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  1. See a Problem?
  2. Beloved and God: The Story of Hadrian and Antinous
  3. Novels by Elliott Mackle
  4. Eromenos: Melanie McDonald – The Idle Woman
  5. Eromenos: Melanie McDonald

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Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Beloved and God by Royston Lambert. The Story of Hadrian and Antinous 4. Why did he become a god? This book investigates the mysteries that surround how Who was Antonius? This book investigates the mysteries that surround how this obscure Greek boy came to dominate the powerful emperor Hadrian. Antinous was the lover of the Roman emperor Hadrian.

Beloved and God: The Story of Hadrian and Antinous

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Beloved and God , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book appears to cover everything there is to cover about the relationship of the Roman emperor Hadrian and his early-deceased, then immortalized, young male companion probably lover Antinous.

While virtually everything is in doubt author Lambert does adduce a series of plausible hypotheses regarding the nature of their relationship and the circumstances of the youngster's death.

Novels by Elliott Mackle

In addition, the text pays a great deal of attention to the many and varied artistic representations of Antinou This book appears to cover everything there is to cover about the relationship of the Roman emperor Hadrian and his early-deceased, then immortalized, young male companion probably lover Antinous.

In addition, the text pays a great deal of attention to the many and varied artistic representations of Antinous. I found the lengthy discussions of art, mostly sculptural, to be rather boring and suspiciously subjective. Lambert reads a heck of a lot into the pieces, aspects of meaning that often were not suggested to me at all by the photographic plates provided for some of the items.

Other aspects of the book were of much greater interest. Most interesting, and very well done, was Lambert's succinct treatment of pederasty in the classical world. Not only does he manage to make sense of it, he also fairly distinguishes between its practice and social roles in Greek and in Roman cultures. Unlike some other treatments, his is sympathetic.

But the life of power takes it toll on Antinous, who is shaped and molded by the scupltor Emperor Hadrian. Antinous, ever the romantic continues to love the ruler of his heart, life and empire. Antinous knows that his status as Hadrian's eromenos is fast fleeting as he approaches his nineteenth birthday. Antinous must decide who rules his fate, himself or Hadrian. Melanie McDonald gives the melancholic Antinous a voice that will resonate soundly. Though he was just a boy when he was chosen by Hadrian as a lover, he quickly grew into a man in this story.

Navigating the Roman court was no easy task, but Antinous does it with such grace and loyalty that he shines among his brethren. His gentle and loving nature is refreshing. 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 Antinopolis 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 Antinopolis and Athens , with Antinous becoming a symbol of Hadrian's dreams of pan-Hellenism.

Antinous became associated with homosexuality in Western culture, appearing in the work of Oscar Wilde and Fernando Pessoa. The Classicist Caroline Vout noted that most of the texts dealing with Antinous's biography only dealt with him briefly and were post-Hadrianic in date, thus commenting that "reconstructing a detailed biography is impossible".

It is known that Antinous was born to a Greek family in the city of Claudiopolis , which was located in the Roman province of Bithynia in what is now north-west Turkey. There are various potential origins for the name "Antinous"; it is possible that he was named after the character of Antinous, who is one of Penelope 's suitors in Homer 's epic poem, the Odyssey.

The Emperor Hadrian spent much time during his regime touring his Empire, and arrived in Claudiopolis in June , which was probably when he first encountered Antinous. Lambert described Antinous as "the one person who seems to have connected most profoundly with Hadrian" throughout the latter's life.

Such a societal institution of pederasty was not indigenous to Roman culture, although bisexuality was the norm in the upper echelons of Roman society by the early 2nd century.


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It is known that Hadrian believed Antinous to be intelligent and wise, which might explain part of the attraction. It is generally agreed, although not proven, that Antinous was also initiated at that time. From there they headed to Asia Minor , settling in Antioch in June , where they were based for a year, visiting Syria , Arabia , and Judea. From there, Hadrian became increasingly critical of Jewish culture, which he feared opposed Romanisation, and so introduced policies banning circumcision and building a Temple of Zeus-Jupiter on the former site of the Jewish Temple.

From there, they headed to Egypt. Although welcomed with public praise and ceremony, some of Hadrian's appointments and actions angered the city's Hellenic social elite, who began to gossip about his sexual activities, including those with Antinous.

Eromenos: Melanie McDonald – The Idle Woman

Soon after, and probably in September , Hadrian and Antinous traveled west to Libya , where they had heard of a Marousian lion causing problems for local people. They hunted down the lion, and although the exact events are unclear, it is apparent that Hadrian saved Antinous' life during their confrontation with it, before the beast itself was killed. On this tondo it was clear that Antinous was no longer a youth, having become more muscular and hairy, perceptibly more able to resist his master; and thus it is likely that his relationship with Hadrian was changing as a result.

Hadrian: An emperor's love

In late September or early October , Hadrian and his entourage, among them Antinous, assembled at Heliopolis to set sail upstream as part of a flotilla along the River Nile. The retinue included officials, the Prefect, army and naval commanders, as well as literary and scholarly figures. Possibly also joining them was Lucius Ceionius Commodus , a young aristocrat whom Antinous might have deemed a rival to Hadrian's affections.

One possibility is that he was murdered by a conspiracy at court. However, Lambert asserted that this was unlikely because it lacked any supporting historical evidence, and because Antinous himself seemingly exerted little influence over Hadrian, thus meaning that an assassination served little purpose. However, this is improbable because Hadrian deemed both castration and circumcision to be abominations and as Antinous was aged between 18 and 20 at the time of death, any such operation would have been ineffective. However, in the surviving evidence Hadrian does not describe the death as being an accident; Lambert thought that this was suspicious.

Eromenos: Melanie McDonald

Another possibility is that Antinous represented a voluntary human sacrifice. Our earliest surviving evidence for this comes from the writings of Dio Cassius , 80 years after the event, although it would later be repeated in many subsequent sources. In the 2nd century Roman Empire, a belief that the death of one could rejuvenate the health of another was widespread, and Hadrian had been ill for many years; in this scenario, Antinous could have sacrificed himself in the belief that Hadrian would have recovered. In this situation, Hadrian might not have revealed the cause of Antinous's death because he did not wish to appear either physically or politically weak.

Conversely, opposing this possibility is the fact that Hadrian disliked human sacrifice and had strengthened laws against it in the Empire. Hadrian was devastated by the death of Antinous, and possibly also experiencing remorse. It is unknown exactly where Antinous' body was buried. It has been argued that either his body or some relics associated with him would have been interred at a shrine in Antinopolis, although this has yet to be identified archaeologically. It is unclear whether Hadrian genuinely believed that Antinous had become a god.


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  • Antinous was understood differently by his various worshippers, in part due to regional and cultural variation. In some inscriptions he is identified as a divine hero, in others as a god, and in others as both a divine hero and a god. Conversely, in many Egyptian inscriptions he is described as both a hero and a god, while in others he was seen as a full god, and in Egypt, he was often understood as a daemon.

    The city of Antinopolis was erected on the site of Hir-we. All previous buildings were razed and replaced, with the exception of the Temple of Ramses II.

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    To encourage Egyptians to integrate with this imported Greek culture, he permitted Greeks and Egyptians in the city to marry and allowed the main deity of Hir-we, Bes , to continue to be worshipped in Antinopolis alongside the new primary deity, Osiris-Antinous.