ANTINOUS worshipers on both sides of the Atlantic tonight celebrated the Lupercalia.
Taking part via Zoom were priests and worshippers from across the United States and Europe. They watched and participated as Flamen Antonius Subia officiated at ceremonies held in the Hollywood Temple of Antinous.
Hadrian and Antinous would not have known the precise origins of the Lupercalia ... the ancient rite of spring when young nobles stripped off naked except for fur pelts and ran around the Palatine Hill flinging rawhide strips at females.
But Antinous might well have visited the cave-like grotto ... the Lupercale ... at the foot of the Palatine Hill.
The cave-like structure was found a few years ago and experts are carrying out an extensive archaeological dig at a site which they believe is the ceremonial site of the Lupercale grotto where the caesars honored Romulus and Remus.
It is intriguing to think that Hadrian and Antinous took part in the rites in this subterranean chamber.
For centuries, the cave-like grotto was revered as the sacred site where the "She-Wolf" suckled the orphans Romulus and Remus. Young nobles called Luperci, taking their name from the place of the wolf (lupa), ran naked from the Lupercale grotto around the bounds of the Palatine, and used strips of hide to slap the hands or buttocks of girls and women lining the route ... reenacting a prank attributed to Romulus and Remus as randy teenagers.
Here is how Flamen Antonius Subia explains its significance for the Religion of Antinous:
"The Lupercalia is the festival of the wolf mother of Rome, and sacred festival of Antinous Master of Hounds.
"The Lupercalia remembers the she-wolf who raised Romulus and Remus, twin sons of Venus and Mars, who later founded the city of Rome.
"The wolf-like nature of the twins and of the Roman character was imparted through the milk of the wolf-mother.
"The spirit transferred through the loving milk of the ferocious mother is celebrated on this day, and is integral to the concept of Antinous the Hunter.
"Antinous took his place at Hadrian's feet, and accompanied him bravely and loyally through the forests and lived by the Emperor's side for seven years, which is equivalent to the life of a strong hunting dog."
In conclusion, Antonius says:
"The Canine nature of Antinous is celebrated on this day and is seen as an allegory for the Priesthood of the Religion of Antinous.
"This is a time of renewal and restoration, a time to set new forces loose in our lives, and let go of old faded energies.
May Antinous flood our hearts with his power and presence and may the gods be with us!
Ave Antinous et Roma"