Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hadrian & Antinous: Mystery & Love- Sabina

As our story continues some might wonder if Hadrian had any sexual attraction towards women and what his relationship with his wife, Sabina ,was like. The historical evidence that shows Hadrian had any desire for heterosexual relations is extremely limited and in some cases the origin of the claims are suspicious. The claim that Hadrian had an aldulterous affair with Plotina, the wife of Trajan, is also of dubious veracity.

From Royston Lambert's, Beloved and God: "Despite the confident claims of the school which sees him as the adulterous father of Commodus, or the shamefaced suggestion that he was the lover of Plotina, there exist in the whole of the extensive ancient literature about him only three meagre references to any erotic or sexual relations with women. The Historia Augusta tells us in the same breath ('it was said') he was addicted to passion for males and to adulteries with married women. Though it provides various confirmatory evidence for the males, it is amazingly silent about the women: not a name, not a rumour, not an anecdote is given. Origen, writing in about 249 AD, and doing his best to make Antinous, recently compared to Jesus, seem an ineffective nullity even in his specialty of perverted sex, sneers that, 'he did not even keep the man [Hadrian] from a morbid lust for women. Dio Cassius twice reports the gossip of his father that Plotina was in love with Hadrian, but not, it should be carefully observed, that Hadrian was in love with her."

Hadrian may have been bisexual, but there is a paucity of evidence from history to suggest aldulterous affairs with the opposite sex. Hadrian's relationship to Trajan's wife Plotina seems to be of a mother/son nature. In fact in modern day terms Hadrian would be thought of as seeking a mother substitute, even though his real mother Domitia Paulina lived to be in her sixties during her son's reign. He was very appreciative of the support he received from the women in his life at crucial times, but even here, especially in regards to Plotina's crucial support for him throughout his life, he did not bestow the type of honors and memorials upon her passing that even came close to his memorializations and tributes to the men in his life who he was close to that died.

Hadrian's relationhip with his wife, Sabina, appeared to have been strained if not outright hostile to say the least. There was a complete lack of mutual interests between the two and they had very different temperments. Sabina must have felt deep feelings of sexual and emotional rejection by Hadrian. She must have been extremely aggravated that as Hadrian pursued the young men he lusted after, he had rejected any men from his court who might have had an interest in Sabina. Only Sabina's female admirer's such as Balbilla were left to admire 'the amiable beauty of our queen'. I think Hadrian's only sexual interest in Sabina was to sire an heir to the throne. Sabina is said to have taken measures to prevent becoming pregnant by Hadrian out of spite-who could blame her? Maybe she took one of the sterility inducing drugs mentioned by Juvenal, a Roman poet active in the first century and early second century, who wrote the Satires.

Sabina must have felt extremely lonely and frustrated in her thirty-six years of marriage to Hadrian. A marriage without love or sexual fulfillment. She was publicly humiliated by Hadrian's affairs, who had no thoughts of keeping his dalliances with young males without scandal, as Trajan had spared Plotina from humiliation by keeping his love for some of the same sex in the background and without scandal. For a long time Sabina was denied the official title of Augusta during her marriage and was also denied coinage and other commemorations that other Emperors had bestowed upon their wives. When archaeologists began exploring Hadrian's Villa Adriana, twenty-two sculptures of Antinous were found and only two of Sabina.

I have come away from my studies of Sabina feeling sorry for her, she appears to have been an elegant and intelligent woman, who had the misfortune of a bad marriage and having to go through the many humiliations and to have endured the gossip of the day. In an upcoming post we will see however that maybe Sabina should not have felt so bad about her rejection by Hadrian-who was perhaps one of those people in history who are truly only capable of loving themselves. The next post in this series is written and I want to do just one or two things before putting it up, so it should be here in a day or two.

5 comments:

Devin said...

wise, your suggestion did help!
I am going to try to keep along the same path I have been going-but I am going to finish the H/A saga before getting into anything else-so just the short paranormal story I am working on will be here in between-it should not take long to finish and poetry-the only other thing that might be here is my writing-but if I post it b4 finishing up H/A it will be a much longer example- of course any tid bits also-I need to finish up H/A before getting into too much more -I feel foolish for starting the story of Iris/Lucia-as if I needed to fly off in more directions-in the future I will not do a series like H/A-even though I have loved the story and always will-trying to figure out what to leave in and out of this massive section of history is very hard to do-I have a downloaded ebook that runs to 1100 pages about this period -late first to middle third of Roman history-I will write mostly for me-I just got caught up for awhile after I started getting comments-I started to think-'what will interest other people'-I need to worry about where I want to go and the quality instead of trying to get a million people over here!
I do love getting the comments and should be grateful that the people who have already stopped by and keep on doing so such as yourself and Michael, Xdell, and others do!
If I have any 'synch' feelings I will put a post here for you all to see if they can be any help
I can't tell you and the other bloggers and people who comment here how much I appreciate it! Best to you and your family and I will hopefully have time to check out more of your archives tonight and the others-Devin
I am going to have to go get aferris for my Czech flag(wink)

wise woman said...

Hi Devin
I know what you mean, it's wonderful to get comments & to mix & mingle a bit with kindred spirits!

I really liked how you rounded out this tale by looking at Sabina. She must have had some rough emotions to deal with - that's why society seems so silly to me - it's become a machine that's fed by rules & regulations instead of being an interweaving of humanity based on our needs, desires & creativity.

Devin said...

In a later post-weeks away I would like to do a post about the horrible way some politicos (gay also) have treated their wives and husbands etc. So far connection is holding so good to see you here wise and I am glad you enjoyed this post! Always love hearing your thoughts-peace and be well!-I added a great blog to mine just now and it looks like somehow I collapsed the info under the name of the blogs-will look into this-hoping for connection to stay this time!

X. Dell said...

Ancient Roman sexual mores would have prohibited Sabina from having extramarital sex. So lonliness could have indeed been her fate.

Devin said...

X.Dell once again thanks for stopping by-I hope you are enjoying some things here-and like I say if I make any mistakes please please call me on them! I am way behind on the next H/A posts as I have had insomnia and other problems. Hopefully I can have as productive a Sunday as I did last Sunday-but I don't know as a much hated second wind is kicking in-I won't be coherent if I don't sleep tonight.
In the future when I do longer posts about my attempts at writing a book, I hope you will also comment about them good or bad-when you get the time to come through-I know you are very busy. I really enjoyed tonights XSpot post-as I have all of them in the series-thanks so much for keeping Mae's name out there. Peace and best to you! Devin