Chapter XXXI - Munera Pro Gracchus

© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016

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The Dinner Party - On the evening of the funeral there was a quiet dinner party (what the Romans often referred to as a 'caencenatio' - not quite as grand as a 'convivium) in the private triclinium (dining room) of Marcus' apartments.
Marcus had invited (obviously) Titus, along with Petronius, Terentius, Novius, Nicander (who was careful to say nothing), and, surprisingly perhaps, Demetrius.
Glaux, who had just recently woken up, joined the party, and made friends with Titus, mainly because Titus was sharing little slivers of meat with the greedy, but still very polite little owl - so there would be no hunting for Glaux that night.
The talk, quite rightly, avoided mention of the funeral - but Titus was very voluble about his plans for his father's project for the great amphitheater in the centre of Rome - (which we now called the Colosseum, and was only completed some time after Vespasian's death).
He was also effusive in his praise of the Amphitheatrum Gracchi, and in particular the renovations and additions that had been made by Marcus for the Celebratory Ludi for the accession of his father, Vespasian.
Titus asked, as he had promised, about the polished imperial porphyry that Marcus had used to line the inside walls of the arena (suitably dark red, and easy to clean, to camouflage blood spatters), and the superb porphyry incense burners on either side of the Pulvinar.
Marcus explained that it came from just one site in southern Egypt, but that Terentius had managed to obtain supplies in Rome, and would be happy to pass on the name of the supplier to one of Titus' tribunes.
Peristyle Garden
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
The talk, along with the wine, went back and forth.
Towards the end of the party, Titus asked Marcus to accompany him into the Peristyle Garden - where Marcus had his strange meeting with the young archer, (Apollo perhaps ?), the night that the late Dominus had died.
"Marcus, I have something serious to propose to you.", Titus began
"My father has spoken to me about you, and especially about the help that you and your adoptive father gave to the Empire during the last year of turmoil.
You appear to be a young man, wise beyond your years, with reliable advisers and, perhaps most importantly - to my father at least - favoured by the Gods.
For that reason, he as empowered me to offer you the position of Roman Senator.",
Titus stood looking intently at Marcus, waiting for his reply.
"But sir, I am not qualified for such a position.", Marcus replied, taken aback.
"Well financially you are, as you would probably be the wealthiest man in the Senate, and well above the financial requirements for membership of that august body, ( 1,200,000 sesterces - pocket money for Marcus), of course, since the Divine Augustus altered the age restrictions for Senators, you would need to be over 25 years of age, (previously it had been 30), but that is no problem, as the Emperor is empowered to make a decree to grant you Senatorial rank - and your help and influence in the Senate would be greatly appreciated by both my father, and myself.", Titus was still waiting for the answer that he required.
"Well what can I say.
I am highly honoured, and must of course accept.", Marcus replied.
"Then that is done.", Titus said, briskly.
"After we have seen the new Ludi, a few days from now, perhaps you would travel with me to Rome, and my father could grant you the decree personally.", Titus concluded.

Operatur Ientaculum

Working Breakfast - The morning dawned bright and sunny.
Adonios  and Aurarius came quietly into the room to check if Marcus was awake, and to ask what he wanted to eat.
Glaux was unsteadily perched on one of Marcus' pillows (he really didn't like pillows, but liked to be near Marcus' ears for a little nibble), and he was looking unusually bright and alert - as he hadn't been hunting the previous night - thanks to his new friend Titus.
"Boys'....", Marcus said sleepily.
"Stay here, as I have something that I want to tell you."
Adonios  and Aurarius looked at one another, half expectant and half afraid.
There had, after all, been rather too many unpleasant surprises recently.
"It's nothing to worry about - ", Marcus continued, "but Titus offered me the position of Senator last night, when we walked in the garden.
Now keep it to yourselves for the moment - but be prepared for a trip to Rome in the near future - and, all being well, we will probably be spending more time in Rome - so you will be living, for some of the time, in my house in Rome, and the villa in Tibur."
"Congratulatio, Dominus !" (now you don't need that translated !), both boys said, almost in unison.
"So let's get ready - and Adonios - tell Terentius to meet me at the - 'Officium est Dominus', and get a carriage sent for Novius, and Aurarius, get Petronius to join Terentius."
The boys ran off the get some food and wine for Marcus, and then both ran off down the corridors on their errands.
Eventually Marcus, Terentius, Novius and Petronius all met in the 'Officium est Dominus', with Adonios  and Aurarius going round providing them with wine and finger food - it was a Roman equivalent of a working breakfast.
"So gentlemen, this is a busy day with the Munera, but I have called you together as Titus, last night in the Peristyle garden offered me a place in the Senate.", Marcus explained
"Congratulatio, Dominus !", they all said, standing and clapping.
Glaux, who was awake, and sitting on Marcus shoulder, fluttered his wings, almost taking off in alarm.
He found it very difficult to understand his humans.
"Now gentlemen, - like the late Dominus, I intend not to spend a lot of time in Rome, and not to get too involved in politics, but I need to accommodate Titus and his father, our Emperor Vespasian.
This will mean that you Terentius, will have to take on the burden of running the villa without my help - taking decisions as you see fit.
Also, before Nicander leaves this villa, I want you to ensure that he is fully briefed on how to run the Domus for me.
Novius - I would greatly appreciate it if you could accompany me to Rome, as I will undoubtedly need your advice.
And Petronius - you must quickly provide me with a reliable deputy as Tribune, as I will also require your company.
I hope that is clear to you all, and meets with your approval.", Marcus concluded.
"Yes, Dominus ! - We all agree.", Terentius replied, speaking for himself and his colleagues.
"Now, Petronius, you and I will ride to the Amphitheater, and check that all is ready for the Munera this afternoon.", Marcus said, rising from his seat.
"And Terentius, - go and see that Titus is happy with the arrangements for this afternoon, and then see Nicander.", Marcus said, as he made for the door, with Petronius, preceded by Adonios and Aurarius, who opened the doors, and then ran off to arrange for horses to be brought to the main entrance.

When Marcus and Petronius arrived at the Amphitheater they found that the area of the arena where the cremation had taken place had been cleared of debris, and was being re-sanded and carefully raked by slaves.
One of the senior slaves approached Petronius very hesitantly.
He was a carrying a large leather bag.
"Salutem Domine !", he said very hesitantly.
"These are the bones and ashes that were recovered.", he continued, passing the bag to Petronius.
"That's good !" Petronius answered.
"Thank your men for their work ! ....... Is the arena ready for the Munera this afternoon ?", Petronius continued.
"There is still some cleaning to do, sir, but everything will be ready on time.", the senior slave answered.
"And you will hang the funerary mask in front to the curtain covering the central door ?", Petronius queried.
"Yes sir ! I will attend to that immediately !", the slave replied.
Marcus turned to Petronius.
"This is something that I must do when we go to Rome - I must have a funerary urn made for the ashes. .... Also I need to speak to Lucius Severus, in Rome, regarding the mausoleum for the late Dominus' ashes."
"Don't worry, Dominus - ", Petronius replied, "I will remind you when we get there."
Golden Villa - Baiae
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
The custom of burning the dead was was steeped in tradition at the Roman funerals. A funeral pile was constructed in the shape of an altar, upon which the corpse was laid. The nearest relative then set fire to it. Perfumes and spices were afterwards thrown into the blaze, and when it was extinguished, the embers were quenched with wine. (see The Funeral of Gracchus). The ashes were then collected and deposited in an urn, to be kept in the family mausoleum. 
Nero's Golden House - Rome
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Lucius Septimius Severus was the designer (with the engineer Celer) of Emperor Nero's (Golden House), and also the Golden Villa at Baiae, the amphitheater in Baiae, the Domus Gracchi in Rome, and Gracchus' villa in Tibur. Concrete was used for his basic structures, and Orders were employed for the exterior and interior. Severus was particularly known for his use of veneers of rare marble.
Amphitheater Arcade - Baiae - by Lucius Septimius Severus
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Marcus was obviously moved by the appearance of the leather bag containing the incinerated bones of the late Dominus, and told Petronius that he wanted some time alone.
Marcus then climbed the concealed stairs up to the Pulvinus, where he sat on one of the ivory inlaid chairs that were left over from the funeral of the previous day, musing on recent events.
Meanwhile, Petronius busied himself inspecting, and giving a 'pep-talk' to the ten young fighters who were to appear in the Munera that afternoon, (four fighting pairs, and two reserves).
Having talked to them, and inspected their weapons and equipment, he then met with the Flamines (priests), who were to undertake the sacrifices prior to the Munera.
In Roman religion, a Flamen was a priest assigned to one of the deities of the official cults during the Roman Republic and Empire.
Once again four, all black bullocks were to be sacrificed to the 'Manes', and suitable arrangements had to be made for tethering the animals, the providing of water, incense, wine and meal (mola salsa), and arrangements for the removal and disposal of the carcasses.
Lake Avernus
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
In Roman religion, the Manes are chthonic deities representing the souls of deceased loved ones. They were associated with the Lares, Lemures, Genii, and Di Penates as deities (di) that pertained to domestic, local, and personal cult. They belonged broadly to the category of 'di inferi', "those who dwell below," the undifferentiated collective of divine dead. The Manes were honored during the Parentalia and Feralia in February. Roman tombstones often included the letters D.M., which stood for 'dis manibus', "for the ghost-gods" or figuratively translated, "for the Manes". The Manes were offered blood sacrifices, and the 'Munera', held after funerals, were instituted in the honor of the 'Manes'. According to Cicero, the Manes could be called forth from the caves near Lake Avernus. Avernus was the Roman name for a volcanic crater near Cumae (Cuma), Italy, in the Region of Campania west of Naples. Part of the Phlegraean Fields of volcanoes, Avernus is approximately 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) in circumference. Avernus was believed to be the entrance to the underworld, and is portrayed as such in the 'Aeneid' of Virgil. The name comes from the Greek word ἄορνος, meaning "without birds", because according to tradition, all birds flying over the lake were destined to fall dead. This was likely due to the toxic fumes the crater gave off into the atmosphere. On the shores of the lake is the grotto of the Cumaean Sibyl and the entrance to a long tunnel leading toward Cumae, where her sanctuary and the temple of Apollo was located.
After the Munera there was to be a special feast (Epulum) at the Villa, with the two chief guests being Marcus and Titus, and so Petronius needed to speak with the Septemviri Epulones, and then send them on the Terentius, to make the appropriate arrangements.
The Septemviri Epulones were priests who prepared the sacred feasts for Munera, processions and other solemn occasions. A public banquet was called an epulum. The Septemviri Epulones also assumed the role as assistants to the pontifices.
The Munera for Gracchus was the first occasion on which Marcus and Novius had not been able to agree.
Novius favored a Munera in the fashion of the 'Munera ad Augustum', that the late Dominus had staged on the birth date of the 'Divine Augustus'.
That Munera had been conducted along traditional ancient Etruscan lines
Marcus felt that it had been organised badly, and had resulted in the unintended death of Ferox - a favorite of the late Dominus, and a close friend of Petronius.
Marcus also felt that ancient Etruscan ritual was no longer appropriate in the new culture that was evolving since the accession of Vespasian.
Instead, Marcus favoured a simple series of gladiatorial duels, (4), 'ad mortem', in the arena, preceded by a repeat reading of the Eulogy, this time by Lucius (who, unlike Marcus, spoke with an elegant Latin accent), and then there would be the 'Epulum' (see above) at the villa.
For Marcus that would be enough, as there would later be more ceremonies at the conclusion of the period of mourning (see below).
Novius was not happy, but as Marcus was Dominus, and Novius was obliged to accept Marcus' decision.
With the day of the cremation began the “Nine Days of Sorrow,” solemnly observed by the immediate family. Some time during this period the burned bones were crushed into powder and placed in an ōlla (funerary urn) of earthenware, glass, alabaster, bronze, and with bare feet and loosened girdles carried them into the sepulcrum. At the end of the nine days the 'Sacrificium Novendiāle' (Sacrifice of the Nine days) was offered to the dead and the Cēna Novendiālis (Feast of the Nine Days) took place at the house. On this day, too, the heirs (in the case, Marcus) formally entered upon their inheritance. The period of mourning, however, was not concluded on the ninth day. For husband or wife, ascendants, and grown descendants mourning was worn for ten months, the ancient year, for other adult relatives, eight months, for children between the ages of three and ten years, for as many months as they were years old. - The memory of the dead was kept alive by regularly recurring 'Diebus Festis de Praecepto' (days of obligation) of both public and private character. To the former belong the 'Parentālia', or 'Diēs Parentālēs', lasting from the thirteenth to the twenty-first of February, the final day being especially distinguished as the Fērālia. To the latter belong the annual celebration of the birthday (or the day of cremation) of the person commemorated, and the festivals of violets and roses ('Violāria et Rosāria'), about the end of March and May respectively, when violets and roses were distributed among the relatives and laid upon the graves or heaped over the urns. On all these occasions offerings were made in the temples to the gods, and at the tombs to the Mānēs of the dead (see above), and the lamps were lighted in the tombs, and at the tombs the relatives feasted together and offered food to their dead.
During his musings, when viewing the arena from the Pulvinus, Marcus had been giving some thought to a Mausoleum.
Terentius could provide no information about the tomb of the late Dominus' father, or even Gnaeus' late wife, so Marcus thought it would be appropriate to have a new mausoleum constructed for future members of the House of Gracchus, hopefully to be designed by Lucius Septimius Severus (see above).
Mausoleo Domus de Gracchi - First Sketch - Made in Neapolis
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2017
Roman tombs for the wealthy (like Gracchus) are planned with the thought that the tomb was to be a home for the dead and that they were not altogether cut off from the living. The tomb, therefore, whether built for one person or for many, was ordinarily a building enclosing a room (sepulcrum); this room was the most important part of the tomb. The floor of the sepulcrum is commonly below the level of the surrounding grounds and is reached by a short flight of steps. Around the base of the walls runs a slightly elevated platform. Urns are placed either on the platform, or in the niches in the wall. An altar is included, at which offerings would br made to the Mānēs of the departed (see above). Lamps are essential, and the walls, floors, and ceilings are decorated in the same style as those of houses, and an effort is made to give an air of life to the chamber of rest. For the wealthy (like Gracchus), private gardens would surround the Mausoleum, with marble benches and covered areas, where the relatives could gather to partake of outdoor meals on their visits.

In Thermopolium

'At the Restaurant' - Petronius returned from his various tasks in the amphitheater, determined to try to cheer up Marcus, as his master was obviously feeling the effects of all the recent, somber events.
"Let's go for a snack in a thermopolium nearby, and relax." Petronius said, as he came up the stairs to where Marcus was sitting in the Pulvinus.
"Good idea !", Marcus said, waking from his mournful reverie.
"We'll go to the one where we used to go and plan the Games, when I first started to help you with the amphitheater.", Marcus said, wistfully remembering those early, carefree days, when things seemed to be so simple.
"It was then that we first discussed that idea of staging a tableau of Patroclus and Achilles, from the 'Iliad' - and we still haven't managed to do it.", Petronius said, regretfully.
"Well we could do it for these upcoming Games, but I think that it should be separate from the executions of the four conspirators.
I am determined that their deaths should be as demeaning and humiliating as possible, as a definite and extreme warning to anyone who might copy their actions.", Marcus said quite fiercely.
"Yes, I think that I must agree with you there.

Atticus Impaled
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Atticus Impaled
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
It should be similar to the execution of  Atticus.", Petronius concurred.
"Yes ......I remember that,
At the time I was quite shocked by what you did to him - spearing him up his arse-hole, and then cutting off his prick and balls. but in the end I realized that it was all that he deserved.", 
Marcus said, recollecting the events of the first occasion that he had accompanied the late Dominus to the Amphitheater.

Atticus, who had wrongly killed and mutilated Ferox, was impaled through his anus, emasculated and finally allowed to drown in his own blood, after his throat had been cut.

"Well.... I think that's settled !", Marcus said firmly.
"Perhaps you can get things organised in the next few days ?", Marcus continued.
"Of course, Dominus !", Petronius replied.
"And I think it may be a good idea, when we are in a place like this, if you stopped calling me 'Dominus' - or the other people eating here will think that you are my slave." Marcus said.
"Of course Marcus, but it's become a bit of a habit, and I really wonder if they would think that I was a slave - dressed the way I am.", Petronius explained.
"That's true." Marcus replied.
"But I still think its would be better - after all, we are just two Roman citizens - the only difference being that I am your patron.", Marcus explained.
"Of course !", Petronius replied, not wanting to pursue the matter.
"Now what is really worrying me is young Demetrius.", Marcus said quietly.
"He comes to us from the Domus, in Rome, with Servius, - gets locked in a room - Servius then abducts him by horseback to his villa, and then the pair of them are brought back to our villa by guards, and Servius disappears into the Ludus, and Demetrius gets locked up in a room again.
Petronius and Demetrius at the Beach
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Then he has interviews with Novius that he can't even remember, and then Novius takes him to Baiae, and buys him some beautiful clothes.
He then meets me, has his name changed to its Roman form, gets his slave collar removed, and is given a bulla - my bulla - like a young freeborn boy - and then you take him to the beach..
Finally he goes to the funeral of someone that he never knew, who he was told was probably murdered by the young man he had sex with just a few days before - and then he helps to light the funeral pyre - in the presence of numerous very influential people - and the son and heir of the Emperor.!", Marcus explained.
"That's true.", Petronius said in a non-committal way.
"And he has said nothing about all this to you ?", Marcus asked.
"Nothing...", Petronius answered flatly.
"I think that he is suffering from shock - and we should be very careful how we treat him.
I think that we should consult Agathon and Novius before we allow him to attend the Ludi, where Servius will be executed.", Petronius said, carefully.
"I agree ......but now I must return to the villa, to see that all is in order, and collect Titus and some other guests for the Munera.", Marcus said, rising from his seat, and patting Petronius on the shoulder.
"Good. I will return to the Amphitheater and get things ready.", Petronius said, as they both left the thermopolium.

Qui Munera Et C. Gracchus
Marcus rode back to the villa, accompanied by villa guards.
When he arrived at the villa he found Titus in the Peristyle garden (leading off from his private apartments), sitting with Adonios, and quietly feeding and tickling Glaux.
Not quite what Marcus expected from the fearsome general, who had subdued Judea.
And Marcus was just hoping that Titus had not taken a liking to Adonios in the way that Nymphidius had become infatuated with Petram - something that had subsequently caused no end of trouble.
Regardless, Marcus politely reminded Titus that the Munera was to start soon, and so Glaux flew up and took his usual position on Marcus shoulder, and Titus returned to his suite to change into his parade armour.
Adonios tried to creep away, unnoticed.
"Adonios !", Marcus said sternly.
"Be careful who you get friendly with !", Marcus said.
"Yes, Dominus - I'm sorry - I wasn't thinking.", Adonios replied, and scuttled off to arrange Marcus' clothes.
Marcus then changed into his formal 'legatus' armour, while the boys put on their black and gold tunics.
He then went and collected Demetrius from Petronius' apartment.
Just as before, carriages lined up at the main entrance to the villa, and outriders mounted up, ready to escort the procession.
On this occasion Marcus rode with Titus and Demetrius in the first carriage, and Adonios (with Glux), Aurarius, Terentius and Novius followed in the second carriage, and then numerous other carriages followed.
Only those directly connected to the House of Gracchus, or invited guest were expected to wear mourning, and for many of the citizens of Baiae the event was simply a welcome return to the Games, even if the number of contests was severely limited.
The last proper Games that had taken place in the town were for the Accession of Vespasian (father of Titus) as Emperor, some considerable time before.
That had been a spectacular Games, complete with tableaus, the torture of criminals and executions.
The only reason why this 'munera' was popular, however, was that all four fights were 'ad mortem' (to the death), and so there promised to be not only vicious, hard fought contests, but also four guaranteed and bloody deaths.
And then, of course there were the long awaited Games in thanksgiving for for recovery of the new Dominus, which would take place after the nine days of mourning of the late Dominus.
The carriages arrive at the amphitheater, and the street outside the 'Ingressus Magni' (Grand Entrance) was crowded with town folk, making their way to the other entrances.
There was a respectful silence as Marcus and Titus left their carriage, and mounted the steps that led to the prothyrum (foyer).
Once again there would be an elaborate sacrifice of black bullocks to the Manes, conducted by priest,
but on this occasion the animals were already tethered in the Ludus, garlanded and with their horns gilded, waiting to be led into the arena.
The guests made their way up the grand staircase to the Pulvinar, and as they entered the box, once again there was the blare of tubas (Roman trumpets), and cornu (horns), giving a salute to Marcus and Titus - but on this occasion - no drums.
Note: the word 'pulvinar' originally referred to a cushioned or upholstered seat - later it was used to describe the Imperial Box, to be found in Circuses and Amphitheaters - particularly in Rome. The 'Editors Box' in the Amphitheater of Gracchus was re-designate a 'Pulvinar' for the 'Ludi for the Accession of Vespasian', and it was subsequently enlarged and re-fitted, and given porphyry perfume burners and new drapes.
There was, with the Munera, considerably less solemnity that there had been with the Funeral of the Late Dominus itself.
Munera Gladiators Salute the Guests in the Pulvinar
left to right -  Furtim, Celer, Impavidus, Fortis, Flavis, Peritus, Bellus, Animos 
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Equally, the 'Pompa' (Opening Parade) was a much simpler affair, with a procession of arena slaves, trumpet and horn players, the sacrificial animals, along with the priests and their attendants, and finally the eight young gladiators.
Those eight young Gladiators then lined up in front of the Pulvinar, raised their swords, and shouted in unison, "Ave dominus !" (no - not 'we who are about to die salute you' - that's a myth)
Lucius (Marcus' Latin tutor), then stood forward and gave a superb rendition, in the finest Latin, (with no trace of Marcus' Greek accent) of the eulogy that Marcus had previously read at the funeral of Gracchus.
The priests then began their solemn ritual of sacrifice, before the real sacrifice of four young gladiators took place.
With prayers praising the 'Genius' of Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus, which were intended to placate his spirit, and obtain his blessings and assistance, the bullocks were stunned with a heavy hammer, and their throats cut in front of a temporary altar.
In Roman religion, the 'genius' is the individual instance of a general divine nature that is present in every individual person. The rational powers and abilities of every human being were attributed to their soul, which was a 'genius'. It was extremely important in the Roman mind to propitiate by sacrifice (the blood of the bullocks and the gladiators) the appropriate genii (in this case the genius of the late Gracchus) for the major undertakings and events of their lives - the undertaking on this occasion being Marcus inheriting the position of Dominus of the House of Gracchus (which would technically occur at the end of the period of mourning)..
It was then time for the first pair of gladiators to start fighting - 'ad mortem'.
As these fights were not supposed to be 'partisan contests', all the gladiators wore identical equipment, consisting a protective leather belts for shoulders and belly, and leather metal studded guards for ankles, wrists and neck.
Each also wore a very brief, leather thong, for support, rather than modesty or protection.
Each fighter was armed with a gladius, and a shield of choice, if he so desired - and also a lightweight helmet.
Also, below the Pulvinar, a number of spears and tridents had been rammed, point first, into the sand, so that fighters could change their weapon of choice during the contest.
Because of the identical equipment, and the helmets, it was impossible to tell who was who, apart from the color of the plume on the helmet - although only the guests in the Pulvinar had scrolls which detailed which color referred to which fighter.
The reason for this anonymity was so that the Munera could be seen to be a serious religious event, and not a popular contest, with the audience cheering on one fighter against another - a detail that the late Dominus had omitted from his 'Munera ad Augustum'.
The logic was that the God - in this case the ubiquitous Apollo (the patron of the Divine Octavian Augustus, and now the patron of Octavian Gracchus - Marcus) - would decide who was worthy to die, and offer their blood to the Manes.
INFORMATION - Roman Gladiators' helmets - About 80 per cent, of surviving gladiators' helmets come from the gladiatorial barracks at Pompeii. These helmets appear to provides direct evidence of what an ancient combatant in that arena would have worn, only a few years before the Colosseum's inauguration. Yet it is far too good to be true, - quite literally. Most of the helmets are lavishly decorated, with embossed with figures of barbarians paying homage to the goddess ‘Roma' (the personification of the city), of the mythical strongman Hercules, and with a variety of other more or obviously appropriate scenes. It perhaps fits well with Martial’s emphasis on the arena’s sophisticated play with stories from classical mythology that one of these helmets is decorated with figures of the Muses. It is also extremely heavy. The average weight of the helmets from Pompeii  is about 4-5 kilos, which is about twice that of a standard Roman soldier’s helmet, and the heaviest of these 'gladiatorial' helmets weighs in at an almost ridiculous  7 kilos ! Add to this the fact that none of these items of armour them seem to show any sign of wear and tear - no nasty bash where a sword or a trident came down fiercely, no dent where the shield rolled off and hit the ground. It is hard to resist the suspicion that these magnificent objects were not actually gladiatorial equipment, in regular use, but were, in fact, items of 'parade armour' worn only during the 'pompa', to be replaced by more practical equipment as soon as the fighting started Even the lightweight 'fighting helmets (featured in this section of the 'Story of Gracchus' were not very practical, giving the fighter a very restricted view. In addition, the 'cut' of the helmet - if we are to accept surviving examples, and graphic depictions, makes it very difficult to rotate the head - to look around -  and almost impossible to look down. So, to keep the weight to a reasonable level, the helmets also needed to be made of relatively light 'plate', that usually would not stop a spear or trident thrust (see the Tertium Certamine), or in many cases, even a blow from a gladius.

remember - to view Munera images full size - select an image - open in a new tab - and enlarge as required
In ancient Rome, Munera (Latin plural) were public works provided for the benefit of the Roman people (populus Romanus) by individuals of high status and wealth. The word Munera, (singular munus), significantly means 'duty' or 'obligation', expressing the individual's responsibility to provide a service. Munera were 'duties' or 'obligations' provided by an individual, in contrast to the public 'Ludi', (Games), athletic contests and various spectacles. The most significant of the Munera were the gladiatorial contests, which were staged as a 'service' or 'gift' rendered to the illustrious dead at Funeral Games - as in the case of the 'Mvnera Pro Gracchvs' - which followed shortly after the funeral.

Fortis and Impavidus

First Contest - The first contest was between two evenly matched fighters - one sporting a red plume on his helmet, and the other a black plume.
The red boy, Impavidus, initially took the dominant role, taking the fight vigorously to his opponent, Fortis, whose helmet had a black plume.
Fortis was a little slow, parrying weakly, and soon, realising that he was up against a more skillful opponent,  dodged over to the weapons beneath the Pulvinar, and exchanged his gladius for a spear.
The atmosphere in the arena was strange, as there was little of the cheering, applauding or calling out advice (usually ill-advised) to the seemingly anonymous fighters.
However, when Fortis armed himself with a spear, the audience began to take notice, as the boy now had the distinct advantage of extra reach.
The spear had a metal shaft, rather than wood, so there was no way that Impavidus could simply cut through it, and his only hope was to try and knock the weapon out of his opponent' hand - which was rather difficult, and unlikely.
So Impavidus was unable to get close enough to his opponent to cut or thrust, while Fortis always had the chance to get through the defence of Impavidus' gladius and shield and thrust into him.
As the fight continued Fortis began using his spear two-handed, using the rounded pommel on the butt to smack his opponent, and deflect sword blows.
Impavidus is Hit in the Groin
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Eventually Fortis managed to bring the metal shaft of his spear up between Impavidus' legs, striking him hard in the groin, and crushing his testicles, which bulged in the tiny, tight leather pouch of his thong, between his muscular thighs and his pubic bone.
"Fuck !.... My bollocks !...", Impavidus groaned, as he unintentionally dropped his gladius, and his shield, as both his hands went to his groin to 'cup' his badly damaged balls.
Wanting to ensure that his opponent could not possibly recover, Fortis repeated the move, and once again his spear shaft smashed into Impavidus' unprotected balls, at the same time fracturing three of Impavidus' fingers, as the terrified boy tried to protect his already damaged testicles.
Having had his hands badly injured Impavidus, maybe foolishly, let his hands drop to his sides, giving Fortis a completely unprotected target.
By this time Fortis' cock was straining against the thin, gazelle skin leather of his tiny thong, threatening to force its way out.
In a normal Ludi, having completely incapacitated his opponent Fortis would fuck the boy, (prior to castrating and killing him) while being applauded by the audience.
This, however, was a Munera, and Petronius had made it clear that there was to be no fucking.
There were other ways of raping his opponent, though, so Fortis gave a final blow with the spear shaft to Impavidus' balls, undoubtedly completely mangling the poor boy's bollocks, and leaving the effectively emasculated lad standing, with his knees pulled together, pathetically moaning.
"No more !...", Impavidus mumbled.
"I give !..", but in this fight surrender was not an option the contest was 'ad mortem'.
Impavidus is Speared by Fortis
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Seeing his opponent helpless and defenceless, Fortis lunged forward, thrusting the sharp tip of his spear into Impavidus' lower belly, between his supposedly protective wide leather belt, and the thin leather pouch of his tiny thong.
"Shit !... I'm fuckin' skewered !...." Impavidus shrieked, stating the obvious, as the bloody spear tip protruded well out from his back.
The audience gasped, and the two fighter stood motionless, facing each other - Impavidus with a spear through his abdomen, and poking out of his back, and Fortis, unable to believe his good fortune, simply looking at his opponent, who was grasping at his damaged balls with one hand, and holding onto the spear shaft with the other hand.
Fortis looked up at the Pulvinar, where Petronius gestured impatiently for Fortis to get on with the fight.
Fortis then pulled at his spear, which gradually emerged from Impavidus' body, at the same time gradually causing the badly wounded boy to topple over, forwards, onto the sand, landing on his face.
Impavidus was moaning, and still clutching at his balls, with his backside held high in the air.
"My balls !.. Please !.. My fuckin balls !", Impavidus groaned.
Impavidus is Impaled by Fortis
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
While Peritus and  Animos who was just putting on his helmet - looked on - Fortis carefully aimed his spear, and thrust it between Impavidus' buttocks.
Impavidus' thong was backless, and it was easy to aim for his twitching arse-hole and impale the boy through his anus.
"Fuck !... My fuckin' arsehole !...", Impavidus groaned, raising his backside even higher.
Fortis then guided the spear downwards, so that in emerged at about the same point as the spear had entered the boy's abdomen from the front earlier.
Fortis then continued the thrust, so that the spear tip was driven into the sand, and the wood below, so that the unfortunate Impavidus was pinned to the floor of the arena.
"No ! ... Please !... Help !....", Impavidus screamed, as he squirmed pathetically on the sand.
With his opponent pinned and helpless, Fortis ripped off Impavidus' helmet
Then, taking out his pugio (knife), Fortis bent down and cut away  Impavidus' tiny leather thong.
Immediately, with the leather pouch no longer held in place, Impavidus' meaty prick and his mangled balls swung free.
"Shit !", Impavidus cried out, realizing that he was naked.
"No !... Not that !...", Impavidus then shrieked, realizing that he was probably about to be emasculated.
Fortis then grabbed hold of the young fighters bulky genitals, while Impavidus grabbed at Fortis' hand, trying to prevent himself from losing his 'manhood'.
"Get off  !...", Impavidus screamed, feeling his 'privates' being violently pulled.
Fortis soon put a stop to Impavidus' interference, however, by slicing off a couple of the frantic boy's fingers.
Impavidus then sprayed the sand with piss, in sheer terror.
"Shit !..", Impavidus sobbed, as Fortis pulled down on the helpless boy's genitals, twisting them cruelly as he did so.
Fortis then leisurely cut through the trembling boy's cock-root, as Impavidus squealed.
He then deftly removing the boy's partially erect, dribbling penis, and his bulging scrotum, containing his badly damaged testicles, in one cut.

Impavidus - Emasculated and Impaled
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
"Fuck !....You cunt ! ", Impavidus grunted, with a tone of resignation as he felt the appalling pain as his balls and cock come away from his hairy groin.
Impavidus then knew that he was to die as a pathetic eunuch - with absolutely nothing between his legs !
Fortis then stood over his completely defeated opponent, and held up the moaning boy's severed genitals, showing them to the audience and the guests in the Pulvinar - and was greeted with polite applause.
Fortis then dropped the bloody severed organs onto the sand by Impavidus' face, and picked up his defeated opponent's gladius.
Then with Impavidus gazing in disbelief at his bloody, privates, which were lying on the sand right in front of his face Fortis, who was standing over the groaning boy, thrust the gladius into the upper part of Impavidus' back, effectively piercing the shocked and horrified lad's heart.
Impavidus, in response, grunted, "Cunt !"and blood gushed from his mouth and nostrils, and piss again sprayed onto the sand from the bloody stump that was all that remained of his genitals.
He jerked a few time on the sand, as the spear impaling him jerked obscenely and convulsively, and then lay still - presumed to be dead
The audience applauded - and the first contest of the Munera was ended.

Intervallum I

Interval - Unlike in a normal Ludi, the Munera had no distractions between events.
'Porta Libitinaria'
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Normally there would be jugglers, dancers or 'harioli' (what we would describe as 'clowns', mimicking previous fights or mythological themes), but for a Munera, being a serious and 'religious' event, the audience were left to reflect (possibility on the fragility of mortality), while the arena slaves tidied up Impavidus' corpse, removing the spear from the naked lad's anus, and the sword from his back, in preparation for dragging it by the ankles to the 'Porta Libitinaria' - with its magnificent new gilded bronze gates - so recently installed by the late Dominus.
from Libitina, a Roman goddess of death - Libitina, also Libentina or Lubentina, is an ancient Roman goddess of funerals and burial. Her name was used as a metonymy for death, and undertakers were known as libitinarii. Libitina was associated with Venus, and the name appears in some authors as an epithet of Venus. Libitina is regarded as Etruscan in origin. The name is perhaps derived from Etruscan lupu-, "to die."
The sand in the area, where blood and any other bodily fluids had been shed, was then removed, and new sand was quickly laid and raked.
While the cleanup was underway, with nothing to distract them, the audience were left to discuss quietly the previous contest.
What the audience, or the guests in the Pulvinar did not know was that Impavidus was not dead.
This occasionally happened during the Ludi.
Obviously, if a fighter had his neck broken, his head cut off or his throat cut there could be little doubt that he was dead.
In Impavidus' case, however, the final stroke had been through the back, presumably piercing his heart, and then lodging in the sand.
Fortis, however, was a relatively inexperienced fighter, and had, just by a fraction, missed Impavidus' heart.
Impavidus ' Headless Corpse in the Spolarium
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
When the supposedly dead boy arrived in the Spolarium, where the Libitinari, and his assistants, who were responsible for preparing the corpses of fighters for disposal were waiting, they started to strip the bloody corpse.
The tiny leather thong had already been cut away, when Impavidus had been emasculated, but there were lots of belts and harnesses to be removed.
As they set about their work Impavidus' started groaning, farting, and looking around - obviously still alive, but very seriously injured.
"Fuck !... He's still alive !"..the startled Libitinari said to his colleagues.
"Well.....not for long !...", the Libitinari continued, picking up a large meat-cleaver.
"Sorry, son - but it's better this way !", he said to Impavidus, who was only vaguely aware of what was happening.
"No !", Impavidus grunted as, with one swing from the Libitinari,  the naked and emasculated young gladiator was decapitated, and his severed head placed on the marble slab, alongside the severed genitals.
Marcus and Petronius, of course, luxuriously ensconced in the Pulvinar, and chatting to Titus, were completely unaware of the somewhat gruesome goings on in the Spolarium, but after the Munera the senior libitinari would feel duty bound to report the matter to Petronius - with dire results for Fortis.
Fortis, however, was equally unaware of what had happened to his erstwhile opponent, and was quite happily making his way through the massive 'Porta Sanavivaria' (Gate of Life) - recently remodeled by the late Dominus.

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Peritus and Celer

Second Contest - The second contest was between Celer (wearing a yellow plume in his helmet) and
Peritus - Watching
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Peritus (wearing a pale blue plume in his helmet).
Pertius, by his very name was considered to be a skilled and experienced fighter, while Celer was renowned for his agility.
None of the lads, who were fighting in the Munera, had been expecting to see the row of spears and tridents, driven vertically into the sand, and apparently available as weapons for the fighters.
The only problem was the need to get over to where they were - while fending off one's opponent
It was obvious to those who had been observing the first fight that Impavidus had not realised that those supernumerary weapons were available, and that his defeat, mutilation and apparent death was undoubtedly caused by Fortis exchanging his gladius for a spear - and skillfully using the spear against Impavidus' gladius.
So when Celer took his place, as marked out by the arena-slaves, in front of Peritus, his obvious intention was to get to a spear or trident as quickly as possible.
Of course Peritus had very much the same idea, but being more experienced he realised that there was an inherent danger in breaking his defence to swap weapons.
In the case of the previous contest, Impavidus had been completely taken by surprise when Fortis had dodged to one side to get the spear, but in this fight both boys knew that such a maneuver was a distinct possibility.
The contest opened with circling and feinting moves, as both fighters attempted to slowly approach to where the additional weapons were invitingly placed.
Right from the beginning, Peritus had a problem because Celer used his gladius in his left hand.
In case you're wondering, this little ruse - the 'extra' weapons - had been the rather sneaky idea of Petronius, who was concerned that without some additional attraction (what we would describe today as a 'gimmick'), the Munera would be in danger of being a somewhat predictable and boring affair , and would possibly fall flat with the audience. Petronius particularly wanted to maintain interest in the arena among the townspeople of Baiae and the wealthy visitors to the resort, so that attendance would be good for the Ludi which would follow the nine days period of mourning.
Soon the atmosphere in the arena became very tense, as the two young fighters repeatedly moved towards the area close to the Pulvinar, where the additional weapons stood, and then, in a flurry of parries and feints, moved away.
It was inevitable that eventually one or other of the lads would make a break, and grab one of the spears or a trident.
Celer Loses his Hand
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Finally it happened, and Celer took the chance, dropping his gladius (not a move to be advised), and reaching out for one of the spears.
Unfortunately, for Celer, he had inadvertently 'telegraphed' (of course the Romans did not have telegraphs - so perhaps 'signalled' is better) his intention to his experienced opponent.
It was so fast that many in the audience missed it, but 'eagle eyed', Petronius - used to action in the arena, saw it coming - and nudged Marcus.
As Celer reached out, grabbing  a spear, Peritus lunged forward, sweeping his gladius downwards at the same time.
The gladius instantly sliced through Celer's wrist, severing it neatly, (and very accurately), just above the boy's metal studded leather wrist band.
"SHIT !...", Celer squealed, his cry echoing across the arena, as the spear, with his severed hand still grasping it, fell to the sand.
Immediately blood starting spurting from the boy's severed wrist, and Celer dropped his shield, and grabbed at his mutilated stump.
Celer's position was now completely hopeless (and now you know why these fighters almost always wear metal studded wrist guards - but they are not always effective.).
The stupid boy, in an attempt to arm himself more effectively than his opponent, now found himself totally unarmed - and completely unable to defend himself - even with his hands - or fists.
His left hand was clamped to his right wrist to try and control the bleeding from his right arm, which had no hand.
Peritus then dropped his shield, which he no longer needed, and strode up to his blubbering opponent.
After cutting off Celer's right hand, Peritus pulled up Celer's arms, (which were still locked together, as Celer was gripping with all his might onto his mutilated wrist to try and control the bleeding).
Celer was now quite helpless - with only one hand, which he was using it to try and staunch the bleeding from his mutilated wrist, and he was unable to defend himself in any way.
Peritus had decided to disembowel Celer, but before his did that he decided to well and truly disable the terrified boy.
Celer is Kneed Four Times in the Balls
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
To do this Peritus kneed the helpless lad in the balls a number of times.
Because Celer was wearing a triple silver ring round the base of his cock and ball-bag (in order to make the bulge in his thong more prominent - another of Petronius' ideas), the unfortunate lad's bollocks had nowhere to go when Peritus' knee came up, as they were pushed forward in front of his thighs.
They thus made a perfect target, and Peritus kneed Celer so hard that both testicles were completely ruptured, effectively making the poor lad a eunuch.
"Shit !... my fuckin' bollocks !" Celer squealed as he felt his balls burst and turn to mush.
Celerwas then completely helpless, and was unable to grab at what little was left of his 'manhood', or even sink to his knees as as Peritus was holding him up by his left arm.
Peritus was then handed a gladius by one of the watching gladiators, and began the process of disemboweling young Celer.
NOTE: Ruptured testicles can, in some cases, result in death if not immediately treated, (so do not try this at home). The Romans, however, had no means of treating such injuries - so Celer was, in fact, fatally injured - and also, technically castrated, and therefore a eunuch. Equally, disembowelling will inevitably result in death - again if not treated immediately. In the arena, however, any contest was required to end in the dismissal or death of the defeated fighter at the end of the contest, so the kind of injuries that Celer had suffered were quickly brought to an end with either throat cutting or decapitation.
Celer is Disemboweled
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Peritus then thrust the gladius (but not deeply) into the lower part of Celer's abdomen, cutting through the waistband of Celer's leather thong as he did so.
"Fuck !..." Celer grunted, looking down at his pierced belly.
The thong partially dropped away, exposing the boy's neatly trimmed 'bush', and then dropped away completely, exposing Celer's meaty prick and and his now appallingly swollen ballsack.
Peritus then very slowly pulled the gladius upwards.
It was a perfect disemboweling cut - obviously made by an expert swordsman.
Celer, started grunting, and his slashed belly heaved and twitched, and then suddenly his intestines started to slither out of his belly cavity as he sank to his knees.
"Oh ....Shit !...I can't fuckin' stop it !", Celer groaned in terror.
It wasn't clear to the othre fighters watching him if he meant stopping the flow of blood from his wrist, or stopping his guts from sliding out of his slashed belly.
The poor boy stood looking at his colleagues, as if pleading for help, as he moved from one foot to the other, almost as if he were contemplating trying to run from the arena.
A gesture from Petronius in the Pulvinar indicated that he wanted the young gladiator's helmet removed - as the audience appreciated seeing the expression on the faces of fighters in their final agonized moments.
Celer Disembowelled
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
By then Celer, appalled by the pain in his belly -  the pain fom his darkening and swelling ballbag,
and the pain from his mutilated arm, had decided to try to stuff his guts back inside himself.
As he desperately, and with only one hand, tried to push his slimy, smelly guts back into his belly, he gave no resistance as Peritus roughly pulled off his helmet.
"You cunt !"Celer screamed as his legs buckled, and  he ended up kneeling on the sand, screaming, as blood dribbled from his mouth onto his chest.
At the same time the naked lad lost control of himself, and emptied his bladder onto his severed hand, which was lying on the sand in front of him.
He then started to fart, noisily voiding what was left of the contents of his bowels.
The other gladiators, and arena-slaves, stood around watching Celer screaming, urinating and noisily defecating on the sand, and waited for a further sign from Petronius that the naked, pain-crazed boy should be 'finished off'.
Once Petronius thought that the audience had their fill of watching the pathetic boy trying to prevent his guts from sliding out of his slit belly, he gave the sign to Peritus.
Peritus, who was decidedly 'horny' in his tiny leather thong, (a regular result of the excitement of defeating and killing an opponent), then walked behind the kneeling squealing boy, grabbed his hair, and pulled Celer's head back.
"No !.... Please !...Fuck - NO ! " Celer gurgled, spraying blood from his mouth as he cried out, but it was no use as, with one deft cut, Peritus  sliced open the naked, disemboweled boy's neck.
"Cunt !", Celer, gurgled as he convulsed in a gush of frothing blood.

'Porta Sanavivaria'
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
As he died, the blood gushed from his neck, nose and mouth, while the twitching boy sprayed even more piss over the arena sand from his cock, which had now, in his final moments, become obscenely stiff and hard.
Now, firmly holding onto his huge, engorged cock, the dying, and now inappropriately 'horny'  boy keeled over to his right, (quite incapable of fucking anything) - and flopped down onto the sand.
"I wanna cum !....". Celer gurgled, spraying blood from his mouth onto the sand.
The other gladiators, watching, laughed, knowing the boy was in his final moments.
And those were Celer's last words.......
Moments later he trembled violently, gasped and was dead.
(While Celer had technically been, castrated - having had both testicles completely crushed - [ruptured] - he at least was able to leave the arena with his genitals - and symbolically, his 'manhood', apparently intact)
Peritus faced the Pulvinar, and raised his gladius.
Petronius waved in appreciation, and an arena slave accompanied the victorious Peritus, as he strode out of the arena to the massive 'Porta Sanavivaria' (Gate of Life).
Meanwhile, arena slaves had the unpleasant task of shoveling up Celer's bloody, stinking bowels and shit, and recovering the boy's severed hand, and dragging the now naked but still 'horny' corpse,  to the Spolarium.
As young Celer was dragged by his ankles from the arena, he was still tightly gripping his stiff cock, as if to show the the audience that, even in death, he was still virile.
Once most of the traces of the fight had been removed, arena-slaves sprinkled fresh sand, in readiness for the next contest.
Celer in the Spolarium
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Like all the gladiators who were killed in the arena, Celer was dragged by his ankles, through the Porta Libitinaria, and taken to the Spoliarium.
There a careful check was made to ensure that he was actually dead - but with his throat slit open, and his guts hanging out of his belly that was hardly required.
All the dead gladiators were placed on a marble slab when they arrived in Spoliarium, and then totally stripped of any clothing or armour that they had been wearing in the arena.
Because Agathon - the physician for the Ludus, (and often some of his students), would want to see the bodies, and possibly dissect them, the bodies were always washed and 'tidies up'.
In this case, word had been sent down that Petronius himself wished to inspect the corpse of Celer.
Celer had been a particular favorite of Petronius (although nothing had passed between them) - but he wished to take a last look at the good looking boy before the body was given its 'last rites'.
Being a death resulting from a Munera, rather that a Ludi, Celer, along with the other gladiators defeated during Gracchus' Munera, would be cremated.
Celer was laid out on a slab, with his guts still protruding (before the cremation his belly, and the wound in his neck would be sewn up by one of Agathon's assistants).
The suffering that young Celer had endured was visibly etched on his face, and Petronius was unhappy about the outcome of this particular fight.

Intervallum II

Interval - "That was an excellent fight !", Titus said enthusiastically to Marcus.
"That boy Peritus is a real expert with a gladius, and also knows how to 'keep his head' - in both senses of the word." Tiitus continued.
"Well you can put that down to Petronius - he's the one responsible for the fighters in the arena.
I'm not really an expert.
I just come up with the money - and, occasionally, some of the ideas.", Marcus explained, modestly.
"And tell me,", Titus continued, "this scroll which gives details about the Munera - how is it that all the boys have Latin names ?",
"Well, we have a custom here, begun by the late Dominus, of giving most of the villa slaves Greek names, and the Amphitheater slaves Roman names.
As you can probably see, a number of today's fighters are Greeks - fair hair and blue eyes, - but we still give them Roman names."
At the present time most Greeks are relatively short, with black hair and swarthy complexions. This is due to the influx of Turks, Arabs and Anatolians and people from the Levant. The original Greeks - the Dorians and Achaeans were fair haired, pale skinned, and blue eyed. In Roman times most Greek slaves were tall and fair, - unlike the way they are inaccurately portrayed in most movies and TV series, as short and dark. Marcus' Greek slaves, and also Cleon [now dead] are all fair haired.
While Marcus and Titus were talking, during the interval between the fights, an arena slave arrived in the Pulvinar with a message for Petronius.
It was, of course, from the Libitinari, to explain about Fortis 'bungling' the killing of Impavidus.
Petronius scowled, and gave the order for Fortis to be confined to a cell in the Ludus.
Before Marcus could ask Petronius what the problem was, the next contest was announced.

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Animos and Flavis 

© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Third Contest - Animos (wearing a green plume) was to face Flavis (wearing an orange plume) (so named after his fair hair - a Greek boy - see above).
After watching the previous contest, both the fighters were in two minds about attempting to exchange their gladius or shield for a weapon with a longer reach.
Celer - losing his right hand; being made helpless, and then being brutally defeated - had been shocking and a clear warning.
However, the thought of having a far longer reach, and being able to avoid an opponent's thrusting gladius was very enticing.
And so the fight began, and continued, very much along the lines of the previous fight between Celer and Peritus, with circling and feinting moves, as both fighters attempted to position themselves close to where the additional weapons were placed.
Eventually Flavis managed to dodge forward and; dropping his shield, he grabbed a trident.
Now a trident was usually used by a Retiarius - a type of arena fighter (often referred to erroneously as a type of 'gladiator' - although gladiators, by definition [gladiator is Latin for 'swordsman'] fight with swords).
The late Dominus did not favour the Retiarius, and they rarely appeared in the amphitheater in Baiae.
Young Retiarius
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2014
A retiarius (plural retiarii; literally, "net-man" or "net-fighter" in Latin) was a fighter who fought with equipment styled on that of a 'fisherman' ?: a weighted net (rete, hence the name), a three-pointed trident (fuscina or tridens), and a dagger (pugio). The retiarius was lightly armoured, wearing an arm guard (manica) and a shoulder guard (galerus). Typically, his clothing consisted only of a loincloth held in place by a belt.  He wore no head protection or footwear (in fact modern research indicates that almost no arena fighters wore footwear) . The retiarius' reliance on evasive tactics meant that many considered the retiarius the lowliest (and most effeminate) of an already stigmatised (i.e. arena fighter) class. Interestingly, the more skin left unarmoured and exposed, the greater his perceived effeminacy - and so the mainly un-armoured fighters who appeared in the 'Amphitheatro Gracchi' were perceived as somewhat effeminate, but this was consistent with their youth, as they were presented as 'ephebes', which appealed to the tastes of the philhellene patricians - mainly from Rome - who patronised these particular Games.
And so Flavis was now armed with a gladius and a trident, while his opponent, Animos had a gladius and a shield.
The ensuing battle, with Flavis' trident crashing against Animos's shield, and both fighters' swords making thrusts and counter swings produced an exciting, noisy and, for both fighters, an exhausting fight.
Eventually, it became a question of who would tire first, and who would lose concentration, and make the crucial mistake that would end in a possibly fatal thrust.
Because the trident was rarely used in the 'Amphitheatro Gracchi', a fighter such as Animos had little experience of how the weapon was used.
Flavis, the Greek boy, had fought in the amphitheater in Corinth, and he was very familiar with how the trident should be used.
It was in Corinth that Gracchus had first spotted the boy, on one of his many visits to his estates in Greece. He had instantly taken a fancy to the good-looking blond boy, and had sent Terentius to negotiate a price with the boy's Lanista. As usual, Gracchus had got his way, being able to offer a sum well above the boy's apparent market value. The Greek lanista thought that he had, once again, 'taken a Roman for a ride', but in fact Gracchus had been the winner, getting a fine looking boy, who would eventually become the 'darling of the arena'. Petronius had chosen the boy for this Munera as he was almost certain that the boy would put on an excellent show, and was almost guaranteed to win, considering his greater experience and skill.
One useful, but usually non-lethal move with the trident was the 'sweep', where the but end of the trident, which was over two meters long, was tucked under the right arm, which held onto the shaft, and was brought round in a semi-circle, parallel to, but slightly above the level of the sand, in a 'sweeping' movement.
The idea was to catch one's opponent's ankles, and sweep him off his feet.
Animos had never seen this 'move' before - and didn't see it coming when Flavis decided to use it, and he was painfully knocked off his feet, landing on his back and, in the confusion, dropped his gladius.
Immediately Flavis kicked away the gladius, well out of Animos' reach.
Animos, on his hands and knees, scrambled after the weapon, and for his pains got kicked up the backside by Flavis.
Animos sprawled forwards, hitting the crest of his helmet had on the arena wall.
Animos was now right below the Pulvinar, and Marcus. Titus and Petronius all stood up and leaned over the balcony, straining to see what was happening.
Animos, stunned after hitting his head, righted himself, and ended up sitting, with his legs spread, and with his back against the arena wall.
Castration of Animos
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Then the inevitable happened, and Flavis rammed his trident into Animos' exposed groin.
"Shit ! My fuckin' balls !...." Animos squealed, sharply bringing his legs together, which caused him even more pain, so he spread them once again.
"No !.... Please don't !...", the terrified boy pleaded, as Flavis removed the three tines (points) of the trident.
The barbed tines ripped away Animos skimpy thong, revealing his bloody, mutilated genitals, and the rapidly growing pool of blood between the groaning boy's legs.
Death of Animos
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Flavis then took one step back, and then lunged forwards, ramming the Trident into the faceguard of Animos' helmet.
The thin metal of the face-guard became bloodied and mangled and snapped, and gave way, and the tines crunched into the bones of Animos' skull, taking out one of his eyes and pushing up into his nose in the process, and finally penetrating into his brain.
Animos shrieked, and his arms and legs started convulsing and jerking, and blood spurted out, and gushed down his body, drenching his quivering chest and heaving belly and dribbling down into his thick, dark pubic 'bush'.
At the same time the skewered boy, whose arms had dropped limply by his sides, and was probably already dead, noisily emptied his bowels onto the sand and pissed.
Flavis released the trident, leaving it still penetrating this defeated opponent's mangled face.
The butt of the trident dropped down onto the sand between the dead boy's legs, pulling Animos' helmeted and mangled face forward onto his chest.
Flavis then stepped back and looked up at the guests on the Pulvinar ,who were all clapping enthusiastically
Flavis then picked up his gladius and saluted.
Titus turned to Marcus and Petronius.
"A magnificent show !", he exclaimed, approvingly, and smiled benignly.

Intervallum III

Interval - The arena-slaves then had the difficult job of removing Animos' corpse from the arena.
The trident was firmly wedged into the boy's skull, and was also caught in the twisted metal of the faceguard of the helmet.
It was impossible to take the helmet off the mutilated lad while the trident was still embedded in the boy's face.
Slowly the arena-slaves prised away the pieces of the metal grill that were entangled round the tines of the trident.
Finally they were able to pull the trident from the boy's head, and then remove the battered helmet, revealing the awful injuries that the unfortunate lad has sustained.
The trident was then wiped clean, and rammed back into the sand, beside the other weapons.
Animos' feet were then bound with stout rope, and his practically naked corpse was dragged across the arena to the 'Porta Libitinaria'.
Meanwhile, young Flavis, bareheaded. and with his golden hair gleaming in the sun, was escorted by an arena-slave to the slowly opening bronze gates of the 'Porta Sanavivaria', while the audience applauded.

remember - to view Munera images full size - select an image - open in a new tab - and enlarge as required

Ultimum Certamen - Furtim and Bellus

Bellus - Arena Slave
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2014
Fourth and Last Contest - The two fighters appearing in the final contest of the Munera were Furtim (wearing a pink plume) and Bellus (wearing a purple plume)
(As it happens, there is also a very attractive arena-slave called 'Bellus', who is young and blonde, and who first appeared at the 'Munera ad Augustum' - he was originally a Greek captive - 'Bellus' means attractive or 'cute'. As far as anyone knows, they are not related, as the names were given to each slave by the late Dominus).
These two final fighters faced a dilemma.
They had each witnessed the previous contests, and had seen two of the fighters choose to use the additional weapons that would give them the advantage of a greater reach.
One fighter, in an attempt to obtain such an advantage, had lost his hand, and the fight, and had been emasculated and killed.
The other fighter had been successful, and had managed to disable his opponent, and then kill him with the trident that he had acquired.
The question was - what to do ?
Fight normally and rely on the gladius - or take a chance ?
Because of this dilemma, the two fighters spent much of the time simply maneuvering to ensure that their opponent was unable to get anywhere near the additional spears and tridents.
This, however, did not make for a very interesting contest.
Eventually Bellus decided not to bother trying to get to the additional weapons lodged by the arena wall, and launched a furious attack on Furtim.
Furtim, who had somewhat relaxed into the 'ballet' of circling round the area where the spears and tridents were placed, was taken unawares, and was unable to adequately defend himself.
Almost immediately Bellus made a thrust at Furtim's groin, with the intention of 'unmanning' him.
Furtim, however, responded with a counter thrust.
Bellus' had a fraction of a second's advantage, and his gladius pierced Furtim.
Bellus Wounds Furtim in the Belly
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2014
However, in an attempt to escape Furtim's counter, Bellus missed his intended mark, and caught Furtim in the lower belly, ripping through the waistband of his opponent's leather thong, and plunging deep into Furtim's vitals.
"Fuck !", Furtime screamed - and his thrust toward Bellus went well wide of its mark,
At the same time, Bellus pulled his gladius up, slicing through Furtim's thong, and his lower belly, and cutting into his wide leather harness.
The cut was much deeper than would be normally used for a disemboweling, and it sliced through Furtims' small bowel.
"Shit !.... My fuckin' belly !", Furtim groaned.
Instantly he felt his guts lose the support of his abdominal muscles, and fearing the he would suffer disembowelment, he dropped his gladius, and using both hands, attempted to prevent the vertical cut in his belly from opening.
"Shit....No !... Help...!", Furtim groaned, as he slowly sank to his knees, while Bellus removed Furtim's helmet.
Seeing that his opponent was helpless, Bellus discarded his gladius, and drew his knife.
Bellus then went up to the boy, and roughly pulled away what was left of the groaning lad's leather thong.
The tiny leather support dropped away onto the sand, leaving poor Furtim 'bollock-naked'.
Bellus then grabbed hold of the distraught, terrified boy's bulky scrotum
"No!...", Furtim grunted, "Not my fuckin' bollocks !..." but young Bellus ignored Furtim's pathetic pleas, and deftly stretched and twisted his helpless opponent's balls, while Furtim squealed in agony.
While Marcus was not entirely approving of this somewhat sexual element in the Munera - and Petronius had told the fighters not to indulge in any sexual activity as part of presentation, it was overlooked, as it was seen as simply a display of the absolute defeat of the fighter in question.
"No !.. Don't pull them !", Furtim squealed, obviously referring to his testicles.
To complete the humiliation, Bellus then cut off Furtim's hefty, shaved scrotum in one cut.
"Fuck !... My bollocks !..... My fuckin' bollocks " Furtim groaned, as he was skillfully castrated by his youthful antagonist.
Bellus then casually dropped the severed balls in front of his horrified opponent.
By then Furtim was sitting on the sand, propped up against the arena wall, and looking down at the blood pumping rhythmically from his slashed, gaping belly and obscenely mutilated groin.
Bellus then went over to the Furtim again,
Furtim - Castrated and Diusembowelled
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2017
"No !... Please !", Furtim pathetically pleaded.
Bellus ignored his heftier and older opponent, and rammed Furtim's own gladius into the helpless Fighter's' bulging, mutilated  belly.
"You cunt .... Bellus !....", Furtim grunted, as the gladius went right through him, with the tip buried in the sand.
And those were the last words that Furtim ever spoke......
While the audience applauded.... naked, disembowelled and castrated Furtim, sat leaning heavily against the arena wall, uncontrollably pissing on the sand, and staring at nothing, as he rapidly lost blood.
Then finally Furtim grunted..... noisily voided his bowels, and toppled over to one side - dead.
Handsome young Bellus (well named), then raised his bloody dagger in salute to the guests in the Pulvinar - and was escorted to the 'Porta Sanavivaria', as the audience quietly applauded.
Subsequently Furtim's mutilated corpse was dragged by the ankles across the arena sands to the  'Porta Libitinaria', and arena-slaves busied themselves removing the gladius from the corpse, collecting the severed testicles, shoveling up the fouled and bloody sand, and relaying fresh sand - suitably raked to leave no visible sign of the previous fight.

'Pugna Logos' for the 'Munera' adapted and reproduced with permission
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2017
Original art work by 'ruslahka' - see:

for more information about 'real gladiators' go to


Conclusion - The arena was then ready for the priests to make their final prayers of thanksgiving for a successful Munera, and a final offering of incense to the Manes.
Then Marcus and Titus rose to leave - and the entire audience, and the guests in the Pulvinar rose also, out of respect.
The special guests then left the Pulvinar, and the audience, talking quietly about the afternoon's extraordinary events, left the amphitheater, while Petronius busied himself arranging for slaves to provide refreshments for Marcus' guests before the drive back to the villa.


On arrival at the Villa, the guests retired for a brief period to wash, and then change their clothes.
Meanwhile, in the banqueting hall the 'Epulum' had been prepared, under the watchful eye of Nerva and the 'Epulones'
The Epulum (also referred to as the Lectisternium) was a sumptuous ritual feast and propitiatory ceremony offered to Jupiter. The ritual, like much in the Roman religion, is considered to be of Etruscan origin. The gods were formally invited, and attended and were represented by their busts or statues, or by portable figures of wood, with heads of bronze, wax or marble, and covered with drapery. Fine food was served, as if they were able to eat. The priests, designated as 'Epulones', or 'Masters of the Feast', organized and carried out the ritual, and acted as "gastronomic proxies" in eating the food on behalf of the gods. The other guests, of course, ate and enjoyed the feast as usual.

Meanwhile, at the same time as the Epulum was well underway, in the Spolarium, in the Ludus attached to the Amphitheater, the corpses of the four fighters who had died during the Munera were being prepared to disposal.
Unlike the corpses of fighters, and those executed during a normal Ludi - whose bodies were simply weighted and tossed into the sea from one of the cliffs bordering the Villa Gracchi, the bodies of those who had been sacrificed to the 'Manes' were required, by religious ritual, to be given proper funeral rites, and a cremation.
Cremation at the Villa Gracchi
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
The Libitinarii (see above 'Prima Certamine'), in the Ludi, therefore busied themselves washing the bodies, reattaching any severed limbs or organs (otherwise the 'shade' would enter the afterlife mutilated), and sewing up all the wounds.
Each body was then wrapped in a clean, white cotton shroud, and a coin was placed in the mouth for Charun (another Etruscan custom).
The cremation of the bodies took place on the same evening as the Munera, in the grounds of the Villa Gracchi, with an appropriate sacrifice (black dogs), and libations of wine and incense - all organised by the ever busy Petronius, and supervised by Novius, both of whom thus missed part of the Epulum.
Three of the boys, Peritus, Flavis, and Bellus, who had survived the Munera, attended the cremation, respectfully 'kitted out' by Petronius in black mourning tunics.
One of the boys, Fortis, did not attend, as he was being held in a cell in the Ludus, as he had failed to actually dispatch his opponent Impavidus, (who had to be 'finished-off' in the Spolarium).
Impavidus was awaiting a decision by Marcus as to whether he was to be punished for his mistake, and if so, what form his punishment would take.
The 'advantage', to a slave fighter, of competing in a Munera was that, despite being killed in public in an often humiliating, and excruciatingly painful manner, the fighter would be given a proper Roman funeral which, while not elaborate, would probably be far more ritually correct, and, in Roman terms, effective than the funeral of most free plebeians, and it would certainly be better than simply having his mutilated and dismembered body, weighted with stones in a sack, thrown off a cliff into the sea - which was the fate of most of those individuals who died in the arena.
Romans believed that those who were not given a ritually correct funeral would wander endlessly as mutilated haunting spirits, while those who underwent the proper rituals would enter the 'afterlife'.
Thanatos - God of Death
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
The Afterlife: It was believed that the dead, after receiving the correct rituals at death, would go before three judges, Minos, Rhadamanthos and Aeacus, and would be asked for account of their life. After making the account, the dead would be given the water of the 'River Lethe', the river of forgetfulness, and one of five Rivers in the Underworld. The dead individual would then be sent to the 'Elysian Fields' (a version of paradise) if they had been a warrior or hero, or to the 'Plain of Asphodel', if they had been a good citizen, where they would continue to live a good life as a 'shade' or, if they had led an evil life, they would be sent to Tartarus, where the evil doer would punished by the Furies until their debt to society had been paid. Dis, the ruler of the underworld could, on occasions, send an individual back to live again, especially if the deceased was unjustly murdered (this could apply to Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus). Dis, while he is God of the Underworld, is not the God of Death. He does not decide who lives and dies. Instead, this is determined by the Three Fates. However, Dis does dispatch the god of death, Thanatos, to do his duty. 
Titus Discessu

The Departure of Titus - The day after the Munera, and late in the morning, Titus informed Marcus that he would have to leave, as he was required in Rome.
Titus was effusive in his thanks for Marcus' hospitality, and lavish in his praise of the Munera.
He promised that he would return after Marcus' period of mourning, and asked Marcus to arrange for Terentius to start looking for some suitable land, as he was intent on building a 'sea-side' holiday villa at Baiae.
Titus explained to Marcus that he was particularly interested in seeing the next Ludi that Marcus was to present, and that after the Ludi he would be honoured to escort Marcus, and his suite, back to Rome, where Marcus would be introduced to his father, Vespasian, and would be inducted into the Senate.

Funere Aristonis

The Death of Ariston
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
The Funeral of Ariston - Ariston was the personal slave-boy of Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus.
On the morning of Gracchus' funeral the young boy had hung himself in his cubiculum, which was next to Gracchus' private apartments.
When Marcus was informed, he was deeply troubled, as he felt partly responsible for the young boy's death.

© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
After the death of Gracchus everyone seemed to have forgotten about Ariston, and he was left in his cubiculum to mourn his master's death alone, and seemingly friendless.
Undoubtedly Ariston had loved his master.
Whether this love had been reciprocated by Gracchus was not known.
Gracchus had personal slave-boys before Ariston.
Procuratoris Terentius
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Although it was not widely known, Terentius, when he was a boy, had been Gracchus' personal slave.
When he grew older, Gracchus had freed him, and he eventually became Gracchus' Senior Freedman, and eventually, on the death of Gracchus, he was promoted to 'Excelsum Procuratoris ad nobilium domos Gracchi' (High Steward of the Noble House of the Gracchus).
Tribune Petronius
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Equally, Petronius, when he was a pretty young blonde boy, had been Gracchus' personal slave.
Although never freed by Gracchus, Gracchus later used him in the Amphitheater, and then gave him to Marcus, on Marcus' adoption.
Subsequently Marcus had freed Petronius, promoting him, on the death of Gracchus, to 'Tribunus et Dominus Amphitheatro ex nobilissima domos Gracchi' (Commanding Officer and Master of the Amphitheater to the Noble House of Gracchus).
Neither Terentius nor Petronius ever gave any indication of the true nature of their relationship with their beloved master - and not even Marcus was privy to that information.
Equally, as to the actual nature of Ariston's relationship with Gracchus, there was no information.
Of course, in later times, particularly under the odious influence of Christianity, suicide was seen as a sin (?), and Christians refused to give suicides the supposed benefits of a Christian burial.
In the time of our story, suicide is usually seen as a heroic and noble act.
Ariston was deemed to have acted in a way that was above his relatively menial station, by preferring to end his life, rather that continuing, and being unable to serve his master, Gnaeus.
Of course Ariston could not kill himself in the approved, 'patrician' manner, by slitting his wrists, as bladed weapons were not allowed anywhere near the apartments of the Dominus, but the boy had managed to acquire some stout rope, tied it to a ceiling beam, and after putting a noose round his neck, had stepped off his bed - into the next world.
Partly for this reason, Marcus was determined to give Ariston a fine funeral to in some way, make up for the way he believed that he had 'neglected' the boy after the death of Gracchus, and to show that in death, Ariston had achieved the 'freedom' that he had never possessed while he was alive.
Ariston's Coffin
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
For this reason Ariston was to be given a funeral that would be appropriate for a free, Roman citizen, and his death was to be recorded as such, with a posthumous grant of freedom from Marcus.
For that reason, the boy's ashes would be later housed in the yet to be built 'Mausoleum of the Gracchi'- not as part of the family - but as an honoured freedman and servant.
On the day of the boy's death a fine wooden coffin had been ordered from Neapolis, and logs, incense and wine had been obtained locally.
Ariston's coffin was of carved wood, painted white - in imitation of white marble, depicting a scene of cupids surrounding an empty chair - the empty chair being the chair of the Dominus - with two representations of the seal of Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus. Terentius had been ordered to 'throw money' at the project, as the coffin had to be completed by the evening when the funeral would take place.
Ariston's Funeral
© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Ariston's corpse had been duly prepared, and lightly embalmed, so that it would be fresh for the funeral.
The body had been kept in the atrium of Gracchus' private apartments on a fine, gilded bronze couch, and was available for members of the household to view in order to offer prayers, and pay their respects.
On the day of Ariston's funeral, after Titus had left for Rome, Marcus had spent some considerable time locked away in the atrium, desperately trying to make amends, with prayers and supplications to the Gods, for what he believed to be his neglect of the young boy.
In the early evening the beautiful white coffin containing the body of Ariston was carried into the Amphitheater.
There were no trumpets or horns, but Marcus had allowed the boy the remarkable privilege of having drums beating as he entered the arena through the huge, gilded bronze doors.
On many occasions Ariston had accompanied his master to the same amphitheater, where he had waited in the background, always ready to serve, while the Ludi took place.
Now, for the first time, he was actually on the sand of the arena - his body being placed on the funeral pyre set before the Pulvinar.
Then the sacrifice of two black dogs was made by the priests of Apollo, and incense was burned and prayers were said to propitiate the spirit of the dead boy, and ease his journey to the afterlife where hopefully, he would meet, and continue to serve his master.
Ariston, like most slaves, had no known family, and therefore, no one to light the pyre - so Marcus, as a special honour to the faithful boy, and much to the surprise of the guests (Petronius, Terentius, Novius, Nicander, Demetrius, Adonios, Aurarius, and of course, little Glaux) left the Pulvinar and, taking the flaming brand form a very startled arena-slave, thrust the torch into the resin soaked logs, setting the whole edifice alight.
Marcus then returned to the Pulvinar, and watched as one of the few slaves close to Gracchus and himself, who had not been involved in the conspiracy, was consigned to the afterlife.
Then something strange happened...
Glaux took flight, and soared up into the perfumed smoke over the burning pyre.
'An omen ?', Marcus asked Novius.
'Of course, Dominus. 
The little bird goes to guide the faithful boy to his master !".
And, after circling the pyre three times, Glaux, unharmed, fluttered back, and landed surprisingly daintily on Marcus' shoulder - smelling of the incense offered to the God.
With the cremation of Ariston - all that was left then was the 'Novem dies luctus' (see above).

Novem Dies Luctus

Marcus had rightly allowed the 'Nine Days of Sorrow' to cover the death of Gnaeus Gracchus and Ariston.
Once those nine days had passed, then rapid and real preparations could be made for the next Ludi (Games), which seemed to have been endlessly postponed by the various unforeseen and unfortunate events that had engulfed the House of Gracchus.
Most importantly, that Ludi would include the executions of Glykon, Petram, Servius and Menelaus, which hopefully, along with the Munera,would placate the spirit of the late Dominus, and bring to a fitting conclusion the events that had begun so long ago, after the death of Emperor Nero.
All that would then be left, would be the construction of the 'Mausoleo Domus de Gracchi', and the eventual internment of the ashes of the late Dominus, the four sacrificed Munera fighters and, of course, Ariston.

'and the story continues - 

After the Munera for Gnaeus Octavian Gracchus, the House of Gracchus observes (outwardly) 'Novem dies luctus' (the Nine Days of Sorrow).
However, the Ludus is a hive of industry, as Petronius makes furious preparations for the long awaited 'Ludi ad Celebra Recuperatione Marcus'.
And so, Marcus prepares to takes his revenge on the four remaining conspirators - and, just like Octavian, (his namesake), with the 'Liberatores' (Brutus and the rest) - Marcus' revenge is to be terrible.

    go to the link below to continue the story

© Copyright Vittorio Carvelli 2016
Chapter XXXII
(The Revenge of Marcus)

warning: this chapter features nudity, extreme violence and explicit language and sexuality, in images and text - do not view if you may be offended


  1. I think the names get reversed in mid story, putting the spear briefly in the hands of Impavidus and describing Fortis as "sobbing." It's a good clean description of the fight, otherwise. Eager to see the pictures.

  2. There's still one reversal of names with Fortis sobbing and Impavidus cutting through his cock root. I really like this short episode for letting the reader seem to be present on the sand of the arena itself -- in just a few hundred words Fortis finds a way to turn the odds in his favor and Impavidus panics and loses his cool along with everything else. In a few hundred words the boys become "real" for me and I wonder what their lives were like up to this point. Marcus' decision to update the form of the Munera was a wise one.

  3. Golly -- this revision has an ironic and portentous twist to it in the way it replicates the two steps - first emasculation, then beheading - as happened in the munera for Augustus. Novius wanted it to be this way but Marcus wanted a more modern form. Has Apollo intervened? The dead body of Inpavidus on the slab (as with Atticus) underscores the sacrifice of something beautiful in the world - as does the impressive picture of the eight lads (who probably have developed some friendships that will be tested today) lined up in muscular splendor before the Pulvinar. (A name mixup has Impavidus cutting off his own fingers and a later one has Impavidus standing over "the dead body of his defeated opponent") I don't quite understand why, but I still care about these two guys, who I met only yesterday. Is this my participation in the sacrifice?

    1. The castration and beheading has - as far as I can see, no significance other than the in explanation found below.
      The essence of the Munera - as Marcus seems to well understand, is the shedding of blood - as in all sacrifices, and how this is achieved (apart from some Etruscan outmoded traditions) is immaterial.
      Emasculation of defeated enemies, while not featuring in 'Spartacus' TV series (except once outside the arena), or other depictions of Ancient Rome, (except 'Rome' Series I TV series - again outside the arena) was a common action performed on defeated enemies in Roman times - both in war, and in the arena - reflecting the phallocentric ethos of the cult of Roman 'vires' - the concept of aggressive masculinity, that was epitomised in the ability of the free male to penetrate those inferior to him (see the 'Preface' to 'The Story of Gracchus')
      Thus - to truly defeat a man - it was essential to remove his ability to physically 'penetrate' - (such ability the Romans described as his 'vires' [from which we get the word virile] - the word in Latin not only had phallic associations, but was also often used to refer to the testicles).
      An action such as emasculation came almost as a reflex action, performed on the loser, at the culmination of the contest between males.
      In this Munera, emasculation or castration had not been stipulated, or required by Marcus, but may well happen - as in the first contest.
      As to the suggestion that the Gladiators giving their salute (thanks for the compliment about the image) might have some previous association - in error, it has not yet been explained (it's all a question of finding the time to introduce such - probably essential details), that the late Dominus organised the 'Ludus' (Gladiator school) in a series of 'familia', (in this case referring to 'brotherhoods), eight in all (in deference to Octavian - 'oct' meaning eight) so that fighters would specifically not develop relationship that would interfere with their fighting abilities in the arena.
      There are eight gladiators - forming four pairs - and all are relative strangers to one another.
      The beheading is just a solution to a problem that was known to occur at the conclusion of a contest, when the supposedly dead fighter revived.
      The fact that this occurred showed that Fortis was an inadequate fighter (by Roman standards), and the fact was duly reported, by the Libitinarii, to Petronius - and that is intended to open up another story, featuring the subsequent punishment of Fortis.
      Hopefully, when you see more of these guys not wearing helmets you will be able to identify with then a little more.
      As I explained before - in writing an account without the images it is easy to get identities mixed, but I think that I have corrected the errors.
      At present I am involved in certain other projects, and producing the complex images for this section of the story is time consuming.
      Hopefully I will get up to date with the work soon.
      Please keep checking - as your comments are invaluable.