In the year 130, beautiful Antinous drowned in the Nile and the priest of Osiris proclaimed he had become one with the Egyptian God of death and resurrection. But the young man had always been a god for Emperor Hadrian.
Egyptian priests suggested a minor shrine be constructed; Hadrian had other ideas. He ordered ~2,000 sculptures to be made in the divine image of Antinous, sculptures that are today some of the finest examples of classical art (around ~120 survive, many are stashed in the Vatican). His divinity was proclaimed throughout the Imperium, games were held, and the city of Antinopolis was founded to His eternal glory. There, on the other side of the Nile from the city of wise Thoth, the immortal beauty of Antinous was honoured in the Greek aspect (as Antinous-Hermes), and in the Egyptian way as Antinous-Osiris.
(Antinous-Osiris, see www.antinoos.info for more images)
Looking at it from the perspective of 21st century ethics, their affair started early in the life of Antinous – like the male lovers of Hercules. But in the 2nd century, life was short and brutal. Their love still is beautiful because the two men continued to adore each other forever. It was not a fling. Antinous eventually became the official consort of Hadrian, and for all practical purposes they were a married couple.
Hadrian, who is one of the five Good Emperors and probably the most competent statesman of the ancient world, valued stability, cultural diversity of all people under the Roman Empire, instead of military expansionism. Constantly travelling, he elevated the local culture of the provinces, forging a international Roman identity. The apotheosis of Antinous was part of this common identity; He also looked back to Ancient Greek culture and democracy, somewhat nostalgically, because he had the absolute power of Emperor, and did fortify these powers.
The main virtues of the mortal Antinous had been beauty and athleticism. He was good at sports. Hadrian enjoyed sport, but also had deep interest in Philosophy, he found his lover intellectually satisfying; Antinous was clever. God and Hero, he merged with Osiris to become a great healer.
At the time Christianity was already a thing, so the Emperor set his lover Antinous to be the pagan competition of Jesus. Nearly 300 years after Hadrian passed away, and became the Divine Emperor Hadrian, the Rose Lotus Antinous continued to shine. The fathers of the Church absolutely hated him. Antinous was proudly gay. In their homophobia and bigoted asceticism, the early Church fathers were unable to see that the quintessential message of Antinous and Jesus is the same. It is the message of love, passion, boundless compassion, and eternal faithfulness to the one you love.
Eventually, they managed to crush the temple of the Rose Lotus, and darkness descended over Europe; He was rediscovered in the Renaissance by artists such as the Divine Michelangelo, while the Inquisition of the Church was burning gay people alive in the name of “love.” But still today, the beauty and passion of Antinous continues.
Tolstoy got this right when he said, “Love is the only law!” The teaching is so simple, it’s amazing how people manage to get it so wrong.
It is accepted that Buddha has many different aspects, some ascetic, some gentle and sensual – like Avalokiteshvara, Kuan Yin and Tara. It should be the same for Christianity.