Sunday, June 30, 2013

EXPERTS HUNT FOR LOST ROMAN FORT

NORTH OF HADRIAN'S WALL


ARCHAEOLOGISTS are hunting for the remains of a lost fort north of Hadrian's Wall that could shed further light on ancient Rome's forays into Scotland.

Many people wrongly believe the Romans never ventured further north than the Antonine Wall or even Hadrian's Wall, according to archaeologists.

However, evidence shows that they marched NORTH OF HADRIAN'S WALL and established a network of forts in what is now Scotland for some time.

The forts form part of Rome's oldest land frontier known as the Gask Ridge, but archaeologists believe one of the forts is "missing".

The elusive fort is believed to be located somewhere in the Angus and Aberdeenshire countryside, and work will begin this week to try to find it.

Birgitta Hoffmann, co-director of the Roman Gask Project, based at the University of Liverpool, will lead a team of volunteers hunting for what would be the first major find north of the Antonine Wall in around 30 years.

Dr Hoffmann said: "We came last year to investigate Scotland's most northerly Roman fort, but now we're back looking for the lost fort. We're not sure what exactly we'll find, but we're hoping to find something, and if it is a Roman fort, it will help to complete our understanding of the Romans in Scotland.

"We know they built forts as far north as Brechin, and we even have evidence that they marched as far as Elgin, but that's it, but we think there's much more than that.

"The problem is that they weren't around long enough to build buildings out of stone - instead they used timber and turf which tends to disappear over time - so instead of just looking for lumps and bumps in the ground, we have to look at the local geography, old settlements, and a host of other evidence which will help us to pinpoint likely sites.

"People are always surprised when I tell them about the Roman occupation of the area. They think the Romans never got any further than the Antonine Wall or even Hadrian's Wall which simply isn't true. The truth is, we don't know how far north they got, but we're hoping that the work of the Roman Gask Project will change that this year."

Saturday, June 29, 2013

'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.

Friday, June 28, 2013

EDWARD CARPENTER

SAINT OF ANTINOUS

THE last of our three Uranian Patriarchs, Edward Carpenter was born in Brighton England on the 29th of August, 1844, to a very large middle-class family. 

While his brothers went into the military, Edward became a scholar, with great success and eventually even taught at Cambridge where he was required to become ordained as a curate of the Anglican Church.

It was at this time, when he was 24, that he first read Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman and was completely changed. He resigned his position at Cambridge and devoted his life to the working class, becoming a Socialist philosopher, lecturing, organizing and speaking for working men.

When his parents died, he received an inheritance that he used to purchase a rural estate at Millthrope, which he turned into a veritable Socialist Commune. He repressed his homosexuality for much of his life, channeling his desire into politically inspired friendships.

But the Millthrope house gave him the freedom to express his feelings more openly, and he began to write books on the subject of Uranian Love. He was deeply influenced by Hindu spirituality, and visited India, all of which emerged in his spiritual view of the Socialist movement, which was not so much about political revolution, but directed towards a change in human consciousness, of which homosexuality rapidly became his greatest cause.

While returning from India he met George Merrill on the train. It would be the love of his life. The younger man soon moved into the house at Millthrope, the two became inseparable lovers whose relationship lasted over forty years.

In 1908, he published The Intermediate Sex, the first widely available book on the subject of homosexuality. After the death of John Addington Symonds, with whom he had been closely allied, Edward Carpenter assumed the role as torch bearer, and subsequently published dozens of books and essays for the cause of gay liberation.

He died on the 28th of June, 1929, in Guildford England, and though not widely known at the time, was to later become a spiritual patriarch for the gay liberation movement of the late 1960s and '70s. He is regarded as a Saint and Patriarch of the Religion of Antinous, and remembered as one of the first fathers whose work changed the world with subtle power.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

SAINT JUDY GARLAND

AND THE STONEWALL RIOTS

THIS is the day the Liturgical Calendar of the Religion of Antinous sets aside for remembrance of Saint Judy Garland, whose death was the spark that ignited the Stonewall Riots on a sultry night in 1969 when a bunch of drag queens and assorted other gay men decided they weren't in the mood to put up with yet another raid by the corrupt and brutal NYPD.

Gays had had enough and they had just suffered a terrible shock — Judy Garland's tragic death on June 22 had rocked the gay world. It was said that 13 twisters raged through Kansas the day Judy died, which — in Kansas — in June — is a pretty safe bet, in any case. But still, and all the same ....

Judy had died in London, and amid much news media hype, her body was flown back to New York for a memorial service which drew a huge crowd of grief-stricken gay men who gathered outside Campbell's Funeral Chapel in Manhattan — on June 27, 1969.

Afterwards, the bars were jammed with gay men drowning their sorrows in booze and drugs while listening to Judy Garland songs full blast on every jukebox.

The mood was electrified by a sense of solidarity in grieving for a fallen idol. Gay men had surprised themselves by turning out en masse for Judy's funeral. They had experienced strength in numbers for the first time. They had been on national TV news.

In an unprecedented move by prime-time national news anchormen, Walter Cronkite and Huntley-Brinkley had talked about Judy Garland's "tremendous appeal among male homosexual fans" — at supper time when whole families were watching the evening news!


Blacks were standing up for their rights. Women were burning their bras. The Chicano Movement was gathering steam. And now "ho-mo-sexuals" (the announcers were unaccustomed to speaking the word aloud) were having the audacity to congregate outside a sacred chapel in broad daylight — and they even showed their faces on the evening news!

Straight people were being confronted with homosexuals right there on television beamed into their homes. And — more importantly — homosexuals were seeing themselves and their brothers/sisters on national television news. Gays in isolated places who had worshipped Judy Garland at the movies or on LP and tape, were now watching other gay people weeping for her in New York. For the first time, gay people in isolated places saw themselves on TV. We were not alone in our grief at the passing of a star with whom we somehow innately felt connected.

It was a Friday night. Late June. Hot and steamy. The bars were filled to bursting. Gay men were sharing a rare moment of solidarity in powerful emotions. There was a feeling, not only in New York, but around the world, that a paradigm shift had taken place. A gay icon had died suddenly and tragically (shades of Antinous) and we gay people everywhere found ourselves in a catharsis of identity change. None of us understood what was happening. Just as it was with being gay, we gay men couldn't explain it, we just "felt" it and "knew" it to be true.

And THAT moment was when the Manhattan police happened to stage one of their periodic raids on queers. Basically it was a routine raid on an average gay bar. Nobody had reckoned with what would happen next. Even gay men were surprised by what happened next.

ESPECIALLY gay men.

We were men who had been accustomed to being timid fraidy-cats. Men who had never dared to stand up for their sexuality. Drag queens and faggots never fought back. That was a fact of gay survival. We knew we were gay. And we knew what we weren't. We were not "MEN".

Grief turned to outrage. It was a spontaneous uprising fuelled by rage. The vice squad was overwhelmed. Reinforcements had to be sent in. Gay men stood their ground and advanced on the police, pushing them back.

It was the turning point for us. Gay men throughout America — and later in London, Berlin, Sydney and elsewhere — began standing up for themselves under the banner "Remember Stonewall".

In a sense, Judy Garland died for us. Had it not been for her tragic death — strangling on vomit over a toilet bowl in a London hotel suite — there might not have been any Stonewall Riots.

Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia puts the Stonewall Riots into a spiritual context:

"It was the first resistance by homosexuals against the repression of two thousand years, and the beginning of the Gay Liberation movement. The importance of the Stonewall Riots is the awakening of gay consciousness, the throwing off of the coils of the python that had for so many centuries enveloped our divine form of Love. This sacred revolt is holy to Apollo, Dionysus, and Diana combined as the guardian spirits of Homosexuality. Our modern Gay society was born on this occasion, and all of the peace and freedom that we have obtained in the these short decades are due to the courage that erupted on that Sacred Night in front of the Stonewall Bar."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

THE WORLD'S FIRST MUSEUM

OF ANCIENT GREEK TECHNOLOGY


IN GREECE this summer on vacation?

Check out the ANCIENT GREEK TECHNOLOGY MUSEUM in the seaside town of Katakolo near the site of ancient Olympia in western Greece.

Opened in 2005, it houses hundreds of Greek technological inventions and mechanisms ranging from 2000 BC up to the time of Hadrian and Antinous when Hellenism was in fashion in Rome. It is said to be the most detailed exhibition of its kind on a world scale.

The museum's exhibits include:
  • The Alarm Clock of Plato (the first wake-up mechanism in history)
  • Automatic Opening of the Temple Gates after sacrifice on its altar (the first building automation in history)
  • The "Static" Automatic Theatre of Heron of Alexandria (the first “cinema” in history)
  • The Hydraulic Clocks of Ktesibios (the first precise automatic clocks in history)
  • Heron's Aeolosphere (the first steam machine in history)
  • The Automatic Maid (the first operating robot in history)
  • "Odometer" (the first road counter in history)
  • The Movable Automatic Theatre of Heron of Alexandria (the first automated "puppet show" in history)
  • Crane With Winches for the elevation of mast and load (the first elevating mechanism in history)
  • Perpendicular Mycenaean loom
  • The "Web" of Penelope (Odysseus’ wife)
  • The Catapult "Palindonos", (the first siege machine in history)
  • Bale-fires and Beacons (the first telecommunication method in history)
  • Acoustic Telegraph (the first acoustic radar in history)
  • Elevating Mechanism of Two-Sided Elevation (the first port building crane in history)
  • Hysplex (the first starting mechanism in history)
  • Ancient Greek musical instruments

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

MYSTERY OF THE MANCHESTER MUSEUM'S

EGYPTIAN STATUE THAT MOVES BY ITSELF



FOR 80 years an Ancient Egyptian statuette in a museum in Britain has been said to move by itself.

And for years, curators at the Manchester Museum in Manchester, England, thought some trickster was moving the 4,000-year-old statue, recovered from a mummy's tomb.

Now, for the first time, surveillance cameras have caught the statue actually turning on its axis without anyone touching it.

The 10-inch-tall (25 cm) statuette of a man called Neb-Senu, which dates back to 1800 BC, mysteriously spins 180 degrees with nobody going near it.

Curators were left scratching their heads after they kept finding it facing the wrong way and rigged up a time-lapse camera to catch whoever was moving it.

But incredibly the camera shows the figure moving of its own accord in front of crowds of visitors who pass by with hardly a second look.

Museum curator Dr. Campbell Price says: "I noticed one day that it had turned around. I thought it was strange because it is in a case and I am the only one who has a key.

"I put it back but then the next day it had moved again. We set up a time-lapse video and, although the naked eye can't see it, you can clearly see it rotate on the film.

"The statuette is something that used to go in the tomb along with the mummy.

"Mourners would lay offerings at its feet. The hieroglyphics on the back ask for 'bread, beer and beef'.

"In Ancient Egypt they believed that if the mummy is destroyed then the statuette can act as an alternative vessel for the spirit. Maybe that is what is causing the movement."

Other experts have a more rational explanation ... suggesting that the vibrations caused by the footsteps of passing visitors makes the statuette turn.

Monday, June 24, 2013

MAGNIFICENT STATUE FROM HADRIAN'S VILLA
NOW ON VIEW IN KANSAS CITY


HE is an unkempt creature of the wild, with shaggy hair and goat-like characteristics –pointed ears, a short tail and dewlaps – and he is delighted to raise high a cluster of freshly picked grapes.

The Fauno rosso, a magnificent Roman statue commissioned by Hadrian for his villa at Tivoli, is currently on view at the NELSON-ATKINS MUSEUM OF ART in Kansas City.

Through September 30, visitors to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art can view the sculpture in Kirkwood Hall, which has been transformed into a classic Roman palazzo.

The loan is part of a program of exchanges and cultural events that was launched in 2011 called "The Dream of Rome," a collaboration between the Capitoline Museums in Rome, Enel Green Power and the Knights of Columbus.

Through "The Dream of Rome," some of Rome's masterpieces will be on display in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Kansas City.

The great Emperor of Rome Hadrian commissioned the Fauno rosso, and it was most likely sculpted by Aristeas and Papias of Aphrodisias in modern-day Turkey. Pope Benedict XIV Lambertini gave the sculpture to the Capitoline Museum in 1746, and the Capitoline is now lending the sculpture to the Nelson-Atkins.

The Fauno rosso depicts a satyr, follower of Dionysus, the god of wine. The entire sculpture is of red marble, rather than the commonly used white marble, and seems to suggest that the subject is so drunk that his skin has turned into the color of the grapes.

To his left is a goat that looks up at him and rests one leg on a wicker basket.

The Fauno rosso's eyes would have been of glass or brilliant stone (the sockets have been hollowed out to receive them) and would have been sparkling with life and energy.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

THE BRITISH MUSEUM PRESENTS

"A LITTLE GAY HISTORY"



THE British Museum is launching a new guide focusing on gay-related exhibits as part of the London Pride festival this month.

"A Little Gay History" by Richard Parkinson, a curator in the ancient Egypt department, features gay objects and topics which otherwise often get overlooked at the mammoth museum.

There is a sculpture of the beautiful face of Antinous, at whose death Emperor Hadrian "wept like a woman"; a battered copper coin showing the poet Sappho, whose surviving fragments of erotic poetry were so intense that the Victorians called all women who loved women after her native Lesbos; and a 20-year-old tin badge demanding, "how dare you presume I'm heterosexual".

The guide together with an audio guide featuring the voices of prominent British actors, will form part of the Pride festival – which will also include a special showing of the Merchant Ivory film of EM Forster's "Maurice," in which the hero finds love in the galleries of the British Museum. Forster wrote the book in the early 20th Century but would not allow it to be published until after his death in 1970.

After Antinous drowned in the Nile in AD130, possibly killing himself, Hadrian proclaimed him a god and displayed his image across the empire. His subsequent deep depression may have contributed to his own early death just eight years later. 

At the museum's blockbuster exhibition on Hadrian in 2008, a survey showed most visitors had no idea of the married emperor's intense feelings for another man.

Parkinson claims that the oldest chat-up line in history can be found in his department: a poem from 1800 BC in which one ancient Egyptian male god makes a pass at another, remarking "neferwi-pehwi-ki" – what a lovely backside you have. 

However he concedes that many of the tender Egyptian images of two men caressing actually depict brothers, and that the graphic images on one papyrus from 950 BC, including a god fellating himself, are religious, not erotic, texts.

"Desire leaves no archaeological traces," he writes, making it easy to ignore, miss or misunderstand gay references. "History has all too often been a list of the deeds of famous men who are implicitly 'heterosexual' and usually European … Unsurprisingly, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have often felt excluded and silenced, and without a voice."

The objects Parkinson has chosen, most from the British Museum but some from the British Library, include a drawing by Michelangelo showing the beautiful body of Phaeton falling from his father's sun chariot, which the artist sent to his handsome young friend Tommaso de'Cavalieri. If he didn't like it, Michelangelo promised to make another "by tomorrow evening". 

Parkinson writes: "The combination of the superb drawing and the elegantly written note to his friend, protesting that it is only a first sketch, embodies an infatuated eagerness to impress a young man in a way that feels instantly recognisable to anyone who has ever been in a similar situation."

He has also included some recent acquisitions, including a 1997 pack of playing cards portraying Japanese drag queens, made by the artist Takashi Otsuka, donated to the museum on condition that it is stored "with the queens on top".

A colourful quilt bought in Pakistan in 1985 is said to have been made by, or for a hijira transsexual, but the curators are not sure if this is actually true. Without the story, the quilt is just a piece of cloth, Parkinson says.

"Even with the anecdote, the history of its maker's life remains a blank. For all the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people we can name in history, we must consider how many thousands of others are unrecorded, unacknowledged and unremembered."

In the audio trail, narrator Maggi Hambling is particularly struck that Sappho's Greek island home valued the poet enough to put her on its official coinage. "So two Sapphos might be worth a bag of peas?" she ponders.

However, looking at some of the museum's huge collection of donated protest badges, she remarks that she personally can't stand being called lesbian, just about accepts lesbionic, but prefers to refer to herself as a dyke.

Actor Russell Beale, who also narrates the audio guide, is awed by the beauty of the Roman silver Warren Cup showing men and youths making love, so startlingly erotic that the first time the British Museum was offered it in the 1950s, it turned it down flat. 

In 1999, when it came on the market again, the museum had to raise £1.8m to acquire it

"It's just heaven, isn't it?" Russell Beale sighs.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

THE SOLSTICE IS SACRED
TO ANTINOUS AS APOLLO-HYACINTHUS


THE cycle of the June Solstice is sacred to Antinous in the form of Apollo-Hyacinthus. ... Antinous being the beautiful flower boy Hyacinthus who dies, just as the sun begins to die, but who was raised from the dead and deified by the love of the God of Light, who forbade Dis Pater from taking his beloved boy to the place of Death....

Hyacinthus arose as Apollo, to live forever within the rays of the Unconquered Sun, an allegory of ourselves awakening to the light of reason, truth and sacred Homotheosis.

The beautiful boy from Sparta known as Hyacinthus, whose astonishing beauty and long, flowing blonde hair, was first noticed by Zephyrus, the God of the West Wind.

The moisture laden Zephyrus fell madly in love with the boy, and attempted many times to seduce Hyacinth, but every time the boy rejected the wind god whose breeze is the most lovely and most arousing.

It was then that Apollo noticed Hyacinthus and fell completely in love with him also, however when Apollo revealed his love to Hyacinth, he was not rejected, but his shining love was returned many fold.

The two, who were like twins, whose long, blonde curls, rustled together in the jealous wind of Zephyrus, enjoined a passionate love affair, until one day, the sight of their happiness proved too much for Zephyrus to endure, and while Apollo and Hyacinthus were throwing the discus together, the wind god sent a gust of air, when Apollo threw the golden disk, causing it to fall directly on the perfect head of Hyacinthus who died instantly from the blow. It was all an accident, and a tragedy, but Apollo was beside himself with grief, like Hadrian holding the body of his beloved Antinous.

The Sun God turned the blood that flowed through the soft curls into the flower that we call the Hyacinth. The Death of Hyacinthus is the divine metaphor for the beauty and tragedy of life taken from the young in their full vigor, falling victim to the accidents of youth.

It is also a warning to those who would approach the majesty of the great god Apollo, who is rightfully called the Far-Shooter, and the falling of the golden discus is a sign that the powers of the sun at this time of the year, though at their greatest, are slowly fading. The disk strikes Hyacinth on the head and the days grow shorter.

Friday, June 21, 2013

THE SOLSTICE

AND THE DELPHINEA OF ANTINOUS


THE JUNE SOLSTICE is one of the most sacred days in the Liturgical Calendar of the Religion of Antinous.

It is the day when Ra Herakhte, the heavenly father of Antinous, stands still for a moment. In the Northern Hemisphere it is the longest day  and from now on the days become shorter and shorter. For our brothers in the Southern Hemisphere, this is the Shortest Day and from now on the days become longer and longer.

That is an important aspect to remember about the Religion of Antinous. The Blessed Boy is beyond such constraints as Summer and Winter or even Life and Death. For Antinous, the days are ALWAYS getting longer and the they are ALWAYS getting shorter.

For HE lives in our hearts — wherever we are.

The Religion of Antinous celebrates a whole cluster of Sacred Events on this magical day, which we call The Delphinea as a collective term. The Delphinea is the celebration of the beautiful, golden-haired god of light, Apollo, for starters. 

Antinous would be associated with many deities in the generations to come. Among his many names, the Beauteous Boy was adored as Antinous-Apollo.

The glorious image above left shows a modern reproduction of the Apollon Parnopios which has been gilded and fitted with gemstone eyes to show how it might have looked in a temple where a ray of sunlight would have set it ablaze in gleaming light.

The Delphinea is the celebration of the beautiful, golden-haired god of light, Apollo, and of his triumph over the great and monstrous Python which was wrapped around holy mount Parnassus. The Python was the creation of Juno, a creature of jealousy whose coils were meant only to stifle and constrict the grace of that which was to proceed from the Sacred Way of the holy city of Delphi.

Apollo shot the Python and destroyed it, when he was only three days old, which is like the brilliance of the Sun dispelling the covering of night. He set the black stone which had fallen from the sky, called the Omphalos, over the navel of the Earth, and charged a Sibyl, a priestess of the Great Mother to watch over the stone and to convey his wisdom to mankind.

Flamen Antinoalis Antonyus Subia explains the significance for us Antinoians:
"The Oracle of Delphi, called a Pythoness, was overtaken while seated atop a golden tripod, by a fire that is the breath of the God. Apollo is the Flower Prince reborn, he is the Twin brother of Dionysus, the Twin brother of Diana. He is the Son of Zeus, and the inheritor of his Kingdom, just as Aelius Caesar was the chosen son of Hadrian.
"Apollo is the God of wisdom and art, the speaker of truth, the deliverer of radiance, reason and beauty. Apollo is the God of Socrates and Plato, and he is the God of Pythagoras who claimed to be his son, exhibiting a golden thigh as proof. Apollo is the unconquered light, the full manifested brilliance, power and wisdom of Orpheus.
"Of all the gods, Apollo is the most boy-loving, though the touch of his heart was invariably fatal. He is the genius of the dying boy-gods. We pray to Apollo, the great god of homosexuality, and seek his guidance on this day, the longest day of the year."

Also on the Solstice we celebrate the day that Hadrian and Antinous met and fell in love ...  "Incipit Amor"

In the year 123, Hadrian toured the Danube region and Asia Minor. It was on this occasion that he met and fell in love with Antinous, in the ancient Bithynian capital city of Nicomedia, according to current research. One portrayal of the event has Hadrian in a garden, surrounded by the youth of the city, hearing a poetry recital.


Antonyus tells it this way:


"Towards the back of the crowd, Hadrian notices a boy of extraordinary beauty who did not bring a stylus and tablet for taking notes, but sat removed from the others, silently gazing into the fountain, contemplating the words of the reader, as if in a dream. Hadrian was captivated, and is said to have gained the blessing of the boy's parents to have Antinous join the court, where there were already other boys of Hadrian's interest. Antinous would have been twelve years old. He was then sent to Rome to attend the Paedagogium, a finishing school for boys. This day marks the beginning of the love upon which our religion is based."

The relief sculpture at right shows Hadrian addressing a crowd with a boy who bears a striking resemblance to Antinous foremost in the crowd, touching the robe of the Emperor.

Also in the Solstice, we commemorate the Sacred Boar Hunt. In our Liturgical Calendar, this is the day when Hadrian and Antinous arrive at the sacred city of Bithynium/Claudiopolis, the home of Antinous, in the year 129 AD. 

The region is teeming with bountiful wildlife and so Hadrian and Antinous went on hunting forays while in Bithynium.

The Boar Hunt had deeply mystical symbolic meaning for Hadrian, as exemplified that it was elevated to mythic proportions for use in public monuments.


The image shows Hadrian and Antinous (looking backwards) during the Sacred Boar Hunt, immortalized on the Arch of Constantine in Rome.
 
Flamen Antonyus Subia explains the mythic symbolism this way:
"This hunt takes place in the ancestral forests of Antinous, in Phrygia, and its meaning is closely connected to the Mysteries of Adonis, and Freyr. It represents the full vigor of his strength, courage and skill as a hunter.

"This festival is a commemoration of the joy of life, in celebration of indulgence and sensual fulfillment.

"The Sacred Boar Hunt represents the pinnacle of the life of Antinous."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

HADRIAN'S VILLA OBSERVATORY

TOWER ALIGNED TO SOLSTICES




HADRIAN would have been planning a long night tonight in his personal observatory, despite the fact that it is the shortest night of the year the Summer Solstice which is exact shortly after 7 a.m. in Rome Friday morning. 

First, he would observe the setting sun sending a shaft of goldish-red light through a certain slit in his observatory tower to illuminate a golden statue of the Egyptian Goddess Isis.

Then there would be oracles at midnight. You can just see the cluster of priests and augurs, chanting and offering sacrifices amidst billowing clouds of incense. 

An Etruscan haruspex or two would be wearing yellow robes and conical hats as they inspected the entrails of animals. Patrician augurs would be wearing their finest ceremonial togas as they listened for messages from nocturnal birds. Babylonian astrologers would be clad in garish robes with multi-tiered crowns as they scanned the heavens and babbled to each other about their arcane calculations. 

And naturally the Egyptian priests would do their utmost to out-do all the others with outlandish make-up, headdresses and robes to the cacophony of sistrums, gongs and the whoosh of incendiary incense sending up pastel-colored clouds of smoke to the wailing of a priestess of Isis in the throes of a trance.

Scores of Imperial court officials and hangers-on would be stifling yawns as the oracles took most of the night. 

But yawns would turn to gasps of wonder and praise when the Emperor announced that he had just seen the RISE OF THE STAR OF ANTINOUS over the eastern horizon.

Then at dawn, the Emperor would climb stairs to the upper chamber to observe the Solstice Sunrise on June 21st.

He would announce the outcome of the oracles and whether the Antinoian Auspices for the coming year were favorable.

Modern Priests of Antinous will be celebrating rites at the HOLLYWOOD TEMPLE OF ANTINOUS to mark not only the Solstice but a very special Capricorn Full Moon this weekend, which we call the TOWER MOON in memory of the observatory tower which Emperor Hadrian built at his Villa to study the stars. This is the dream moon for reaching for the stars ... seeking job promotions ... stretching on tiptoes to grasp something previously unattainable.

The meditations of the Hollywood Priests of Antinous will be focused on an Italian archaeologist and her team who will be spending this Solstice at the ruins of a tower on a hillock at Hadrian's Villa which was the Emperor's own private observatory. 

These experts, led by MARIA DE FRANCESCHINI, have demonstrated that the observatory tower is in fact aligned to the Solstices. She believes the observatory was dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis, who raised Osiris from the dead to become a god of resurrection and transfiguration — just as Hadrian declared Antinous a god of resurrection and transfiguration.
 

For centuries, experts had been mystified by the layout of the sprawling complex of marble baths, banquet halls, luxurious residences, gardens, shrines and unidentified structures 30 kilometers outside Rome.

Hadrian's Villa was a sprawling complex of buildings, temples, gardens, a zoo and — yes — even an observatory tower on a hillock on the edge of the compound from which Hadrian could observe the heavens. 


 But, in an article published in the journal Nature last year, De Franceschini wrote that she believes the mystery-shrouded Rocca Bruna Tower, long held to be Hadrian's private observatory, is in fact aligned so as to produce sunlight effects for the seasons.

She describes her findings personally in the video at the top of this entry. 

De Franceschini says that during the summer solstice, rays of light pierce the tower and another of the villa's buildings. In the Rocca Bruna Tower, dawn sunlight during the summer solstice enters through a wedge-shaped slot above the door and illuminates a niche on the opposite side of the interior (image courtesy nature.com). And in a temple of the Accademia building, De Franceschini has found that sunlight passes through a series of doors during both the winter and summer solstices. 

"The alignments gave me a new key of interpretation," says De Franceschini, who adds that the two buildings are connected by an esplanade that was a sacred avenue during the solstices. Based on ancient texts describing religious rituals and study of recovered sculptures, she thinks the sunlight effects were linked to religious ceremonies associated with the Egyptian goddess Isis, who was adopted by the Romans.

De Franceschini, who works with the University of Trento in Italy, has published a book describing the archaeo-astronomical work, VILLA ADRIANA ARCHITETTURA CELESTE. She credits two architects, Robert Mangurian and Mary-Ann Ray, for initially noticing the light effect in Rocca Bruna.

According to nature.com, Robert Hannah, a classicist from the University of Otago in New Zealand, says that De Franceschini's ideas are plausible. "They're certainly ripe for further investigation," he says.

Hannah believes that the Pantheon, designed by Hadrian in Rome with a circular opening at the top of its dome, also acts as a giant calendrical sundial, with sunlight illuminating key interior surfaces at the equinoxes and on the spring equinox on April 21st, the city's birthday.

Few classical buildings have been investigated for astronomical alignment, says Hannah, partly because it is much easier to check for alignments in prehistoric structures such as Stonehenge, which do not have potentially contradictory artefacts.

De Franceschini spends every solstice at Hadrian's villa, seeking further verification. Our thoughts and prayers go with her during this special season of the TOWER MOON and the Solstice.


We can envision Hadrian, sick with grief and alone after the death of Antinous, ensconced in his observatory tower scanning the heavens for a sign from his Beloved Boy, praying to Isis for her to work her magic on Antinous ....

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

BOYCOTT BRAZIL DURING THE WORLD CUP,

SAY FRIENDS OF ANTINOUS THE GAY GOD


ANTNOUS the Gay God has a very large following in Brazil, and our Brazilian friends have asked us to post this video calling for a boycott of the Brazil World Cup in protest against police crackdowns and cuts in public services ....




NICK DRAKE

SAINT OF ANTINOUS



ON JUNE 19th the Religion of Antinous commemorates the birth of SAINT NICK DRAKE, the sexually ambivalent English singer who died under very mysterious, Antinous-like circumstances at a young age and who became an artistic icon for future generations of dreamers and artists.

Nicholas Rodney Drake was born on June 19th, 1948, to an upper middle class English family living in Burma. His father was an industrialist and there was never much question about Nick's financial future. Indeed, he would have been a wealthy middle-aged man today had he done nothing at all. But Nick never ceased to wonder and worry about his spiritual future. Despite or perhaps precisely because of his admission to Cambridge University, Nick Drake was convinced that he should shun a financially certain future and pursue a future as a musician.

Nick Drake learned to play piano at an early age, and began to compose his own songs, which he would record on a reel-to-reel tape recorder he kept in the family drawing room in rural England.

In 1966 he spent some time in the South of France where he purportedly became acquainted with "the best sort of pot" and perhaps experimented with LSD — and possibly sex with both females and males.

Returning to England, he realized he was not suited to receive a degree from Cambridge University. Nick abruptly and shockingly (as far as his family was concerned) ended his studies at Cambridge nine months before graduation, and in autumn 1969 moved to London to concentrate on a career in music.

Nick signed to Island Records when he was 20 years old and released his debut album, Five Leaves Left, in 1969. By 1972, he had recorded his second album — Bryter Layter and part of his third, Pink Moon. Neither of the first two albums sold more than 5,000 copies on their initial release in Britain, much less abroad. He never made an American breakthrough, unlike other major British artists of the era.

Nick was devastated and depressed. His excruciating shyness to perform live or be interviewed further contributed to his lack of commercial success. Despite this, he was able to gather a loyal following.

He managed to complete his third album, Pink Moon, recorded in midnight sessions in the winter of 1971, immediately after which he withdrew from both live performance and recording, retreating to his parents' home in rural England. Once again, it did not sell well. He felt he was a failure. On November 25th, 1974, Nick Drake retired to his upstairs bedroom where he took a cocktail anti-depressants which killed him. He was found stretched over his bed next morning by his mother.

The Religion of Antinous honors Nick Drake as a prophet of Homoeros. He was a man who saw through the transparent barriers between sexuality to see the spiritual truth of reality. He was one of those many men who are never sure of their sexuality. But it is unimportant whether he was "gay" or not.

Nick Drake is a symbol of these sorts of dreamy and shy men who live existences of quiet despair. Nick Drake could play better riffs on the guitar than almost anybody of his generation. He had a beautiful voice. He was a gifted song-writer. He knew he had more talent in his little finger than most well-paid artists would ever possess. But his career never took off. The big break never happened. Nobody appreciated him. He was broke and disillusioned.

His sister says she believes he took an overdose of anti-depressants thinking he wanted it to either cure him or kill him, because he couldn't go on living in such despair of being an artistic failure. How many people in the economic meltdown of the early 21st Century don't feel the same despair? And yet ....

Nick Drake could scarcely have dreamt 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 — 30 years after his death. His three albums now are cult chart-busters around the world.

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 ....



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

ANTINOUS AND THE SEVENTH
WONDER OF THE WORLD



ANTINOUS and Hadrian may not have seen all Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (they didn't make it to Babylon), but they definitely visited most of them — including the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus in June of 129 AD.

In the novel "The Seven Wonders" by STEVEN SAYLOR there is a stunning description of the Temple of Ephesus — both the fabulous and monumental exterior as well as the awesome interior.

Reading this description gives you something of an idea of what greeted the eyes of Emperor Hadrian and Antinous as they entered the fabled city of Ephesus during the cycle of the Summer Solstice in the year 129 AD as part of their three-year tour of the Eastern Empire.

Ephesus had 300,000 inhabitants at its peak in the time of Hadrian, and it drew thousands of devotees to the shrine of the goddess annually. Even today, Ephesus is one of the most complete and most splendid ancient sites in the world and still draws thousands of tourists every year. The Great Library of Ephesus, which Hadrian patronized and greatly expanded, has been lovingly restored.

The Temple of Ephesus was consecrated to Artemis in her Asian element as a Phrygian-Hittite goddess of the hunt, a youthful manifestation of the Great Goddess of Mount Ida and Dydimus.


The Ephesus form of Artemis looks strange to our eyes — and looked strange to Roman eyes as well.

The Roman Artemis — called Diana — is a virgin huntress. She carries a bow and wears a short, simple tunic suitable for the chase.


But Artemis of Ephesus — presumably more ancient — stands stiffly upright with her bent elbows against her body, her forearms extended and her hands open. She wears a crown, and outlining her head is a nimbus decorated with winged bulls. More bulls and other animals adorn the stiff garment that covers her lower body, almost like a mummy casing.

From her neck hangs a necklace of acorns  and a ring of zodiacal figures, and below this you see the most striking feature of Artemis of Ephesus — a mass of pendulous, gourd-shaped protrusions that hang in a cluster from her upper body. 

At first glance, they appear to be multiple breasts. But in fact these protrusions are bulls' testicles.

You can read the full description (which we have only paraphrased here) in Saylor's marvelous novel, along with vivid details of the festive procession of the goddess through the streets of Ephesus and the sacrifice of scores of bulls to the virgin goddess at the temple — a ritual which Antinous must have seen with his own eyes.

The Temple had burned down on the night that Alexander the Great was born, but after his conquest, Alexander ordered the reconstruction of the Temple, which was still standing when Hadrian and Antinous visited.

ANTONIUS SUBIA explains the parallels between Artemis and Antinous and why we celebrate this Sacred Event:

"Artemis is considered the female Antinous, as his divine twin, the only goddess to exhibit lesbian qualities. She was worshipped as Diana alongside Antinous by the funeral society of Lanuvium. Ephesus was one of the first cities to proclaim Hadrian a living God, and one of the first to adhere to his veneration as a Divus.

"The presence of Antinous and Hadrian with their very pronounced Artemisian qualities must have made a deep impression on the Ephesians, in that they were aware that the city was being visited by living gods. It is to Artemis of Ephesus that this day is Sacred, as the female twin of Antinous, the Bithynian hunter god."

Monday, June 17, 2013

TOP EGYPTOLOGIST IN TEARS

AS LOOTING ERASES EGYPT'S HISTORY



MEET Monica Hanna, the bravest archaeologist in Egypt ... boldly standing up to Islamists and looters ... courageously showing the international news media how her beloved Egypt is being stripped of its heritage.

Anyone who can look this fierce and stylish ... defying snipers to take potshots at her ... while showing journalists the shambles of a looted burial site ... well, she automatically wins our respect and admiration.

"You see dogs playing with human bones, children scavenging for pottery," says Hanna, stepping cautiously around grisly remains and deep pits dug into tombs by looters at Abu Sir south of Cairo. (Photo by Shawn Baldwin For the Tribune-Review)

"The first time I saw this, I cried the whole way home," she told the Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW. "I have been coming here for six weeks now and, each time I come, the site looks different — new pits are dug."

Abu Sir is about 100 km (60 miles) from Cairo not far from Antinoopolis. Hanna first broke the news of ANTINOOPOLIS LOOTING to this blog earlier this year.

Sacred to Osiris, Abu Sir was a prime burial ground from 3250 BC until AD 700 for Egyptians wanting to be buried near Osiris.

Archaeologists excavated it in the early 20th Century, and its artifacts are found in museums around the world ... now it is one of the most looted places in Egypt.

Hanna, the Egyptian archaeologist, has surveyed the site repeatedly.

"The looting is pandemic, every night and even in the morning," she says.


Nearby villagers, asked for directions to the site, respond: "Antiquities? Do you want to buy antiquities?"

 As she and several journalists documented looting at Abu Sir, several men – one with a shotgun slung over a shoulder — threatened her.

"I heard one man say, 'Beat her and take her camera,'" Hanna said afterward.

When the men phoned for police, she hid her camera's memory card in her shirt. After 45 minutes of argument, she was allowed to leave.

"The locals, who are a part of the looting, don't want the photos out there because then their business stops," she explained.

Hanna, 30, is a leader in exposing the antiquity-looting that has exploded since Egypt's 2011 revolution. She appears on Egyptian television debating government officials, takes reporters to looted sites, and encourages Egyptians to protect their heritage.

Not everyone appreciates her work; she often receives threatening phone calls: "People say that I am foreign-paid, that I have a foreign agenda, or that I am doing this for personal glory."

A policeman told her uncle that she should stop because "she is bothering really big people."

Hanna concedes she may be risking her career: "I might not get future permits to work on archaeological sites from the antiquities ministry. But, then, it's ethics versus career — if I cannot talk about this, then I really have no place to teach my students one day that we have done our best to protect our heritage."

She is working with three groups to monitor archaeological sites; a website will allow people, including tourists, to anonymously report damaged antiquities.

Her commitment arose, she said, because foreign archaeologists were afraid of losing work permits if they spoke up and antiquities inspectors who reported looting were usually ignored.

"If we Egyptians don't protect our heritage, who will?" she asks.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

THESE JOKES HAD THEM LAUGHING

IN HADRIAN-ERA ROME


EVER HEAR the joke about the astrologer who predicted a sick boy would survive the night and get well? He wanted payment in advance ... just in case! 

An English translation of PHILOGELOS (THE LAUGHTER LOVER) is a collection of jokes dating from the Hadrian Era and gives insights into Roman humor.

Take for example the joke in which a man complains that a slave he has just bought has died.

"By the gods," answers the slave's seller, "that's more than he ever did when he was with me."

Other jokes in the book show that sex, nagging wives and farting have formed the basis of humor for centuries.

One example is: "A misogynist is attending to the burial of his wife, who has just died. When a passerby asks, 'Pardon me, who is it who rests in peace here?', he answers, 'Me, now that I'm rid of her!'."

The 265 jokes in Philogelos are attributed to a pair of jokers called Hierocles and Philagrius. Little is known about them, except that they were more likely to have been the compilers of the jokes than the original writers of the gags.

The jokes have been published in a multimedia online book, which includes video of veteran British stand-up comedian JIM BOWEN performing the jokes for a 21st century audience.

Bowen said: "One or two of them are jokes I've seen in people's acts nowadays, slightly updated. They put in a motor car instead of a chariot."

The translator of the book, William Berg, a US professor of classics, said the Philogelos book was already a later version of jokes dating back to the 1st and 2nd Century AD.

HERE'S A SELECTION:

 
No. 187: An ill-tempered astrologer cast the horoscope of a sick boy, promised his mother that he would live for a long time, then demanded his fee. "Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you then," the worried mother said. "But what happens to my fee if he dies in the night?"

No. 201: A man consults a charlatan soothsayer and asks about the health of his family who live in a distant province. "They are all well, especially your father." "But my father’s been dead for ten years!" "Ah, clearly you do not know your REAL father."

No. 202: Having cast a boy’s horoscope, a charlatan prophet predicted that he would be first a lawyer, then a city prefect, and finally a provincial governor. But the boy died. His mother came back and remonstrated, "My son has died, the one you said would be a lawyer and prefect and governor." "I swear by his memory," responded the prophet, "he would have been all of those things had he lived!"

No. 203: Someone went to a charlatan prophet and inquired if his conniving rascal of a rival would come back from a voyage. The prophet promised that he would die at sea. But the man found out a few days later that his enemy had returned unharmed. "Well," said the prophet, "how shameless can you get? That man even goes so far as to cheat the Fates!"

No. 204: A charlatan prophet cast a client’s horoscope and told him he could never have children. "But I’ve already got seven!" "Then you’d better take good care of them!"

No. 205: A charlatan prophet was captured by the enemy, and confessed his trade. Now it so happened that they were about to fight a battle. "You’ll win it," he promised them, "as long as the enemy don't see the hairs on the back of your heads." (trans. B. Baldwin)

Get it?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A LITTLE ANTINOUS CAN GO A LONG WAY


POCKET shrines are a handy and magical way to take Antinous with you wherever you go. 

ECCLESIA ANTINOI is the online meeting place for adherents of Antinous, and recently we have been talking about creating portable altars and pocket shrines. 

Many group members have shrines at home but would like to have a sacred little something to take with them, not only on long journeys but even when they go to work, to school or run everyday errands.

One group member said a household altar can be a multi-purpose center. He told us: "As I prepare a new altar and shrine to Antinous, I've dedicated a place to put my wallet, money, and keys in a niche in the shrine thus connecting my life source money with that of Antinous' caring, protective spirit."

Everyone can create ANTINOUS ALTARS in even the most limited space. It need not be large and expensive. Even a photo of Antinous on a shelf can be a sacred spot.

Many people think they have to have lots of space and buy out a whole home-hardware store to build an overly elaborate shrine which takes up practically a whole room. That's not true. You can create a Sacred Space anywhere — on a table top, on a shelf or a special box or bag — for a portable shrine such as travelers and pilgrims used to have with them on arduous journeys in bygone centuries before the advent of paved roads and reliable transport.

Just as a bonsai tree embodies a forest giant, a pocket shrine is the embodiment of the Great Temple of Antinous in ANTINOOPOLIS.

A pouch or bag can hold a photo or figure of Antinous along with other "magical" things which are special to you such as crystals, sea shells, inspirational notes, mementos of people (or animals) you love. A deck of tiny Tarot cards or a small vial of perfume oil, dried flowers and prayer beads. The possibilities as tiny as they may be in physical size are absolutely unlimited.

In his book about Antinous, Beloved and God, Royston Lambert points out that in ancient times many followers of the Blessed Youth felt it was necessary to have a tangible representation of Antinous with them at all times for protection and for blessings:

"Some of the devotees evidently could not bear to be parted from the beneficial and reassuring presence of their Antinous and therefore had small, light-weight travelling busts or bronzes made to accompany them on their journeys."

Ancient worshipers of the Beauteous Boy knew that a little Antinous quite literally can go a long way ....

Friday, June 14, 2013

THE MYSTERY TORSO OF THE MET
COULD THIS BE ANTINOUS?



MORE statues of Antinous were made than any other mortal in Ancient Rome, even more than of Augustus Caesar ... and countless bits and pieces indicate that there were even more Antinous statues.

This torso at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art has intrigued art historians for years ... could it be Antinous?

To the unskilled eye, it looks like any other torso of a young man in exceedingly good physical condition. But to the trained eye of an Antinoologist ... there are several salient features which practically scream out: "I am a statue of Antinous!"

First of all, experts generally agree that this is a Roman copy of a Greek-style statue ... the type of statue which the Greeks would have sculpted in the 5th Century BC ... and which Emperor Hadrian admired so greatly and brought in Greek sculptors to replicate in the 2nd Century AD.

The Greeks would have called it an "ephebe" or innocent youth. And yet, there is a certain glamorous attitude about this statue which shouts out "Roman."

The neck is inclined, indicating that the head originally was tilted forward in a reflective and melancholy pose very typical of Antinous.

And the torso itself looks almost identical to the Antinous Farnese statue in Naples (right). The Farnese has a languid, dreamy-decadent melancholy about it, owing to the sad face and inclined head.

But the decadent melancholy of a "waking  dreamer"  persists even in  the body alone, as  demonstrated by the  New York  torso ... the Mystery Torso of the Met ....

Thursday, June 13, 2013

KING LUDWIG II of BAVARIA
SAINT OF ANTINOUS


ON JUNE 13th the Religion of Antinous commemorates the life of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who died on this date in 1886 under mysterious circumstances in an Alpine lake. As with Antinous, his death is shrouded in myth and legend and it will never be known whether he drowned accidentally or whether he was assassinated.

Born August 25, 1845, Ludwig was only 18 when he ascended to the throne of Bavaria in 1864. He was the last truly sovereign monarch of that Alpine nation, which was engulfed by Prussia during his reign and very much against his wishes.

While the king of Prussia was planning a war against France, and various other crowned heads of Europe were scheming and conniving to commit war and bloodshed, "Mad" King Ludwig (as he was called) devoted the entire resources of his land to the performing and visual arts, commissioning operas by Richard Wagner and building the most astounding fairy-tale castles and palaces.

In the build-up to the Franco-German war, as troops were marching off to battle, Ludwig did not bother to see off his military forces. Instead, he went off on a jaunt to Switzerland to confer with Wagner on plans for a Wagnerian opera house in Munich. The opera house was never built, due to opposition from local critics. Instead, it was built at the Bavarian town of Bayreuth to the specifications of the composer, paid for by Ludwig personally.

Shockingly, in a staunchly Roman Catholic land, Ludwig never married and instead surrounded himself with handsome manservants, artists and architects.

Indeed, Ludwig is best known as a closeted gay man whose legacy is intertwined with the history of art and architecture, as he commissioned the construction of several extravagant fantasy castles (the most famous being Neuschwanstein below) and was a devoted patron of Wagner, who might never have finished his "Ring" cycle without Ludwig's ostentatiously generous support.

In an age of fiercely militaristic nationalism, Ludwig came under intense pressures from his advisers to abandon his artistic projects and to devote himself to empire-building. Feeling harassed and irritated by his ministers, he considered dismissing the entire cabinet and replacing them with fresh faces. The cabinet decided to act first.


 Seeking a cause to depose Ludwig by constitutional means, the rebelling ministers decided on the rationale that he was mentally ill, and unable to rule.

Medical psychiatry was in its infancy, and a panel of "experts" assembled mostly anecdotal evidence of the king's "madness" to satisfy the ministers.


The list of "mad" behavior included his extreme shyness, his distaste for politics and state affairs, his complex and expensive flights of fancy (including moonlit picnics at which his young groomsmen were said to strip naked and dance), conversations with imaginary persons, sloppy and childish table manners and sending servants on lengthy and expensive expeditions to research architectural details in foreign lands.
He was deposed on June 9, 1886, and placed under house arrest at a castle on the shores of Lake Starnberg south of Munich where he was under the constant watchful eye of a psychiatrist.

On June 13, around 6:00 pm, Ludwig asked the psychiatrist to accompany him on a walk along the shore of Lake Starnberg. The doctor agreed, and told the guards not to follow them. The two men never returned. At 11:30 that night, searchers found both the king and his doctor dead, floating in the shallow water near the shore.

Ludwig was known to be a strong swimmer, the water was less than waist-deep where his body was found, and the official autopsy report indicated that no water was found in his lungs. Nonetheless, the official death certificate listed suicide by drowning. The death of the doctor was never explained.

Most other monarchs of his era have been forgotten, or else their names have been cursed by succeeding generations for laying the groundwork for the First World War. But Ludwig was only interested in laying the groundwork for grand architecture and enduring cultural masterpieces. His legacy of art and architecture — and homoerotic romance — continues to inspire and to enchant.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"SHOCKING" POMPEII PAINTING

RESURFACES AFTER NEARLY 100 YEARS



A "lost" painting said to have "shocked" the Victorians with its depiction of a young woman in a diaphanous pink gown doing a sensuous dance in Pompeii has been rediscovered and is set to sell at auction in London for £400,000 ($625,000).

The painting, by Sir Edward John Poynter and entitled "The Ionian Dance," caused ladies to swoon and heterosexual gentlemen to twitch their moustaches in titillation when it was unveiled in 1895.

Homosexual art aficionados at the time noted Poynter's brilliant mastery of the brush in creating realistic marble surfaces polished so smoothly that they reflect light. They also marveled at the way the sheer fabric flows.

The painting was last seen on the open market in 1915, when it passed into a private collection and out of the public gaze.

It has now re-emerged nearly a century later after being offered at Bonhams auction house, where it is set to sell for over $600,000.

A spokesman called the painting "arguably the most important work by Sir Edward Poynter," as he claimed it was the first opportunity for it to be seen in "generations," according to a report in THE TELEGRAPH.

The image is intended to bring to life an ancient Greek poem by Horace, in which a young girl is exiled from Greece and the Ionian islands. She is seen in the painting in a translucent gown, performing a native dance for her Roman mistress.

It is said to have been "heavily influenced" by the stories of debauchery coming out of the buried city of Pompeii, after it was rediscovered in 1863.

A spokesman for Bonhams told The Telegraph: "For the first time, excavations exposed magnificent murals, artworks and the preserved remains of the city's inhabitants.

"The city had been discovered once before in 1599 by an architect who stumbled across frescoes of such frequent sexual content that they were hastily covered over again and no more of the city was touched.

"After the 19th century re-discovery, artists were heavily influenced by the ancient Roman culture that had been tragically wiped from history."

"The Ionian Dance" was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London, and bought from the artist by notable collector Robert English. It remained in his collection until his death in 1914, when it was sold by his estate.

It will now be sold on July 10 at Bonhams' 19th Century Paintings sale, estimated at £300,000-£400,000.