Tuesday, July 31, 2012

TRANSGENDER HIJRA MOVIE

DOES BOFFO BOX-OFFICE IN BANGLADESH


ANTINOUS  is the God not only of gays but also of transgender people, so we are always gratified to pass along good news about hijras.

A film about a love affair between a hijra and a Hindu youth has become a surprise hit in Bangladesh, with distributors saying that it will now be given a general release, according to a report by AFP news agency.

COMMON GENDER, the first movie in conservative Bangladesh dealing with hijras, opened in just six cinemas two weeks ago but full houses have encouraged cinema owners to extend its run and screen it nationwide.

"We opted to release the movie only in six cinemas in the first week as it lacked big stars and some labelled it as an art-house movie," said Enamul Karim, the film's distributor.

"But it's a resounding success so far. It is pulling in crowds and other cinemas are taking it up."

He added that an Indian producer was in talks to buy the film rights.

"We have had bumper shows and the trend is very good. We are now planning to show the film until the end of August," Syed Razfature Rahman, manager of Balaka theatre in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, told AFP.

In the movie, Sushmita, a hijra, falls in love with a Hindu boy but the boy's parents refuse to accept Sushmita, eventually leading to her suicide.

Across South Asia, hijra communities of transvestites, eunuchs and asexual people are among the most marginalized groups in traditionally conservative societies.

Director Noman Robin said he made the film after he saw a transgender person attacked for using a female toilet at a shopping mall.

"The hijra was beaten in front of hundreds of people," he said.

Last October more than 1,000 hijras rallied in Dhaka for a government-sponsored demonstration to raise awareness of their rights.

Monday, July 30, 2012

AN EVENING EXPLORING

THE ANCIENT ROMAN BATHS BY TORCHLIGHT



ANTINOUS is believed by many experts to have accompanied Hadrian on the Emperor's visit to Britain in 122 AD to oversee construction of the Wall.

So it is possible that Antinous washed off the highway dust at the mineral spring-fed baths at AQUAE SULIS  —  (the waters of the goddess SULIS, whom the Romans identified with MINERVA) the modern-day city of Bath in Somerset.

By the time Antinous and Hadrian may have visited Bath in the 2nd Century AD, the spring had been enclosed within a wooden barrel-vaulted building, which housed the calidarium (hot bath), tepidarium (warm bath), and frigidarium (cold bath).

Bathing was not only for hygiene and relaxation, but also for sacred ceremonial purposes. This building was an improvement to the temple constructed in 60–70 AD by the Ancient Romans when they occupied Ancient Britain.

The Roman engineers managed to harness the warm geothermal underground spring water, allowing the building to be used as a Roman bathing complex. Today it has been carefully preserved for tourists and visitors to enjoy.

This summer visitors will have a unique opportunity to experience this special 2,000-year-old structure in the evening during July and August at specially designated openings. This will give visitors the opportunity to explore this ancient building as night time falls, while the building is lit by torchlight.

The Roman Baths are open daily and last admission for the evening events is at 9pm, general admission is £8.00 – £12.50, and there are family and season tickets also available. For more information, click the ROMAN BATHS BY TORCHLIGHT website.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

... AND HERE'S THE BATHTUB

FOR BATHING WITH ANTINOUS



FLAMEN ANTONYUS loves the Budapest Fine Arts Museum's exhibition BENE LAVA on Roman Bath culture, because he is in the midst of a very intense cycle of SACRED BATHING, partly in celebration of the INUNDATION OF THE NILE.

The Budapest exhibition reminds us of the news story about the discovery of a Hadrian-era bathtub at an antiques shop in Spain.

The news story fits in well with the one earlier this month about the MODERN VISIGOTHS  stripping the Roman Forum bare of antiquities by stealing bits and pieces to take home as "souvenirs." They'll steal everything, including the kitchen sink and even the bathtub!

Imagine browsing through an antiques shop and finding a Hadrian Era Bathtub. Perhaps the Divine Hadrian bathed in this very tub
WITH Antinous.

The story made headlines across Europe when Italian police recovered a valuable Roman-era marble bathtub stolen from Italy after spotting it by chance in a Barcelona antique dealership.

The officers, specialists in stolen artwork, were in the Spanish Mediterranean port city on other business when they stumbled across their find, which had been stolen from the garden of a villa in Rome in 2005.

The owner of the antique dealership said he thought the oval-shaped bathtub, was a modern copy of an antique.

He said he had bought it at the end of 2005 for $4,500 from another dealer and had it on sale for a mere $9,000.

In fact the bathtub, which dates back to the era of in the 2nd Century AD, is worth a cool $450,000.

The only other surviving example is on display at the Vatican Museum (shown above).

Spanish police believe the bathtub, which weights half a ton, was transported to Spain by sea, most likely hidden in a shipping container.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

BATHING WITH ANTINOUS

IN BUDAPEST'S MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS


"CLEANLINESS is next to Godliness" – ran Ovid's advice to young men setting out on amorous conquests in his poem Ars Amatoria. 

A clean body and a well-groomed appearance was not only indispensable in the art of love, but was also considered a fundamental feature of Roman self-esteem, frequently contrasted with the uncleanliness and unkempt appearance of Barbarians living outside the borders of the Empire.

This summer an exhibition on the art of Imperial Roman bathing is on view at Budapest's Museum of Fine Arts.

The exhibition BENE LAVA (HAVE A NICE BATH) runs through September 2nd at the museum in central Budapest, Hungary.

An array of bathing implements, combs, strigilae, lamps, water-resistant flip-flops and other artefacts are on display. 

One major eye-catcher is a BALSAMARIUM (unguent jar) in the form of the head of Antinous similar to the one shown above. 

Antinous balsamaria were exceedingly popular in Rome. Suitable for holding bath oils or moisturizers, an Antinous balsamarium suggested that its owner would emerge from the baths looking like a God. 

And we thought modern advertising came up with that gimmick!

Friday, July 27, 2012

ANCIENT ROME'S POSTAL SERVICE

WAS 'LETTER PERFECT' IN HADRIAN'S TIME



HADRIAN-ERA Rome had a postal service in the second century that might be called "letter perfect," according to an authority. 

Nothing, or almost nothing, could keep their postal carriers from completing their rounds, says Joan Brown Wettingfield, writer/historian.

Writing in THE TIMES LEDGER, Wettingfield says that the well-engineered roads that covered the empire made it an easy task for their horse-drawn mail carts to travel 100 kilometers (60 miles) a day in the 2nd Century AD.

Relay teams, which could travel 100 kms a day and more, could easily deliver messages of urgency and were able to cover 300 kms (170 miles) a day, she points out.

The emperor Augustus, who reigned from 27 BC to 14 AD, established Rome's first official postal service to communicate reliably as well as rapidly with the help of his numerous governors and military officials.

Augustus and his successors used the "cursus publicus" (expedited delivery) postal service which was a network of horseback couriers, postal coaches and relay stations. It was reserved for government officials. Private letters were usually carried by merchants and/or servants.

By the time of Hadrian, Rome had built about 47,000 miles of roads as well as many relay stations, each usually having a station master, accountants, grooms and mail carriers.

A "cursus publicus" was divided into two branches to expedite communication throughout the empire. Oxen were used to transport heavy loads. Service was often allowed to be used for personal reasons.

Wettingfield quotes Pliny the Younger, who lived from 62-114, as being one such person who sent an apologetic letter to the emperor Trajan, who was the predecessor of Hadrian. Pliny's apology to Trajan is as follows:

"Up to now, my Lord, I have only issued permits for people and letters to use the imperial post on your business. I have broken my own rules because of an emergency. My wife heard that her grandfather had died and was so upset that she wanted to rush off and visit her aunt, and I found it very hard to refuse to give her a permit to travel by the imperial post, as it is the quickest way .... I relied on your kindness and acted as though I had already received the favor even though I had not yet asked you for it. I did not wait until I had asked you because if I had waited, it would have been too late."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

THE SEMEN OF THE FIRST GOD
TRULY IS IN HIS BODY



ANTINOUS must have heard the many wondrous creation stories which the Egyptians told him during that fateful journey up the Nile.

The Egyptians had many creation stories, ranging from dry land appearing in the midst of the primeval ocean to the "Great Cackler" laying an enormous egg.

Our own favorite (and the one with the closest bearing on Antinous) is probably the least-well known of all of them, involving as it does an act of masturbation.

If you've never heard about it, it's because Victorian and Edwardian Egyptologists were so shocked by it that they referred to it only in Greek or Latin footnotes
if at all.

For a hoot, read Wallis Budge's embarrassed attempts to tell the story in English using words no stronger than "onanism" and "seed".

Hernestus once knew a Harvard teaching assistant who taught Beginner's Hieroglyphs at the Cambridge Adult Education School and who delighted in titillating his students (mostly lonely-hearts straight women and a couple of gay men) by demonstrating reflexive verbs in Middle Egyptian with the sentence: "The God Loved Himself With His Hand" and assigning homework that involved copying out the text with particular attention to the glyph showing testicles attached to an erect penis with a fountain of semen gushing forth from its end.

Here's the gist of the story:



The Great Creator sits alone, having not yet created anything, when the creative urge comes upon him and his penis throbs into a massive erection, which he strokes to ecstatic climax, sending his silvery semen flying into his mouth, whereupon he speaks the magical words that create the first "neteru" (gods) and all the universe.

"In the Beginning was the Word" is the way the New Testament puts it in a somewhat more family-friendly version of the same story.

It is this "essence of magical creation," which the Egyptians call "heka," which invigorates everything we do. It is liquid heka which flows through the desert in the form of the annual inundation of the Nile, creating life from barrenness.

Budge and the others translated "heka" as "magic," which is misleading and simplistic. But then they also translated "neteru" as "gods," which is also misleading since English is such a young language (scarcely 1,600 years old) that its linguistic concept of "god" necessarily reflects Christian attitudes.

An Egyptian or a Greek or Roman of Antinous's day might have been more comfortable with Medieval infatuation with Spheres of Angels and Archangels or with the Catholic panoply of Saints. The Egyptians might have thought that more like the divine agents they called "neteru."



The "neter" associated with the annual inundation of the Nile is the transgender deity Hapi. To our mind, and we believe to the minds of the Ancient Egyptians, Hapi is one of the most wonderful and beautiful of the "neteru."

Hapi's most distinctive attribute is bluish-green skin and a towering headdress consisting of papyrus and lotus plants which seem to shoot out of the crown of Hapi's head the way those plants do from the waters of the Nile.

As a transgender deity, Hapi has a robust male physique with athletic legs, narrow waist, broad shoulders and sinewy arms. But Hapi also has the pendulous breasts of a nursing mother and the round belly of an expectant one. Sometimes Hapi has the short-cropped hair of a man, but more often Hapy is depicted with long hair cascading over both shoulders almost to the waist.

Very strikingly, Hapi effortlessly holds before him/herself a platter heaped high with incredible amounts of crops, beverages, groceries and produce, often including casks of wine, sheaves of wheat and even entire sides of beef.

Just as the Egyptians had no problems thinking that the universe and the neteru (and ultimately they themselves) were all products of primordial masturbation, they also had no problems thinking that their lives depended on a transgender deity who was, in essence, their mother/father and provider of everything they put in their mouths and clothed their bodies with.


It is a popular misconception to try to fit Isis and Osiris into the roles of Mother Earth goddess and Great Father god who bring forth riches from a bountiful Earth. That is an alien concept to the Egyptians, for whom the Earth was a desert. Our own English word "desert" comes directly from the Ancient Egyptian "desheret" meaning the "Red Land" of sunrise and sunset.

It was only divine "heka" flowing through this barrenness that permitted life to thrive in a verdant valley called the "Black Land" or "Kemet," from which the Arabs derived "al-Chem" and our words "alchemy" and "chemistry" come.

As Herodotus said: "Egypt is the gift of the Nile," by which he meant: "Egypt is the gift of Hapi."



So when Antinous plunges into the Nile on that fateful October day, he becomes becomes one with Hapi. Antinous and the transgender source of all life merge and flow into each other.

Antinous opens his mouth and his nostrils and allows himself to be filled with heka which, after all, is the semen of the Great Creator himself.

The hieroglyphs on the OBELISK OF ANTINOUS proclaim that Antinous can assume any form his heart desires "for the Semen of the First God Truly is in His body!"

It's the ultimate seminal experience.

And it is Antinous's unique gift to us as gay men. He asks us to take the plunge with him and to explore what words like "god" and "magic" really mean.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

THE INUNDATION OF THE NILE
THE FIRST MIRACLE OF ANTINOUS THE GOD

 



ON JULY 25 the Religion of Antinous joyfully commemorates the First Miracle of Antinous — the Bountiful Inundation of the Nile which ended a drought which had caused food shortages throughout the Empire.

The famine had overshadowed the tour of Egypt by the Imperial entourage in the year 130. The half-starved Egyptians looked to Hadrian, whom they worshipped as pharaoh, to perform a miracle which would end their misery.

But as Hadrian and Antinous traveled up the Nile during the summer and autumn of 130, the Nile once again failed to rise sufficiently to water the fields of Egypt — Rome's "Bread Basket" and chief source of grain and other staple foodstuffs.

It was a humiliating disappointment for the Emperor following the jubilant welcome by peoples during the earlier part of his tour through the Eastern Empire. In Ephesus and other cities he had been welcomed as a living god.

But the Egyptians had given him and his coterie what little they had in the way of food and wine — and he had failed to convince the Inundation Deity Hapi to bless them with bounty. Hapi is one of the most extraordinary deities in the history of religion.

Hapi is special to us especially because Hapi is hermaphroditic. With many other such deities, the gender division is down the middle of the body (like some Hindu deities) or the top half is one gender and the bottom half is the other.

But Hapi is very complex and the genders are mixed throughout his/her body. Male deities invariably have reddish-orange skin in Egyptian Art and female deities have yellowish skin. Hapi has bluish-green skin. Hapi has long hair like a female deity but has a square jaw and a beard. Hapi has broad shoulders yet has pendulous breasts like a nursing mother. Hapi has narrow hips and masculine thighs, but has a pregnant belly. Nobody knows what sort of genitals Hapi has, since they are covered by a strange garment reminiscent of a sumo wrestler's belt.

Hapi is both father and mother to the Egyptians. Hapi provides them with everything necessary for life. As Herodotus wrote, "Egypt is the gift of the Nile". Hapi wears a fabulous headdress of towering water plants and she/he carries enormous offering trays laden with foodstuffs.


The Ancient Egyptians had no problem worshipping a mixed-gender deity. I think it is very important to draw the connection between Hapi and Antinous, especially since the First Miracle that Antinous performed as a god involved Hapi. The Egyptians accepted Antinous into their own belief system immediately and were among the most ardent followers of Antinous.

They had no problem worshipping a gay deity who had united himself with a hermaphroditic deity. It must have seemed very logical and credible to them.

It made sense to them and enriched their belief system, made it more personal since they could identify more easily with a handsome young man than with a hermaphrodite wearing a sumo belt (Hapi forgive me!).

Herodotus also said he once asked a very learned religious man in Egypt what the true source of the Nile was.

The learned man (speaking through an interpreter, since most Greeks never bothered to learn Egyptian) paused and finally told him the true source of the Nile is the thigh of Osiris.

We think of it as a strange answer. We think of the Nile as an "it" and the source as a "geographical location". But the Egyptians thought of the Nile as "us" and its true source as "heka" — the magical semen of the creator.

So, a learned Egyptian would have assumed that a learned Greek would understand what was meant: That Hapi is the equivalent of Dionysus, who was "incubated" in the inner thigh of Zeus after his pregnant mortal mother Semele perished when she could not bear the searing sight of her lover Zeus in all his divine panoply.

It's a very poetic way (a very Egyptian way) of saying that the "true source" of the Nile, which is to say Egypt itself, is the magical heka/semen from the loins of the original creator.

We will never know what happened during that journey up the Nile along the drought-parched fields with anxious Egyptian farmers looking to Hadrian for a miracle. All we know is that Antinous "plunged into the Nile" and into the arms of Hapi in late October of the year 130.

And then the following summer, Hapi the Inundation Deity provided a bountiful Nile flood which replenished the food stocks of Egypt — and the Roman Empire.

Our own Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia explains the more esoteric aspects of this special Religious Holy Day:

"The Dog Star Sirius appears, and the sacred Star of Antinous begins to approach its zenith in the night sky of the northern hemisphere. The appearance of the Dog Star once announced the rise of the Inundation of the Nile, though it no longer does due to the precession of the Equinox, which is the slight alteration of the position of the stars.
"After the Death and Deification of Antinous, the Nile responded by rising miraculously after two successive years of severe drought. It was on this day, July 25th, in the year 131 that the ancient Egyptians recognized that Antinous was a god, nine months after his death, following their custom of deifying those who drowned in the Nile, whose sacrifice insured the life-giving flood.

"Sirius is the brightest star in the sky, it is part of the constellation Canis Major, or the big dog, which is the hunting dog of Orion. Mystically, Sirius and the constellation Canis Major is Antinous Master of Hounds and Orion is Hadrian the Hunter.

"The position of Orion, along the banks of the Milky Way, our galaxy in relation to Sirius is a mirror image of Pyramids along the bank of the Nile, which is the same relationship as Antinoopolis to the Nile, with the Via Hadriani, the road which Hadrian built across the desert to the East, linking the Nile with the Red Sea — Rome to India.

"We consecrate the beginning of the Dog Days of Summer to the advent of the Egyptian deification of Antinous and the miracle of the Inundation of the Nile."


The First Miracle of Antinous the Gay God is enshrined in the hieroglyphic inscription on the OBELISK OF ANTINOUS which stands in Rome.

The East Face of the Obelisk, which is aligned to the rising sun Ra-Herakhte, speaks of the joy that fills the heart of Antinous since having been summoned to meet his heavenly father Ra-Herakhte and to become a god himself.

Then the inscription tells how Antinous intercedes with Ra-Herakhte to shower blessings upon Hadrian and the Empress Sabina Augusta.

And Antinous immediately calls upon Hapi ...

Hapi, progenitor of the gods,
On behalf of Hadrian and Sabina,
Arrange the inundation in fortuitous time
To make fertile and bountiful, the fields
Of Both Upper and Lower Egypt!
We joyfully celebrate this, the First Miracle of Antinous!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"MOUTH OF TRUTH" ACTUALLY ONLY

A HADRIAN-ERA DRAIN COVER, EXPERT SAYS


AUDREY Hepburn was too scared to put her hand in it, while Gregory Peck pretended he had lost his.

Now new research claims to reveal that the famous Bocca della Verità, or "Mouth of Truth," which featured in the Audrey Hepburn classic ­Roman Holiday and is said to bite off the hands of those who tell lies, is really an ancient drain cover dating from the time of Hadrian.

Dr Fabio Barry, a lecturer in art history at St Andrews University in Scotland, believes he has identified the true function of one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions, as well as dating it for the first time – to the reign of Emperor Hadrian, who ruled Rome between AD 117 and AD 138.

"It is this incredible tourist landmark in Rome that everybody goes to see, largely because of the film with Audrey Hepburn, but nobody knew anything about it at all," Barry told SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY newspaper. "There was no historical record for it and it was almost impossible to find anything out about it. Being able to do so has been a mixture of luck, research and training on my part."

The legend of the Bocca, thought to stretch back to ­medieval times, is that if you lie while placing your hand in its mouth, the Bocca will bite it off. 

The idea persists today, and thousands of couples line up every summer to try their hand – and test their ­lover’s honesty – at the ­enigmatic marble sculpture. 

Located in the porch of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, the same Roman church that preserves the relics of Saint Valentine, archaeologists have long puzzled over the origin of the Bocca della Verità. 

The disturbing looking face has holes for eyes and nostrils, as well as its mouth, and it was posited that it was once the spout of an ancient fountain or an ornate manhole cover. 

However Barry said that the Bocca was most likely to be a drain cover, and that the face depicted on it, which also features horns, was that of the Roman god Oceanus.

"It's so big and such a heavy thing that it was unlikely to have been moved from this place to somewhere else. This area of Rome where it was ­located was where several temples dedicated to Hercules had been," said Barry. "Once I confirmed that it was the god Oceanus on the cover, I started looking for connections between Hercules and Ocean."

In his research Barry discovered that the only Roman emperor to have coins issued that featured both gods was Hadrian, who built Hadrian's Wall, which divided Scotland and England. Intriguingly, Newcastle near the Wall is also home to the only ­Roman shrine to Oceanus outside of Italy.

Hercules was popular with Hadrian because, just like the famous emperor himself, he had originally come from Spain. Also, Hercules famously slew the Nemean Lion – while Hadrian and Antinous slew a lion in Egypt.

The unique marble the Bocca is made from also supports the theory.

"The marble comes from Western Anatolia in Turkey and wasn't imported until the middle of the first century, so it can't be earlier than that. What I'm suggesting is that this drain cover was in a ­temple precinct dedicated to Hercules. All these things come together to make sense that this is what it was."

Barry has published his findings in the art history journal the Art Bulletin, and hopes it may receive wider acknowledgement from the classics community.

Monday, July 23, 2012

THE BOY FROM BITHYNIA


THE HOTLY awaited historical novel about the life of Antinous by John Jaie Palmero is finally available. 

THE BOY FROM BITHYNIA tells the story of Hadrian's meeting Antinous in Bithynia, the eventual relationship that followed and the tragic end of the Beloved. 

John tells us: "An enormous amount of research went into the book to paint as vivid a picture of the times as possible. I hope you'll consider reading the book and find it worthy of the most beautiful god in the heavens. The book is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Xlibiris Publishers. It is also available on e book."

Flamen Antonyus Subia has read the book and says:
I highly recommend this book!  Mr. Palmero allowed me to read a draft some time ago, and I loved it.  There's an ever growing number of Antinoo-fiction these days, but this one stands out, especially because of the elevated reverence with which Antinous is treated throughout...a matter in which I place great importance.  This is a beautifully written book.  I came away with a renewed sense of mystic awe for Antinous as a god, and a deepened sense of feeling for Antinous as a living person.

If I could give this book a golden seal of approval...I would!

Buy it read it love it

ANTONYUS SUBIA

(...and the cover is great too)

NICK DRAKE: THE PINK MOON FILES


NICK DRAKE could scarcely have dreamed as he swallowed a handful of pills on a dreary November evening in his parents' house in the English Midlands that he would become a major recording star with fans around the world — nearly 40 years after his death in 1974.

His three albums now are cult chart-busters around the world, especially his final album, PINK MOON.

Nick Drake is a Prophet of Homoeros and Saint of Antinous.

When we remember Saint Nick Drake, we must remember too that Antinous is the patron of these sensitive souls who die untimely and tragic deaths at an early age. Antinous is the RIVER MAN who drowned in the Nile.

If you are looking for summertime gay reading, get hold of a copy of NICK DRAKE: THE PINK MOON FILES by Jason Creed.


A superb compendium of writing about Nick, this book is a valuable addition to any bookshelf and a must for fans old and new.

Between 1994 and 1999 Jason Creed published 19 issues of PYNK MOON, a fanzine devoted to the life and music of Nick Drake. The magazine is long defunct and all copies are avidly coveted by collectors.


This compilation of articles, interviews and other writings, as they appeared in the fanzine, with some additional commentary, offers an illuminating look at this much loved yet most mysterious of British singer songwriters.

Included are original reviews of Nick's albums as they appeared at the time of release, the solitary interview with Nick that appeared in Sounds magazine, and interviews with many who knew him, including his sister the well-known TV actress GABRIELLE DRAKE, his parents Rodney and Molly Drake, musical collaborator Robert Kirby and many more.

In addition, The Pink Moon Files features musical analysis of Nick's recordings, including discussion of his Guitar techniques and alternative tunings, reviews of tribute concerts and articles about Nick's legacy not only in his hometown of Tamworth-in-Arden but also around the world.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

HADRIANUS AUGUSTUS

HOW'S THAT FOR A MODERN BABY'S NAME?



PUBLIUS AELIUS HADRIANUS AUGUSTUS — how does that sound as a modern baby's name? Hadrian for short.

According to Pamela Redmond Satran, co-creator of Nameberry, a leading baby name site, Ancient Roman names are being rediscovered in a major way.

In an article for Huffington Post Satran writes, "Rarely does a whole class of names from a place or historical period undergo this widespread a revival, but several forces are at work that are making us take a fresh look at ancient Roman names."

Below are 10 baby names (5 girl names and 5 boy names) from Roman times that are growing in popularity with Nameberry's descriptions and predictions.


ANTONIA: Antonia is a lovely if sleepy feminine form of Antonius aka Antony and Anthony. Its recent fall from the Top 1,000 might be the best possible reason to use it.

AUGUSTUS: All Augustus-related names have recently been rediscovered, from August to Augustine to Augustus itself, which means "great" and was given to the first Roman emperor.

AURELIA: Aurelia, the name of the mother of Julius Caesar and a common choice in Ancient Rome, means gold. Attractive Aurelia relatives include Aurora, Oriana, and Aurelius.

CASSIUS: Cassius, until recently best-known in the modern world as the birth name of boxer Muhammad Ali, is due for new appreciation in all its forms, which include Cassian and the feminine Cassia. Singer Bobby Brown named his son Cassius, which was also the appellation of American abolitionist Cassius Clay.

FELIX: Happy, fortunate Felix — the name was originally adopted by the Roman Sulla who believed he was blessed by the Gods — is a new style favorite. Felix was also the name of four popes and dozens of saints.

LIVIA: While Olivia sits squarely in the middle of the Top Ten, Livia is a lesser-known and completely independent ancient name that feels sleek and modern.

OCTAVIA: Octavia relates to the number eight and is the feminine form of Octavian, the original name of the first Roman emperor, called Augustus.

ROMULUS: The mythical Romulus, twin brother of Remus, was one of the founders of Rome. His name inspired such modern derivatives as Romilly, Roman, and Romy, but there's no reason you can't use the original Romulus.

RUFUS: Rufus, which means "red-haired," has been given some serious contemporary cool by singer Rufus Wainwright. A figure in both the New Testament and Gossip Girl, Rufus is also the name of several saints.

VITA: The life-affirming Vita, pronounced vee-ta, is best known now as the name of Virginia Woolf confederate Vita Sackville-West.

If you want to see the rest of the names Nameberry predicts will be all the rage this year click on over to the HuffPo article.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

HART CRANE
SAINT OF ANTINOUS



ON JULY 21 the Religion of Antinous honors St. Hart Crane (July 21, 1899 — April 27, 1932) a great and openly gay American poet whose poetry was considered "beyond comprehension" by straight readers but which is easily understood by gays.

He was one of the most influential poets of his generation, but — like so many gay men — was plagued by doubts and low self-esteem and feelings of failure.


Crane was gay and he considered his sexuality to be an integral part of his life's mission as a poet. Raised in the Christian Science tradition of his mother, he was never able to shake off the feeling that he was an outcast and a sinner.

However, as poems such as "Repose of Rivers" make clear, he felt that this sense of alienation was necessary in order for him to attain the visionary insight that formed the basis for his poetic work.

Throughout the early 1920s, small but well-respected literary magazines published some of Crane's lyrics, gaining him, among the avant-garde, a respect that White Buildings (1926), his first volume, ratified and strengthened. White Buildings contains many of Crane's best lyrics, including "For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen", and a powerful sequence of erotic poems called "Voyages", written while he was falling in love with Emil Opffer, a Danish merchant marineman.

He wanted to write the great American epic poem. This ambition would finally issue in The Bridge (1930), where the Brooklyn Bridge is both the poem's central symbol and its poetic starting point.

The Bridge got mostly bad reviews, but much worse than that was Crane's sense that he had not succeeded in his goal. It was during the late '20s, while he was finishing The Bridge, that his heavy drinking got notably heavier. The partial failure of the poem perhaps had something to do with his increasing escape into booze.

While on a Guggenheim Fellowship in Mexico in 1931-32, his drinking continued while he suffered from bouts of alternating depression and elation. His only heterosexual affair, with Peggy Cowley, the wife of his friend Malcolm Cowley, was one of the few bright spots. And "The Broken Tower", his last great lyric poem (maybe his greatest lyric poem), emerges from that affair. But in his own eyes, he was still a failure.

Crane was returning to New York by steamship when, on the morning of April 26, 1932, he made advances to a male crewmember and was beaten up. Just before noon he jumped overboard into the Gulf of Mexico. His body was never found.

 Here is a poem which straight people found inscrutable and obscure, but which gay readers understood was about anonymous gay sex:


INTERIOR
It sheds a shy solemnity,
This lamp in our poor room.
O grey and gold amenity, --
Silence and gentle gloom!
Wide from the world, a stolen hour
We claim, and none may know
How love blooms like a tardy flower
Here in the day's after-glow.
And even should the world break in
With jealous threat and guile,
The world, at last, must bow and win
Our pity and a smile.


Friday, July 20, 2012


THE BIRTH OF ALEXANDER


IT IS SAID that on the night before the mother of Alexander, Olympias, was to be married to King Phillip of Macedonia, she dreamt that a thunderbolt struck her body and filled it with power.

After the marriage, it is said that Phillip peeked into her chamber, and found her lying with a serpent, and that he afterward dreamt that her womb was sealed and that a lion dwelled within her. 

And on the night that he was born, 20th of July, 356 BC, the great Temple at Ephesus was burned to the ground by a vandal, because the goddess Artemis was away, assisting with the birth of Alexander the Great.

He was considered to be the son of Zeus, and this divine origin was what was given as an explanation for the unprecedented conquests that he accomplished. In his youth Aristotle, a student of Plato, educated him along with his following of young princes, who were later serve as his generals, and the founders of great dynastic monarchies of the Hellenistic world.

Foremost of these was his ever loyal and devoted Hepheistion, whose reciprocated love for Alexander was homosexual in nature.

In one of their first battles, while Phillip was still king, the young Alexander proved himself by defeating the Sacred Band of Thebes, the army of homosexual lovers who were the most famous and courageous warriors of their time.

Alexander is said to have wept at their destruction, and buried them with honor, erecting a statue of a Lion over their graves.

He would later go one to conquer the entire Eastern world, Asia Minor, Syria, Judea, Egypt, and all of Persia, as far East as India. The Empire of Alexander spread Greek culture throughout the world, and made the communication of far-distant ideas possible so that the new Hellenistic culture that he created, was a combination of classical Greece and of the exotic cultures that were imported from every corner.

After the death of Alexander, at only 33 years of age, he was deified by his generals who divided his great Empire among themselves. We praise the glorious warrior Alexander of Macedonia, and elevate him, and worship him as a God, an example of the greatness of homosexuality, and a heroic protector of the Divine Antinous.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

GETTY VILLA OFFERS "SYMPOSION"

ON DRINKING RITUALS IN ANCIENT GREECE



SATURDAY, July 21, the GETTY VILLA MALIBU will offer a lecture on the Greek SYMPOSION, a social institution in ancient Greece for men of status to meet, converse, and drink wine, by historian Oswyn Murray of Oxford University.

Following the talk, visitors will be able to enjoy a tasting of wines inspired by ancient wine-making techniques in the Villa's inner peristyle garden. 

Symposion is Greek for "drinking together" — reclining on couches and enjoying the famous triad of "wine, men and song" (women weren't allowed to take part). 

The ancient Greeks adapted rituals of communal drinking from the Near East, but they turned them into a style of life: this was euphrosyne (bliss), the highest form of pleasure, and the focus of aristocratic Greek art and culture.

While guests at the Getty Villa's wine tasting will remain upright, they will have the opportunity to achieve bliss with four distinctive wines selected with ancient traditions in mind. 

Three wines are from vintners who are fermenting grapes using terracotta vessels partially buried in the ground, similar to methods used by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The fourth wine is made from grapes indigenous to the Greek Islands dating back 3,500 years.

The wine list for the tasting includes a 2001 Gravner Anfora Bianco Breg, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Italy, a 2009 Azienda Agricola COS Pithos, Sicily, Italy, a 2009 Del Dotto Clay Vessel Zinfandel, Napa Valley, California, and a 2010 Domaine Sigalas Asirtiko Athiri, Santorini, Greece.

The museum galleries will be open before and after the lecture where vessels used in a symposion are on view. 

Drinking in the Greek Manner: A Brief History of the Symposion will take place on Saturday, July 21 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Villa Auditorium for the lecture and the Inner Peristyle for the wine tasting. Appetizers are included. Tickets are $60 and can be reserved by calling (310) 440-7300 or by visiting: www.getty.edu/museum/programs/lectures/drinking_in_the_greek_manner_lecture.html.


THE SACRED GAY MARTYRS OF IRAN



IRAN publicly executed two teenage boys on July 19th, 2005, in the city of Mashad.

Their names were Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, one 18 and the other 17 or 16 years old.

They were accused of raping a 13-year-old boy, but it has been established that the authorities invented the charge of rape in order to prevent public sympathy for the true reason for their execution, that they were Homosexuals.

After their arrest the two boys endured a year of imprisonment and torture before the high court of Iran upheld their sentence and their execution by hanging was carried out in a public square in the city of Mashad.

International outrage was met with arrogance and impunity by the religious and conservative Iranian government, and a systematic persecution soon began against homosexuals, which has led to an unabated spate of sporadic executions over the years, and untold numbers of arrests and torture.

These events indicate that the worldwide struggle for Gay Freedom has not decreased but has become more violent and inhumane.

The photograph at left of the Martyrs just before their death is one of the first depictions ever photographed of anti-homosexual violence in action.

For their suffering, we proclaim Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni and all of the unnamed gay victims of Iranian persecution, Saints and Innocent Martyrs of the Religion of Antinous.

May all those who see this image of violence rise up for the cause of Gay Freedom, and remember those who suffer in Iran.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

SAINT CARAVAGGIO


ON JULY 18th the Religion of Antinous honors Saint Caravaggio.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, who died under suspicious circumstances on this day in 1610, was an extraordinary painter whose homoerotic images of young men have caused art historians to call him the first modern painter.

St. Caravaggio is the Patron of Gifted Bad Boys — Gay Boys who are blessed with incredible talents but who are too impatient and too rebellious to abide by the rules of society.

St. Caravaggio was always in trouble. In 1592, when he was not yet 20 years old, he fled Milan after a series of brawls and the wounding of a police officer. He went to Rome and was there, for the most part, until 1606, when he again had to flee. His life in Rome was of growing financial and professional success, but it was also punctuated with crime.

In the years 1600-1606 alone, he was brought to trial no less than eleven times. The charges covered a variety of offenses, most involved violence. It is significant that, despite his reputation for homosexuality, and his endless brushes with the police, he was never charged with sodomy, then a capital offense.

But he was charged with murder. On 29 May 1606 he killed one Tommasoni in a brawl after a disputed game of royal tennis, and had to flee to escape execution. He went first to Naples, then to Malta, where he was feted and made a Knight of St John.

Then, after "an ill considered quarrel" with a senior knight, he was on the run once more, all around Sicily, then on to Naples again.

But this time there was no hiding place. The knights, known for their relentlessness, pursued him, and Caravaggio, now 39 nine, in an attempt to seek forgiveness and refuge in Rome, tried to get there, but died at Porto Ercole, apparently of a fever, though the circumstances are highly suspicious.

Despite his hunted and, in the end, desperate life, he always managed to go on painting, often without a proper workshop of any kind. He was variously described, even by admirers, as a man of "stravaganze" as "uno cervello stravagantissimo" (exceptionally odd) and a "cervello stravolto".

His father died when he was six, his mother when he was 18, which may help to explain his anger at the world. His paintings show that he was a man of the most profound religious convictions, of a humble and contrite heart, and with a fanatical devotion to his art.

 His fundamental ideas were always absolutely clear, though he continually changed and improved his techniques. He believed in total realism, and he always painted from life, dragging poor people in from the street if need be.

He became a great realist by painting flowers and fruit, in a variety of lights, sometimes pure still lifes, sometimes with street boys, such as the model for Bacchus (above).

To achieve realism, he liked to pull his subject out of surrounding darkness into strong lateral or overhead light, as close to the viewer as possible.

This was a new kind of art, which was to have momentous consequences. It has led some modern writers to speculate that, born into the 20th or 21st Century, Caravaggio would have been a photographer or a filmmaker.

But that is nonsense. Caravaggio, it is clear, adored the feel and line of a brush on a slightly springy surface, prepared with grey (as a rule), and the sheer creative excitement of using the brush to bring the real world out of the darkness of the canvas.

For the first time in the history of art, Caravaggio eliminated the space between the event in the painting and the people looking at it. He created a kind of virtual reality to give you a feeling as though you are right there inside the painting.

Even we, whose vision and sense of reality has been blunted and distorted by television and the cinema, still get tremendous impressions of participating when we see his great canvases close up. What then must it have been like in the early seventeenth century, for people who had never come across anything approaching this blast of actuality, to be brought face-to-face with a reenactment of sacred events in two dimensions, such as St. Francis of Asisi in Ecstasy?

Artists were particularly struck, or perhaps shocked is a better word, but horribly stimulated too, and stirred to find out exactly how the man did it.

Caravaggio, despite all his difficulties, always finished each piece of work if he possibly could, then went directly on to another, with fresh ideas and new experiments.

He was a Bad Boy. But he was a gifted genius. The Religion of Antinous honors this Patron of Gifted Bad Gay Boys as an exemplar and saint. Let us lift our glasses to St. Caravaggio.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

ANCIENT GREEK TRIREME "OLYMPIAS"

TO SAIL INTO NEW YORK HARBOR


FIRST the bad news: The ancient Greek TRIREME OLYMPIAS, with 170 of Britain's finest rowers at the oars, will not proceed down the Thames bearing the Olympic flame at the start of the 2012 London Olympics.

The Financial Times reports that Martin Green, the head of ceremonies for London's organizing committee (Locog), said there were "major concerns" from London's transport and security agencies that the trireme would create overcrowding along the Thames as the flame passed by....There was also discussion about people throwing themselves off bridges," he said.

Now the good news: The OLYMPIAS will instead visit the American East Coast during 2013, it has just been reported.

Plans are being made to bring the Hellenic Navy vessel Olympias for its first voyage in the U.S.  A world-class exhibition on Athenian maritime history is among the many exciting activities being organized to promote the ship's historic visit

The Olympias is scheduled to be transported to the United States, premiering with its arrival at historic Yorktown and beginning its tour in Norfolk and Jamestown, Virginia. It will also visit Annapolis, Maryland, and then be the centerpiece of the US Navy's 236th birthday celebration in Washington D.C.

The final stop will be New York City, where the tour will finish with a send-off gala to be held on Veterans Day.

The ship's tour will showcase the Trireme Olympias as a symbol of democracy and freedom, one of the major Hellenistic contributions to the world.

Completed in July 1987, the Olympias is 37 meters (40 yards) long and has a 1.3-meter (4-foot) draught. Its construction was based on plans drawn up by British naval architect John. F. Coates and historian J. S. Morrison.

In the past, it has also been used in the 2004 Olympic Games torch relay to bring the Olympic Torch to Piraeus but, due to high maintenance costs, was put in dry dock on November 25, 2005, where it has remained ever since, technically as a part of the Battleship G. Averoff Naval Museum.

Monday, July 16, 2012

ΑΝΤΙΝΟΟΙ  ΗΡΟΙ

(TO ANTINOUS THE HERO)



HERE IS an Antinous image I had never seen before...while it's not new, it's new to me.

Let me first call attention to the wonderful way that his name is written, combining the second two letters.

I love it...too bad it has been defaced...because I love the body and the stance.

And I would say that this is the only Antinous shown holding a spear. Historical record states that Antinous hurled an adamantine-tipped spear at a man-eating lion in Egypt ...

It was found in the ancient Roman stadium in the city of Plovdiv in Bulgaria, called Philippopolis in Roman times.

Games were held in Philippopolis like those in Greece. The games were organized by the General Assembly of the province of Thrace.

This marble slab was found during excavations at the stadium proving that there were games celebrating Antinous. Games in honor of Antinous were held
in ANTINOOPOLIS and in numerous other cities in the Eastern Empire. 

This votive tablet dedicated to Antinous is exibited in the PLOVDIV ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM.

The inscription on the slab reads:

ΑΝΤΙΝΟΟΙ ΗΡΟΙ (to Antinous the hero)

On a number of coins of Antinous, he is honored as a hero. Syncretism of Antinous with locally relevant heroes of various types is certainly a likely thing to have occurred.

Even Hadrian himself honored Antinous as a hero in at least one location: the temple founded in Socanica, Dalmatia (modern Croatia), which was co-founded with his adopted heir, Aelius Caesar, in 136 AD.


Of the various classes of divine being that existed for the Greeks, heroes are an interesting option. Gods are gods, and demigods are often born of a god and one mortal parent. 

Many heroes seem to have started out as strictly mortal. Whatever the cultic or theological reality may be in each individual case, perhaps the main distinction is that most gods have a timeless and almost eternal quality about them, whereas heroes have a beginning and an end in death, but a very glorious afterlife.

Some heroes such as Hercules were eventually deified. The same happened in the case of "Antinous the Hero," who underwent apotheosis and became
"Antinous the Good God."
 

There always seems to be something new to learn about Antinous.

There always seems to be another image, another bust, even another statue, such as the "Dresden Antinous" shown here, which Priest Uendi and I were honored to see recently at the GETTY VILLA MUSEUM, where it was painstakingly restored before being returned to Germany...

There could well be others hidden away in private collections ....


FLAMEN ANTINOALIS ANTONYUS SUBIA