Sunday, September 2, 2012



FLAMEN Antonyus Subia is spending the day at Hadrian's Villa for one of the highlights of his Sacred Pilgrimage to Rome — the first exhibition devoted to Antinous ever to be held at the Tivoli villa compound.

Priest Hernestus has journeyed from Germany to join Antonyus for the Antinous Exhibition, thanks in great part to the largesse of Priest Uendi, who is in constant contact with them both from Hollywood.

Running now through November 4th, hundreds of Antinous-related statues and other artefacts from around the world are on display. The exhibition is entitled "Antinoo: Il fascino della bellezza" (Antinous: A Fascination With Beauty) — and Antonyus says the exhibition lives up to its name.

Amazingly, this is the first time EVER that the curators of Hadrian's Villa (the Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of Latium Villa Adriana Antiquarium) have launched an exhibition solely devoted to Antinous.

Despite the traffic and long lines, the wait is worth it, Antonyus says. Once inside, visitors see 50 incomparable Antinous-related treasures, including sculptures, reliefs, gems and coins — all testimony to the love of the Emperor Hadrian for the Bithynian youth.

The exhibition is accompanied by an OFFICIAL CATALOGUE published by Electa which explains in loving detail not only the objects on view in the exhibition but also the ardent same-sex relationship between Hadrian and Antinous.

Antonyus and Hernestus inspected the archaeological dig site of the Antinoeion pavilion at the Villa. Hadrian designed this shady hideaway as a recreation in miniature to Canopus, the town on the western arm of the Nile Delta where Hadrian and Antinous sought refuge from the hustle and bustle (and religious strife between Christians and Jews) which they had encountered at nearby Alexandria in the hot summer of the year 130 AD. 

Their days together in Canopus were a final moment of unalloyed joy for Hadrian and Antinous only a few weeks before tragedy struck along the Nile in Upper Egypt.

The two priests of Antinous thoroughly toured the exhibition. It is divided into four sections, which display works from an array museums and collections. On view are items which for the most part were originally found at Hadrian's Villa or which the curators hope to encourage the current owners to hand over to the Villa.

The first section includes a series of portraits Hadrian and Antinous, including the marble bust of the Vatican Museums and the beautiful bronze from the Archaeological Museum of Florence.

The second section focuses on the many divine aspects of the young "Bitinio" (Bithynian Boy), such as his association with Apollo and Dionysus as well as his portrayal as a priest of Attis.

The third section focuses on the recent discoveries at the Antinoeion dig site, primarily representation of Antinous in the guise of Osiris. Hadrian had made a point of associating Antinous with Osiris, who died in the Nile and rose from the waters of the Nile, the chief Egyptian deity of fertility and transfiguration. In the exhibition you can admire the breathtaking red quartzite statue of Antinous-Osiris, on loan from the Dresden State Art Collections (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen zu Dresden).

The last section focuses on the continuing and unabated influence of Antinous in art and literature throughout the centuries. Among the loans Antonyus admired was one of the precious volumes of the "Viaggio pittorico di Villa Adriana" (Pictorial Journey to Villa Adriana) by Agostino Penna of 1831-36, which contains a beautiful portrait of Antinous now located in the Vatican Museums, in the Sala della Rotonda.

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