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.