Saturday, November 23, 2019

M/M: The Death of Antinous, Beloved of Hadrian, Cassius Dio Epit. LXIX.11

Postquam venit in Graeciam, inspexit mysteria: quumque postea per Iudaeam in Aegyptum venisset, parentavit Pompeio, de quo hunc versum profudisse fertur:

Pene caret tumulo cui tot modo templa fuerunt:

sepulchrumque eius collapsum restituit. In Aegypto quoque civitatem instauravit Antinoi nomine. Erat Antinous ortus Bithynio, civitare Bithyniae, quam civitatem etiam Claudiopolin appellamus. Hic Antinous quum in deliciis eius fuisset, in Aegypto mortuus est: sive quod in Nilum ceciderit, ut Hadrianus scribit; sive quod immolatus fuerit, uti veritas habet. Nam quum Hadrianus maxime curiosus esset, ut supra dixi, tum vero divinationibus utebatur, et magiciis artibus cuiusvis generis. Itaque Antinoum, vel ob amorem ipsius, vel quod voluntariam mortem subierat, (Nam Hadriano ad ea, quae parabat, opus erat anima voluntaria) tanto honore affecit; ut urbem in eo loco, in quo ille obiisset, colonis adductis conditam, ex eo nominari voluerit; statuasque ei, el potius simulacra, in omni fere orbe terrarum dedicaverit. Denique tum ipse quoddam se videre sidus aiebat, quod esset Antinoi; tum familiares idem fabulose fingentes libenter audiebat, quasi scilicet ex Antinoi anima vere sidus istud exortum esset, ac tun primum adparuisset. 

--Cassius Dio, Epit. XLIX.11, translated from the Greek by Hermann Samuel Reimarus, 1752


Later, [the Roman Emperor Hadrian] went to Greece and participated in the Eleusinian Mysteries.
Afterwards, he traveled through Judaea and went to Egypt, where he honored Pompey the Great, and is said to have composed the following verse about it:

"The one who is honored with so many temples nearly lacks a tomb."

The Emperor then restored the great statesman's tomb which had fallen into disrepair.

In Egypt, the emperor founded a settlement named after Antinous. Antinous was born in Bithynium, a city in Bithynia that is also named Claudiopolis. Antinous was the Emperor's delight [in deliciis]; he died in Egypt.  He either "fell into the Nile," as the Emperor states, or he was ritually sacrificed, as is considered the truth. For as I have previously mentioned, Hadrian was by nature a curious man, and what is more, he was obsessed with divination and all sorts of magic arts. And so, either because of the emperor's love for him, or to honor the lad's sacrifice [for the ritual required a soul willing to die on the emperor's behalf], Hadrian honored Antinous by creating a city in the place where he died, and bringing settlers to live there. He also placed statues (or rather, cult statues) of the lad in nearly every corner of the Empire. Finally, he even claimed to see a comet which was Antinous reborn, and listened desperately to his cronies who made up stories claiming that the heavenly object was Antinous' soul rising into the heavens, and that the comet had never previously appeared.


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