In just 3 weeks, on Friday, April 21st, Naos Antinoou will be celebrating one of the more prominent festivals in our cycle of festivals, The Megala Antinoeia. In some ways, this single festival is actually a collection of several festivals and observances and draws inspiration from several sources. Among those observances is the transition of the role of Antinous as Navigator, which he has been in since the Festival of Stella Antinoi in late January, into his role as Lover. This transition is partly linked to Hadrian’s dedication of a poem found near Thespiae commemorating his slaying of a bear and expressing a wish to the Cyprian Aphrodite Ourania (goddess of homoerotic love) and the archer Eros (connected to homoerotic love of youths) to have a lover granted to him, and which we speculate that soon after Antinous may have come into his life. Because of this, we observe this day as the Bear Hunt, and also as the Erotikon – which is especially fun for those of us who find eroticism in bears in the sense of beefy, hairy, gay men. Oh, the double entendres!
However, the Megala Antinoeia, which is the name we ascribe to the overall festival, is actually the name used in several ancient texts for the sacred games commemorating Antinous, usually participated in by the youths of the community, who were between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-two. Many athletic competitions were held, including footraces, wrestling and boxing, chariot races, swimming, and rowing. There were also artistic competitions involving music and poetry, and there might have even been theatrical competitions in the Dionysian tradition in some places. The coveted prize of these games was the Antinoeios, or red-lotus flower garland. These sacred games began to take place as early as 131, less than a year after the death of Antinous.
While the Naos Antínoou has not had organized full-scale athletic competitions as part of our own modern observances of this aspect of the festival, we would like to take this opportunity to announce a new competition for the Megala Antinoeia 2017. This new Agon will officially be open from March 31st until 11:59pm, April 21st, which is the date of the Megala Antinoeia. Entries can consist of anything artistic that expresses your devotion to Antinous or the gods, goddesses and divine figures related to Antinous. We will accept poetry, liturgy, hymns, drawings, paintings, photography, music, song, or any other artistic medium you wish to work in. The winner of the Agon will be announced on the Festival of the Boar Hunt, May 1st, and will be awarded $100 and an Antinoan rosary (which is also a type of “garland”) made by Jay Logan, a Mystagogue of the Naos Antinoou. Submissions can be sent to email@example.com
May the Beautiful Boy be blessed through all the entries in this competition and may he, in turn, bless all those who participate!