Friday, March 31, 2017

THE CAVALRY IS COMING BACK
TO FORTS ALONG HADRIAN'S WALL



ONE of the blockbuster events of the summer is HADRIAN'S CAVALRY which opens on April 8 at about a dozen museums and outdoor locations along Hadrian's Wall. 

Skirmishes with barbarians ... cavalry horse demonstrations ... gladiator fights ... participatory events for visitors of all ages ... here we look at the background to the ambitious project and what you will be able to see.

Hadrian's Cavalry starts on April 8 and runs until September 10 at the museums and sites along Hadrian's Wall at venues LISTED HERE.

The Hadrian's Cavalry exhibition will focus on the story of Roman cavalry regiments which were a vital but less well known aspect of the frontier garrison. Cavalry and part-mounted units were the elite of the auxiliary forces of the Roman army providing long-range reconnaissance, high-speed communications, shock tactics and mopping-up operations on the battlefield.

Alongside presentation of the training, equipment, daily life and military operations of cavalry troopers and their horses, the exhibition will explore the role of the regiments in projecting the Roman imperial image through their impressive armour and other equipment, and the powerful individual stories of regiments who came to Hadrian’s Wall from other parts of the empire. 

Each participating Roman site and museum across the Wall will host part of the exhibition.

Cavalry regiments were stationed at key locations on major road and river crossings along Hadrian’s Wall supported by part-mounted regiments at many other forts. The cavalry regiment at Stanwix just north of Carlisle was one of only three 1,000 strong cavalry regiments in the Roman army.

The cavalry regiments were costly to raise and maintain. The troopers were highly paid and lengthy training was required for both men and horses. Their equipment – including full face parade helmets like that found at Crosby Garrett and horse armour such as the Vindolanda chamfron – was expensive, exotic and designed to impress.

The exhibition programme will include live re-enactment, learning and community engagement activity.

“The sheer quantity, quality and range of objects from sites across Hadrian’s Wall provides opportunities to tell many different stories as well as celebrating the beauty and interest of the objects themselves,” said Bill Griffiths, chair of the Wall-wide project steering group and head of programmes for Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.

“Evidence from sites along Hadrian’s Wall has informed understanding of cavalry regiments across the Roman empire.

“From Segedunum we know that cavalry horses were stabled with the troopers in adjacent rooms in customised barrack blocks, while Chesters Roman Fort is the best preserved cavalry fort in Britain.

"Many of the best known writing tablets from Vindolanda were written by Batavian troopers posted there following their deployment as shock troops to overpower the druids on Anglesey and before their subsequent deployment to the Danube to support Emperor Trajan in his war against the Dacians.

"The three metre high tombstone of Flavinus from Hexham Abbey is one of the most celebrated portrayals of the cavalryman-barbarian motif from across the empire.

“We are also hoping to work with museums across the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site to assemble a unique collection for this exhibition.”

Hadrian’s Cavalry will cost £790,000 in total, and the remaining £100,000 needed will be generated through ticket sales, donations and sponsorship.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

TWO SPECTACULAR HOUSES REOPEN
AFTER EXTENSIVE REPAIRS IN POMPEII



THIS has been a major week for Pompeii and Herculaneum: Two houses in Pompeii were reopened to the public today following extensive renovation work to shore up crumbling walls ... and experts have reconstructed the ceiling of a huge villa in Herculaneum (image above). 

It is now possible to visit the House of the Wounded Bear and the Villa of Siricus ... as well as other sites in Region VII of the ancient city.

The Regio VII of Pompeii is one that includes the Forum and the first stretch of Via Abundance to the baths. And just behind of the baths is the House of Siricus, one of two domus sites that are now open starting immediately.


In ribbon-cutting ceremonies, dignitaries also reopened the main streets of the Regio VII and the House of the Wounded Bear ... with is actually open to the public for the very first time. It is named for the foyer mosaic showing a bear wounded by a lance.

The mosaic has been restored and is now protected by a glass wall that allows you to admire it without compromising the preservation.

It is the same method which was tested with the "Cave Canem" (Beware of the Dog) mosaic at a house on on via Abundance.

The House of Siricus is located a few steps from a brothel. It has impressive mosaics and frescoes, including several frescoes on the walls inspired by the Trojan War: Hercules at the court of Queen Omphale (north wall), Thetis in Hephaestus (east wall) and construction of the walls of Troy (west wall).

In Herculaneum, meanwhile, the roof of a seaside Roman palace destroyed by a volcanic eruption more than 2,000 years ago has been restored by scientists.

Broken timber from the brightly-coloured three-story building was unearthed by archaeologists working on a beach near the ruined city of Herculaneum in Italy. 

Scientists were able to restore the palace's red, blue, yellow and green roof tiles by analyzing paint traces from the recovered timber.

The House of the Telephus Relief, a grand mansion, is believed to have been home to Marcus Nonius Balbus, the Roman governor of Crete. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

GATEWAY TO HADES FOUND IN TURKEY
A RIVAL TO GATEWAY TO HADES IN GREECE



AS Hadrian and Antinous traveled across Asia Minor in 129 AD it is possible they saw the legendary Gate to the Underworld.

Italian archaeologists say they have found the historical Gate to the Underworld of the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis in modern-day Turkey ... birth land of Antinous

But as always with these things, the Greeks also claim they have found evidence for the existence of a GATEWAY TO HADES IN GREECE.

In ancient times there were several Gateways to Hades ... in Asia Minor ... in Greece ... and in Rome ... but the one at Hierapolis was perhaps most famous of all.

The Turkish discovery was made by a mission headed by Francesco D'Andria from the University of Salento which is in charge of the excavations in the Greco-Roman city. The ruins of the city are near the modern-day Pamukkale in Turkey.

According to Greco-Roman mythology and tradition, the Gate to the Underworld, also known as Pluto's Gate ... Ploutonion in Greek, Plutonium in Latin ... was the entrance point to hell.

Both Cicero and Greek geographer Strabus referred to the Hierapolis Plutonium in their writings, and both had visited it. It was a well-known place of pilgrimage in Antiquity.

Since the excavations commenced in Hierapolis in 1957 ... by an Italian mission under Paolo Verzone from the Turin Polytechnic ... finding the exact location of Plutonium had been the focus of the archaeological digs.

D'Andria told ANSAmed news agency that he had found it by studying the vast literature from the period and reconstructing the route of a thermal spring to a cave, ascertaining that in that area bird corpses were collected.

According to the tales of the travelers in those times, bulls were sacrificed to Pluto before pilgrimages into the Plutonium. The animals were led by priests to the entrance to a cave from which fetid fumes arose, suffocating them to death.

The announcement of the discovery came only weeks after  archaeo-spelunkers announced that a rival Gateway to Hades in southern Greece apparently was a cave dwelling which once housed an entire underground city.

Ironically, the giant cave could have resembled something vaguely similar to the scene depicted by Jan the Elder Bruegel of Aeneas and the Sybil entering Hades (above). 
 

The complex settlement seen in this cave suggests, along with other sites from about the same time, that early prehistoric Europe may have been more complex than previously thought.

The cave, located in southern Greece and discovered in 1958, is called Alepotrypa, which means "foxhole."


The cave in Greece apparently went through a series of occupations and abandonments before it finally collapsed.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

TRACE THE FOOTSTEPS OF ANTINOUS
WITH THIS STREET MAP OF ROME



 WE envision Antinous strolling down these streets in Rome's infamous Subura red-light district with other young friends from the "paedagogium" academy.

The wide street that traverses this fragment of a map of the city of Rome from right to left (west to east) has been identified as the Clivus Suburanus, a major street that ran from the Forum and the Argiletum through the Subura neighborhood, past the front of the Porticus Liviae, to the Esquiline Gate.


The fragment at right is from the Forma Urbis Romae, or Severan Marble Plan of Rome. 

This enormous map, measuring ca. 18.10 x 13 meters (ca. 60 x 43 feet), was carved between 203-211 AD and covered an entire wall inside the Templum Pacis in Rome.

Recently, a "new" piece was found which completes the "Circus Flaminius" section of the FORMA URBIS ROMAE or SEVERAN MAP.

This enormous map depicted the ground plan of every architectural feature in the ancient city, from large public monuments to small shops, rooms, and even staircases.

This fragment represents a large section on the Oppian Hill of the residential and commercial district called the Subura. 

Roman poets like Martial and Juvenal described the Subura as a sordid commercial area, riddled with violence, brothels, and collapsing buildings. 

In reality, it was probably not different from any other neighborhood in Rome … or many modern European cities, for that matter … where commercial activity intermingled with the religious and political life in the great public monuments and smaller local shrines and meeting halls of the local "collegia" and where the large "comus" homes of the rich stood next to the decrepit apartment buildings that housed the poor. 

An abundance of evidence demonstrates that even in imperial times the Subura housed senators (probably on the upper slopes) as well as sandal makers, blacksmiths, and cloth sellers. Commercial activity was probably concentrated all along the clivus Suburanus.


The Severan Marble Plan is a key resource for the study of ancient Rome, but only 10-15% of the map survives, broken into 1,186 pieces.

For centuries, scholars have tried to match the fragments and reconstruct this great puzzle, but progress is slow … the marble pieces are heavy, unwieldy, and not easily accessible. 

Now, computer scientists and archaeologists at Stanford are employing digital technologies to try to reconstruct the map.

In collaboration with the Sovraintendenza of the Comune di Roma, a team from Stanford's Computer Graphics laboratory has been creating digital photographs and 3D models of all 1,186 fragments.

The next step is to develop 3D matching algorithms to "solve the map," and to build a fully searchable database of the fragments … a much-needed tool for archaeological research.

Monday, March 27, 2017

FEATURED ANTINOUS STATUE OF THE DAY
THE ANTINOUS OF ELEUSIS


THE statue of Antinous from Eleusis - Ἐλευσίς - is the only one that seems to refer back to an incident in his life, his initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries of death and resurrection in September 128 AD.

The sculpture was erected after his death in the outer courtyard of Eleusis and captures this instant of his life, though officially it depicts him as the god Dionysos Zagreus, a divinity of suffering abd resurrection associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Technically it is not one of the best of the depictions of Antinous, but it evokes a mood and a moment.


The sulptor clearly envisaged the young lad draped in his himation, standing in the darkened Telesterion (the initiation hall) and confronted with the Eleusinian Mysteries of death and resurrection.

He clutches at the folds of his himation anxiously, insecure, staring wide-eyed, his mouth pursed in awe, with an expression of apprehension, intent rapture and awarness of the tremendous significance of what was being revealed to him.

Even though it is a mediocre statue in workmanship and details it is redeemed by its expressiveness and pathos.


This statue is now housed in the Archaeological Museum of Eleusis: Antinous as Dionysus Zagreus, Inv. 5092, 1.83 m, in marble of Thasos.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

WALT WHITMAN
SAINT OF ANTINOUS


ON March 26th the Religion of Antinous takes a moment to celebrate the life of one of our most popular Antinoian prophets ... Saint Walt Whitman.

Walt Whitman was born on May 31, 1819, on the West Hills of Long Island, New York. He was lavished with love by his mother, but treated with stern discipline by his carpenter father.

After only a few years of school, Whitman was pulled out to help with the family earnings. He educated himself, reading all that he could, worked in a printing house, and eventually became a schoolteacher who taught with refreshing openness and excitement, allowing his students to call him by his first name. After years of teaching, he went into journalism, and in time was the editor of several publications.

However, Walt Whitman is said to have experienced a life-transforming epiphany. He left New York, and returned to live for a period with his family, then returned from isolation with Leaves of Grass, one of the most powerful collections of poems in American literature and the first to allude heavily to homosexual love.

It is often said that, during his time in isolation, a religious sense of purpose entered his heart, which he revealed in the Calamus poems.

The aromatic, psychotropic calamus plant with its phallic spadix flower pods was his symbol for homosexuality. The calamus has special meaning for us because Kalamos of Greek myth fell in love with the beautiful youth Karpos. 

Like Antinous, Karpos died by drowning. Grief-stricken Kalamos wept among the reeds at the waterside until he was himself transformed into a reed, whose rustling in the wind is his sigh of woe.

When the American civil war broke out, Walt Whitman was 42 years old and served as a hospital nurse, falling in love with all the soldiers, especially those who died in his arms.

Open expressions of love between men were accepted without issue during the war, and it was when the visionary enlightenment of Walt Whitman became clear to him. He saw that the origin of this love, brotherly, or friendly perhaps, if not more, was the salvation of the human race, and certainly able to heal the divide between North and South.

His final years were spent communicating his message to the new torchbearers, such as John Addington Symonds and Edward Carpenter. After his death, and as Gay Liberation took strength, he was called a Prophet, particularly by the George Cecil Ives and the Order of Chaeronea.

We, adherents of the ancient/modern Religion of Antinous, proclaim him to be St. Walt Whitman the Prophet of Homoeros, and we elevate him to his own stratosphere in our devotion.

He died March 26th, 1892 of tuberculosis compounded by pneumonia. Over 1,000 mourners paid their respects. St. Walt told us how he wanted us to remember him, not as a great poet, but as "the tenderest lover":

You bards of ages hence! when you refer to me, mind not so much my poems,
Nor speak of me that I prophesied of The States, and led them the way of their Glories;
But come, I will take you down underneath this impassive exterior ... I will tell you what to say of me:
Publish my name and hang up my picture as that of the tenderest lover,
The friend, the lover's portrait, of whom his friend, his lover, was fondest,
Who was not proud of his songs, but of measureless ocean of love within him ... and freely poured it forth,
Who often walked lonesome walks, thinking of his dear friends, his lovers,
Who pensive, away from one he loved, often lay sleepless and dissatisfied at night,
Who knew too well the sick, sick dread lest the one he loved might secretly be indifferent to him,
Whose happiest days were far away, through fields, in woods, on hills, he and another, wandering hand in hand, they twain, apart from other men,
Who oft as he sauntered the streets, curved with his arm the shoulder of his friend  while the arm of his friend rested upon him also.



Saturday, March 25, 2017

THE MANY FACES
OF ANTINOUS THE GAY GOD


BY ALICIA 7777777



Emperor Hadrian commissioned thousands of statues of his Beloved Antinous, showing HIM in the guise of many deities and heroes. This sublime video morphing montage shows some of the many faces
of ANTINOUS THE GAY GOD





Antinous - Face Morph from Alicia7777777 on Vimeo.

Friday, March 24, 2017

WE HONOR THE EMPRESS SABINA


THE Empress Sabina Augusta ... Vibia Sabina ... Hadrian's Wife ... died sometime in the year 136, and was deified in the year 138.

The date of her elevation to godliness is not known, but because she was so often compared to the Mother Goddess Ceres-Demeter, we declare her Apotheosis to coincide with the return of spring in Rome, and dedicate our celebration of the Equinox to our mother and Empress, Nova Dea Ceres, Sabina Augusta.

This relief sculpture of her deification, in which she is shown rising up from the cremation flames on the wings of a female Aeon, shows Hadrian enthroned, behind him is a figure that resembles Antoninus Pius.


And reclining on the floor is one who could possibly be Antinous, the resemblance to the youth on the Apotheosis of Antoninus is remarkable.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

ANTINOUS-ATTIS DIES AND IS REBORN
DURING THE CYCLE OF THE EQUINOX



THE cycle of the March Equinox is Sacred to the Great Mother of the Gods, and to her divine lover-son Attis, who dies and is reborn at this time of year.

Persephone returns from the underworld, and the verdure returns to the face of the Earth.

The death of Attis is symbolic of the fruit flowers that appear at this season and then fall away, making room for the ripening fruit.

It was celebrated in Rome with the introduction of a great pine tree that was carried into the Temple of Magna Mater.

An image of the dead Attis was carried on a bier and hung from the tree which was decorated with purple ribbons and violet flowers.

On the Day of Blood, the priests performed austerities including the self-castration of new priests, and the bloodletting of the old priests to the accompaniment of drum and cymbal music.

After the Day of Blood, when Attis was said to have risen again, the festival turned to joy and elation and was known as the Hilaria.

The final part of the sacred days was the day of cleansing, when the image of the Great Mother, a black stone encased in silver, was taken to the river Arno and washed by the priests.


Flamen Antonius Subia says:

"The five-day cycle of the Equinox ... the Mithraic Mysteries and all the other remembrances ... are all contained in the Death and Resurrection of Attis, the beautiful boy, who severed his own testicles and died giving his blood to the bosom of the earth ... but did not die."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

ANTINOUS RETURNS HOME WITH HADRIAN
AS THE NEW GANYMEDE



DURING the five-day cycle of the March Equinox we celebrate the triumphal entry of Hadrian and Antinous into the province of Bithynian on that fateful, final tour of the Eastern Empire. Flamen Antinoalis Antonyus describes it thusly at the online Temple of Antinous:

Antinous returns to his hometown and is greeted as a returning King. Hadrian is hailed as the living Zeus, and Antinous is spoken of as the New Ganymede.

Their visit precedes the Death and Resurrection of Attis which is the Childhood religion of Antinous. It is observed in this context by us as a presage of the Death and Resurrection of Antinous that would later be commemorated in Bithynia, which is the second of the four Holy Cities of Our religion.

Antinous is worshipped as the triumphant son, returning from across the sea, like so many gods whose ships vanish over the waves, promising one day to return.

We pray that Antinous will return to the place of his birth which is at the core of our soul, and that he will take his place within the small shrine of Attis that we have kept ready for his arrival within our very hearts.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

WE MOURN THE DEATH
OF ANTINOUS-ADONIS


ADONIS was the most beautiful boy that ever lived, so beautiful that Venus fell totally in love with him and forsook all her love-joys in order to follow him on his hunt through the forests of Mt. Lebanon.

But Adonis was unmoved and completely rejected her advances. She became infatuated and abandoned herself to the boy who only cared to hunt.

Mars was jealous of his rival, and outraged to see Venus subjected to desperation and lust, so he contrived to lure Venus away by having Mercury recall her to her neglected duties, because without her influence to temper the raging schemes of her Erotic son, there was no love in the world.

While she was away, Mars transformed himself into a wild boar and let Adonis pursue him through the woods.

The God of War suddenly charged the young God of Beauty and disarmed him, and with a deadly kiss, gored Adonis in the groin sinking his razor tusk between his perfect white legs.

When she returned, Venus found her beloved boy dead and cut her hair in mourning, she immortalized his soul as a flower, and made the river that bears his name flow red.

The love between Venus and Adonis was unfulfilled, her adoration for him was unreturned because Adonis had no care for women, and he preferred his hunting dogs to her gentle caresses.

Only the War God Mars had his way with Adonis, though motivated by jealousy and rage, it was a violent sexual attack, for which all the world must mourn, because in the savagery of the Lust of Mars, the world was forever robbed of the beauty of Adonis.


Flamen Antonius Subia says:

"We venerate Adonis and seek his shadow in the gardens of human beauty. Antinous is the 'Adonis of the Underworld' ... our perfect desire who flees from our embrace ... but we, like Venus, never abandon him to his endless hunt, and caress his cheek even though our hands can never touch him."

Monday, March 20, 2017

WE HONOR ANTINOUS/MARS


WHEN the Sun enters the Sign of Aries at the March Equinox, we honor Antinous in his special guise as Antinous/Mars.

Mars, God of War, son of Jupiter and Juno, father of Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome, was the divine spirit of the Roman Army whose legions subjugated the world.

His power ran like molten steel in the blood of Romans who he made them invincible.

The ram was sacred to him, and thus the sign of Aries was devoted to him, as it was in the early spring, after the fields were sown and before the harvest that the men went to war.

Originally Mars was an agricultural deity, whose duty was to protect the fields from marauders. But he soon became an aggressive conqueror, whose sacred spears were ritually shaken by the Flamen Martialis when the legions were preparing for war.

He had twin sons who accompanied him and went before the armies in battle, their names were Phobos and Deimos, fear and panic.

He was the illicit lover of Venus, and it is said that they were the co-creators of Rome who through war brought love and peace to the whole world. It was in this spirit that Hadrian worshipped the pair.

Mars is the great spirit of masculinity, the violent, courageous power of the male sex, the penetrator and subjugator.

His emblem, an iron spear, is a symbol for the phallus, and so it is that Mars is the great potent Phallus of Man, the impregnator.

In this sense he is venerated as the warrior within all men, and as our most extreme, animalistic, carnal, aggressive nature.

He is the conqueror of winter, the dominator of spring, the protector of life, and the bringer of death.

He is war and fury, selflessly courageous, for the protection of the weak and for the defeat of the strong.


Mars never surrenders, and this is why Venus is so mad with lust for him, and why we adore him as our protector.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE
SAINT OF ANTINOUS


ON March 19 the Religion of Antinous honors Robert Mapplethorpe, Saint of Antinous.

In 1990, the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center and its director were charged with "Pandering Obscenity" after an exhibition of Mapplethorpe?s photographs. 


They were eventually acquitted but the event fueled a national debate over federal funding of the arts in the United States. 

The debate, which has affected American art ever since, focuses on whether tax dollars should be spent on projects which political conservatives deem objectionable. Specifically, the debate is over whether gay-theme art should be funded.

Robert Mapplethorpe died from AIDS in March 1989, at age 42, one year before his art spawned the controversy, so he was only able to speak through his photographs.

His subject matter portrayed homosexually charged images of nude men.

The controversy that Robert Mapplethorpe sparked exposed the double standard by which homosexual art is judged against heterosexual art. He revealed that nudity is most "obscene" to non-gays when it involves males.

We proclaim his sainthood to be heroic and dedicated to Antinous, because Robert Mapplethrope beautifully photographed a plaster statue of Antinous (shown at left), indicating that he must have known our God and in some way loved him.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

CHARLOTTE VON MAHLSDORF
SAINT OF ANTINOUS


SAINT Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, who was born on this day in 1928, was a Berlin trans/gay who survived the Nazis and East German communists and about whose life a Pulitzer Prize winning play, "I Am My Own Woman", has been staged at theatres around the world.

The title is misleading since the original German is "Ich bin meine eigene Frau" and the word "Frau" can mean either "Woman" or "Wife"

The phrase was Charlotte's answer to her mother's question: "Don't you think it's time you got a wife?"

Charlotte was her own man and her own woman and her own husband/wife. In a long life amidst dictatorship, war and oppression of human-rights, Charlotte learned to create her own identity. We honor Charlotte as a Saint of the Religion of Antinous.

St. Charlotte, who liked to wear frumpy house dresses with a clunky handbag and a strand of pearls and matronly shoes, somehow managed to survive the Gestapo, the East German Stasi secret police and assaults by neo-Nazis. In doing so, Charlotte made serious ethical compromises along the way in order to stay alive. 

Charlotte amassed a huge collection of Victorian antiques which some said came from the homes of Jewish Holocaust victims and (later) from homes of people fleeing East Germany.


But Charlotte DID stay alive in dangerous times during which others perished. Charlotte's life forces you to ask yourself what YOU would have done in similar circumstances.

After German unification, Charlotte became something of a reluctant gay icon in Germany in the 1990s. Charlotte never had any pretensions of being intellectual or a political activist. 

Charlotte never quite fit in with post-Stonewall activists, who were a bit puzzled by her dowdy grand-motherliness and her passion for 19th Century Renaissance Revival style antiques. Like Quentin Crisp (also a Saint of Antinous), Charlotte belonged to another era.

But unlike Quentin Crisp, Charlotte wasn't especially witty or campy (despite her appearance) and was not an artist of the arch one-liner the way Quentin was. In appearances on talk shows, she would sit there, smiling politely, with not a great deal to say unless it was about collecting and restoring 19th Century antiques. But what she did say was eloquent in its simplicity: 

People should be kind to each other and let each other get on with their lives the way they want to.

Above all, she didn't much like being a celebrity. Too many people  expected things of her. She became a target for neo-Nazis, mostly drunken, youthful vandals in the 1990s. Not surprisingly perhaps, considering all she had lived through, she became somewhat paranoid towards the end of her life. In the end, she fled to Sweden where she spent her final years in virtual isolation before dying in 2002.

We honor St. Charlotte von Mahlsdorf for being someone who was not afraid to be openly trans/gay in the face of totalitarian dictatorships and police states. Someone who survived the Nazis and the Stasi secret police ... wearing a dress, a strand of pearls and a handbag.

Friday, March 17, 2017

THIS IS THE DAY THE WISEST MAN DIED
AND ROME BEGAN TO FALL



MARCH 17th is the anniversary of the death of Marcus Aurelius and we in the Religion of Antinous set aside this day each year to remember the last of the great philosopher-emperors, and a man who knew both Hadrian and Antinous.

What follows, is adapted from writings over the years by Flamen Antinoalis Antonyus.

As a young boy Marcus Aurelius had caught the eye of the Emperor Hadrian. He was appointed by the Emperor to priesthood in the year 129 (just a year before the death of Antinous), and Hadrian also supervised his education, which was entrusted to the best professors of literature, rhetoric and philosophy of the time.

Marcus Aurelius discovered Stoicism by the time he was 11 and from his early twenties he deserted his other studies for philosophy. The Emperor Antoninus Pius, who succeeded Hadrian, adopted Marcus Aurelius as his son in 138.

Antoninus Pius treated Aurelius as a confidant and helper throughout his reign; Marcus Aurelius also married his daughter, Faustina, in 139. He was admitted to the Senate, and then twice the consulship. In 147 he shared tribunician power with Antoninus. During this time he began composition of his Meditations, which he wrote in Greek in army camps.

At the age of 40, in 161 Marcus Aurelius ascended the throne and shared his imperial power with his adopted brother Lucius Aurelius Verus. Useless and lazy, Verus was regarded as a kind of junior emperor; he died in 169. After Verus's death he ruled alone.

Most of his reign was spent fighting and negotiating with the Germanic barbarians who were steadily crowding around the borders of the Empire. Marcus was able to hold them back with a succession of victories and peace treaties. In 177 he made his son, Commodus, joint-Emperor, though Commodus had no interest in the responsibility, caring more for the gladiatorial sports, but Marcus, the philosopher- king, took no notice of his son's blood-lust, which was to later cost the Empire dearly.

For much of his reign, Marcus Aurelius had suffered from severe illness, but his calm devotion to stoic virtue gave him the strength to continue without rest and without his poor health interfering with his duties. While with the legions on the German frontier, Marcus Aurelius suddenly died on March 17th in the year 180AD.

His ashes were conveyed to Rome and placed in Hadrian's Mausoleum. Commodus assumed power and began the chain of tragic events that are said to have brought the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

For his wisdom, and strength, and because he was the last instrument of Hadrian's plan that brought so much glory, and prosperity to Rome, we venerate the deified Marcus Aurelius as a god of the Religion of Antinous.

An important feature of the philosophy was that everything will recur: the whole universe becomes fire and then repeats itself.

Constantly regard the universe as one living being, having one substance and one soul; and observe how all things have reference to one perception, the perception of this one living being; and how all things act with one movement; and how all things are the cooperating causes of all things which exist; observe too the continuous spinning of the thread and the contexture of the web. (from The Meditations)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

SPECTACULAR ROMAN CAVALRY HELMET
"COMES HOME" TO NORTHERN ENGLAND



A SPECTACULAR Roman helmet, which was unearthed near the Ancient Roman frontier in Cumbria northern England in 2010 and fetched more than £2 million at auction, has returned "home" to Cumbria to be displayed at Tullie House, Carlisle.

The private owner of the stunning piece of art, called the Crosby Garrett helmet for the place where it was found, finally consented to have the helmet placed on exhibit at Tullie House during the HADRIAN'S CAVALRY SHOW this spring.

It is just the third time the helmet has been on view to the public after it was previously part of a Royal Academy of Arts exhibition in London called "Bronze."

Hilary Wade, director of Tullie House Trust, said it was thanks to the generosity of the anonymous owner that the artefact could be returned to the county it had lain in for 2,000 years. 

"I’m so proud and delighted to have it here. It is an absolutely stunning piece. There's been so much interest in it over the years and people always ask about it and for us to be able put it on show is a fantastic opportunity," she said. "I think there will be a lot of interest and hope we will be getting a lot of visitors."

The rare cavalry helmet was found on farmland by an unemployed graduate in his 20s, using a metal detector with the landowner's consent.

The mask was found intact but the helmet was in 67 fragments and has been painstakingly restored by experts. The bronze ceremonial parade helmet has been hailed by experts as one of the great masterpieces of Roman metalwork.

Tim Padley, curator of archaeology at Tullie House, believes there are many more Roman artefacts to be unearthed in the Eden Valley, but the likes of the Crosby Garrett helmet would be a once-in-a-lifetime find.

He explained that although historians can never be certain why the helmet was found at Crosby Garrett, it was known to be good horse-rearing country, so that could be a link.

There are also people who believe it was captured from the Romans by the natives, but Mr. Padley felt it was more likely to have been a gift.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

CENTAUR MOSAIC AT HADRIAN's VILLA
OFFERS INSIGHTS INTO EMPEROR's MIND



THE FAMOUS Centaur Mosaic from the grand dining pavilion of Hadrian's Villa at Tibur has intrigued art historians for decades. The mosaic is on view at the Altes Museum in Berlin, along with stunning sculptures of Hadrian and Antinous. But few people have had the opportunity to view it up close with commentary by eminent art historians — until now!

This new video (below), with a running narration by Dr. Steven Zucker and Dr. Beth Harris, provides brilliant insights not only into the Roman interpretation of Greek art, but also into the subtle differences in the way that the Romans and the Greeks perceived their place in the cosmos.

One important point which Drs. Zucker and Harris do not make, however, is that Hadrian was called "The Lion Slayer" because the Emperor and Antinous killed a man-eating lion in Egypt in the summer of the year 130 AD — only weeks before the tragic death of Antinous. 

Another detail is that the centaur downed by the tiger is a female, presumably the mate of the centaur holding the boulder. It is unclear whether the downed mate is dead or only stunned and is about to be rescued — just as Hadrian rescued Antinous from the Egyptian lion in real life.

So Hadrian's dinner guests could look at the mosaic and interpret the bearded centaur as being a mythic aspect of the emperor himself — protecting the Empire from the beastly forces of chaos. Hadrian could also be equated with Chiron, with Antinous perhaps his tutor.

In Greek mythology, Chiron was one of the Titans, the greatest of the Centaurs. Chiron was the tutor to a great many gods and demigods, including Prometheus, Theseus, Achilles and Hercules, to name but a few.

Astrologically, Chiron represents a person's healing energies and, indeed, the word for "surgery" in many European languages (chirurgie in French and German, cirugya in Spanish, chirugia in Italian and Portuguese) comes directly from the Ancient Greek words for "Chiron Hands" — a healer with the skilled hands of the Titan Chiron.

Astrologically, the asteroid Chiron currently is in a highly fortuitous aspect to Pluto — an aspect of cosmic healing which will last on and off through September. Hadrian, who was obsessed with astrology himself, could hardly have looked at this mosaic without pondering cosmic implications.

Zucker and Harris, founders of Smarthistory, aptly point out that this mosaic — only a tiny fraction of the dining pavilion's mosaic — must have been a profound source of dinner conversation.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

THE LEAPING PRIESTS OF MARS
DANCED THROUGH THE STREETS IN MARCH


MARCH is the month dedicated to Mars, god of war and fertility. In Rome 24 young patrician men would be chosen to act as "Salii" dancers to get March off to a martial start. 

We wonder if Antinous was allowed to be one of the Salii. But at any rate, he would have watched in awe as this ancient Roman spectacle unfolded before his eyes on March 1.

The Salii were the "leaping priests" of Mars in Ancient Rome introduced by King Numa Pompilius: twelve pairs of patrician youths, dressed in outfits worn by archaic warriors. 

They wore an embroidered tunic, a breastplate, a red cloak (paludamentum), a sword, and a spiked headdress called an apex.

They carried the 12 bronze ancilia (shields).

These shields resembled a figure-of-eight, like Mycenaean shields. 

One of the shields was said to have fallen from heaven in the reign of King Numa, and eleven copies were made to protect the identity of the sacred shield, on the advice of the nymph Egeria, 'consort' of Numa, who prophesied that wherever that shield was preserved the people would be the dominant people of the earth.

On March 1 they would lead a procession through the city, singing, dancing and leaping high in the air as they clashed their swords or spears against their shields.

At night the Salii would congregate in the temple and feast in honour of Mars. Emperor Claudius is said to have left his own banquet and gone to join them as their food and wine was better than his own.

Monday, March 13, 2017

ARCHAEOLOGISTS AT ANTINOOPOLIS
MUST WAIT TO DIG OUT MYSTERY STRUCTURE



Archaeologists have wrapped up the most spectacular season of work in decades at ANTINOOPOLIS in Egypt, and say they will return in October to dig for an "intentionally buried stone structure" in the heart of the city founded by Hadrian at the spot where Antinous died in the Nile.

The archaeologists detected the structure with ground-penetrating radar in February and suggest it could be an OSIREION ... symbolic Tomb of Osiris ... raising hopes that this could be the Lost Tomb of Antinous.

But initial excavation failed to yield results ... results which will now have to wait until the archaeologists return for the 2017-18 season.

Other spectacular discoveries in the past few weeks include column capitals and a cornice stone with the name of Antinous inscribed in hieroglyphs.

The stones apparently come from a shrine to the Egyptian goddess Hathor ... not however the Great Temple of Antinous, as had been suggested initially.

The stones from the shrine are a mixture of Egyptian and Classical styles which enable the archaeologists to come up with an architectural rendering (image at top of this entry) showing what the shrine and its adjacent peristyle colonnade might have looked like.

Work will resume on these dig sites in October.

The great fear, however, is that local villagers might build houses on top of the site in the meantime ... since law-enforcement is lax in the region.

It is within what possibly was the Great Temple of Antinous and is a rectangular chamber which is subdivided into three sub-chambers ... apparently an antechamber, a middle chamber and an inner sanctum.

Writing in his first 2017 report, James B. Heidel, president of the Antinoupolis Foundation, says: "The clearest part of the results show a large stone structure which is about 12 x 22 meters in the form of a tripartite shrine."

He adds: "This simply means three rooms of the same size lined up at the end of an axis, and it is a common feature of Egyptian temples for thousands of years."

The ground-penetrating radar shows that the structure is covered by soil which was placed on top of it all at one time, not in layers which accumulated over time.

"This indicates that the structure was intentionally buried.  This is intriguing," the report continues, "because in ancient Egypt buildings known as Osireons were sometimes constructed (the most famous of which is the Osireion constructed by Seti I as part of his temple at Abydos) and were seen as model tombs of the god Osiris.  As model tombs these structures seem to have been intentionally buried," the archaeologists add.

"Since Antinoupolis is the cult city of the new Osiris, Osir-Antinous,  an Osireion would make sense as part of the urban ensemble," the archaeologists state. The structure, whatever it may be, is still covered by two meters of intentional fill.

As a final exciting detail, the stone tripartite structure and the arrangement of the surrounding walls indicate an axis which would not only correspond to the grid of the Ramses II temple, but an axis which would enter that temple in the middle of the side of the "hypostyle hall," which is the hall of columns between the back shrines of the temple and the court at the temple's entry.

"This axis is a normal place for the main side entrance into an Egyptian temple precinct," the report goes on. 

"And it appears that this structure, if built by Hadrian, was intended by his designers to be an extension of the Ramses II temple complex."

The team also found what appears to be a grand stairway in the center of a large temple dedicated to Antinous-Osiris and a large harborside peristyle court ... waterfront structures which were found in the previous season.
Finding the exact location of the ancient waterfront is important since it may indicate the site at which Antinous died.

We know that Emperor Hadrian commanded that a sacred city be founded at the location where Antinous drowned in the Nile.

We also know from an ancient papyrus that an impressive quayside port facility was constructed at or near that site.

Using ground-penetrating radar (GPR), archaeologists found a large  square compound of paving stones bordered by columns ... which could mark the site where Antinous drowned.

Heidel, president of the Antinoupolis Foundation, says the discoveries in the past two years at the site have exceeded all expectations.

Finds include ornate capitals which once adorned colossal columns.

Heidel also says LOOTING has abated somewhat following a return to a semblance of stability in Egypt.

Since the revolution in Egypt, which resulted in runaway lawlessness, the site has been subject t"SYSTEMATIC LOOTING" for three years. 

The scope of looting diminished in recent months, although local villagers still search for "trinkets" to sell on the black market, he writes.

Heidel says his archaeologists working at Antinoopolis (also known as Antinoe) say local villagers continue to encroach on the dig site ... ostensibly to create new space for housing and graves.

However, it is an ages-old practice in Egypt for villagers to build houses over places where they can "accidentally" unearth ancient treasures by digging tunnels under their homes. And excavation of new graves can "accidentally" reveal more ancient treasures.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

DID ANTINOUS SEE THIS HUGE STATUE?
AND WHO BROKE IT INTO PIECES?



THE discovery of the colossal statue of PSAMTIK I in Heliopolis/Cairo ... which may have been seen by Antinous in 130 AD ... made headlines around the world this week … but spawned controversy when photos showed archaeologists using a backhoe loader to remove broken pieces of the statue from a muddy hole.

Some critics went as far as to accuse the archaeologists of breaking the statue, and others have accused the mission as well as the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities of neglect.

But world-renowned archaeologist and former Minister of Antiquities, Dr. Zahi Hawass, has issued a statement defending the whole operation at Souq Al-Khamis in Cairo, saying it was necessary and that the statue was broken by ancient Christians … not by the modern archaeologists.


"Souq Al- Khamis is a very important archaeological site where I personally have done excavation work and at which we found the remains of the temples of King Akhenaten and King Thutmose III and Ramses II.

"The area suffers from ​​a very big problem which is that all the houses and modern buildings are built over the remains of temples and ancient tombs. Additionally, most of the artefacts there, whether statues or temples, are found below the ground water ranging from two to four meters deep.

"It is difficult to transfer the artefacts from below the groundwater to the ground surface. In the past, I had discovered two tombs, one of which was located below the ground water as well.

"I would like to confirm that out of all the artefacts and statues that were found in the area, none has ever been found complete," Hawass added.


"These statuses were destroyed and broken during the Christian Coptic era. This was a time where the Copts considered them as pagan buildings and temples.

"In accordance to that, they had them closed off, destroyed all of the statues and temples as well as re-used the blocks in buildings churches, houses and private buildings. Accordingly, there has never been the discovery of a complete statue in this area," Hawass asserted.

He added that he had also contacted the German archeologist Dietrich Raue, director of the German excavation, in order to assess the discovery. He received video documentation and photographs showing the removal and transport of the statue fragments.


"I would also like to clarify that the process of transporting any statue of a large size, such as the discovered statue here, was assisted by heads of workers from the city of Qeft," Hawass said.

"They are trained to the highest level for transporting heavy statues such as through the example having done this work in Saqqara with the El Kereti family..

"The workers transported various statues and sarcophagi, some of which weighing 20 tons. As to what occurred during the Coptic Era, the discovered statue in Mataria was broken to various pieces," Hawass concluded.


Initially, the colossal statue was thought to be Ramses II, but an inscription revealed it was Psamtik I.

The big question for us is whether Antinous and Hadrian saw this colossal statue when they visited Egypt in 130 AD.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

THE ASSASSINATION OF ELAGABALUS
ROME'S TRANSGENDER TEEN EMPEROR



ON March 11th the Religion of Antinous solemnly commemorates the assassination of Elagabalus, Rome's transgender teen emperor.

Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus was born on an unknown date in the winter of 204 AD in the city of Emesa in Syria.

His birth name was Varius Avitus Bassianus, and he is believed to have been the son of Caracalla, for which reason he was declared Emperor by the Legions of Syria during an uprising against the short-lived Emperor Macrinus who had assassinated Caracalla and taken the throne.

Varius Bassianus was only 14 years old when he became sole ruler of the Roman Empire and took the name of Antoninus. He was the last Emperor to bear the sacred name of the most glorious rulers of the world, the Antonines. He is known to history as Elagabalus, because he was from birth the high priest(ess) of the androgynous sun deity Elagabal.

He brought his strange, phallic religion to Rome, and very shortly began to impose Elagabal, going so far as to nullify all other cults and force the Romans to accept his one god. It is even claimed that he closed and demolished the temple of Antinous at Tibur and perhaps others, but this is rumor.

What Elagabalus is famous for is that he was an extreme homosexual phallus worshipper with an insatiable fondness for chariot racers who he often elevated to the highest positions of authority simply based on the size and grace of their penises. He is criticized by ancient historians for portraying himself as Venus on Mount Ida, and allowing himself to be sodomized on stage by his chariot racers in the roles of various gods in full view of an audience.


History is slanted by anti-tranny prejudice. Elagabalus is recorded as having been one of the most infamous and degenerate figures in Roman history. 

This despite the fact that he was not particularly cruel or demonstrably mad. He simply offended the sensibilities of later historians ... particularly Victorian historians who were appalled by the fact that a trans teen had been acclaimed emperor of Rome.

Elagabalus, devoted to the androgynous god Elagabal, made it his priority as emperor to demote all others gods and goddesses to the position of servants to the principal deity. A black stone phallic representation of the god was processed through the streets of Rome to the temple annually.

Many of the sacred symbols of other religions were moved to the temple of Elagabal, including those of Jews and Christians. To persuade followers of other deities to worship Elagabal, the emperor participated in the rituals of several other religions. On a daily basis animal sacrifices were performed, consistent with the practices of many of the religions.

Victorian historians record Elagabalus' life as scandalous, yet an examination of their remarks reveal a troubled trans youth struggling with his identity.

"Not only was he bi-sexual, but also a transvestite. He would go to the taverns at night wearing a wig, woman's clothes and makeup and ply the trade of a prostitute. This activity only ended when he met Hierocles, a Carian slave, and became his wife. Hierocles was even permitted to beat the emperor when displeased, as any man might beat his wife. Even more scandalous Elagabalus not only acted and dressed like a woman, but he wanted to be physically transformed into one. He asked his physicians to contrive a vagina for him, promising huge rewards for success."

In other words, he was a transgender teenager who had the power and money at his disposal to create the gender-bending reality he desired to live in.

At the age of 14, in 218, Elagabaltus, a zealous believer, declared a religious initiative giving Elagabal precedence over all other gods, even Jupiter himself.


The god was also to have a consort. Pallas Athena was the first choice, a goddess tended by the Vestal Virgins. As part of his strategy Avitus married one of the vestals. When Romans balked at the violation of a vestal virgin, however, he opted for the symbolic marriage with Urania, a moon goddess.

His attempt to unify Rome under one religion met with strong resistance and did nothing to moderate his unpopularity. In the very year that Elagabalus became emperor the Third Legion, which had placed him in office, attempted to replace him with Verus, their commander. The attempt failed. Over time, subsequent attempts by the Fourth Legion, by the fleet, and by a pretender named Seleucus also failed.

But as unpopular as he was with the nobility and commanders of the Legions, he was not at all unpopular with the plebs, upon whom he lavished gifts and games. As emperor he had a Temple built to Elagabal, restored the Flavian Amphitheatre (the Colosseum) that had been damaged by fire and completed the construction of the public baths of Caracalla in the Vicus Sulplicius. He also had built a palace complex, the Horti Variani, with an amphitheatre, a circus, a bath, and audience hall.

His most famous projects, however, were the temple of Elagabal (the Elagaballium) on the Palatine hill and another such temple on the southeastern edge of the city. From these temples the emperor delivered largesse to crowds that gathered below.

None of his works, or gifts to the people, were sufficient to offset his reputation among the elite, tarnished by his promiscuous behavior with men and women. Regardless, provided with almost absolute power one wonders, wouldn't most teenage boys be self- indulgent? Many of the adult emperors did no less.

Many legends have arisen about the decadent lifestyle of Elagabalus, including the tall tale that one of his palace orgies was the scene of an inadvertent massacre when so many flower petals were showered upon the banquet guests that dozens of people suffocated to death as they reclined on their couches. 


A colossal, wall-sized painting of this scene by Lawrence Alma-Tadema shocked and titillated Victorian  viewers.

As the young emperor's popularity dwindled his mother, Julia Soaemias, and other supporters recognized that the royal family was in danger of their lives. Rome had a tradition of murdering unpopular emperors, and sometimes their adherents as well.

In hopes of rescuing the regime his close family and supporters induced Elagabalus to adopt his cousin Bassianus Alexianus, a young man popular with the praetorian guard, and name him Caesar, heir to the throne.

The scheme backfired in that Julia Mamaea, Alexianus's mother, was as ambitious as Julia Soaemias and desired to see her son emperor as quickly as possible. Mamaea, playing on the praetorian guard's contempt for Elagabalus entreated for the assassination of Elagabalus. Soaemias, discovering the adoption had created greater danger not less, urged Elagabalus to have his cousin killed lest he himself be murdered. However, no one would obey the order.

Here is where we catch up with Julia Soaemias and Elagabalus:

"Mother," spoke the young emperor, 17 years old, the glow of childhood still reflected in his eyes, "they don't understand what I want to accomplish. If they did, they wouldn't hate me."

"Child," replied Julia Soaemias, "they have more than one reason to hate you. You're obsessed with being a woman and you flaunt Roman tradition. You seek to bring down their gods and make them slaves to Elagabal. Elagabal knows I worship him as much as you, but he wants not that we place him above other gods."

"I will go to the praetorian camp and entreat with them, explain what I intend. Surely they will listen. A single god for all Rome would unify us as naught else might. Our former glory would be restored and Rome would endure forever. I will go. I will go now! The armies must be made to understand," declared the emperor, rising from his throne even as he spoke.

"If you go to the guard they are as likely to kill you as listen to you," admonished his mother.

"That is a chance I must take," he retorted, "Rome is more important than my life."

At the praetorian camp:

"All hail Nellie Ellie," sarcastically called a guardsman upon the approach of the emperor.

"Run, fear for your manhood, she comes to drain us dry," screamed another voice.

Other guardsmen laughed and joined in, a little nervously at first, after all this was the emperor of Rome, but with growing enthusiasm. 


Stepping down from his chariot Elagabalus, dressed as a woman, his wig meticulously styled and his makeup artfully done, spoke in a loud voice, "I have come to discuss with you the fate of Rome." 

His mother, having accompanied him stepped down beside him, on her countenance fear was plainly written. She had a bad feeling about what could happen that night and the crowd of soldiers mocking and jeering did nothing to lessen that fear.

"Alexianus would have me murdered and restore the old gods, the many religions which kept Romans apart. I have dedicated my rule to bringing our great nation together under one god, you must see the wisdom in such a venture," he called out in a loud voice, ignoring the insults and belittling remarks.

"Wisdom from a boy whore," yelled out a disgruntled soldier, "Drunk one night, boy, I had you. Was that your wisdom, Nellie Ellie?" The crowd laughed uproariously.


"I am the priestess of Elagabal. It is my place to be among my people, to suffer the worst and the best at your hands. I am also your emperor and I command you to kill my rival, Alexianus," he ordered.

His mother leaned forward and whispered in his ear, "Tread softly my son, their temper is not to be trifled with. I like not their mood."

"You have had my spear once, priestess," venomously spat a soldier near the front of those gathered. "Now have another!" As the soldier uttered the words he hurled a spear. It landed to one side, but came perilously close to hitting Elagabalus.

"I want nothing but the betterment of Rome," shouted Avitus, taking his mother by the arm and retreating to his chariot. Too late he took the reins of his spirited horses, the soldiers had already surrounded his chariot and taken control.

"You will agree to abdicate in favor of Alexianus before you leave this night, or you shall not leave," spoke up the closest of his adversaries. The army heard the words and began to chant, "Alexianus, Alexianus, Alexianus."

Enraged the youthful emperor screamed, "I am emperor. It is I who know what is best for Rome. Not you traitors. Now, let go of my horses!" With his whip he struck at the face of the nearest soldier, landing a vicious blow that brought blood.

The soldier in turn pulled Elagabalus from the chariot and stabbed him. Others joined in. The last thing Elagabalus saw before he died was the soldiers pulling his mother from the chariot,"Let my mother be," he tried to yell, but only a whisper passed his lips.


So ended the reign of the trans teenage Varius Avitus Bassinus, having ruled Rome for but four years. 

He had been the first emperor to attempt to unify Rome under one god. 

His gender variance, his sexual escapades while frowned on but tolerated had destroyed his credibility. After the murders, his body and that of his mother's, were dragged naked through the streets of Rome.

Finally, beheaded, both bodies were thrown into the Tiber, the punishment for convicted criminals.


Elagabalus reigned only four years, and was 18 years old when he was murdered, the same age as Antinous.

Though his character is condemned as perverse, the open phallicism that he imposed upon Rome, and the dramatic exhibition of his homosexuality warrant his deification.