Posted by: aediculaantinoi | November 30, 2015

Hermes, Inventor of Respect; and, Other Stuff…

I begin this miscellany post, to round out the month of November (did 2015 go very quickly for all of you as much as it did for me?), with something that I recently read in a book that doesn’t have a whole lot to do with this blog, which wasn’t fantastic (other than for the quotes it gave references to), and which is both not highly recommended by me, nor easily accessible (and it was an unexpected gift–alas, by its author!–recently). Nonetheless, some of the quotes are interesting and worth discussing in a polytheist context, I think, which that original book is most certainly not.

The quote in question comes from Plato’s Protagoras, in which the titular character speaks to Socrates about the apportioning of divine skills and pursuits from the Gods. The quoted section below is from 322a-323c, and the bit I’ve bolded is especially of note to me–it alone was quoted in the alluded-to book, and I decided to pursue it further and give its fuller context (in W. R. M. Lamb’s translation).

And now that man was partaker of a divine portion, he, in the first place, by his nearness of kin to deity, was the only creature that worshipped gods, and set himself to establish altars and holy images; and secondly, he soon was enabled by his skill to articulate speech and words, and to invent dwellings, clothes, sandals, beds, and the foods that are of the earth. Thus far provided, men dwelt separately in the beginning, and cities there were none; so that they were being destroyed by the wild beasts, since these were in all ways stronger than they; and although their skill in handiwork was a sufficient aid in respect of food, in their warfare with the beasts it was defective; for as yet they had no civic art, which includes the art of war. So they sought to band themselves together and secure their lives by founding cities. Now as often as they were banded together they did wrong to one another through the lack of civic art, and thus they began to be scattered again and to perish. So Zeus, fearing that our race was in danger of utter destruction, sent Hermes to bring respect and right among men, to the end that there should be regulation of cities and friendly ties to draw them together. Then Hermes asked Zeus in what manner then was he to give men right and respect: “Am I to deal them out as the arts have been dealt? That dealing was done in such wise that one man possessing medical art is able to treat many ordinary men, and so with the other craftsmen. Am I to place among men right and respect in this way also, or deal them out to all?” “To all,” replied Zeus; “let all have their share: for cities cannot be formed if only a few have a share of these as of other arts. And make thereto a law of my ordaining, that he who cannot partake of respect and right shall die the death as a public pest.” Hence it comes about, Socrates, that people in cities, and especially in Athens, consider it the concern of a few to advise on cases of artistic excellence or good craftsmanship, and if anyone outside the few gives advice they disallow it, as you say, and not without reason, as I think: but when they meet for a consultation on civic art, where they should be guided throughout by justice and good sense, they naturally allow advice from everybody, since it is held that everyone should partake of this excellence, or else that states cannot be. This, Socrates, is the explanation of it. And that you may not think you are mistaken, to show how all men verily believe that everyone partakes of justice and the rest of civic virtue, I can offer yet a further proof. In all other excellences, as you say, when a man professes to be good at flute-playing or any other art in which he has no such skill, they either laugh him to scorn or are annoyed with him, and his people come and reprove him for being so mad: but where justice or any other civic virtue is involved, and they happen to know that a certain person is unjust, if he confesses the truth about his conduct before the public, that truthfulness which in the former arts they would regard as good sense they here call madness. Everyone, they say, should profess to be just, whether he is so or not, and whoever does not make some pretension to justice is mad; since it is held that all without exception must needs partake of it in some way or other, or else not be of human kind.

Take my word for it, then, that they have good reason for admitting everybody as adviser on this virtue, owing to their belief that everyone has some of it; and next, that they do not regard it as natural or spontaneous, but as something taught and acquired after careful preparation by those who acquire it,—

It’s a very benevolent interpretation, that everyone has some knowledge and/or skill in both respect and justice. I’d argue, in agreement with the above, that many who refuse to acknowledge Deities have little if any respect (for Deities, for others, or often for themselves either), and it is perhaps no great surprise that the one who taught respect to humans, according to Protagoras, was Hermes.

I don’t have any witty commentary on this; I only point it out because I think it is very interesting and worth further thought.

Now, for more of the miscellany…

Go and read this RIGHT NOW: a comic by Dylan Edwards called “How I told my grandma I’m transgender.” Dylan Edwards also wrote Transposes, another great graphic novel from Northwest Press.

Here’s an interesting interview with H. Melt on trans poetry.

And, there’s several other links of note at the following Lambda Literary page.

When I do these miscellany posts, there’s almost always something either queer or Irish–and you’ve already had the former, so here’s the latter! This was utter news to me, but interesting at that: an article on Teddy Roosevelt’s role in popularizing Cú Chulainn for American audiences–who knew? I’ll have to see if I can get the article he wrote…hopefully, it’s better than the article written about this, which has several errors of detail in it (alas)…!?!

In the world of physics and astronomy, a rather interesting phenomenon has at last been directly observed: the devouring of a star by a black hole.

And, finally, for some laughs for those who like British comedy, and/or Brian Blessed (!?!):

While he’s damned close to a caricature of the Robert Bly school of “manliness” in so many respects, to parodic and self-parodic extremes, I did laugh very hard during this episode (and so did the audience at particular bits of Sterculinian humor), and I like the color of his shirt. ;)

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | November 29, 2015

Hadrian’s Entry into Oxyrhynchus 2015

“But what’s so special about it, Father?”

The Egyptian boy was asking an incessant series of questions, and his father knew there would be more, no matter his answers.

“Today is a festival commemorating something that occurred many years ago, when the Pharaoh came to our city.”

“Did you see him, Father?”

“I was not much older than you are now, but yes, I did see him.”

“What did he look like?”

“He had a beard.”

This kind of beard?” the boy asked, holding a papyrus scroll to his chin. His father laughed.

“No, not that kind, the kind made of curling hairs like the Greeks and the Romans prefer.”

“And what sort of headdress did he wear, Father?”

“One made out of leaves.”

“Papyrus leaves?” the boy asked, holding up the small bundle of scrolls he was carrying.

“It would have been interesting if they had been, son, but no, some sort of small, broad leaf that the Greeks and Romans prefer, arranged in a ring, a chaplet, upon his head.”

“Did you get to speak to the Pharaoh, Father?”

“Oh no, son! Such as we do not get to have conversation with kings!”

“But we have conversations with The Gods all the time!”

“That, alas, is different, my son. The Gods are closer to us than even our own thoughts, our own heartbeats; kings, on the other hand, are always far from us, even when we can touch them with our own hands.”

“Did you get to touch him, Father?”

“No. He trod upon palm leaves that were laid out for him, and I took one of them home with me afterwards.”

“What happened to it?”

“I had it for many years, until it became so dried out and worn that it crumbled away.”

“What did you do with it?”

“I took it down to the Nile and offered it to The Gods, especially Heru of the Papyrus Swamp, and Djehuty.”

“Who else was with him?”

“His wife, the Queen. One of our great priests, Pachrates.”

“The one whose poems we read?”

“The very same! The one whose poems are copied out by the scribes on the papyrus rolls we made for them.”

“Is that what will happen to these ones? Will they write his poems on them?”

“They might; or they might write other hymns on them, or perhaps even lists of what might be needed at the Temple–who can say? It is not for us to decide how The Gods and their Ministers wish to use these offerings, only that we give them humbly as the produce of our craft.”

“But other people are bringing food to the Temple, and bolts of linen, and fine carvings of wood, and living birds. Aren’t their gifts better than ours?”

“No gift is better than any other, if all are given with devotion, and are needed for what it done in the Temple. The finest white linen will dull and fray eventually; the birds will sing for a while, and then die; the food will be eaten before the week is out. The blank scrolls we are presenting may have words written on them that are then deposited in the House of Life, and they may be here for the children of twenty generations hence to yet read as clearly as the day they were written.”

“Which Temple are we taking these to, Father?”

“The Temple of Antnus, the Red Lotus of the Nile.”

“Why to him?”

“It is because in his Temple, there is also an image of the Pharaoh who came here so many years ago, and his Queen.”

“Are all of them Gods now?”

“Yes, but Antnus most of all, for he became A God because he drowned in the Nile.”

The boy was quiet for a few moments as they walked on toward the Temple, and more people bringing their offerings began to crowd around them.

“I would like to drown in the Nile someday, Father.”

The father stopped his son immediately, and knelt down in front of him, placing his freed hand from supporting his bundle of papyrus scrolls onto his son’s shoulder.

“No, that is not for you to decide. If you fall, as Antnus fell, then it is the will of Shai, and nothing can be done about it. But you cannot decide that you would like to drown yourself. You would be Anty cutting the head from Hethert if you did! Do you understand?”

“But how else can I become A God like Antnus became A God?”

“Live a good and long life; do not offend The Gods; do what is right in the sight of Ma’at at all times; make the work of your hands excellent for The Gods and for men; and if you are able, learn the Mysteries of The Gods as they are presented to you–and then, when it comes time to make your journey to the Beautiful West, your children will honor you as divine, if you have earned it by virtue of your being and your actions.”


The father stared at his son and nudged him slightly with his hand on his shoulder. His son’s eyes did not change in their expression, nor did his face, and there was an innocence in both that his father could not resist. He at last smiled at his son, and stood up, guiding him still by his shoulder as they continued along to the Temple.

The father remembered back to the time that the Pharaoh Hadrian had come to Oxyrhynchus, those many years ago. He asked his own father an unending stream of questions as well, but there was one that his father could not answer all those years back.

“Father, there was a young man following behind the Pharaoh. He smiled at me and placed a papyrus reed before me.” The boy–now a father–those many years ago showed his own father the papyrus stalk he had been given. “Who was that young man?”

“I did not see such a man, son. What did he look like?”

“He was strong, and had beautiful eyes and hair. There was a red lotus on his head.”

“I did not see such a man, son. Are you certain?”

“Yes, I know this to be true.”

His father did not know anything of it, but took the papyrus reed and taught his son how to make his first piece of papyrus.

It took many years for the father to realize who that man was, and it had only been a few years later when he saw one of the Greek images of Antnus that it occurred to him that he had met not a man at all, but A God. His humble trade and what it produced assumed an importance to him then which it had never ceased to have.

In time, he would tell his son of that moment, on another day when it is not the Pharaoh, but instead The God who is the recipient of the offerings.


(And if you’d prefer something else to think on for this day, or to use in any rituals you might have, my poems from last year are rather good, if I do say so myself!)

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | November 27, 2015

Birth of Antinous 2015

“In three days, we reach Oxyrhynchus, and then on to Tebtynis” the Empress said to the gathered people on the upper deck of the imperial barge.

“Yes–what of it?” replied Pachrates of Heliopolis.

“Those cities have been preparing for the arrival of the Emperor for years,” Julia Balbilla chimed in.

“But the Emperor may not be in the mood yet to meet the crowd in good spirits,” the Empress continued.

“The visit to the Memnonion cheered him a bit,” the Egyptian priest commented.

“But with today’s arrival, he is desolate again,” Sabina insisted.

“And why would you suppose that is?” the Egyptian priest questioned.

“The day,” Phlegon of Tralles interrupted. “Today would have been Antinous’ twenty-first birthday.”

“Then it will be celebrated forever after, in Tebtynis, in Oxyrhynchus, in Alexandria, in Thebes, in Memphis, in Hermopolis, and in the new city of Antinoöpolis as well.”

The Egyptian priest nodded his head and looked off into the distance, as if this near-throwaway remark had settled the matter.

“It is easy enough to say such,” Sabina observed, “and yet, if there are not precedents for how to celebrate it, the people will not know what is appropriate, and will let it pass by like any other day of the year–holy or not.”

Pachrates was confused–could anyone’s thoughts ever stray that far from what is holy, he wondered?–but he was not used to dealing with Romans this closely, and thus dismissed his confusion as simple ignorance of how backward and impious those barbarous people were.

“Very well, then–what do you suggest?”

“We have many poets of great skill here: Julia Balbilla, but also Claudia Damo, Paion of Side, and Mesomedes. Numenios’ hand guides a deft and beautiful pen, as does Phlegon of Tralles. And, from what I understand, your own prayers are unmatched in all of Egypt, Pachrates.”

Mesomedes stood and looked slightly worried.

“Are you suggesting…”

“Yes,” Sabina continued. “The sun will not set tonight without an effort by each of your hands–however faulty, however fainting, however incomplete it may be–in praise of the Bithynian lad. Each of you will also suggest something to do for this day, a way that he might be properly celebrated and remembered. There are Thracian Goddesses who are hardly known, and yet a torchlit procession on horseback is offered yearly for them in Athens itself. Surely, our Antinous deserves that, if not more.”

“Horses…horses…yes, The Boy was quite good with them, wasn’t he?”

“It is as if every horse beneath him became Areion for the fact that it was gripped by his Arcadian thighs,” Pachrates spoke.

“Thighs as fine, surpassing in beauty, those of fair Ganymede,” Phlegon observed.

“You make it sound fanciful, Phlegon, that Antinous has become a God only because of his beauty, plucked from the rabble of Phrygia for having hunted on a mountaintop where Zeus could see him!” Numenios was clearly not taken with the imagery presented by Phlegon. “No, for there was nothing unknown nor unwilling in Antinous falling for Hadrian–he was never snatched up unawares and made to be a servant, even if an immortal one. Hadrian would be the first to say it was he who served and serves the God, and not the other way around.”

“Then what do you propose, Numenios?” Phlegon inquired, both offended and incredulous that the orator could come up with something better.

“Heroes who were slain–beloved of the Gods, but who were struck down unexpectedly. Even the Gods cannot prevent what is mortal from passing away, not even if they possess beauty and virtue more valuable than gold.”

“That is very good! Very good indeed!” Sabina encouraged. “But let us not argue amongst ourselves whose efforts are better, or will be more pleasing to the Emperor! Instead, pour your emotions into your work, and use what hours are left in the day for this most important task placed before us!”

“And what of others?” Julia Balbilla asked.

“I have mentioned Athens–let us send word to your kinsman, Herodes Attikos. He shall want to know the tidings of our travels, but also of Antinous’ apotheosis.”

Apotheosis?” Paion of Side repeated. “Do you suggest the Senate will approve of such things where The Boy is concerned?”

“Whether they approve or disapprove,” Sabina continued, “the term is apt and is true. Lesser men and women have been called Divus and Diva than Antinous, and I know for certain that in other lands, he will be called Deus as much as he is in Egypt, and in still others Hero. Send word as well to Favorinus of Arles and Polemo of Smyrna.”

“They hate each other!” Julia exclaimed.

“Perhaps; but, they will no doubt work their magic on extolling Antinous for the benefit of Hadrian even despite their enmities. I suspect a great many parties that are now or ever will be at odds with one another can come together in worshipping such a virtuous and deserving youth as Antinous was in life, and as he will be into eternity amongst the Gods.”

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | November 27, 2015

Natalis Antinoi 2015

A short while ago, I looked in Devotio Antinoo to see what I had written–because I couldn’t remember (which I’m not sure is a good thing, signifying that I’ve written so many things over the years that I just can’t recall all of them immediately, or a bad thing, showing I’m getting old and forgetful…!?!)!–for Natalis Antinoi. What I found is that the page, and the entire chapter (which is only a page!) on this particular holy day is one of very few in the latter 3/4 of that volume which is almost strictly about practice, and has very little poetry, hymnody, or verse on it at all. What it does have is “Happy Birthday” in Latin for Antinous, which I already did in my earlier post. Aargh…

I have certainly written things for the day that are appropriate since Devotio Antinoo came out–the ones from 2012, 2013, and 2014 definitely aren’t bad, if I may say so myself. Besides my account of the miracle from earlier, I had to write at least something today that was new. But, what?

And, like so many things in my life having to do with inspiration, it finally struck when I was near water–which is to say, *in the loo.* These kinds of things often happen to me when I’m taking a shower; or, when I’m either pouring libations to Cloacina and/or making bread for Sterculinus (and I think you can guess what those expressions mean!). I won’t tell you which of those things I was doing, but I suddenly got the idea right before I met some friends for the traditional feast for this day.

So, I hope you like what follows below! Depending on a few things, I might even write a second entry after this which may have something else in it, once the creative wheels are greased a bit more…

Thus, without further ado, a song not only appropriate for today, but which also brings in the wider “spirit,” as it were, that is now afoot with gusto in this troubled and precarious world (and very most certainly country) of ours. You’ll figure out the tune (though the syllables don’t fit the original particularly well) very quickly, I think…!?!

Hadrian gave Antinous on Natalis Antinoi:
a Nilotic Holy City!

Pachrates gave Antinous on Natalis Antinoi:
Eternal Divinity
and a Nilotic Holy City!

Hekate gave Antinous on Natalis Antinoi:
Three Sacred Serpents
Eternal Divinity
and a Nilotic Holy City!

Dionysos gave Antinous on Natalis Antinoi:
Four Flower Heroes
Three Sacred Serpents
Eternal Divinity
and a Nilotic Holy City!

Glykon gave Antinous on Natalis Antinoi:
Four Flower Heroes
Three Sacred Serpents
Eternal Divinity
and a Nilotic Holy City!

Artemis gave Antinous on Natalis Antinoi:
Six hounds a-hunting
Four Flower Heroes
Three Sacred Serpents
Eternal Divinity
and a Nilotic Holy City!

Apollon gave Antinous on Natalis Antinoi:
Seven Ephesia Grammata
Six hounds a-hunting
Four Flower Heroes
Three Sacred Serpents
Eternal Divinity
and a Nilotic Holy City!

Hermes gave Antinous on Natalis Antinoi:
Eight Gods syncretizing
Seven Ephesia Grammata
Six hounds a-hunting
Four Flower Heroes
Three Sacred Serpents
Eternal Divinity
and a Nilotic Holy City!

Sabina gave Antinous on Natalis Antinoi:
Nine feasts a-feasting
Eight Gods syncretizing
Seven Ephesia Grammata
Six hounds a-hunting
Four Flower Heroes
Three Sacred Serpents
Eternal Divinity
and a Nilotic Holy City!

The Trophimoi gave Antinous on Natalis Antinoi:
Ten Heroes dying
Nine feasts a-feasting
Eight Gods syncretizing
Seven Ephesia Grammata
Six hounds a-hunting
Four Flower Heroes
Three Sacred Serpents
Eternal Divinity
and a Nilotic Holy City!

The Tetrad++ gave Antinous on Natalis Antinoi:
Eleven Temples offering
Ten Heroes dying
Nine feasts a-feasting
Eight Gods syncretizing
Seven Ephesia Grammata
Six hounds a-hunting
Four Flower Heroes
Three Sacred Serpents
Eternal Divinity
and a Nilotic Holy City!

P.S.V.L. gave Antinous on Natalis Antinoi:
Twelve hymns a-singing
Eleven Temples offering
Ten Heroes dying
Nine feasts a-feasting
Eight Gods syncretizing
Seven Ephesia Grammata
Six hounds a-hunting
Four Flower Heroes
Three Sacred Serpents
Eternal Divinity
and a Nilotic Holy City!


[And if you have any questions on “why?” the gifts listed above, feel free to ask in the comments! ;)

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | November 27, 2015

A Foundation Day/Natalis Antinoi Miracle…!

Apparently, it’s something called “Black Friday” in the larger culture today. I really don’t know what that’s all about, but I am sad to say they’re mistaken on this, as they so often seem to be on so many other things: everyone knows Antinous the Liberator’s color is RED, not black–the latter is Antinous the Lover’s color, and his season is over until April–and given it is also His birthday today, you’d think they’d at least get that right…but, no, they never pay attention to these things as well as they should. See what kinds of Sigillaria presents they get when the Boat of Millions of Years doesn’t stop at their house and leave festive Saturnalia sigils by their home shrines…there’ll be screeching kids yelling at their parents for their ignorance then, I can tell you, and no small number of tweets and BaceFook posts from angry wise teenagers saying #worstSigillariaEVAR and so forth…

But, I’m not here today to write about all of the ills of the very sick and sad world, I’m here to talk about Antinous. I do not yet know what may be in store for my own observances of Natalis Antinoi today–perhaps a meal later, perhaps some writing, I’m not sure–but I think I’ll be going to hang out (sooner rather than later) with Sannion and co. for a discussions of the Toys of Dionysos, as I will be taking that course starting in January, and am looking forward to it very much indeed.

First, though, let me tell you about this miracle. It may seem a bit of a “white trash” miracle, but one has to take what one can get these days, and given the state I’ve been in lately (and by that, I don’t mean “Washington state”), such small matters of wonder can also serve to give one hope. Now that we are approaching winter, “festivals of lights” start occurring, both in advance of and soon after Winter Solstice. Being that I have Jewish ancestry myself, it is no surprise that an occurrence like the one I’m about to describe has a certain amount of appeal for me, since it’s kind of a modern version of the miracle observed at Chanukkah all those millennia ago.

On Foundation Day, when I dedicated my Shrine, I ended up setting up six LED candles that I got at the dollar store some months before, but had never used. I carried them around in my bag for a while, expecting to be using them at various times (e.g. PantheaCon, Many Gods West), but never got to it or forgot they were in there. Just before the World Parliament of Religions, I took them out of the bag, thinking it might be safer to do that rather than have the TSA potentially freak out about them being in one of my carry-ons. I assembled them all with the non-name-brand batteries I got at the same dollar store when I first purchased the candles those months before. It said on each package that they should have about 100 hours of light, and so I assumed that with the $7 plus a bit of tax I paid for the six candles (two per pack) and the twelve AAA batteries (three per pack) that I got out of it might give me a week’s illumination in the Shrine at most, since they said they would last just over four days. (This is beginning to sound like a story problem in algebra class, isn’t it?)

So, I turned on those candles that night of Foundation Day, and have left them going ever since. It has been four weeks–not four days–since I turned them on, and have not turned them off in all of that time. They have been going ever since, and are not in any appreciable way dimmer or flickering or anything at this point, and seem to be going strong. If they last until Solstice, I won’t be surprised (and I hope they do!), but they’ve already gone far beyond expectation, and I am very happy about that.

Thus, I thank Antinous for bringing about that miracle, and also Qadesh, since I figure it is probably her and not Iao who is in on the action in my Shrine–not because Iao isn’t welcome nor honored therein, but because I suspect that’s more something in her territory and interests rather than his! ;)


Hail to Qadesh!
Hail, Hail, Hail to Antinous!
Felix Natalis, Antinoo, et Multiqueee!!!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | November 26, 2015

Antinous and Thanksgiving

For the past five years, we’ve marked today as Bithynia Day, for reasons you can read about in older posts (like the one linked to there!). It’s a bit of a silly holiday, somewhat more silly than Dies Cista Deorum but not quite as silly as Boukoklepteia, Ophidia (which is often more abstruse than silly, but oh well…!?!), or Glykonalia.

Silliness, indeed, can be a balm in difficult times, and I’ve often found it to be so–and for such a huge variety of reasons, both personal and more wide-ranging, perhaps a bit of silliness is what is really needed at the moment. So, to paraphrase John Oliver in a recent Last Week Tonight episode, when speaking about the unfounded fears that refugees from Syria might ruin U.S. society: there has only been one historical case of refugees completely ruining the country into which they’ve come and disrupting the lives of the people already living there, and that was the Pilgrims and we celebrate that ruin every Thanksgiving.

So, here we are.

The recent vintage of Bithynia Day aside, though, what might the connection be between Antinous and Thanksgiving? Is there one?

Of course, the more abstract noun “thanksgiving” does apply to Antinous, in that some ex voto tablets exist in Bithynia which thank him for things that he has done for his devotees–what, exactly, we’re not told, but we know it happened. And, as I’ve said in person and in writing on various occasions, the very most basic act of religiosity is the giving of thanks, which certainly applies in the polytheist context (ancient and modern) perhaps more than anything, particularly where the giving of offerings is concerned.

But beyond that, what else?

In a variety of cultures, sacrifice myths often involve heroes and/or Deities who become food providers in their post-sacrificial states, which applies to many of the Greek and Egyptian figures with whom we’re very familiar. Dionysos is one (although he’s often not the specific figure who becomes the vine and the grapes), Demeter and Persephone are another (though, again, it’s simply the giving of agriculture as a gift to humanity rather than actual kataphytosis that is involved there), and Osiris is another, since he is often thought to be connected to vegetative life in general. In Irish culture, the death of Miach by his father Dian Cécht serves to introduce all of the healing herbs to the earth, which is also a sacrificial death that yields important plants. In the Samish culture, Kwekwálelwet (the Maiden of Deception Pass) is responsible for all of the bounties of the sea which provided the Samish people with the majority of their foodstuffs, from fish and crustaceans and bivalves to seaweed; as they say, when the tide goes out, their plates are full. The same is true in a huge number of other indigenous cultures, where the primary plant and agricultural products, or the main prey animals, have a special relationship with the people involved, and that relationship often begins with a sacrificial death but a renewal through ceremony and ritual which secures the good relationship between the people and the heroes, Deities, or land and animal spirits for this purpose.

Unfortunately, we’re very far from those kinds of considerations in the modern world for the most part. But, that’s a subject for another day.

Apart from his connection to Osiris and Dionysos and a few other such figures, though, what is Antinous’ connection to these matters?

One of the most important miracles associated with Antinous’ deification and the sacrificial implications associated with it is the Nile’s excessive inundation in the year after his death, which relieved a multiple-year drought that had lowered the overall crop yield of Egypt for several years running at the time. This inundation was the highest one on record ever in the history of Egypt, as it turns out, and not only had the effect of increasing agricultural yields, but it actually caused damage in some places! (That’s youthful enthusiasm for you, eh?) In some people’s view, therefore, Antinous’ death regenerated the inundation of the Nile, and thus brought back agricultural productivity for all of Egypt, and as a result for all of the Roman Empire as well, and assured many people not simply of having their daily bread, but of having more of it for that particular year.

This is yet another reason why Antinous is a Deity for everyone, and not just for queer people (and particularly not just for gay men): everyone needs to eat, and Antinous thus makes it possible for everyone to be fed! :) As a queer Deity, he may not have had actual fertility in himself through offspring (though the Tetrad++ would beg to differ–as would Poseidon and Nerites’ child Anteros!), but this is a way in which fertility can exist through the influence of such queer Deities in other forms that don’t involve reproduction and heteronormative rumpity-pumpity (as I believe the technical term is).

So, on this Thanksgiving–whether you’re American or not–you can thank Antinous and any other Deities to whom you may be devoted for all of the good things in your life, including the food that you’re eating today and that you have any at all to be eating; and, you can understand the acclamation we use in the Ekklesía Antínoou for all sorts of reasons and on many different occasions with a huge variety of meanings:

haec est unde vita venit!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | November 24, 2015

Hope Is Everywhere…Kind Of…?!?

When one is in a state bordering on suicide (“Welcome to the Lovely State of Self-Harm!”), something that it often takes some effort to find is hope.

Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq at the World Parliament of Religions emphasized that in the coming destructive realities of global climate change, what will be needed to survive it is hope.

Hope seems to be in short supply these days.

Which is why I find it interesting that it came up in Edward Butler’s latest piece at, which is on the mythological hermeneutics of the Pandora myth. Pandora is an important myth for me for several reasons, amongst them:

1) Some things that have to do with Thracians that I’m not entirely able to articulate at present;

2) When I was in the 7th grade, we were assigned Greek mythological figures to do reports on, and part of the report involved dressing as the assigned figure. I was given Pandora, and it was thus the first “official” time I did what might be considered “drag” (even though, based on my current gender identity, that is highly debatable–but, it would have just been another form of drag in comparison to the daily drag I did then and now);

3) In part of the Tetrad++’s myth–specifically, that of the actualization of Paneros, Pandora comes up as a comparison.

And, for various other reasons, it’s an important myth to consider, I think.

So, the matter of “Hope” being one of the things left in Pandora’s jar is an interesting matter, and some of the debates on this over the years I’ve heard are also intriguing. At Findhorn, for example, they have an “Angel Deck” of little stick-figures with different qualities written next to them that is kind of pervasively available and used in different contexts. There was a debate on whether or not “Hope” should be one such angel, given that it is possible to have “false hope,” which would not be good or virtuous. So, it’s kind of an interesting discussion on its own…Harvey Milk and others would disagree, but nonetheless, there we are.

Edward Butler gave a link to the following image, a statue group found in the Met currently, which shows Dionysos and Elpis/Spes, a.k.a. “Hope.”

Dionysos and Elpis

I find various things about this image interesting, which I’ll come back to…

But, as I was thinking this over, I realized that there’s relics of “hope” all over the place in Greek myth, and in some specifically Antinoan contexts as well.

There’s the figure I always remember from Homer’s Odyssey (a “younger reader’s” version of which I also read in the seventh grade, and this particular thing really stuck out to me), namely Elpenor, who was the first shade to meet Odysseus and his men when they came to Hades, who had survived the Trojan War but died in the course of their adventure with Circe, and not even from anything malefic–he just didn’t want to be left behind because he overslept. A lot could be said about that, I’m sure…

Then we have one of Herodes Attikos’ daughters, Elpinike, who also died in an untimely fashion.

What I find interesting about the statue-group of Dionysos and Elpis/Spes above is that the Goddess holds a lotus bud. And, of course, whenever one mentions lotuses around these parts, one thinks of Antinous, eh?

So, what do all of these things point to? How fragile hope is, how easily it can die–often before its time–and how like a flower it is, both in its potentials not-yet-realized (indeed, that is the nature of hope) as symbolized by the bud, and also how quickly it fades and dies, which is inherent in all flower myths, I think.

Anyway, it’s not a long or deep set of reflections today, just something that I think is worth pointing out while I’m thinking of it.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | November 23, 2015

A Slow Day…

Very little of major import to share today, folks…It’s cold here, and we may get snow soon.

The weather: when that’s all I can think of to mention, then you know that either things are very boring, very busy, my brain is very tired/confused/not functioning right, or perhaps a little of all of the above.

So, in the meantime, have a look at this capital bit of modern Irish folk magic.

Pretty amazing, innit? ;)

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | November 21, 2015

Several Stories, Mostly Irish- and/or Queer-Related

Now that the major festivals are over for a few days (until the Natalis Antinoi just under a week from today on Friday!), here’s a few things I’ve seen recently that might be of interest to some readers here.

First, a few photos and short portraits of some of the first legally-married same-sex couples in Ireland. Congratulations to all of them, and those that follow them in this historic situation!

Next, a short discussion on Roger Casement, an Ekklesía Antínoou Sanctus who is often left out of the story of the struggle for Irish independence and those who were martyrs in that cause. There is also a discussion here between colonial/indigenous struggles and how being aware of those from first-hand experience of them (and working in the machinery that promoted and maintained those colonial structures) caused Casement to have sympathy with them, and to oppose them in his own culture, as well as to see the connections between these struggles and his own struggle as a gay man.

In Irish comedic terms, here’s ten things you can learn from Father Ted. If you want insights into the Irish sense of humor, of the absurdist tendency in it, and of the ways in which even Irish Catholicism (and particularly Irish peoples’ perceptions of it) is very far indeed from what so many people might assume, Father Ted is the thing of which to take note. The clip below begins with one of the funniest, and most often quoted, but most random, bits on the show.

And, I only heard of the latter in the last few weeks, but I’m still kind of in shock over it: Stephen Fry is giving up his hosting position on Q.I. SAY IT AIN’T FECKIN’ SO!!! However, he’s leaving it in very good hands: his long-time friend and collaborator Sandi Toksvig–a great British (of Danish extraction) comedian and actor, who also came to prominence several decades back for being one of the first well-known British lesbian mothers–will be taking over his hosting duties in the future. I met and spoke briefly with her in Oxford as well (as that was the same place–though on a different time/occasion–when I also met and spoke briefly with Stephen Fry) when I was there, and I thus have autographed books by both of them! Anyway, yay funny British actor/comedian/authors who are queer! ;)

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | November 21, 2015

Colossoi of Memnon Festival 2015, Day 3: Jubilation

“He is beginning to lose hope,” the Poetess said to the Empress.

“How can you tell?” Sometimes, the Empress envied the Poetess’ depths of sensitivity, which extended to everyone, including her husband, in ways that she could never fathom nor surpass.

“Listen to his wailing and moaning. Yesterday, it was variable, and he’d range its pitch across the scales in volume and intensity. Today, it is monotone. He is no longer expressing the tumult of his emotional state, he’s becoming numb, and is only crying out from a sense of requirement and obligation.”

“That is very perceptive, Julia, but I do not know if it is simply your poetic cleverness, or if it is the truth.”

“You may ask Hadrian yourself as the day progresses. For now, we have stopped here, and I fear what this might mean for the rest of our journey, and the fate of our Empire and of Egypt in particular.”

The Empress Sabina allowed a shudder to overtake her in her private moment with Julia Balbilla.

“What do you think he might do next?”

“A man without hope can do anything, especially if that man commands thirty Legions.”

“Do you think he will do as Trajan did, and begin to wage war on some people who border us?”

“He is not that rash or unbalanced, in my estimation, Empress.”

“Please, Julia, do not call me that when we are alone.”

“Very well, then: Sabina.”

The Empress approached her friend, smiled, and briefly clasped her by the shoulder, and then retreated again to her pacing as she listened to the Emperor’s wails in the waning moments of darkness before dawn.

“We are on the verge of the Empire’s other extreme. I hear the Blemmyae to the south are not as peaceful and quiet as they once were, and I suspect that another wall, like a pendant to the ones he built in Germania and Britannia, may go up around the cataracts to keep them from invading Egypt.”

“That is an intriguing notion, Julia. Do you think we will travel that far over the coming days, then?”

“I am uncertain if we will travel any further at all if this continues to be his state.”

“Hadrian has never been one to simply decree a building project without seeing the lay of the land upon which it will be built.”

“Yes, what you say is true; but that is the action of a man who thinks that the future is worthwhile, that his efforts may come to some fruit or other if cultivated properly. He is not such a man any longer. This is the danger: someone as clever and thoughtful as he turning that immense intellect not to learning more about any given situation, but instead relying on his own intellect and assumptions in thinking that they can solve anything, whether he has seen it with his own eyes or not.”

“And you have discerned all of this simply from listening to his wailing, Julia?”

The Empress smiled slightly, despite the gravity of their situation.

“Yes…and, I also saw a sketch of a defensive wall he had scrawled yesterday on a stray piece of papyrus.”

“Deceitful bitch!” Sabina said this with a smile, somewhat exasperated, but still in a relatively playful and cheerful mood. “I took you for some great seer, like your ancestor Balbillus, but you are only a spy and a lurker in eaves and shadows!”

“If the results are the same, what does it matter how I might seem to those who are unaware of the difference?”

Julia Balbilla then feigned an ecstasy, put the back of her hand to her forehead as she looked heavenward, and then lowered it over her face and narrowed her eyes and her gaze, furrowing her brow and acting as if she was attempting to fade into the shadows. The Empress could not but laugh at the mime show, worthy of the greatest of Dionysian artists, which was displayed by the Poetess.

When their mutual laughing stopped, the Poetess’ dramatic display ceased entirely, and she became truly entranced and seized with something which the Empress could not readily register.

“What is it, Julia?”

“Do you hear that sound?”

“It is only the Emperor’s wails, Julia.”

“No–beneath it. Listen more closely.”

The two were silent, and suddenly the Emperor’s wails ceased as well as he took a breath, and must have realized there was another sound in monotone piercing the Nilotic air.

“What is it? What could it be?”

The Empress was confused.”

“It could only be…the Colossos of Memnon, crying out at the appearance of Eos on this day!”

“But we heard nothing of this yesterday!”

“No, but we hear it today! The Ethiopian Hero-God is fickle, this is well-known.”

“Still, perhaps this is a positive omen, and will aid in ceasing Hadrian’s wails…”

“It seems that it already has!”

As they stood, simply listening to the hum of the voice of Memnon son of Eos and Tithonos, suddenly the Emperor, with his face streaked with tears and his eyes swollen, stumbled in to their presence.

“Is it…Could it be…”

“Yes, husband, it’s the statue crying out.”

Hadrian, agape, sank to his knees, and his open mouth slowly contorted itself into a smile as he clutched his heart.

“Oh…it’s the most beautiful sound in the world!”

“I’ve heard better tunes come from Cretan girls choirs, to be honest,” Julia Balbilla said. Sabina smirked, but the Emperor didn’t seem to have paid any attention to the remark.

“Can you not hear what the God is saying?”

“Tell us, husband–we are only simple women, and must be instructed in such Mysteries.”

Julia Balbilla knew for a fact that Sabina’s words were a mollifying gesture–a tactic she had honed to perfection over the long duration of their marriage–to appease the Emperor’s lack of confidence.

“We are not to travel further south.”

Julia and Sabina glanced at each other, fearful that what the Poetess had prognosticated earlier might be true.

“The call has gone out from Ethiopia by the God, to speak to me here in Egypt. We do not need to see that country with our own eyes to know that those perfect lands of perfect people must never be closed off from the Two Lands.”

“But what about the Blemmyae?” Sabina was both curious as well as a little concerned with why the potential threat they posed was not being addressed.

“The God says that I have nothing to fear from them during my lifetime, however long or short a duration of years remains in it. The stones of a wall will be better used in roads than in walls.”

“What road do you mean to indicate, husband?”

“One from the new city to the Red Sea.”

“The city–”

“Of Antinous, yes.”

“The fallen Hero’s city, which has only been traced in the sands?”

“Yes–that city. But, he may not only be a Hero…I think he may be a God.”

“That Egyptian priest said as much, though I suspect none but Egyptians will accept such as the case.”

“No, you are wrong,” Julia said to Sabina, to the latter’s surprise. The Empress looked at the Poetess quizzically, but the Poetess nodded her head and glanced toward the still-kneeling Hadrian.

“It is true–there will be songs sung of him in other places. Choral dances will be done in his honor. Sacred games will take place in his memory. Temples will even be raised to him for his virtue and beauty and goodness.”

“And all of this, husband, because you have heard the voice of a God a day later than expected?”

“Memnon was a Hero by birth, and a God by his death. I can hear Memnon saying now that Antinous is no less, and that I have heard Memnon’s voice late only signifies that I have come to this realization of Antinous’ nature, so much like that of the Ethiopian king, late–but not too late–myself.”

“Then, does the Emperor permit me to immortalize this occasion in a poem?”

“One, or two, or three–however many you might wish, Balbilla! The world shall never forget this, and will sing with renown what the Ethiopian Hero and God has helped me to realize!”

“Then I shall begin my composition immediately!”

“And I, too.”

Hadrian and Julia both turned to Sabina in utter surprise and shock.

“Such a great revelation at the foot of Memnon’s colossus deserves something special from everyone present.”

“But Sabina, it has been years since you’ve written poetry!” Hadrian exclaimed.

“And with the help of the Muses, I will not fail in making something fitting to Heroes and Gods, both old and new.”

Sabina Augusta, wife of the Emperor Caesar Hadrian,
in the course of the first hour, having heard Memnon twice…


For this final day of the festival, I also have a further poem (or, rather, part of one) to share with you, which I found recently in a publication from the late 1800s.

brown address

This photo is of the actual book I found this in. It is by George William Curtis, and is called An Address delivered to the Alumni of Brown University, Tuesday, June 20, 1882, and while there is no indication that such is the case, I suspect it was published later in that same year. But what about Memnon? With the address–which has some interesting and salient points in it, even 130+ years afterwards, that are just as relevant today–is a poem by Prof. T. Whiting Bancroft called “Memnon, or The Youthtide.” The poem is several pages long, mostly in rhyming couplets, but the part which directly mentions Memnon is just the very beginning of it, and the theme is never revisited in it, alas. The rest of the poem has some merit as well, but since this is Memnon’s festival, I’ll only give the part that is Memnon-specific here.

from “Memnon, or The Youthtide,” by T. Whiting Bancroft

Ages ago, where rolls the sullen Nile,
His surge bereft of ocean’s crested smile,
Where ancient Thebes her storied columns high
Rear’d for a glory that should never die,
Stood Memnon’s statue of colossal stone,
Rough-hewn to life, yet wanting breath alone.
As darkness brooded o’er the shadow’d land,
It faced the east majestic, mute and grand;
But when the blushes up the Orient skies
Steal from the couch whereon Aurora lies.
It looked expectant toward the rising queen,
With lofty brow, and high, heroic mien.
As the first sunbeam on its mission sped,
Shone like an aureole o’er the massive head,
Deep from within there came a harp-like sound,
Distinct to all the pilgrims gather’d round.
No later ray, e’ev should the lavish sun
From wealth of radiance, sent the loveliest one
To sport with maiden coyness, round its hair,
Could woo again the slumbering music there.
So early scenes that greet our youthful eyes,
And early pleasures bring a glad surprise.
No after joys can e’er our hearts control,
Or wake again the music of the soul.


Hail to Memnon, son of Eos and Tithonus!
Hail to the Divine Sabina Augusta!
Hail to Julia Balbilla Sancta!
Hail to the Divine Hadrian!
Hail to Antinous!

Older Posts »



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 370 other followers