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Antinous bust of the Prado museum, Royal collection, Madrid

Antinoüs or Antinoös (Greek: ) (c. November 29, 111–October 30, 130) was a member of the Roman Emperor Hadrian's entourage, to whom he was beloved. He was deified after his death.


Antinous was born to a Greek family in Bithynionmarker-Claudiopolismarker, in the Roman province of Bithynia in what is now north-west Turkeymarker. One version is that Antinous joined the entourage of the Emperor when Hadrian passed through Bithynia in about 124, and soon became his beloved companion who accompanied him on his many journeys through the empire. Another version has it that Hadrian had the empire searched for the most beautiful youth, and chose Antinous. Although some have suggested the two might have had a romantic relationship, it is uncertain if this was true.

In October 130, according to Hadrian, cited by Dio Cassius, "Antinous was drowned in the Nilus."(D.C. 69.11) It is not known whether his death was the result of accident, suicide, murder, or religious sacrifice.

At Antinous's death the emperor decreed his deification, and the 2nd century Christian writer Tatian mentions a belief that his likeness was placed over the face of the Moon, though this may be exaggerated due to his anti-pagan polemical style.


After his death, the grief of the emperor knew no bounds, causing the most extravagant respect to be paid to his memory. Cities were founded in his name, medals struck with his effigy, and statues erected to him in all parts of the empire. Following the example of Alexander (who sought divine honours for his beloved general, Hephaistion, when he died) Hadrian had Antinous proclaimed a god. Temples were built for his worship in Bithynia, Mantineiamarker in Arcadiamarker, and Athensmarker, festivals celebrated in his honour and oracles delivered in his name. The city of Antinopolismarker or Antinoe was founded on the ruins of Besa where he died (Dio Cassius lix.11; Spartianus, "Hadrian"). One of Hadrian's attempts at extravagant remembrance failed, when the proposal to create a constellation of Antinous being lifted to heaven by an eagle (the constellation Aquila) failed of adoption.

After deification, Antinous was associated with and depicted as the Ancient Egyptian god Osiris, associated with the rebirth of the Nile. Antinous was also depicted as the Roman Bacchus, a god related to fertility, cutting vine leaves.
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 Vaticanmarker, a bust in the Louvremarker (the Antinous Mondragone), a bas-relief from the Villa Albani, a statue in the Capitoline museummarker (the so-called Capitoline Antinous, now accepted to be a portrayal of Hermes), another in Berlinmarker, another in the Lateran and one in the Fitzwilliam Museummarker; 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. 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 Villamarker.


Image:Antinous_Pio-Clementino_Inv256_n2.jpg|As Bacchus, VaticanImage:Antinous Pio-Clementino Inv256.jpg|As Bacchus, VaticanImage:Delphiantinous.jpg|from DelphiImage:Antinous Mandragone profil.jpg|Antinous Mondragone at the Louvre MuseummarkerImage:Antinous Ecouen Louvre Ma1082 n3.jpg|Antinous Ecouen, from Villa Adrianamarker at TivolimarkerImage:AntinousPalazzoAltempsVariant2.jpg|Bust of Antinous in the Palazzo Altemps museum in Rome.Image:Anderson, James (1813-1877), Antinoo ai Musei vaticani, ca. 1860..jpg|Vatican Museumsmarker, colossal bust, from Villa AdrianaImage:Bust Antinoos Musei Capitolini MC294.jpg|As Bacchus, Capitoline MuseumsmarkerImage:Antinous Braschi Louvre Ma2243.jpg|The Antinous Braschi type (Louvremarker)Image:Antinous imperial cult Louvre Ma1781.jpg|Antinous as a priest of the imperial cult (Louvre)Image:Antinoo Farnese - Napoli, Museo Archeologico nazionale - foto di Giorgio Sommer (1834-1914).jpg|Antinous Farnese, Naples National Archaeological MuseummarkerImage:Capitoline Antinous Musei Capitolini MC741 n2.jpg|Capitoline Antinous, Capitoline Museumsmarker, from the Villa AdrianaImage:Antinoos.PNG|Villa Albani relief from the Torlonia collection, RomeImage:Antinous Dionysos Terme.jpg|Relief, as Sylvanus, National Museum of RomeImage:Antinous-osiris.JPG|Antinous as OsirisImage:Bust Antinoos Antikensammlung Berlin Sk364 n2.jpg|Head (the bust is modern), Antikensammlung BerlinmarkerImage:Édouard-Henri Avril (18).jpg|Illustration by Édouard-Henri Avril.File:Εικόνα 008.jpg|Egyptianizing statue of Antinoos, National Archaeological Museum of Athensmarker.File:AntinousAsOsiris-BritishMuseum-August19-08.jpg|Antinous as Osiris, found in the ruins of Hadrian's villa during the 18th century

Cultural references

A "sexually ambivalent" young man ('Murugan Mailendra') in Aldous Huxley's Island 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: AN EMPIRE WITHOUT END, written by Mike Walker, directed by Jeremy Mortimer and starring Jonathan Coy as "Suetonius", Jonathan Hyde as "Hadrian" and Andrew Garfield 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.



Ancient Literary Sources

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