Monday, July 29, 2013

THE ACID BATHS OF IMPERIAL ROME and other loathsome necessities... 7/30/13

First of all, the Amphitheatro Flaviani, which most Romans call 'The Coliseum' is already over one hundred years old, a venerable vector of vicious vice and venal voluptuousness. How's that for alliteration? They have night shows, you know... perfect for vampires, whores, cut-throats and any other cultural specimens given to unusual hours. I go from time to time. The Nessos have a box, not too close to the Imperial Enclosure, but not too far away. Nobody wants to seem threatening. Such behavior is a good way to make yourself part of the show. They have elephants, actual pachyderms all the way from the Land of Hind, plus a few from somewhere past the great deserts of Africa, though that variety is much harder to control. And I once saw a recalcitrant valet get his head shoved up a she-elephant's ass. A real show stopper. Let me tell you. There's a device, like a narrow bed, high atop a bier, maybe ten feet high. And the whole contraption rolls around on four gold wheels. They strapped the valet down (a troop of pygmies, who also served as dancers, did the honors) on his belly... naked, always naked. You know how the Romans are. Naked is the new black. And they did something to the elephant. Gave her sweet, juicy melons injected with some sort of fermented intoxicant, until she was sleepy and compliant. Then they wheeled the bier right up under the giant beast's tail. One of the pygmies scrambled up on her back to raise it out of the way. Another straddled the victim's shoulders and greased his head up real good with butter from a small, red crock. A lot of the props at The Coliseum are red..... Easy to see from the stands. Rubbed it in his ears... on his head (shaved, of course.... 'round his jaw, his neck, the face, everywhere. Next they worked a big, thick candle (well, it looked like a candle) deep into the elephant's dung-hole. She trumpeted a bit. The crowd roared, as she proceeded to shit right on the valet's head. He coughed. He screamed. He begged. He cried..... And the crowd began to yell and chant.... 'Make them 'one.'... Make them 'one.'..... So they did. A pygmy cohort down on the sand pushed the bier in closer. The man holding the tail swabbed the beast's anal region with a sopping rag tucked into a braided, leather belt (his only garment). This caused an immediate slackening of the sphincter, but seeing as the giant's bowels were already empty, only a thin drool ran out. A pygmy hanging onto one of the tall, thin legs of the bier scooped some up on two fingers and smeared it across the victim's lips, teeth and gums. And the crowd went berserk... foot stomping, yelling, screaming, everything. Needless to say, the poor man threw up... projectile vomit, I might add and since his head was not supported by the narrow pallet, the rank cascade was seen by all, to the manic delight of those in attendance. People threw roses to the pygmies. They actually did. And the little comedians scooped them up, tickling each other with the blossoms in a most ribald manner.... Not the one's on the bier, or the beast's back, but the remainder of the troop capering about down on the sand, below. 

And maybe eight heartbeats later they did it, forcing the bier in close and jamming the man's head right up the elephants ass. The crowd gasped. You could see his body convulse against the straps. He trembled. It was horrible... hypnotic and horrible. 

Then she trumpeted. The beast trumpeted. I suppose she was still sedated from the melons and all, but she knew something wasn't right. So she tightened her grip on the victim's neck and made off, lumbering 'round the perimeter of the great, sandy ring like a war-horse dragging supplies, as perhaps fifty 'pygmies' (I later found them out to be small Romans, special entertainers, made up for the occasion, as the promoters lacked access to such exotic humans and knew nothing of their lives and customs) vaulted about in a frenzied dance. Oh, and before I forget... some of the torches produced colored flames... reds and blues and greens. And the music was good too. 

Now I don't know how long a mortal can survive with his head shoved up an elephants ass, but by the time they freed him, he was dead. And as soon as the pachyderm was safely lead away, twenty ferocious mandrills raced onto the sand, devouring the remains.

Children in the stands liked that part. You know how much children love monkeys.

Look, I know I've yet to get to the acid baths, but I just saw this and wanted to relate it while fresh in my mind.

We have showmen here in Rome, true masters of the theatrical arts....
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