Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hadrian & Antinous: Mystery & Love The Eternal Romance

Hadrian's love and obsession for Antinous went far beyond that of the erastes-eromenos or Roman pueri delicati relatonships. Hadrian's love was obsessive and inflamed his passions to enormous heights. Hadrian was in all probability, extremely jealous of Antinous. This we know because of the way he guarded Sabina from any attention and from a previous post it is obvious the two cared little for each other. Hadrian was a cautious man as emperor and was in many ways a secretive man who closely guarded his thoughts on matters of state. However, when it came to the two men in his life he adored, Antinous and Commodus he displayed his feelings for in ways that had not been seen before in the world of the time. Hadrian made Antinous a god after his death and Commodus a Caesar. This was truly remarkable. We can only guess at the reasons Hadrian felt the need to make his love for Antinous so public after his death, but I think this small quote from Beloved and God is the closest to the truth. "One senses that like a true romantic Hadrian was absorbed more by the phenomenon of his own love than by the recipients of it, that his passion was but 'a version of the glorified self '."
Hadrian's love for Antinous was all-consuming and he was obsessed with him like no other. Once Antinous had died and Hadrian was in the last years of his reign his grief may have driven him to the edge of insanity. Even with all of this going on in the background, there is no reason to believe Hadrian negelected his duties as emperor. In fact many historians think of his reign in positive terms and many rank him right along with or second to his predecessor, Trajan.

Going from what we can know from history about Antinous, as mature and wise for his age as he may have been, it makes one wonder if Hadrian's passion for him may have been very difficult to bear at times. Also from Beloved and God: "But how much more difficult it was for this boy in addition to have to play the roles of god incarnate, intellectual companion, intrepid huntsman, wise counsellor and domestic diplomat all at once!"

There was a visit to the east in the year 128 AD that Antinous joined as a party in Hadrian's entourage. During this journey one wonders if Antinous contemplated Hadrian's overwhelming affections, the many roles he had to play in his life and possible doubts about his own future. Hadrian was not going to live forever and Antinous was not a remotely possible contender for the throne, even if he had wished this, which is extremely doubtful. If Hadrian did end up enjoying a very long life would he still be attracted to Antinous and could Antinous continue to play the role in Hadrian's life he had so been a part of ? Antinous was going to be a young man soon, no longer the ephebe that seemed to be so attractive to Hadrian's sensual tastes. Antinous had a lot to deal with for such a young lad, could it all have become too much?
The image is a statue of Antinous in Berlin's Altes museum.

I have decided to keep going as long as I can with our story. The only thing that would prevent me from adding more detail as we head into the final years of it are hours available to do research, connection problems and things like that. The coming posts as we head towards the end will be of varying length and specific themes. This post ended the series of what their relationship must have been like and the story behind it, there are more mysteries to come in this series and I will put up each post as it is finished. I hope also to keep on putting posts about other topics in between these and may have one about some questions about a paranormal phenomenon here very soon. Peace and be well to anyone stopping by.


wise woman said...

Good evening Devin (well it's evening in NZ!)

I think it must have indeed been a struggle for Antinous - being on a pedestal doesn't allow 'room to move'.

If I may move sideways on this comment, it parallels many women throughout history - put on a pedestal because of great beauty - but what could they do once there? I have also wondered if 'high heels' are a form of pedestal (they certainly restrict movement). Although slightly off topic, the effect of putting any human being on a pedestal I think must be the same.

Devin said...

It is eve-early morn here too wise-about 105am as I type this-I will look to see how far apart our local times are from each other.Like always I am delighted to see you here and I don't think your comments involving women or putting any human being on a pedestal were off topic or sideways at all-the more research I do into this story the more it seems like Antinous to Hadrian-must have been in the same situation of the female versions of him. Looking at your comment I just thought of something regarding high heels and great feminine beauty-the more of this a woman seems to have to me-talking about the physical plane-maybe it applies to the guys also-the more they are resticted such as wearing the footwear you mentioned-not a hair must be out of place and so on and so on. I think women have had a huge amount of horseshit -sorry for the lingo-to deal with in modern and of course ancient societies. Your comments here are always enjoyed and very thought provoking and along the lines of thinking about women I really need to start work on that female astronomer I mentioned-it would make a great one or two parter and I think would show how under appreciated and dismissed the eternal feminine acheteype is. I think one of the reasons society is so messed up today is because of the lop-sidedness of the male/female dualities. I have a short post in mind that I was going to do tonight kind of along the lines of this thinking-but wound up working on my paranormal one-I would really appreciate your take on it or any others I post-if no connection prbs happen (its been kind of on and off tonight)my short thoughts about the male/female dualities should be here within 2 days if not sooner-as it stands I will try to post my paranormal post after waiting to see if it looks like connection will stay. Peace and best to you and your family and blessings from AZ to NZ!

X. Dell said...

Well, pedestals are very confining spaces, for they don't allow for freedom of movement.

But maybe that's why its attractive to Hadrian and other pedestal placers. I don't know if I would use the phrase "glorified self," but the extension of a dominant personality into a weaker one, or perhaps even a competing one (as in love affairs), is a way of maintaining control--not only over the object of one's desire, but of others as well.

Devin said...

You know X -what you said about pedestals is so very true-I do not want to give away too much of my thinking on this story b4 the end-of course maybe a lot have formed their own opinions by now-but Antinous to me-anyway must have had some serious 'stressors' in his life for one so young-So glad you could stop by!