The first of the Sacred Nights of Antinous was the Festival of Osiris. One cannot think of Osiris, however, without thinking of Isis, his wife and the goddess who went on to have an “international career,” as it were, in the Graeco-Roman-Egyptian world that was staggeringly successful. In the temples to Isis and Serapis that existed on the Campus Martius in Rome, it is very likely that the inscription hailing Antinous as “enthroned with the gods of Egypt” was once located at or in the vicinity of one of these temples. The same is true of the surrounds of Hadrian’s Villa, where statues of various Egyptian deities, including Isis and Serapis (but also Ptah, Nefertem, and Horus, Thoth, and Sobek in animal form, and others), were found, is also where the largest number of statues of Antinous, both in Egyptianizing and other aspects, were all found. So, it is fitting that in thinking about the Egyptian origins of the cultus of the deified Antinous, we look to Isis initially, in her close connection to Osiris, and in her success throughout the Mediterranean world of late antiquity, from Egypt all the way to Britain, and begin to acknowledge the importance of goddesses in the cultus of Antinous.
Thus, on this second day of the Sacred Nights of Antinous, let us honor all the goddess in a festival I would like to call the Panthea.
In earlier incarnations of the modern Antinoan practice, this date used to be focused on the divine female figure of Sophia, and her fall from grace, which ultimately resulted in the material world that we know…all of which, in many Gnostic formulations, is a bad thing. Again, in the Gnostic mythic system behind such an idea, women are the root of materiality and of evil and all that is wrong with the world just as much as they are in mainstream Christianity and Judaism. I do not find that a palatable interpretation at this stage, when we can do much better.
Isis was hailed as many different goddesses in an almost pantheistic or monistic fashion in the period of late antiquity, with many goddesses equated to her or syncretized to her. One example of this sort of thinking is the hymns to Isis found at the temple of Renenutet, a serpent goddess syncretized to Isis, by Isidorus at Medinet Madi in Egypt. While one may or may not accept a kind of pantheistic or monistic interpretation of Isis, nonetheless this association which accrued to Isis in the period when Antinous’ cultus grew up leads me to think that including as many goddesses in their own rights (and rites?!?) on this occasion would be useful.
Indeed, just as Isis was essential to the life and career and deification and revivification of Osiris, so too were various goddesses either paired with or said to be essential to Antinous’ deification: Diana/Artemis was paired with him at Lanuvium, and Selene was said to have made him her “bridegroom” in the P. Oxy. 63 text, which makes him Endymion-like.
The series I’ve been doing lately, on Goddesses and Antinous, has been unexpectedly productive, and is designed to make it easier for people in the future to have some quick and easy references to goddesses in relation to Antinous, Hadrian, the Antonine Emperors, wider Graeco-Roman-Egyptian cultus, and to the Ekklesía Antínoou’s practices. When the series is finished on the 27th, soon after all of these entries will be indexed for easy future reference on their own page on this blog, just as the Syncretisms of Antinous series was. (They may also be revised and made into a future publication, just as that series was.) However, for the moment, and to make it so that no one has any excuse to say that the blog entry for this day in the Sacred Nights of Antinous did not help them accomplish their devotions for the day, I present the provisional table of contents for such a future page, which includes links to all the posts in the series thus far, plus place-holders for the ones which are yet to come. Some of those ones yet to come will be done later today, and then the rest over the next two days; but, let the incompleteness not impede you meanwhile. Seek out information on those goddesses and divine female figures who have yet to be outlined fully. Find further connections on your own. Pray, praise, and do rituals to any of these goddesses, either independently, or in whatever manner you may see fit in connection with Antinous, to mark this occasion.
No matter how much emphasis there may seem to be in the Ekklesía Antínoou on the male figures of Hadrian, Antinous, and the various gods connected to and worshipped by them, never doubt that there are always female goddesses, Divae, Sanctae, and other figures in close association with them. And never forget that there are women, and have been women, in the Ekklesía Antínoou since its earliest beginnings in 2002, and that the contributions of women to the group over the years in discussion, participation, and membership activities of various sorts has been both enriching and essential to the group’s functioning–and long may it remain so!
GODDESSES AND ANTINOUS
Divae and Heroines
Aelia Domitia Paulina
Annia Aurelia Galeria Lucilla
Appia Annia Regilla
Diva Annia Galeria Faustina Maior (the Elder)
Diva Annia Galeria Faustina Minor (the Younger)
Diva Ulpia Marciana
Diva Salonina Matidia
Diva Pompeia Plotina
Diva Vibia Sabina
GO FORTH AND DO CULTUS!