Jun 25, 2014

The Fountain of Geneva (2) --- The Muttoni

John and Alex, our friends from the Green Eyes, are being told the back story of the Fountain of Geneva.  So far we've learned that Caesar visited the place once and was presented with a lust-slave he didn't like (historically true). Now Hadrian, the Roman emperor (117-138 AD) is visiting the place, almost 200 years later. Richard Zugabe, librarian of the city archives of Geneva, tells the story.

Part II --- The Muttoni

“The Aldermen of Geneva had good reasons to avoid their predecessors’ mistake when Hadrian came to town in 133 AD. There wasn’t only the precedent of Caesar’s snub, but also the arrival of the Muttoni (as the Romans would call them), an entire tribe of blond, blue-eyed, oh-my-God people. The Muttoni had settled in the Saas valley, a side valley off the nearby Valais, and were making a big nuisance of themselves. Not content to follow the sheep-raising, cow-milking example of their Celtic neighbors, the Muttoni spent their time on raids. They would maraud through the region and misappropriate everything not nailed down, including human beings---and in particular adolescent males.

“Slavery, though an institution throughout the empire, was not really entrenched in the region. The locals were unable to appreciate six-feet-three hunks knocking on doors, tossing unruly hair, baring wide chests, and pointing steely javelins at innocent kinfolk while dragging handsome youths into captivity.


Many locals were killed during the raids of course, courageous fathers, desperate mothers, trustful dogs, even the stray mother-in-law is mentioned. 

“Many locals were killed during the raids of course, courageous fathers, desperate mothers, trustful dogs, even the stray mother-in-law is mentioned---resistance was futile, the Muttoni would always prevail. If there was any kind of racial phenotype better not mentioned or presented to visiting big shots, it was the Nordic type of the blue-eyed, hair-tossing chest-barer, whether oh-my-God or not.

Bod Mor
“Well, yes and no. The welcoming present this time was a bronze statue of Bod Mor, a Celtic deity with so-so genitals and the task to protect his people against harm. The deity had clearly been slacking of recent, and the townspeople soon steered the conversation toward the Muttoni. Questions were asked, answers given, promises made. Hadrian, don’t forget, was the commander in chief of the Roman forces, his title, imperator, derived from the noun imperium, denoting the absolute authority of the commanding general during a military campaign and bestowed upon him by the Roman Senate, an authority to be vacated in a solemn act by said general upon his return, preferably his victorious return, before crossing the Rubicon, the river, an act Julius Caesar famously failed to follow in 49 BC, thereby effectively bringing the Roman Republic to its knees, enfin, I digress.

“Julius Caesar and the Crossing of the Rubicon,” Francesco Granacci, 1494

And there he crosses again, Caesar, since Granacci's paiting, despite its beauty, is not particularly informative.

“Hadrian was traveling with a smallish retinue, there were no immediate legions at hand to invade the Saas valley, the local garrison held barely two cohorts. The emperor, furthermore, despite a documented history of personal valor, was not a warrior at hart, he saw himself as a wily administrator, poem-writing intellectual and versatile lover. He would handle the Muttoni in creative ways. He would go see them and talk to them. No outsider had ever entered the Saas valley since the arrival of the ravaging tribe, and he was curious about various aspects of their Nordic existence, especially about the fact that nobody had ever seen a female Muttoni, a person of the child-bearing sex.

“I have an inkling that you have an inkling already,” Richard says, “let me continue anyhow. Nobody had ever heard the Muttoni utter anything but grunts. How would they communicate? If Hadrian would be able to identify their tongue, he could send emissaries to the North and get hold of an interpreter, and so he devised a trap. He sent one century—80 professional soldiers—into the Valais to set up shop near the entrance to the Saas valley, build a Potemkin village, wear disguises and await further developments. There was an explicit order to take prisoners. And, yes, the Muttoni showed up, got themselves killed or captured, and the survivors were brought unto the emperor for closer inspection.

Riding Muttoni
Muttoni during the evening
Muttoni in conversation
Sleeping Muttoni
“Surprise, surprise…” Richard says with a look at Alex (why is it that people immediately figure out that Alex is the smarter cookie?), letting his sentence trail so my husband can finish it just in time: “…there was no need for another interpreter. The captives spoke the local vernacular.”  
“Why?” Richard asks.
“The Muttoni, how long had they been around at that time?”
“Thirty to forty years, two generations roughly.”
“Elementary, chèr Richard,” Alex says, “They spoke Celtic because they were Celtic.”
“And why?”
“There were no female child bearers to begin with. The tribe relied on secondary reproduction. They brought the captives into the fold by means of Spartan assimilation.”
“How would that work?”

Spartan initiation rites

“Discipline, sex, superstition---initiation rites. You would expect some dropouts. But it would work for as long as new recruits were assimilated in sufficient numbers, sufficient to continue the raids. There were some tribes in New Guinea like that. Or the original Spartans, although the Spartans maintained a natural breeding program on the side.”
“And the dropouts?” Richard asks.
“Dunno,” Alex says. He affects a throat-cutting gesture.
“And the oh-my-God part?”
“They captured selectively; physical education would do the rest.”

“Right,” Richard says. “You want me to continue the story?”
Alex points at the fountain. “I’d like to know what Hadrian did.”

Roman coin with Hadrian's profile (note the beard; Hadrian was the first Roman emperor to go public with a beard, embracing the Greek fashion of facial hair)

“Hadrian had spent time in Sparta, he knew how they operated,” Richard says.
“So Hadrian devised a secret plan, so secret he kept it out of his diary. But we can, I think, reconstruct it. We know from independent sources that he sent immediately for large quantities of a mysterious eastern drug, Megalopeos. Hadrian had extensively experimented with this drug, a potent aphrodisiac, apparently.”
“Aphrodisiacs are a myth,” Alex says.
“The drug’s recipe got lost, but you can assume it was based on oriental herbs, species now extinct from overharvesting. Hadrian’s own account is unambiguous, the stuff worked.”
“Okay,” Alex says.

His lays included charcoal-black Nubians, ebony Ethiopians (whose descendents still get sold into sex-starved Saudi-Arabia), effeminate Syrians...

“We also know that he started his own Spartan program on the grounds of the local garrison. Hadrian, I mentioned it already, was versatile. He was also eclectic, he would get himself laid by anybody---provided the partner or partners were up to snuff. His lays included charcoal-black Nubians, ebony Ethiopians (whose descendents still get sold into sex-starved Saudi-Arabia), effeminate Syrians (the race would eventually die out for lack of heterosexual activity, unbelievable), sophisticated Greeks raised eromenos-style, local boys from Calabria with thirteen-inch cocks…”
“Thirteen inches?”

Marquis de Sade
“Yes, that’s what the sources say, in particular the most knowledgeable of them all, Marquis de Sade ...not to forget plain-vanilla bisexuals (the default category among the male Roman elite), or, if available, oh-my-God warriors of Nordic extraction, whether by blood or adoption.

Go here for the previous part of the story, and here for the next one.

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