One of the reasons I did the Tabula Sanctorum and the Calendar recently is so that I’d have them easily available for reference in the year to come. The Calendar has already proven quite handy in that regard; but the Tabula Sanctorum is going to be a while before it is very effective as a handy reminder tool, alas…
I had known that two of our Sancti had their dies natalis this week, and had made a note for myself indicating such…and then, promptly forgot one the other day in my travels, but remembered the second today. So, my deepest apologies for neglecting one of them, who I shall mention first here before honoring the other worthy for today. Both of them are considered “Messengers of Antinous” because they
Herman Melville (August 1, 1819 – September 28, 1891) is a very famous American novelist, poet, short story writer and essayist, who was popular in the 1850s but who was nearly forgotten after that until his death in 1891. His masterpiece–in contention for the greatest American novel ever written–was Moby Dick, but his posthumous novella Billy Budd has also won great acclaim. And, interestingly, the protagonist of the latter might not be the “Christ-figure” that he is painted to be so frequently in high school American lit classes, but instead he may have owed a great deal of his inspiration to Antinous. Melville visited Italy and toured around various places that had Antinous statuary, and he was impressed and moved by what he saw, and made notes of such in his personal writings. If I am not mistaken, he does write about him directly elsewhere as well, but nonetheless, this is a fascinating dimension to add to one’s study of American literature and its luminaries.
The Sanctus of the day, however, is Percy Bysshe Shelley (August 4, 1792 – July 8, 1822), who was one of the most famous Romantic poets. Many of his poems are influenced by or based upon classical figures, and in this regard Antinous does feature in his unfinished short story The Coliseum, and is related as comparable to the story’s main, nameless character in terms of the quality of his beauty; this story was written shortly after Shelley visited the Vatican and saw several of the statues of Antinous therein. He was only 29 when he died, and he happened to die by drowning, which further connects him to Antinous as well. The statue of him below, in his memorial in University College Oxford, is something that I was never able to see while I was there, unfortunately.
So, both of the Sancti I have mentioned for this first part of August have in common that they saw some of the same statues, and had them go on to influence the characterization of beautiful male youths in their own writings quite explicitly. Interesting, eh?
In any case, the works of both of these writers were wonderful and important, and they should never be forgotten!
Ignis Corporis Infirmat, Ignis sed Animae Perstat!