Posted by: aediculaantinoi | November 27, 2012

Natalis Antinoi MCMII

Katechesis of Vibullius Polydeukion in Arcadia on the Birth of Antinous, 159 CE

“Come inside the heroön, brothers;
there is much to see within.”

“Father Herodes has not left a corner of this villa
bereft of statues, brother Polydeukion!”

“True, brother Memnon–but these are the best.”

“Not the statue of Achilleus and Penthesilea?”

“No, brother Achilles–though he is your namesake.”

“I don’t fancy killing Amazons anyway.”

“As well you shouldn’t! Notice the sphinx here,
the statue of Osiris, and Neilos, the Nile’s god.”

“I thought he was called ‘Hapi’ by the Egyptians
when we went to the Colossos of Memnon.”

“He is, as sure as you were named for that hero
immortalized in the singing stones.
And speaking of heroes, here is Hippeas on his horse.”

“The grandson of Thespios?”

“The very same–a son of Herakles
by Prokris in the city where Father Herodes
vied with Sappho to become Tenth Muse,
and won the acclaim of the people.”

“And another Pan with nymphs–is there any end
to the chases and failed seductions
of this god at this villa?”

“No–for we are in his land, his own
as sure as Hermes fathered the god
not far from here in Mantineia.”

“Yes–I remember the new temple there
with the god portrayed like Dionysos.”

“You speak of Antinous, brother Achilles,
in whose heroön we now stand.”

“Is that him depicted there?”

“Yes, as the conquering Dionysos in India,
resplendent in his lion-drawn chariot.”

“But I thought Cybele had such a vehicle!”

“She does–and Antinous and Dionysos
are not strangers to that goddess,
nor her lions. Behold, the moon rises.”

“The Romans of Sicily sometimes call it
Attis Menotyrranus, as I recall.”

“Yes, brother Achilles; and how fitting
the Phrygian god and the moon god
are mingled and called upon here today.
Antinous is the beautiful face in the full moon
which we see now on this, his natal day.”

“But who is this Antinous?”

“Not the son of perdition
who drove Penelope to exile in Mantineia
after Odysseus’ return to Ithaka?”

“No–and yet, his people were from Mantineia,
though he was born in Bithynia.”

“He looks familiar–where else have we seen him?”

“Upon the breastplate of the Divine Hadrian:
not as a repellent Gorgon’s face,
but instead a visage of divine beauty and virtue
that beguiles the onlooker
and, sure as Medusa, turns him to stone.”

“Father Herodes knew the Divine Hadrian–
but how did Antinous come to be a hero?”

“When the two were in Egypt,
Antinous helped Hadrian slay a lion–
and when he went to wash its blood from his spear,
the lion’s blood became the red Nile lotus.”

“He is a hero here, but a god in Mantineia?
And yet, is Dionysos, lion-drawn, not a god as well?”

“There is more to his story: for in Egypt,
when he went to the Nile to wash the lion’s blood,
he became entranced by the miraculous flowers–
and like the lotus eaters of Homer
he forgot every care in his reverie.”

“But forgetfulness of mortality
does not make a god!”

“No, brother Achilles–but divine waters do?”

“What do you mean?”

“In his reverie, he went too close to the water
and Hapi, seeing his reflection upon the surface
decided to embrace him in his infatuation,
like Zephyros did to Apollon’s Hyakinthos.
But instead, the goddess Selene
set his face in the moon
while Zeus placed his soul in the sky as a star.”

“Are you saying that he drowned?”

“As surely as Melikertes did–
but that did not stop him becoming a god and hero
any more than it stopped Palaimon of the Isthmus.”

“And like the kouroi honored in Delphi,
Kleobis and Biton, Antinous is honored there, too!”

“You remembered him there, then! Yes, brother Achilles!”

“And his city in Egypt, where Bes’ dancing oracle
echoes the prophecies of my Nubian people.”

“Yes, brother Memnon! And Hathor as well,
as you saw with your own eyes those years ago.”

“Though I think she is Mehit, truly,
and the other lion is Apedemak.”

“You may be right, brother–what do I know
of the gods of Egypt and Nubia?”

“But if he is Dionysos, is not Osiris
the Egyptian Dionysos?”

“If they are two, or one, or three, I know not:
there is one statue, and there is another.”

“What else do you know of Antinous?”

“Only that he comes to me sometimes at night
and tells me of futures not yet realized.”

“Is it sleeping or awake
that you are when he comes?”

“Both–or perhaps neither…
some other state, rapt in ecstasy;
sleeping like Eros in this sculpture
or raging like Dionysos in his chariot, awake–
it is much the same for anyone
who has come to know and love Antinous.”

“And what shall we do, then, brothers,
for this feast of his natal day?”

“I have heard said the followers of the Persian Mysteries
have a feast for their god, Mithras;
Father Herodes has a statue of that god here,
so why not a feast for our own Antinous in his shrine?”

“Yes! A feast for a hero is fitting indeed–
we cannot know of the Persian Mysteries
in our youth at present…”

“But each of us has worn the white cloak
as we marched from Athens to the Kephisos River
and took the Mysteries of the Two Goddesses.”

“Indeed–and other mysteries
in words of gold will yet be revealed to us.”

“Like Palaimon’s sacred rites at night,
let us have our feast and rites for Antinous!”

“Yes; Father Herodes will proudly oblige.
Antinous brings Dionysos’ aspect here–
let us supply the wine and song!”


  1. […] been said, I spent several hours of the day–the first ones of the day, in fact–writing the poem I posted earlier, and I hoped it would bring on a dream of Antinous. It didn’t, but I think some deities were […]

  2. […] of the Month: Hathor, Nemesis, and the Muses. The first and the last of these got a mention in my poem from a few days ago; but I did not end up working anything in for Nemesis…and, I really should have done so, […]

  3. Reblogged this on The Darkness in the Light.

    • Do not reblog anything from my blog without asking for permission first.

      This is your last warning.

      • I’m very sorry – I wasn’t aware that permissions were necessary. I like to promote independent pagan writers, etc. — I assumed if someone didn’t want something shared, it would be marked private. I’ll take both of yours down immediately.

  4. […] poem I wrote for this occasion last year is a good one; but, it’s never enough to simply rest on one’s earlier poetic laurels, […]

  5. […] 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 […]

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