ANTINOUS IN LAODICEA
BANKING CENTER OF THE EASTERN EMPIRE
LAODICEA was the financial center of the Eastern Empire, and in these 21st Century days of financial crisis it is interesting to see how Emperor Hadrian promoted his own "financial stability mechanism" with on-site bail-outs and emergency cash injections.
On July 1st the Religion of Antinous commemorates the triumphal entry of Hadrian and Antinous into Laodicea following their glowing visit to Ephesus. The welcome was stupendous, especially since the Laodiceans knew the emperor was bringing not only chests full of money but also trade and business contracts and tax incentive reforms, all aimed at boosting prosperity and banking security.
The city stood on a spur of Mount Salbacus, one mile from the left bank of the Lycus, between the Asopus and Mount Cadmus, where it had a commanding view of the region between the Lycus and the Caprus.
It was one of the principal cities of Asia Minor, both as a major production center and a commercial hub, being famous for its woollen fabrics and its sandals. It had received from Rome the title of free city, and it became the centre of a conventus juridicus, which comprised twenty-four cities besides itself.
Its wealthy citizens embellished it with beautiful monuments. The city had a school of medicine and gave birth to the two skeptic philosophers, Antiochus and Theiodas. Its coins and inscriptions show evidence of the worship of Zeus, Æsculapius, Apollo, and the emperors.
Laodicea was one of the richest cities in the world, being the banking center of the east. So, great preparations must have been made for the visit of the Imperial entourage.
Entering the city of Laodicea during the summer of 129, Hadrian and Antinous were immediately welcomed by the wealthy population. Due to its location and to the nearby medicinal baths, the city of Laodicea was a banking capital of the region and a place where wealthy merchants went to retire and enjoy the clean mountain air.
It was therefore a place very enthusiastic about the reforms that Hadrian had made and about his policies of Hellenism, which the Laodiceans would have considered good for business.
The Laodiceans had a great Temple to Zeus, Apollo and to Hermes, and it is the Temple of Hermes that is here of great importance because in Roman theology, Mercury was the god of commerce which was all important in the rich city of Laodicea. It is therefore to the wealth of commerce, which had enriched the lives of the retirees of Laodicea, that we praise the policies of Hadrian the leader of Roman business.
FLAMEN ANTONYUS SUBIA suggests deeper spiritual insights which make this "Mercurial" city special to us:
"Antinous must have had an intense initiation into these financial mystieries, which were carried out in the courtyard of the Temple of Mercury, close to the watchful eye of the god. We pray to Mercury who ensures our livelihood and the success of the material world, which keeps our modern civilization in a constant state of progress."