The Visit to the Colossoi of Memnon, Day 1


On this day the colossoi do not speak.
The voice does not resound.
We came to hear the gods,
and the gods were silent.
Only the river continues to run, as ever.
Sometimes the oracle does not answer,
the gods do not speak,
the wisdom of the past
has nothing to say to us.
Sometimes we wait for a sign
that does not come, a feeling
that is not felt, a moment
that never ripens. And yet,
the only solution is to try
again: To remain faithful
to the tradition, to wait
with patience for the answer,
to come again tomorrow
and hope the ancient statues
will sing.


FICTION: A leisurely cruise through the stars, part nine

Antinous dressed for dinner in simple contemporary clothes: A deep red henley that clung to the curves of his chest and shoulders and trousers that clung as determinedly to the curves of his thighs and buttocks. He slipped his feet into a pair of Italian loafers and contemplated his image in the looking-glass, running his hands through freshly washed hair.

“Vain boy,” Hadrian said, passing by with Sabina on their way to the dining hall.

Antinous fluttered his lashes, making Sabina laugh and Hadrian grumble. He had had a long converse with Lucius that included soaking in the baths, fucking in Lucius’ cabin, and showering off after a nap; he was feeling relaxed, happy to have Lucius and Sabina and Hadrian and so many who were dear to him on board the Barque, and excited at the chance for a more intimate conversation with Melinoe, the daughter of Persephone and foster-daughter of Hel.

Hermes himself had come bearing the request that Antinous convey the young goddess from the realm of her foster-mother, lady of the dead in the north, back to the realm of Hades where her parents ruled. Yet though he carried the herald’s staff, the request had been a true request, coming from Persephone, not an order from Zeus or any higher authority. Of course he was happy to oblige; one of the things he enjoyed most about godhood was being the captain of a travelling party in the afterlife. The Barque was a joyful home for the blessed dead in itself and also a transport to any place within the other worlds, and Antinous had found himself a welcome visitor to almost every port.

Satisfied that he looked both sufficiently godly and sufficiently on point, as the youth were saying in the earthly realms, Antinous went to the private dining room by way of the kitchens, making sure that the dinner was in readiness. He was lighting the lamps himself when Melinoe arrived at his door.

“My lady.” He bowed. “May I say that you flatter the dress you have chosen to wear?”

“My thanks to you.” Melinoe tiptoed into the room. “I modeled it after something I saw down below. However, I may be regretting adopting the shoes.”

Her feet were clad in glittering high-heeled sandals with heel and ankle straps–very on point, but difficult to walk in if one were unused to the style. They went well, however, with her gown: A fitted frock of nearly sheer violet stuff with an applique of birds and blossoms in vivid hues that covered her from breast to thigh. Her hair fell loosely over her shoulders, smelling of cinnamon and myrrh.

“Please, sit down,” Antinous gestured to the table, “and don’t hesitate to slip those shoes off–I won’t be looking under the table to scold if you do!”

Smiling, the goddess took her seat at the small round table for two. Antinous lit the last two lamps on their stands and took his seat as well. Small candles burned between them, kindling lights in the colors of his guest’s gown, in her wide grey eyes, in her glossy black and white hair.

“I thought it might please you to sample some foods you have not, I think, had in a long while,” Antinous said. He cleared his throat. “I have ordered a tasting menu of foods from Greece and around the Mediterranean Sea, with local wines.”

“That sounds delicious,” the goddess said. He was struck, not for the first time, by the brightness and happiness of her face, the sheer enthusiasm she radiated. In his experience, most of the deities of the underworlds were more solemn, dealing as they did with human loss and grief, with the multitudes of the deceased and the greater multitudes of those who had not been properly honored at death and wandered restlessly through all the worlds. The realm of Hel was notoriously somber even amongst the lands of death, yet Melinoe had come out of her long fostering there with a smile on her face.

A server arrived with the first course of food, diverting Antinous from gazing at his guest. “Here we have tzatziki, made of cucumber and fresh sheep’s-milk yogurt seasoned with garlic, mint, and dill. This is hummus, made from chickpeas, sesame, garlic, and olive oil. This dish is melitzanosalata, roasted eggplant mixed with tomatoes, yogurt, garlic, and herbs. And finally, we have fresh vegetables and toasted pita bread to dip.”

While Melinoe was exclaiming over the variety of spreads, another server arrived and set down two tall plain modern glasses for water and two heavy glass goblets made in the Roman fashion, the richly figured and colored stuff that Hadrian had been proud of on his tables. A third server filled the modern vessels with water and the goblets with a golden wine.

“This is retsina,” Antinous said, lifting his goblet. “It’s white wine flavored with pine resin. Long ago it was created by accident when mortals used pine resin to seal their wine jugs, but they still drink it for the flavor. I drank quite a lot of it in my hometown and have never lost the taste.” He raised the goblet toward Melinoe. “To your health, lady!”

“To your health!”

They both drank. Antinous watched the goddess sip carefully and savor the pungent taste.

“It pairs very well with the food before us,” he said, when she smiled and made no comment. “Please, guests should eat first.”


Sacred Nights: Foundation Day 2015

It is 1885 years since the apotheosis of Antinous, on this day in 130 CE.

It is 1885 years since the foundation of Antinoöpolis, His holy city named after Himself as the Founding Hero, on this day in 130 CE.

It is 13 years since the refounding of His cultus in the 21st century.

Let Osiris rejoice with Hapi, for the youth whom they deified is recognized today as a god.

Let all the goddesses rejoice, and with them the divae, heroines, and sanctae, for the Bithynian Boy has become divine, and his mother’s whole body heals.

Let Ophion, Chnoubis, and Glykon rejoice, and with them all the serpent deities, for the mystery of apotheosis is renewed in the sight of mortals.

Let Ananke rejoice, for what was necessary has been carried out.

Let Hadrian and Sabina rejoice even as they mourn, for while Antinous the youth is dead, Antinous the god lives forever and loves them and blesses them.

Let the people of Antinous rejoice, for our god is eternally alive and loves us and blesses us.

Let all the gods of every land and people rejoice, for a new immortal has been added to their ranks.

Welcomed by Persephone, purified by Hapi, one with Osiris, enthroned with the gods of Egypt, Antinous lives!

The Emperor and the candidates

When I first got involved in Antinoan spirituality, late in 2012, one problem I had was the importance of the Imperial cultus. Antinous was, after all, the favorite of a Roman emperor; without that connection, he would likely have lived and died in obscurity. Even if he had drowned in the Nile and been given local cultus according to Egyptian tradition, without a grieving lover who had the power to build temples for him all over the Empire, he would probably never had been honored outside of a very small radius.

Furthermore, the Ekklesia Antinoou honors not only Hadrian, but other members of the Imperial family were divinized: Hadrian’s wife Sabina, his predecessors Nerva and Trajan, and their wives, to name but a few. Hadrian was not only keen to promote the cult of Antinous, he was generous in seeking the elevation of his family, particularly of his female connections.

Yet I found the pro-Imperial stance of the Ekklesia troublesome. This strikes me very funny now: I still identified at least partly as a Christian, but I was okay with honoring a deified youth who was the bit on the side for an older man. I just wasn’t okay with honoring the older man *and* his possibly neglected wife, too.

More seriously, this reluctance came from the more progressive strands of Christian teaching I had inherited. In my thinking, the Romans were the bad guys. They were the unwanted occupiers of Jesus’ homeland; they were the authorities who executed him, essentially for terrorism. Pilate may have been manipulated by the local Jewish authorities, but only he had the power to order an execution. If he had said no, Jesus would have walked free, just like Barabbas. (Bearing in mind that the Gospels seem to be spinning the situation to absolve Pilate and blame the Jewish religious leaders as much as possible!)

The earliest martyrs had died rather than offer incense to the Emperor as a being equal or superior to Jesus. Some magistrates, if the stories can be trusted, pleaded with their prisoners to be reasonable, to make that tiny concession, just do it and make amends to their god later. They would not. They wound up herded into the arena to give the professional fighters a break while the crowd laughed at old man and unmarried men trying to hold off lions or take swords against one another.

I have always loved the Romans, actually, but they did have some unpleasant tendencies. Then again, nowadays we still watch spectacles of killing–they’re just done in CGI and motion capture. I’m pretty sure the average Roman crowd would have loved a 3D superhero movie.

The other side of the story, of course, is that once the Empire became Christian, Christianity became the Empire. As soon as Christians felt they had won the battle against the pagans, thanks to Constantine’s patronage, they started fighting amongst themselves for the position of Official Version of the Truth. In fact, that battle started before the Edict of Milan; much of early Christian history can be seen as a series of rabid flame wars over whose Jesus story is canon and whose is inferior fanfic. (Ask me sometime about the similarities between fandom and religion. Just ask me.) Bart Ehrman’s Lost Christianities has some entertaining accounts of bishops who are now called saints trash-talking each other in terms that would not be out of place in YouTube comments.

When the Roman Empire finally crashed, it was the Roman Church in the West and the Byzantine Church in the East that picked up the slack and provided what was left of order and sanity for a while. Bishops became princes, as did abbots in some regions, and they stayed that way for quite a while. Even now, in the U.K., bishops of the Church of England sit in the House of Lords. Five hundred years or so after the Reformation that split Western Christendom, every Christian denomination, no matter how tiny, how marginal, secretly or not so secretly thinks that it has the right to rule the world. Christian hegemony is a very large, slow, stupid animal that has been wounded in places it can’t see, and it’s staggering slowly and heavily toward its inevitable death without really understanding what is happening.

Right now I am looking at Hadrian, on this feast of his accession as Emperor, and thinking much less about those early Christian martyrs, though I still honor some of them, but of the state of our government here in the United States, and of the various candidates who have put themselves forward for the Presidency, already. I might be lighting a candle later and praying to the Divine Hadrian to spare us from Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, et al. Some days an Imperial monarchy really does not look so bad.

Hymn XVIII: To Antinous and Hadrian

Lover and beloved, erastes and eromenos,
emperor and favorite, Hadrian and Antinous:
For eighteen hundred years your names have been named
together. Antinous, enthroned with the gods of Egypt,
divine by the gift of the Nile; Hadrian, called divus
by the Roman Senate, divine by right of the numen Augusti.
Hail to you, Hadrian and Antinous, Antinous and Hadrian,
friends and lovers! In equal love you have traded places
again and again. Hadrian raised you, Antinous,
to imperial favor, but Osiris lifted you to godhood;
you, Hadrian, pontifex maximus, led the way
in the new god’s cult. Now Hadrian is in the court
of Antinous as Antinous once was in his, and never
shall the two be named apart: Hadrian and Antinous,
Antinous and Hadrian, hail to you, avete!

Hello and welcome

Welcome to Antinous for Everybody, a blog devoted to the Greek-Egyptian-Roman god Antinous, his revived worship in the 21st century, and your blogger’s attempts at practicing polytheism, including devotion to Antinous. Here are some things you should know about Antinous:
  • Antinous was a historical person, a young man from Bithynia, a province of the Roman Empire near what is now called the Black Sea.
  • He was the lover of the Emperor Hadrian.
  • He was deified according to Egyptian custom when he drowned in the Nile. To drown in the Nile conferred union with Osiris, the god of life in the afterworld.
  • He was not deified because the Emperor was his boyfriend, but his worship would likely not have become widespread if he hadn’t been connected to Hadrian.
  • His worship did spread throughout the Empire, promoted by Hadrian with the founding of a city on the site of his death, building of temples, and holding of games in his honor, until it was suppressed along with other pagan cultus by the Church.
  • Antinous is not just “a gay god” or a god for gay men or a god of being gay. He is a god of poetry, athletic competition, love, hunting, and the mysteries of apotheosis, just to scratch the surface, who was and is available to anyone who prays to him.
  • If you want to know everything there is to know about Antinous and his revived worship, visit the Aedicula Antinoi, his virtual shrine and one of the best blogs I’ve ever read.

A few things you might want to know about me, your blogger:

  • I am not a gay man. In fact, I’m a bisexual cisgender woman.
  • I’m also a writer and musician, and I work in my city’s public library.
  • I grew up a High Church Episcopalian, but I’ve been interested in comparative religion and mythology for as long as I could read.
  • I’ve explored Wicca, Druidry, Tibetan Buddhism, and generic neopaganism on my way to discovering Antinous.
  • I’m new to the worship of Antinous, but I feel a strong devotion to him.
  • I’m a citizen, that is, a member of the Ekklesía Antínoou–-a queer, Graeco-Roman-Egyptian syncretist reconstructionist polytheist group dedicated to Antinous, the deified lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, and related deities and divine figures (a direct quote from the founder of the E.A., P. Sufenas Virius Lupus).
  • I honor a spread of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian gods, along with various ancestors and spirits.
  • I really, really, really like birds. My significant other, in a non-sexual sense, is my cockatiel, Rembrandt.