THE SCENT OF ANTINOUS
By Antonyus Subia
WHAT fragrance or scent do I associate with Antinous?
I am very serious about scents...they have always held a very mystical hold over me, ever since I was a small child. I get this from my father. He has an extremely sensitive nose...annoyingly sensitive nose.
He would walk around the house sniffing the air...looking for "that smell!" foul odors were not allowed...and he had very little tolerance for perfumes...which is probably why I am so fascinated by aromas now...because my father made me keenly aware of them, and also because there was a whole world of fragrances that were not permitted when I was growing up...like pungent colognes.
One of the very best things that struck about Rome was how all the Roman boys literally drowned themselves in rich, stinky colognes...the good stuff. You would be walking down the street and suddenly stray into a cloud of amazing aroma...and then you would see him...a hot young Roman...you could literally smell them coming.
Or you would stand at the door waiting to use the restroom and could smell the beautiful scent of the boy who was standing there before you, and then the door would open and even more of it would overwhelm you as he passed. I loved it...it was very powerful...far more striking and ever-present than any other city I have been in...which only seems appropriate.
Rome had a wonderful over-all aroma...you could smell the ancient bricks. We were lucky/unlucky enough to be there when it would suddenly down pour just for a moment once or twice a day...so the aroma of antiquity was released into the air everywhere we went.
The smell of the Tiber was wonderful...it smelled like any other river...but I haven't been close to rich, fragrant river such as that for a long time.
Hadrian's villa reminded almost exactly of Southern California...it looked like the outskirts of Los Angeles...Tivoli in the distance looked like the San Gabriel Mountains...the smell was of cypress and olive and sandy soil.
Rome was a wonderfully aromatic city...and let me tell you about the gay festival we went to in the far south part of the city...that was a garden of beautiful young gay boys...all of them in their 20's, and all of them super hot...and all of them covered in a whole spectrum of different powerful colognes. It was quite an experience...I kept finding myself taking deep, deep inhalations in order to set the aromas firmly into my subconscious...so that I can draw upon them later.
What would Antinous smell like?
Well first of all, let's keep in mind that he never used deodorant...so his primary smell was his natural body smell.
Now of course we can be sure that he took a long, formal Roman bath every day with scented oils and everything...
And one thing I have learned about taking long super hot baths with olive oil is that the hot water and the oil are effectively antibacterial, which cuts down on body odor tremendously.
I don't have a problem with foot odor and I can go for longer periods without bathing than I used to before I started taking Roman style baths on a regular basis...so I know that Antinous didn't smell absolutely horrible...he may have had a smell, but it probably wasn't offensive.
His body odor may have even been part of his powerful allure. It's not very common, but there is always the possibility that Antinous had a particular scent that was all his own...a smell that struck and seduced Hadrian beyond merely the sight of his beautiful Antinous.
I am actually sure of it...there had to have been a scent involved..and it had to have been a particular Smell of Antinous...a beautiful fragrance of Antinous-sweat that clung to Hadrian..an alluring aroma on Hadrian's fingers tips that persisted for days, even after a bath...that made it impossible to forget the beautiful Bithynian boy. I am sure the scent had as much to do with the deification as anything else.
The smell of the lover is very important..tough in our society...we place very little emphasis on scent as an important awareness...but the reality is that scent is as clear and as strong and as ever present as touch or sight...or rather I should say that, because as humans, our sense of smell is not as much a part of communication, we regard it as a lesser sense than sight or hearing...we don't have the symphony of smell that dogs have...but we do still have a very powerful sense of smell.
Given the right circumstances we could probably distinguish one person from another based on smell. I would also say that there must be a reason why primates seem to be far more smelly than other animals generally. An unwashed dog smells, but he doesn't make you sick to your stomach. An unwashed horse stinks, an unwashed goat stinks...but if you have ever had the smell of a goat on your hands..it's not a bad smell..its kind of a good smell. Monkeys smell bad..but only so bad...
The worst smell is the smell of unwashed human...the smell of a homeless...the smell of human urine, feces, sweat, and body odor all combined...the worst smell in the universe...and yet...probably the predominant smell that human beings have experienced since the dawn of our species.
I recently saw a crazy homeless guy on Sunset Blvd...and noticed that the coloring of the homeless...the greasy-dusty brown color that covers their bodies from head to toe...this is the coloring that covered all of mankind for thousands and thousands of years. For thousands of years, people looked like and smelled liked homeless people.
This is why Romans felt so superior to the barbarians, because they took baths everyday..and weren't covered with the look and smell of homeless people. Antinous was not from a Barbarian tribe...the Bithynians had become civilized long, long before the Romans...so when Antinous came to Rome...he was already accustomed to Roman cleanliness.
But so when he went to the bath house, what were the scents that they covered him with? Hernestus and I visited Hadrian's villa, we looked upon the bath house that Antinous very likely bathed in..it was for me a very powerful experience.
I would want Antinous to smell like the sacred oil that I prepared in his name,
Which is a combination of Lotus, Narcissus, Frankincense, and Patchouli
As strong and powerful as this scent is,
I know that Antinous would want more,
the very best and finest to fill his balsamaria.
My current favorite smell for Antinous is BLEU DE CHANEL...a vulgar, pungent boy scent
Last year it was OAK from Bath & Body Works,
The new scent is the same as last year's only better.
I wish that Antinous could smell like Bleu de Chanel