The Latest News and Views about ANTINOUS the GAY GOD
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Hernestus, Priest of Antinous
The Memoirs of an Ancient Priest of Antinous (NEW)
Earlier Editions Back to 2009 Listed and Linked Below
A standing-room-only crowd will be on hand tonight when Antinous is the focus of a gala lecture at a prestigious museum of Egyptology.
John J Johnston, one of the world's leading authorities on Antinous, will present the talk entitled "A Boy and His Empire — Antinous, Last God of the Ancient World" at London's PETRIE MUSEUM OF EGYPTIAN ARCHAEOLOGY as part of Gay History Month in the British capital.
The Petrie (right) has a tradition of marking Gay History Month with Antinous-related events.
This lavishly illustrated lecture examines the enigmatic life and death of Antinous and draws upon artistic, archaeological, and religious sources in order to consider his legacy in the Egyptian city of Antinoopolis, which bore his name, in Rome, itself, and throughout the Empire.
Lecture organizers say Johnston's Antinous lectures in the past have drawn the largest turnout of any lecture in recent years at the Petrie, which houses the fourth-largest collection of Egyptian artefacts in the world, after the Cairo Museum, the Louvre and the British Museum.
Johnston is well known for giving lectures which offer a very thorough and precise outline of the historical person Antinous and his elevation by the Emperor Hadrian from provincial obscurity to the dizzying heights of Imperial Rome — and upon his death, to the celestial realm of divinity.
"I've been delighted to be invited back to speak once more on Antinous at the Petrie Museum for LGBT History Month," he told the Antinoopolis Gayzette. "And I will have an opportunity to cover, in addition to the historical and archaeological elements, Antinous' reception in the post-Classical world ... and will cover, amongst others Frederick II, Montague Summers, (Portuguese poet) Fernando Pessoa, Magnus Hirschfeld, and the recent, mooted, film projects."
He added, "Bringing the discussion right up-to-date, I will also be addressing your own Priesthood of Antinous and the Antinopolis.org website, as exemplars of Antinous' influence on modern popular culture."
In addition, he added, "I have a conference paper to prepare for later in the Spring, which will be much more focused upon the effect of Antinous upon western gay culture, entitled 'The Cult of Antinous: 1,882 Years and Counting?'."
In his in-depth research into Antinoiana, Johnston (shown right in Paris with an Antinous fountain) has advanced a remarkable theory about how tall Antinous may have been in life. Johnston has noted that Hadrian and Antinous visited Delphi and also that the Delphi Antinous statue (above left) had been found standing perfectly upright, which indicated that it had been very carefully buried by the priests so as to protect it from marauding Christians.
Clearly, the priests considered it very special. There are many larger-than-life statues of Antinous. And there are many busts. But the Delphi is a life-size statue, and Johnston has said it is possible that it actually was modeled from the living Antinous during his visit there.
If that was indeed the case, then it is possible, according to Johnston, that Antinous was 5-feet, 8-inches tall (173 cms), which would have made him a taller-than-average young man in the 2nd Century AD. "He literally would have stood above his contemporaries," Johnston has said.
An expert on sexuality in Ancient Egypt, Johnston is working toward his PhD at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, where he obtained his MA in Egyptian Archaeology and assists with teaching. His PhD research addresses aspects of personal identity and display as revealed through Ptolemaic mortuary beliefs and practices.
He has lectured throughout Britain on subjects as diverse as the cinematic reception of ancient Egypt, alternative sexualities in Ancient Egypt, 19th Century collections of Egyptian artefacts and their collectors, and his recent discovery of royal shabtis at the Cuming Museum.
And now for something completely different — the Hadrian's Wall BBC radio sitcom series.
A new radio sitcom focusing on the plight of Roman soldiers stationed at a bleak frontier outpost along Hadrian's Wall in the 2nd Century AD will air on the BBC next month.
Entitled "It's Grim Up North", the series originated as an internet download and will now air on BBC Cumbria, offering listeners a bit of history along with humor. The sitcom's characters are plucky soldiers from Britain, Italy, Algeria and other far-flung corners of the empire who have been told they are being sent to Hadrian's Wall to broaden their horizons and sample a new culture.
It's the year 126 AD and Hadrian's Wall is well underway. The magnificent forts at Housesteads and Birdoswald are also up and running and the auxiliary troops housed there have a cushy number: soft beds, decent food, entertainment, the latest fashions from Rome, luxurious communal toilets, hot baths, and all the conveniences of Rome. They may not enjoy the full status of the legions based in York and building the wall is hard work, but the compensations of living in relative luxury clearly outweigh the disadvantages. So the men are looking forward to their transfer.
The only problem is that these men discover to their dismay that they are not being stationed at one of the forts — they are stationed in a ramshackle "milecastle" where it rains incessantly and the food is awful, hence their common refrain, "It's grim up north." Their new home is Milecastle 17 — dubbed Drizzlewort.
The soldiers posted to Drizzlewort never stop complaining, and are generally the lowest of the low, most of whom would desert given half a chance. Their only neighbors are some scraggly local Pictish rebels — the Boadecia Resistance Army (BRA).
However, every cloud has a silver lining and, given the place's strategic importance and isolation, there are always good business opportunities for people who can manipulate the system...
The radio sitcom is the latest brainchild of British playwrights Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood, who have written eight successful plays, including the phenomenal "Dirty Dusting" — a tale of three elderly cleaning ladies who set up a telephone sex line — which has played to full houses across the UK, Ireland and Australia, and "Waiting For Gateaux" which sold out ten weeks before its opening night, completed a successful tour of New Zealand in 2007 and toured the UK in recent years. Their radio play "Son of Samurai" was featured at the Latitude Festival in 2008.
Pictured above left is Ed Waugh with a 2nd Century Roman helmet and short sword along with a 21st Century DAB-Plus digital radio (photo courtesy the Jarrow and Hebburn Gazette). Waugh told the newspaper: "Hadrian's Wall is a fantastic setting for a show and we hope people in radioland find it as funny as the positive responses we got from the website broadcast. Apart from further radio broadcasts, our aim is to add more episodes and tour the production along Hadrian's Wall as a live radio stage show in a similar manner to what we did with 'Son of Samurai' when it was performed at the Latitude Festival and at venues in the North East."
BBC Cumbria broadcast executive Nigel Dyson commissioned the sitcom after hearing the pilot episode on the internet.
"I loved the idea, the setting, the script and the passion of Ed and Trevor when pitching this," Dyson told the northern England newspaper. "It captures the imagination, and uses our own region's history to suggest just what it might have been like to be a soldier when Hadrian's Wall was built."
On January 22nd, as the Sun and the Moon align for the Aquarius New Moon overnight Sunday/Monday, the Religion of Antinous pays tribute to the outstandingly beautiful young Trojan mortal named Ganymedes (Ganymede) who caused the bi-sexual king of the gods, Zeus/Jupiter, to fall in love with him and swoop him off to Olympus to be his celestial water boy. Or nectar boy.
The story goes that Zeus was in need of a cup-bearer at the time, since the previous holder of the job, Hebe, had tripped and fallen while performing her duties. Having a few cups of golden nectar dumped over him did nothing for Jove's already notorious temper, and he decided to combine business with pleasure and offer the now-vacant job to the handsome young man who had just caught his divine eye.
He therefore sent his messenger, a giant eagle, to carry Ganymedes to Olympus. In Classical Mythology it is called The Abduction and Rape of Ganymede. The Romans called him Catamitus, from which we derive the word "catamite" to describe such toy boys who are maintained by men of power and wealth.
But gay men throughout history have always interpreted the story differently. We see it from Ganymede's viewpoint. As we sit there in school, pimply-faced adolescents stuck in a humdrum existence surrounded by bullying heterosexuals. Who among us hasn't read the story of Jove and Ganymede and wished that some all-powerful being would air-lift us out of there to live in splendor — and to be loved and appreciated — for all time, forever and ever?
Homophobic monotheists have viewed the story of Zeus and Ganymede with disgust throughout the ages, and use it as an example of the vile depravity of Greece and Rome. It's a straight man's worst nightmare: Being held captive as a gay man's plaything, never to enjoy a woman ever again.
Ganymede saw this as a good career move — barman to the gods, living in otherworldly luxury, all expenses paid on Olympus, plus a great fringe benefit: lover to the king of the gods — and so (times being what they were and Ganymede having no other job skills) he accepted the position. Not that he had much choice, of course, with a giant eagle standing over him, conducting a cursory job interview.
Jupiter/Zeus was so pleased with him that he declared the eagle that had brought him to Olympus to be the greatest of birds, placing it in the heavens as a reward. To the Greeks the constellation was Aetos, The Eagle, while the Romans saw it as Ganymedes Raptrix, The Huntress of Ganymedes.
We know it today by another Latin name, as Aquila, The Eagle. In astronomy we have a bi-sexual planet, Jupiter (the Roman name for Zeus), still attended by his lover in the form of the moon Ganymede — the largest moon in our Solar System.
The parallels between Zeus and Ganymede and Hadrian and Antinous were unmistakable to the Romans, of course. Ganymede and Antinous both came from Asia Minor. Both were exceedingly beautiful youths. Both were carried away by the Eagle. For the Romans, of course, the Eagle represented the Emperor. And the Emperor represented Zeus/Jupiter.
The Divine Hadrian WAS Zeus/Jupiter. And Antinous was his constant companion, the bearer of the symbolic cup of youth-giving love and vibrance.
Just view the story from the viewpoint of Antinous. He was a youth who caught the eye of a living god, the most powerful man on Earth. And this divinity swept him up into realms of unimaginable riches and luxury and power and influence. The Imperial Court must have seemed like a Magical Realm populated by divine beings whose every whim became instant reality.
The relationship between the Emperor Hadrian and Antinous was compared with that between Zeus and Ganymedes — the emperor was, after all, a god. And, after Antinous' death in the Nile, this mythological comparison had a bearing on what followed. As well as naming a city in his dead lover's honor, Antinoopolis, and having him declared a god; the emperor ordered that he be placed among the stars.
The result was the CONSTELLATION OF ANTINOUS, which was located immediately below (and using some of the stars of) Ganymedes Raptrix. The eagle of Jove thus carried Antinous across the heavens to Hadrian, just as it had carried Ganymedes to Zeus on Mount Olympus. Given the relationship between Hadrian and Antinous, the mythological symbolism was perfect — mighty god and beautiful young lover.
You won't find the constellation listed in any astronomy book however, nor will you find the correct version of either the story of Hadrian and Antinous, nor that of Zeus and Ganymedes. The former because it no longer exists, and the latter due to prejudice.
In the 17th Century, Johannes Hewelcke of Gdansk/Danzig took stars from Antinous to form his own constellation of Scutum, representing the shield of his patron, King Jan Sobieski III of Poland. And by the end of the 18th Century, Antinous had been dropped altogether from the star maps, the remainder of its stars returning to Aquila, so that Antinous joins a long list of rejected constellations.
That is why you won't find it on any modern star chart. As to the mythological and historical associations, no astronomy publication, to my knowledge, has ever given the correct versions. They always refer to Ganymede simply as a young man taken to Mount Olympus to be a cupbearer, and Antinous as a "favourite at court" or some such euphemism, all in order to avoid the gay connections in both tales.
The major difference between the stories of Zeus/Ganymede and Hadrian/Antinous is the fact that Zeus/Ganymede were mythological beings and Hadrian/Antinous were real, live human beings who walked and breathed and ate and shat on this mortal Earth. That is also the salient feature of the Magnificent Religion of Antinous. Who knows whether Jesus of Nazareth (and Judas and all the others) actually ever existed? There is no tangible proof that they lived. Only scriptures.
But we know for a fact that Hadrian lived and that Antinous lived — and died.
Even the story of the STAR OF ANTINOUS is recorded in history, and verified by mystic Jewish and Chinese star-gazers. It involved a celestial event in the heavens a couple of years after the death of Antinous. In the month of January shortly after the Sun entered the Sign of Aquarius.
On January 29th, a "new star" appeared just before dawn in the constellation Aquila, the Eagle. The skies were glowing rosy pink at sunrise as a bright new star appeared on the eastern horizon where the Constellation of Aquila was the Rising Sign of the new day.
The court astrologers declared that it was Antinous taking his place in the heavens. Hadrian ordered them to draw a new constellation embraced by the Eagle, and called it the Constellation of Antinous. The Roman historian Cassius Dio was skeptical that a new star had appeared in the sky. But simultaneously, the leader of the Jewish revolt named Bar Kochba, whose priestly name means "Son of the Star," was declared the Messiah because a celestial event had proclaimed him the savior of Israel.
The mystery of the star is real, just as Hadrian and Antinous are real historical human beings. We know for a fact that a celestial event of great magnitude occurred shortly after the death of Antinous within the constellation of the Eagle for the New God. The three sacred stars of the constellation Aquila, named Tarzad, Altair and Alshain, rise above the horizon just before sunrise on this night and are an allegory for the assumption of Ganymede/Antinous into heaven. This date is suggested by Chinese Novae observations which have been dated as occurring on the 29th of January 132 AD, and are compared to the Star of Antinous.
At this time of year, the Constellation of Antinous is just beginning its long rise into the heavens following its conjunction with the Sun during the December Solstice. Antinous the God is rising toward his apex in the heavens next August when the Sun enters the Sign of Leo. That is the day we remember The Sacred Lion Hunt when Antinous took aim with his lance and arrow.
Tonight, when you look into the skies during the Aquarius New Moon, think of the triumph of Antinous — a real, living human being who was swept aloft to Olympian heights by the Roman Eagle and who became a God — ANTINOUS THE GAY GOD. Let his arrows enter your heart and fill you with his divinity.
A 200-year-old inkwell in the form of a bust of Antinous was put up for auction today on eBay for a starting price of $1,950.
The seller, an antiques dealer in Brussels, calls it a "Grand Tour" mememto, recalling the "Antinomania" of the 18th and 19th Centuries when well-heeled British and American tourists would scour Europe in search of anything related to the Beauteous Boy. To cash in on the craze, artists of varying ability created every sort of Antinous-related curio and souvenir item.
This charming bronze inkwell is one of the finest spin-off merchandising items from that period. The Belgian seller says it dates from the early 19th Century.
It is quite small — only 10.5 cm (just over 4 inches) tall — but it is lovingly detailed. Experts may quibble about the curls, but the fact remains that the eyes gaze languidly to one side, head tilted slightly. That is a dead give-away that the artist did indeed intend this to be a portrait of Antinous.
It could well fetch far more than the seller's asking price, because any Antinous-related item automatically attracts the attention of Antinous-lovers all over the world. The fact that this little inkwell is "only" two centuries old, limits its appeal (and its monetary value) somewhat.
An ancient Antinous artefact, such as a 2nd Century balsamarium (unguent vase) of the same size, would bring many times the amount that the Belgian seller is asking.
A year ago, an 1,800-year-old marble portrait bust of the Deified Antinous sold at auction at Sotheby's in New York for a staggering $23,826,500 — more than 10 times what it had been expected to fetch.
That makes the little bronze Antinous inkwell a bargain at only a fraction of the price! If your pocketbook permits, click on "BID" right now — you will have something to celebrate during the MINOR BACCHANALIA.
Today is special in several religious calendars. It is Eastern Orthodox Christmas. And for other Christians it is the 12th and Final Day of Christmas (12th Night), the Epiphany or "shining forth" of Jesus when the Magi arrived in Bethlehem.
But for the RELIGION OF ANTINOUS the 6th of January is also special. We celebrate the MINOR BACCHANALIA. Flamen Antinoalis Antonyus explains this holy day this way:
The lesser Festival of Dionysus is celebrated when the wine has reached fermentation. Traditionally a secret ceremony limited to women, but opened to men during Roman times. It is the season in which Dionysus rules at Delphi and at Eleusis, though the full ceremonies of the Minor Bacchanalia were only performed once every two years. Mythologically this is the occasion when the Titans lure and capture the child Dionysus, charming him with a mirror and toys. The Titans murder him, rend his limbs from his body and eat his flesh. This is the first Wine festival and triumphal procession of the entourage of Dionysus whose arrival signals the Victory of Antinous over the forces of life and death as represented by the Archons.
This holy day prepares us for the VICTORIA ANTINOI on the 11th of January which ends the 72-day mummification process and heralds the "Going forth by day" of Antinous into the Heavens. If you had a little bronze Antinous inkwell, you could jot all this down in ink for future reference. You could conceivably even use the inkwell as a tiny goblet.
2011 ANTINOOPOLIS GAYZETTE EDITIONS
2010 ANTINOOPOLIS GAYZETTE EDITIONS
SEPTEMBER through DECEMBER 2009
JUNE, JULY and AUGUST 2009
APRIL and MAY 2009
FEBRUARY and MARCH 2009
Hernestus, Priest of Antinous