As mentioned in the Synopsis, the Ancient Worlds site where this story was written with other writers is now off-line, likely permanently. The host’s servers were hacked, but the files for the AW site were unharmed as their own particular server was too old to be affected by the hackers. Sadly, the host company went bankrupt, so AW had no home, and I was told the entire site’s coding needs to be reworked so it can be put on a modern server.
This particular story was set in Pompeii just before the eruption of 79AD, and was ongoing for about fourteen years. There were at least six writers involved in this story, but I can only reproduce my own parts—hence the summaries of the others’ work. They were all talented writers, from Europe, America and even an Australian, I believe at one point. I miss working with them as we all became online friends.
The characters of the story are mostly what we’d call ‘gay’ today, though such distinctions were unknown in the Ancient World, where sex was looked on as a good thing for men to practice as part of a larger camaraderie of mentoring. It wasn’t uncommon for men to have both wives, and lovers who were males. By and large, the only social stigma attached to male to male sex was for an older man to be the receiver of anal sex, as it put him in a less powerful position in relation to his partner.
Regarding Slavery…it wasn’t uncommon in the Ancient World for parents to sell their children into servitude when they couldn’t afford to feed them, or you could wind up being sold yourself for debt…or as a captive in a military action. This was NOT a permanent condition, unlike in more recent centuries; a man could earn enough money from doing odd jobs to pay off his owner, and thus become free…and then, he could rise in the social scale as far as his talents would take him, some became valued aides to Roman Emperors. In any case, a Freedman—whether he paid off his debt or was freed by his master—could become very rich, and all children later born to any Freedman, would become a citizen with the right to vote—and pay taxes.
By the end of the Vesuvius story when AW vanished, there were dozens of characters and ten or so writers…so it was hard to keep track of who wrote which ones—I myself had five main ones running around Pompeii, and that wasn’t uncommon for the other writers too.
Here’s what I recall of the major characters:
Philon and Sextus had their ups and downs in their relationship, but stayed together with only occasional dalliances by one or both. Philon eventually married to please his grandfather, and had twin boys, but he never lived with her, visiting only to see the boys, along with Sextus.
Giton became a major character who found his own lover in time.
Hylas and Hermes had various adventures and lovers, with Hylas eventually getting his freedom, but Hermes decided to stay with Sextus’ household.
Arrius had adventures and occasional lovers, but in his heart still was torn about his love for Sextus.
Olaf became a great asset to Philon’s house, developing a talent for painting which he turned into a business painting frescoes…in the end, he was freed by Philon, became a trusted friend-lover, and stayed in his villa even when he was freed.
Memnoch’s evil nature was eventually discovered, and he left Pompeii, and probably Italy as well, having not gained the riches he sought.
Along the way, we met gladiators, booksellers, politicians, soldiers and decadent aristocrats who used people for their own ends….pretty much what you’d find in the papers today…and just as common two thousand years ago.
If Ancient Worlds ever returns, I’ll try to take up the story again…fingers crossed.