Antinous for Everybody

I worship a dead gay teenager and you can too

The museum, your local polytheist temple

I walked to the Walters Art Museum around noon today to have a look round the Greek and Egyptian exhibits and then perchance purchase a suitable idol of Glykon on this day dedicated to Serpent deities. (I.e., I was going to buy a rubber snake. Or a jointed wooden one. No luck.)

I didn’t find a snake to take home, but I did notice something that struck me the last time I went to the museum and looked at things with a devotee’s eye. I noticed that the Egyptian rooms feel much more alive than the Greek and Roman exhibit. There are many, many images of Egyptian deities in good condition, easily recognizable without reading the labels if you know your iconography; there are three mummies on display, one a falcon in a falcon-shaped reliquary, one a cat in your standard bundle, and “Mery”, an elderly woman of small stature, in her sarcophagus. I said hello to all the deities whose idols I saw and particularly noticed we have a number of Harpocrates images.

There are fewer statues or other images of deities per se in the Greco-Roman rooms, and they don’t inspire my greeting as consistently as the Egyptian images do. They seem more decorative than devotional, with a few exceptions–a stunning figure of the Gaulish Sucellus, in bronze; a recreation of a Lararium with tiny statues in a tiny temple. I wonder if this is just me, or something about the Walters’ collections, or have other people had similar experiences? Bueller?

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One thought on “The museum, your local polytheist temple

  1. Haven’t been there, but I know from various other museums that it can vary a great deal how inviting some images are, based on any number of things, including where and how they’re displayed. (The one original Antinous bust I’ve seen thus far was not very well displayed where I saw it, thus it wasn’t as immediately “attractive,” so to speak, as some of the other things displayed at the same place.)

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