Chapter XXXI - Munera Pro Gnaeus Gracchus

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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 Vespasianus, 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 amphitheatre 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 Gracchii, and in particular the renovations and additions that had been made by Marcus for the Celebratory Ludi for the accession of Titus' father, the Emperor 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, easy to clean, and useful 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' secretaries.
Peristyle Garden 
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, regardless of age - 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, some time from now, perhaps you would travel with me to Rome, and my father could grant you the decree personally.", Titus concluded.

'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 domus 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 went 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 find a reliable deputy to take on the burden of running the villa without my help for short periods.
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 Amphitheatre, 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 Amphitheatre 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, Domine, 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."

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
Lucius Septimius Severus was the designer (with the engineer Celer) of Emperor Nero's (Golden House), and also the Golden Villa at Baiae, the amphitheatre 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.

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.
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.
Lake Avernus
They belonged broadly to the category of 'di inferi', "those who dwell below," the undifferentiated collective of 'divine' dead. The Manes were honoured 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 honour 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 entirely happy, but as Marcus was Dominus, 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).
Initial Design for the 'Mausoleum of the House of Gracchus'
made subsequent to the Munera
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 be 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.
'At the Restaurant' - Petronius returned from his various tasks in the amphitheatre, 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 amphitheatre.", 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.

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, 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 Amphitheatre.

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.
"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.
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.
Petronius and Demetrius
on the Beach
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.


'Munera for 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 Glaux), 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 tableaux, the tortures 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 amphitheatre, 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.
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)

Opening of the Munera for Gnaeus Gracchus
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 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.
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 part 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.
remember - to view Munera images full size - select an image - open in a new tab - and enlarge as required

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 skilful 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.
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.
Impavidus Hit in the Groin
"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 testicles
Wanting to ensure that his opponent could not possibly recover, Fortis repeated the move, and once again his spear shaft smashed into Impavidus' groin, now partly protected by Impavidus'  clutching hands.
Impavidus' attempts to protect himself, however, met with little success, as the blow connected with his bulging scrotum, while at the same time fracturing three of Impavidus' fingers.
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' 'tool' 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 rape 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 sex.
There were other ways of raping his opponent, though, so Fortis gave a final blow with the spear shaft to Impavidus' groin, undoubtedly completely mangling the poor boy's testicles, 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 Skewered
Seeing his opponent helpless and defenceless, Fortis then 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 penetrated him, and finally 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 groin 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 groin, with his backside held high in the air.
"My balls !.. Please !.. My fuckin' bollocks !", Impavidus groaned.
While Peritus and  Animos who was just putting on his helmet - looked on - Fortis carefully aimed his spear, and thrust in between Impavidus' buttocks.
Impavidus' thong was backless, and it was easy to aim for his twitching anus, and impale the boy's rectum.
"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 wooden flooring 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' large penis and his mangled scrotum 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 urine, 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 root of the helpless boy's genitals, as Impavidus squealed like a girl.
He then deftly removed the boy's partially erect, dribbling penis, and his bulging scrotum, containing his badly damaged testicles, in one cut.
"Fuck !....You cunt ! ", Impavidus grunted, with a tone of resignation, as he felt the appalling pain as his genitals came away from his hairy groin.
Impavidus then knew that he was to die as a pathetic eunuch - with absolutely nothing between his legs !
Impavidus - Impaled and Emasculated
Fortis standin over his completely defeated opponent, then 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 urine again sprayed onto the sand from the bloody stump that was all that remained of his genitals.
Impavidus convulsed a few time on the sand, as the spear impaling his anus jerked obscenely - and then he lay still - presumed to be dead
The audience applauded - and the first contest of the Munera was ended.


Interval - Unlike in a normal Ludi, the Munera had no distractions between events.
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.
Porta Libitinaria
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 clean-up was under way, 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.
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.
Impavidus - Decapitated
As they set about their work Impavidus' started groaning, 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.
Porta Sanavivaria
"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.

Peritus and Celer

'Second Contest' - The second contest was between Celer (wearing a yellow plume in his helmet) and
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 skilfully 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 manoeuvre 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.