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The Ancient Religion of Antinous

Under the direction of Hadrian, a new priesthood was established in dedication to Antinous. They delineated the particulars of the new religion combining Greek, Egyptian, and various eastern salvation mysteries into a new faith. The greatest mythologers of the age began the work of retelling the story of Antinous using Gods such as Osiris, Dionysus, Ganymede, Jesus, and the Orphic-Mithraic creeds as their model. Hadrian personally wrote many of the oracles that were read to believers in the great Temple of Antinous at Antinopolis. All over the ancient world the new religion was embraced by hundreds of thousands, perhaps even by millions.

Athletic games were celebrated in the major centers of the new religion, such as Antinopolis, Bithynia, and Mantinea. The competitors were primarily young men called Ephebes. In Antinopolis these included swimming and boat races in the Nile, but they were unique in that they also included competition in the arts and music. The over-all winner was consecrated as the living embodiment of Antinous and given citizenship in Antinopolis, with an all-expense-paid life of luxury and adoration. He was worshipped in the temple as the representative of Antinous, and the emblem of youth and masculinity. He was the Divine Ephebe.

Temples of Antinous have been found in almost every corner of the Roman Empire. Recently, in the fall of 2002, the second most important Temple was discovered at Hadrian's villa in Tivoli, outside of Rome. This was Hadrian's private residence, and the newly discovered temple was his private chapel. Towards the end of Hadrian's life, the villa at Tivoli, also known as Tibur, was the administrative center of the Empire. This new Temple then was the headquarters of the religion of Antinous, and while Hadrian lived, it was the most important sect of the Roman state religion. Because the religion of Antinous emphasized peace and the unity of all men, and all faiths, under Rome, the protectoress of civilization, it has been suggested that the spirit of Antinous is what preserved the golden era of Rome known as the age of the Antonines. In the words of one writer, the guardian spirit of Rome was the image of Antinous holding garlands of flowers.

This gentle religion was to be the last manifestation of the ancient pagan faith. It summoned the glories of the past in final triumph, but was also a religion of individual salvation, reflecting the spiritual changes that were taking place as Christianity and the other eastern mystery faiths gained strength. Antinous was the last God of ancient pagan Rome, and he was also the facilitator who prepared the way for the eventual triumph of the Catholic faith. The Christian fathers found an easy target in the questionable moral message that Antinous embodied. They used him as an example to illustrate the shameful character of paganism, how it had become a religion of pederasty, immoral sexual indulgeance, and idolatry. After the conversion of Constantine, even the pagans began to turn against the still living cult of Antinous, as though his memory had become a threat to the credibility of the pagan gods. Antinous's religion lasted longer than the Empire, but it suffered severe persecution and was eventually completely silenced. It is significant to note that when the cult of Antinous was denounced and his images smashed by the iconoclasts, the peace and stability of the Empire went into decline. Hadrian had blessed the Empire with a gentle protector, who gave her prosperity and grace. When the Empire turned against her vulnerable protector, she opened the way for chaos and destruction.

But in this day of the returning age of gold, we find that Antinous has come again. His statues and Temples are being uncovered , and his star is again shinning, but what is more significant is that here in this Temple, and in the hearts of homosexual men all over the world, his gentle spirit is rising up from the vineyards where long ago, the last priests buried his image, in expectation and hope for better days.

The Astrologers and Mystics of Hadrian's court were deeply aware of the celestial changes that were taking place in the sky. The ideas set forth several centuries before the death of Antinous by another Bithynian named Hipparchus, about the Precession of the Equinox had been verified and had become part of the mysteries of Mithraism, revealing that the world had entered the Age of Pisces, and that in two millennia the stars would change again, ushering in the Age of Aquarius. The ancient religion of Antinous was a foreshadowing of our own time, a glimpse of what lay in store for mankind. We are now taking part in the dream that the priests of Antinous looked forward to and prayed for. This is the beginning of the age that Antinous makes sacred, and the spirit that once guarded over the peace and stability of Rome is returning to bless our modern world.

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The Chapel of Antinous Homo Deus

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