Antinous

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Engraving after an ancient Roman marble bas-relief of Antinous as Vertumnus, the god of seasons, located at the Villa Albani in Rome, Italy. From Unpublished Ancient Monuments, Explained and Illustrated (Monumenti antichi inediti, spiegati ed illustrati, 1767) by Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–1768).

Antinous (also Antinoüs, Latin: Antinous) or Antinoös (Ancient Greek: Ἀντίνοος, romanized: Antínoös; 27 November, c. 111 AD – before 30 October 130 AD) was a Bithynian Greek youth and a favourite beloved of the Roman emperor Hadrian. After his premature death before his twentieth birthday, Antinous was deified on Hadrian's orders, being worshipped in both the Greek East and Latin West, sometimes as a god (theos) and sometimes merely as a hero (ἥρως, hḗrōs).[1]

Little is known of Antinous's life, although it is known that he was born in Claudiopolis (present day Bolu, Turkey), in the Roman province of Bithynia et Pontus. He was probably introduced to Hadrian in 123 AD (aged around 12), before being taken to Italy for a higher education. He had become the favourite of Hadrian by 128 AD (aged around 17), when he was taken on a tour of the Roman Empire as part of Hadrian's personal retinue. Antinous accompanied Hadrian during his attendance of the annual Eleusinian Mysteries in Athens, and was with him when he killed the Marousian lion in Libya. In October 130 AD (aged around 19), as they were part of a flotilla going along the Nile, Antinous died amid mysterious circumstances. Various suggestions have been put forward for how he died, ranging from an accidental drowning to an intentional human sacrifice or suicide.

Following his death, Hadrian deified Antinous and founded an organised cult devoted to his worship that spread throughout the Empire. Hadrian founded the city of Antinoöpolis close to Antinous's place of death, which became a cultic centre for the worship of Osiris-Antinous. Hadrian also founded games in commemoration of Antinous to take place in both Antinoöpolis and Athens, with Antinous becoming a symbol of Hadrian's dreams of pan-Hellenism. The worship of Antinous proved to be one of the most enduring and popular of cults of deified humans in the Roman empire, and events continued to be founded in his honor long after Hadrian's death.[2]

Antinous became associated with homosexuality in Western culture, appearing in the work of Oscar Wilde and Fernando Pessoa.


References

  1. Renberg, Gil H.: Hadrian and the Oracles of Antinous (SHA, Hadr. 14.7); with an appendix on the so-called Antinoeion at Hadrian's Villa and Rome's Monte Pincio Obelisk, Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, Vol. 55 (2010) [2011], 159–198; Jones, Christopher P., New Heroes in Antiquity: From Achilles to Antinoos (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, 2010), 75–83; Bendlin, Andreas: Associations, Funerals, Sociality, and Roman Law: The collegium of Diana and Antinous in Lanuvium (CIL 14.2112) Reconsidered, in M. Öhler (ed.), Aposteldekret und antikes Vereinswesen: Gemeinschaft und ihre Ordnung (WUNT 280; Tübingen, 2011), 207–296.
  2. Mark Golden (2011). "Mark Golden on Caroline Vout, Power and Eroticism". The Ancient History Bulletin Online Reviews 1: 64–66. https://ancienthistorybulletin.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/AHBReviews201119.GoldenOnVout.pdf. 


See also