Story of Gracchus - Character Sketches


'The Story of Gracchus' is not about one individual called Gracchus, but is rather the story of the 'House of Gracchus' during a period starting towards the end of the reign of the Emperor Nero.
The story itself, however, does not begin with the House of Gracchus, but rather with events that befall a young teenage boy.
Marcus in Athens
He is a Roman citizen, and is on his way from Athens to Rome, via Brundisium.
Marcus, we subsequently find out, is considered, particularly by his strict and ambitious father, to be a 'bad boy',
Although he is a Roman citizen (but not yet come of age'), he hangs around the gymnasion in Athens, showing off his youthful, lithe physique, and consorting with other 'street boys' - who are, by and large, Greek.
He is a very clever, 'bright' boy - but lazy with his studies, and his Latin is spoken with a distinct Greek accent.
His father, who is a minor Roman official, is deeply concerned for his only son, and is relieved when he is recalled to Rome, as he believes that this can provide a new - and truly Roman - start for his wayward boy.

The 'Satyricon'
In ancient literature (Greek and Roman), characters often appear with little or no explanation - and equally disappear - the 'Satyricon', by the Roman writer Petronius, is a good example.
Recent and present day movies, of course, being of relatively short duration, have little time to dwell on biographical information, although the dubious invention of the 'flashback', with it's 'liquid' dissolves and rippling harps, does often allow for the insertion of some biographical information into the narrative.
'Modern' literature, however, (which is very different in style to classical 'proto-novels'), allows for exhaustive explanations regarding characters, their origins, previous actions, and motivations - the sort of explanations that are not normally available in 'real life'.
'I Claudius' (and to an extent, 'Claudius the God'), are good examples of the 'modern' obsession with excessive explanation.
To begin with, 'I Claudius' is simply a massively extended 'flashback'.
One problem with such a technique is that the reader never doubts that the main protagonist, Claudius, will ever die as a result of the machinations, of for example - Livia, Tiberius, or Caligula - as, if he were to be killed, he would be unable to provide the 'flashback' (only completed at the very end of the story) that is the main substance of the novel - and so we are deprived of a certain tension, as the safety of our 'hero' is always assured.
In addition the endless biographical details (in which the author shows off his apparent knowledge of Roman history) clutters up the narrative - and in the end very little of what occurs comes as a surprise.
In less exalted literature, such as the ubiquitous 'crime novel' - epitomised initially by 20th century crime fiction, every aspect of the story (plot), is neatly resolved, dovetailed, explained and formalised.
All the characters have incredibly complex motivations for almost everything that occurs in the story, and, in the end, - there are no 'loose ends'.
For example nothing ever escapes the 'little grey cells' of a certain Belgian detective, and he always makes sure that we know that.
Undoubtedly the reason that one particular British crime writer has been described as the 'best-selling novelist of all time' - (does that include the future ?) is because that writer reassures readers that life can be understood - an assurance that is basically a 'lie' - a deception.
This, of course, is not how life works.
In the course of the average life, characters come and go and, for the most part, their motives are inscrutable, and their actions apparently arbitrary.
That is the fascination of life.
In the 'Story of Gracchus' - partly to add realism to the narrative - much is left unsaid.
Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus
With regard to Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus, one of the main characters in the story, (and not, incidentally the 'Gracchus' of the title), we know very little about him, and he remains a mystery, right up to his death.
As to his friend, Novius, we are told nothing about how they met, - were they boyhood friends, were their families related ?
The only thing that we do know is that they share an interest in Greek, Etruscan and Roman religion and mythology.
Equally there is an ongoing mystery about the origins of Petronius, and his possible fraternal relationship with Aurarius.
This section, 'Character Sketches', however, does give some biographical details, and explains some motivations - but not to excess.
Much is - satisfyingly - left as a mystery......
in this section many of the events of the plot and the fates of the main characters are revealed so, if you wish to maintain the tension it may be better to read the story chapter by chapter - in consecutive order - and then come back and check on the characters as they appear.

Confusingly there is more that one character with the name Gracchus - due to odd Roman naming customs relating to freeing slaves, and adoption.
The original 'Gracchus', Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus, is an immensely rich patrician aristocrat, living in the 'smart' holiday town of Baiae (from where we get the English word 'bay' - as at the seaside) - close to Neapolis (modern Naples), and (the now better known) Pompeii.
He lives in a magnificent secluded villa, situated near the beach and the cliffs.
Gracchus is an apparently childless, middle aged man, separated from his wife.
He is, however, fabulously wealthy, being reputed to be one of the richest men in the Empire.
Where his wealth comes from is not entirely clear, although his freedmen are involved in numerous financial affairs, including the importation of fine art, building materials, wine and olive oil, food stuffs, and most importantly - slaves, (Gracchus, being a Senator, is not permitted, by law, to be involved in any economic activity, and his Freedmen perform this function on his behalf.).
At the time of the story Gracchus lives surrounded by handsome and attractive slave-boys.
We are told that he has had 'favourites' (Terentius, when he was young, Petronius etc) - but we are not told if he has romantic and physical relationships with these boys and young men.
We are told nothing of his parentage, or background, or how he became so fabulously wealthy, but we later learn that he is a senator, although he rarely takes his seat in the Senate in Rome.
He has at least two other houses in Italy - the huge and palatial 'Domus Gracchii' in Rome, and a beautiful country villa at Tibur, where his wife lived before her untimely death.
He has many other houses and villas in other parts of the Empire.


This teenager was originally called Marcus Gaius Aelius - and after he was captured by pirates, and sold as a slave, he was called 'Markos' (a Greek slave name) - by a Greek slave dealer in Brundisium called Arion.
Later his Roman master, Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus, changed 'Markos' name to Marcus Octavianus Gracchus (see above).

Marcus Gaius Aelius (later to be known as 'Markos' - see above) was the son of Gaius Agrippa Aelius - a lower ranking Roman official - (see Chapter I)
Gaius Agrippa Aelius had been sent to Athens for a number of years, on Imperial business.
His baby, and only son, born previously in Rome, accompanied his parents to Athens
Young Marcus, being brought up in Athens, spoke Greek as his first language, despite the disapproval of his father, and unfortunately Marcus, as it later turned out, spoke Lain with a decidedly Greek accent - which proved not to be to his advantage - or maybe not.......?
Regardless, inevitably, orders came from Rome, and Gaius was required to return to the city to take a more responsible post in the great metropolis.
On the sea voyage the ship they were travelling in was attacked by pirates, and Marcus' parents were killed, and Marcus (or 'Markos' the slave-boy) was taken to Crete, to be sold as a slave.
Eventually, Markos is freed and adopted by Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus, and later on adoption, is given the name Marcus Octavianus Gracchus - becoming eventually the Dominus of the House of Gracchus - and the main character in our story


Demetrius (or Δημήτριος - Demetrios - [Greek]), as he is initially known, is the only natural son of Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus - however, the child is a 'bastard', born to a slave girl at a time when Gracchus was already married to a noble, patrician woman.
Unable to bear having the child 'disposed' of, and fearful of having him adopted, in case his original identity was ever revealed, Gracchus, unwisely, hid the boy away, first in the 'Villa Pastoralis' at Tibur, and later in the 'Domus Gracchii', Gnaeus Octavian's vast palace in Rome, where he is 'brought up' by the sexually rapacious and politically ambitious freedman, Menelaus.
Later Demetrios, unwittingly, becomes involved in a plot to gain control of the huge wealth and influence of the House of Gracchus, and becomes the unwilling focus of the 'erotic' attentions of Servius Juvenalis (see below), the Tribune of Gnaeus Gracchus.
Subsequently he is taken on by Marcus, given his freedom and citizenship - and is groomed for the eventual possible position as the next Dominus of the House of Gracchus.
Later, in Rome, Marcus buys Demetrius a slave, Aelius,  to be his 'erotic companion' - see below:


Adonios is a handsome blonde Greek slave-boy belonging to Gnaeus Gracchus.
We first meet him in Chapter Nine, during a banquet at Gracchus' villa.
Later, when Marcus is given his freedom by Gracchus, he is given Adonios a a personal slave.
Adonios becomes devoted to Marcus, carefully nursing him during the time that Marcus appears to be in a 'coma' - and later he spends much of his time looking after 'Glaux', the owl given to Marcus by Athena - sister of Apollo.
Later, because of some unexpected revelations regarding the relationship between Aurarius and Petronius, Adonios becomes the slave (and 'lover') of the handsome, and ever popular (and also mysterious) Petronius.
It is Adonios who discovers the strange 'Faunus' who inhabits the gardens of the 'Villa Pastoralis' at Tibur (see below).


Aurarius, (originally called Αγόρι - 'Boy' because he had forgotten his true name)' is a handsome slave-boy, bought on the off-chance, by Terentius, shortly after the attack on Marcus.
'Boy' was bought to 'cheer up' Gnaeus Gracchus, but he has had enough of 'cute' blond slave-boys, and gives 'Boy' to Marcus.
Later Gracchus receives a second prophecy from the Sibyl at Cumae, which seems to refer to 'Boy', and names him 'Aurarius' (golden - because of the colour of his hair).
Aurarius later becomes the personal slave-boy of Marcus, and his 'lover'.
Later it is proposed that he may, in fact, be the younger brother of Petronius.


Aelius (originally called Mikkos) is a handsome Greek slave-boy, bought by Marcus for Demetrius (see above) on the occasion of Marcus' first trip to Rome.
The acquisition of  Aelius establishes Demetrius as an 'adult male' as, prior to be given Aelius, Demetrius had never sexually penetrated a slave (male or female) - and after having done so, he was then considered to be on the way to full Roman manhood.
From this this point onward Demetrius is always respectfully referred to as 'Iuvenes Dominum' (young master), on the insistence of Marcus.
Interestingly, Demetrius unknowingly gives his new slave one of the names of Marcus' real father - Gaius Agrippa 'Aelius' - a Latin name that is also associated with the God Apollo - who plays an important part in this story.


Aniketos is a very expensive and very handsome Greek slave-boy bought by Petronius, while in Rome, to be a concubinus for Adonios.
Well educated and speaking Greek and Latin, Aniketos is intended to encourage Adonios, as he grows older, to be dominant and 'masculine' in his attitudes.
Petronius, along with Marcus, sees this as part of the preparation for enabling  Adonios to become a Roman 'vir', prior to his eventual grant of freedom and citizenship sometime, in the undefined future.


Euphrainus is a very expensive and very handsome Greek slave-boy bought by Marcus while in Rome, to be a concubinus for Aurarius.
Well educated and speaking Greek and Latin, Aniketos is intended to encourage Aurarius, as he grows older, to be dominant and 'masculine' in his attitudes - not that he really needs that....
Marcus, along with Petronius, sees this as part of the preparation for enabling  Aurarius to become a Roman 'vir', prior to his eventual grant of freedom and citizenship, sometime in the undefined future.


This character is the senior freedman of the House of Gracchus - and bears his previous master's name - as was the custom with freed slaves.
Terentius is an immensely loyal slave, and later client of - firstly Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus, and after the death of his original master, he is equally loyal towards his heir, the new Dominus, Marcus Octavianus Gracchus.
As a youth, Terentius was one of Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus' 'favourites' and possibly his 'bed boy'.
Terentius is one of the first characters that we meet in the 'Story of Gracchus', (Chapter II) as he is responsible for purchasing Markos from the Greek slave trader Arion at Brundisium.
Significantly, it is Terentius who invests Marcus with the seal ring of the House of Gracchus, on the death of Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus, (Chapter XXIX), thus confirming that Marcus is the new Dominus of the House of Gracchus.


The fourth character in the story bearing the name Gracchus, is Petronius, who is a slave, originally belonging to Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus, who is subsequently given to Marcus Octavianus Gracchus.
We first meet Petronius in Chapter X, when Terentius introduces him to Markos.
Marcus Octavianus Gracchus, on inheriting the title of Dominus, on the death of Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus, frees Petronius, who then takes the name of his benefactor, Marcus, becoming Petronius Marcus Octavianus Gracchus.
The name Octavian is retained throughout in deference to Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus' admiration for Octavian Caesar - later known as Augustus - the first Roman Emperor.
This is complicated, but Romans had an obsession about names and status.
In the story the full names are rarely used, so Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus is usually referred to as 'Gracchus', Marcus is referred to as 'Marcus', Terentius as 'Terentius', and Petronius as 'Petronius'.
Petronius later becomes 'Magister Harena' (Master of the Arena), and 'Tribune' to Marcus (taking the place of the disgraced - and later executed, Servius Juvenalis).
Petronius may be the elder brother of Aurariu.
He has an ongoing 'Platonic' relationship with Marcus.
His physical relationship is with his slave-boy Adonios (see above).


Titus Flāvius Caesar Vespasiānus Augustus - (30 December 39 AD – 13 September 81 AD) was Roman emperor from 79 to 81.
A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death.
Titus met Marcus, before he became Emperor, accidentally when, because of a clerical error, Quintus sent him an invitation to the funeral of Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus (Chapter XXX).
Titus and Marcus became friends (with the help of Adonios and Glaux), and Titus recommened Marcus to his father - the Emperor Vespasian.
Subsequently Marcus gave financial support to Vespasian in the early years of his reign, and Marcus was rewarded with the position of member of the Roman Senate - a position that had been previously held by his adoptive father, Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus.


Novius is a mysterious character.
Novius is first mentioned in Chapter XII, and is referred to as 'a very old friend' - and 'a client' of Oscan origins, who was well known for his knowledge of the auspices, oracles and Etruscan ritual'.
Finally Novius appears at the villa - meeting Markos in the main Atrium, (towards the end of Chapter XII), and Novius subsequently helps Gracchus to interpret the scroll containing the Sibyl's prophecy.
Later Novius uses his 'magical' skills to elicit the nature of the plot against Marcus and Gracchus from the conspirators.
It is Novius who encourages Marcus to keep 'Glaux', the owl - and befriends 'Faunus'.
After the death of Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus, Marcus appoints Novius as his 'Consiliarius' - chief adviser.


On the night that Gnaeus Gracchus dies a little owl flies into Gracchus' study - and settles on the back of the chair of the 'late Dominus' (Chapter XXIX)
Novius declares that the owl is 'Glaux' - the owl belonging to the Goddess Minerva (Athena) - sister of the God Apollo - and that he has been sent to Marcus to guide him in the future.
Glaux is a continuing presence throughout the 'Story of Gracchus'.
Is he really a 'palladium of the Gods',  or just a silly little bird who got lost in a storm ?
It should be remembered, however, that the 'Story of Gracchus' is written from the Roman perspective - and the Gods, the sacrifices, the auspices and the magic are all real.
It is Glaux who guides Adonios to the part of the forest where Faunus is hiding.
We later learn that Faunus has been a friend of Glaux from the very beginning, serving the brother and sister gods, Apollo and Athena, and guiding certain chosen mortals.


A second non-human character in 'The Story of Gracchus' is 'Faunus', one of the Fauni.
He is discovered hiding in the gardens of the Villa Pastoralis, at Tibur, by Adonios, with the help of Glaux.
Horned - but not with goat's feet - he is a form of young satyr, skilled in the ways of the forest, and a superb musician on the syrinx (Pan pipes).
He is also endowed with the ability to foretell the future, and so is another 'gift from the gods' to Marcus.
Immediately befriended by Glaux and Novius, his ability to fade into invisibility and 'shape-shift' allows him to remain with Marcus, Petronius and the boys without causing any problems - well not too many.



Although we never see her, (although we hear her words and her prophecies) the Cumæan Sibyl is a key character in the story of Gracchus.
(see Chapter XII)
She was the priestess presiding over the Apollonian oracle at Cumæ, a Greek colony located near  Baiae.
The word sibyl comes (via Latin) from the ancient Greek word sibylla, meaning prophetess.
Because of the importance of the Cumæan Sibyl in the legends of early Rome, as codified in Virgil's 'Aeneid' Book VI, and because of her proximity to Rome, the Cumæan Sibyl became the most famous among the Romans.
The Sibyl is responsible for granting the House of Gracchus various prophecies that refer not only to the historical events of the period, but also to the lives of the main characters.

Nymphidius Sabinus (c. 35–68) was a Prefect of the Praetorian Guard during the rule of Emperor Nero from 65 until his death in 68.
He shared this office together with Gaius Ophonius Tigellinus.
Nymphidius took part in the final conspiracy against Nero and using money borrowed from Gracchus, he persuaded the Praetorian Guard to desert Nero.
Nymphidius, when negotiating a loan with Gracchus, took a fancy to Petram, one of Gracchus' teenage gladiators, taking him to Rome.
In this way Petram became involved in the plot to 'bring down' the House of Gracchus, paying for his involvement with his life in the form of a humiliating death in the arena.
Nymphidius took Nero's 'wife', the boy Sporus, as his own wife. Sporus had been married to Nero, (after he had had him castrated), because Sporus resembled the emperor's second wife, Poppaea.
The Praetorians recognized that Galba's approach counted for more than Nymphidius' presence and, with the encouragement of Gracchus, killed the would-be usurper before their new Emperor arrived at Rome.


Cleon is a very attractive young slave-boy - who we meet early on in the story - in Chapter VI.
He is sent, on the orders of Gracchus to be a 'sexual companion' for Markos.
While Markos has had mild sexual experiences with his teenage friends in the gymnasion in Athens, his contact with Cleon is his first truly 'romantic' and intense physical experience with another boy.
Cleon was a close friend of Glykon (the slave who - with Markos' help - managed the main entrance to the villa).
When Cleon was given the task of 'befriending' Markos, Glykon became annoyed that he was losing the friendship of both Cleon and Markos..
More to the point, Glykon was insanely jealous of Markos, particularly when Markos became a friend (and possibly lover) of Petronius.
When Glykon became involved in the conspiracy against Markos, he involved Cleon, paying him in gold to steal Markos' new pugio (dagger).
When Markos was attacked by Glykon, Cleon ran away from the villa, (with the substantial sum of gold Glykon had given him).
Terentius and the villa guards, however, quickly tracked down Cleon in the woods near Neapolis,  and brutally tortured and mutilated him to get information - and then killed the boy.


We first meet Glykon in Chapter III
He is the young slave-boy who opens the doors to Gracchus' villa when Markos and Terentius arrive from Brundisium.
Terentius initially puts Markos in the care of Glykon, and Markos spends his mornings helping Glykon at the main entrance to the villa.
In this way Markos learns from Glykon about the various individuals working at, and visiting the villa.
Later, when Gracchus brings Markos and Cleon together, Glykon become a little jealous, but that is nothing compared to Glykon's anger when Markos becomes friends with Petronius, and becomes Petronius' assistant in the arena.
Eventually, when Markos becomes 'Marcus', Gracchus heir, Glykon allows himself to be drawn into a conspiracy against Marcus.
After his apparent attempt on Marcus' life, Glykon is tortured in the Ludus and is eventually publicly humiliated and executed in the arena by being emasculated and disembowelled - (see: Chapter XXXIV).


Servius Juvenalis is a handsome young Centurion who is a favourite of a Tribunus (Marcellus) of the XIII Legio (Thirteenth Legion).
Marcellus is a 'client' of Gracchus (although we are not told how this came about).
Marcellus arranges for Servius to have extended leave from the legion so that he can be employed as a coach for the slave-boy Markos - teaching the boy wrestling, swordsmanship, swimming, and generally building up the boy.
It can probably be assumed that Marcellus, being a tribune, and Servius being very young for a centurion, have a sexual relationship.
Servius, unusually for a Roman man, appears to be almost wholly fixated on same-sex relationships - and behaves, in this context, inappropriately with Markos, and much later with Demetrius, and is a regular client of male brothels in Baiae and Neapolis - which is a reason, along with his gambling, why he is always short of money, and therefore open to corruption.
(It should be remembered that, while having sex with boys [as long as they were slaves] was considered quite normal for a male Roman citizen, it was not permitted to do so with slaves whom one did not own. That was considered to be 'abuse' of another's property, and the injured party [the owner of the slave] would be entitled to compensation.)
Servius substantial debts and sexual obsessions end with his involvement in a foolish 'conspiracy which culminates in his untimely and horrific death in the public arena by being emasculated and flayed alive - see: Chapter XXXIV.

Gaius Agrippa Aelius is the father of Marcus Agrippa Aelius - who later becomes 'Markos' the slave boy - and then Marcus Octavianus Gracchus.
Gaius is a minor Roman official working in Athens, in Greece, during the reign of the Emperor Nero.
He has one son - the teenager Marcus - an unruly boy who runs wild in the streets of Athens
He is recalled to Rome, and sails with his wife and Marcus from Piraeus to Brundisium.
During the voyage the ship is attacked by pirates.
Gaius wife is speared to death, and Gaius is stripped and emasculated and later thrown bound into the sea - where he drowns - (see Chapter I)


We meet Lucius early on in the Story.
He is a middle aged, and very well educated Roman slave.
He is bought by Terentius, on behalf of Gracchus, to be a Latin tutor for the slave Markos.
He is dull and pedantic, but manages to inspire in Markos a love of the poetry of Virgil - much to the approval and satisfaction of Gracchus.
Virgil was the favourite poet of Octavian Caesar - later known as 'Augustus'.
Lucius is also employed to compose odes and choruses for use in the amphitheatre, and formal speeches for the Dominus (master).
He helps Marcus compose a eulogy to be read at the funeral of Gnaeus Gracchus.


Quintus is Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus' 'dux scriba', (Chief Secretary).
He has a 'perfect' knowledge of Latin and Greek, and a superb style of handwriting.
He is responsible for making records and taking letters on all the most important matters regarding the House of Gracchus, and is always available to the Dominus.
As such he is held as trustworthy almost to the extent that Terentius is.
On the death of Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus, Quintus becomes 'dux scriba' to Marcus Octavianus Gracchus.
We first meet Quintus near the beginning of the story in Chapter IV where 'Markos' is interviewed bt Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus


Aristarchos is a middle aged, and very well educated Greek slave.
He is bought by Terentius, on behalf of Gracchus, to be a Greek tutor for the slave Markos.
He is more to Markos' taste, and inspires the boy with a love of Homer, the 'Iliad' and the 'Odyssey'.


Agathon is a slave, owned by Gracchus, and retained as his personal physician ('medicus' in Latin).
In the early Roman Empire (the period of our story) physicians were mainly imports from Greece, at first through Greek-influenced Etruscan society and Greek colonies placed directly in Italy (such as Neapolis and nearby Cumea, Baiae, Pompeii and Herculaneum), and then through Greeks enslaved during the Roman conquest of Greece, Greeks invited to Rome, or Greek knowledge imparted to Roman citizens visiting or being educated in Greece.
A perusal of the names of Roman physicians will show that the majority are wholly or partly Greek, and that many of the physicians were of 'servile' (slave) origin.
One of the cultural ironies of these circumstances is that free men sometimes found themselves in service to the enslaved professional.
In Greek society, physicians tended to be regarded as 'noble'. - Asclepius, in the 'Iliad', is noble.
On the death of G.Octavian Gracchus Agathon becomes the physician to Marcus.


We meet Vulcan, a smith, (humourlessly named 'Vulcan' - the smith to the gods, by Gnaeus Gracchus), in the Third Chapter of the Story of Gracchus, when he fits a silver 'slave collar' round Markos' neck.
Slave collars, (usually made of iron, with a tag bearing the slave's name, the name of his master, and often the reward offered for the slaves return), were a means of hopefully preventing slaves from running away.
Runaway slaves were often punished by being crucified, or condemned to die in the arena.
Gnaeus Gracchus fits his slaves with opulent, heavy silver collars - easily recognized, and therefore guaranteed to cause the offender to be quickly returned for a substantial reward.
Vulcan also manufactures all the metal implements used in the arena, including arms and various devices used for torturing and executing condemned prisoners.
Vulcan cannot speak - whether 'dumb' from birth - or the result of some punishment we are not told.


Ariston is a serious, dark-haired Greek slave-boy belonging to Gracchus.
We first meet him in Chapter IX, during a banquet at Gracchus' villa.
He has little part in the story until the death of Gracchus.
The day after Gracchus' death Ariston is found hung naked in his room - a presumed suicide.
Ariston is posthumously given his freedom, and can therefore be given a lavish funeral by Marcus.
This incident points up the affection which slaves could have for their master, and the guilt that masters (in this case Marcus) could feel for not caring sufficiently for loyal slaves.


Elatos is a young Domus slave. After taking food up to Marcus' apartments, Marcus decided to take on Elatos as a personal slave to be an assistant (and also a sexual partner) for Aurarius (see Chapter XXXVII). On the night of Titus' visit Elatos had been 'socialising' down in the basement (when he should have been attending Marcus on the roof garden). He had therefore been grouped with the other slave refusing to take orders, and had drawn a short straw, and been selected for punishment.  In the confusion caused by the visit of Titus no one missed Elatos, and he found himself being held in the punishment cells in the Domus overnight, and then taken up to the roof-garden where he was stripped naked, beaten and subsequently executed (see Chapter XLI).



Varus is a young runaway slave-boy from Stabiae, just down the coast from Baiae.
He appears in Chapter XXXII and Chapter XXXIV
He had been condemned to die in the arena.
While 'on the run' he had supported himself as a 'rent-boy' but had also murdered and robbed some of his 'clients'.
Petronius selected him to take part in an explicitly erotic re-enactment of the story of Patroclus and Apollo.
After the 'sex-act' Varus (as Patroclus) would take part in the fight between the 'Greeks' and the 'Trojans' and would be killed, stripped naked and cremated on a funeral pyre.
Varus being illiterate, is unaware, when he is selected for this role that he will die in the arena.


Atticus is a young slave-gladiator who appears in Chapter



From inscriptions on buildings and monuments, graffiti, wall paintings, and those documents that have survived, we know that the Romans spoke Latin.
Latin, however, like all languages, changed over the centuries.
Educated Romans - such as Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus spoke the Latin of the 'Augustan Age'.
Many of those around him, - mainly his slaves, spoke a bastardized Latin, liberally sprinkled with Greek vocabulary and grammatical forms, and usually with a Greek accent.
The lower orders in Baiae and Neapolis, and the surrounding towns, spoke Greek as their daily language, (this area of Italy having been colonised by Greek settlers in the preceding centuries), and their talk also contained many words derived from Oscan, the ancient tongue of the area.
Markos (later Marcus Octavianus Gracchus - see below) initially spoke Latin with a strong Greek accent, but his Latin tutor, Lucius, soon had him speaking with a more refined, 'patrician' accent - which was essential if one was to be respected by the upper echelons of Roman society
Latin is now considered to be a 'dead language', as it is no longer in daily use, however a debased form of Latin continued to be used after the dissolution of the Roman Empire, and notoriously became the 'official' language of the 'Christian - that is Western - Church'.
Interest in Latin was renewed from the Renaissance onwards, and became the basis of upper class education until very recently, and was also the language of scientific discourse and nomenclature.
Because of its 'dead language status' there has been a long running dispute over the pronunciation of classical Latin as - obviously, - no one has ever heard the Latin of the Roman Empire actually spoken.
Another odd aspect of Latin (which became apparent in a recent  television series), is the fact that it does not contain regular 'definite and indefinite articles'.
When translating a sentence from Latin to English, the Latin student must provide them him/herself using only context and logic to determine whether a definite or indefinite article is more appropriate.
Unfortunately, the script writers of the said television series, in an oddly inappropriate attempt to be authentic, simply stripped the English script of definite and indefinite articles, giving much of the dialogue an almost incomprehensible, staccato, 'Pidgin English', quality.
In the 'Story of Gracchus', the characters speak normal English, without any attempt to mimic accent or grammatical oddities.
Certain Latin terms are used - particularly where there is no exact English equivalent, and normally and explanation is provided (usually at the first instance of the use of such a term - which should be an encouragement to read the story in the order in which it was written).
Where the characters normally speak Greek (Koine), initially their speech is rendered in Greek characters and language - followed by a translation - and after a few sentences is then translated into English.
What differentiates 'The Story of Gracchus', from many relatively recent 'Roman tales' (apart from the fact that it appears on the internet), is its attempt to follow the thematic contents of ancient literature, - the Greek and Roman 'proto-novels'.

biographical details and images of more characters to be added soon......



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