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Antinous in the Museum at
Delphi, Greece

Antinous or Antinoös (Αντινοος) (c111-130 AD), lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, was born to a Greek family in Bithynion-Claudiopolis, in the province of Bithynia in what is now north-west Turkey. He seems to have entered the service of the Emperor in about 123 AD, and soon became his lover.

In 130 AD Antinous died by drowning in the Nile. It is not known if his death was the result of accident, suicide, murder or religious sacrifice. All are possibilities. Hadrian declared Antinous to be a god, and temples and statues to his memory were erected all over the Empire.

As a result, this 19-year-old boy is one of the best-preserved faces from the ancient world. Many of his statues survive and may be seen in museums across Europe. They include a colossal bust in the Vatican, a bust in the Louvre, a bas-relief from the Villa Albani near Rome, a statue in the Capitoline museum in Rome, another in Berlin, another in the Lateran Palace in Rome, and many more.

Hadrian founded the city of Antinoopolis on the ruins of Besa, where Antinous died. Many busts, gems and coins represent Antinous as the ideal type of youthful beauty, often with the attributes of some special god. Although these are obviously idealised images, they demonstrate what all contemporary writers described as Antinous's extraordinary beauty.

Marguerite Yourcenar's 1941 historical novel, Les Mémoires d'Hadrien (Memoirs of Hadrian), is a fictional account of the relationship.

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In Greek mythology, Antinous, son of Eupeithes, was the leader of Penelope's suitors and was the first to be killed by Odysseus.

Odyssey IV, 628, 660, 773; XVII, 409; XXII, 8.