31 Days of Devotion – Day 8

Discuss Variations on this deity (aspects, regional forms, etc.)

This is an interesting question, as it dovetails closely from the previous day’s prompt. In other words, a deity’s names are often used to describe different aspects or regional forms of a deity. If you were to check out Theoi.com’s titles and epithets section on their excellent biographies of various Hellenic gods and goddesses, you’ll see various titles that relate to a god’s function or area of influence, as well as places where they were worshipped. For instance, Demeter is Chthonia, ‘of the Earth’, as well as Eleusinia, ‘of Eleusis.’

One might be tempted to write today off, say been there, done that, but not us, oh erstwhile reader! It occurs to me that while we admirably covered Antinous’ various qualities and modern epithets, we did not much cover his regional forms and variations, so that’s where we’ll attack this question.

As we’ve learned so far through this devotional process, the historical cult of Antinous was found across the reaches of the Roman Empire, and his form often varied depending on where he was being worshipped and oftentimes which deity he was being syncretized
with. You see, while Antinous is always and everywhere himself, he often takes on the functions and characteristics of other deities. When he was in Antinoöpolis and other areas of Egypt, as well as in Hadrian’s own villa of Tivoli, Antinous was often portrayed as Antinous-Osiris. In the sanctuary of Delphi, a site sacred to Apollo, we find a statue of Antinous depicted in a way that Apollo often was, as a divine ephebe, and we can see upon closer inspection of his head that there are holes that were used to attach a bronze laurel wreath.

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At Eleusis, sacred site of the Eleusinian Mysteries devoted to Demeter and Persephone, we find another depiction of Antinous, this time as Asklepios, with an omphalos at his feet, which likely stood at the entrance to the Sanctuary of Demeter, bidding health and good fortune to those travellers coming to Eleusis (Fox, 2014, p.44). And at Lanuvium, a city which held a funerary society dedicated to Diana and Antinous, we find a most splendid depiction of Antinous as Silvanus, which has the curious fate of having been rediscovered in the modern era buried in a field.

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Antinous adapts to whereever he finds himself, and sometimes through whichever deity he is most needed at any given point. Back in August we shared a story of how Antinous related to a river local to a number of practioners in the Pacific Northwest, and we invite you to look likewise.

How does Antinous manifest where you are in the world? In what aspects does he come to you?

References

Fox, Tatiana Eileen. (2014). “The Cult of Antinous and the Response of the Greek East to Hadrian’s Creation of a God”. Unpublished Thesis, Ohio University.

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