IMAGINE the sights and smells of the Roman port of Ostia on this sweltering day in August 128 AD when Emperor Hadrian and Antinous and their enormous Imperial entourage boarded a veritable fleet of vessels on the first leg of their three-year tour of the Eastern Empire.
The Imperial Navy had gathered at the port of Ostia to escort Hadrian and the court across the sea to Greece.
Ostia was the port city through which all trade bound for Rome passed. Sea going vessels were unloaded and their cargo was transferred to the riverboats that fed the ravenous gluttony of Rome.
The patron god of Ostia was Vulcan, the smith god, seconded by Mercury who watched over the trade business. Vulcan was the son of Zeus and Hera, and he characterizes the molten earth fire of volcanoes.
The tremendous power of Vulcan made him a suitable husband for Venus. But their love, though constructive and passionate, was volatile and unpleasant.
Venus was constantly betraying the adoration and fidelity of her husband with countless lovers, especially with Mars.
But the love of Vulcan for his beautiful wife was greater than jealousy and he forgave her countless indiscretions.
It is into Vulcan's hands, as intercessor and placator of Venus, that the hopes of the Imperial Navy rest as they depart from Italy.
We pray to Vulcan, Mercury, Neptune and to Venus, Our Lady of the Sea, as Antinous journeys forth across the sea.