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ANTINO´OPOLIS, ANTI´NOE (Ἀντινόου πόλις, Ptol. 4.5.61; Paus. 8.9; D. C. 69.11; Amm. Marc. 19.12, 22.16; Aur. Vict. Caesar, 14; Spartian. Hadrian. 14; Chron. Pasch. p. 254, Paris edit.; It. Anton. p. 167; Hierocl. p. 730; Ἀντινόεια, Steph. B. sub voce Ἁδπιανούπολις: Eth. Ἀντινοεύς), was built by the emperor Hadrian in A.D. 122, in memory of his favourite Antinous. (Dictionary of Biography, s. v.) It stood upon the eastern bank of the Nile, lat. 26 1/2 N., nearly opposite Hermopolis. It occupied the site of the village of Besa (Βῆσσα), named after the goddess and oracle of Besa, which was consulted occasionally even as late as the age of Constantine. Antinoopolis was a little to the south of Besa, and at the foot of the hill upon which that village was seated. A grotto, once inhabited by Christian anchorites, probably marks the seat of the shrine and oracle, and Grecian tombs with inscriptions point to the necropolis of Antinoopolis. The new city at first belonged to the Heptanomis, but was afterwards annexed to the Thebaid. The district around became the Antinoite nome. The city itself was governed by its own senate and Prytaneus or President. The senate was chosen from the members of the wards (φυλαί), of which we learn the name of one--Ἀθηναΐς--from inscriptions (Orelli, No. 4705); and its decrees, as well as those of the Prytaneus, were not, as usual, subject to the revision of the nomarch, but to that of the prefect (ἐπιστράτηγος) of the Thebaid. Divine honours were paid in the Antinoeion to Antinous as a local deity, and games and chariot-races were annually exhibited in commemoration of his death and of Hadrian's sorrow. (Dictionary of Anliquities, s. v. Ἀντινόεια.) The city of Antinoopolis exhibited the Graeco-Roman architecture of Trajan's age in immediate contrast with the Egyptian style. Its ruins, which the Copts call Enséneh, at the village of Sheik-Abadeh, attest, by the area which they fill, the ancient grandeur of the city. The direction of the principal streets may still be traced. One at least of them, which ran from north to south, had on either side of it a corridor supported by columns for the convenience of foot-passengers. The walls of the theatre near the southern gate, and those of the hippodrome without the walls to the east, are still extant. At the north-western extremity of the city was a portico, of which four columns remain, inscribed to “Good Fortune,” and bearing the date of the 14th and last year of the reign of Alexander Severus, A.D. 235. As far as can be ascertained from the space covered with mounds of masonry, Antinoopolis was about a mile and a half in length, and nearly half a mile broad. Near the Hippodrome are a well and tanks appertaining to an ancient road, which leads from the eastern gate to a valley behind the town, ascends the mountains, and, passing through the desert by the Wádee Tarfa, joins the roads to the quarries of the Mons Porphyrites. (Wilkinson, Topography of Thebes, p. 382.)

The Antinoite nome was frequently exposed to the ravage of invading armies; but they have inflicted less havoc upon its capital and the neigbouring Hermopolis than the Turkish and Egyptian governments, which have converted the materials of these cities into a lime-quarry. A little to the south of Antinoopolis is a grotto, the tomb of Thoth-otp, of the age of Sesortasen, containing a representation of a colossus fastened on a sledge; which a number of men drag by ropes, according to the usual mode adopted by the Egyptian masons. This tomb was discovered by Irby and Mangles. There are only three silver coins of Antinous extant (Akerman, Roman Coins, i. p. 253); but the number of temples, busts, statues, &c. dedicated to his memory by Hadrian form an epoch in the declining art of antiquity. (Origen, in Celsum, iii.; Euseb. Hist. Eccles. 4.8.)


hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.9
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum, 19.12
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum, 22.16
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 4.5
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