LGBT History: Hadrian and Antinous

Hadrian married in about AD 100, but we do not know much about the life of his beard wife and empress, Vibia Sabina. Sabina's image was put on the official coinage and there are many statues of her. Their mutual indifference became open antipathy in later life, though they kept up appearances to some extent, and were never divorced. Sabina, who professed that she was proud to have born no children to her ‘monstrous’ husband, nevertheless was occasionally even allowed to accompany him on his travels.
However, ancient sources make it very clear that Hadrian was in love with a young Greek male called Antinous. Homosexual relationships were not considered unusual in ancient Rome, but the intensity with which Hadrian mourned Antinous’ premature death was without precedent.
Background on Antinous: Antinous was born in a town called Claudiopolis in the northwest corner of the country that we now call Turkey, in the year 111 A.D. He was very likely not from a wealthy family, and is even said to have been a slave...Antinous came from nothing, and from nowhere, but by the end of his short life, he was a Prince, known all over the Empire. His name has overcome the trials of history because of the mysterious love that occurred between this strange, exotic boy, and the ruler of the Roman world at its height. The details of Antinous's life are mostly unknown.
Story began…
The Emperor Hadrian passed through Bithynia in the year 123 A.D. and he encountered Antinous for the first time and fell completely in love. Antinous was admitted into the Imperial court. He was sent to Rome to be educated at the finest schools for boys, where he learned Latin, poetry, history and the arts, while he remained close to Hadrian and was tutored in private. He also began to train his body in the gymnasium, and over time sculpted it, under the guidance of Hadrian's trainers, into what would become the finest example of Classical male beauty.
Just as rapidly, Antinous became the subject of numerous busts showing off the delicate features and great physical beauty that had stirred the Emperor’s lust. However, there was more to Antinous than physical attraction. Reportedly, he was highly intelligent and witty, which was another of the Emperor’s great passions.
Antinous was an excellent hunter, which was Hadrian's favorite pastime...they are known to have spent much of their free time hunting wild animals, including a man-eating lion in the Libyan desert. Antinous surely felt deep affection for Hadrian's hunting hounds, the finest dogs in the world at that time and in many ways Antinous can be compared to one of them, because of his loyalty and devotion, his beauty and youth, his athletic strength, and the expression in his eyes...all of which conveys deep canine familiarity. And Antinous spent approximately seven years with Hadrian which is about the life-span of a strong hunting dog.
Hadrian visited Egypt in AD 130 along with the imperial entourage, including his wife and his husband Antinous. They embarked on a voyage up the River Nile and on 24 October Antinous drowned in the river, on the same day the locals were commemorating the death, by drowning in the Nile, of the Egyptian god Osiris. Some theories have had it; Antinous was murdered by jealous courtiers. What is without a doubt true is that Hadrian was grief-stricken and wept loud and long for his lost lover “like a woman” according to the six authors of the Historia Augusta, a collection of late Roman biographies.
The High Priests of Osiris and those of Hermopolis, came privately to Hadrian that night and revealed what they believed had taken place. Antinous had joined the river god, and had become the river god. They showed Hadrian that the local people had already taken up the lamentation and exaltation of Antinous, proclaiming that he had become a God, after their custom. Hadrian took these sentiments to heart. The following day he consulted with his advisors and with the Roman pontiffs of the court, and revealed his astonishing plan.
On October 30th of the year 130 AD, Hadrian founded the Holy City of Antinoopolis on the bank of the river where Antinous had drowned, tracing out the major streets with his own rod in the sand. He then proceeded to do the unthinkable, as Pontifex Maximus, High Priest of the Roman Religion, he declared that Antinous was a God, that he had conquered death, and risen up to dwell among the never-ending stars. Whoa that was the power of Love. Proclamations were sent out to ever corner of the world, inaugurating the religion of the New God Antinous.
Other Greek cities began to establish their own cults and festivals in honor of Antinous, led by local and senatorial leaders, who wished to express their loyalty to Rome and to Hadrian. The Antinous cult became popular among the common people, where it seems to have competed with Christianity. Even today he is still worship as the Gay God the website: http://www.antinopolis.org/religion.html

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