For those of you that do not know my work, I grew up hearing stories from other boys about self-exploration and sexual partners with other boys and girls. I have not had any such experiences in Real Life as some of us call it. However, that does not mean I do not think about it and wish that things turned out different than they did.

IF the laws in your country make it illegal to or read fantasy stories about minors, or if you are under the age of eighteen or have someone in your presence under the age of eighteen, you must stop reading and leave this site immediately. Copyright 2012 Remmy Meggs I reserve all rights. You may not upload this file to any site.


Remmy Meggs 

Grapes of Italy – Chapter 06

Lothario woke up hearing his horses whinny and causing a commotion. Then he heard men yelling. He sat up and saw through the door of the tent and it was sunrise. ‘No one gets up this early’ he cried. He went to the door and walked out. Tents were coming down around him. Men were loading horses and donkeys with equipment. He went to the side of the tent and settled his horses by talking to them. “Let’s go pee.” He said to them and as they walked, they sidestepped workers and equipment.

As he was peeing Giulio and Paolo ran up to him, “Are you alright?” Paolo asked as Lothario rubbed his eyes with one hand.

Lothario yawned, “Why are we breaking camp?”

“Tito said we have to go to the next campsite.” Giulio frowned, “I don’t know why we have to do it so early.”

“We have to meet up with the goat herders and the cattle herders.” Tito said from behind. Lothario and the others jumped at the unexpected voice. “Paolo, you and Giulio get Master’s belongings together and packed, and your own for that matter. They will be taking down the General’s tent any moment.”

When Lothario finished he turned and looked at Tito, “Well you’re not clean faced, but that is a lot better than yesterday.”

Tito nodded, “I am doing my best, since I had to go to every soldier to get a knife. Finally, Capo Andio let me use one. What were they discussing last night?”

Lothario walked toward the tent, and Tito tried to stay with him, “At first Don Fedele was yelled at about you. After that was over papa talked about how the money father had to take from the Don’s to give to the King for the army was killing them. So they started with ideas on how to just pay the normal tribute and the Generals put together their own armies in a new way.” They got to the tent and Lothario spoke to Paolo, “I need a fresh thong and tunic.” He turned to Tito again, “They were saying that the freeborn could pay for their own uniforms and equipment. They could serve six years and become citizens. They talked about having the Latinos, Greeks and others who are not citizens to do the same thing.”

“I wonder who would pay them.” Tito said.

“They would only be paid if there was war, except for the ones on duty, they would get something. That would come from the Dons. During war I guess the Dons could go broke, but father says as long as the men were fed and cared for a small wage would suffice, I think is the word, until the war is over.” Lothario said as he put the saddles on his horses. Tito started to help and Lothario barked, “Don’t even try, you will upset them. This is my only job I have to do and I take care of it on my own.”

Paolo ran up with the clothing and helped Lothario dress. Lothario sighed and looked at Tito, “You don’t have sandals either. I can’t have you walk all day without any. You will ride my horse, just don’t try to guide him, he will only follow me. I will ride with papa. You can help the boys get in the saddles.”

Lothario waited as the three mounted. Then he began to walk towards his father’s horse. Senator General Don Nico Praetorio was talking to some of the soldiers when Lothario walked up. He would never interrupt his father, and he stood silent a few feet away until the man finished. Don Nico turned to see the boy and looked up at Tito. Nico laughed a belly laugh and said, “How does it feel to be on a war horse you can’t control Tito?”

Tito knew better than to say anything. He let Don Nico have his laugh. Nico turned to his son, “I guess you want to ride with me?”

“Si papa.” The boy grinned as he hugged his father.

“Very well, I would enjoy that. Before long you will be a man and not want anything to do with me.” The General put the boy on the horse, and then mounted behind him.

Don Fedele rode his horse over to Don Nico, “We are ready to move out General. We put the slaves on the four wagons to make it faster, and I left four men with the sheepherders in case of trouble. Capo Andio will ride at the front of the wagons with the other two and we will take the lead.” He turned and looked at Tito, “Be careful with that horse, you won’t have to worry about what Lothario will do to you. I saw that horse kick a man to death for trying to mount him without the boy’s permission.”

Lothario frowned. If the horse did that to someone he was not there to see it, and no one told him about it. Fedele would not lie about it, so Lothario decided to ask him about it later.

Tomasino smirked, “I would never be on that horse!”

The General slowly rode the horse to the road, and watched as the wagons and horses got into position. After the column began moving Lothario grew restless, “Why are we going so slow papa?”

“Because we have five or six hours of riding and I do not want everyone wore out, especially the horses. Lothario I heard you bought a slave to work the household for your mother and I as a gift.” Nico smiled.

Lothario shot Fedele a most gruesome betrayed look. Fedele bit his lip and shrugged. “Si papa, you aren’t happy about that?”

“I am overjoyed Lothario, but I don’t think Esta will be happy about it.” Nico smiled.

“That is what I told Fedele!” He yelled as he tried to grab Fedele’s arm to hit him.

Nico pulled the boy back, “Settle down baby. I have another idea that would make Esta the happiest woman in the world.” That got Lothario’s attention and he ignored Fedele for the time being. “You know, Esta is a citizen, but she has no home. She will spend the rest of her life with us. She has household staff, but she doesn’t have anyone to take care of her. Like doing the extra things, she can’t do all in one day. Now Esta has taken care of you since you were born. She will take care of you until she dies. Why not give Esta this slave as a gift. She already adores you, but wouldn’t that make you special in her eyes?”

“But papa, I only bought trinkets back for you and mamma; Fedele said this was the best gift.” The boy was almost in tears.

“Lothario any gift you have given us we have treasured, but you are the best gift. I won’t force you to do what I am asking, but I want you to think about it. That is not all of it, if you give her the slave, then your mother and I have been talking about building Esta a small house.”

Lothario shot another mean look at Fedele. Don Fedele knew he would be in trouble with the boy for weeks, maybe months over the things that happened in the last week. Lothario wiped his eyes, “Si papa.”

Unlike the first camp, the second camp had already been set up. So would the third and the forth camp before they returned home. Generals at the time had the equipment for three to four camps so they would not have to wait. They would show up and everything would be ready. This was very important in wartime where an army had to travel fast. Three to four caravans would be ahead of the General’s camp.

Lothario was interested in that because he did not understand how so few people could move so much in a short time, not to mention too few slaves and freeborn that it would take. As the days went by his mind replaced them with getting home to his own bed, and his mother. His father was always there for him, but now he knew that even though camping was fun, it was not something he would like to do for a long time.

Lothario, who had never left home, did not even know how close he was on that fifth day. He had cattle, sheep, goats and even chickens… that he did not plan on, many slaves and a loving father. Most of his talks with his father consisted of where on the land the animals would live, the care that they would need, and how to make a profit.

The boy had enough grazing land, and farmland that still had to clear for corn, grapes, wheat and barley for the animals. Of course, his father was providing the land. When they came over the rise, Lothario saw the house on the hill. “Papa we are home!”

In the valley, you could see barracks starting to build for the soldiers. Workers dominated the valley area. Most of the wagons turned off in that direction once they reached the base of the first hill, which is where Andio and his men left the General. The wagon with the slaves and the remaining provisions went to the house.

The homecoming was especially nice for Lothario. He gifted his mother an expensive gold-jeweled necklace to wear with her blue toga. For his father he gifted a set of wicker woven over clay wine bottles. Of course, they were more than pleased with the gifts and chastised the boy for spending so much on them, but that did not diminish the happiness it gave them and him.

Esta stood by making sure the freeborn and slaves took care of the family, including Don Fedele. Don Nico looked at his son and nodded toward Esta, “While we are giving gifts with the family, this would be a good time to give yours.”

Paolo and Giulio had already fixed up Augustina in the nicest way they could, including combing her clean wavy brown hair. Paolo stood by waiting for the word to bring in the woman. Augustina was at least eighteen but not more than twenty years. Lothario stood up not knowing whether he could keep back his tears. He had decided on his own to give the girl to Esta, it only made sense. He had practiced for days deciding on the words. Now it was that time to use them. Now the entire household staff of slaves, freeborn and citizens joined the family in the dining room.

To Lothario, speaking in front of others was not new, but to speak to someone he cared about in public was. He took a deep breath, walked over to Esta, and held her hand, pulling her to the center of the room. This alone embarrassed her, she felt out of place. Lothario took another deep breath and only looked at Esta so he would not blush at what he was about to say. “Esta, since I was born you have taken care of me. During that time, you earned your freedom, and since then you have become a citizen, a well off citizen I might add. You have lived here, toiled and sweat, you have worried as much as my mother and father, and still to this day you are there for me no matter what I have done, good or bad. I know you do not need my help or anyone else. You have the freeborn and slaves do most of the work, yet you are in the background making sure mamma and papa and our friends are well taken care of.”

He swallowed hard trying to smile at the now tearing Esta. “Originally I thought to get a gift for momma and papa to help with the household, and then it was like Jupiter himself sent Mercury to change my heart. A few weeks ago, you asked Paolo and Giulio to help you. I didn’t realize it then, but I do now. Even though the people you are in charge of take care of the household. You are over worked whenever we have visitors. Esta it is my honor to give someone to help you. Not for our household, but for yourself, to do your bidding at any time.”

Paolo took the cue and motioned for Giulio to bring in the slave girl. She came into the room and knelt in front of Esta, “Do with me what you will. I will serve you until death.”

Although Esta was crying over Lothario’s words, one could not put into words what her expression was like. She grabbed Lothario tight kissing his head all over, “Bambino. Bambino, you bring happiness to my heart with your kindness!”

“You are getting my hair wet with your tears.” Lothario said, and then bit his tongue realizing he should have been quiet. Those in the room stifled their laughter.

Therefore, as not to wet his hair more, she pulled up his face and kissed him all over, which for the boy was even worse. He blushed knowing everyone was watching. He finally grabbed her hands and pulled away lovingly, “I hope you are pleased with what I have done.” He said.

Lothario’s parents then stood, his mother spoke, “Since you were a young girl, barely able to hold our son, you stayed with us and took care of us in peace and war. Lothario has already covered how hard you have worked, your accomplishments and rewards. This has always, and will always be your home. Yet, for the last three years we have noticed more than just a flirtation with Caius.” She nodded toward one of the citizens near the entryway. “Since Caius lives in the village, he has to travel from early morning, work, and go home late at night. Surely, with Caius’ good intentions of marrying you, Don Nico and I thought maybe it was time you had your own home. So to accomplish this we have decided to build you a home, one large enough for you and your children that will come, on a hectare of land nearby.”

With everyone congratulating the couple and the laughter and merriment Don Nico smiled and raised his hands, “For all of the household staff, not the personal slaves, we wish you to join us for this celebration.” He then looked at his frowning son, “On second thought even the personal attendants, just make sure we do not run out of food and drink!”


Tarquinius the former king who was exiled* from Rome, was mounting support to attack Rome to take back the Kingdom. Don Nico, Lothario, their servants and personal slaves had to move into Rome itself so Don Nico, as a Senator, could help bring the Republic into a solid existence. They left the household staff, his wife, and others at the villa, leaving Don Romano in charge of the estate. Don Fedele took charge of the army conscripted and formed by General Nico. Don Nico took full advantage of change over from the Kingdoms to the Republic, by using his rights to build an Army. The new republic attacked from all sides, and from within, needed the additional troops that he and the other Generals were training.

It was a time of intrigue and deceit, of soldiers and rulers. For Lothario standing next to his father on the floor of the senate speaking, it was boring. Yet he tried to act as interested as the other boys did before him.  They were just as bored. Don Nico was in favor of first strike initiative on the Etruscan and Latin cities that continuously threatened and attacked in small forces. Other Generals agreed but the rest of the Senate needed persuading.

Although Lothario’s days were boring, his nights were not. With his father being in Rome, the family regained their stature. He and the children of other Senators and other nobles roamed the streets, with purpose of course, with their personal slaves and bodyguards. They usually traveled in groups of three or more. While the parents were having important meetings and some were on the battlefield, or even at large parties, they left the children to themselves.

 Lothario now nearing twelve summers had begun to develop and began playing more games with the others instead of standing alone. Without a doubt, he and the other noble boys his age were developing well-formed muscles. This happened because of training at home, and in the gymnastics schools of the area. To them it was fun, not work and they enjoyed running around naked as most boys did.

For the boys two highlights of the schools were exciting, one of course being they were able to admire each other close up. Two being that in the baths they were able to groom each other and play at the same time. The competitions were also exciting for the boys. Those parents that could attend did so. Each month a competition between the various schools of Rome took place and even those who had no boys in the competition would show just for the amusement. To many these games were more enjoyable than the bloody games in the arena with the gladiators.

This day would be no different. In the youth arena, sixteen schools were getting ready for the Olympian Games as they did each month. However, there was something different about this contest. The arena was almost packed, but the crowd was much more subdued than normal, enough that everyone noticed. When the boys from all the schools bolted out to the center, they stopped dead and looked around. Soldiers, hundreds of them in full uniform were in the audience. Even the schoolmasters stopped, wondering what this uncommon show of soldiers meant. Capos, Centurions, Generals and staff from the four legions were in attendance.

When the crowd began getting louder demanding the show, the headmasters’ pulled themselves together and began instructing the boys. Each of the boys had their eyes on the audience, looking for their parents, including Lothario who was looking for his father. Then the games began. In most cases with boys, it was a hard decision to make. A boy that had one several months in a row could come in second or not at all. The judges in each event did their best to be fair and impartial as far as we know, but in Rome, the crowd itself made the final decision.

Lothario did well; he did not win most of the competitions but enough to be proud. The overall winner of the night was a fifteen year old from another school. It was his first major win and the boy was ecstatic, as well as his school. The baths were a different story. Soldiers led by different Capos waited for each boy. As each boy dressed, soldiers whisked him off on a horse, litter or lectica*.

Tito and the boys followed Lothario and the soldiers out of the building. There were eight slaves next to a lectica waiting and around them an armed escort of more soldiers. Tito quickly put Giulio and Paolo on their horses and he mounted his own horse. Lothario’s horse was upset and stood next to the boy looking and watching as they lifted the lectica and they started running off with the contraption following the lead rider. Lothario opened the curtain and looked out, “Tito find out where we are going and why we are in such a hurry!”

Of course, Lothario was not going to complain about laying in the lectica on a mattress stuffed with wool, or the beautiful pillows he rested on. In some ways, he would rather be on his horse, and then there was the fact that he had played hard in competition all day, just had a warm bath and he was somewhat tired. He was also getting hungry because the ceremonial banquet was forfeit over the military intrusion.

At dusk, the procession stopped and the lectica set on the ground. Lothario squatted and came out of vehicle then stood. He looked around and there were at least fifty other boys from the schools he knew either ahead of or behind his own group. Capo Andio rode up to Lothario, “Master we have stopped to eat. We do not have much time, but neither should you eat too fast. We can’t have you getting sick.”

Lothario frowned, “What is going on Andio? I think I have a right to know.”

Andio looked at Tito and the two little slave boys all of whom were working to get food to their group. He turned back to Lothario, “We are at war. The commanders want their oldest boys to be with them to see the battles. If something should happen, the boys will immediately know to go home and take over business.”

“We are at war with whom?” Tito shouted.

Andio turned to see Tito, and then he turned back to Lothario, “The Etruscans and some of the Latins attacked a village, we do not expect to find many survivors, and they have made a camp outside that village. We only have a few soldiers this far north, and we are waiting for reinforcements from the Don’s, but that will take time.”

Tito ran up and knelt in front of Lothario, “Master let me fight with the soldiers.”

Andio tilted his head as he looked at Lothario. Lothario frowned, “Your duty is to protect me.”

Andio smiled slyly, “If you were to leave Lothario’s side at a time like this Don Fedele would kill you himself!”

Paolo brought a seat and pillow for Lothario to sit on. Then he sat next to him and handed him grape juice, bread and cheese, “It is all we have master.” Paolo offered.

“It is fine Paolo, and you and Giulio and Tito eaten?” Lothario asked.

Giulio is bringing our food now. We wanted to eat as close to you as you would allow.” Paolo spoke hoping for a positive answer.

“Next to me will be just fine.” Lothario looked around to see that the lectica bearers and soldiers were eating. He turned to Andio, “How many men are protecting these boys?”

“About five hundred Lothario, why do you ask?” Andio frowned.

Lothario thought before he spoke and finally answered, “By the torches I can see we are spread out over two kilometers. Each boy has one or more bodyguards and personal slaves. It seems to be that the procession would be a tenth of that if the boys were directly together, protected by a small group of soldiers. That would leave 450 soldiers to go ahead and be with the main force.”

Tito grinned wide and looked at Capo Andio, “He is brilliant!”

Andio slid off his horse, “The problem with that is that the Capos and some Centurions are personally responsible for getting the boys to their fathers. They are not going to leave no matter what you say Lothario.”

Tito frowned knowing that Capo Andio had the upper hand, even though Lothario is the one that made sense. Giulio came forward and saw Paolo sitting close to Lothario. He smiled and sat as close as he could. Lothario looked up to the sky where the stars were just starting to show. Then he looked back at Andio, “How long before we reach the war?”

By morning, that is why you are in a lectica so you can sleep.” Andio smiled.

“So you, the other soldiers, and all the slaves will be up all night?” Lothario asked. Andio lost his smile and Lothario continued, “So if there is a battle tomorrow all of you will be too tired to fight. If the soldiers went on without us, they could make it in half the time, and be able to sleep.”

Andio had a grimace on his face, “Si but the Capos and Centurions won’t leave their duties and they could lose their heads if something happened.”

“Most of the boys are on horses. I don’t think they can stay up all night after the games. If they were to leave now, the soldiers and troops should make it by midnight, or soon after, don’t you think? That would give them all some rest before daylight. Those in the lecticas and slings could be closer together and have more than enough protection.” Lothario suggested.

Andio looked over at the smiling Tito, and then turned back to Lothario, “Very well. I will explain your plan to the Capos and Centurions and they can make up their own minds. You make things very difficult at times Lothario Praetorio.” Andio rode off to talk to the others.

Lothario stood up and realized the slaves were all looking toward him, “Si for all of you it will be a long night, but we will take breaks and many of you can nap between now and morning.”

The carriers and fire boys all mumbled between themselves. Paolo stood and spoke to them, “This is why we have the best master of all. He understands and cares, and we hope you learn to love him as much as we do.”

Lothario saw movement at the front of the caravan and smiled. Andio rode up to him, “I still have to get to the others but almost all of them are heading out.” Then Andio took off again.

Tito looked toward Lothario, “I never would have thought of something like that. Neither had anyone else, I salute you.”

Lothario sighed and watched as soldiers and their charges rode by. Those in the rear in lecticas began moving closer. Lothario turned to the slaves, “Let’s go to the front so we can close the gap.”

Andio waited until all the slings and lecticas gathered together. He was hardly in charge of the procession; three centurions outranked him, by service dates alone. Considering the sixteen noble boys left in the procession were the future of Rome, there were enough soldiers and cavalry left to push back any small to medium force.

Something Andio and the other officers were not prepared for was the fact that now close together; the sixteen boys began talking to each other. Centurion Darius watched them and waved to Andio to join him. Andio rode up to the Centurion. Darius looked puzzled, “That is Lothario in the middle of those boys?”

It was getting dark but Andio could make out Lothario’s form, “I am not sure but I believe so.”

“You think he is up to more mischief?”

Andio smiled, “He may well be, but if so, it is for the best of us all.”

Darius sighed, “He is too young to be taken seriously whether he is logical or not. I can’t have him making my decisions for me Andio. Try to keep him quiet.”

Andio nodded, “Easier said than done Darius. You try to silence him and he gets louder, because he then realizes that you may not like the idea but it is in everyone’s interest.”

Darius’ horse pulled away and he brought it back around, “Why can’t he just play with himself like the other boys? He has two personal servants he should be worn out and asleep, not making military decisions!”

“He is like his father I am afraid, yet Darius, if you would get to know him, you could see how cute he is when he comes up with these ideas of his.” Andio said as Darius horse rode toward the group of boys, Andio followed. They stopped once they got in hearing distance of the boys.

Quintario spoke to the other boys, “I think it would be grand if the Generals allowed us to have the games. The soldiers hardly ever get to see something like that, and we are the best. I think they would like it.”

Lothario who was in the middle of the group spoke, “Si they would, but for all we know they are in battle as we speak. If all of you insist, we can petition the Generals at the meetings, if you all stick together with the idea. It will not hurt to ask them, but if they say no try not and press the issue. None of us has ever seen a battle much less a war like this one. Soldiers will be dying out there, I think it is a good idea Quintario, I just have reservations on how well the idea would be accepted.”

The boys nodded toward the Centurion. Lothario turned to see him and Andio on their horses, “We are just talking, and you may join us. We would appreciate your input.”

The two soldiers dismounted and walked to the boys. Darius smiled, “Lothario may be right about the setting and time of an event like this, and your trainers and coaches are not with us, which could get someone hurt. I do think the men would love it, and I think the Generals will jump on this regardless of the outcome of a single battle. All of you are over twelve summers or nearing twelve summers. You have been kept away from the cruelties of slave ownership and battles to the death…” He looked at Lothario, “Well most of you have been kept away from them. What you will see in the next few days, weeks or months, will sicken you and believe me, all of you will have a viewpoint to see everything. I think you should ask, just remember at any moment you may lose your audience because they may need to go back on the battlefield.”

The boys stood silent, more in shock than anyone may have expected. Quintario’s idea was good. However not even Lothario imagined their own soldiers dying on a bloodstained savannah. Andio shook his head, “Sons of the nobles, we have a long journey. If you wish the slaves to rest each hour, then we need to move out.”

The boys went back to their transportation and carriers. Lothario was quite solemn compared to his usual self, tiredness played a large role in how he felt, but he would not have realized that point. His mind was full of a war he did not understand, a wonderment and downright fear. He turned to the head slave at the lectica. He nodded to Giulio and Paolo, “Can you carry the three of us?”

The slave smiled broadly, “We could carry six warriors such as yourselves master.”

Surprised, Giulio and Paolo climbed in the lectica behind Lothario. A few moments later, it lifted from the ground making the younger boys uneasy until it was in place on the slaves’ shoulders. Outside the fire boys, lit their oil torches and they began moving forward. To get all three boys on the divan would not be easy to do. Made for one person and two if the idea pressed, the divan would never hold three comfortably. The logistics of all three would be near impossible. Instead of trying, Lothario threw several of his pillows at the other two and told them to sleep.

Although Lothario fell into a fast and deep sleep from the activities of the day, Paolo and Giulio grinned at each other knowingly. Giulio giggled, “Are you thinking what I am thinking?”

Paolo tried not to laugh, “Even if he caught us sucking on it he would be too tired to stop it.”

Giulio was not so sure, “And if he gets upset, Don Fedele will spank us so we can’t sit for a week.”

Paolo shrugged, “If he likes it we may be more play time with him, isn’t that worth it?”

“You have always liked doing these things more than Master Lothario or I have liked it, even if it is fun.” Giulio tried to frown but it came out as a mischievous smile.

“Help me get his clothes off Giulio!”

Giulio frowned, “We shouldn’t do that. They will stop for a rest, and if he should awaken, he will be naked and go outside. Then he will really be upset!”

Paolo leaned against the divan, “Si you are right. It is not as much fun when he wiggles and squirms though, we can’t see anything.”

Giulio laughed aloud and Paolo reached over with his hand and put it over the younger boys’ mouth, “Tell everyone what we are doing silly!”

Tito was riding his horse next to the lectica and could hear the boys talking. He could sense their desire and their fear, but he had to be silent. He could not coax them or tell them to refrain. The decision they would make had to be on their own. Although Tito grew up in a similar situation and he knew Lothario would like it, Lothario was more reserved when it came to such matters. Tito smiled to himself and just listened as the two boys hatched their plan and decided whether they would act on it or not.

“Well help me get his thong off then, he is laying on it.” Paolo frowned.

“Alright, but if he wakes up you are the one in trouble.” Giulio answered, as he got closer.

“I will untie it and lift up his behind, you pull it off.”

Giulio saw no harm in that, after all, Lothario did not like to sleep in his clothing. Lothario was in a deep dream state. First, there was Dino and others and they were riding horses around the villa. Suddenly all of them were naked as they rode and they were having a good time. Then his dream turned to the “Grapes of Italy” baths with boys of all ages running around naked. Then without warning, it turned to the baths after the games where a boy was putting oil on his stiff member. It felt good, a shock ran through him, and he looked up and smiled. The boy sounded like he said ‘more?’ and Lothario smiled and the dream continued.

Giulio and Paolo froze when Lothario’s body stiffened and slowly relaxed. Paolo did not take his mouth off Lotharios’ hard member, but he quietly waited until Lothario’s breathing went back to normal. Giulio whispered, “You almost woke him up!”

Finally, sure, that Lothario was back asleep; Paolo hesitantly slid his lips off Lothario’s still throbbing member. “Let him rest until the next stop, and then you can do it.”

Giulio frowned, “Okay but it is not fair.”

“If you weren’t such a baby all the time you could have gone first.” Paolo countered.

“You were right Paolo, it is not as much fun as when he is naked and we can watch all his muscles. Maybe after the next stop we can get him to take off his tunic?” Giulio asked.

“If he wakes up that will be easy, if he doesn’t it won’t be easy at all. Let’s nap; we will wake up as soon as they put the lectica down.” Paolo smiled and laid his head on a pillow.

Giulio fell asleep fast as the procession to the front lines continued. The boys slept for hours, missing four different rest stops. Capo Andio and the Centurions were happy with the progress they were making. Centurion Darius especially was impressed with Lothario’s idea of resting each hour. The slaves rested could travel faster, more than making up for time lost. Darius guessed correctly that they would make it to the encampment; he hoped it was still there and that his troops had not lost many members.

Darius also worried about the boys he was in charge of and the ones that were ahead of him. If the battle was raging when they arrived, it could be devastating. He felt the boys should be acclimated to their surroundings before they saw the bloodshed and horrors of war. Yet if Mars wanted the war, it would not be up to the troops to decide when to attack or defend; the gods had their own way of doing things.

Capo Andio had other things on his mind. Tito may be Lothario’s bodyguard, and there is no doubt Tito would die to protect the boy, but it was Andio’s responsibility overall. If the lines broke, it would be his job to get the boy to safety before the enemy could catch them. Inside Andio saw running from a battle as cowardly, but in his heart he knew that the safety of Lothario and the other boys were paramount to the future of Rome. He only had one boy to take care of. He wondered how many others would survive.

Tito on the other hand was a well-seasoned warrior. There was no doubt in his mind that the Roman army, regardless of how small it was, would be triumphant. His regret is that he would not be in the battle itself, however if the enemy even neared the boys, many would die before he fell. His horse carried twelve short spears, and four long spears, a mace and two swords. He would stay mounted as long as he could, then go to the ground to keep them back while Lothario escaped. He would die and he knew it, but what greater way to die than protecting the future of Rome.

For the three men, their fates seemed to set. Two would watch the battle with the boys in relative safety. Darius would take his infantry, charge with a mighty force, and maybe survive it. The other Centurions and Capos would of course be unpredictable, including the ones watching the boys of the nobles. As Darius rode over the rise, he saw the flaming arrows headed north. There was no battle, the arrows sent out as lights to see if the enemy was moving in. At the top of the rise, Darius saw hundreds of tents and fires burning.

Darius turned to the other Centurions, “It is time they woke up. They need to see this for themselves; they may never see anything like it again.” Less than a mile from the Roman camp, you could see hundreds of fires from the Latin and Etruscan armies.

The word spread, the lecticas and slings were set down and the boys awakened, sleepy eyed they dressed the best they could. They and their servants, still half-awake, followed the Capos up the hill. As the boys looked at the site below, they were awestruck. Never had so many fires, oil lamps, torches been in one place, as far as they knew. They could easily see one thousand soldiers moving around, and they could not comprehend the amount still asleep. Arrows shot toward the enemy and the enemy shot back. No one was being hurt; it was a way the armies could spot the enemy.

Lothario eyes were as wide anyone’s were. If there were that many soldiers so close together that their fires lit up the sky, then how many people actually lived in Rome?  He knew there were hundreds, but thousands, maybe tens of thousands.  The carriers made it to the top of the rise, and most of the boys took their positions inside the lecticas. Lothario mounted his horse; he was not going into the camp looking like a baby.

The sun was beginning to rise in the sky. Centurion Darius told the other officers to take their charges to their fathers. As they neared, Lothario saw his father’s tent, but he also saw a larger tent nearby, “Andio, who does that tent belong to?”

Andio looked at Darius, “You have any idea who that belongs to?”

Darius smiled, “I believe that is the old king’s tent. The Consuls must be using it. If they are here, they probably plan to lead the battle. It is a huge tent, more like a small palace. The other tents around it must be for the Generals.”

“Father’s tent is near it, and so is Don Fedele’s tent. You must be right.” Lothario chimed in.

Darius patted the boy’s shoulder, “I wish that little Marcus were as astute as you Lothario.”

“Don’t wish for that Centurion, each of us have our own place. You are lucky to be a part of such a great family, and Marcus is a born leader, and fun to play with. He will be a great warrior someday. Someone like me may or may not lead; I do more planning than fighting.” Lothario said as they rode into the camp.

“What you say is true young Lothario. I should count my blessings. Si Marcus is a warrior and very fierce, I have to remember the good points, thank you for reminding me.” Darius grinned almost in awe of the loving nature of Lothario. He broke off, taking Marcus’s lectica to his father.

Lothario and Andio rode to Lotharios father’s tent and dismounted. There were no officers around, but there were plenty of soldiers. Inside the tent, Lothario saw that his father had already awakened and left. He surmised they must have been meeting at the consul’s tent. He started to turn and leave but Tito blocked him, “Let’s wash your legs and feet and change clothes before you run off to see your father. You might even want to wash your face.”

Lothario frowned. He looked and realized Giulio and Paolo must still be asleep in the lectica. Tito understood and said, “I will help you, let them sleep. They will be chasing you around all day.”

The boy took off his tunic and finally realized he was not wearing a thong. He immediately knew who took it off, but he was not sure why. Lothario washed his own face, but Tito took care of his sandals, brought in clean clothes for boy, and helped him dress. Then Tito brought out a second tunic, a shorter, purple one, and put it on Lothario. Then a black belt and wrapped it around the boy’s waist several times. Tito stood back and looked at Lothario, “Very nice I must say.”

Lothario looked at the second tunic, “What is this for?”

“That is to make sure everyone in the camp knows who you are, so there are no questions. It is too bad you are not old enough to wear a proper toga. This will have to do.”

“Why is it shorter?” Lothario asked.

“You have the white under it with the purple edging. The purple on top has your family crest. You haven’t worn it I guess. With this on, you will have free reign over most of the camp. In a battle, or near a battle, the soldiers will not see a purple edging, this they can see easily. Don’t worry the other boys will be dressed similar.” Tito explained. Tito stepped back, “We need to brush your hair, but other than that you are cute and charming.”

Lothario blushed and waited for Tito to finish. Lothario looked at Tito, “I really like you and you do take care of me when you have the chance. Tito, you are close to the battles that are to begin. Will you be able to stand by me when you are so close to it?”

 “Master I have thought about that throughout the night. To be honest, Si it will be hard for me. Already I want to charge into battle. I have thought about this. I also thought that over the year how precious you and the other boys are. You are not yet a man, but someday you will be, and there will be other battles to fight. Andio likes me; maybe he would be one to let me serve in his command. Master Lothario, I realize that all the boys that came with you are special to many officers and Dons, besides their families. Yet for me who has no children, for Don Fedele who has neither a wife nor child…” Tito wiped his face, “You are what I live for now. The battles we will fight are in the future when I will stand by you in battle as we slay the evil that threatens us.”

Lothario was at a loss for words. There were several moments of silence. Lothario took a deep breath, “How does anyone know you are with me? They can see that Giulio and Paolo are, but how do they know you are?”

“I am not dressed as a citizen, or a freeborn. I am not dressed as a slave either, and I do wear the Praetorio crest. I always stay near you. That should be enough.” Tito bowed.

“Get me my cloak, and wake the boys. They must have been up half the night playing their silly games instead of sleeping.”

Tito laughed a belly laugh and left the tent. Lothario frowned knowing Tito knew something that he did not. Tito came back in and put the cloak on Lothario. He put the gold clasps in place and stood back, “Si you look very good. You have your bulla* on?”

Lothario nodded and they left the tent together. The half-awake boys, still disorientated followed sheepishly to the Consul tent. There were four guards at the tent. They crossed their spears to block the four from entering. Lothario raised his eyebrows, “Let us pass.”

One of the guards spoke, “They are making plans for war, now is not the time. We were told to keep everyone out.”

Lothario raised his voice, “No other boy has entered the tent?”

“You are the first boy we have seen in the camp!” The soldier replied.

Lothario thought about that for a few moments and turned to Tito, “Am I not supposed to be with father during these meetings?”

Tito looked at the soldier in charge, “My Master is the son of General Praetorio, who has requested that his son be with him anytime it is possible. Even if I and his personal servants stay outside, he has the right to be in that meeting.”

General Fedele heard Tito talking loudly. The two Consuls stopped talking and nodded to Fedele, “Whatever it is take care of it.” Brutus demanded.

Fedele went outside to see Lothario and the others, “Lothario you and Pablo can come in, you other two stay outside and wait. All of you be quiet and listen. They do not need your input. You are here to learn Lothario, so please keep your big mouth shut.” Fedele hugged Lothario and took him and Paolo inside. He had them walk behind the men to his father. His father smiled and took Lothario’s hand.

Consul Brutus looked at one of the Centurions, “I thought the boys would not be here until after noon.”

“They must have changed plans or taken a different route Consul. I cannot explain how they arrived so fast.” The Centurion bowed.

Brutus looked at Lothario, “What is your name boy?”

“Lothario Praetorio, Don Brutus.” Lothario answered.

Brutus smiled, “Si, I hope you are honored to be here to see this glorious day.”

Lothario nodded, “Si Don Brutus, not many boys will witness this meeting or the battles that will come in due course.”

Brutus smiled and looked at General Praetorio, “Just like his father, salute Don Nico.”

Don Nico bowed and then the meeting continued. “Their cavalry took out over one hundred men yesterday. Not prepared for a cavalry fight we lost many good men. Luckily, our troops were steadfast and continued to advance. I do not want the same thing to happen today. I want archers and chariots behind our infantry today. I know we only have a few chariots, but if they bring out that cavalry again, the archers could have a field day, and the chariots, if given the order at the right time can cause havoc with the cavalry.”

“General Felisimo, your men are well rested. I want you to take the front line. Following you will be General Fedele’s troops. General Praetorio, I want you to hold back your men unless needed. I am not sure about them, but I trust you. I have just never seen a formation like that, and I do not understand what you are doing. We will use your troops as a reserve.”

Lothario let loose of his father’s hand and stepped forward, “But Consul Brutus, that is…”

Fedele put his hand around the boy’s mouth and pulled him back. Brutus cocked his head and looked at Lothario, “Well you are the first person to say anything for the last two hours.” He looked at the others, “A boy will offer advice when the rest of you wouldn’t? No General Fedele let him speak.”

“I have been studying the map. This is where the cavalry came from. Put father’s men at the pass. They can stop them there.”

“What makes you think infantry can stop them?” Brutus asked.

“My Greek teacher taught me about a Phalanx. It is almost impossible to break through. Let father lead the men, and in a short time they can wipe out the cavalry before they even get near the battle.” Lothario offered.

Brutus frowned, “You want me to send one of my best Generals, your father, to his death, based upon a Greek teacher’s word?”

Don Nico spoke up, “Forgive him Consul Brutus, he is full of ideals of heroism.”

Brutus smiled, “The gods made children beautiful so we would not kill them for speaking out of turn. All is forgiven. Lothario right?”

Lothario nodded.

“Lothario, your idea may work, or it may not. I cannot take the chance that it would fail. We could lose two cohorts easily if it would fail, maybe more. I will not discount your teacher’s word. I will give your father’s troops their chance to prove your claims; however I am not going to risk your father’s life to make your point.”

Lothario shot back, “Consul Brutus a leader of men must make the same sacrifices if the men are to respect him.”

Brutus smiled at Lothario and looked at his officers, “It seems we have a warrior among us that we have not seen before. Still boy, when the time comes, I will decide on what to do, not you. You make a good argument, but you are thinking of a single battle. I am thinking of an entire war.”

Lothario bowed and then stepped back. The meeting took another two hours. The Generals began giving feedback since a little boy was brave enough to do so. At the end of the meeting, the officers began to leave. Brutus went to Lothario, “Boy, you have touched something in my soul. I believe Mars has sent you to me. I do not know about this Phalanx, but you are right about leadership. Today I will lead the battle, not from this tent, but from the front line. Because of your words, the Generals will lead their own men. We need something special to turn the tide quickly, and you may have provided the answer.” Brutus looked at Don Nico, “I wish you well, if you must die today, I know you will die a brave warrior.”

Brutus left the tent to get ready for battle. Don Nico looked at his son, “I should whip you for what you did in there, but I am also proud of you. Do us all a favor, do not mess with the war again, until you have seen with your own eyes what is about to happen.”

“Father I am sorry. It never occurred to me that you would die. I didn’t mean to put you in danger.”

Don Nico knelt and held his son’s shoulders, “What you said in there was the truth. It is the way it should be. I have armor for your horses. Put it on them. You boys ride around here on the hill where you can see everything. The enemy will think that the nobility is still up here, and not down below where they will be the targets.”

“What about Tito and Capo Andio?”

“Tito will stay with you. It is only right that Andio join his men and fight, which is what he would want. I may not care for Tito, but he will take care of you.”

Don Nico looked at Tito. Tito nodded, “Very good care of him.”


 Tarquinius exiled: History has not proven the exact year the last king of Rome was exiled, but presumably, it was between 509BC and 497BC depending upon what historical source you read.

Lectica: A divan carried on the shoulders of slaves, usually covered and with sheer drapes on the sides to protect the passenger. At night, fire boys would carry torches in front of it. Usually used to carry people of importance, it was much more comfortable than an ox cart or riding a horse. In later times, Lectica’s carried women and images of deities.

Bulla: The same as a modern Native American medicine bag, holding small items that mean something to the wearer for protection.


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