Antinoüs or Antinoös (Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

: ) (November 27, c.111–October before 30th, 130) was a beautiful
Beauty is a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure, meaning, or satisfaction. Beauty is studied as part of aesthetics, sociology, social psychology, and culture...

Bithynia was an ancient region, kingdom and Roman province in the northwest of Asia Minor, adjoining the Propontis, the Thracian Bosporus and the Euxine .-Description:...

n youth and the favourite of the Roman emperor Hadrian
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

. He was deified
Apotheosis is the glorification of a subject to divine level. The term has meanings in theology, where it refers to a belief, and in art, where it refers to a genre.In theology, the term apotheosis refers to the idea that an individual has been raised to godlike stature...

 after his death, although his exact status in the Roman pantheon was uncertain.


Thorsten Opper in Hadrian: Empire and Conflict notes: "Hardly anything is known of Antinous' life, and the fact that our sources get more detailed the later they are does not inspire confidence." At an irreducible minimum he was born to a Greek family in Bithynion-Claudiopolis
- Places of interest :The countryside around Bolu offers excellent walking and other outdoor pursuits. There are hotels in the town for visitors. Sights near the town include:* The 14th century mosque, Ulu Camii...

, in the Roman province
Roman province
In Ancient Rome, a province was the basic, and, until the Tetrarchy , largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside of Italy...

 of Bithynia
Bithynia was an ancient region, kingdom and Roman province in the northwest of Asia Minor, adjoining the Propontis, the Thracian Bosporus and the Euxine .-Description:...

 in what is now north-west Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, and joined the entourage of the emperor Hadrian at a young age, although nothing certain is known of how, when, or where he and Hadrian met. He is constantly described and depicted as a beautiful boy and youth. The relationship is believed to have been sexual
Homosexuality in Ancient Rome
Same-sex attitudes and behaviors in ancient Rome often differ markedly from those of the contemporary West. Latin lacks words that would precisely translate "homosexual" and "heterosexual." The primary dichotomy of ancient Roman sexuality was active/dominant/masculine and...


Antinous drowned in the Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

 in October 130. The death was presented as an accident, "but it was believed at the time that Antinous had been sacrificed or had sacrificed himself," and Hadrian "wept for him like a woman." Hadrian went through the process of deifying
Imperial cult (ancient Rome)
The Imperial cult of ancient Rome identified emperors and some members of their families with the divinely sanctioned authority of the Roman State...

 him soon afterwards, a process previously exclusively reserved for imperial family members rather than friends or lovers of non-Roman origin.

Commemoration: the cult of Antinous

The grief of the emperor knew no bounds, causing the most extravagant veneration to be paid to his memory. Cities were founded in his name, medals struck with his likeness, and cities throughout the east commissioned godlike images of the dead youth for their shrines and sanctuaries. Following the example of Alexander (who sought divine honours for his beloved general, Hephaestion
Hephaestion , son of Amyntor, was a Macedonian nobleman and a general in the army of Alexander the Great...

, when he died) Hadrian had Antinous proclaimed a god. Temples were built for his worship in Bithynia, Mantineia
Mantineia was a city in ancient Greece that was the site of two significant battles in Classical Greek history. It is also a former municipality in Arcadia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Tripoli, of which it is a municipal unit. Its seat...

 in Arcadia
Arcadia is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the administrative region of Peloponnese. It is situated in the central and eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. It takes its name from the mythological character Arcas. In Greek mythology, it was the home of the god Pan...

, and Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, festivals celebrated in his honour and oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

s delivered in his name. The city of Antinopolis
Antinopolis was a city founded at an older Egyptian village by the Roman emperor Hadrian to commemorate his deified young beloved, Antinous, on the east bank of the Nile, not far from the site in Upper Egypt where Antinous drowned in 130 AD...

 or Antinoe was founded on the site of Hir-wer where he died (Dio Cassius
Dio Cassius
Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus , known in English as Cassius Dio, Dio Cassius, or Dio was a Roman consul and a noted historian writing in Greek...

 lix.11; Spartianus, "Hadrian"). One of Hadrian's attempts at extravagant remembrance failed, when the proposal to create a constellation of Antinous
Antinous (constellation)
Antinous is an obsolete constellation no longer in use by astronomers, having been merged into Aquila, which it bordered to the North.The constellation was created by the emperor Hadrian in 132. According to legend, Hadrian was told by an oracle that only death of his most beloved person would save...

 being lifted to heaven by an eagle (the constellation Aquila
Aquila (constellation)
Aquila is a stellar constellation. Its name is Latin for 'eagle' and it is commonly represented as such. In mythology, Aquila was owned by the Roman god Jupiter and performed many tasks for him....

) failed of adoption.

After deification
Apotheosis is the glorification of a subject to divine level. The term has meanings in theology, where it refers to a belief, and in art, where it refers to a genre.In theology, the term apotheosis refers to the idea that an individual has been raised to godlike stature...

, Antinous was associated with and depicted as the Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

ian god Osiris
Osiris is an Egyptian god, usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld and the dead. He is classically depicted as a green-skinned man with a pharaoh's beard, partially mummy-wrapped at the legs, wearing a distinctive crown with two large ostrich feathers at either side, and...

, associated with the rebirth of the Nile. Antinous was also depicted as the Roman Bacchus
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

, a god related to fertility, cutting vine leaves. Antinous's was the only non-imperial head ever to appear on the coinage.

Worship, or at least acknowledgment, of the idealized Antinous was widespread, although mainly outside the city of Rome. As a result, Antinous is one of the best-preserved faces from the ancient world. Many busts, gems and coins represent Antinous as the ideal type of youthful beauty, often with the attributes of some special god. They include a colossal bust in the Vatican
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

, a bust in the Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

 (the Antinous Mondragone
Antinous Mondragone
The Antinous Mondragone is a unique colossal 0.95 m high marble example of the iconographic type of the deified Antinous, of c. AD 130. It can be identified as him from the striated eyebrows, full lips, sombre expression and the head's twist down and to the right , whilst its smooth skin and...

), a bas-relief from the Villa Albani, a statue in the Capitoline museum (the so-called Capitoline Antinous
Capitoline Antinous
The Capitoline 'Antinous is a marble statue of a young nude male found at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli, during the time when Conte Giuseppe Fede was undertaking the earliest concerted excavations there. It was bought before 1733 by Alessandro Cardinal Albani. To contemporaries it seemed to be the real...

, now accepted to be a portrayal of Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

), another in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, another in the Lateran
Lateran and Laterano are the shared names of several architectural projects throughout Rome. The properties were once owned by the Lateranus family of the former Roman Empire...

 and one in the Fitzwilliam Museum
Fitzwilliam Museum
The Fitzwilliam Museum is the art and antiquities museum of the University of Cambridge, located on Trumpington Street opposite Fitzwilliam Street in central Cambridge, England. It receives around 300,000 visitors annually. Admission is free....

; and many more may be seen in museums across Europe.

There are also statues in many archaeological museums in Greece including the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, the archaeological museums of Patras, Chalkis and Delphi
Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god...

. Although these may well be idealised images, they demonstrate what all contemporary writers described as Antinous's extraordinary beauty. Although many of the sculptures are instantly recognizable, some offer significant variation in terms of the suppleness and sensuality of the pose and features versus the rigidity and typical masculinity. In 1998 the remains of the monumental tomb of Antinous, or a temple to him, were discovered at Hadrian's Villa
Hadrian's Villa
The Hadrian's Villa is a large Roman archaeological complex at Tivoli, Italy.- History :The villa was constructed at Tibur as a retreat from Rome for Roman Emperor Hadrian during the second and third decades of the 2nd century AD...


Obelisk of Antinous on the Pincio Hill in Rome

(Obelisco Pinciano, Piazzale del Pincio, Roma)
Made of Aswan pink granite 9.24 m. high, mounted on a modern plinth and surmounted by an ornamental star: overall height 17.26 m. Commissioned by Hadrian and probably erected at the Antinoeion of his villa in Tivoli. Moved to Rome by Elagabalus
Elagabalus , also known as Heliogabalus, was Roman Emperor from 218 to 222. A member of the Severan Dynasty, he was Syrian on his mother's side, the son of Julia Soaemias and Sextus Varius Marcellus. Early in his youth he served as a priest of the god El-Gabal at his hometown, Emesa...

 (218-222) to decorate the spina of the Circus Varianus. Broken into three pieces, probably in the 6th century, it was found in the 16th century near the Porta Maggiore. Moved to the Palazzo Barberini
Palazzo Barberini
Palazzo Barberini is a palace in Rome, facing the piazza of the same name in Rione Trevi and is home to the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica.-History:...

, then moved to the Vatican by Pope Clement XIV
Pope Clement XIV
Pope Clement XIV , born Giovanni Vincenzo Antonio Ganganelli, was Pope from 1769 to 1774. At the time of his election, he was the only Franciscan friar in the College of Cardinals.-Early life:...

; finally erected on the Pincian by Pope Pius VII
Pope Pius VII
Pope Pius VII , born Barnaba Niccolò Maria Luigi Chiaramonti, was a monk, theologian and bishop, who reigned as Pope from 14 March 1800 to 20 August 1823.-Early life:...

 in 1822. The four sides of the obelisk are covered with reliefs and with hieroglyphs which, it cannot be doubted, Hadrian composed. The reference to Hadrian’s wife Sabina being alive shows that it dates from between Antinous’ death in 130 and Sabina’s in 136/7.

English paraphrase translation of the text, lightly glossed, based on the German translation of the hieroglyphic texts in Hugo Meyer: Der Obelisk des Antinoos (1994), pp. 84–88. [...] indicates where the original inscription is defaced.
  • [East face] Salvation plea, put forward by Osiris-Antinous, whose heart is in very great jubilation, since he has recognised his own form after being raised again to life and he has seen his father Re-Harachte [God of the Rising Sun]. His heart speaks: “Oh! Re-Harachte, highest of the gods, who hears the calling of gods and men, of the glorified ones and of the dead. Hear also the cry of one who approaches thee [Hadrian]! Grant him reward for what he did for me, thy beloved son, the King of Upper- and Lower-Egypt, who has set a precept of worship inside the temple sanctuaries for all men, to the satisfaction of the gods. He that is beloved by Hapi
    Hapi, sometimes transliterated as Hapy, is one of the Four sons of Horus in ancient Egyptian religion, depicted in funerary literature as protecting the throne of Osiris in the Underworld. He is not to be confused with another god of the same name...

     [God of the Nile Inundation, representing fertility & abundance] and all the gods, the Lord of the Crowns [Hadrian Caesar], may he live safe and sound, may he live forever, like Re, with a prosperous and newly risen [rejuvenated] old age. He is the Lord of Prosperity, the Sovereign of every land, the Pre-Eminent [Augustus]. The great of Egypt and the Nine Arches [foreign lands] bow themselves and unite under his feet as Master of Both Lands [Pharaoh of Egypt]. They come into being every day through his word. His might extends to the boundary of this whole land, even to the four corners of the world. The bulls and their cows breed lustily and produce their offspring for him [Hadrian], to gladden his heart and that of his great and beloved royal consort, the Lady of Both Lands [Queen of Egypt] and the cities, Sabina, who lives, is safe and in health, ‘Sebaste who lives forever’ [Augusta]. Hapi, father of the gods, makes the fields fruitful for them and arranges the inundation at its time, the flooding of the Two Lands [the annual flooding of the Nile valley from July to October, irrigating the Egyptian farmland.]
  • [West face] The god Osiris-Antinous, the justified – he grew into a youth with a beautiful countenance and magnificently adorned eyes [...] strength, whose heart rejoices like a demi-god’s after he has received a command of the gods at the time of his death. For him is repeated every ritual of the Hours [funerary cult] of Osiris [god of the underworld, regeneration & re-birth], together with each of his ceremonies as a Mystery. He will spread his doctrine in the whole land, benevolent in the instruction and effective in declaration. Nothing comparable has been done for the ancestors until now. And similarly for his altars, his temple and his titles because he breathed the air of life and his esteem arises in the hearts of mankind. Lord of Hermopolis, Thoth! [ibis-headed moon-god], Lord of the Word of God [hieroglyphics], rejuvenate his spirit, as everything in its time, in the night and day, at all times and in every moment! Love of him [Antinous] is in the hearts of his followers and awe of him by all [...] and his praise by all acolytes when they worship him. He takes his seat in the Halls of the Righteous, the Glorified and the Excellent Ones, who are in the company of Osiris in the Realm of the Dead, while the Lord of Eternity gives him absolution. They perpetuate his word on earth, having gladdened their hearts because of him. He goes to every place, as he wishes. The Gatekeepers of the Underworld say to him “Praise to you!” They loosen their bolts and open their gates before him, daily for millions and millions of years. The duration of his life never elapsing in eternity.
  • [North face] The god Osiris-Antinous, the justified, whose place this is; he makes a sports arena in his place in Egypt, which is named after him [Antinoöpolis], for the strong ones [athletes] that are in this land, and for the rowing-teams and the runners of the whole land and for all men who belong to the place of the sacred writings where Thoth is present. They receive the prizes awarded and crowns [garlands of flowers (?)] on their heads, while they are repaid with all sorts of good things. There are daily sacrifices on his [Antinous] altars, as the sacrifices were offered every day in the olden days. He will be praised as the artisans of Thoth respond to his glory. He goes out from his place to the numerous temples of the entire land; he grants the requests of those who call on him and he heals the sickness of those in need, sending them dreams. When his work is completed among the living, he takes every form to his heart, because the seed of the gods came into being in his body [...] the healing body of his mother. He was elevated from his birthplace through [...]
  • [South face] The god, who is there [the Hereafter], rests in this place [the Antinoeion at Tivoli], which is situated in the estate of the Lord of Prosperity of Rome [Hadrian]. He is known as a god in the sacred places of Egypt. Temples were erected for him and he is worshipped like a god by the prophets and priests of Upper- and Lower-Egypt, as well as by the Egyptians inhabitants. A city was named after him [Antinoöpolis]. Participants in his Grecian cult in Both Lands [of Egypt] and those who are in the temples of Egypt came here from their own districts and are given cultivated land to make their life good beyond measure. A temple of this god is there [Antinoöpolis], he is called Osiris-Antinous, the justified; it is constructed of good white stone, surrounded by statues of the gods [sphinxes (?)] and statues, also by numerous columns, made as our forefathers did, and also as the Greeks made them. All the gods and goddesses will give him the breath of life, so that he breathes, eternally rejuvenated.

Antinous in Roman sculpture

Hadrian "turned to [Greek sculptors] to perpetuate the melancholy beauty, diffident manner, and lithe and sensuous frame of his boyfriend Antinous," creating in the process what has been described as "the last independent creation of Greco-Roman art". It is traditionally assumed that they were all produced between Antinous' death in 130 and that of Hadrian in 138, on the grounds that no-one else would be interested in commissioning them. The assumption is that official models were sent out to provincial workshops all over the empire to be copied, with local variations permitted.

Cultural references

A "sexually ambivalent" young man ('Murugan Mailendra') in Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley
Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel...

's Island
Island (novel)
Island is the final book by English writer Aldous Huxley, published in 1962. It is the account of Will Farnaby, a cynical journalist who is shipwrecked on the fictional island of Pala. Island is Huxley's utopian counterpart to his most famous work, the 1932 novel Brave New World, itself often...

is likened to Antinous, and his lover Colonel Dipa (an older man) to Hadrian, after the narrator discovers the two are having a secret affair.

The story of Antinous' death was dramatized in the radio play The Glass Ball Game, Episode Two of the second series of the BBC radio series CAESAR, written by Mike Walker
Mike Walker (radio dramatist)
Mike Walker is a radio dramatist and feature and documentary writer. His radio work includes both original plays and adaptations of novels, classical and modern...

, directed by Jeremy Mortimer
Jeremy Mortimer
Jeremy Mortimer is a British director and producer of radio dramas for BBC Radio. He is the son of John and Penelope Mortimer. His credits include The Pattern of Painful Adventures and radio adaptations of Daphnis and Chloe , Philomel Cottage and The Time Machine...

 and starring Jonathan Coy
Jonathan Coy
Jonathan Coy is a British actor born in Hammersmith, London on 24 April 1953. He has worked since 1975 largely in television, notably as Henry in the long running legal series Rumpole and as Bracegirdle in the television series Hornblower, adapted from the books by C. S. Forester...

 as "Suetonius
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius , was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order in the early Imperial era....

", Jonathan Hyde
Jonathan Hyde
Jonathan Hyde is an Australian-born English actor, well known for his roles as J. Bruce Ismay, the managing director of the White Star Line in Titanic, Egyptologist Allen Chamberlain in The Mummy and Sam Parrish/Van Pelt, the hunter in Jumanji. He is married to the Scottish soprano Isobel Buchanan...

 as "Hadrian
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

" and Andrew Garfield
Andrew Garfield
Andrew Russell Garfield is an American-English actor who has appeared in radio, theatre, film, and television. His early roles include the films Lions for Lambs, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, and Boy A, which garnered him the 2007 BAFTA Television Award for "Best Actor".Garfield achieved...

 as "Antinous". In this story, Suetonius is a witness to the events before and after Antinous's death by suicide, but learns that he himself was used as an instrument to trick Antinous into killing himself willingly to fulfill a pact made by Hadrian with Egyptian priests to give Hadrian more time to live so that Marcus Aurelius may grow up to become the next Emperor.

In Oscar Wilde's story The Young King, a reference is made to the king kissing a statue of 'the Bithynian slave of Hadrian' in a passage describing the young king's aesthetic sensibilities and his "...strange passion for beauty...". Images of other classical paragons of male beauty, Adonis
Adonis , in Greek mythology, the god of beauty and desire, is a figure with Northwest Semitic antecedents, where he is a central figure in various mystery religions. The Greek , Adōnis is a variation of the Semitic word Adonai, "lord", which is also one of the names used to refer to God in the Old...

 and Endymion
Endymion (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Endymion , was variously a handsome Aeolian shepherd or hunter or a king who ruled and was said to reside at Olympia in Elis, but he was also said to reside and was venerated on Mount Latmus in Caria, on the west coast of Asia Minor....

, are also mentioned in the same context. Additionally, in Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Picture of Dorian Gray is the only published novel by Oscar Wilde, appearing as the lead story in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine on 20 June 1890, printed as the July 1890 issue of this magazine...

, the artist Basil Hallward describes the appearance of Dorian Gray as an event as important to his art as "the face of Antinous was to late Greek sculpture." Furthermore, in a novel attributed to Oscar Wilde, "Teleny, or The Reverse of the Medal", Des Grieux makes a passing reference to Antinous as he describes how he felt during a musical performance. "..I now began to understand things hitherto so strange, the love the mighty monarch felt for his fair Grecian slave, Antinous, who-- like unto Christ-- died for his master's sake."

In Marguerite Yourcenar
Marguerite Yourcenar
Marguerite Yourcenar was a Belgian-born French novelist and essayist. Winner of the Prix Femina and the Erasmus Prize, she was the first woman elected to the Académie française, in 1980, and the seventeenth person to occupy Seat 3.-Biography:Yourcenar was born Marguerite Antoinette Jeanne Marie...

's Mémoires d'Hadrien (1951), the love relationship between Antinous and Hadrian is one of the main themes of the book.


(The lacuna on p. 144 should read: "amid the tears".)

Ancient literary sources

  • Biography of Hadrian in the Augustan History
    Augustan History
    The Augustan History is a late Roman collection of biographies, in Latin, of the Roman Emperors, their junior colleagues and usurpers of the period 117 to 284...

     (attributed to Aelius Spartianus)
  • Cassius Dio, epitome of book 69

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.