Chapter XXXIX - Visita Titus Vespasianus

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'Preamble' - The Early Reign of Vespasian - There was an increased amount of propaganda appearing during Vespasian's reign.
Stories of a 'supernatural' emperor who was destined to rule circulated in the empire.
Nearly one-third of all coins minted in Rome under Vespasian celebrated military victory or peace.
The word 'vindex' was removed from coins so as not to remind the public of rebellious Vindex.
Construction projects bore inscriptions praising Vespasian, and condemning previous emperors.
A 'Temple of Peace' was constructed in the forum, and Vespasian approved histories written under his reign, ensuring biases against him were removed.
At the beginning of his reign Vespasian announced that about three times the revenue of the empire was needed to put the state to rights.
He increased, and sometimes doubled, provincial taxation, and revoked immunities granted to various Greek-speaking provinces and cities.
He reclaimed public land in Italy from squatters, and instituted various new taxes, including the diversion to Rome’s treasury of the tax paid by Jews of the Diaspora to the Temple at Jerusalem.
Such measures were essential after the deficit incurred by Nero, and the devastation cased by the civil wars.
The sum raised by Vespasian for public funds cannot be determined - but he was able to build his Forum, and the 'Temple of Peace', to begin the Colosseum  - over the foundations of Nero’s 'Golden House' - and above all to restore the the temples on the Capitol.
His biographer Suetonius claims that throughout Vespasian’s reign his firm policy was “first to restore stability to the tottering state, and then to adorn it.
During the early part of his reign Gaius Licinius Mucianus was the chief adviser to Vespasian, apart from his eldest son, Titus Vespasianus, - who became virtually a partner in Vespasian’s rule, not only accumulating consulates and imperatorial salutations with his father, but also being given command of the Praetorian Guard.

'An important Day' - Elatos was up bright and early - and had dashed up to the roof gardens.
Instantly he flew back down the endless steps - and arrived breathless, in Marcus' bedroom.
Marcus was alone - and woke slowly.
"What is it, young man ?", he queried, drowsily.
"It's the tent, Dominus....It's still standing !" Elatos blurted out.
"Well I should hope so !", Marcus replied.
"Now go down and get some food for us - there's a lot to do today !", Marcus said, smiling at the young boy's enthusiasm.
A little later, while Marcus and Aurarius were having ientaculum, there was a knock on the doors of the apartment, which Elatos answered.
"It's a message from Terentius, Dominus.
He is asking to see you in the main Atrium.", Elatos explained.
Aurarius hurried to bring Marcus' sandals, and after taking a quick gulp of wine, Marcus, accompanied by Aurarius made his way down to the ground floor.
(Marcus did not realise why he had been called to the Atrium - if he had, he would have put on a toga - but by the time he had arrived, it was too late.)

'Morning Call' - "Salve, Dominus !", Terentius said deferentially.
"Salve ! - so what's the problem ?", Marcus asked showing slight annoyance at being disturbed during his meal.
"I think that you may have forgotten, Dominus, but you need to see some clients this morning.", Terentius said gently, trying not to further annoy his master.
Salutatio - ('Calling Hour') - Each morning, all over the empire, at daybreak, patron's houses and villas would be opened for 'salutatio', when the patron would hold court in the atrium of his home. During this time unofficial business would be conducted, favours requested, political support lined up for votes on important issues, and each client would receive his 'sportula' (a regular monetary handout). The patron typically situated himself in the rear of his atrium, just behind the impluvium.. As each client approached his patron, he would greet the patron with "Ave, Patrone, Ave !" ("Hail, Patron, Hail !).  The patron might reply "Ave, followed by the client's name !" or just acknowledge him by name.  If the patron was in an expansive mood he might also offer the client his hand, and if the client was especially favoured he might even be permitted to kiss the patron's cheek.  At the patron's side was his 'nomenclator' (Terentius in this case) who was charged with whispering the names of any clients whose names he might have forgotten, and with giving the patron any information about his clients that might facilitate their interaction. Each client would pay his respects and chat awhile. Then another senior-ranking member of the household (Nicander) would check off the client's name on a list and give him his 'sportula'. - Once the client-patron relationship was established, it continued from one generation to the next - Marcus' clients were originally the clients of Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus.
As Marcus had been staying at the Domus for a few days, word had got around to his 'clients' in Rome that not only was he resident, but also a close friend of Titus, and so they were all, not unnaturally,  eager to meet and greet the new Dominus.
Previously, when there had been no Dominus in residence it had simply been Nicander's (and before him Menelaus') duty to pay the 'sportula' to the clients.
On the morning of the first Salutatio that Marcus was to hold, prior to Marcus entering the atrium, Terentius had carefully monitored the clients, only allowing the most favoured to greet Marcus on this first 'Salutatio' (the others had simply been given the 'sportula', and told to return on the following days).
Of these Roman clients, the only ones that Marcus had actually met before were Timotheus (the jeweller), and Diodoros, (the sculptor), (relatively low status individuals).
Many of the other clients were wealthy Freedmen and Equites.
Because of Marcus' enormous wealth and property holdings, and his economic and social influence, (most of which he was still unaware - much to Novius' concern), some of his clients were of quite high status, which was unusual - and it was for this reason that Vespasian (still in the early, uncertain stages of his reign),  wished, through his son Titus to cultivate Marcus' friendship.
Everyone, including Nicander and Terentius were wearing togas - Marcus was not - however, he just ignored convention on this first occasion, knowing that no-one would dare take offence, (given Marcus' status), and might even deem it to be a new 'fashion'.
Once the Salutatio was ended, Marcus told Terentius to hold back Timotheus and Diodoros, as he wanted them to accompany him later when he went into the city.
A number of the other clients wished to accompany Marcus on his morning walk (this was the general custom after the Salutatio - when the patron showed off to the Roman populace the number and quality of clients that owed him their allegiance), but Marcus put them off, saying they could accompany him on the following day.
As the group of clients was dispersing, a Prætorian tribune was allowed into the Atrium.
He deferentially handed Terentius a scroll bearing the seal of Titus Vespasianus.
Terentius broke the seal, read through the document, and handed it to Marcus.
Titus wrote to confirm the meeting at the Domus that evening, and asked permission for the tribune to check the security of the building, and mount a perimeter guard - to remain on duty until Titus left at the end of the evening.
It was obvious that Titus was far more concerned about his security in Rome than he had been in Baiae - which was quite understandable.
Marcus gave his consent, and told the tribune to liaise with Nicander.
Holding Titus' scroll, (which Marcus had passed back to him), Terentius was left musing as Marcus strode off to speak to Petronius.
Petronius (with Adonios - who had a remarkably alert looking Glaux perched on his shoulder) had entered the grand atrium just moments after Marcus had arrived for the Salutatio.
While Terentius and Novius had worried about Marcus acting the part of the slave 'Markos' - or even the boy who hung around the gymnasion with the other Athenian lads, Terentius had noticed that, in the presence of Petronius, Marcus transformed himself into the 'steely hard', 'imperious' Dominus.
In his musing this is what disturbed and puzzled Terentius.
He had seen it happen on the death of Gnaeus, and at Gnaeus' funeral at Baiae, and the executions of the 'conspirators'.
He felt that it was in some way connected with Petronius - but how and why he could not fathom.
(Terentius reminded himself of a confidential conversation he had with Petronius long ago - before the time when Gnaeus was killed -  Terentius then had wondered about Petronius who, when just a slave, had a mysterious aura of 'authority' - as exemplified in his statue - posing as the God Apollo - And a strange thought had then crossed Terentius' mind.... 'No ! Impossible !' he had told himself at the time - 'I must be going crazy ! - but what did Aurarius say ? - 'Crazy but harmless' - But are we ?')

'Morning Business' - While Terentius was left wondering, Marcus had told Petronius to send for Demetrius, and had asked Timotheus and Diodoros to join him.
Both men, having only ever received the 'sportula' (grudgingly) at a side entrance of the Domus prior to Marcus arrival, were suitably impressed by the magnificence of the Domus atrium, and the attendance on Marcus of innumerable slaves, his Freedmen (Terentius, Petronius and Nicander), and his numerous 'clients' - and even a Prætorian tribune.
Diodoros, in particular, was now far more subservient and respectful.
Moments later Demetrius, along with Aelius (his personal slave, now sporting a 'Roman haircut', and appearing much more boyish - it was the Roman custom for slave-boys to have long hair, but the'late Dominus' had disapproved of this, thinking it looked effeminate - and Marcus had continued in the same manner), arrived in the main atrium - both looking very 'spic and span'.
Demetrius was obviously hoping that perhaps his gold arm-guards, his seal ring and his pugio might be ready at Timotheus' work-shop.
Marcus was equally eager to see what progress Diodoros had made on his recent commissions, (Marcus having shed his 'steely hard', 'imperious' Dominus role, and reverted to being 'one of the boys').
As Marcus, along with Petronius, Demetrius, Aurarius and Adonios, left the main atrium with, Diodoros and Timotheus following, those clients who still remained, possibly hoping forlornly for an opportunity to ingratiate themselves with the new (and surprisingly young Dominus), bowed deferentially, knowing that they may well have a long wait before speaking again to their patron.
As the group accompanying Marcus left the massive gilt bronze entrance of the Domus, seven immaculately turned out Prætorians, (two in front with another tribune, and four bringing up the rear), formed up to provide an escort.
It seemed that Titus was determined to keep his new friend safe, at least until he appointed some Lictors for Marcus' personal use.
A Lictor (from Latin: ligare, 'to bind') was a Roman civil servant who was a bodyguard to magistrates who held imperium. Lictors were used since the Roman Kingdom, and according to Roman historian Livy, the practice originated earlier, in the Etruscan civilisation as with so many Roman customs. Imperium is a Latin word which, in a broad sense, translates roughly as 'power to command'. In ancient Rome, 'imperium' could be used as a term indicating a characteristic of people, the wealth held in items, or the measure of formal power they had.  Imperium can be distinguished from regnum, or royal power, which was inherited. Lictors carried rods decorated with fasces and, outside the pomerium, with axes that symbolised the power to carry out capital punishment. Dictatorial lictors had axes even within the pomerium - ( The pomerium was a religious boundary around the city of Rome). The Lictors followed the magistrate wherever he went, including the Forum, his house, temples, and the baths. Lictors were organised in ordered lines around him, with the primus lictor (the principal lictor) directly in front of him, waiting for orders. If there was a crowd, the lictors opened the way, and kept their master safe, pushing all aside except for Roman matrons, who were accorded special honour.
As they made their way to Diodoros' workshop, Marcus spoke to the Prætorian Tribune, questioning him about the security arrangements for the visit of Titus that evening.
Once Marcus had satisfied himself that all was well, Marcus asked  Diodoros about the cinerary urn and the frame for the door for Glaux.
Didoros was nervous and apologetic.
First he explained to Marcus that he was unable to purchase the gold for the urn, and had been forced to contact Terentius (who he knew quite well) for an 'up-front' payment.
Didoros  told Marcus that Terentius was quite happy to do this, but Didoros was worried that Marcus might not approve before he had seen the basalt urn itself.
Marcus was not concerned, and was simply anxious to know if the urn had been completed in accordance with Apelles' design.
Didoros assured him that the urn was completed, but apologised that the marble frame for Glaux's door was still undergoing final detailing and polishing - but he would show it to Marcus.
Moments later they entered Didoros' workshop, leaving the Prætorians to 'kick their heels' in the street outside.
Didoros then took Marcus into a rear room.
There on a bench, much larger than Marcus had expected, was an object covered in a dark red cloth.
"I truly hope that you like it, Dominus.", Didoros  said quietly, as he gently slipped the cloth away.
Marcus was stunned, and fumbled for a nearby wooden stool.
He sat down heavily - simply looking - awe struck.
"It's magnificent !", he said - his voice cracking with emotion.
Cinerary Urn
Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus
based on a design by Thomas Hope
"If you approve, I will send it to the Domus later today with my most trusted assistants.", Didoros added.
"Well....", and for a moment Marcus was stuck for words....."When we first met I must admit I was not impressed, and had my doubts that you would produce what I needed - but this goes beyond anything that I expected. - I apologise for doubting you."
"Thank you, Dominus.... but when we first met it was a bad day for me, and I was not at my best - so I also apologise for being brusque and disrespectful."
And so they shook hands.
An urn is a vase, usually with a cover, having a somewhat narrowed neck above a rounded body and a footed pedestal. Describing a vessel as an "urn", as opposed to a vase or other terms, generally reflects its use rather than any particular shape or origin. The term is especially often used for cinerary - (funerary) urns, vessels used in burials, to hold the cremated ashes. The custom of using cinerary urns derived from Etruscan burial customs.
One of  Didoros' assistants (who had obviously been listening at the door), then came in at what he considered was an opportune moment bringing a rectangular white marble piece.
Glaux's Door
 "And this is the door frame for your little owl.", Didoros said, showing Marcus a beautifully carved white marble frame.
"And there is another - an exact copy - to be mounted on the opposite side of the wall.....
I must say, it is a most unusual commission, Dominus."  Didoros added - obviously by then beginning to relax.
"Yes.... and Glaux is a very unusual owl". Marcus added, smiling.
And with that they left the back room.
"Can we see it ?", Aurarius asked avidly, meaning the doorway for Glaux, obviously having been elected the spokesman of the group .
"Well, - not now - wait until later today, when it arrives at the Domus."
Somewhat disappointed the boys left Didoros' workshop, and were immediately flanked by their waiting Prætorians.
While Marcus, Petronius and the boys had been in Didoros' workshop, Timotheus had been waiting patiently outside with the Prætorians.
"Right, Timotheus - sorry to keep you waiting - now lets go to your shop and see what you have for us.", Marcus said to his client - who had been overawed, and rather unnerved, by the experience of waiting with a Prætorian Tribune and a group of guards.
"I am pleased to tell you that everything is ready for your approval.
Petros has worked hard and long to ensure that the items were finished on time - as you are our most esteemed customer.", Timotheus said enthusiastically.
"Well...I'm sure that the boys will be happy."
As they made their way through the busy streets the crowds simply melted away at the sight of the Prætorians, and the group quickly arrived at the workshop of Timotheus.
When they arrived, Petros was waiting for them behind the counter.
"Slave, Dominus !", Petros said to Marcus, smiling and bowing.
Demetrius' Pugio
"Petros, bring the items for our Dominus to inspect !", Timotheus said, as he hastily removed his bulky toga.
Petros disappeared into a back room, and quickly emerged with a large tray covered by a pristine white cloth.
Timotheus, rather theatrically, unveiled the contents of the tray.
Demetrius' Arm Guards
The first thing that Marcus examined was the pugio that he had bought for Demetrius.
It was, as Marcus intended, very Roman, with an imperial eagle on the pommel, and a depiction of Romulus and Remus with the 'She Wolf' on the scabbard.
Skilfully, Petros had also place a dark stone with an inlaid gold delta - for Demetrius  - on the scabbard, and also on the hand-grip.
Demetrius was thrilled.
Gold Slave Collars
There too, were his arm-guards - in glittering gold, decorated with fierce-some lion heads.
Also on the tray were two gold slave-collars, complete with gold medallions featuring imperial eagles.
Gold Seal Rings
And finally there were the three gold seal rings, each with it's own stone, and each with an appropriate letter embossed, taken from the Greek alphabet.
"This is excellent work, Timotheus - outstanding.
The boys will take the rings now, and the other items should be delivered to the Domus this afternoon.
Terentius will give you full payment, plus a suitable bonus payable to Petros.", Marcus said, very formally.
"Our Dominus is too generous  - and Petros thanks you !", Timotheus said, bowing and equally formally.
On returning to the street Marcus gave the Prætorian tribune instructions regarding their next destination.
Just before they had left the Domus Marcus had a quick conversation with Terentius, asking him for information about the best shops near the Forum Romanum, and Terentius had directed Marcus to the Basilica Aemilia - and that was the destination that Marcus had passed on to the tribune, as Marcus was unsure of the exact location of the basilica.
The Basilica Aemilia was a civil basilica in the Roman Forum. The Basilica was 100 meters (328 ft) long and about 30 meters (98 ft) wide. Along the sides were two orders of 16 arches, and it was accessed through one of three entrances. The Basilica Aemilia was considered by Pliny to be one of the most beautiful buildings in Rome. It was a place for business and, in the Porticus of Gaius and Lucius (the grandsons of Augustus) fronting the Roman Forum, there were the Tabernae Novae (New Shops).
All the shops in the Basilica Aemilia sold exceptionally expensive, luxury goods - but that was no problem - Marcus could well afford such items.
Waking along the vast marble colonnade, Marcus came to a jewellers.
It was a rather more elaborate establishment than that of Timotheus, however it only traded in previously manufactured items, rather than making items to order ('bespoke'), and to the customers own design.
Marcus told the Tribune to 'keep and eye' on the boys - and told the boys to behave, while he and Petronius went into the shop.
Petronius, knowing that Marcus would not announce himself, made it clear to the individual behind the counter who he was dealing with.
"May I introduce the Dominus of the House of Gracchus - the noble Marcus Octavianus".
The shopkeeper, suitably impressed, asked to be excused for a moment, and another individual, presumably the owner of the establishment, wearing a suitably formal toga, returned with his assistant in tow.
"Greetings, Domine ! How can we serve you today".
Marcus asked to see the finest, pure gold men's rings.
The owner, immediately sent his assistant scurrying away, and moments later the younger man (maybe the owner's son ?) brought out a tray of large ornate gold rings.
Marcus began carefully picking out certain rings and examining them.
"Do you have any of Greek workmanship ?", Marcus asked, as all the rings that he had been shown so far were of rather dull, and obviously Roman design, and probably also of Roman workmanship.
"Of course Domine - but Greek work is of finer design and quality, and always more expensive."
"That is of no matter.", Marcus replied carelessly.
The assistant scurried away again, and then returned with a slightly smaller selection of rings.
Marcus' hand immediately fell on a very large ring, decorated with a Greek key pattern.
The Μαίανδρος (meandros) is a decorative border, (common in Greek and Roman art), constructed from a continuous line, shaped into a repeated motif. Such a design is also called the 'Greek Fret' or 'Greek Key' design, although these are modern designations. The name 'Μαίανδρος' recalls the twisting and turning path of the Maeander River in Asia Minor. The Μαίανδρος is an important symbol in ancient Greece and Rome; and symbolised infinity and the eternal flow of things, and many Greek and Roman temples incorporated the motif.
In the centre of the ring was a  beautifully carved gold Γοργόνειον (Medusa head).
The Γοργόνειον was classically worn upon her dress by the virgin goddess Athena (Artemis - sister of Apollo) - (the goddess who owns Glaux). It was, among other godlike attributes, a royal 'aegis', to imply divine birth or protection - and was worn as an amulet to ward off evil.
"That is exactly what I was looking for !", Marcus said, picking up the ring and examining it closely.
"Petronius, what do you think ?", Marcus asked.
"It is very beautiful - and very apt.", Petronius answered carefully, looking concerned.
"Yes... indeed.....", Marcus said in an almost dreamy tone.
For a moment there was silence in the shop.
"So - try it on !", Marcus said, as if returning from a trance.
"Me ?... But.... Its...", Petronius spluttered in incomprehension, and then slowly took the ring from Marcus.
He then placed it gently on his ring finger - on the opposite hand to the one where he wore his seal ring.
"It fits." Petronius mumbled.
"Remarkable !", the shop owner exclaimed
"So no need to resize.", he commented with obvious satisfaction to his assistant.
" the man, Petronius !", Marcus said breezily, (as usual, Petronius was looking after the money).
Money passed hands (and a large amount), and then with much grovelling and bowing, the owner of the shop escorted Marcus out to the columned area in front of the shop, where he was rather disconcerted to find a group of  Prætorian guards, and three rather affluent looking boys.
The boys were eager to know what Marcus had bought.
"Nothing really - Petronius just bought a little trinket.", Marcus replied dismissively.
The boys were puzzled, but Marcus obviously didn't want to give an answer, and Petronius kept his fist clenched by his side, unwilling to have the boys fussing in public over his new acquisition.

There was much to be done on the day of Titus' visit to the Domus, so Marcus did not linger in the city.
On returning to the Domus, Marcus thanked the Tribune for providing his escort, and hurried to the grand atrium.
Predictably, Terentius was waiting for Marcus.
"Slave Dominus ! You have a visitor." Terentius said, obviously pleased that Marcus had returned quite quickly.
"Yes - and I can guess who.... you see, Terentius, I hadn't forgotten. ".
Petronius, and the boys all hurried up the stairs to the 'area nobilis', to leave Marcus to deal with his new guest.
"I have placed Severus in the right hand small atrium.
He has only been here a short while, and has been given refreshments, and Nicander is entertaining him.", Terentius explained.
"Good ! Now please send a boy up to Novius, and ask him to go to my study, and find the drawings for the Mausoleum - and I will join him soon - with Severus.", Marcus said.
Terentius nodded, - called a slave-boy, and sent him on his mission, while Marcus went into the small atrium.
Domus Gracchii
Villas at Baiae
Severus lived during the first century. Nero chose him as his architect for the Domus Aurea. The work on the 'Domus Aurea' (Golden House), a palace-villa set down in the heart of Rome, shows that he rejected traditional Roman architecture in favour of a radically new architecture which utilised arches and which focused on interior spaces. Severus exhibited a genuine originality that moved beyond earlier precedents and which made it possible to create a masterful statement about the possibilities of vaulted space. Severus also designed the 'Domus Gracchii', the Villas at Baiae and Tibur, and the renovation of the amphitheatre at Baiae. 
"Dominus ! It is so good to see you again !", Severus exclaimed effusively.
Of course, he was an artist, and was allowed to be 'over the top'.
There was no Roman 'gravitas' for this man - but that was undoubtedly because he was now very rich - rich enough to go against convention, and not be concerned (like Marcus attending his Salutatio without wearing a toga - although that was not, in fact, intended).
With longish curly hair, and a short beard, he looked more like a Greek philosopher that a Roman 'technician'.
'Gravitas' was one of the Roman virtues, along with 'pietas', 'dignitas' and 'virtus', that were particularly appreciated in Roman men of standing. It may be translated variously as weight, seriousness, dignity, and importance, and connotes a certain substance or depth of personality - something almost unknown in the 'modern' world.
"My condolences once again on the sad passing of your beloved, adoptive father, my boy.", Severus continued. - (being older than Marcus, and an old friend of Gnaeus, Severus took an avuncular role when speaking to Marcus - rarely calling him Dominus - but Marcus didn't mind - as long as Severus produced the buildings.)
"But now my good friend Terentius tells me you want to build a family mausoleum - and a good thing too !".
Slightly overwhelmed by the flamboyant character of his personal architect, Marcus suggested that they go to his study to look at some drawings.
After an arduous climb - during which Severus quietened down somewhat as he panted and puffed,  -they finally reached Marcus' study.
"By the Gods, boy - I should never have put so many stairs in this confounded Domus !", Severus declared, as the Domus guards opened the large gilded bronze double doors.
IIIrd Draft of the Mausoleum of the House of Gracchus
As soon as Severus entered the study, he spotted Novius holding one of the drawings.
"Ah ! Novius my friend ! - I suppose that you've got some drawing of an appalling Etruscan monstrosity that you want me to build !", it was meant as a joke - a 'running joke' - as Novius was famous for his obsession with all things Etruscan.
"Quite the opposite !", Novius said, smiling.
"It's pure Hellenic - It's not Etruscan - and there's not one of your concrete arches in sight !"
Severus examined the drawing carefully.
"Very good !", he commented.
"Who drew this ?".
"Apelles - he's a Greek boy - he does all the 'art' work I need.", Marcus replied.
"You chose well, young Marcus - he's good !", Severus said, scrutinising the drawing.
"So is this what you want ?", Severus asked.
"Well...yes, something like that - but larger - and I want it to be symmetrical - the same on all sides - like the Egyptian pyramids - and very 'classical'.", Marcus explained.
"So - you're going to try and out-do Augustus ?", Severus quipped.
Mausoleo Augusti
The Mausoleo Augusti is a large tomb built by the Roman Emperor Augustus in 28 BC on the Campus Martius in Rome. The mausoleum was one of the first projects initiated by Augustus (Octavian) in the City of Rome following his victory at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. The mausoleum was circular in plan, consisting of several concentric rings of earth and brick, planted with cypresses on top of the building and capped by a conical roof and a statue of Augustus. Vaults held up the roof and opened up the burial spaces below. Twin pink granite obelisks flanked the arched entryway. The completed mausoleum measured 90 m (295 ft) in diameter by 42 m (137 ft) in height. A corridor ran from the entryway into the heart of the mausoleum, where there was a chamber with niches to hold the golden urns enshrining the ashes of the Imperial Family.

Meanwhile - at the grand entrance, a delivery was being made by Didoros and his most trusted workers.
This was no 'tradesmen's entrance' delivery, as this was the cinerary urn of the 'late Dominus', and Glaux's doorway.
The urn was encased in a large wooden crate, and had been protected by swathes of the softest linen.
Marble Door Frame for Glaux
Glaux's door frames had been a problem.
The marble sides were exceptionally thin, and Didoros had reinforced them with bronze strips that would not show when the frames were installed either side of the dividing wall.
However, the marble frames had to be handled with the utmost care.
(Didoros had also left off the soffiits that had been indicated in Apelles' design, as they were also liable to break off.)
The three items were taken by one of the 'hi-tech' elevators to the 'area nobilis', where they were delivered to Petronius, who was looking after the boys in Marcus' private apartments.
Petronius asked Didoros to get his workers to unpack the precious items (while Didoros himself checked the receipts regarding the final payments with Terentius).
The boys, however, were strictly instructed not to touch the items.
Glaux, disturbed by the noise, woke up from his mid-morning snooze, and fluttered down, daintily landing on the edge of one of the marble door frames.
Having apparently approved of the new addition to his 'alcove', he stepped carefully onto Adonios' hand, and allowed himself to be introduced to Didoros.
"Well, he certainly is a very special little owl." Didoros said, smiling, as Glaux looked up at the young sculptor, trying to look as endearing as possible.
"So why doesn't he just fly away ?", Didoros asked.
"Artemis (Roman - Diana) won't let him." Adonios said, in Greek.
"Her brother (Apollo) told her to send Glaux to the Dominus to look after him - so he has to stay.... and he likes it here - 'cause we all spoil him.
"I see - so Glaux really is special." Didoros said, unwisely patronising Adonios, at which Glaux pecked hard at Didoros' finger as Didoros tried to ruffle Glaux's feathers.
"Yes !" Adonios said.
"So don't make fun - or Apollo will do something nasty.
"I see.",  Didoros replied, recoiling and sucking his finger.
"That's enough !", Petronius said to Adonios, who stalked off into the culina, muttering under his breath about the 'arrows of Apollo', and taking Glaux with him.


Back in Marcus' study the conversation about the proposed Mausoleum continued.
"So where are you planning to site this mausoleum - Rome, Baiae, Tibur ?", Severus asked.
"No - in Cumæ - as it's sacred to Apollo, and the site of his greatest Latin oracle - and also because Apollo is the patron of the House of Gracchus.", Marcus replied.
"And very fitting.", Novius added.
Marcus then reverted to becoming very business-like - which Novius was pleased to see.
"Terentius has already acquired land from the priests of the Temple of Apollo, close to the Cave of the Oracle.
There is sufficient land for you to design spacious gardens to surround the mausoleum.
Terentius will provide you with a site-plan when you leave."

'Rehearsal' - Petronius sent Elatos down to the basement, where the  newly acquired  slaves were kept, with the message from Petronius that the potential combatants, (along with their equipment), and the dancing troupe were to be taken up (by elevator) to the roof gardens.
While Marcus (accompanied by Aurarius), lounged on a couch (later to be used for the roof garden cena), Petronius, (accompanied by Adonios),  inspected the 'gladiators' equipment and costumes.
The concern was that there had been so little time to train the slaves who were to be used as gladiators that they may well put on a very poor show or, worst of all, refuse to fight.
Concerned that the new slave-boys might not be aggressive enough, Marcus sent a slave-boy down to get Agathon (Marcus' personal physician - a Greek slave. Agathon had been brought from the villa at Baiae as he was always required to be available for his master.).
A short while later Agathon appeared - looking suitably impressed by the roof gardens (the gardens were not normally available to slaves).
"Salve, Dominus !", Agathon said, bowing to his master.
"And how are you finding your accommodation here at the Domus ?", Marcus asked, making a little appropriate 'small talk'.
"It is very comfortable, Dominus.", Agathon replied, obviously wondering why he had been summoned.
"And is there anything that you need ?", Marcus asked.
"Yes Dominus. I would wish to have your permission to go into the city with a slave-boy in order to purchase some supplies of herbs, medicines and other materials - and I would also need some money to make such purchases.", Agathon asked, tentatively.
"Of course, Agathon - and just ask Terentius to provide you with the cash that you may need.", Marcus replied.
Marcus then rose from his couch, and led Agathon by the arm to the group of young 'gladiators' who were receiving a 'pep-talk' from Petronius.
Marcus and Agathon
"My dear Agathon, I am looking to you to provide something to put some 'fight' into these rather 'lack-lustre' looking 'gladiators'." Marcus said quietly, so that the slaves wouldn't hear him.
"I see.", Agathon said, knowingly.
"Yes - there is something that might work - but I will have to go into the city in order to purchase it.", Agathon continued.
"Then go !",Marcus said decisively.
"Go and see Terentius - get some money, get a slave-boy to accompany you - and make haste.
This needs to be done as soon as possible !", Marcus said, sending Agathon on his way.
So what was Agathon going to buy in the markets of Rome which would give some encouragement to Marcus' somewhat reluctant 'gladiators' ?
It would be an infusion in undiluted wine of Ephedra sinica, Hyoscyamus niger and Catha edulis - all very expensive, imported herbs.
These herbs, when given in the correct dosage, and mixed in the correct proportion would give a stimulant effect, as they were all related to the modern synthesised drug amphetamine.
So - if Agathon did his job correctly, there may, for the display arranged for Titus, be some quite energetic  and exciting action.


Meanwhile, in Marcus' private apartments a very annoyed Glaux - annoyed because he had been woken up, - watched as workmen bolted and cemented the two marble frames of the doorway connecting Marcus' culinar (kitchen) with that of Petronius - and all so that a depressed Glaux could then go and visit Adonios, (and Petronius), without going outside the building.
At the same time the large basalt and gold cinerary urn had been placed in the grand atrium, below a bust of G. Octavian Gracchus.
The Romans regarded the bodies of the dead as polluting, and during Rome's Classical period, the body was usually cremated, and the ashes placed in a tomb. Much of the month of February was devoted to purifications, propitiation, and veneration of the dead, especially at the nine-day festival of the 'Parentalia' during which a family honoured its ancestors. The family visited the cemetery and made offerings to the dead. The 'Parentalia' drew to a close on February 21 with the more sombre 'Feralia', a public festival of sacrifices and offerings to the 'Manes', the potentially malevolent spirits of the dead who required propitiation. One of the most common inscriptions on Latin epitaphs is 'Dis Manibus', abbreviated D.M, "for the Manes gods,". The 'Caristia' on February 22 was a celebration of the family line as it continued into the present. A noble Roman family displayed ancestral images ('imagines') in the 'tablinium' of their main Domus. (The 'tablinum' was a room  situated off the atrium and opposite to the entrance; it opened in the rear on to a peristyle, with a large curtained doorway. The walls were richly decorated, and busts of the family were arranged on pedestals. In the case of Gracchus, the bust was displayed - and, unusually, the empty cinerary urn, (the ashes being in a temporary cinerary urn in the villa at Baiae, prior to being interred in the, as yet un-built, mausoleum at Cumæ
At the same time as Glaux's doorway was being installed, and the cinerary urn was being put in place in the atrium, a delivery was being made to the private apartments, situated on the 'area nobilis', of Demetrius' wrist guards, pugio, and the gold slave-collars for Adonios and Aurarius.
Also, a group of tailors arrived to fit out the boys with new tunics - under the supervision of Terentius, (as Marcus and Petronius were busy on the roof gardens), - so that they would look their best when they met Titus.
And so, as the tailors frantically made alterations to the two matching tunic that Terentius had advised Adonios and Aurarius to choose, and the last minute alteration were made to Demetrius' clothing, the afternoon wore on, and the time for the visit of Titus Flavius gradually drew near.
Petronius dismissed the combatants and dancers to the basement, where they would await their summons to 'entertain' the honoured guest, and then he and Marcus went over the final details in order to ensure that nothing had been overlooked.
The late afternoon (the normal time for a formal 'convivium') was fine, - almost cloudless, and warm - and was a good portend for a successful evening.
Meanwhile slaves made the final preparations on the roof gardens - and a message came up from the main atrium that Agathon had been successful in his quest for the appropriate herbs in the city markets - and was even then working on his infusion.
As Marcus and Petronius left the roof gardens in order to bathe and dress in preparation for the 'convivium', lookouts were posted on the roof gardens in order to spot the approach of Titus' suite.


Returning to the main atrium with Aurarius , Marcus was looking worried.
He had been expecting a delivery from Neapolis that morning - and now it was late afternoon - very late afternoon - and the expected delivery had not arrived.
Before he had set out for Rome, Terentius, on Marcus' behalf, had ordered two very special, and very expensive items from Neapolis - which were to be delivered to the Domus, immediately on completion.
The items were 'tripods' - special gifts for Titus, and his father, Vespasian.
A sacrificial 'tripod' is a three-legged piece of religious furniture used for offerings or other ritual procedures. As a seat or stand, the tripod is the most stable furniture construction for uneven ground, hence its use is universal and ancient. It is particularly associated with (well - who else ?) Apollo and the Delphic oracle in ancient Greece, and the word τρίποδο (tripod) comes from the Greek meaning "three-footed". Tripods are frequently mentioned by Homer as prizes in athletic games, and as complimentary gifts; in later times, highly decorated and bearing inscriptions, they served the same purpose. They appear also to be precious gifts for guests, (as in the case of the Phaeakes, who offered a cauldron and tripod to Odysseus). In the ancient world the tripod was considered to be the 'ultimate' gift.
Then - at the very last minute - a breathless slave-boy rushed up to Marcus and, forgetting all formalities, told his master that a delivery had arrived at the rear entrance of the Domus.
Marcus immediately gave instructions for the items to be unpacked, and the basalt and gold tripod to be taken by elevator, up to the roof gardens.
Marcus then sent Nicander up to the roof gardens with instructions to place the basalt and gold tripod in one of the colonnades on the roof garden, where it would not be visible, and detail a group of slaves to be ready to carry the tripod out to the pavilion when Marcus was to present the gift to Titus.
The other tripod was to be stored in Marcus' private apartments.
By then Marcus was getting even more nervous, and matters were not helped by the appearance of a slave-boy who had just dashed down the wide, white marble stairs, all the way from the roof gardens.
"Dominus !", he spluttered, trying to catch his breath, "They're here - your guests !".
At the same time Petronius, along with Adonios, emerged from the depth of the basement.
Glaux was firmly gripping Adonios' shoulder, although the little bird's eyes were closed.
"They're here !", Marcus said, seeming somewhat agitated.
"And how are the performers ?", Marcus added.
"Almost as anxious as you !", Petronius answered, smiling. as he absent mindedly fiddled with his Medusa Head ring.
"No need to worry !", Petronius said, reassuringly.
"The priests of the God Apollo, from the Augustan temple, will make sacrifice, and take auspices - which will all prove appropriately promising.", Petronius continued.
"And how can you be so sure of that ?", Marcus asked, with an touch of petulance.
The tension of the visit had obviously made him irritable.
"Well, Plato tells us that we are all just chained prisoners - watching shadows on a cave wall,  so.... no need to worry - as nothing is really real.", Petronius answered casually.
"And since when have you been reading Plato ?", Marcus asked, edging towards an argument.
"Well...never - but someone told me once ." Petronius replied - non too convincingly - with a faint smile playing over his lips.
"All right - well, let's get organised.", Marcus said, not wanting to take the absurd conversation any further.
"You go and do some 'babysitting' with our nervous performers.
I'll go up to the roof gardens, and Adonis and Glaux, who are the favourites of 'our Titus', along with Nicander, (who had just returned from the roof gardens), can greet him here, in the atrium."
It was then Adonios' turn to look nervous - but Glaux only blinked, and fluffed up his feathers.


After Marcus had left for the roof gardens, the huge gilded bronze doors of the Domus slowly and majestically opened, signalling the arrival of Titus Vespasianus - Præfectus Præetorio, and eldest son and heir of the Emperor Vespasian - companied by two tribunes.
It was a low key entrance.
No fanfares - no drum rolls - no other attendants.
It was perhaps an intended signal that Titus had complete trust in his presence in the Domus Gracchii, and perhaps an indication that he believed that he was among friends.
(It should be remembered, however, that since the morning the Domus had been ringed with Præetorians.)
Nicander went forward, bowed, and offered formal greetings - and then stepped to one side.
"And who is this elegantly dressed young man ?", Titus said smiling, and he moved forward to meet Adonis.
"You know me, Sir - and this is Glaux - the owl who belongs to the Sister of Apollo.", Adonios replied in his usual, unabashed manner.
Titus smiled even more.
"Indeed... I do remember you, Adonios,  - and I also remember Glaux.", Titus said, softly, tousling Adonios' golden hair, and tickling Glaux's fluffed up breast.
Gently Glaux nibbled Titus' fingers - presumably as a sign of recognition.
"Please, Sir, the Dominus is waiting for you on the roof garden.", Adonios said rather urgently, worried that Marcus might tire of waiting.
"So - you have a garden on the roof ?", Titus answered - seemingly feigning surprise.
Adonios nodded.
"Well all right - let's go up and see your Dominus.", Titus said, allowing Adonios to lead the way.

'and the story continues -
Marcus entertains Titus on the roof garden, under the stars
('Night Under the Stars')

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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