, but then, as events had unfolded in Rome, and elsewhere, he began to see that the prophecy appeared to be very accurate - possibly a true glimpse into the future.
If that was so, then it may mean that he was to lose Gracchus in the quite near future - and that deeply unsettled him.
Sacred College of the Vestals - Rome.
And the inheritance was no fantasy - the Will had been lodged formally, by Terentius, at the Sacred College of the Vestals, in Rome.
Terentius has sworn to him that it was all legal, and that, eventually he, Terentius, would be Marcus' senior freedman.
As Terentius had explained it, the moment that Gracchus died, the seal ring of the Gracchi would be removed from finger of the deceased Dominus, and placed on Marcus' finger, and he would, from henceforth, be Dominus - master and lord of all that had belonged to Gracchus.
What  had unnerved Marcus, however, was Gracchus description of the sheer enormity of the inheritance awaiting him.
Strange as it may seem, Marcus did not want to be that rich.
Wealthy - yes. Comfortable - yes.
But the wealth that Gracchus had described was very unnerving.
And Marcus did not think for a moment that Gracchus was exaggerating - after all, what was all the business about dealing with Praetorian Prefects, and loading up wagons with piles of gold ingots ?
Gracchus was a man to whom the richest, and the most powerful men in the Empire came when they needed help, and Gracchus, it seemed, secretly and quietly, made and removed the Emperors of the greatest Empire the world had ever seen !
In Athens Marcus had been a reasonably happy, if somewhat rebellious teenager.
Then disaster had struck, he had lost his family, and been sold into slavery.
But the slavery at the villa, was 'strange'.
He was definitely not free, but equally he was not worked hard, and he lived well - far better than most - even those who were 'free'.
If that had gone on, he probably would have had little of which to complain.
Then he was freed - and he was happy, as he had beautiful apartments, fine clothes, handsome and (as he thought) loyal slaves, and was never short of money - thanks to Gracchus.
He had Servius, and also Petronius and his own slaves, and also cute boys to keep him company when he was lonely at night.
For Marcus, as a teenager, rapidly growing into a young man, that was more than enough, and more than he had ever hoped for.
And then there was always Gracchus to guide him.
However, Marcus, with these thoughts occupying him, was somewhat restless......
It had been suggested that he would be going to Rome - a place that he had never seen (despite being a Roman - as it was the city of his natural parents).
Now because Vespasian was still in Egypt, his visit to Rome seemed to be postponed indefinitely.
That was all very well, but while Gracchus seemed to be keen on Marcus meeting Vespasian, Marcus had no real desire to meet the man, (even if he was the Emperor), or to be involved in politics in any way.
In one year he had seen so much murder and mayhem, in connection with political manoeuvring, that he was becoming like Gracchus, content to hide away in the 'little villa' at Baiae.
However, looking to the immediate future, as Vespasian had been declared Emperor in December, Marcus thought it would be reasonable to stage the 'Games in Honor of Vespasian' in January of 70, and Gracchus had agreed.
As for providing slaves to appear in the Games, it would have been inexpensive to acquire a number of Jewish slaves, imported from Iūdaea.
Jewish slaves were very cheap, as a result of Vespasian and Titus' campaigns in the province.
The problem, however, was that Jews were circumcised and, as they would be probably naked, at some stage during their appearance during the Games, such a 'mutilation' would be considered unacceptable to the audience, and would make the proceedings farcical, rather than dignified - as befitted a 'Ludi' in honour of a new Emperor.
In the Roman Empire, circumcision was regarded as a barbaric and disgusting custom. The consul Titus Flavius Clemens was condemned to death by the Roman Senate in 95 for circumcising himself and converting to Judaism. The emperor Hadrian (117-138) forbade circumcision. [while these examples occur after the period of this story, they indicate the general Roman attitude towards circumcision]

As for a tableau, Marcus had decided on 'Theseus and the Minotaur', thereby casting the ugly and monstrous, half bull and half man, as representing the Jewish insurrectionists, and the handsome, heroic Theseus as representing Titus, who had cleansed Iūdaea, and sacked the Jewish Temple.
It would be a good opportunity to stage a decapitation - Petronius thought.
Theseus and the Minotaur
Θησεύς (Theseus)  was the king of Athens and was the son of Aethra by two fathers: Aegeus and Poseidon. Pasiphaë, wife of King Minos of Crete, had several children before the Minotaur, which resulted from her copulation with a bull sent by Poseidon King Minos had waged war with the Athenians and was successful. He then demanded that, at nine-year intervals, seven Athenian boys and seven Athenian girls were to be sent to Crete to be devoured by the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull monster that lived in the Labyrinth created by Daedalus. On the third occasion, Theseus volunteered to slay the monster to stop this horror. On his arrival in Crete, Ariadne, King Minos' daughter, fell in love with Theseus and, on the advice of Daedalus, gave him a ball of thread (a clew), so he could find his way out of the Labyrinth. Theseus overpowered the Minotaur with his strength and stabbed the beast in the throat with his sword. After decapitating the beast, Theseus used the string to escape the Labyrinth and managed to escape with all of the young Athenians and Ariadne as well as her younger sister Phaedra.
On the other hand, the tableau about Achilles and Patroclus , Marcus decided, should wait to a more relaxed, and less formal occasion - maybe in the Spring.
And so preparations began for the next 'public Ludi'.
The previous public 'Ludis Pro Galba' had gone off reasonably well, although the plebs were, even then, not very impressed with the idea of having 'mean, elderly and somewhat perverted' Galba as their Emperor.
The main attraction of those Ludi had been the tableau of 'Prometheus', and the idea of having a slave disembowelled and emasculated by a very large, and very hungry eagle had gone down very well with both the audience - and it seems, the eagle (although two were n Heeded to finish the job).
Prometheus Hung and Impaled
The fact that the unfortunate 'Prometheus' even survived the emasculation and disemboweling, and had to be 'finished off' by being hung by his wrists and ankles, and anally impaled was an added bonus for the spectators.
The unfortunate lad hung, squealing, for some considerable time before he died from loss of blood.
As usual the Pankration wrestling (the Roman form - 'Pancratium' - was, like the Greek, performed naked, but unlike the Greek, also involved a lot of genital torture, and violent male sex), also proved to be very popular.
The punishments and executions were, as always, a success.
So for the new Ludi, - 'Ludi Honorem Vespasiani' - preparations were begun.
Gracchus, of course, had to commission an ode from Lucius - Marcus' Latin tutor, - in praise of Vespasian - and told him to include a subtle compliment to Vespasian's son, Titus.
Lucian, of course, was very relieved.
Making an heroic ode, dedicated to the deeds and character of Galba, had been next to impossible for Lucius.
The Goddess Isis
Vespasian, however, already had a certain divine 'aura' (see above - Vespasian's' supposed 'brushes with the gods' in Alexandria), and Gracchus was able to provide Lucius with the details.
The God Serapis
However, Gracchus insisted on Lucius being subtle with his references to Serapis - Egyptian or Ptolemaic religion, which was not taken very seriously by most Romans - be they plebs or patricians.
They had too many memories of Mark Antony as the 'νέο Διόνυσος θεός' - (New God Dionysus) and Cleopatra (Κλεοπάτρα Φιλοπάτωρas - Cleopatra VII Philopator) as the goddess Isis, (Anthony and Cleopatra had unsuccessfully opposed the 'Divine' Octavian Augustus in the past - both eventually committing suicide). - But more about the goddess Isis, later in the story.....
So Lucius had the choir trained, and Servius, now a member of the team (as Tribune) was responsible for the 'pompa' - which hopefully, considering his background as a Centurion, would be organized with 'military precision'.


Meanwhile, Marcus, wanting to impress Gracchus, had employed some Greek artists from Neapolis to design some decorations for the Amphitheatre, and had also commissioned a Porphyry and Parian marble bust of Vespasian, all at his own expense (Marcus had considerable sums of money saved - and managed for him by Terentius - who was a wise and experienced investor).
Bust of Vespasian
Porphyry is a heavily grained marble, the finest being purple (imperial purple) in color, and coming from southern Egypt. Imperial Red Porphyry was first discovered in Egypt in the year 18 CE by the Roman legionnaire, Caius Cominius Leugas. Porphyries are reasonably common, Imperial Red Porphyry, is rare, valuable and has historic significance. The stone came from the quarry of Mons Porpyritis (Egypt), the only source of Imperial Red Porphyry in the world. Stones were carried by oxcart along what was known as The Porphyry Road to the Nile River and then shipped to Rome. Romans valued the stone for carvings. They even used it in the statues and inlaid panels of the Pantheon. Parian marble is a fine-grained semi translucent pure-white, and entirely flawless marble, quarried on the Greek island of Paros in the Aegean. Both are ridiculously expensive - then and now.
The decorations for the Amphitheatre, while suitable for the Games for Vespasian, were also intended by Marcus to be permanent, with heavy stone swags, carved and gilded - his first mark on the estates of the Gracchi.
There were also eagles and plaques, in gilded and painted bronze, as part of the decorations, but these, being specifically Imperial insignia, would be removed (and stored) after the 'Ludi'.
A large gilded bronze Imperial Eagle was also mounted in front of the balcony of the Editor's Box, but this too would be removed (and stored) after the 'Ludi'.
In addition the back of the Editor's Box was hung with a curtain of Imperial purple, as was the doorway, in the centre of which stood the Parian marble plinth supporting the bust of Vespasian.
After a few weeks the work, rushed, but perfect, was finished, and Marcus proudly invited Gracchus to view the refurbished arena.
Gracchus entered the amphitheatre, and strode into the centre of the arena, to view the work.
There was a long, tenses silence, and then he turned to Marcus, smiling.
"Excellent work ! And very tasteful - opulent and imperial, but not gaudy !".
Marcus was deeply relieved.
While working on the renovations and decorations, Marcus had become fascinated by the depth of colour and hardness of the imperial porphyry, and was eager to use more of the costly stone as a permanent feature of the amphitheatre.
He wanted the 'Amphitheatro Gracchi' to be, if not the largest, (Titus would soon build a ridiculously large amphitheatre, now known as the Colosseum), but the most tasteful and magnificent in Italia.
"I was wondering, sir, if we could not add some more features in porphyry, as it is such a beautiful stone ?", Marcus asked, hopefully.
"Such as ?", Gracchus queried.
"I thought the grey marble panels on the podium look a bit dull .. but I don't think I have enough to pay for them to be transported from Egypt, or cut - the carving is very expensive, as the stone is so hard ?".
Significantly, this was the first thing that Marcus had ever asked for, since he had known Gracchus, and it was not something for himself.
Porphyry Perfume Burner
Porphyry Obelisk
Gracchus looked carefully at the podium.
"Perhaps you're right !", he mused, thoughtfully stroking his chin.
"And perhaps some new perfume burners either side of the Editor's Box.
I think your artisans in Neapolis could probably produce some good designs, otherwise we could order from Rome.
I'll speak to Terentius, today.".
Then Gracchus turned to both Marcus and Petronius.
"Well done, boys ! Keep working, as there is not much time !", and with that he strode out of the arena, returning to the villa in his carriage.

The Renovated and Decorated Amphitheater
(before the new doors were added)

The porphyry was not imported from Egypt - that would have taken far too long.
Terentius had found a supplier with stocks of Egyptian imperial porphyry in Rome, which had been cut to size for the podium panels.
In addition Terentius had contacted one of Gracchus 'clients' in the decorative arts business, who had been able to sell him (at a good price, of course) two magnificent  porphyry and gilded bronze perfume burners, and six  porphyry obelisks, mounted on white marble plinths, with  porphyry panels set in gilded bronze.
Marcus was thrilled, as artisans from Neapolis installed all the precious marble and bronze.
When Gracchus finally viewed the completed work he was more than satisfied, and secretly very pleased to see that Marcus was taking so much interest in caring for his beloved amphitheatre.


Soon the day for the Ludi drew near.
The sand in the arena was removed, and fresh sand was brought up from the beach at Baiae (the beach, which Gracchus owned, like much of Baiae).
The sand was then sieved and cleaned, and then spread over the newly renovated wooden floor.
The marble seating for the audience was washed down, the newly installed gilding was polished, and the porphyry brought to a gleaming shine with a light application of the finest olive oil.
There was one addition, however, that Gracchus wanted to make, even though time was short.
The New Doors for the Porta Sanivivaria
The doors leading into the arena which led to the various rooms situated beneath the seating area needed to be renewed, as they were the doors that had been originally installed in the arena when it was built, many years before
One of those doors was used when the 'pompa' entered the arena, and another of the doors was used to remove the dead and dying from the arena.
There was not time to order the doors from Rome, so they were made in Neapolis.
Like much of the arena fittings, they were made of gilded bronze - heavy and substantial.
The doors used for the 'pompa' (Porta Sanivivaria) really needed to be enlarged, but that would require major building work, so that work was postponed to the Spring.
The other main door, the 'Porta Libitina' (Door of Death) would be of the same design, but surmounted with a key-stone, decorated with a sculpture of a Gorgon's head surrounded by a gilded wreath.
The 'Porta Libitina' led through a long corridor to the 'Spoliarium'.
The Spoliarium is an area in the 'Ludus Gracchii', (the gladiator school and accomodation near the Amphitheater), where the dead bodies of those killed in the arena are taken and laid out on marble slabs to have their bodies stripped and washed, prior to their disposal. If the corpse was wearing armour, or undamaged clothing, these valuable items were returned to to the 'Armamentarium' (the store of weapons and equipment in the Ludus Gracchii). In addition, students of medicine, specifically anatomy, were able to visit the Spoliarium to purchase dead bodies as a way of furthering their studies. Depending on their status, some corpses would be then prepared for a modest funeral, (normally cremation - such as occurred for Durus, Valentius and Ferox - but normally not quite so lavish), while low status individuals or 'noxii' (condemned criminals) would be disposed of by having their naked corpse  weighted with stones, and thrown into the sea. Slaves working in the Spoliarium were permitted to collect blood and sweat from dead fighters, which they could sell as an aphrodisiac. Pliny reports that medical authorities believed that fresh gladiator's blood was a cure for epilepsy. The pickled genitals of dead gladiators were also sold as talismans.
Once all the renovations, and the new decorations had been installed, Marcus and Petronius had the task of preparing a program, and selecting the various individuals who would take part in the Ludi.
Meanwhile, a palanquin had to be designed to be used to bring the bust of Vespasian into the arena.
Once again, there was no time to have one designed and manufactured in Rome, but as the workers in Neapolis had produced such magnificent items for the amphitheater already, that Gracchus was quite willing to trust them with this task.
The palanquin had to be light enough to be carried by six strong slaves, while also taking the weight of the marble bust (which was mounted on a wooden plinth, painted to imitate white marble).

Rehearsal for the Pompa for the Ludi for Vespasian
A palanquin is a covered litter, carried on poles, on the shoulders of multiple bearers.
It is usually used to convey individuals, but is also used to move statues and other sacred objects, particularly in religious processions. Statues of the Gods and Emperors were carried round the arena on palanquins during the 'pompa' before the start of the 'Games'.

In addition, however, Gracchus had insisted on two plaster copies of the statue of Apollo (for which Petronius had modelled) to be mounted on the palanquin.
Presumably this was Gracchus' public recognition of his gratitude for the Cumean Oracle from Apollo.
While the palanquin looked substantial, and very heavy, the columns (painted black to imitate marble and decorated with gold leaf) were in fact hollow, and made of light wood, as was the canopy, which was surmounted by a gilded, plaster eagle.
Regardless, it was still a heavy and unwieldy item, and Tribune Servius, who was responsible for the 'pompa', needed some time to train the slaves to manage it safely and efficiently.
And so, before the Games, there were a number of 'full-dress' rehearsals of the 'pompa' in an empty amphitheatre, carefully observed by Gracchus, Marcus and Petronius.
Once the 'pompa' had been successfully organised, and Lucius had written the Ode to Vespasian, the next step was to design any costumes (such as they were) for the tableau.
For the 'Prometheus' tableau, in the previous Ludi - for Galba, the only costume had been some wrist manacles and chains, as the slave involved was completely naked, from start to finish.
For 'Theseus and the Minotaur', Theseus would only require a loincloth, greaves, wrist guards and a Greek style helmet, and possibly a 'Hoplite' shield - all easily available from the 'Armamentarium'.
For the Minotaur, Petronius had designed a minimal fur loincloth, but the real problem was the head.
Minotaur Costume
In order to solve the problem, a bull, had to be sacrificed, and then the remains of bull's carcass (including the head) was sent to Neapolis, where a butcher was employed to carefully skin the bull, and then Marcus' favourite artisans made a stiffened leather frame, carefully moulded, with a carved and painted wood muzzle take the skin and horns from the bull's head.
One of the Pankration wrestler, who had not been performing well recently, was chosen for the odious task of taking the part of the Minotaur, (obviously he would not survive the tableau), and the 'bull's head had to be made to be a perfect fit for the wrestler's head.
As the Minotaur, according to the legend, was decapitated after being defeated by Theseus, the bull's head had to be a tight fit, so that the wrestler's head would remain in place, even after he was decapitated.
A fitting was arranged, and Petronius did a lot of pulling and tugging, just to make sure that the illusion was perfect when the unfortunate wrestler was finally decapitated.
The most unnerving part of the very minimal 'costume', for Marcus at least, was the fact that the young wrestler's eyes could be clearly seen, and appeared to be a real, but somewhat haunting aspect of the Minotaur's appearance.
Whereas all wrestlers at the Ludus were require to have their bodies completely shaved, the wrestler chosen to play the part of the Minotaur was required to let his body-hair grow, so that it would merge with the thong he was to wear, which was made of bull's fur.


The morning after the costume fittings, when the various groups were mustered in the Ludus Gracchi, one of the men was missing.
It was Arrachion, the pancratium wrestler, who had been fitted the previous day with the Minotaur's costume.
Petronius quickly sent some slaves up to Arrachion's cubiculum.
They found the big wrestler, lying naked beside his bed, on the floor, with a knife in his throat, and surrounded by a pool of blood.
When this was reported to Petronius, he immediately had Marcus informed.
At the time, Marcus was in the Arena, inspecting some of the fighters who were preparing for the forthcoming games.
He quickly left the arena, passing down one of the tunnels serviced by one of the new bronze doors.
Petronius turned to him, looking quite dismayed.
"Our Minotaur is dead - it's Arrachion !", he said, bleakly.
"And ?", Marcus questioned, obviously annoyed.
"I think it must have been suicide, after he was told about the decapitation.", Petronius went on.
"And how ?", Marcus asked tersely.
"A knife to the throat - self inflicted by the look of it."
"And how did he get a knife in his cubiculum ?", Marcus asked, getting even more annoyed.
"I don't know, Dominus !", Petronius answered, becoming very nervous, as he realised that Marcus was now his real master - and was very angry.
"Well, find out !", Marcus said coldly.
He turned away, with tears welling up in his eyes, realizing that he had spoken so sharply to his good friend - but the stress of mounting the Games was simply too much for him at that moment, and the loss of an important attraction was difficult for him to deal with.
Petronius, however, was not intending to hold a grudge, and had learned a lesson that Marcus was his master, and that he should not rely on the boy's undoubted affection for him to interfere with their professional relationship.
How Arrachion got hold of the knife was never discovered, and the reason for his suicide was successfully withheld from the other slaves  who would be appearing in the arena.
Petronius, though, thoroughly tightened up the security in the Ludus, to prevent a re-occurrence of such an incident, and Marcus noticed with satisfaction that his friend, and closest assistant, was doing all he could to follow, in every way, Marcus' wishes with regard to the running of the Amphitheatre.
And so the work went on.
A new condemned slave was selected to play the part of the Minotaur, but Petronius wisely omitted to tell him the final part of the myth - hopefully avoiding the debacle of the previous contender.

The day of the Ludi finally arrived.
The weather was quite cool, but the sky was cloudless and the sun shone brightly.
Add caption
Marcus and Gracchus travelled by coach, accompanied by Servius acting as outrider, and three slave-boys, Cleon and Adonios and Ariston.
As was expected, Petronius was at the entrance to the Amphitheater to greet them, while an admiring crowd of citizens looked on.
As the times were still dangerous, with various groups seeking revenge for the deaths of the contenders to the imperium that they had supported, both Marcus and Servius - being in public, were armed, and wearing armour (armour made to order in Rome, and generously provided by Gracchus).
"Welcome, Domini !", Petronius said, flashing one of his famous smiles.

(No, Domini is not a spelling mistake - it is the plural of Dominus as Petronius was greeting both Gracchus and Marcus as master - hence Masters - or Lords).

"I hope you have a good show for us !", Gracchus said, grinning appreciatively at his ex-slave.

(Remember that Petronius is now the slave of Marcus - and Marcus had provided a new outfit for Petronius as 'de harena, Dominus' - Master of the Arena - designed and made in Neapolis by Greek craftsmen).

They were then escorted to the 'prothyrum' by Petronius, where they were served refreshing drinks and fruit by the amphitheatre slave-boys.
"So what sort of program have you and young Marcus arranged for today ?", Gracchus enquired as he sampled some succulent Italian grapes.
"Well ... Servius has arranged a magnificent pompa, and Lucius has actually managed to write a truthful ode to the new emperor (Gracchus smiled), and we begin with some Greek style wrestling, the we have the tableau of Theseus and the Minotaur, and later we have created some rather interesting executions.", Petronius proudly explained.
The Amphitheatre was already half full, and Marcus was eager to go up to the Editor's Box to view the arena, and the many decorative features that he had the arena workers install.
Suddenly there was a shattering fanfare.
"Ah ! Domini - the trumpeters are sounding the fanfare to start the pompa.
We must take our places in the Editor's Box !", Petronius explained, dismissing the slave-boys, and guiding his 'guests' down the marble lined corridor to their place of honour.
As Gracchus and Marcus entered the Editor's Box (which the four trumpeters  had fortunately left, to take their part in the pompa) the audience applauded.
Marcus Takes his Place on the Pulvinar
At the same time the magnificent Porphyry and gilt bronze perfume burners were lit, wafting rose-scented incense into the air.
Many in the audiences wondered who the handsome, fair-haired boy was, who was accompanying Gracchus, and there was a murmur of animated conversation.
Gracchus respectfully stood back along with Tribune Servius, allowing Marcus to take centre stage.
Cleon and Adonios - (Ariston was left to look after the carriage) felt somewhat ridiculous in their new, flowing, Greek style white tunics)
Nearby in the audience was Novius, and also a priest of Apollo, both eager to see the 'aurea puer ad mare' ('golden boy from the sea') take his rightful place in public.
The pompa then commenced, and was followed by a choral ode by Lucius, and an appropriate sacrifice performed by the priests of Apollo, from Cumae.
Marcus was wearing his new 'lorica musculata' - (heroic cuirass), silvered steel, with gilt bronze decoration, in the style of a Legatus (Roman General), and many in the audience thought he was a representative of Vespasian, from Rome.
Petronius, of course, had to take a forward position, as the arena slaves and officials looked to him for signals regarding the running of the games.

open images in a new tab to enlarge

The Games proper then started with a gentle introduction provided by some Greek boy wrestlers.
Petronius had wanted a slow introduction to the more violent and explicit events in the Games (for dramatic effect), and so the boy wrestlers were only to fight to a submission - and not to 'finish-off' their opponent - and although the boys, being adolescents, were obviously very 'aroused' while they were wrestling, they were instructed not to rape their defeated opponent - that would feature later.
Boy Wrestlers
After a few bouts the second part of the Ludi featured Pankration Wrestlers - who always fought completely naked.
The first fight was between an experienced Pankration wrestler, Callicrates, and a younger wrestler Adrastus (which translates as courageous - Pankration wrestlers were almost always given Greek names - even if they weren't Greek.).
Hopefully the lad was courageous, as he would need all his courage in order to face his relatively brief time in the arena before he met his humiliating death.
Adrastus was a 'noxii' - a runaway slave condemned to be killed in the arena.
The outcome, of course, was inevitable, and Petronius had already told the slightly older fighter to rape and kill the boy.
However, Callicrates was required to allow Adrastus to 'look' reasonably competent, as the audience should not realise that it was a 'rigged' fight.
Callicrates and Adrastus
At first the audience seemed to be susceptible to the boy's good looks and slim, but quite muscular figure, but slowly Callicrates turned the fight against the boy.
Once Adrastus had been disabled with a knee to his groin, the more experienced wrestler, in accordance with Petronius' instructions, simply rammed his huge stiff penis into the squealing prone lad's anus, and brutally penetrated him..
As he noisily raped the youth, who was lying face down in the sand, he grabbed the boy's thick dark hair, and pulled the young moaning lad's head back.
As the inevitable 'climax' came, and Callicrates started to squirt his thick, hot seed into his helpless opponent, he pulled the lad's head right back, and there was a loud crunch as Adrastus' neck broke.
Not dying instantly, the naked, Adrastus rolled over onto his back, grunting 'Shit !'..., - convulsing violently, and revealing his huge, stiff jerking penis, which was spewing out his own 'seed'.
And so the defeated, raped boy lay on the sand, his neck broken, and his head lying at an impossible angle, staring up in disbelief at the applauding audience.
Moments later the naked boy noisily emptied his bowels onto the sand, and sprayed the contents of his bladder over his chest and belly, 
Meanwhile, victorious Callicrates rose to his feet, still prominently 'erect', and dribbling his semen over the sand, accepted the plaudits of the audience.
As he did so,  Adrastus, who knew he was dying, grunted 'Fuck !...", and began to convulse.
Finally Adrastus' naked body shuddered, and then he lay still, as Callicrates stood respectfully by his dead opponent, and bowed to the guests in the editors box.
With this first killing of the day in the arena, the Games were well under way.
There were two more Pankration fights to follow, each leaving two more naked young  'noxii', ('noxii'), raped and dead - one with both eyes gouged out, (strictly against the rules) and a broken neck, and the other with horribly crushed testicles and a broken back.
The fights were not particularly noteworthy, as regards technique, as the 'runaways' had no experience as wrestlers - but the sight of the blinded lad trying to crawl away from his opponent - whom he couldn't even see, - and the spectacular back-breaker suffered by the practically castrated other boy well satisfied the audience.
This was a way of providing what appeared to be some 'good sport' - but it was not used by Petronius too often, as it did not drive home the message that criminal slaves would be punished without mercy.
(Only the really observant would notice that the victorious wrestlers wore Gracchus' silver slave collars - while the defeated slave boys (who were killed) wore no collars - a sign that they were condemned slaves.)
The next fight was between a well matched pair of experienced wrestlers.
Both these wrestlers were trained slaves from the Gracchus' Ludus, wearing the distinctive silver slave collars - but nothing else.
The wrestlers were well muscled but lithe and supple, and pleased the audience with their athletic throws, and unusual holds.
The younger of the two combatants was called Spiridion ('little spirited one')
and the slightly older wrestler was called Philomenes (stromg love).
It was soon clear that Philomenes was the better wrestler, and was able to use some very effective holds, without recourse to 'low blows' or grabbing his opponent's testicles.
Spiridion eventually found himself in a very powerful 'sleeper hold', and despite his efforts to escape he soon found himself drifting off into unconsciousness.
Philomenes and Spiridion
Philomenes, remembering Petronius instructions, did not simply maintain the hold until unconsciousness was overtake by death.
Instead he released his groggy opponent, and set up practically helpless Spiridion on the sand on his hands and knees - 'dog fashion', in and ideal position to be sexually penetrated from the rear.
Spiridion had a truly massive erection, which was a common 'side effect' of a 'sleeper hold', but was in no position to use his exceptionally rigid 'tool'.
"Fuck !... ", was all that bewildered Spiridion could utter as he felt Philomenes' huge 'tool' penetrate his anus.
Philomenes was highly excited and highly sexed, and viciously raped Spiridion, quickly reaching an explosive orgasm - and probably in order to make a good impression with Petronius, he withdrew his penis moments before the inevitable and sprayed his 'seed' over Spiridion's buttocks and back.
At the same time, Spiridion, not really knowing what was happening, simply responded by squirting his own 'seed' over the sand in front of himself.
Then, before Spiridion could recover  from his orgasm, Philomenes went back to his original sleeper hold.
Spiridion knew what was going to happen, but as he was already weakened, there was nothing that he could do as he slowly drifted off into unconsciousness.
After a few moments Spiridion voided his bowels onto the sand, and urinated copiously.
Philomenes then release his dead opponent, and Spiridion flopped into a disorganized heap on top of the fouled sand.
Philomenes then stood up and bowed to the guests in the Editor's Box - and Petronius respoded by tossing a small purse of coins to the victorious wrestler.

Waiting to be Executed
Crucifixion -Impaling and Emasculation
'Punishmnets' (Executions) -
There then followed a long series of executions, mostly with the victim being tortured before being killed.
Once the executions were under way, Gracchus was always interested to discover from Petronius details of the crimes that had been committed by the slave being executed - and Petronius, prior to the Games  always made inquiries regarding the  'quaestiones perpetuae' - the criminal case - so that he could give Gracchus the details.
Gracchus was interested in the iron frames being used for the executions.
Crucifixion -Impaling and Emasculation - Completion
Petronius explained that they were an idea of Marcus - to give the audience a better view of the executions - as the thin frames did not obscure any part of bodies of those being executed.
It was also easier to attach ropes and chains to the frames as metal loops for fastening were placed in various points on the frames.
The frames were also designed to be linked together when required - a kind of prefabrication (the Romans were very adept at prefabrication, even producing large, prefabricated wooden forts, for the army, which could be erected in less than a day.
Gracchus was very impressed.
Gracchus was particularly interested to know why two boys were being crucified together, on two linked frames.
Both naked boys had tight cords tied round their genitals, with heavy iron weights attached.
"Please !... No !....", the fair haired boy screamed, while his partner in crime struggled pathetically.
"Fuck ! I' gonna cum !" the dark haired boy then moaned, convulsing  on the iron frame as he squirted huge gobs of creamy 'seed' from his appallingly erect penis.
"I'm cumming too !", the fair haired boy then grunted, on seeing his friend's forceful orgasm.
While this was going on, Petronius explained, as decorously as he could, that the boys were runaway slaves from Ercolano (now known as Herculaneum), who had taken the opportunity to kidnap a freeborn young girl from her home, and take her to a deserted beach.
Double Emasculation and Disembowelling
'There, Dominus, they had sexual relations with her, raping her both ends - mouth and, may I say without offending you, anus, taking it in turns to perform both acts simultaneously. They then left the girl for dead. Her kinsmen found her, and from her description, the two boys were quickly found, and sentenced to death in the arena."
Petronius, blushing and stammering, was obviously embarrassed to be talking about a girl in such a way.
'And the girl ?, Gracchus asked, looking concerned.
'Did she survive ?'.
'Yes.", Petronius replied, "but it will now be difficult to find a husband for her, as this crime is now common knowledge."
"And the boys now - they are to be emasculated ?"
"Yes Dominus, and very slowly !".
"Good !", Gracchus replied fiercely.
"And then I want them completely disembowelled - also very slowly !"
And that is what happened to the unlucky lads.
First the arena slaves cut off the penis of each boy.
Each boy's' penis was unnaturally erect, because of the ropes tightly binding the penis-root, and when they were severed there was a gush of blood, which sprayed over each boys' belly, and onto the sand.
Both boy's begged not to have their testicles cut off, (rather pointless, as neither boy had a penis), but once each boys' cock-root had stopped forcefully spraying blood, each boy's swollen scrotum was sliced open, the testicles removed and cut away, and then the empty sack was cut away - leaving both boys completely sexless.
The dark-haired boy had a pubic bush, and that was burned off.
By that stage each squealing boy was urinating from the bloody stump that was all that was left of his penis, and uncontrollably defecating
The emasculated boys were then slit open from he pubic bone up to sternum, and their guts were allowed to slide and flop out onto the sand.
A little later, after writhing and screaming obscenely, both boys lost consciousness, through loss of blood, and shortly afterwards were dead.
The individuals who were tortured and executed were known as 'noxii', and were sent to the amphitheatre under a legal agreement between Gracchus and the local magistracy.
Surprisingly, Gracchus was actually paid to perform these executions, and they always proved very popular.Castration, or more commonly emasculation (removal not only of the scrotum and testicles, but also the penis), was a common punishment for slaves condemned for sexual crimes.These punishments were particularly popular with the 'plebs'.Of course, castration and emasculation were not immediately fatal, although eventually the victim would bleed to death, unless the wound was cauterised - often achieved by using a red-hot castration knife.Such a punishment was usually part of a crucifixion or an impaling (crucifixion and impaling often being combined).It is noticeable that most condemned slave who were executed were found guilty of two specific types of crime.The first was running away from their master, in an almost always useless bid to live as a free individual - and this warranted crucifixion.The second was some type of sexul crime - usually some form of rape on a freeborn individual - male of female.Slaves were clothed, fed and housed (sometimes very well - better than the average plebeian - like Marcus before he was freed) - so there was little incentive to steal, although petty pilfering was always a problem.Slaves, however, were not free to have sexual relations with freeborn individuals, unless ordered to do so - and usually this meant, in the case of male slave, playing the passive role to their master or male members of the family (such as sons).For most male slaves sexual relations with other female slaves was not permitted, although senior male slaves quite often treated the younger male slaves in the same way as the master.The result was that young male slaves were highly sexually frustrated, and forced always to play the passive 'female' role.It is not surprising, therefore that quite often they were unable to control themselves in certain situations, and sexual offences occurred.Because of the frequency of such events, and the difficulty of controlling young, highly sexed male slaves, the punishments for such crimes were particularly severe, humiliating, and very public.One solution to the problem would have been to have young male slaves castrated - but castration of slaves, (outside the sphere of judicial punishment) at the time of this story was, surprisingly, against Roman law.
Gracchus was also intrigued by a naked boy, with a large wooden stake inserted deep in his anus, and his severed genitals held on a hook protruding from the frame to which he was attached.
Anal Impaling and Emasculation
"Please !.. Help !.. They've fuckin' castrated me !... - Cut off my fuckin' balls an' cock - an' fucked me !", the squirming slave groaned, to no one in particular.
What piqued Gracchus' interest was the fact that the boy was hung upside down.
"This slave-boy raped his master's son, so emasculation and impaling are considered appropriate.", Petronius explained.
"The position that he is in is extremely painful, as it puts great pressure on his spine.
Later we can break his back - and 'finish him' - by either putting weights on his back, or simply stamping on his back.
He can also be tortured further by fucking him - if you will excuse the expression, Dominus - with the stake and, of course, since his genitals were cut off he has been losing a lot of blood - so he will not last long...
", Petronius carefully explained.
"That's good !", Gracchus commented. "We can't have slaves 'abusing' free-born boys."
To bring the execution to a reasonably swift end, so that other events could take place in the arena, the condemned slave would usually be disembowelled, and/ or have his throat cut.
Marcus, on Petronius;' advice, wanting to make this part of the proceeding look a little more 'sophisticated' had 'done away' with crude wooden crosses and stakes, and instead had started to use iron frames (made by Vulcan - see Chapter III), and decorated with bronze gilt finials.
These frames not only looked better, but were more suitable for the complex 'bondage' that Petronius now favoured for the tortures and executions and, in addition, gave the audience a better view of the slave being tortured and executed.
Present day commentators often puzzle over why a cultured and sophisticated society, such as that of ancient Rome, would apparently relish such seemingly cruel and barbarous public tortures and executions. There are (as has already been alluded to, three basic reasons which may go to help explain the phenomena of the 'Ludi Romanum' (Roman Games).
The first reason is a religious reason, as the Games originated as sacrifices to the Gods and the spirits of the dead 'munera'. - In ancient Roman religion, the 'Manes' or 'Di Manes' are chthonic deities thought to represent souls of deceased loved ones. They were associated with the 'Lares', 'Lemures', 'Genii', and 'Di Penates' as deities (di) that pertained to domestic, local, and personal cults. They belonged broadly to the category of 'di inferi', "those who dwell below," the undifferentiated collective of divine dead. - Apuleius states that the souls of men become 'Lares' if they are good, 'Lemures' or 'Larvae' if they are bad, and 'Manes' if it is uncertain whether they deserve well or ill. These deities are invoked with blood sacrifices and divine honours. The blood sacrifices eventually evolved into the bloody deaths in the arena.
The second reason was a legal reason - and therefore determined by the Roman state.
Slaves were considered 'property' under Roman law and had no legal 'person-hood'. Unlike freeborn Roman citizens, they could be subjected to corporal punishment, sexual exploitation (prostitutes were often slaves), torture, and summary executionCrucifixion was the capital punishment meted out specifically to slaves, traitors, and bandits. Marcus Crassus concluded his victory over Spartacus in the 'Third Servile War' by crucifying 6,000 of the slave rebels along the Appian Way. The 'Servile Wars' brings us to another reason for the treatment of slaves in the arena. The Romans, after experiencing three massive slave revolts, known as the 'Servile Wars', were always afraid of the huge numbers of slave in their midsts, and felt it necessary to display their dominance by demonstrating their power over the slave population. The third reason - related to the second - was the fact that Roman society had no widespread law enforcement agencies, (no police as we would understand the term), and so it was essential to demonstrate publicly that offenders, if apprehended, would be dealt with with the utmost vigour and severity.
for more information regarding this important topic go to Chapter XVI Marcus et Gladiatores

Oddly (probably to most of us), neither Gracchus, Marcus or Petronius were cruel or sadistic individuals.
They (like the subsequent Christians) saw nothing wrong or immoral in the institution of slavery, or what we would consider to be the 'cruelty' involved, and for that reason the traditions of the arena endured for many hundreds of years.
Such traditions were subsumed under the concept of  'mos maiorum' -  'ancestral custom', and were derived from the foundations of Roman religion and morality - so, were not thought of as being  immoral activities, and therefore Gracchus', Marcus' and Petronius' involvement in organising them, was considered, in fact, to be highly moral, laudable and correct.

'Theseus and the Minotaur' - The very successful Ludi continued with the Tablaux of Theseus and the Minotaur (and allegory of Titus and the Jewish revolt), and a series of gladiatorial combats.
It was prearranged that the Minotaur would be killed, as occurred in the legend, and the character was played by a rather unfortunate 'noxii' (a condemned criminal due for execution in the arena).
This 'noxii' was an illiterate Celt, chosen specifically because he apparently had no knowledge of the Theseus legend, (he was what the Greeks and Romans would describe as a 'barbarian').
Theseus and the Minotaur
In Greek mythology, the Μῑνώταυρος (Minotaur - Latin: Minotaurus, Etruscan: Θevrumineś) was a creature  described by Roman poet Ovid as having the head of a bull and the body of a man. The Minotaur dwelt at the centre of an elaborate maze-like construction. The Minotaur was eventually killed by the Athenian hero Theseus. The Athenians regularly sent young girls and boys as sacrifices to the Minotaur, and Theseus, son of the king of Athens, offered to join the sacrificial victims in order to kill the Minotaur by either breaking the creature's neck or decapitating it. Petronius favoured a decapitation.
The tableaux was another one of those allegories that the Romans (and the Greeks for that matter) were so fond of.
In the allegory, the ugly and monstrous, half bull and half man, represented the Jewish insurrectionists (an interesting early example of anti-Semitism - see below), and the handsome, heroic Theseus was to represent Titus, (the eldest son of Vespasian) who had cleansed Iūdaea, and sacked the Jewish Temple.
The Romans were not particularly racist, or anti-Semitic, but the Jewish revolt of 66-70 rather altered matters. Most of the very much exaggerated 'persecution' of the early 'Christians' ('Followers of the Way') was the result of the 'Christians' being mistaken for Jews by the Roman authorities - although most 'Christians' were decidedly not Jewish.
It would be a good opportunity to stage a decapitation - Petronius thought.
Arrachion Before his Suicide 
As we saw earlier, an excellent bull's head had been created by artisans in Neapolis, along with a sufficiently 'bovine' fury loincloth for the noxii playing the part of the Minotaur.
Unfortunately, Arrachion, the Greek slave in question, had become aware of his eventual fate, and had committed suicide.
The new Celtic (not Greek) slave had been found, however, and Petronius, on seeing that the lad was appropriately 'hung like a bull', had decided to dispense with the fury loincloth - which he had thought looked a bit 'silly' anyway.
Being an illiterate Celt, Petronius concluded that it was highly unlikely that the lad would know about the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur - and by being kept 'incommunicado' during the period before the games it would be unlikely that he would work out what his eventual fate would be.
Petronius made it a habit of allowing 'noxii', (criminals who were condemned to die in the arena), to believe that they stood a chance of winning their fight, and thus leaving the arena alive - it made things easier....
This was particularly the case with young, strong individuals, like this new Celt, who fancied themselves as 'champion fighters'.
So, Petronius was convincing himself  that another suicide was highly unlikely, and an excellent tableaux might ensue at this very important and prestigious Ludi.
As for the labyrinth, not only was there no time to construct one, but there would also be a problem with making the action visible, so heavy, thick tiles, placed on the sand at intervals, would have to be sufficient to indicate the general outline of the 'maze'.
The 'Minotaur' Enters the Arena
The young 'Minotaur' was not only remarkably 'well-hung', but he as also well muscled, and made a stir in the amphitheatre when he passed, 'bollock-naked', through the doors of the 'Porta Sanavivaria'.
Lykos (Theseus) Enters the Arena
After taking his place at the centre of the tiled 'maze', Lykos, a handsome Greek lad who took the part of Theseus, entered the arena.- ( Λυκος - Lykos in Greek means wolf)
The hydraulis (water organ) had been adapted with a muffled low register pipe made to imitate the bull's growl, as the Celt's voice was not low enough - so, with some appropriate growling, the 'Minotaur', armed with a sword that had been suitably blunted by Vulcan (the villa armourer and blacksmith), started to chase after Theseus, as he had been instructed.
Placed in the 'maze' were a flight of steps leading to a platform (all wood, but painted realistically as stone by Apelles).
Theseus Wounds the Minotaur
The platform, not surprisingly, led nowhere, but allowed for a spectacular leap to another lower platform.
'Theseus' main task in this fight was to avoid being smacked on the head by the 'Minotaur's' blunt sword, and knocked out.
Twice the fight ended up on the steps, and then on the platform.
The 'Minotaur', of course, had three main problems.
The first and obvious one was that he had a sword that he could only use like a club because it was blunt - against his opponent, who had a sword with a razor sharp blade and a vicious, sharp point - plus a shield.
The second problem was that he was stark naked, with no shield, wrist guards or any kind of armour.
His worst problem, however, was the headpiece, in the form of a fury bull's head, that he was forced to wear.
It was hot - and only had tiny apertures through which he could breathe, and tiny eye holes which gave him very restricted vision.
Very soon, despite being naked, he was hot, breathless, and very disorientated.
'Theseus' (Lykos) Mutilates the 'Minotaur'
It was, therefore, simply a matter for Theseus to keep moving - exhaust his opponent, and then take advantage of the unfortunate lad's limited vision to strike a disabling blow.
With the 'Minotaur' blinded with sweat in his eyes, and gasping for breath, Theseus made his move, and neatly severed the 'Minotaur's' sword arm from just above the elbow.
Screaming, and with his mutilated stump quivering and jerking, as it sprayed blood over the sand, the poor Celt tried to grab at the remnant of his arm, in a useless attempt to staunch the bleeding.
Seeing that his opponent was totally engrossed in hanging onto his mutilated arm, 'Theseus' then brought his razor edged blade swiftly up into the 'Minotaur's' groin, deftly twisting it at the top of the stroke.
It was the move of a skilled swordsman, as it expertly and cleanly emasculated the naked 'noxii'.
By then the'Minotaur' was standing in front to Theseus, unable to decide what to do.
He was screaming, but the bull's head made it impossible to know what he was saying - probably begging for mercy - or squealing for his balls and prick, or his severed arm - who knows ?
His left hand, (the only hand he had), went from the squirting stump of his arm, to the bloody stump that was all that was left of what had been his prodigiously large genitals.
That mutilated and bloody 'cock-stump' was by then spraying piss over the sand.
Then, moments later, the Celt grabbed at his arm stump, to try and stop the copious bleeding, and then to his bloody mutilated and pissing groin again.
'Theseus' stood and watched the 'Minotaur's' confused and pathetic attempts to control his bleeding for a few moments and then, at a sign from Petronius, he 'finished off' his pathetic opponent.
As the 'Minotaur' continued to sprayed piss over the sand from his cock-stump, 'Theseus' made a horizontal sword stroke at shoulder height, slicing through the 'Minotaur's' neck.
The imitation bull's head, still containing the young Celt's actual head, flew off the naked lad's shoulders, and landed on the platform at the top of the steps.
The head then bounced down the steps, and finally came to a halt in the sand at the bottom of the steps.
Meanwhile, the headless 'Minotaur' (who was no longer a 'Minotaur' but just a decapitated young slave) tried to grab, with his one good arm, in a last reflex, at his severed neck, as it sprayed blood, and then he fell to his knees, clutching once again at his hairy, mutilated groin.
The 'noxii' then fell over, backwards, onto the sand - and the corpse - for such it was, then noisily emptied its bowels onto the sand.
Victorious Lykos raised his gladius in triumph to a rapturous response for the audience, while Petronius lent over from the pulvinar and dropped a leather pouch  of coins, which landed beside and equally full pouch containing the dead young Celt's now useless testicles, which lay on the sand.
Lykos picked up both pouches - the bloody scrotum as a trophy, and the pouch of coins as his reward.
The naked, mutilated corpse of the Celt was not immediately dragged through the Libitinarian Gate, (Gate of the Dead), but was instead bound on an iron frame, to one side of the arena, with arms and legs spread, and severed parts appropriately impaled on spikes.
The Minotaur head was a valuable 'prop' that Petronius thought might be required in some other arena presentation.
It was attached by leather lacing, covered by the shaggy hair, at the back of the head,.
When the Gaul's naked corpse was set up for display in the arena, Petronius had the Minotaur head removed unlaced and removed, and the young Gaul's gory severed head displayed on a spike.
As a condemned 'noxii' this was required by the local magistrate's order, along with a plaque stating -

('murderer and rapist - decapitated and castrated by order of the magistracy').

And for this service Gracchus, as the individual responsible for presenting the Ludi, was actually paid with state funds !
"I see that the slave playing the Minotaur was a 'noxii', but my eyes are not good enough to read the plaque from this distance.", Gracchus commented.
"Tell me, Petronius, what crime had he committed ?", Gracchus asked, peering down to take a closer look as the boy's naked mutilated corpse.
"Just the usual - for a slave, Dominus,", Petronius replied laconically.
"He murdered his master, raped his mistress, and the master's teenage son, and then ran away.
He didn't get far - was picked up, and has been in the Ludus cells for a couple of weeks.
Like most of our 'noxii' he was led to believe that if he fought well he would simply be resold - but of course the magistrates required his death - and in this case because he was guilty of rape, his castration also.", Petronius explained.
Gracchus nodded
"Very well done, Petronius.",Gracchus then said, as he turned his attention to the first of the gladiatorial combats.
"Look after that - what's his name ?".Gracchus began, still watching for the new fighters.
"Lykos." Petronius helpfully added.
"Yes, Lykos......
He's a good swordsman, so do't put him in any fights where he can be easily killed.
I want him for some good exhibition bouts.", Gracchus continued.
"Of course, Dominus.", Petronius replied obediently, making a note on his wax tablet.

for more information about Roman Slavery go to:


'The First Combat' -

There now followed three traditional gladiator combats - all three 'a mortem' (to the death).
The first pair were Cassius and Manius.
It was now the custom to name gladiators with Latin name - regardless of their ethnicity - a task undertaken by Petronius, on advice from Lucius, (Marcus' Latin Tutor), as Petronius' Latin was a little weak - Petronius, despite his Latin name, being Greek.
Cassius was a name meaning 'vain', as he was handsome - and knew it, while Manius simply meant 'good' (presumably hinting that he was a good swordsman).
Manius was the taller and more 'hefty' of the two fighters - and probably slower, while Cassius looked more agile.
Te bets, however, were on Manius.
Unlike the 'Tableaux' fight, this combat was in 'classic' form with both gladiators armed with swords, shields, and wearing helmets.
Manius was wearing a leather chest harness, wrist guards and greaves.
His only other clothing was a shaped cloth covering, secured to the root of his genitals, leaving his muscular buttocks completely exposed - undoubtedly the briefest form of loincloth possible, and like Cassius, he was completely shaved.
Cassius, on the other hand was wearing a full loincloth, secured round the waist, and decently covering his rear.
The fight was skilful but slow, both combatants moving with care, thrusting and feinting but ensuring that they avoided and real contact.
This was one of those fights where the gladiators were so well matched that it was just a question of waiting for one to loose concentration - just for a moment - which would enable his opponent to land a disabling, or even a fatal blow.
The fight was, in a case like this, more of a mental than a physical contest.
It was Manius who lost concentration first, and failed to parry a thrust aimed at his exposed belly.
Cassius' gladius pierced Manius' taught belly right at the navel.
"Fuck !", Manius, predictably, squealed as the razor-sharp blade penetrated his abdomen.
Immediately he dropped both his own gladius, and his shield, and foolishly clutched at Cassius' blade, cutting his own hands in the process.
Cassius then stepped forward, and thrust his gladius deeper into his wounded opponent.
"No !... Fuckin' shit !... No ! ", Manius moaned, as Cassius forced the sword deep into Manus' guts.
Almost immediately Manius' well developed abdominal muscles began to flex and ripple, and he farted noisily, and at the sane time, blood began to trickle from his mouth.
Realising that Manius was by then helpless, Cassius let go of his gladius, leaving Manius standing in front of him - impaled through his belly.
"My fuckin' guts !", Manius blubbered, spluttering blood.
Manius then began to take staggering steps towards Cassius - and Cassius wisely retreated.
"Help !", Manius spluttered.
One of the arena-slaves then went to Cassius - with a message from the pulvinar.
Cassius looked up and saw Petronius make a series a slicing gestures.
Cassius then went up to Manius and roughly pulled up the helpless fighter's right arm.
"What the...? Fuck....No !", Manius grunted, as Cassius sliced off the helpless fighter's arm at the bicep.
Blood instantly spurted, as Cassius then repeated the mutilation to Manius' left arm.
Still impaled, Manius simply stood facing the Pulvinar with no arms, screaming.
Two arena slaves then removed Manius' helmet.
By then Manius had stopped screaming, and simply looked from side to side at his spurting stumps, as he slowly sank to his knees and noisily voided his bowels.
Cassius then picked up Manius' gladius - walked over to his mutilated opponent - grabbed hold of Manius' hair, and slowly sawed through the screaming gladiators's neck.
The moment Manius' head was detached from his body, he fell onto the sand, still skewered through his belly by Cassius' gladius.
Cassius then bent down, ripped off the cloth covering his opponent's genitals, and sliced off Manius' fat prick and plump balls as a trophy.
Holding Manius' severed sexual organs in one hand, and Manius' severed head in his other hand, Cassius raised both arms, holding the trophies up, for the approval and applause of the audience.
While the audience applauded, and Petronius threw down a bag of coins, arena-slaves ran forward to relieve Cassius of the severed head, (although he was allowed to keep Manius' sex-parts a s a trophy), and remove Cassius' gladius from the belly of the corpse, and Manius' gladius from where it was lying on the sand.
Another slave then gathered up Manius' severed arms, while other slaves tied ropes round the dead gladiator's ankles, in preparation for dragging the mutilated corpse to the Porta Libitinarius, and thence to the Spoliarium.
The most junior slave was given the task of clearing away the bloody shit, the sand that was wet with Manius' piss, and the large quantity of blood-stained sand which resulted from Manius staggering across the arena with bleeding arm-stumps.
While all this tidying up went on, the audience, and the guests in the pulvinar, had plenty of time to discuss the pros and cons of the fight, and to sort out the result of their (strictly illegal) betting.

The Second Combat -

The second fight was unusual in that the fighters (technically not gladiators) fought with spears (hastae - also, like gladius, vulgar Latin  for penis) and not swords (gladii).
The first fighter to enter the arena was Viratus (meaning 'manly' or 'macho') - so called because he was very well endowed ('well hung').
The second fighter to enter was Malus - slim yet well muscled.
As Viratus was so 'well equipped', Petronius decided to dispense with a loincloth, and give the audience the benefit of seeing the young fighter in all his glory - 'sicut Graeci' - in the manner of the Geeks - in other words, naked.
Malus, the slim, well-muscled boy, had a fearsome reputation, and had the 'nickname' Malus, Latin for 'Bad'), which was the name used for him in the arena.
Suitably, he was kitted out all in black.

to be continued.....text and images for this final section are in the course of preparation.
Notification of completion will be indicated on the side panel in due course.

and the story continues -
Marcus becomes a man - (coming of age) - the shadow of death and torture hovers over the villa -
Chapter XXIV
(The Shadow of Death in the Villa)

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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