Detractors of the Cult of Antinous
Antinous the Good.org
Introduction: Despite the popularity of the worship of Antinous in antiquity, the cult had detractors on both the pagan and Christian sides. Their comments, while offensive, are nonetheless interesting and some are presented below.
"I emphasize that the Christians worship a man who was arrested and died, after the manner of the Getae who reverence Zamolxis, or those Sicilians who worship Mopsus, the Aracarnanians who worship Amphilochus, or the Thebans who worship Amphiarus and the Lebadians who worship Trophonius. The honor they pay to Jesus is no different from the sort paid to Hardrian's favorite boy, Antinous. Yet they brook no comparison between Jesus and the established Gods, such is the effect of the faith that has blurred their judgment." (Celsus' On the True Doctrine, IV, translated by R. Joseph Hoffman, 1987, p.72)
"Pretty clearly, some put their faith in one God, others in another; but all in all they walk around in a fog, so evil and murky that it rivals the feasts of Antinous in Egypt." (Celsus' On the True Doctrine, VI,Hoffman, p.91)
Julian, emperor of Rome:
The scene is fictional, on Olympus: "Next entered an austere-looking man (ed. Hadrian) with a long beard, an adept in all the arts, but especially music, one who was always gazing at the heavens and prying into hidden things. Silenus when he saw him said, 'What think ye of this sophist? Can he be looking here for Antinous? One of you should tell him that the youth is not here, and make him cease from his madness and folly' " (Julian Vol. II, The Caesars, 311 C/D, translated by Wilmer C. Wright in 1913, found in the 2002 edition on p.357)
Lucian of Samosata:
"Zeus speaks: Now I will have no reflections on Ganymede's antecedents; I shall be very angry with you, if you hurt the boy's feelings.
Momus speaks: Ah; and out of consideration for him I suppose I must also abstain from any reference to the eagle, which is now a God like the rest of us, perches upon the royal sceptre, and may be expected at any moment to build his nest upon the head of Majesty?--Well, you must allow me Attis, Corybas, and Sabazius: by what contrivance, now, did they get here? and that Mede there, Mithras, with the candys and tiara? why, the fellow cannot speak Greek; if you pledge him, he does not know what you mean. The consequence is, that Scythians and Goths, observing their success, snap their fingers at us, and distribute divinity and immortality right and left; that was how the slave Zamolxis's name slipped into our register. However, let that pass. But I should just like to ask that Egyptian there--the dog-faced gentleman in the linen suit--who he is, and whether he proposes to establish his divinity by barking? And will the piebald bull yonder, from Memphis, explain what use he has for a temple, an oracle, or a priest? As for the ibises and monkeys and goats and worse absurdities that are bundled in upon us, goodness knows how, from Egypt, I am ashamed to speak of them; nor do I understand how you, gentlemen, can endure to see such creatures enjoying a prestige equal to or greater than your own.--And you yourself, sir, must surely find ram's horns a great inconvenience?"
(Zeus to Momus from The Gods in Council 8-10, a play by Lucian of Samosata, translated by H. W. Fowler and F. G. Fowler, 1905. Lucian is rather shy to write the name Antinous when he substitutes Ganymedes)
"But others, straining impiety to the utmost, have deified the motive of the invention of these things and of their own wickedness, namely, pleasure and lust, and worship them, such as their Eros, and the Aphrodite at Paphos. While some of them, as if vying with them in depravation, have ventured to erect into gods their rulers or even their sons, either out of honour for their princes, or from fear of their tyranny, such as the Cretan Zeus, of such renown among them, and the Arcadian Hermes; and among the Indians Dionysus, among the Egyptians Isis and Osiris and Horus, and in our own time Antinous, favourite of Hadrian, Emperor of the Romans, whom, although men know he was a mere man, and not a respectable man, but on the contrary, full of licentiousness, yet they worship for fear of him that enjoined it. For Hadrian having come to sojourn in the land of Egypt, when Antinous the minister of his pleasure died, ordered him to be worshipped; being indeed himself in love with the youth even after his death, but for all that offering a convincing exposure of himself, and a proof against all idolatry, that it was discovered among men for no other reason than by reason of the lust of them that imagined it."
(Athanasius: Select Works and Letters, 9. The Various Developments of Idolatry: worship of the heavenly bodies, the elements, natural objects, fabulous creatures, personified lusts, men living and dead. The case of Antinous, and of the deified Emperors; found in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series II, edited by Philip Schaff, Vol. IV, Athanasius: Select Writings and Letters)
Clement of Alexandria:
"Another new deity was added to the number with great religious pomp in Egypt, and was near being so in Greece by the king of the Romans, who deified Antinous, whom he loved as Zeus loved Ganymede, and whose beauty was of a very rare order: for lust is not easily restrained, destitute as it is of fear; and men now observe the sacred nights of Antinous, the shameful character of which the lover who spent them with him knew well. Why reckon him among the gods, who is honoured on account of uncleanness? And why do you command him to be lamented as a son? And why should you enlarge on his beauty? Beauty blighted by vice is loathsome. Do not play the tyrant, O man, over beauty, nor offer foul insult to youth in its bloom. Keep beauty pure, that it may be truly fair. Be king over beauty, not its tyrant. Remain free, and then I shall acknowledge thy beauty, because thou hast kept its image pure: then will I worship that true beauty which is the archetype of all who are beautiful. Now the grave of the debauched boy is the temple and town of Antinous. For just as temples are held in reverence, so also are sepulchres, and pyramids, and mausoleums, and labyrinths, which are temples of the dead, as the others are sepulchres of the gods."
(Clement of Alexandria's Exhortation to the Heathen IV. The Absurdity and Shamefulness of the Images by Which the Gods are Worshiped; found in Anti-Nicene Fathers edited by Philip Schaff, Vol. II, The Fathers of the Second Century)
"And it is not out of place, we think, to mention here Antinous, who was alive but lately, and whom all were prompt, through fear, to worship as a god, though they knew both who he was and what was his origin."
(Justin Martyr's The First Apology, XXIX. Continence of Christians XXIX; found in Anti-Nicene Fathers edited by Philip Schaff, Vol. I, The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus)
Origen:"But as he next introduces the case of the favourite of Adrian (I refer to the accounts regarding the youth Antinous, and the honours paid him by the inhabitants of the city of Antinous in Egypt), and imagines that the honour paid to him falls little short of that which we render to Jesus, let us show in what a spirit of hostility this statement is made. For what is there in common between a life lived among the favourites of Adrian, by one who did not abstain even from unnatural lusts, and that of the venerable Jesus, against whom even they who brought countless other charges, and who told so many falsehoods, were not able to allege that He manifested, even in the slightest degree, any tendency to what was licentious? Nay, further, if one were to investigate, in a spirit of truth and impartiality, the stories relating to Antinous, he would find that it was due to the magical arts and rites of the Egyptians that there was even the appearance of his performing anything (marvellous) in the city which bears his name, and that too only after his decease,—an effect which is said to have been produced in other temples by the Egyptians, and those who are skilled in the arts which they practise. For they set up in certain places demons claiming prophetic or healing power, and which frequently torture those who seem to have committed any mistake about ordinary kinds of food, or about touching the dead body of a man, that they may have the appearance of alarming the uneducated multitude. Of this nature is the being that is considered to be a god in Antinoopolis in Egypt, whose (reputed) virtues are the lying inventions of some who live by the gain derived therefrom; while others, deceived by the demon placed there, and others again convicted by a weak conscience, actually think that they are paying a divine penalty inflicted by Antinous. Of such a nature also are the mysteries which they perform, and the seeming predictions which they utter. Far different from such are those of Jesus."
(Origen: Against Celsus XXXVI; found in Anti-Nicene Fathers edited by Philip Schaff, Vol. IV, The Fathers of the Third Century)
"And how was the dead Antinous fixed as a beautiful youth in the moon? Who carried him thither: unless perchance, as men, perjuring themselves for hire, are credited when they say in ridicule of the gods that kings have ascended into heaven, so some one, in like manner, has put this man also among the gods, and been recompensed with honour and reward?
(Tatianus' To the Greeks X. Ridicule of the Heathen Deities; found in Anti-Nicene Fathers edited by Philip Schaff, Vol. II, The Fathers of the Second Century)
"I am silent about the temples of Antinous, and of the others whom you call gods. For when related to sensible persons, they excite laughter. They who elaborated such a philosophy regarding either the non-existence of God, or promiscuous intercourse and beastly concubinage, are themselves condemned by their own teachings."
(Theophilus' Theophilus to Autolycus VIII. Wickedness Attributed to the Gods by Heathen Writers; found in Anti-Nicene Fathers edited by Philip Schaff, Vol. II, The Fathers of the Second Century)
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It is the opinion of this website that the worship of Antinous should be integrated within the overall practice of Hellenismos, and should involve the worship of the Twelve Olympian Gods along with the entire pantheon of deities surrounding them. Unlike most of the other groups devoted to his cultus, this website does not see Antinous as a "gay" God, but know him as a divine being who, like all the Gods, has vast scope, and is interested in all people, animals, and things, not exclusively homosexual men. If you have a sincere interest in the beauty of his worship and how this may interact with the practice of the deeper meaning of Hellenismos, contact: AntinoustheGood@yahoo.com
The radiance of Ælios was magnificent that day he pondered Antinous. "Such a compelling and touching story, but the boy is dead." At that moment a resplendent youth ran across his field of vision, the boys feet and face engulfed in Æther, as though he were engaged in gymnastic sport with Gods. "No! I am alive! See me run!"
The word for a God is Theos (Greek: Θεός, ΘΕΌΣ). This word is etymologically related to theo (Greek: Θεἰω) "to run." This represents a horse, a divine horse who can run swiftly, as the progressed soul can run swiftly to accomplish its goal.
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