The story

Antinous as Asclepius from Eleusis

Antinous as Asclepius from Eleusis



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The spread of the cult of Antinous was mainly down to a desire to show reverence to Emperor Hadrian. For example, the citizens of Lepcis Magna in Roman North Africa rapidly set up images of Antinous in the expectation that Hadrian would visit the city. The cult quickly spread throughout Egypt, and within a few years of Antinous&rsquo death, there were altars and temples dedicated to him in several major cities including Luxor, Alexandria, and Hermopolis.

While the cult was smaller than the cults of Hadrian, Serapis, and Isis, traces of Antinous have been found in at least 70 cities although it was significantly more prevalent in specific regions. Although the growth was down to a desire to please the emperor, some people liked the fact that Antinous was once human which made him more relatable than other gods. Overall, there were at least 28 temples, possibly thousands of sculptures, and 31 cities in the Empire issued coins depicting the ‘deity.&rsquo Most of them were minted in 134 & 135.

If there were any doubt about the reverence Hadrian had for Antinous, a quick look around his Villa Adriana would have dispelled those notions. There were over 20 statues of his lover there, about half of the total found in Italy. Furthermore, at least nine cities held games in Antinous&rsquo honor and the festivities at Athens and Eleusis continued until the 260s.

Emperor Hadrian &ndash Liverpool Museums


Falling river, flowing river
With the Kingfisher does he fly
Falling river, flowing river
With the Deschutes he brings new life

Antinous was born in Bythinia, drowned in the Nile River and became a God in its sacred waters, and his cultus was observed and celebrated in the Roman Empire. Many of his modern day devotees, however, are not in those physical locations. We are spread out across the globe, practicing devotion in our own home shrines and altars, situated in a physical place defined by its own unique topography and ecology. This is what we had in mind when The Ekklesía Antínoou offered to host a ritual at Many Gods West this past weekend in Olympia, WA.

Many Gods West is a yearly gathering of polytheists of all sorts. It’s a weekend of presentations, workshops, panels and rituals. The Ekklesía was happy to participate in this year’s conference and host a ritual on Saturday night honoring Antinous and local river spirits, retelling the God’s story in a local setting, giving attendees an opportunity to practice personal devotion to our Deity, and also to receive a ritual purification. All of the feedback we received has been very positive and many people expressed how meaningful the ritual experience was for them. It was wonderful to be able to honor and practice devotion to Antinous and the other Gods present with our wider polytheist community.

One of our goals with the ritual was to emphasize how Deities who are connected to a specific time and place can be encountered locally, wherever that God’s devotees might be. In this case, we wanted to connect Antinous to the local rivers in and near Olympia, WA where Many Gods West was taking place. Antinous was drowned and became a God in the Nile in Egypt, but we sought to encounter him, along with any other Gods and spirits already present, in the Deschutes River in Washington. To this end, Christodelphia Mythistorima (Sister Krissy Fiction), her partner Dan, Otter, and Jay Logan met at Tumwater Falls on the Deschutes River to introduce themselves to the river and say hello. It was a beautiful day in early July, and there’s a nice trail along the river to the lower falls that we decided to walk together. There were actually quite a few people out and about, but down by the lower falls we managed to sneak off the regular trail and find a spot where the river veers off and forms a kind of secluded pool of still water. Otter collected rocks and built up a small cairn that we used as a makeshift altar. Jay brought milk and honey that we used as an offering to the river. And as we were standing there, two kingfishers fluttered and bobbed and swirled around each other… and then one of them plunged into the water and died. At first, we weren’t sure what was going on. The bird lay in the water and flapped its wings a few times, but soon that stopped and it was apparent that life had left it. Was this an omen? If so, was it good or bad? What did this mean? We were mystified. Jay did a quick bit of a divination and received a positive response. But still, the immediate meaning was elusive.

What resulted from the experience related above was a story. Or more properly, a myth. It’s the retelling of the Antinous story written by Jay, set not on the Nile, but on the Deschutes. The story is true. the story is not true in the literal and factual sense, although some of what is mentioned in the story did actually happen,. It will never appear in a history book. But the story is true nonetheless. We present it here, as one way to honor our Gods, regardless of where they originate, in our own home shrines, in our local forests, in the shadows of our local mountains, and along the banks of our local rivers.

Jay Logan and Otter making an offering to the Deschutes

Antinous and the Kingfisher
– Jay Logan

There was once a young man and a river
Not the Lykos, which runs through Bithynia, the land of his birth
Nor the Alpheiós, running through the mountains of Arcadia, home of his ancestors
Nor the river Tiber, home of the grand city of Rome, whose emperor he dearly loved
Nor do I speak of the Ilisos, near Eleusis, though he witnessed many mysteries there

There was once a young man and a river
Not the Kaystros, home of Artemis, the Great Mother of Ephesus
Nor the Nile, bound to him by fate and necessity
Nor the river Aniene, which runs near his beloved’s villa in Tivoli, where his body now rests
Nor do I speak of the Astura, which fed a temple and collegium dedicated to him and Diana in Lanuvium

There was once a young man and a river
No, the river I speak of is the Deschutes, River of the Falls
The river I speak of is one of falling cascades, known as Pu-kal-bush by the First peoples here
It is the river that feeds these very lands, all around us in the heart of Cascadia
It is the river of cedar and maple the river of salmon and black bear

There was once a young man and a river
The river was Deschutes, and the young man was Antinous.

Falling river, flowing river
With the Kingfisher does he fly
Falling river, flowing river
With the Deschutes he brings new life

The river is the very heart of Antinous, the beginning and end of him. Wherever those rushing currents flow, the crashing waves upon rock and fallen tree, and the smooth and steady stream – there he is. The Deschutes was no different.

But when he and his beloved Hadrian, once upon a time, came across these waters during the course of their travels, they stumbled across a wasteland. The river was just a trickle, drying, the cedar and maple on its shores wilted, dying.

And the salmon, who were beginning their run, were merely a drop of red in the stream, rather than a healthy river of flowing blood. The land was suffering, and it seemed like there was naught that they could do….

Falling river, flowing river
With the Kingfisher does he fly
Falling river, flowing river
With the Deschutes he brings new life

There was one sight of hope that Hadrian and Antinous found as they made their way along the riverbank – a pair of Kingfishers diving and chasing each other, a brilliant display of striking blue and white that streaked through the air.

The birds were a welcome spectacle amongst all the stagnation, one that helped to lift their spirits. However, it was an ill-omen that they witnessed there along the river. For what they had surmised was a mating display – they being ignorant of the season – soon turned deadly as one bird pierced the heart of the other, which fell into the placid pool before them.

He lay upon his back at first, his wings flapping lazily in the water. Antinous thought, “Surely he must be taking a bath? Birds do do that on occasion, though I have never seen one do so while floating on their back….”

In no time at all, it seemed, the flapping of the wings ceased, the bird’s beak dipping below the water, and all life fled that small body floating there upon the water.

Falling river, flowing river
With the Kingfisher does he fly
Falling river, flowing river
With the Deschutes he brings new life

The evening came to them distraught and despondent. Antinous and Hadrian sought comfort in each other’s arms, there upon the riverbank, and shivered in the summer heat until a dim and restless sleep took them.

Antinous dreamed…. And in that dream he saw a tall young man, dark of features, with long cascading hair falling upon his shoulders. The man stared intently at Antinous and appeared to shout at him, but all Antinous could hear was the roar of water. Suddenly the man rushed towards him. Antinous turned to flee, his heart racing in a fear he did not understand, but the man sped faster than sight, quick as the current and seized him.

Antinous looked into his pleading eyes, eyes the deepest cerulean blue. As he looked up at him, those eyes softened and the man spoke once more, the relaxing sound of a burbling brook. When Antinous still did not express comprehension, the man looked away in despair. Instinctually, Antinous took the man’s face and brought it to his own and gave him a gentle kiss. When their lips met, Antinous’ eyes widened in understanding.

Falling river, flowing river
With the Kingfisher does he fly
Falling river, flowing river
With the Deschutes he brings new life

That understanding did not leave Antinous upon waking, even though the pall of sleep lifted and took away most of the details from the night’s dreaming. He knew that he had spoken with the river, and that the river needed something from him.

The vision distracted Antinous from the world around him, no matter how much Hadrian cajoled him, tried to draw him out of himself with stories of hunting exploits from a bygone era.

As night settled in around them and their fire, Antinous finally broke his silence and told Hadrian of his dream, and what he had decided to do. Hadrian begged him not to – “Just this once, let the river starve! Why must you help the river? Who are they to you?”

But Antinous was resolute: “The River is home to the people here. If the land is lost, what will become of them? What will become of anyone? If there is something that I can do to help, I must. I must.”

Falling river, flowing river
With the Kingfisher does he fly
Falling river, flowing river
With the Deschutes he brings new life

Hadrian embraced Antinous gruffly, giving him an ardent kiss, his beard grazing him with swollen lips. They tumbled to the ground and made love beneath a copse of maples, there along the riverbank, fulfilling a desperate, grasping desire.

Antinous left the embrace of his lover, dozing contentedly, as the moon rose high in the night’s sky. He walked steadily along the river until he found a calm pool deep enough to submerge himself. He swam gently by the soft light of the moon, delighting in the cool waters that played upon his body, even laughing with pleasure at the tickle of plants and what small fish remained to nibble at his toes.

Eventually, though, fate took him. How, we do not know. The only witness that night, the Moon, shrouded herself with clouds in dismay as his thread was about to be cut. Did the current become too fast for him to navigate? Did he rush headlong into giant glacial rock? Did his feet become tangled in some water plant so that he was not able to escape the water’s strength?

We shall never know. His death, as his life, was his own, and all that we can know is that darkness took him, and that he ceased.

Falling river, flowing river
With the Kingfisher does he fly
Falling river, flowing river
With the Deschutes he brings new life

Sleep had lain so heavily upon Hadrian, that he only noticed his lover’s absence at the first of the day’s light. Knowing his Antinous, he searched for him frantically – pushing aside branches, skidding down hills, and scrambling over river rocks in his haste for it to not be true:

“Not his beloved!
Not his Antinous!”

All day Hadrian searched, until at last he found him, washed upon the shore. His body remained remarkably unblemished, his fair skin as lovely as the last time Hadrian gazed upon it. It was as if Antinous was merely sleeping there upon the wet earth.

But as Hadrian lifted his body from the water, Antinous’ head fell back, his damp curls falling back – a blossom snapped at the stem. And again he felt the keen agony of Apollo over the loss of his Hyakinthos. Hadrian brought Antinous’ body close and he wailed and wept, having no care for who might witness his grief – be they creature, man, or god!

And the heavens opened up and wept….

Falling river, flowing river
With the Kingfisher does he fly
Falling river, flowing river
With the Deschutes he brings new life

Seven days and seven nights it rained, a veritable deluge. When the skies cleared on the morning of the eighth day, the land had changed – fresh green leaves growing from the shrubs and trees a full, rushing current in the riverbed and there, at last they saw the return of the leaping salmon, filling the river to brimming with their squirming bodies, making it red as blood.

With the storm now passed, Hadrian was at last able to build a funeral pyre for his beloved Antinous.

Ignis corporis infirmat
Ignis sed animae perstat

The fire of the body diminishes
But the fire of the soul endures!

As the fire died down at dawn, Hadrian saw a curious sight – a Kingfisher flying and dancing in circles before him. The sight of that noble bird pierced his heart, for he knew it to be the form of his beloved. He wept anew, this time in joy.

As his tears fell into the water, he prayed to the river, to mighty Deschutes, to give him too the form of the Kingfisher, so that he and his beloved could be reunited. Filled with gratitude and thanksgiving for his lover’s sacrifice, the River granted his prayer.

And so the Day was greeted by the sight of two birds dancing and flying around each other in renewed joy and ecstasy of love’s return. They flew over the land and the river reborn. On and on they flew toward the dawn, seeking new life and new adventures.

There was once a young man and a river
This concludes their story, the river Deschutes, and the young Antinous

Falling river, flowing river
With the Kingfisher does he fly
Falling river, flowing river
With the Deschutes he brings new life


File:Statue of the deified Antinous represented as Asklepios, 2nd century AD, Archaeological Museum of Eleusis (16174121532).jpg

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Antinous as Asclepius from Eleusis - History

Nothing of what I most recently was remains. The Antinous who wrote to you a fortnight ago – he whose sorry lament for Vitalis rendered him for a trying time completely inconsolable – now stands upon the earth feeling utterly indomitable. For I, with the deepest terror and the utmost awe, have looked directly into the searing face of Demeter I have felt her breath upon the back of my throat as she kissed me I have tasted the infinite tears of her soul.

How is that to be explained? It was the Mysteries, my beloved. The Mysteries of Eleusis, into whose folds I have recently been welcomed. I’ll not write of its philosophies or rituals, for they are secrets known only to initiates – and Socrates (ha ha). Far more astonishing are the sensations I experienced, beneath the lunar light, on that final night in which the gods appeared to me. I must recount them to you as fast as I can for fear of forgetting them or seeing them fade in intensity the longer I wait to set them here.

It was very soon after the raising up of the pomegranate seeds that I felt something churning within my stomach. It was not a nausea, for I was hardly in danger of being sick. It was more akin to a pregnancy. For I had the uncanny feeling of the goddess, Persephone, growing from deep inside of me toward the surface of my skin. I could feel the power of her young woman’s body swelling slowly within me, pushing steadily outward as though pining to touch the night air. As her presence filled my flesh, I discovered that I could quite consciously will myself to release a pure and liquid pleasure into my veins. The only substance I can think of which could even come close to creating such an effect within me is ambrosia. The pleasure lasted only about ten beats of my heart before fading. But I had merely to command the experience to repeat itself, and instantly the euphoria of the goddess flooded obediently through my sinews once again. Her gestation within me was complete when I felt that my skin had now become hers. We were two persons sharing a single body, and I marvelled at the experience of her sex upon mine. I sensed her breasts above my heart my young manhood was enveloped in her warm womanhood to achieve a perfect unity of form.

If that was not extraordinary enough, I soon after felt a new presence blooming inside: the body of Hades himself. It slowly emerged from my core, pressing ever outward. I imagined my body needing to stretch in order to contain the might of this fearsome Olympian. But I was not afraid of bursting, my friend. On the contrary, I felt the flesh of Antinous inflating to match the magnitude of the burgeoning Hades. I felt his awesome might his pitilessness his hurt his aching love his agony and his eternal victory over the souls of the departed. Yet still the euphoric, nourishing, pearly-white ambrosia swirled through me at will. It was terrifying and incredible.

And then Persephone reasserted herself, and the sensations became feminine, creative, cooing and fragrant. It was as though the two gods were consummating their treacherous marriage deep within my pulsing core, and, by the union of the two, I found myself greatly and gloriously pleasured from the inside out. The feeling steadily intensified, building at last into a mighty climax that shuddered through me – yet without the exchange of mortal fluid. All I could feel were waves of immortal power and succulence.

In the aftermath of that particular glory, my consciousness was restored to the weeping and wintry earth. Suddenly, the awesome might of Demeter was before me. She gasped at my appearance, horrified by the brutality with which my flesh had been commandeered by the newlywed gods. She rushed to hold me as like an anxious mother. She grabbed my face and kissed me – blissful and sorrowful, angry at my disappearance yet overjoyed to find me restored. Was I her daughter? Her son? Her husband? I cannot tell: her love for me was the love of a mother, yet incestuous and carnal. Her hungry lips found my own hot breath blew down my throat, searing it deep into my gullet.

The next thing I recall was the face of Hadrian, gazing down at me amid a circle of people. He was smiling and there were messy tears streaming from his joyous eyes. “You’ve been writhing here upon the stone for many minutes,” he said.

I could not speak. My throat was completely dry and raw. Hadrian proffered a cup of water, which I gratefully gulped down. At last I found my voice: “The gods have revealed themselves to me,” I gasped.

“And you to them,” replied Hadrian simply. At this, there was a wave of rejoicing amid the onlookers. They hoisted me to my feet and the celebrations intensified as more and more of the initiates were revived from their private ecstasies.

In the hours since the conclusion of the Mysteries, I have been a different person. My body is heavier and my mind is lighter – but both in good ways. My flesh feels more a part of the earth than it ever has I am rooted, grounded – despite the vastness of our travels. My brain is no longer encumbranced by worry and fear, anxiety and skittishness. It is calmed to a point where I have absolutely no compulsion to fret about those many things beyond my control. I have discovered in myself a monumental peace – and it is a lasting peace. It has not faded as time carries me further afield toward my destiny. Rather, it is a peace that remains now as firmly planted into the loamy soil of my soul as it was in those first few moments of my awakening in the arms of my lover on the floor of the telesterion.

My euphoria was (and remains to this moment) quite palpable. It has settled like a warm concrete into my flesh: fortifying and unassailable. Yet still my limbs remain supple: they rejoice in a profound and perfect youthfulness – shameless in the fullest acknowledgement of their effortless prime. I beg you, Lysicles: do not read into what I am about to write anything but a profound love for the world and its men. There is no hubris in what I am become there is no self-satisfaction. The truth is, quite simply, that I feel myself transformed into a god. I strut upon the earth as though powered by an Olympian heart. It is an awareness both terrifying and majestic.

Lest you think me become an isolated megalomaniac, know that Hadrian, too, is visibly elevated. He marches across the smiling face of Athens with a magnificent, godlike stride that elicits from onlookers the tremble of utter supplication to his power.

Such, then, is the woefully under-stated summary of my astonishing experience in the bosom of Eleusis a relentless span of days over which I still find myself marvelling that such a flimsy, mortal casing as skin and bones was able to endure.

Yet I did indeed survive, and have emerged from it as like a new Antinous: invigorated, invested, and inviolable.

The city of Athens awaits. It seems to be in a perpetual state of twittering celebration at the knowledge that its most beloved benefactor, Hadrian, is suddenly present among its venerable and ancient marbles. There will be much to tell in the coming days. But for now, I must rest again, for the exhaustion continuously assails my body as like a persistent beggar who, despite of being repeatedly sent away with a silver in hand, has the audacity to return, expecting ever greater reward.


Contents

The etymology of the name is unknown. In his revised version of Frisk's Griechisches etymologisches Wörterbuch (Greek Etymological Dictionary), R.S.P. Beekes gives this summary of the different attempts:

"H. Grégoire (with R. Goossens and M. Mathieu) in Asklépios, Apollon Smintheus et Rudra 1949 (Mém. Acad. Roy. de Belgique. Cl. d. lettres. 2. sér. 45), explains the name as 'the mole-hero', connecting σκάλοψ, ἀσπάλαξ 'mole' and refers to the resemblance of the Tholos in Epidauros and the building of a mole. (Thus Puhvel, Comp. Mythol. 1987, 135.) But the variants of Asklepios and those of the word for 'mole' do not agree. The name is typical for Pre-Greek words apart from minor variations ( β for π , αλ(α) for λα ) we find α/αι (a well known variation Fur. 335–339) followed by -γλαπ- or -σκλαπ-/-σχλαπ/β- , i.e. a voiced velar (without -σ- ) or a voiceless velar (or an aspirated one: we know that there was no distinction between the three in the substr. language) with a -σ- . I think that the -σ- renders an original affricate, which (prob. as δ ) was lost before the -γ- (in Greek the group -σγ- is rare, and certainly before another consonant). Szemerényi's etymology (JHS 94, 1974, 155) from Hitt. assula(a)- 'well-being' and piya- 'give' cannot be correct, as it does not explain the velar." [4]

Beekes suggested a Pre-Greek proto-form *At y klap-. [5]

His name may mean "to cut open" from a story about his birth. [6]

Birth Edit

Asclepius was the son of Apollo and, according to the earliest accounts, a mortal woman named Coronis. [7] When she displayed infidelity by sleeping with a mortal named Ischys, Apollo came to know this with his prophetic powers and killed Ischys. Coronis was killed by Artemis for being unfaithful to Apollo and was laid out on a funeral pyre to be consumed, but Apollo rescued the child by cutting him from Coronis's womb. [8]

According to Delphian tradition, Asclepius was born in the temple of Apollo, with Lachesis acting as a midwife and Apollo relieving the pains of Coronis. Apollo named the child after Coronis' nickname, Aegle. [9]

Phoenician tradition maintains that Asclepius was born of Apollo without any woman involved. [10]

According to the Roman version, Apollo, having learned about Coronis' betrayal with the mortal Ischys through his raven, killed her with his arrows. Before breathing her last, she revealed to Apollo that she was pregnant with his child. He repented his actions and unsuccessfully tried to save her. At last, he removed their son safely from her belly before she was consumed by the fire. [11]

In yet another version, Coronis who was already pregnant with Apollo's child, had to accompany her father to Peloponnesos. She had kept her pregnancy hidden from her father. In Epidaurus, she bore a son and exposed him on a mountain called Nipple. The child was given milk by one of the goats that pastured about the mountain, and was guarded by the watch-dog of the herd. Aresthanas, the owner of goats and the guard dogs found the child. As he came near, he saw lightning that flashed from the child, and thinking of it to be a sign of divine, he left the child alone. Asclepius was later taken by Apollo. [12]

Education and adventures Edit

Apollo named the rescued baby "Asclepius" and reared him for a while and taught him many things about medicine. [13] However, like his half-brother, Aristaeus, Asclepius had his formal education under the centaur Chiron who instructed him in the art of medicine. [14]

It is said that in return for some kindness rendered by Asclepius, a snake licked Asclepius's ears clean and taught him secret knowledge (to the Greeks snakes were sacred beings of wisdom, healing, and resurrection). Asclepius bore a rod wreathed with a snake, which became associated with healing. Another version states that when Asclepius (or in another myth Polyidus) was commanded to restore the life of Glaucus, he was confined in a secret prison. While pondering on what he should do, a snake crept near his staff. Lost in his thoughts, Asclepius unknowingly killed it by hitting it again and again with his staff. Later, another snake came there with a herb in its mouth, and placed it on the head of dead snake, which soon came back to life. Seeing this, Asclepius used the same herb, which brought Glaucus back. [15] A species of non-venomous pan-Mediterranean serpent, the Aesculapian snake (Zamenis longissimus) is named for the god.

He was originally called Hepius but received his popular name of Asclepius after he cured Ascles, ruler of Epidaurus who suffered an incurable ailment in his eyes. [1] Asclepius became so proficient as a healer that he surpassed both Chiron and his father, Apollo. Asclepius was therefore able to evade death and to bring others back to life from the brink of death and beyond. This caused an influx of human beings and Zeus resorted to killing him to maintain balance in the numbers of the human population.

At some point, Asclepius was among those who took part in the Calydonian Boar hunt.

Marriage and family Edit

Asclepius was married to Epione, with whom he had five daughters: Hygieia, Panacea, Aceso, Iaso, and Aegle, [16] and three sons: Machaon, Podaleirios and Telesphoros. He also sired a son, Aratus, with Aristodama. [17]

Death and resurrection as a god Edit

Asclepius once started bringing back to life the dead people like Tyndareus, Capaneus, Glaucus, Hymenaeus, Lycurgus and others. [18] Others say he brought Hippolytus back from the dead on Artemis' request, and accepted gold for it. [19] It is the only mention of Asclepius resurrecting the dead. In all other accounts he is said to use his skills simply as a physician.

However, Hades accused Asclepius for stealing his subjects and complained to his brother Zeus about it. [20] According to others, Zeus was afraid that Asclepius would teach the art of resurrection to other humans as well. [21] So he killed Asclepius with his thunderbolt. This angered Apollo who in turn killed the Cyclopes who made the thunderbolts for Zeus. [22] For this act, Zeus banished Apollo from Olympus [23] and commanded him to serve Admetus, King of Thessaly for a year. [24] After Asclepius's death, Zeus placed his body among the stars as the constellation Ophiuchus ("the Serpent Holder"). [25]

Later, however, upon Apollo's request, Zeus resurrected Asclepius as a god and gave him a place on Olympus. [26]

The most ancient and the most prominent asclepeion (or healing temple) according to the geographer of the 1st century BC, Strabo, was situated in Trikala. [27] The 1st century AD Pool of Bethesda, described in the Gospel of John, chapter 5, was found by archaeologists in 1964 to be part of an asclepeion. [28] [29] One of the most famous temples of Asclepius was at Epidaurus in north-eastern Peloponnese, dated to the fourth century BC. [30] Another famous asclepeion was built approximately a century later on the island of Kos, [30] where Hippocrates, the legendary "father of medicine", may have begun his career. Other asclepieia were situated in Gortys (in Arcadia), and Pergamum in Asia.

From the fifth century BC onwards, [31] the cult of Asclepius grew very popular and pilgrims flocked to his healing temples (Asclepieia) to be cured of their ills. Ritual purification would be followed by offerings or sacrifices to the god (according to means), and the supplicant would then spend the night in the holiest part of the sanctuary– the abaton (or adyton). Any dreams or visions would be reported to a priest who would prescribe the appropriate therapy by a process of interpretation. [32] Some healing temples also used sacred dogs to lick the wounds of sick petitioners. [33] In honor of Asclepius, a particular type of non-venomous snake was often used in healing rituals, and these snakes— the Aesculapian Snakes— slithered around freely on the floor in dormitories where the sick and injured slept. These snakes were introduced at the founding of each new temple of Asclepius throughout the classical world.

The original Hippocratic Oath began with the invocation "I swear by Apollo the Physician and by Asclepius and by Hygieia and Panacea and by all the gods . ". [33]

Some later religious movements claimed links to Asclepius. In the 2nd century AD the controversial miracle-worker Alexander claimed that his god Glycon, a snake with a "head of linen" [34] was an incarnation of Asclepius. The Greek language rhetorician and satirist Lucian produced the work Alexander the False Prophet to denounce the swindler for future generations. He described Alexander as having a character "made up of lying, trickery, perjury, and malice [it was] facile, audacious, venturesome, diligent in the execution of its schemes, plausible, convincing, masking as good, and wearing an appearance absolutely opposite to its purpose." [34] In Rome, the College of Aesculapius and Hygia was an association (collegium) that served as a burial society and dining club that also participated in the Imperial cult.

The botanical genus Asclepias (commonly known as milkweed) is named after him and includes the medicinal plant A. tuberosa or "Pleurisy root".

Asclepius was depicted on the reverse of the Greek 10,000 drachmas banknote of 1995–2001. [35]


File:Statue of the deified Antinous represented as Asklepios, 2nd century AD, Archaeological Museum of Eleusis (15552501534).jpg

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The Formation of the Cult of Antinous

Hadrian is said to have broken down in full view of his court and wept openly. The emperor was inconsolable for several days afterward, and his emotional display caused scandal throughout the Empire. It&rsquos clear that his grief was genuine which makes it unlikely, but not impossible, that he was complicit in the young man&rsquos death.

One of Hadrian&rsquos first acts after the death of his lover was to name a star in the sky after Antinous as he believed the young man had risen to the heavens. The emperor also had various institutions and monuments named after Antinous. Ultimately, there were approximately 2,000 likenesses of Hadrian&rsquos lover across the Empire. There were even gymnasiums, schools and temples dedicated to Antinous who soon became worshipped as a deity.

Egyptian priests came to Hadrian after Antinous&rsquo death and outlined the symbolic importance of the manner of his death and perhaps his sacrifice to help the River Nile. After the high priests suggested that the young man had been taken by a river god and became one himself, Antinous became seen as a deity in the eyes of many Egyptians.

In October 130, Hadrian announced that Antinous was a god and proclaimed his intention to create a city in honor of his lover it was called Antinoopolis. It&rsquos unlikely that Hadrian believed his deceased love was a god, but it made sense to create a cult as it ensured a group of people was personally and politically loyal to him. Whether he expected it to last for over 200 years is another story.


One thought on &ldquo 31 Days of Devotion, Day 2 &rdquo

While I’ve had an interest in Greek and Roman history all of my life, and in my Pagan and Polytheist practice have developed devotions to numerous Hellenic divinities, I can’t say that I had ever heard of Antinous except in the context of him being a god. I had heard of Hadrian, of course (he built a wall, I hear, in the Scotland area), but did not know much of his exploits, and hadn’t heard that he was queer in any way. That all changed about eight years ago during my first journey to ‘Eleusis’ through the Spring Mysteries Festival, a reconstruction of the Eleusinian Mysteries held annually in Washington State. I was chatting with a nice gentleman I would come to know as Sister Krissy Fiction after a powerful skyclad ceremony, talking about our various interests, when he happened to mention that he was a fanboy of Hadrian’s boyfriend, Antinous. A) I didn’t realize that an emperor of Rome had anything that could be referred to as a ‘boyfriend’ and B) I had no idea that he had died young and been divinized and worshipped throughout the ancient world, and even by some today. Needless to say, I was intrigued! He related to me some of the modern history of Antinous’ cultus, particularly which yahoo groups to avoid if you have an affinity for reconstructionist practice. Oh, and also there’s a few people who practice locally in Seattle, so you should totally check them out! And I did. Within a month of being introduced to Antinous was the Megala Antinoea festival, an observance of which was being held at the local occult shop Edge of the Circle Books. There I met PSVL and Erynn Rowan Laurie and was introduced to Antinous properly through his devotion. And, it was beautiful. A simple ceremony held in a humble environment, but that place came alive with his spirit through our chanting and bell-ringing. I still remember the flavor of the naan that was offered to him, as well as the gorgeous pictures that were offered to him for the artistic agon. And, I remember the first offering I made to him, a favored song of mine from a particular vampire television musical that came to me in that moment and which seemed quite a propos.

Antinous has the power to inspire, and through his story and visage, both beautiful and radiant, he has the power to awaken and empower what’s within. I had an inkling of that upon first meeting him, and his worship is one that I have stuck with ever since.


Antinous as Asclepius from Eleusis - History


ON THE EQUINOX in September the Religion of Antinous commemorates the FEAST OF THE PERSEPHONEA — the initiation of Antinous into the ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES in Greece at the outset of Emperor Hadrian's Imperial Tour of the Eastern Provinces.

Historical records state that, in the late summer of the year 128, the Imperial Court embarked on a grand tour of the East. The Empress Sabina, Hadrian's wife, and her attendants were members of the entourage.

But on this particular journey, Antinous was the most favored of Hadrian's companions. Their love affair was openly, and gracefully displayed before the eyes of the world. This journey through the East, what we call the SACRED PEREGRINATION, is the only part of the short life of Antinous that history has conveyed to us.

For this reason it takes on the importance of a sacred epic. Antinous was in the very flower of his beauty and vigor, he was a shining star held in the wings of the Imperial Eagle, and it is no coincidence that this court of demigods should travel through the lands of Ganymede, Attis, Adonis, Jesus and Osiris, who were all beautiful souls taken from life before their time.

The court stayed in Athens for five or even six months, they arrived in time for the celebration of the MYSTERIES OF ELEUSIS , which symbolically portrayed the rape of Proserpina by Hades, the mourning of her mother Demeter, and the return of Spring.

In the modern Religion of Antinous, we commemorate these ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES during the September Equinox, for it is believed that Antinous underwent the secret initiations provided by the Priests of Eleusis at the Temple of Demeter/Ceres.

The painting above by Joseph Gandy in 1818 shows how the temple may have looked in the 2nd Century AD. The painting at right is "The Garden of Persephone" by Robert Hale Ives Gammell.

Through the Priests of Eleusis Antinous received the consecration of the dark goddess of the underworld Persephone/Proserpina, which prepared him for his own death and resurrection.

In the Mysteries of Eleusis, the initiates are led into the realm of death and are confronted with immediate death.

Two years later, in 130 AD, Hadrian and Antinous would indeed be confronted by physical death.

In the Mysteries of Eleusis (and indeed in the Underworld after Death), the initiates cannot go back the way they have come.

And they cannot go forward without knowing the Words of Power that will allow the gatekeepers to throw open their gates.

But we face such situations not only in secret initiations, or on our deathbeds. No, we face such "mysteries" every day of our lives.


We put off our dreams and aspirations so we can cope more effectively with the challenges of the present, ostensibly to have more time and leisure to realize our purpose in the future.

Or we tell ourselves that we will chase our dreams someday once we have accomplished other lesser goals.

(Photo left: Antinous statue found at Eleusis.)

In truth, it is our fear that keeps us from seeking fulfillment in the here and now — because we view failure as a possibility, our reasons for delaying our inevitable success seem sound and rational.

If we ask ourselves what we are really waiting for, however, we discover that there is no truly compelling reason why we should put off the pursuit of the dreams that sustain us.

That is what "mystery initiations" are all about. Hadrian and Antinous were forced by the Eleusinian priests to confront their fears and to find a way to go forth into life — NOW. They had no options. It was now or never. Life or Oblivion. In our own lives, we face the same question every day. And usually we try to find a way to avoid the question.

The idols, the images, the icons, the gilded statues and the gods themselves are as nothing.

YOU YOURSELF HOLD THE KEYS TO FINDING AND FULFILLING YOUR OWN DESTINY.

It is yours to find and to fulfill. No one else's. Not even the gods'.

That is what the ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES are all about. And that is what the PERSEPHONEA is all about. And the Journey Up the Nile by Hadrian and Antinous to their Fateful Destiny with Eternity. And it is also what the symbolism of the Equinoxes is all about.

Even if the days are getting shorter, they are also getting longer — it is all a matter of perspective. The days ARE getting longer — our brothers in South America, South Africa and Australia can look out the window and see the lavender blossoms of the jacarandas in springtime bloom.

Remember Hadrian and Antinous in the Underworld (or on their Fateful Voyage Up the Nile) and understand what they understood: That the keys of fate are in your hands and you can venture forth RIGHT NOW wherever you wish to go.



Watch the video: Dead Can Dance - Le Theatre Maisonneuve June 13th, 1996 (August 2022).