a youth, probably of low origin, born at Bithynium or Claudiopolis in Bithynia. On account of his extraordinary beauty he was taken by the emperor Hadrian to be his page, and soon became the object of his extravagant affection. Hadrian took him with him on all his journeys.
It was in the course of one of these that he was drowned in the Nile.
It is uncertain whether his death was accidental, or whether he threw himself into the river, either from disgust at the life he led. or from a superstitious belief that by so doing he should avert some calamity from the emperor. Dio Cassius favours the latter supposition.
The grief of the emperor knew no bounds.
He strove to perpetuate the memory of his favourite by monuments of all kinds.
He rebuilt the city of Besa in the Thebais, near which Antinous was drowned, and gave it the name of Antinoopolis.
He enrolled Antinous amongst the gods, caused temples to be erected to him in Egypt and Greece (at Mantineia), and statues of him to be set up in almost every part of the world.
In one of the sanctuaries dedicated to him oracles were delivered in his name. Games were also celebrated in his honour. (Dict. of Ant. s. v. Ἀντινόεια
A star between the eagle and the zodiac, which the courtiers of the emperor pretended had then first made its appearance, and was the soul of Antinous, received his name, which it still bears.
A large number of works of art of all kinds were executed in his honour, and many of them are still extant. They have been diffusely described and classified by Konrad Levezow in his treatise Ueber den Antinous dargestellt in den Kunstdenkmälern des Alterthums.
The death of Antinous, which took place probably in A. D. 122, seems to have formed an era in the history of ancient art. (D. C. 69.11
; Spartian. Hadrian.
14; Paus. 8.9.4
There were various medals struck in honour of Antinous in the Greek cities, but none at Rome or in any of the Roman colonies.
In the one annexed, which was struck at Bithynium, the birthplace of Hadrian, the inscription is Η ΠΑΤΡΙΣ ΑΝΤΙΝΟΟΝ ΘΕΟΝ
, that is, " His native country (reverences) the god Antinous."
The inscription on the reverse is nearly effaced on the medal from which the drawing was made : it was originally ΑΔΡΙΑΝΩΝ ΒΙΘΥΝΙΕΩΝ
. On it Mercury is represented with a bull by his side, which probably has reference to Apis. (Eckhel, vi. p. 528, &c.)