Posted by: aediculaantinoi | January 23, 2014

Antinous and Agathos Daimon, 2014

The Serpent Inside

Alexander the Great, in his travels and conquests,
heard that a serpent was killed near the Nile delta in Egypt.

His great city of Alexandria was later founded there,
the place where his own body was laid to rest in death.

The serpent–not dead–was taken into Alexander himself;
the divine snake had become the holy city.

Another Alexander in far-off Abunoteichos, instead,
did not take the serpent into himself; rather,

he brought forth from within himself the snake,
who had hair as unbelieveable as he wigged his own head.

But what dangling spinal column, what digestive tract
is the snake topped with the head we each ourselves wear?

Do some humans have more of the snake in them
because part of it protrudes from between their legs?

Or do other humans have more of the serpent inside
because two of them rear up, hidden, around clutches of eggs?

Antinous, with the holy serpent twined around his forearm,
with the rearing sacred cobra sprouting from his forehead…

My head with Antinous’ serpentine body, stretching to millions of years;
Antinous’ head, with my bodies, two helical strands of genetic inheritance…

A billion serpents entwined around billions of bodies,
and one serpent god guides them all in their inscrutable dances:

self-swallowing, so that even it contains
the self-same serpent inside…


  1. Ooh, the imagery! Amazing poem.

  2. […] festival of the Daimon Antinous, but I had it wrong in my head, and thought it was the festival of the Agathos Daimon and Antinous, which already happened in January of this year. That’s kind of too bad, I suppose, because […]

  3. What museum is this example in?

    • The top one, as I understand it, is in the Pergamum Museum in Berlin; the lower Egyptianizing one, I think, is in Dresden. The top one is probably not an ancient original, but it does have its own interesting history…

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