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May 17, 2020

Discovery of the Statue of Antinous at Delphi in 1894

On July 1, 1893, at the excavation of Delphi near the Temple of Apollo, archaeologists uncovered a near-perfectly preserved, still-upright statue of Antinous, the lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian.

The statue, lovingly polished for centuries, was, in some Barbarian incursion, toppled over, loosing both arms, afterwards, however, it was gently raised and re-erected without its arms in another chapel further up the sacred way.

Sometime later, some followers of Antinous lovingly buried the statue, standing upright, to preserve it from being completely destroyed by Christian iconoclasts, after Theodosius I in 380 declared Christianity the only legitimate imperial religion and fostered the destruction of the Temple of Apollo of Delphi.

(Photo by Ricardo André Frantz, via Wikipedia)

The site was completely destroyed by zealous Christians in an attempt to remove all traces of Paganism — and of the Religion of Antinous, the last of the Classical Gods.

The Delphi Antinous is a cult statue of Antinous as the divine ephebe, sculpted in Parian marble during the reign of Hadrian. The head of the Antinous at Delphi wears such a crown of intertwined vegetal stems, but the leaves are missing, they were probably done in metal and then fixed to the holes drilled into the wreath.

The artist’s statuary prototype for this Antinous is the youthful Apollo (and Dionysos) type, used repeatedly in times of Hadrian, for instance, in the Vatican’s figure known as the “Centocelle Adonis,” a statue probably depicting Apollo.

(via Wikipedia)

Antinous was a young Greek of extraordinary beauty from Bithynia, who became the beloved companion or lover of the Roman emperor Hadrian but later died in Nile under mysterious circumstances.

Stricken by the death of Antinous, Hadrian, who happened to be an admirer and a passionate supporter of classical Greek Antiquity, as well as a benefactor of the Oracle of Delphi, ordered that statues of the beautiful young man, whom he had loved so passionately, be erected in all sanctuaries and cities of his vast empire. Furthermore, he ordered the institution and establishment of Games in honor of Antinous, who since then was honored and worshiped as a god.

Thus, a statue of Antinous was erected within the sanctuary of Delphi, after his death, in 130 A.D. and it was one of the most beautiful and impressive cult statues. During the excavations, the statue was discovered upright on its pedestal, next to the wall of a brick chamber, alongside the holy Temple.

If we take a closer look at the statue, we see that the head of young Antinous is tilted to the side like he is in a state of reflection. Around its thick and masterfully carved hair, which surround its face and fall on its forehead and cheeks, thus adding a mournful quality to its beautiful, full of vain youthful figure, we can see several holes that were used to attach a bronze laurel wreath. His body is carved in a way that gives it that beautiful nudity which characterized the statues of gods and heroes of classical antiquity. However, the nostalgic Hadrian classicism is not enough for the statue to stand worthy of the art of its genuine classic models.

(via Antinous the Gay God)


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