Thorsten Opper in Hadrian: Empire and Conflict notes: "Hardly anything is known of Antinous' life, and the fact that our sources get more detailed the later they are does not inspire confidence." At an irreducible minimum he was born to a Greek family in Bithynion-Claudiopolis, in the Roman province of Bithynia in what is now north-west Turkey, and joined the entourage of the emperor Hadrian at a young age, although nothing certain is known of how, when, or where he and Hadrian met. He is constantly described and depicted as a beautiful boy and youth. The relationship is believed to have been sexual.
Antinous drowned in the Nile in October 130. The death was presented as an accident, "but it was believed at the time that Antinous had been sacrificed or had sacrificed himself," and Hadrian "wept for him like a woman." Hadrian went through the process of deifying him soon afterwards, a process previously exclusively reserved for imperial family members rather than friends or lovers of non-Roman origin.
Source: Stern, Keith (2009-09-01). Queers in History: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Historical Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals (Kindle Locations 1512-1517). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.
Hadrian (Latin: Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus Augustus 24 January 76 – 10 July 138), was a Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in all his tastes. He was the third of the so-called Five Good Emperors.
Hadrian was born Publius Aelius Hadrianus to an ethnically Italian family in Italica near Seville, in today´s Spain. His predecessor Trajan, also Hispanic himself, was a maternal cousin of Hadrian's father. Trajan never officially designated an heir, but according to his wife Pompeia Plotina, Trajan named Hadrian emperor immediately before his death. Trajan's wife and his friend Licinius Sura were well-disposed towards Hadrian, and he may well have owed his succession to them.
During his reign, Hadrian traveled to nearly every province of the Empire. An ardent admirer of Greece, he sought to make Athens the cultural capital of the Empire and ordered the construction of many opulent temples in the city. He used his relationship with his Greek favorite Antinous to underline his philhellenism and led to the creation of one of the most popular cults of ancient times. He spent extensive amounts of his time with the military; he usually wore military attire and even dined and slept amongst the soldiers. He ordered military training and drilling to be more rigorous and even made use of false reports of attack to keep the army alert. Upon his ascension to the throne, Hadrian withdrew from Trajan's conquests in Mesopotamia and Armenia, and even considered abandoning Dacia. Late in his reign he suppressed the Bar Kokhba revolt in Judaea, renaming the province Syria Palaestina. In 136 an ailing Hadrian adopted Lucius Aelius as his heir, but the latter died suddenly two years later. In 138, Hadrian resolved to adopt Antoninus Pius if he would in turn adopt Marcus Aurelius and Aelius' son Lucius Verus as his own eventual successors. Antoninus agreed, and soon afterward Hadrian died at Baiae.
Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar
Paperback: 408 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (April 28, 2005)
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Both an exploration of character and a reflection on the meaning of history, Memoirs of Hadrian has received international acclaim since its first publication in France in 1951. In it, Marguerite Yourcenar reimagines the Emperor Hadrian's arduous boyhood, his triumphs and reversals, and finally, as emperor, his gradual reordering of a war-torn world, writing with the imaginative insight of a great writer of the twentieth century while crafting a prose style as elegant and precise as those of the Latin stylists of Hadrian's own era.
The Hadrian Enigma: A Forbidden History by George Gardiner
Paperback: 498 pages
Publisher: GMP Editions (January 9, 2010)
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LUST. LOVE. REVENGE. COMING-OUT, Romance, ancient Roman-style. 130 years after Christ, but two centuries before Christians received legal recognition, Rome is ruled by pagan values. Caesar Hadrian's search for love destroys the very person he most adores. His loved one is found dead one dawn beneath the waters of Egypt's River Nile. Is it a youthful prank gone wrong, a suicide, a murder, or something even more sinister? Hadrian assigns historian Suetonius Tranquillus & his courtesan paramour Surisca to investigate. The Hadrian Enigma is the hidden record of Caesar's investigation into one of history's most intriguing, suspicious deaths. Hadrian learns more than he wanted in an era which sanctions unbridled sensuality in a macho culture of pride, honor, & shame.
Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome by Anthony Everitt
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 14, 2010)
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Born in A.D. 76, Hadrian lived through and ruled during a tempestuous era, a time when the Colosseum was opened to the public and Pompeii was buried under a mountain of lava and ash. Acclaimed author Anthony Everitt vividly recounts Hadrian’s thrilling life, in which the emperor brings a century of disorder and costly warfare to a peaceful conclusion while demonstrating how a monarchy can be compatible with good governance.
What distinguished Hadrian’s rule, according to Everitt, were two insights that inevitably ensured the empire’s long and prosperous future: He ended Rome’s territorial expansion, which had become strategically and economically untenable, by fortifying her boundaries (the many famed Walls of Hadrian), and he effectively “Hellenized” Rome by anointing Athens the empire’s cultural center, thereby making Greek learning and art vastly more prominent in Roman life.
By making splendid use of recently discovered archaeological materials and his own exhaustive research, Everitt sheds new light on one of the most important figures of the ancient world.
Beloved and God: The Story of Hadrian and Antinous by Royston Lambert
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Zebra (October 10, 1996)
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Who was Antonius? Why did he become a God? in Beloved and God, Royston Lambert tackles all the mysteries the story presents. With many illustations of the people and places concerned in the affair and of the splendid and fascinating artefacts which it produced, this account, based on thorough research, is a compelling read.
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