Today is our yearly reckoning with failure in the Ekklesía Antínoou, in honor of the “near-death” experience (not as that term is often understood today, but anyway…) of Antinous when he accompanied Hadrian on his lion hunt west of Alexandria not long before his own death. It’s the most mythologized aspect of Antinous’ cultus (at least as we know it), and is the subject of more fragments of hymnody and epic from the ancient world in relation to Antinous than anything else.
And, it’s one of the only things related to Antinous that I’ve not made a subject of my own poetry thus far. I had hoped to change that this year, but as I wrote the other day, you may be aware I’ve run into some snags in that plan.
So, of my many failures in the past year, and even in the past three weeks, this one looms the largest for me at present.
I suspect that Michael Palin and John Cleese of Monty Python might have something useful to say on this subject (though I have to say, I somewhat prefer the version in And Now For Something Completely Different, but chalk up not being able to find such a clip in the time I have to yet another failure).
I think there’s something useful in this, funny though it is. While I am a very good poet, and a very devoted cultist of Antinous, and very qualified in many other ways to do the project I had hoped I might do, at the end of the day, I might have been kidding myself, and thinking I could do what Pachrates of Helipolis/Pancrates did back in the day because “I’ve got the hat.” I think I can probably do it eventually, but the hiccup in the process at present (and with some of my other poetic work recently as well) really did hammer the message home that no matter how little I actually “rest on my laurels” (and have said as much previously!), there’s certain things that just can’t come about “by magic,” as it were–a mere act of will to bring about desired change cannot accomplish what I wanted to accomplish in this case, and I was wrong to think that any of the qualifications I think I have to do such a thing were sufficient previously.
That doesn’t mean it can’t still come about, but this humbling experience for this occasion was necessary first, I think, in getting the message home that one doesn’t just sit down and make these things happen. There’s far more riding on this than me and my own relationship with Antinous and the others. And that needs some more work and some more time…and time has been painfully scarce lately.
So, I leave this entry with an image of what I feel I’m in the midst of–the hunt itself, not its successful or unsuccessful conclusion. My ritual will follow shortly, and then more work on the many tasks that are occupying most of my time these days (which are both necessary and good, but far more time-consuming than I expected they would be, alas).
May Antinous and the Divine Hadrian, the Divine Alexander the Great, Herakles, Sekhmet, Maahes, Nergal, and all of the lion-connected deities favor us in our hunts and bring success from defeat, and triumph from failure!