3. Kissing a Masterful and Handsome Boy

Though Tereus often breaks off to sample a new vice or carry out an elaborate practical joke, he and Claudius quickly become inseparable. They take long, rambling hikes through the mountains that ring the village, and talk with adolescent enthusiasm about philosophy and literature. They fall asleep holding hands and gazing into each others’ eyes. Tereus lures […]

2. Sound Advice from Agamemnon

In the profoundly epistolary age in which our story takes place, it was usual for parents to send their boys to school with letters that mingled advice, admonishment and logistics. Over dinner that first night, some of the older boys read their parents’ letters aloud to ribald laughter. This one’s mother hopes he’ll guard against […]

1. Tereus Shelawn’s First Love

Claudius is bent over a tiny desk studying Latin verb declensions. The semester at the elite Continental university won’t start for another week, but he already fears he’s behind. The door to the tiny double room opens. Claudius looks up, irritated to hear the shouting and banging in the crowded hallway. The boy standing in […]

28. One Last Thing to Break

Soundtrack and Video: Frank Turner, “Recovery (Live)” Six weeks later, Tereus presses a note into Valeria’s palm. It says, “Meet me in the hayloft tonight, if you can.” Of course she makes her way to the barn, climbs the ladder into the hayloft. It doesn’t much matter what she does. It feels like her conduct […]

26. Sympathy and Longing

Fall sets in. Winter is coming. There’s little work on the farm. Tereus and Valeria divide it between themselves silently and efficiently. Lavinia cooks on occasion and watches the children. Camilla continues to help her mother. Valeria tries to teach Claudius his letters, but he’s restless and can’t be made to practice with his chalk […]

21. Lost Children Returning Home

8/31/17— We retreated to the hayloft again. The days are so very long. We were tired, and I think we felt that we deserved a small reward for all our hard work and diligence. He made no attempt to persuade me. We lay in each other’s arms in a dream-like state, as if we were […]

11. Foreshocks

Tereus wakes gradually. The light seems wrong. It’s afternoon or evening, or a storm has rolled in and obscured the sun. He feels so fucking miserably ill that it takes him a moment to appreciate that he’s not in jail, and though the skin is broken on the knuckles of both hands, he’s not covered […]

8. The Smooth, Hard Surface of His Indifference

When they reach her bedchamber, Lavinia hisses, “How could you humiliate me like that?” He’s a bit taken aback. She’s taken much more flagrant behavior in stride. “Pardon me?” “The way you fawned over those vulgar, nasty old women.” He says in a commonplace tone, “If you’re bent on quarreling, come into my dressing room […]