Wednesday, April 23, 2014

HADRIAN AND GREECE MEET AGAIN
AT ITALY'S VILLA ADRIANA



HADRIAN loved all things Greek ... especially Antinous ... and he would love the current exhibition at his beloved Villa east of Rome.

Over fifty masterpieces showing the deep relationship between the Emperor and Greece are on exhibit now through November 2 at Tivoli's Villa Adriana. 

The event is hosted in the villa’s Antiquarium del Canopo, the same venue for the first-ever exhibition of Antinous art at Hadrian's Villa in 2012.

The exhibited items, some of which have never left Greece before, are loans from museums in Athens, Marathon, Piraeus, Corinth and Loukou.

The exhibition is titled "Hadrian and Greece ... Villa Adriana amid classicism and Hellenism" and curated by Elena Calandra and Benedetta Adembri.

"Hadrian studied there – in Greece – and went back for long periods as an adult," says Ms. Calandra. 

"Before receiving the imperial crown he became archon and established himself in Athens, making a sort of capital and base for trips to the East,” she continues.


Hadrian is a very significant figure in Greece as well, where he is considered a visionary emperor who loved Athens. 

He is known for the architectural masterpieces he built in the Greek capital, such as the arch of Hadrian the library and the aqueduct.

This event aims to highlight the longevity of Greek culture, and Hadrian's connection to both classicism and Hellenism as well as the decorations and landscapes of the villa.

Masterpieces travelling from Greece to be exhibited in Villa Adriana include Corinth's caryatids, Hadrian’s head from Athens, statues of philosophers and the head of Herod Atticus, who was friends with the emperor, and Antinous from Patras shown above.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

NEW FINDS SHOW ROMAN PORT OF OSTIA
"RUINS EVEN BIGGER THAN POMPEII"



A "new" part of the ancient Roman port of Ostia Antica has been discovered which makes the well-preserved city even larger than Pompeii, according to British archaeologists who unearthed it.

The discovery reveals streets and neighborhoods which Antinous and Hadrian no doubt saw when leaving or arriving Rome's biggest port city on their voyages to far-flung Roman provinces.

The new discovery means the fanciful modern illustration above in the style of Roman frescoes will have to be modified to cover a much larger area.

The team of British archaeologists has discovered a building twice the size of a football field, a boundary wall and large defensive towers under fields near Rome airport ... making the area 35 per cent larger than previously thought.

Often overlooked by visitors heading for Pompeii, Ostia is the second best-preserved ancient Roman town, with streets, houses and an amphitheatre on the banks of the Tiber River.

The discovery, by experts from the universities of Southampton and Cambridge, teamed with the British School at Rome and Italian archaeologists, has been made on the other side of the Tiber, proving the river did not border the town, but ran through it, splitting Ostia Antica in two.

"The work shows that Ostia Antica was 35 percent larger than we believed, including buildings from the second and 3rd Century AD which were built as a consequence of the enlargement of Portus by the emperor Trajan, which meant more ships were arriving," says Simon Keay, from the University of Southampton. 

"It shows Rome was importing significantly more food through the port than we thought," he adds.

It also sheds light on how important Ostia was to trade in the first 200 years of the millennium, said Mariarosaria Barbera, superintendent of Rome’s archaeological heritage.

Monday, April 21, 2014

THE EROTICON
WHEN ANTINOUS HUNTS A BEAR



ON April 21, as the Sun moves into the Sign of Taurus the Bull, we celebrate the ancient festival of THE EROTICON.

On this day we honor the great God of Love, Eros-Cupid, in his guise as Antinous-Phanes, the "radiant being of light who emerges from the egg of night". 


We also honor the Great God Priapus the divine phallus, the column of male virility, the bestower of the fertility of fields, vineyards, orchards and gardens. Priapus is the axis of the cosmos.

On this date we also commemorate the founding of the city of Rome, Natalis Urbis, personified by the Romans as Our Lady Roma. We celebrate the consecration of her sacred border, and of her birth, and eternal life, and remember that we are her children.

And also on this date we remember the Sacred Bear Hunt. While in Mysia in Asia Minor, in the year 129, the court engaged in a Bear Hunt near the city which Hadrian had founded (on an earlier trip) called Hadrianotherae, "Hadrian's hunting ground". It is the modern-day city of Balikesir in a lovely area of wooded forests and lakes in northwestern Turkey.

Hadrian loved animals and is known to have built tombs for his dogs and horses (according to Royston Lambert) and he loved to hunt. The Bear is the sacred animal of Diana-Artemis, and symbolizes the solitary, forest-roaming character of the Virgin Huntress. In the ferocity of the bear lies the secret of Diana's power, against which Hadrian and Antinous pitted themselves, as shown on the tondo from the Arch of Constantine.

The grand themes of the Eroticon are Love and Sex and Ferocious Anger. The Beast is always lurking inside of us. The mystery teaching surrounding the Bear Hunt involves getting to know your animal instincts -- sex and lust and rage -- and to become one with them and to turn them into powerful allies for your spiritual development.

Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia has expressed this mystical mystery meaning as follows:

"Antinous, under Hadrian's guidance, was an accomplished hunter, indeed it is perhaps his natural skill and bravery in the chase that elevated him to the absolute love and adoration of Hadrian. The Emperor was madly in love with hunters, and Antinous was one of the best. Antinous had perhaps been silently stalking and hunting the Emperor's favor for quite some time, and now, in Asia, in the sacred Hunting Grounds of Hadrian, Antinous closed in on the heart of his prey and captured the Emperor completely. In our commemoration of the Sacred Bear Hunt we recognize that Artemis and Antinous are twin deities, and we seek the Dianic-Artemis-Bear within ourselves."

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A MUMMIFIED BABOON LEADS EXPERTS
TO THE LOCATION OF THE LAND OF PUNT



A mummified baboon has led Egyptologists to the location of the fabled "Land of Punt" ... source of gold, frankincense, myrrh, ivory and baboons for the Ancient Egyptians.

Hatshepsut famously sent an expedition to "Punt" to return with rare animals, ivory, Puntite dignitaries and even entire frankincense trees in pots for replanting in her gardens, as shown in this illustration.

To the Egyptians, Punt was a place of fragrances, giraffes, electrum and other exotic goods, and was 
sometimes referred to as Ta-netjer, or "God’s land" ... no further explanation was needed for them.

Until now, however, experts did not know the exact location of "Punt" ... because, while Egyptian art shows expeditions to Punt in tantalizing detail, the Egyptians apparently assumed everybody would know where it was located ... which was true 3,300 years ago ... but not today.

Now, forensic scientific analysis of a mummified baboon in the British Museum shows Punt was located in what would now be eastern Ethiopia and all of Eritrea.


Analysis of a mummified baboon in the British Museum has revealed the location of the land of Punt as the area between Ethiopia and Eritrea. 

Live baboons were among the goods that we know the Egyptians got from Punt. 

The research team included Professor Salima Ikram from the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, and Professor Nathaniel Dominy and graduate student Gillian Leigh Moritz, both from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Working on the baboon discovered in the Valley of the Kings, the researchers compared the oxygen isotope values in the ancient baboons to those found in their modern day brethren. 

Although isotope values in baboons in Somalia, Yemen and Mozambique did not match, those in Eritrea and Eastern Ethiopia were closely matched.

"All of our specimens in Eritrea and a certain number of our specimens from Ethiopia – that are basically due west from Eritrea – those are good matches," said Professor Dominy.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

NICANTINOUS AND DEMETRIUS
WRESTLERS AT THE GAMES OF ANTINOUS


TWO names have surfaced of athletes who took part in the famous Games of Antinous in the mid-3rd Century AD ... two teenage wrestlers named Nicantinous and Demetrius.

The modern priests of Antinous rejoice at the discovery by pure chance of their names ... on a crumbling papyrus which had been found 100 years ago but which only now has been translated.

These two youths were rivals in life. The faced each other in a championship match in honor of Antinous.

And the bittersweet irony of it all is that their names were recorded for posterity because they cheated! They names are bound together for all eternity as if in a vice-like wrestler's grip ... because their managers rigged the match.

The remarkable thing is how few names have survived to this day. We know the names of only a handful of Ancient Priests of Antinous ... and even fewer names of his worshipers. 

We know for example that a man called Serapammon commissioned the priests to cast a love spell to win the heart of a woman he adored.

The Games of Antinous, formally called the Great Antinoeia, were held every four years in Antinoopolis which was founded by Emperor Hadrian on the site along the Nile where his beloved Antinous had died in 130 AD. The Games flourished for hundreds of years, but no record had ever been found listing any names connected with the Games.


Until now ... and now a papyrus document has been deciphered which lists two boy wrestlers who took part in the final wrestling championship match in at the 138th Great Antinoeia in the year 267 AD.

Ironically, the papyrus is a contract signed by trainers of the two boys to rig their match so that Nicantinous would win ... and Demetrius would be paid off to lose.

Details of this contract came to light this past week as the Modern Priests of Antinous were making plans for the 2014 Games of Antinous which will be held in August.

We shall never know who Nicantinous and Demetrius were during their lifetimes. Now, of course, they will be forever linked together ... grappling to the end of time ... bound together forever in connection with scandal and corruption involving the Games of Antinous.


We Modern Priests believe it is immaterial whether they were scoundrels or whether they were innocent pawns in the hands of unscrupulous agents ... they were boys in a big-time sport firmly in the hands of quick-talking professionals.

Let us honor both Demetrius and Nicantinous. Presumably Nicantinous won his medals and his prizes and his lifetime pension. But he paid a heavy price. 

Apparently, the bribery contract came to light, for it was found filed away at the Great Library in Oxyrhynchos Egypt. Presumably, a court case ensued.

Perhaps both youths were forced to stand trial. And even if their secret never came to light during their lifetimes, they lived with it and faced the threat of blackmail all their lives.

We think there is great Homotheosis in the image of Nicantinous and Demetrius wrestling in an "unfair" match in which the "winner" is the "loser" and the "loser" possibly should have been the "winner". 

And we are convinced that this ill-fated wrestling match is a metaphor for the way most gay people "wrestle" with spirituality in a homophobic society. We wrestle against religion.

Let us, as Priests of Antinous, acknowledge both the triumph and the humiliation of both Demetrius (who should have won) and Nicantinous (who unfairly won). 

May their names shine as a beacon to all generations of Antinoians … illuminating our way along the narrow path between triumph and folly. 

May we embrace Nicantinous and admire the gold medal hanging round his neck ... may we kiss the gold medal ... may we embrace Nicantinous and take him to our hearts ... for he is us ... and we are him.

And may we embrace Demetrius in the same spirit of forgiveness and compassion for a youthful transgression …which happened long ago … and which now taints his name for all time.

In the Religion of ANTINOUS THE GAY GOD, we do not wrestle against the divine spirit of gay sexuality ... we become one with it ... HOMOTHEOSIS ... Gay-Man-Godliness-Becoming-The-Same ... Demetrius and Nicantinous are two aspects of a gay person's "struggle" with religion. Both are inseparable ... both are victors ... both are the vanquished ... and in the end they merge into one single spiritual entity ... spiritually inseparable.

Images: The Wrestlers (also known as The Two WrestlersThe Uffizi Wrestlers or The Pancrastinae) is a Roman marble sculpture after a lost Greek original of the 3rd Century BC It is now in the Uffizi collection in Florence, Italy.

Friday, April 18, 2014

WRESTLING MATCH AT GAMES OF ANTINOUS
WAS RIGGED, PAPYRUS CONTRACT SHOWS


EXPERTS have deciphered a contract from the famous Games of Antinous in Egypt which ensured that the loser of a rigged wrestling match would at least walk away with his bribe ... rather than walking away empty-handed if he failed to win honestly.

The very odd document seems to raise more questions than it answers ... but it sheds new light on the most famous competition held at Antinoopolis every four years honoring the death and deification of Hadrian's lover Antinous.

The games were held in the city founded on the site where Antinous died mysteriously in the Nile. 


For centuries afterwards, competitions were held in his honor in the areas of poetry, art, music, rowing, athletic events and chariot racing at the city's hippodrome.

The winners of the various events received handsome prizes as well as a stipend allowing them to live in comfort the rest of their lives in Antinoopolis.

But there was no second or third place ... and so losers walked away empty-handed.


In the contract, the father of a wrestler named Nicantinous agrees to pay a bribe to the guarantors (likely the trainers) of another wrestler named Demetrius. 

Both wrestlers were set to compete in the final wrestling match of the 138th Great Antinoeia, the official name of the Games of Antinous. The Games were held in the year 267 AD, when the Games had been going on for more than a century.

They were in the boys' division, which was generally reserved for teenagers.

The contract stipulates that Demetrius "when competing in the competition for the boy [wrestlers], to fall three times and yield," and in return would receive "three thousand eight hundred drachmas of silver of old coinage …"

The contract includes a clause that Demetrius is still to be paid if the judges realize the match is fixed and refuse to reward Nicantinous the win. 

If "the crown is reserved as sacred, (we) are not to institute proceedings against him about these things," the contract reads. 

It also says that if Demetrius reneges on the deal, and wins the match anyway, then "you are of necessity to pay as penalty to my [same] son on account of wrongdoing three talents of silver of old coinage without any delay or inventive argument."

The translator of the text, Dominic Rathbone, a professor at King's College London, noted that 3,800 drachma was a relatively small amount of money — about enough to buy a donkey, according to another papyrus. 

Moreover, the large sum Demetrius would forfeit if he were to back out of the deal suggests his trainers would have been paid additional money Rathbone said.

The games had been going on for more than a century by the time this contract was created, and brought benefits for the people of Antinoopolis.

"You get the visitors; you get the crowd; you get the trade; you get the prestige," Rathbone told Live Science.

The contract was found at Oxyrhynchus, in Egypt, more than a century ago by an expedition led by archaeologists Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt. 

It was translated for the first time by Rathbone and published in the most recent volume of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, an ongoing series that publishes papyri from this site.

"In ancient competitions, coming first is the one and only thing — no silver, no bronze," Rathbone said. Additionally, the cost of training athletes was considerable. 

Athletes from wealthy families could pay their own way, but athletes from less-well-off backgrounds could find themselves in debt to their trainers.

The trainers were ever-present, even overseeing their wrestlers in the ring, as this scene from a drinking cup shows.

"The trainer is going to pay for your food, your accommodations and so on for your training, so you end up in debt to him," Rathbone said.

In this winner-takes-all situation, both sides may have decided to curb their risks by making a deal to fix the match, Rathbone said.

"If you were confident you would win, normally you would go for it," he said. 

"If you're not sure you would win, maybe you're cutting your risk by saying, 'At least I get the bribe,'" Rathbone said.

But researchers still wonder, why did the guarantors for the athletes put a clearly illicit agreement in writing on papyrus (pictured here)?

"That's the really bizarre thing; isn't it?" Rathbone said, noting that if either side reneged on the deal, it would be hard to take the matter to court.

He has also noted oddities in the way the contract was drawn up.

"It doesn't look as though they've actually gone as far as getting a scribe with legal knowledge to do this for them, which makes you wonder if it's a bit of an empty thing," Rathbone said.

"It's not really likely that either side is going to [seek recourse] if the other defaults."

Although this is the only known contract recording a bribe between ancient athletes, there are references in ancient sources indicating that bribery in athletic competitions was not unusual. 

By the time of the Roman Empire, bribery in athletic competitions was getting more prevalent as the events became more lucrative, Rathbone said.


Original article on Live Science.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

SAINT SOR JUANA INÉS DE LA CRUZ


ON April 17th the Religion of Antinous honors Saint Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, 17th Century Mexican nun, scholar, poet, scientist, playwright, musician and lesbian.

She was exceptional not only for her intelligence and beauty, but also because she wrote literature centered on intellectual and sexual freedom.

In the poem "Redondillas" she defends a woman's right to be respected as a human being. "Hombres necios" (Stubborn men) criticizes the sexism of the society of her time, and pokes fun at men who publicly condemn prostitutes, among other things, but privately hire them.

She also has a philosophical approach to the relative immorality of prostitution. This was exemplified when she posed the question, "Who sins more, she who sins for pay or he who pays for sin?"

In the romantic comedy entitled "Los empeños de una casa" about a brother and a sister entangled in a web of love, she writes using two of her most prominent themes, love and jealousy.

She did not moralize, but rather, in the spirit of her lifetime interests, inquired of how these deeply emotional matters shaped and carved a woman's pursuit of liberty, knowledge, education and freedom to live her life in self-sovereignty.

Her revolutionary writings brought down upon her the ire of the Roman Catholic Church at the end of the 17th Century. She was ordered to tone down the sexuality of her writings. She did not.

However, powerful representatives from the Spanish court were her mentors and she was widely read in Spain, being called "The Tenth Muse". She was lauded as the most prominent poet of the post-conquest American Continent. Her work was printed by the first printing press of the American Continent in Mexico City.

She is believed to have penned 4,000 works, but only a few have survived. They were rescued by the Spanish Viceroy's wife, who was rumored to be her female lover. In April 1695, after ministering to the other sisters struck down by a rampant plague, she is said to have died at four in the morning on April 17th.

For her love of learning and her devotion to the beauty of sexuality and for her courage to write about controversial things in the face of the Spanish Inquisition, we honor Saint Sor Juana as a Prophet of Homoeros.