CHAPTER XXXVIII - In Urbe Dierum & Preparationes

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'A Grecian Door for Glaux' - The next morning Elatos spoke to  Aurarius.
"I think the Dominus' bird is unwell.", he said in a worried tone.
"Yes." Aurarius replied. "I've noticed it. I think the little chap is missing Adonios."
Glaux, who was sitting on the back of a chair, excitedly moved from one foot (claw ?) to the other.
Finally his smaller humans had noticed, and seemed to understand what was wrong.
"Don't worry." Aurarius said, reassuringly, "I will speak to the Dominus."
Over ientaculum, which Aurarius now shared with Marcus, while Elatos served them, Aurarius spoke to Marcus about Glaux.
"Yes... I've seen it too.
The problem is that Glaux needs to be watching over me, but has a strong bond with Adonios, who looked after him from when he first came to us.", Marcus explained.
"Well...why not make it so that, in some way, Glaux could fly from our apartments to those of Petronius ?".
"Yes.....", Marcus pondered, and with that he got up from the breakfast table, and strode into the culina.
Aurarius followed his master, as Marcus surveyed the far wall, as Glaux fluttered onto his shoulder.
"I think that this wall abuts onto the culina in Petronius' apartments.
Now if we had a little 'owl-sized' doorway set high into the wall, then Glaux could go from one set of apartments to the other, and could see me and Adonios - and being in the culina, there would be no problem with privacy."
"That's a great idea, Dominus - but how do we do it ?", Aurarius enthused.
"Easy.", Marcus replied.
"I will have a chat with Terentius and Nicander this morning."
No sooner said than done, builders arrived at the apartments while Marcus explained to Petronius why a hole was being knocked in his kitchen wall.
All through the explanation Petronius wore a wry smile.
Meanwhile, Marcus had called Apelles up to his apartment, and was giving him instructions on the design of the little 'owl door' (in Greek, for Apelles - 'Πόρτα της κουκουβάγιας').
Glaux's Door
Later in the day, when Marcus saw Apelle's design, his first comment was:
"It's a bit grand for a culina (kitchen) !".....
"And it looks expensive, Dominus !", Terentius commented, looking over Marcus' shoulder.
"But magistris (masters), I was told that this was a very special owl !", Apelles tried to explain.
At this Glaux fluttered onto Marcus' shoulder, nibbled his master's ear and, leaning forwards, (and nearly toppling over), pecked at the drawing approvingly.
"Well all right...", Marcus sighed.
"Tell me, Terentius, can you get me a sculptor to make a good job of this - say in white marble ?", Marcus asked.
"You'll need two copies - one for your side and one on Petronius' side," Terentius reminded Marcus, "So what about Diodoros - if you've managed to forgive him for being rude to you ?".
"Yes....why not ?", Marcus agreed.
"But you're sure he's really good ?", Marcus added.
Terentius nodded, knowingly.
And so the rest of the morning was disrupted by hammering, as the builders made the initial opening in the dividing wall between the two apartments - in accordance with the dimensions given to them by Apelles.
Once the small passage between the two apartments had been completed, and even before Diodoros and his assistants had completed the Hellenic style doorways, to be affixed with bronze bolts, Glaux not only busied himself visiting Adonios and Petronius, but also got into the habit, as the wall between the two apartments was very thick, of using the doorway as a small, quiet retreat where he could doze during daylight hours.


'The Letter from Titus' - Now you may have forgotten that Marcus had received a letter from Titus Flavius Vespasianus (eldest son of the Emperor Vespasian).
The letter - very polite, but also friendly - suggested that, now that Marcus was staying in Rome, it may be good if they met once again.
Titus left the matter open, saying that they could meet at Vespasian's Villa, situated between the Pincian and Quirinal hills, in the Horti Sallustiani (Gardens of Sallust), or on the 'Esquiline' (where Marcus' Domus Gracchi was situated) - ('my place or yours'),
It was his way of being friendly, as he didn't want the invitation to sound like a summons.
Wisely Marcus consulted Novius.
Aurarius Tries to read Titus' letter
Novius was of the opinion that, as Vespasian may well also be at the villa, it would probably be wise to invite Titus to the Domus - and that would give Marcus a chance to 'sound out' Titus with regard to his father's intentions.
The letter that Aurarius had tried to read, (without much success), over Marcus' shoulder was the reply to Titus in which Marcus had suggested that Titus should come to the Domus, as Marcus would like to show him round, and also offer him a meal and some entertainment.
Subsequently, Marcus had considered using the slave-boy troupe that he had recently bought.
It would then be a matter of getting Petronius to see if the lads had a routine that they could use.
If not, as the boys were attractive, they could be used to serve food and generally 'decorate' the place.
It was known that, although Titus had been married, and had mistresses, he also 'went with' attractive slave-boys - so that could be a way of getting him relaxed and amenable.
Seutonius tells us that: 'he was also suspected of riotous living, since he protracted his revels until the middle of the night with the most prodigal of his friends; likewise of un-chastity because of his troops of 'catamites' (boy sexual partners) and eunuchs (castrated slave-boys)'. - from 'The Lives of the Twelve Caesars' - C. Suetonius Tranquillus - see: 'De Vita Cæsarum'.
The next step was to discuss the arrangements for the visit of Titus with Nicander.
Not only was the entertainment an important matter, but there was also the matter of the food.
Fortunately Titus was relatively abstemious with regard to food, (probably because of his less than aristocratic origins - which was good as Marcus disliked long banquets), but his long association with the Imperial court (under Nero), meant that while quantity was not an important matter - quality undoubtedly would have to be the finest.
For this it would be a matter of Nicander and Terentius coming together to agree on bringing in some outside caterers.
The gens (family) Flavia, rose from relative obscurity to prominence in just four generations, acquiring wealth and status under the Emperors of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty. Titus's great-grandfather, Titus Flavius Petro, had served as a centurion under Pompey during Caesar's civil war. His military career ended in disgrace when he fled the battlefield at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC. Nevertheless, Petro managed to improve his status by marrying the extremely wealthy Tertulla, whose fortune guaranteed the upwards mobility of Petro's son Titus Flavius Sabinus I, Titus's grandfather. Sabinus himself amassed further wealth, and possible equestrian status, through his services as tax collector in Asia, and banker in Helvetia. By marrying Vespasia Polla he allied himself to the more prestigious patrician gens Vespasia, ensuring the elevation of his sons Titus Flavius Sabinus II and Vespasian to the senatorial rank. The political career of Vespasian included the offices of quaestor, aedile and praetor, and culminated with a consulship in 51, the year Domitian was born. As a military commander, he gained early renown by participating in the Roman invasion of Britain in 43. What little is known of Titus's early life has been handed down to us by Suetonius, who records that he was brought up at the Imperial court in the company of Britannicus, the son of emperor Claudius, who would be murdered by Nero in 55.

'Dancing Boys' - Petronius discovered that the slave-boy troupe only had a limited repertoire, and had long been without a 'dancing master'.
It should be pointed out that 'dancing boys' were often referred to as 'cinaedi', but this term was also used by some in a pejorative sense (singular: 'cinaedus') to describe a boy who was effeminate in manner and appearance - and took the passive sexual role (even when no longer a boy). To avoid this possible misunderstanding we use here the term 'puer saltatores'.
The story emerged (from Terentius, obviously) that this group of boys had been previously owned by an elderly business man, of obviously plebeian origins - what would be termed 'new money'.
The boys had come onto the market, as so often happened, on the death of their master, who had no surviving relatives.
There had been a 'dancing master' but, as happened long before, in the case of the troupe that had been on the ship carrying Marcus and his parents to Brundisium, the troupe and their leader had been separated by ignorant sellers (Cilician pirates in the case of Marcus).
Marcus, recognising the problem, immediately sent Terentius out, (much to his annoyance, although he tried not to show it, as he claimed he had so much other work to attend to), to obtain a suitably qualified slave to supervise, and hopefully speedily train the troupe.
Now Marcus already had a 'dancing master' - a young slave called 'Paris', but Paris was back in Baiae, at the villa, and the time taken to get a message to him to come to the Domus in Rome, and the time it would take Paris to travel to the Domus would mean that there would be no time for him to do any work with the troupe - so it was simpler, if considerably more expensive, (as Terentius was certain to point out), to buy a slave in Rome  to do the work.
Staged dancing (either in private or public performances) took the form of what the Romans referred to as 'pantomime' (not to be confused with the modern use of the term). This was from the Latin word 'pantomimus', which in turn derives from the Greek word παντόμιμος (pantomimos), consisting of παντο- (panto-) meaning "all", and μῖμος (mimos), meaning a dance.  The Roman 'pantomime' drew upon the Greek tragedy and other Greek genres from its inception, although the art was instituted in Rome and little is known of it in pre-Roman Greece. According to an oration by Aelius Aristides, the pantomime was known for its erotic content, and (what many considered to be) the effeminacy of its dancing. Music for the dancing was supplied mainly by flute. Performances might be in a private household, or else lavish theatrical productions involving a large orchestra and chorus.  
Paris Dancing the Rape of Ganymede
Such performances were the Roman equivalent of contemporary ballet, although private performances (and on occasions 'arena performances') could feature nudity and explicit sexuality. Public performances had a popularity only slightly smaller than chariot racing and gladiatorial fighting. These performances presented emotionally fraught 'mythic' episodes through the bodily movement of mute dancers, and rapidly gained attention, beginning about 23 BGC under the reign of Augustus (Octavian). Rivalries between dancer's fans caused riots in Rome during the early Empire, and prompted Augustus (Octavian) to criticise such performances. An example of a public performance of a 'pantomimos' may be found in Chapter XV, where there is a sexually explicit, danced interpretation of the Greek myth of the 'Rape of Ganymede' - featuring Paris as the lead dancer - and also some tame goats.
So - while Terentius went off to find a dancing master - not and easy task, as they are much in demand (with all the celebrations occurring since the inauguration of the new Emperor Vespasian) - Marcus and Petronius, went down to the Gymnasion (Greek spelling) on the ground floor, accompanied, inevitably by Aurarius and  Adonios, (Glaux was dozing, of course, in Marcus' apartments, despite the noise the builders were making), while Nicander arranged for the troupe of boys to be sent up from the basement.
Petronius then introduced Marcus as their Dominus, and himself as Tribune and 'Master of the Arena at Baiae', (we don't do these titles in Latin, as Petronius is talking to them in Greek).
At the mention of the title 'Master of the Arena' the boys start looking really scared - imagining that they are to be trained and used, eventually, as gladiators (or something worse).
Petronius reassured them that they had been bought as 'dancers' and 'entertainers' (and the boys knew what that meant), and explained to them that he just wanted to see how fit they are.
'Flexible Dancing Boy'
(This is not Petronius being gratuitously 'kinky', as flexibility is an prime ingredient of good dancing - Roman style.)
Much to the surprise of  Marcus, Aurarius, Adonios and Petronius the boys proved to be remarkably well conditioned, and very flexible - especially one very attractive looking lad.
But as has already been explained, Petronius is no dancer, so he sent the boys off to the pool, to relax them (and clean them), and then ordered lunch and massages for all of them.
Petronius also spent some time talking to Nicander - making it very clear that the 'dancing boys' were to be accommodated in a separate dormitory from the slaves who had been bought for the arena - and that they were also were not to mix when using bathing and gymnasion facilities - for obvious reasons.
In Roman times dancers were viewed as individuals of very low status, rather than respected artist and participants in religious events, as was the case in Greece, and dance lost much of its sacred public function, and became more of a spectacle and an entertainment. Roman citizens, particularly patricians, never danced in public (except on rare religious occasions). It should be noted that the public opinion of dancers was very low, placing them within the same social status as gladiators, actors and prostitutes, and dancing, as a profession, was considered illegitimate, and socially unacceptable. As a result, almost all Roman dancers were slaves, and it was not unusual for a performer to be beaten, or punished in some other way, by his master for an unsatisfactory performance. 
With Petronius, not surprisingly, exceptionally aroused by his involvement with his flexible new slave-boy, he then dragged Adonios off for a short, boisterous session in his private apartments, while Marcus went up to his study and summoned Novius for a chat.

'A Talk in the Garden' - " dear Novius. lets us go up to the roof gardens - so that I can pick your brains.", Marcus said, clasping his old friend round the shoulder.
"If you insist - but all these stairs that Gnæus had put in this building are a burden to me at my age. 
Oh how I love the villa at Baiae - with only two floors !
For you it doesn't seem to be a problem.
You and Petronius never seem to get any older.
You must tell me your secret one day."
Marcus grinned.
"A frugal diet, and lots of exercise - I think that's the secret.", Marcus replied.
Eventually they reached the roof gardens, where a cool breeze was blowing.
Aurarius, as always accompanying Marcus, found them a secluded spot, and Marcus and Novius sat on one of the many marble benches, close to a small, gently bubbling fountain.
Aurarius, well trained by Marcus, stood some distance away, available if needed, but out of earshot of the conversation.
"So what do you want to discus, Dominus ?". Novius asked, with a knowing look.
"Well I think that you have guessed it - it's this visit from Titus.
What I am concerned about is why Vespasian sent Titus to see me ?" Marcus said.
"Yes.... well it is obviously Vespasian who is at the back of this.
Now don't get me wrong, Dominus - I think that Titus genuinely likes you.
Titus is no aristocrat, despite having been brought up as a young man in the Imperial court, and he can recognise in you someone who is also not an aristocrat - no offence meant - and his father, our new Emperor, is equally no aristocrat.
Undoubtedly Vespasian would feel comfortable being surrounded by men of a similar background and standing to himself.", Novius explained.
"Yes, I see that, but what do you think that he wants from me, other than just 'friendship' ?", Marcus asked.
"Well I would have thought that it was obvious - money !", Novius said, with a sly smile.
"It's what they all want.", Novius added, with a sigh.
Suetonius claims that that 'Vespasian was driven by necessity to raise money by whatever means possible because of the desperate state of the treasury and the privy purse; to which he bore witness at the very beginning of his reign by declaring that forty thousand millions were needed to put the State right. This view seems correct, since he made the best use of his gains, ill-gotten though some of them were.   Having obtained sufficient funds, he was most generous to all classes, making up the requisite estate for senators, giving needy ex-consuls an annual stipend of five hundred thousand sesterces, restoring to a better condition many cities throughout the empire which had suffered from earthquakes or fires, and in particular encouraging men of talent and the arts. Yet even so he could not be rid of his former ill-repute for apparent covetousness.'
"You see, your problem, Dominus, if I may speak to you openly and honestly, is that you go around imagining that you are still that young lad 'Markos', whom I met so seemingly long ago.
So, for example, you think it's something noteworthy to give your 'boy' a pair of leather wrist guards.
And yet you are probably one of the richest men in the Empire.", Novius said gently, trying not 
to offend his master.
Marcus blushed.
"Now this man, Vespasian is undoubtedly rich - particularly after all that business in Judæa, but not that rich - and he is - in my humble opinion - looking to you for a loan - probably not for himself, but to replenish the state coffers - I have heard that the temple of Saturn (the Roman Treasury) is practically empty..
And it would be a loan for which he will reward you - richly - with political office and maybe arrange for you a particularly advantageous marriage ."
"I see.", Marcus said thoughtfully.
"This is the way for you to achieve power - and yes... even more wealth.
So my advice to you is to use your recent friendship with Titus - for which, strangely, you should thank Quintus, - establish yourself in Imperial favour, and then - a little later, like the 'late Dominus' you can quietly remove yourself from the scene, but remain a secure and trusted confidant of the Emperor.", Novius concluded.
"So what about the meeting ?....I have arranged for Titus to visit in a few days for an evening meal."Marcus continued.
"We've now got this dance troupe - so should I use them for some kind of entertainment ?", Marcus asked.
"Of course !", Novius replied.
"Titus, I am told, is fond of attractive young boys, and although his father is rather 'straight-laced', I'm sure that Titus would enjoy some sort of - shall we say, 'erotic' show - if there's enough time to get it organised.
And maybe you could get a couple of the boys that you bought for the arena to stage a fight - maybe here on the roof garden - after all, Titus really enjoyed the Ludi you staged at Baiae and, - being a soldier - well, he likes a bit of blood.", Novius suggested.
"Well - yes Novius - but the dancing troupe will depend on if Terentius has got them a 'coach'.
As for the fight - that's no problem as Petronius can easily get that organised.
"Yes in deed....
What would we do without Petronius...", Novius sighed.
At that point a young slave-boy diffidently approached Aurarius, and gave him a message.
"What is it ?", Marcus called, concerned that it may be some important matter.
"The boy tells me that Terentius has returned with a new slave, Dominus.", Aurarius answered.
"That's good - it'll be the dancing master for the troupe." Marcus told Novius.
"I must go now to see this new slave.
You can either stay here - and take the air - or return to the library.
The boy will accompany you either way - and you can dismiss him when no longer need him.
And many, many thanks for your advice.
We shall speak, later, this evening.", Marcus concluded.
"It is my honour to advise you, Dominus !", Novius replied.
With that Marcus left accompanied by Aurarius, while Novius sat, gazing out over the city - reflectively.

'The New Dance Master' - Moments later Marcus and Aurarius reached the ground floor, and were directed to one of the small atria where Nicander was waiting.
Nicander Presents the New Dance Master to Marcus
With him was a tall, well-built, dark-haired slave.
The new slave stepped forward and bowed.
"This is our Dominus .", Nicander said formally.
"Ego sum servus tuus Dominus" - ("I am your servant, Master"), the new slave said, in greeting - apparently showing off that he could speak Latin.
"και το όνομά σου, σκλάβα;" - ("And you name, slave ?"), Marcus replied - showing off that he equally spoke perfect Greek.
The new slave looked perplexed.
"My name, Dominus, is Echelaos." the slave replied in Greek -(it seemed that his Latin was not that good).
"Good - you may keep that name." Marcus replied, continuing in Greek. (remember that Roman masters had the habit of often changing the names of slaves.).
"And you are a dance master ?", Marcus queried.
"Yes, Dominus - that is what I have been trained, from a young age to do."
At that point Terentius entered the small atrium.
"Ah - Dominus, you have found him !", Terentius exclaimed, broadly smiling.
"Yes...... Apparently this is Echelaos.", Marcus said, turning to Terentius.
"And what a bargain, Dominus !", Terentius said, enthusiastically.
Echelaos looked down at the floor, seemingly feigning humility.
"Well, with you bidding I'm sure that you got him for the very best price !", Marcus said, with a cheeky grin.
"Of course, Dominus !", Terentius replied.
"I am always careful with your money." Terentius answered respectfully.
"That's enough, Terentius - I've already had a lecture from Novius this morning about money.", Marcus said, and paused, looking carefully at his new acquisition.
"So what about this Echelaos ?", Marcus asked - looking to Terentius..
"He comes highly recommended, Dominus.
He has choreographed dancers for both private and public performances, and when younger was a famed dancer here in Rome.", Terentius enthused.
"So if he's so good why was he on sale ?", Marcus asked.
"His previous master was a victim of the er....'recent upheavals' - with regard to the new Emperor, Dominus.", Terentius said carefully.
"I see.... perhaps a bit of luck for us, then.", Marcus replied.
"Indeed, Dominus.", Terentius replied.
"So..Echelaos, the man standing behind you is the 'dominus domus' (master of the house) of this house here in Rome - which is the Domus Gracchii - you may have heard of it - and his name is Nicander.
He will be your direct superior.
The man to whom I have been speaking, and who bought you is the Excelsum Procuratoris of the House of Gracchus who, with my Tribunus, is second only to me in authority, and in all things you will obey them, as you would me.
I that clear ?" Marcus said firmly.
"Yes, Dominus.", Echelaos replied.
"Nicander !", Marcus called.
"Yes, Dominus."
"I see that you have provided  Echelaos with a collar - have you also provided him with a suitable cublicum ?", Marcus asked.
"Yes, Dominus." Nicander replied.
"Good - Now send a slave-boy to bring Petronius down here so that he can supervise Echelaos, and introduce him to the dance troupe - and then ask Petronius to take them all to the Gymnasion to start their work."
"Yes, Dominus." Nicander answered as he hurriedly summoned a waiting slave-boy.
"Now,  Echelaos - come with me, and I will explain what I want from you in the immediate future.", Marcus said, guiding his new slave towards the entrance to the gymnasion.
Marcus began, "In a few days - and that is all that you have - I will be entertaining a very special guest - and I will need an entertainment - of what we could call an 'erotic' kind, featuring our slave-boys.
It must be lavish and opulent - indicating abundance and wealth - yet also appealing to our guest's erotic sensibilities - I am told he is fond of attractive boys.
Do I make myself clear ?".
Marcus waited for a moment while  Echelaos thought.
"Yes, Dominus. You make yourself very clear.",   Echelaos replied.
"And you have an idea for this ?", Marcus asked.
"Yes, Dominus." Echelaos answered confidently.
Blond Dancing Boy
"Good !" - When you are ready for the boys to show me a preview, then tell Petronius, as he will be supervising you throughout this project."
"I will do that, and I will start now, Dominus", Echelaos said, bowing to Marcus, and then making his way to the gymnasion.
Once the boys had been assembled in the (very Greek looking) gymnasion, Echelaos took them one by one, demonstrated a number of steps, explaining the narrative meaning underlying the steps.
(considered 'on a par' with Greek athletes - although not quite of the same status - and athletes were only just above gladiators - dancing boys trained, and often performed, naked).
He required them to copy him.
His intention was to gauge their ability to memorise steps, and also their fluidity of movement and the degree to which they could imbue their movement with feeling and emotion.
The boys seemed to responded well, and were obviously much relieved to have a professional 'dance master' guiding them, and training them - as they had been concerned, when they were sold, and separated from their previous coach, that they might well be sold simply as 'sex-slaves', or worse, 'arena-fodder'.
All the while Petronius looked on, and realised that Terentius had probably chosen well in purchasing this particular 'master of dance'.
In addition, Petronius was considering how this very attractive, and seemingly talented group of boys could be used back in the arena at Baiae.


'Shopping in the City' - Marcus then turned to Aurarius.
"Get a boy to bring us refreshments, and send a message to Adonios - he'll be in the gymnasion with Petronius - and also to Demetrius - to meet in the main Atrium."
Aurarius intermediately dashed off to carry out Marcus' instructions.
Marcus then called Terentius.
"Terentius, send a boy up to your office with a message for Phillipos.
I want a money pouch stuffed with  aurei (high value Roman gold coins).
The boys and I are going shopping."
Terentius looked disapproving - but he realised, (after speaking privately with Novius), that at some point Marcus needed to spend some of the many millions that he possessed, so what was a bag of gold coins (a few years income for the average 'pleb').
"Of course, Dominus.", Terentius obediently replied.
"But Terentius - you're not complaining ?"
"No, Dominus.
"It's your money - so go and enjoy it", Terentius replied.
Marcus shook his head in disbelief.
Marcus had been 'stung' by Novius' well intentioned comments about the fact that he was still behaving like a poor slave-boy, and he realised that his 'boys', (as he thought of them), deserved more from him.
And so he had decided, having seemed to have sorted out the question about 'entertaining' Titus, to take the boys out, and give them a good time with food and presents.
He had also decided to buy something for his beloved Petronius - after Novius' 'sighed' remark (see above).
And so, while  Echelaos began his work with the dance troupe, and Petronius selected and trained some of the recently acquired slaves to fight in a mini-Ludi for Titus, - Marcus, Aurarius, Adonios and Demetrius all set off for the Forum Romanum, and the nearby shops and stalls, and then to the Forum Cuppedinis, which was famed for it luxury goods.
Another interesting place to look was the Macellum, which was a very high class food market, but Marcus would not be doing any buying there, as the banquet for Titus was still a couple of days off, and it was obviously difficult to keep most food fresh.
However, Marcus made some mental notes of some of the food available and he would probably later advise the caterers, hired by Terentius, to purchase certain items on the day in question.
Now Marcus wasn't very good at shopping.
When very young, in Athens, he wasn't allowed out much by his strict parents.
When he was older, and was taken to school by an old family slave, he rebelled, and would run off, and spend the day hanging around the gymnasia with Greek boys of his own age
He rarely had any money - so shops held little interest for him.
Then he was sold into slavery, and bought by Gracchus - and for all his early teenage years he was locked away in the villa at Baiae, studying, training and eventually 'learning the ropes' at the arena with Petronius - and then - suddenly - he became Dominus.
Now he had more money than most people can even dream about - and he was in Rome - the commercial centre of the world, and he couldn't think of what to buy !
On this occasion, hoping that they could avoid a 'posse' of Prætorians following them about, Marcus had arranged to have two Domus guards, armed but wearing the normal Domus tunics - dark red with gold embroidery - who would follow them at a discreet distance - mainly because Marcus was carrying a lot of money on him.
So they set off - and first Marcus asked Demetrius to take him back to Timotheus' shop.
Timotheus himself was, not surprisingly, delighted to see Marcus once again.
"Before I give you any more of my custom, Timotheus, I was wondering if Panos had finished the leather wrist guards ?"
"Of course, Dominus !", Timotheus exclaimed, "Just this morning as it happens.... one minute and I will get Panos to bring them to you."
Timotheus disappeared into his work room, while Aurarius, Adonios waited excitedly, grinning happily at one another.
Timotheus then returned, with Panos who brought in the wrist guards, wrapped in linen cloths.
"Here they are, Dominus - and much improved, may I say, with the gold studs.", Timotheus  said approvingly.
"You have excellent taste, Dominus.", young Panos said quietly - the first time he had spoken, as he unwrapped the linen cloths, and helped the boys put on the new wrist guards.
Marcus then handed over some gold Aureus, (a coin of such value that neither Aurarius, Adonios or Demetrius had ever seen one before).
"Will that be enough ?", Marcus enquired.
"But Dominus - that is far too much !", Timotheus said, obviously shocked.
Marcus, of course, had no idea of the value of Roman money - especially large denominations.
"Panos - go and get this coin changed !" Timotheus said briskly. - "There is an argentari (money changer) in the next street.
While they were waiting for Panos to return, Timotheus made a bold suggestion - as he realised that Marcus could easily be cheated by his lack of experience in making purchases, particularly as he was not accompanied by Terentius.
"Perhaps young Panos could accompany you, Dominus, if you are to make more purchases.
He may be able to help you with regard to where to shop, and with prices." Timotheus suggested politely.
"Well, if you could spare him - I would be grateful." Marcus replied, somewhat unnerved by his obvious foolishness.
Panos returned with a leather pouch full of 'change', which he dutifully handed to Marcus, after giving Timotheus the appropriate sum for the wrist guard studs.
Timotheus then made a note that those items had been paid for.
"So, Dominus, what is this 'new custom that you mentioned !", Timotheus said, looking up from his scribbling.
"I would like you to make some seal rings for these three lads. - in gold, of course, but perhaps you could let them choose the stones, - and then I would like them engraved.", Marcus explained, as he firmly attached the bag of 'change' to his waist belt.
"Of course, Dominus.
Just one minute and I will get Panos to show you a tray of the stones that we can offer.", Timotheus said, looking up as another customer entered the workshop.
While Timotheus talked quietly to the new customer, Aurarius, Adonios and Demetrius crowded around Panos, who was holding a wooden tray on which were displayed a number of semiprecious gem stones.
"So boys, decide which stone you like - but remember that this is to be a man's ring, so don't choose anything fancy - just a plain colour." Marcus advised.

'Equipment' - Meanwhile, back at the Domus, Petronius had chosen four possible boys to fight in the 'mini Ludi' for Titus, plus two boys who would wrestle.
The boys who would wrestle would obviously wrestle naked, so nothing was needed for them, and they would just have to undergo a hurried instruction in the various wrestling holds.
The boys who would be fighting as gladiators would need equipment.
At the Domus there was no gladiatorial equipment, as no fights had ever been held there before.
So - Petronius took four strong Domus guards, had the four young slaves chained to one another, and set off into the city to buy the required equipment, having been carefully advised by Terentius, and been supplied with sufficient coin.
The first stop was an armourer's workshop.
Corinthian Helmet
Thracian Helmet
There the four boys were fitted with gladiator helmets.
These were not the style that had been used at the previous Ludi ad Avspicari Novam Aetatem - which had been replica Corinthian helmets, - but were to be rather the traditional form of Thracian helmet with a grilled face-guard, and a high, plumed, crest - see the 'Munera Pro Gracchus' for Samnite helmets.
A Thracian is a Roman gladiator who fought with equipment styled on that of a Thracian warrior: a short sword (gladius), a rectangular shield (scutum), greaves (lower leg guards - 'ocrea'), and a helmet - (described above).  Fighters armed in such a way were the earliest 'gladiators' (swordsmen) in the Roman Ludi. They appeared in Rome shortly after the 4th century BC. By arming low-status gladiators in the manner of a defeated foe, Romans mocked the Thracians, and appropriated martial elements of their culture.
In addition, the boys had to be fitted with 'ocrea', arm guards and, instead of the traditional loincloths, leather thongs. 
Swords (gladius), and shields were also required, and plumes for the helmets.


'Seal Rings' - Back at Timotheus' shop, Aurarius had chosen Serpentine - a fine, hard, green stone, - Adonios had chosen Agate - a brown stone, sometimes known as Carnelian - and Demetrius had chosen Onyx - a hard, black stone.
Having chosen their stones, Marcus then told Timotheus how they should be engraved.
Aurarius' Serpentine was to be engraved with the Greek letter π (only Aurarius understood this - [he had recently learned, with Marcus' help, to read a little Greek], as it was the first letter of the Greek word παιδ - meaning 'boy' or 'kid' - Marcus' nickname for Aurarius - which was the name Aurarius was first known by when he came to the villa).
Adonios' Agate was to be engraved with the letter A (alpha - used in both Greek and Roman alphabets) - for Adonios.
Demetrius' Onyx was to be engraved with the Greek letter Δ (delta) - for Demetrius.
"Can these be ready in two days ?", Marcus asked, optimistically.
"Yes - but the rings must be supplied from stock - it's not enough time to make up some fancy design for the rings - but the engraving and fitting of the stones can be done.", Timotheus replied.
"So do you have the rings in stock ?", Marcus asked.
"Yes - one moment." Panos replied, taking away the tray of stones, and coming back with a tray of gold rings.
"We call these 'blanks', (indicating the rings with empty spaces where the stones would be inserted), and all we need to do is to engrave a pre-cut stone, secure it in the bevel of the ring, and it is finished - so I could complete the rings by the time that you require them."
"That's excellent, Panos !" Marcus replied, looking obviously pleased.
Marcus then chose the style of ring for Adonios and  Aurarius (the same style for both boys), and chose a slightly heavier style for Demetrius reflecting the fact that he, unlike the other boys, was not a slave.
The boys, by then, were all looking very satisfied at the prospect of having their own seal ring - and being just like a real Roman patrician.
It should be noted that it was very rare for slaves to own items of jewellery, especially an item as prestigious as a seal ring. Seal rings were used to authorised and secure important documents, and to posses such a ring implied authority and power. Terentius and Nicander had seal rings, provided by Gnaeus Gracchus (in the case of Terentius), and Marcus Gracchus (in the case of Nicander), but they were only used in connection with the House of Gracchus (being smaller versions of Marcus' large seal ring, which Marcus had inherited from Gnaeus Gracchus, when Marcus became Dominus).


'Fate' - Back with Petronius - his boys, (the 'would be' gladiators), were looking far from satisfied, as they trudged through the streets of Rome.
They were chained together, and carrying large bundles containing shields, greaves, helmets, wooden practice swords and other items.
The swords that they were to use in their fights were carried (sheathed) by the Domus guards, and the whole sorry looking group was led by Petronius.
Once back at the Domus, the boys would be bathed and then kitted out, and then endlessly put through fighting drills by Petronius, with practice swords in order to get them used to the weight of the helmets, shields, and greaves.
Their fate was very different to the slaves who accompanied Marcus on his carefree, and generous shopping expedition.
Fortūna - Tyche
Wheel of Fortune
Edward Burne-Jones
Fortūna, (equivalent to the Greek goddess Tyche), was the goddess of fortune, and personification of luck in Roman religion. She might bring good or bad luck: she could be represented as veiled and blind, and came to represent life's capriciousness. She was also a goddess of fate: as Atrox Fortuna, she claimed the young lives of the Princeps Octavian Augustus' grandsons Gaius and Lucius, prospective heirs to the Empire. Her father was said to be Jupiter, and like him, she could also be bountiful (Copia). On June 24 there was a festival of Fors Fortuna. Fortuna's identity as personification of chance events was closely tied to the masculine attribute of 'virtus' (strength of character). Public officials who lacked 'virtues' invited ill-fortune on themselves and Rome. The situation described here - with recently bought slave-boys, with little or no preparation or training, condemned to a fight to the death for the amusement of Titus, while other slave-boys, who live in luxury, are being bought prestigious and expensive gifts, exemplifies the vagaries of fate which, although they always exist, were particularly exaggerated in the extremes to be found in Roman society.


'Daggers' - Back in  Timotheus' shop (where Fortūna was being very kind to our slave-boys - and Demetrius), the boys were having their 'ring fingers' measured by Panos.
Then, having checked the details of the measurements with the ring blanks, and the stones, and the engraving instructions, (which Panos was pleased to see were simple - just single letters), all was settled.
There was also some extra good news, in that Panos said that he had made good progress with the wrist guards for Demetrius, and they should be ready at the same time as the rings.
"Now Panos - you take good care of our Dominus - and I'll see you later.",  Timotheus said, in a typically fatherly way, as the group left the shop.
"So Panos - do you know where there is a good armourer nearby ?", Marcus asked innocently.
"Indeed, Dominus.
My father has a nephew who specialises in making and selling armour and weapons.",  Panos replied brightly.
Now for those readers who have ever holidayed in the Near and Middle East this scenario is bound to evoke memories. Always someone knows a cousin, uncle or brother who owns a shop - just nearby ! - and people living such places, even today, operate a social and economic system remarkably similar to that of the ancient world.)
So off they went to the 'nephew' of Timotheus, and on the way Marcus warned Adonios and  Aurarius not to make the same sort of trouble that they had made in Neapolis - remember ? - and the boys were thinking - 'would Marcus ever forget ?'.
And what did they come out of the shop with ?,
Well, a very fancy pugio for each of the boys - and probably a nice fat 'backhander' for Panos'.
Adonios and  Aurarius each had a pugio with a sheath covered in black 'shark-skin' with brass fittings, while Demetrius, as befitted his status, had a silver and gold, highly decorated pugio, which Marcus intended to get Panos to embellish with an Onyx in the sheath, to be engraved with the Greek letter Δ (delta) - for Demetrius - to match Demetrius' seal ring.
Pugio for Demetrius
Pugiones for Adonios and  Aurarius
Strictly speaking the carrying of knives or daggers, (Pugiones - the plural of pugio), and swords (gladiī - the plural of gladius), was forbidden within the confines of the city of Rome - but in Rome, at the time of our story, it all depended on who you were. Titus had already ordered the Prætorians to keep a watchful and protective eye on Marcus, and those associated with him, and the Prætorians, in turn, had informed the 'Vigiles Urbani' ('watchmen of the City'), a sort of combined fire-brigade and police force - so Marcus and the boys (and Pretonius and the Domus guards) were effectively exempt from this regulation. The 'Vigiles Urbani' dealt primarily with petty crimes, and looked for disturbances of the peace while they patrolled the streets. Sedition, riots and violent crimes were handled by the 'Cohortes Urbanae', and the Prætorian Guard, though the Vigiles could provide a supporting role in these situations. The Vigiles were considered a para-military unit, and their organisation into cohorts and centuries reflected this.
"So what about a tailor ?", Marcus asked.
In this case Panos had no suggestions, (his rough tunic should have given that away).
Apparently his contacts were restricted to those who worked in metal.
"All right, Panos, you go and 'sound out' a good tailor - and I mean a very good tailor - and I will take the boys for a snack.", Marcus said, looking for the thermopolium they had used on their previous shopping expedition.
Marcus wanted to use that particular one as it seemed clean, and none of the boys, or Petronius, had been ill after using it.
A Roman thermopolium could be an excellent place to pick up a very nasty 'stomach-bug' (not that the Romans really knew the actual cause of food poisoning - a problem that carried off many individuals, including an alarmingly large number of Emperors).
So while Panos was away, searching out a tailor, the boys showed off their pugios to one another - and actually remembered to thank Marcus for his generosity.


'Prepartations' - Realising there were still many preparations to make if the new boys were to put up a reasonable show when Titus visited, Petronius left the continuing task of training the boys to one of the senior Domus Guards (an ex Legionary Centurion), and went to discuss matters with Terentius, as Petronius knew that Terentius would always have an effective, practical solution to any problem.
Terentius, understanding that the matter was of great importance, put aside his financial work and accompanied Petronius to the roof garden, where Marcus planned to hold the reception.
Slaves were already erecting awnings and curtaining, but the problem really was to decide where the gladiatorial contest would take place.
The roof gardens were extensive - dotted around were shrubs, small trees and flower beds, along with some small pools.
Entrance Collonade to the Roof Gardens
However, Petronius and Terentius found a circular turfed area area' close to the main entrance to the roof gardens' that would be large enough to accommodate a reasonable sized combat area.
The next problem was the sand.
Sand was important for 'grip', as the paved surfaces of the roof garden were well polished Travertine marble, and a suitable circular area, close to the main entrance to the roof gardens was covered with slippery turf (which anyway Nicander wanted to preserve).
Sand was also required so that the 'mess', that often resulted from such combat, could be contained and easily removed.
Terentius suggested bringing in some sand by carts from Ostia (the port of Rome).
Petronius like the idea, and so Terentius ordered up the senior slave responsible for maintenance of the Domus to explain the matter to Nicander, and get the transportation organised.
It was here, of course, that the lifts installed in the Domus would be particularly useful in enabling the large bulk of sand to be raised to the roof gardens.
The next problem was how to contain the sand, and the combatants in the designated area. Terentius suggested a low wooden enclosure, about ankle high.
A circular form would be too complex to construct in the time available, so Petronius suggested possibly an octagonal structure.
Having made that decision, Terentius ordered up the chief carpenter of the Domus, and sent him out to the city to buy up suitable good quality planking, and then produce a drawing for Petronius' approval.
Once approved his carpenters could then set to work.
The wooden structure would be constructed over the circular turfed area, with wooden flooring, which would then be covered with sand, similar to that at the arena at Baiae.
Now readers may be thinking why Terentius and Petronius are not feeling rather peeved that, Marcus,(albeit their Dominus [Master]), has gone off shopping, and having a good time with his boys - apparently without a thought for the impending visit of Titus. However, if you have read all 38 Chapters, you should realise, as Novius had (and probably also Terentius, and almost certainly Petronius), that Marcus has suffered much over the period that we have known him.
First he was captured by pirates, and then his parents were cruelly and horrifically killed. Then he was sold into slavery. Later he was 'abused' by the young man who was intended to supervise his physical education, and subsequently he was betrayed by one of his only friends (Glykon), and also his 'first love' (Cleon) - and an attempt was made on his life. Finally his guardian and protector was killed. Now, since coming to Rome, difficult memories have been stirred. For the first time he found himself involved in the buying of slaves - bringing back painful memories of his own experience of being sold, and almost at the same time he arranged for a cinerary urn to be made for his adoptive father, bringing back memories of death (Ariston and Cleon) and betrayal (Glykon and Servius). Such experiences, for one so young, can easily produce symptoms of 'post traumatic stress disorder' (as we now term it - or 'melancholia' as the Romans would think of it - something that rarely occurs to characters in most 'dubious' historical fiction - except maybe Lloyd C Douglas' 'The Robe') - despite 
the fact that Marcus had recently found a new 'love', or at least distraction - (Aurarius). Novius realised this, and mentioned it to Terentius - and Novius subtly goaded Marcus into spending time and money on his boys, in an attempt to raise his mood, prior to meeting Titus. So Marcus was not at the Domus when all the preparation needed to be made - but no one minded, least of all Petronius.
'Gifts' - So, while Marcus was still wandering the city, enjoying himself, and relaxing, (and notice that Marcus' pleasure was in giving pleasure to others), the Domus was a frenzy of construction and preparation.
Marcus, of course, was too busy with his new experiences to realize what might be happening at the Domus.
At that very moment he was savouring the simple experience of paying for his, and the boy's meal at the thermopolium with the 'funny' little coins that filled the purse that Panos had given him.
Previously it had always been Petronius (in small matters), and Terentius (in greater matters) who had paid.
It had always been his money, but he had never handled it himself.
In fact, the last time that Marcus had ever handled money had been long ago, when he was in Athens, with little coins that, oddly, bore the impression of an owl - Minerva's owl.

Athnian Glaux
In Greek mythology, a little owl ('Athene noctua') traditionally represents or accompanies Athena, the goddess of wisdom, or Minerva, as she was known in Roman mythology. Because of such association, the bird - often referred to as the 'owl of Athena' or the 'owl of Minerva' - was used as a symbol of knowledge, wisdom, perspicacity and erudition in the Greek and Roman world. τετράδραχμον, tetrádrakhmon - tetradrachm coin was known as a 'Glaux' because on the reverse of the coin was the image of  'Glaux' - the owl of Athena.
So, soon after Marcus had paid for the snack at the thermopolium, Panos returned, having found a good quality tailor.
Roman Street Scene
Most Roman shops opened directly onto the street, with an frontage consisting of an open ledge on which were displayed the shops wares.
Customers did not enter the shop, but rather conducted business from the street.
The owners (or more usually those who paid rent for the shop), would usually live above the shop, while the ground floor severed as a storage area, or a workshop.
Higher quality shops, (like those belonging to Diodoros, or Timotheus), would conduct business in a ground floor room, with rooms(s) at the rear serving as a workshop or storage area, - and the shop that Panos now took then to was a high class tailor where the business was conducted in privacy.
Privacy, in Rome, of course, was at a premium - unless you were fabulously wealthy, like Marcus.
One point of interest regarding Marcus' forays into the city in the area close to the Domus was the fact that, on the death of Gnaeus Gracchus, Marcus had inherited huge swathes of real estate in the inner city of Rome - so, in fact, unknowingly, he was the landlord of many of the individuals from whom he was now buying (including Timotheus).
Roman Insula
Many of the properties owned by the House of Gracchus were 'insula' - (what we would call blocks of flats) - rented out to the less well off 'plebs'.

In many insula, whole families would often occupy a single room - with no heating, running water or sanitary provisions.
But back to the magnificent Domus.

Terentius, with all the many distractions that had occurred since Marcus had inherited, had never had the time, or the opportunity, to acquaint Marcus with the vast business and property empire that he now owned - and this was a matter that was increasingly concerning Novius, as Marcus seemed blissfully unaware of his new status - hence Novius' jibe, 'you still go around imagining that you are that young lad 'Markos', whom I met so seemingly long ago' (see above 'LOQUERE AD HORTUM').
At the tailors Marcus ordered some new tunics for the boys.
Roman boys, for most of the time, wore very little.
Unless very poor, they wore a loincloth (which they usually slept in), and over that they wore a short, belted tunica (tunic - similar to a Greek chiton ).
For footwear, to be fashionable, many adolescents and younger men wore what was known as the 'Gallic sandal', which had a vaguely military, macho look.
Marcus bought such sandals for all the boys, along with a set of tunics, in red, white and pale blue of the finest wool.
For Demetrius Marcus ordered an additional blue tunic, with gold bullion edging, to be delivered the following morning to the Domus.
It was then time to return to the Domus, so Marcus gave Panos Demetrius' Pugio to work on, plus a generous tip, and the boys, clutching their various bundles, followed Marcus back to the Esquiline, and their new home.
During this trip Marcus had not yet bought anything for Petronius, but it was his intention to take his friend into the city, the following day, and buy him a worthy gift.


And on the way back they 'bumped into' Petronius, accompanied by four Domus slaves, on his way to buy extra items for the visit of Titus.
"Salve Petronius !", Marcus said rather sheepishly, seeming to have realised that he had left his friend with a lot of work.
Leaving the boys excitedly chatting, and moving Petronius away from the Domus slaves, Marcus tried to explain himself.
"I'm sorry I've not been at the Domus to help you," Marcus mumbled, "but this 'shopping trip' got a bit out of hand."
"Dominus - it's not for you to apologise.
We know what you want us to do, and we are simply doing it - and I hope that when you get back to the Domus that you will be happy with what we have done.
And the boys look happy - so I am sure that the day has been a success !", and Petronius flashed one of his inimitable, boyish smile - making Marcus almost want to cry.
"I'm sure you're right.", Marcus muttered, feeling horribly embarrassed.
"And what have you come out to the city for now ?", Marcus asked, trying to act casual.
"I've come to buy some leather 'braccae' (trousers), belts and wrist guards - like the ones our arena- slaves wear in Baiae."
Braccae is the Latin term for trousers. The Romans encountered this style of clothing among peoples whom they called Galli (Gauls). Braccae were typically made with a drawstring, and tended to reach from just above the knee at the shortest, to the ankles at the longest. When the Romans first encountered the braccae, they thought them to be 'effeminate' (Roman men typically wore tunics, which were one-piece outfits terminating above the knee).
Petronius continued - "Here, at the Domus, the 'late Dominus' never had a gladiatorial contest, so the place has no appropriate equipment or clothing."
"Good idea so would you like me to come with you ?", Marcus asked, trying to offer some help.
"There's no need, Dominus - but thank you - I've got these slaves with me, and you should really see the boys safely back to the Domus."

'Back at the Domus' - So Marcus and the boys made their way back to the Domus, only to be confronted with squeaking and rumbling lifts as large quantities of sand were hoisted up to the roof by gangs of sweating slaves.
"Slave Dominus !", Nicander said in greeting, smiling, as Marcus and the boys entered the 'Magnam Portam' (grand entrance) of the Domus.
Instantly slave-boys rushed up to take the bundles that Marcus and the boys were carrying, while Nicander directed them to the Atrium Magnum (Main Atrium).
Instantly more boys arrived with snacks and drinks as the tired group flopped down of the seats and couches.
"I see that you have had a most successful time in the city !", Nicander said, watching the lads scrabble about opening their bundles to show off the tunics, arm guards and Pugiones, making Marcus feel even more guilty that he had not been at the Domus to supervise the work.
"Yes - but it took longer than I expected.", Marcus said apologetically.
"No matter !", Nicander, - who had been primed by Novius, - replied airily.
It was also obvious that Nicander had now accepted the special status of Adonios and  Aurarius, and also realised that Demetrius was quite definitely no longer the 'abused' little slave-boy that Nicander had previously known, (and now - under pain of death - was no longer permitted to discuss).
"So when you and the boys have refreshed yourselves, just tell the slave-boys, and your recent purchases will be taken to you apartments.....
And now, if you will permit me, I will go about my duties." Nicander said, deferentially - bowing.
"Yes of course, Nicander." Marcus replied.
"Now Adonios and Demetrius, - you finish off your snacks, and then go up to your apartments, and Aurarius, come with me, as I have to go up to the roof gardens."
Aurarius looked a bit glum, not looking forward to the long climb, but obediently followed his master.
On arriving at the roof gardens, Marcus and Aurarius were greeted by a suspiciously affable Terentius.
No questions about where Marcus had been for most of the day, and even more surprisingly, no questions about how much he had spent or, for that matter, what had happened to the purse of aurei that Marcus had set out with that morning.
"I suppose you'll want the purse back ?", Marcus asked meekly, feeling guilty.
"Of course not, Dominus. You many need it tomorrow.", Terentius replied.
Then, apparently forgetting about the money, Terentius, gesticulated towards the slaves who were hammering away on the wooden planking, which was being used to construct the flooring for the combat area.
"I hope, Dominus, that you approve of Petronius' solution to the problem of providing a fighting area for our new young 'gladiators'.", Terentius then said, putting an odd emphasis on the term 'gladiators', which obviously indicated that he doubted the new slaves' skill or ability.
"Yes, it looks good - and I presume that those piles of sand are going to cover the boards ?", Marcus queried hopefully.
"Of course, Dominus. it will be just like at the arena in  Baiae, - except very much smaller." Terentius assured Marcus.
At that point a breathless slave-boy ran up to say that Tribune Petronius had returned from the city.
"I think that was Petronius' last trip - at least I hope so - so soon our temporary 'arena', along with the combatants should be ready - so my next job, along with Nicander, is to arrange for the catering. - 
If I were you, Dominus, - if you don't mind me saying, - I would make myself scarce tomorrow, what with 'party planners' and caterers - all excitable Greeks running around." (it seems that Terentius had forgotten that he himself was Greek, being originally a young boy from Corinth - but by this time he had become more 'Roman' than the Romans.)
Terentius thought for a moment....
"Why not let me make an appointment see Severus about the design for the mausoleum for the late Dominus.
I can send a boy to make an appointment.......?
I am sure that he will see you tomorrow, even if it is short notice."
Marcus nodded.
"Yes - I really don't want to be here when everybody starts panicking about all the arrangements."
Severus was commissioned by the Emperor Nero for the 'Domus Aurea' (the Golden House). Severus' work on the 'Domus Aurea', a palace-villa set in the heart of Rome, shows that he rejected traditional Roman architecture in favour of a radically new style of architecture which utilised arches, and which focused on interior spaces. Severus shaped space by going beyond the limits of previous experiments to create entirely new kinds of architectural volumes and effects. Since this experimentation occurred within the Emperor's palace his architecture attained great prestige. Subsequently Severus re-designed the Villa at Baiae and the Domus Gracchii in Rome for the 'late Dominus', and also the refurbishment of the Amphitheatre in Baiae undertaken by Marcus.

"Now while you wait for Petronius, Dominus, why don't we sit here and relax, while we watch the slaves preparing the combat area ?", Terentius said, indicating a nearby marble bench.
"Yes, why not.", Marcus replied.
"And why not tell me why everybody is being so nice to me these past few days ?", Marcus continued, with just a touch of exasperation in his voice.
"Why ? What do you mean !", Terentius asked, innocently - but not very convincingly, as he quietly gestured to a waiting slave-boy to bring some wine.
At this point Aurarius moved away, realising that the conversation had become private., 
"Well its you, Nicander especially, Petronius - and even Novius." Marcus explained.
"Well... to be frank... we are concerned for you.
You have been through a lot, and this move to Rome, we think, has unsettled you, particularly the business of buying slaves - and we know what that must mean to you.
Rome is where you were born, and where your natural parents came from, and even if you don't realise it, I believe that you are thinking about them, and the 'late Dominus'.
So you need time to yourself - to relax and enjoy - and this business with Titus' visiting, which is so important to your future, is not helping.
Perhaps we have been 'clumsy', but I truly believe that it is all in your best interests, Dominus."
Marcus looked up at the sky, where the sun was beginning to set over the great city.
Sunset Over the Roof Gradens
"Yes.", he answered, "I thought it was that, and I must admit that I have been unsettled, but there is no need to be quite so 'gentle' - although I appreciate what you are all doing.
Don't worry, my dear Terentius - I will be strong."
Marcus stood up, changing the mood, as Aurarius, who had been given the wine by the Domus slave-boy, stepped forward and handed it to Marcus.
"Look now - the sun is setting, and the slaves have finished raking the sand.
It is an excellent job, Terentius.", Marcus said admiringly.
"The praise must go to Petronius, Dominus.", Terentius answered.

'The Imperial Pavilion' - Once the combat area had been given its solid flooring of thick planking, and the sand had been covered with a thick layer of smoothly raked sand, the Domus slaves began constructing the temporary pavilion for the guests - from where they would watch the combat.
Apelles had been planning the pavilion in advance of the visit to Rome (with the approval of Terentius).
Terentius had known that at some point such a structure would be required, and had not bothered Marcus with the details, but had simply got on with the job.
Apelles design had been sent on to Rome, so that the tent makes could get to work, and fortunately, by the time that the visit of Titus had been arranged, the opulent structure - until then never assembled, was ready - carefully stored in the basement of the Domus.
Now, just the night before it was to be used for the first time, the arena slave, supervised by a rather bemused Nicander, and a panicking Apelles, had the unenviable task of erecting the complex edifice on the roof garden - with Marcus and Terentius watching.
Fortunately, just as Nicander and Apelles began, Petronius arrived from his trip into the city, and was able to assist.
By then, it was beginning to get dark, which did not help matters.
Slowly the complex structure - a 'prefabricated' pavilion of rich fabrics and curtaining, held up by ingeniously braced brass posts, topped elaborately with eagle finials was erected.
There were a few problems, when pieces of material appeared not to fit, and some parts, rather ignominiously, slid to the ground, but eventually the pavilion was completed in all its imperial magnificence.
It was the Romans who invented the 'flat-pack' (do it yourself with a mate). They had 'flat-pack' galleys, amphitheatres, legionary forts - and much else, and now there was a 'flat-pack' Imperial pavilion.
The Imperial Pavilion on the Roof Ganden
Marcus was grinning.
He turned to Terentius:
"Obviously designed by Apelles.", Marcus remarked.
"Only he could  make a simple shelter from the possibility of wind or rain look like Nero's 'Golden House' in miniature."
Terentius laughed.
"Well I think that Titus will be quite pleased - regardless."
At that moments a breathless Petronius joined them.
"Have you seen that thing ?", he exclaimed.
"I think Titus will spend more time admiring his tent, than admiring the fighters or dancers !".
"Indeed, Petronius - and did you get all that you needed in the city ?", Marcus enquired.
"Everything - and it's all stored down in the basement now.
So everything's ready for tomorrow - and we'll just have to see - tomorrow morning - if the tent has blown away.", Petronius quipped, giggling along with Aurarius.
Marcus tried not to laugh.
"So, Petronius, would you like to have a quiet evening meal with me tonight ?", Marcus asked, putting an emphasis on the word 'quiet', in consideration of the rather more elaborate meal that was to follow the next evening.
"And perhaps you would like to bring Adonios with you, as  Aurarius will be with me - and I think the boys would like to spend time together."
"Yes....", Petronius replied, "but what about Demetrius ?".
"Don't worry about Demetrius.", Marcus replied, smiling.
"I think the lad's 'in love', and will be having a 'quiet' evening with Aelius".
"I see.", said, Petronius smiling broadly, along with Aurarius.
So Marcus and Petronius bad goodnight to Terentius, who stayed behind to supervise the final preparations for the night on the roof garden.
One of the strange things about the Domus Gracchii was the fact that, especially in the evening, it was very quiet.
It was a huge building - the interior of which was mainly faced with marble veneers - and would have been expected to echo with the slightest noise.
However, as Marcus, Petronius and Aurarius descended the huge, white marble staircase, there was hardly a sound, despite the huge numbers of slave who busied themselves around the building.

'Slaves' - And what about those slaves ?
What did they think of their new master ?
Unusually, all the slaves at the Domus were relatively new.
After Menelaus had been arrested - and Demetrius had been kept in the villa at Baiae, Marcus and Terentius were determined to put an end to the 'unfortunate' times at the Domus.
Only Nicander had been retained, of all the many slaves used in the Domus.
Most had either been sold, of shipped out to other distant estates owned by the House of Gracchus.
New slaves had then been acquired.
In the later times of Gnaeus Octavian, no female slaves had been permitted to work in the Domus (as in the villas at  Baiae and Tibur - the result of the 'late Dominus' 'involvement' with a female slave - which was rather a case of 'shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted'.
Terentius had acquired some female slaves for the 'new regime' - all mature women - for kitchen, cleaning and washing duties. 
All the other slaves were male, and relatively young.
Almost all the slaves had worked in previous high class establishments, and required little or no training.
The slaves were, of course, puzzled by their new master.
Firstly by his youth, and also by his initial absence - along with his introduction of very young 'senior slaves' (Aurarius and Adonios - plus a very 'snooty' owl), who acted more like freedmen than slaves.
And, of course, there were many rumours regarding who Demetrius - the 'Juvenes Dominum' - actually was.
Equally there had never been a Tribune in the Domus - especially one as handsome and charming as Petronius - and initially Petronius had been mistaken for the Dominus - an error that many people made.
Few of the slaves had worked in such a large and opulent establishment - and would be in for an even greater surprise when they found themselves serving the eldest son of the Emperor.
What the slaves of the Domus obviously didn't realise was that heir new masters had all been slaves - like themselves - previously, and knew well the difficulties and hardships of slavery.
As in all households, large or small, where there were slaves there was talk and rumours.
Unavoidably, some slaves had been brought from the villa at Baiae - and they were eagerly questioned by the Domus slaves.
It was soon revealed that the new Dominus was the adopted son of Gnaeus Gracchus - that Gnaeus Gracchus had been murdered, and that prior to that, an attempt had been made on the life of his adopted son - apparently masterminded by slaves in the villa, and mysterious individuals in Rome.
It was also reported that the new Dominus, along with his young tribune, and chief freedman had taken terrible revenge on the perpetrators (not as terrible as could happen, however, - it was permissible under Roman law for all the slaves in a villa or domus to be executed if the master was murdered).
What particularly alarmed the slaves in the Domus, however, was that the new Dominus ran his own amphitheatre in Baiae - and was going to do something similar in the Domus - in order to entertain the Emperor's eldest son, Titus Vespasianus.
The result of these rumours was that Marcus was not only respected by his new slaves, but, (as Aurarius had pointed out), was also feared.
Most Roman patricians, of course, would consider that only right.
So the watchword among the Domus slaves was 'adoremus dominus' - loosely translated as 'suck up the the master'.

for more information about slavery in Ancient Rome see:

On arrival at the apartment, Marcus sent Elatos to the 'archimagirus' (head chef) with an order for the evening meal.
Then while the food was being prepared, and Elatos was preparing the atrium and triclinium, Marcus and Aurarius shared a bath.
Romans usually bathed in the afternoon - so a late bath (see above) was unusual. Much Roman bathing occurred for social as much as hygiene reasons - and so became a lengthy affair, and often included exercise sessions, (a visit to the library), manicure, pedicures and massage - after which the moderately wealthy would invite friends met at the baths to an evening meal. Marcus, unlike most Romans, had a bathing suite in his apartments in the Domus - and bathed whenever the opportunity arose from his busy schedule. In addition he had his own gymnasion for exercise, a massive library, and numerous slaves to provide manicures, pedicures and massages. As has been stated before, one of the main advantages of great wealth was the fact that it enabled the very wealthy to have privacy (allowing for the constant attendance of slaves). 
It was at that point that Marcus made it clear that there would be no sex, either in the bath or in the bed that night.
Marcus explained that after watching the 'entertainments' the following evening they would then be able to 'enjoy' themselves - and that the evening's 'events' would provide an added stimulus to their pleasure.
Aurarius, as always, was quite content with Marcus explanation, and waited eagerly for the following evening.
(Whether Petronius had told the same thing to Adonios, Aurarius, later, couldn't tell, and was disinclined to ask.)
Amphitheatres, like those at Pompeii, Capua, and of course Baiae, were built with external arches. It was under these arches that male and female prostitutes gathered, looking for customers during and after the Ludi - as the experience of  watching the Ludi often resulted in individuals becoming sexually aroused. These archways were known as 'fornice' in Latin, and it is from this Latin term that the English words 'fornication' and 'fornicate' derive. 
Moments later Petronius and  Adonios arrived, looking well scrubbed, having obviously also had a bath.
When Petronius and Adonios took their places in the triclinium, Glaux, who had spent the day dozing in his neat, but still unfinished alcove in the culina, came fluttering down, sensing that a meal was in the offing.
Once stretched out on their couches (Elatos and Domus slaves had removed the spare couch - a triclinium usually had three couches - but to leave one empty was considered inappropriate), there was a soft knock on the door, and a procession of young Domus slaves arrived, carrying the various courses, which were placed on long serving tables, set round the walls of the triclinium.
It should be remembered here that dining at home, with multiple courses, was the prerogative of the wealthy. The poorer sections of society in Rome (the vast majority of the population), were crowded into insula, where only the lower floor would have any proper cooking facilities, therefore, the poorer members of society usually took their meals (such as they were), outside the home.
Petronius immediately admired Aurarius' new, gold studded wrist guards, and the pugio that Aurarius was ostentatiously wearing, while the boys talked excitedly about the seal rings that they were hoping to collect from Timotheus' shop the following day.
"Petronius - I would like you to come with us when we go to collect the rings for the boys, and Demetrius' arm guards.", Marcus said.
"But Dominus, I need to be with the slaves who will be fighting, giving them a final training session.", Petronius protested.
"No matter - get your ex-centurion to take over.", Marcus said firmly.
Petronius nodded.
View from Marcus' Apartments - Domus Gracchii
The triclinium opened out onto a large, columned and partly roofed balcony - and it was from there that Glaux would fly off - either up to the roof gardens, or down to the gardens surrounding the Domus, to do his hunting at night.
The view over the city and the starry sky was breathtaking.
Marcus and Petronius discussed the preparations that were being made for the following evening, and Aurarius and Adonios chatted about the upcoming contests that were to take place on the roof gardens, and speculated on the performance of the newly acquired slaves.
There would still be much to do the following day, so the relaxed group broke up early  - to enjoy a welcome rest before the anxiously awaited, new day.
And Glaux, feeling a little neglected, took flight to find some real food, rather that the weirdly cooked food that his foolish humans seemed to prefer.

and the story continues -
Frantic preparations are made so that Marcus can entertain Titus Vespasianus at the Domus in appropriate style with dancing boys, gladiators and wrestlers - and Marcus buys Petronius a gift
('The Visit of Titus ')

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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