Monday, 3 June 2013
illustration: cult of antinous
Antinous was a beautiful Bithynian youth and the ill-fated lover of the Roman emperor Hadrian, who drowned in the Nile 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. Hadrian went through the process of deifying him soon afterwards (the glorification of a subject to divine level), a process previously exclusively reserved for imperial family members rather than friends or lovers of non-Roman origin. The grief of the emperor knew no bounds, causing the most extravagant veneration to be paid to Antinous' memory. A cult arose, encouraged by the emperor, to worshop Antinous, that extended throughout the Greco-Roman world. 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.