IMAGINE the spectacular send-off that Antinous and Hadrian received on that day in early August, 128 AD, when they left Rome on their three-year tour of the Eastern Empire.
It would be a fateful journey from which Antinous would never return. This was the last time he would ever see Rome in all its splendour (depicted here by famed gay illustrator Roger Payne).
Before leaving Rome, the Senate, Pontiffs, Flamenes, and all priesthoods, were summoned by Hadrian to the Pantheon, and there they conducted a solemn ceremony of benediction and safekeeping, for the benefit of the Emperor, for the City and for the World.
With Antinous at his side, Hadrian announced his purpose for leaving Rome and journeying to the provinces.
He enumerated his plan to improve the cities of the east, detailing his building projects, and the social, political reforms that would be enacted.
Hadrian then made sacrifice to Jupiter Optimus Maximus, the ruler of Rome, while the Senate, in the name of Jupiter, blessed Hadrian and Antinous and the members of the court.
Outside, the streets of the city were lined with people bidding farewell to their Emperor, who proceeded in a slow and grand procession.
Antinous would have been prominently located near Hadrian as the procession left the sacred gates of the City. Antinous would never return. And Hadrian, grief-stricken, would return a broken and embittered man. But on that hot and sunny August day, the hopes of the world went with Hadrian and Antinous as they passed through the portals of the Eternal City ....
Flamen Antonius Subia:
We pray to Our Lady Rome, mother of the world, to watch over us, and over civilization, her child, in time of danger, that the age of peace will come again.