To become the most handsome God…

July 18, 2013

41 Antinous The ancient world saw the birth of pantheons and singular gods who emerged as icons to be piously worshiped and duly feared (like the Greek word “thambos” suggests) but was particularly the heyday of mortals deified  by deeds of such audacious character or so astounding a trait people could not refrain eventually granting them supernatural statute. From the much-revered Osiris to the now less popular Asclepius,  faith elevated the extraordinary to heights unparalleled ever since and Antinous, reputedly the most handsome creature to have pleased the eyes of men, perhaps best exemplifies these hasty canonizations that were ultimately ensued by the plethora of mythological figures currently known.

But what did this ostensibly  common youth, whose  pulchritude seemed his sole distinctive  feature, to deserve being an object of veneration for a cult even our contemporaries perpetuate?

What they all do: make themselves fervently loved.

Apparently, Antinous, a Bithynian Greek of no aristocratic breed, stirred a most unlikely passion in the eminent Roman Emperor Hadrian that would not cease to consume him the whole span of his lengthy life, which turns the case quite similar to Alexander and Hephaestion‘s. Thus the story goes that the named Augustus from Nervan-Antonine dynasty, being a declared philhellene who took a liking to the old Greek habits, penchant for homosexuality included, so ardently cherished the boy that when he was found drowned in the Nile river a whole sophisticated mechanism of propaganda ensured his place between the immortals. Countless statues bearing his marvelously beauteous features were consequently produced, sanctuaries erected to commemorate him and at one point Hadrian had coins struck with Antinous’ profile, a prerogative previously resumed to the gods or their earthly representatives, the Imperial family.

Across time, this most handsome lover of royalty secretly inspired all the gay intellectuals and J.J. Winckelmann, reputedly the father of art history, is said to have more ore less been influenced by Antinous in his pursuit of Greek and Roman culture.

How do you feel about it, though? to learn it’s outrageously easy to ascend a heavenly reputation through a very humane sovereign’s obsessive infatuation?

39 Antinous

My, that’s love to shape destinies. Wonder what Freud would comment.

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4 Responses to “To become the most handsome God…”

  1. davidconfidential Says:

    But yet they had huge ball sacks and tiny nobs


  2. If cleanliness is next to godliness, then – according to the ancient Greeks – so was physical beauty. Obviously, reality has proven otherwise, even if some people still hold onto that myth.


  3. Ha! It’s not a myth to me. In all beauty there is a portion of the divine. Visual beauty, surface features, the objectively discerned harmonies and proportions are all signs of the eternal beauty that, I think, everyone can appreciate as an ideal, that every artist can strive for, or even try to express by revealing the exact opposite (some postmodern art does this) even if we never attian it. It’s the arists effort though, which has inner human beauty (at least for me anyway).

    BTW Patricia, I loved, “be yourself- everyone else is already taken,” is that your’s originally? Anyway, v. nice. :-)


    • I couldn’t agree more with your opinion of beauty as conveyed through art.
      Alas, that quote is not mine, it’s a piece of wit I never could posses. Oscar Wilde should be credited for it.


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