Wednesday, April 30, 2014


HAVE the mummies of Nefertiti, Akhenaten and possibly even Hatshepsut been found at last?

Egyptologists around the world are electrified by the news that a cache of 50 royal mummies has been discovered in a huge tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings in Luxor.

This could be the biggest sensation since the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb.

Experts immediately compared it to the discovery in 1881 of a cache of mummies which turned out to be kings and other nobility from the 18th and 19th Dynasties.

That 1881 mummy cache was the greatest discovery until the Tutankhamun find, and it has been the subject of many books and documentaries (the image above is from one recent TV series).

In ancient times of turmoil and looting, the priests of Egypt would remove royal mummies from their tombs and hide them in caves or obscure tombs where robbers would not think to look for them.

Such a cache of mummies could contain dozens of kings, queens, their children and other nobility … all thrown in together for safe-keeping, albeit in an undignified heap.

The latest mummy cache includes males, female and even infants from the 18th and 19th Dynasties … which include the reigns of Hatshepsut, Akhenaten and the Ramesside kings.

Wooden coffins and death masks were found beside the bodies, Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim announced.

According to initial studies of the find, princes and princesses were among the bodies found in the tomb, which had been raided in previous eras, Egypt's MENA news agency reported.

The discovery was made by a Swiss team from the University of Basel working with the Egyptian government.

Antiquities are vital to Egypt's tourist trade but, beset by insecurity and political chaos in the three years since the Arab Spring, the country has failed to secure ancient sites and stop theft from museums, mosques, stores and illegal excavations.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


EXPERTS in Bulgaria have unearthed a remarkable Ancient Greek "emporium" market place and hill-top temple compound where the blessings of the Gods were invoked for a nearby gold mine.

The settlement, which appears to be loosely modeled on the Athenian Agora and Acropolis (illustration here), dates back to the 4th and 5th Century BC and was populated by Greek colonists, say the Bulgarian archaeologists.

Under the direction of Associate Professor Dr. Mitko Madzharov of the archaeological museum of Hissarya, the team has been excavating the sites since 2005.

The site is important to archaeologists because it is unusual that a market place and a temple complex would be located in close proximity to each other.

The cult complex consists of a "sanctuary and a temple" that was set atop a hill overlooking the market place … literally ensuring that the Gods watched over the commercial enterprises of this Greek colony.

"The main archaeological finds found in that (temple) area are fragments of tiles of various form and decoration. On some of them were painted spirals, on others - Gorgon Medusa," Madzharov reports.

"The archaeological structures found till now in the area of Sekiz Harman by the village of Krastevieh allow scientists to assume that the cult complex situated at that place was closely connected with the commercial place in the area Pamuk Tepe," Madzharov adds. 

The nearby Greek emporium was located 500 meters southeast of the village and is said to encompass an area of about 10,000 square meters. 

Here, they have uncovered architectural and artifact remains that evidence a "significant commercial complex" with intensive trade ties with other Greek settlements in or near the Aegean from the 5th to the 4th Centuries BC.

Not far from the emporium remains they found natural gold deposits and evidence of an ancient road which led to deposits of non-ferrous metals.

He also clarifies the connection between the nearby cult complex and the emporium. "They did not have a status of a town and in them were always built sanctuaries because according to the beliefs of that time Gods were called on as guarantees for the order and respectability of commercial deals." 

Madzharov plans to return to the sites with teams in 2014 to further investigate the finds. Individuals interested in additional information about the sites and how to participate may visit the project website.

Monday, April 28, 2014


ANTINOUS is the God of the Men with the Pink Triangles, gay victims of the Nazis. 

So it is with profound humility that we proclaim an anti-Nazi resistance fighter and the last known gay Jewish survivor of the Holocaust to be a Saint of Antinous.

GAD BECK died in Berlin in 2012 six days before his 89th birthday on June 30.

Beck was a pioneering gay activist and educator in a severely anti-homosexual, repressive post-World War II German society. He was famous for his witty, lively style of speaking.

On a German talk show, he said with a wink to his small physical size, "The Americans in New York called me a big hero. I said no... I’m really a little hero."

Perhaps the single most important experience that shaped his life was the war-time effort to rescue his boyfriend. Beck donned a Hitler Youth uniform and entered a deportation center to free his Jewish lover Manfred Lewin.

After bluffing his way out of the deportation center, as the two youths were hurrying down the road to freedom, Manfred stopped and said he couldn't go on. 

He tearfully said he would never forgive himself if he abandoned his family. So, with a parting kiss, he turned back and Gad never saw him again.

The Nazis would later deport the entire Lewin family to Auschwitz, where they were murdered.

Gad's only memento of Manfred was a little notebook with poems, sketches and essays which Manfred had written, plus a photograph. Gad treasured them all his life.

Speaking about his life as a gay Jew, Beck invoked a line frequently cited about homosexuality: "God doesn't punish for a life of love."

He was featured in the film THE LIFE OF GAD BECK (Die Freiheit des Erzählens: Das Leben des Gad Beck) as well as in the German documentary film PARAGRAPH 175. (The notorious Paragraph 175 of the German Penal Code outlawed homosexuality before Adolf Hitler became chancellor in 1933, and the Nazi party radically intensified the enforcement of the anti-gay law, including deportations to extermination camps.)

Aside from the two documentaries, however, he said with typical humor that he was still waiting for the blockbuster, feature-length movie about his life, and he knew just the man to bring it to the big screen.

"Only Steven Spielberg could film my life – forgive me, forgive me," Beck quipped.

He had immigrated to Israel in 1947. After his return to Germany in 1979, the first post-Holocaust head of Berlin's Jewish community, Heinz Galinski, appointed Beck director of the Jewish Adult Education Center in Berlin.

In a telephone interview with Judith Kessler, editor of the Berlin Jewish community's monthly magazine, Juedisches Berlin, she told THE JERUSALEM POST that Beck would organize gay singles meeting in the center.

"He was open, sweet and would speak with everybody," she said. Kessler, who knew Beck since 1989, added that he would attend the annual Christopher Street Day Parade for gay pride in Berlin and wave an Israeli flag.

Beck's father was an Austrian Jew and his mother converted to Judaism.

The Nazi racial laws defined Beck as mischling (mixed-breed), and he and his father were carted off to a holding compound in the Rosenstrasse in central Berlin. 

After the non-Jewish wives of the prisoners launched a massive street protest in 1943, Beck was released. There were "thousands of women who stood for days... my aunts demanded 'give us our children and men'," he said.

The Rosenstrasse demonstration helped debunk the widespread myth in post-Holocaust German society that resistance against Nazism was futile.

"The Rosenstrasse event made one thing absolutely clear to me: I won't wait until we get deported," said Beck.

Following his release, Beck joined Chug Chaluzi, an underground Zionist resistance youth group, and played a key role in securing the survival of Jews in Berlin.

According to the entry about him at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, he noted that "as a homosexual, I was able to turn to my trusted non-Jewish, homosexual acquaintances to help supply food and hiding places."

Shortly before the end of the war in 1945, a Jewish spy working for the Gestapo betrayed Beck and some of his fellow resistance fighters.

He was held captive at a Jewish transit camp in Berlin. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, Beck continued his Zionist work and helped Jewish survivors emigrate to Palestine. He remained in Israel between 1947 and 1979.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


THIS past week I visited the Antinous of Chicago...

And paid homage in the place where I discovered him long ago.

The entire visit to the Art Institute Museum was very moving...

I spent an entire day there as if in a dream.

I was moved to tears more than once.

Antinous was the most powerful experience of all.

And later as I walked through so many halls of beauty
It was impossible to restrain my emotions.

(...and as is my custom, I dropped a little paper Ivy Leaf with a prayer printed on it behind the little plinth that Antinous's lovely head was resting upon, where I hope it will stay for a long time.)



Saturday, April 26, 2014


ON April 26th the Religion of Antinous joyously celebrates the birth of one of the wisest rulers in history, a man hand-picked by the Divine Hadrian personally to become Emperor of Rome.

Marcus Annius Verus was born on this day in the year 121 to a Spanish Roman family, related to Hadrian. From the very start, the young Marcus showed a deep interest in learning and particularly in philosophy.

The Stoic philosopher Epictetus had the most profound influence over him, and his truthful and pious nature gained Hadrian's attention and Hadrian is said to have called him "Verissimus", or most truthful, and to have taken an interest in the future of the young philosopher.

Marcus would have been 9 years old when Antinous died, and he is not believed to have been with the court in Egypt.

When Aelius Ceasar died shortly after being chosen Emperor in 138, it is believed that Marcus was Hadrian's next choice. However, the ailing and grieving emperor felt that the 17-year-old Marcus was too young.

So Hadrian decided to elect Antoninus Pius instead, requiring Antoninus to choose Marcus and the son of Lucius, called Lucius Verus, to be Antoninus's successors in turn.

This became known as the Dynasty of the Antonines, the last flowering of the glory that was Imperial Rome.

Hadrian believed that the old Antoninus would only rule for the few years needed to allow Marcus to mature. But instead, Antoninus remained in power far longer than Hadrian, and Marcus was 40 years old when he at last took power.

But the Empire that he inherited was succumbing to more and more trouble along its borders, as the Germanic hordes began their slow migration across the borders. The Philosopher-King Marcus was doomed to spend the majority of his reign leading the armies along the cold northern border.

He was successful in keeping the barbarians outside the Empire, and in maintaining the peace and prosperity in the heart of Rome that had been left to him by Hadrian and Antoninus. 

We celebrate the birthday of Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus.

Friday, April 25, 2014


MORE statues of Antinous were made than any other mortal in Ancient Rome, even more than of Augustus Caesar ... and countless bits and pieces indicate that there were even more Antinous statues.

This torso at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art has intrigued art historians for years ... could it be Antinous?

To the unskilled eye, it looks like any other torso of a young man in exceedingly good physical condition. But to the trained eye of an Antinoologist ... there are several salient features which practically scream out: "I am a statue of Antinous!"

First of all, experts generally agree that this is a Roman copy of a Greek-style statue ... the type of statue which the Greeks would have sculpted in the 5th Century BC ... and which Emperor Hadrian admired so greatly and brought in Greek sculptors to replicate in the 2nd Century AD.

The Greeks would have called it an "ephebe" or innocent youth. And yet, there is a certain glamorous attitude about this statue which shouts out "Roman."

The neck is inclined, indicating that the head originally was tilted forward in a reflective and melancholy pose very typical of Antinous.

And the torso itself looks almost identical to the Antinous Farnese statue in Naples (right). The Farnese has a languid, dreamy-decadent melancholy about it, owing to the sad face and inclined head.

But the decadent melancholy of a "waking  dreamer"  persists even in  the body alone, as  demonstrated by the  New York  torso ... the Mystery Torso of the Met ....

Thursday, April 24, 2014


THE paw prints of a puppy, and hoof prints of a sheep or goat were found on 2,000-year-old tiles discovered in a Leicester, England, archaeological excavation.

"They are beautiful finds, as they represent a snapshot, a single moment in history," said archaeologist Nick Daffern. "It is lovely to imagine some irate person chasing a dog or some other animal away from their freshly made tiles."

At least one of the tiles has the imprint of dog paws, and one is marked with a hoof print, likely put on the tile before it hardened. 

The original purpose of the tiles … found in layers of rubble used as a hard base for buildings … remains unclear.

The artifacts were found in the city where the long-missing bones of King Richard III were discovered in 2012 under a parking lot.

Leicester was the home base of an Iron age tribe known as the Corieltauvi, and the city remained an important outpost after the Roman conquest of Britain.

Excavators said Roman tweezers, coins, brooches, and painted wall plaster have been uncovered, as well as the traces of a building that was probably robbed of its masonry for later construction projects.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


HADRIAN loved all things Greek ... especially Antinous ... and he would love the current exhibition at his beloved Villa east of Rome.

Over fifty masterpieces showing the deep relationship between the Emperor and Greece are on exhibit now through November 2 at Tivoli's Villa Adriana. 

The event is hosted in the villa’s Antiquarium del Canopo, the same venue for the first-ever exhibition of Antinous art at Hadrian's Villa in 2012.

The exhibited items, some of which have never left Greece before, are loans from museums in Athens, Marathon, Piraeus, Corinth and Loukou.

The exhibition is titled "Hadrian and Greece ... Villa Adriana amid classicism and Hellenism" and curated by Elena Calandra and Benedetta Adembri.

"Hadrian studied there – in Greece – and went back for long periods as an adult," says Ms. Calandra. 

"Before receiving the imperial crown he became archon and established himself in Athens, making a sort of capital and base for trips to the East,” she continues.

Hadrian is a very significant figure in Greece as well, where he is considered a visionary emperor who loved Athens. 

He is known for the architectural masterpieces he built in the Greek capital, such as the arch of Hadrian the library and the aqueduct.

This event aims to highlight the longevity of Greek culture, and Hadrian's connection to both classicism and Hellenism as well as the decorations and landscapes of the villa.

Masterpieces travelling from Greece to be exhibited in Villa Adriana include Corinth's caryatids, Hadrian’s head from Athens, statues of philosophers and the head of Herod Atticus, who was friends with the emperor, and Antinous from Patras shown above.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


A "new" part of the ancient Roman port of Portus or Ostia Antica has been discovered which makes the well-preserved city even larger than Pompeii, according to British archaeologists who unearthed it.

The discovery reveals streets and neighborhoods which Antinous and Hadrian no doubt saw when leaving or arriving Rome's biggest port city on their voyages to far-flung Roman provinces.

The new discovery means the fanciful modern illustration above in the style of Roman frescoes will have to be modified to cover a much larger area.

The team of British archaeologists has discovered a building twice the size of a football field, a boundary wall and large defensive towers under fields near Rome airport ... making the area 35 per cent larger than previously thought.

Often overlooked by visitors heading for Pompeii, Ostia is the second best-preserved ancient Roman town, with streets, houses and an amphitheatre on the banks of the Tiber River.

The discovery, by experts from the universities of Southampton and Cambridge, teamed with the British School at Rome and Italian archaeologists, has been made on the other side of the Tiber, proving the river did not border the town, but ran through it, splitting Ostia Antica in two.

"The work shows that Ostia Antica was 35 percent larger than we believed, including buildings from the second and 3rd Century AD which were built as a consequence of the enlargement of Portus by the emperor Trajan, which meant more ships were arriving," says Simon Keay, from the University of Southampton. 

"It shows Rome was importing significantly more food through the port than we thought," he adds.

It also sheds light on how important Ostia was to trade in the first 200 years of the millennium, said Mariarosaria Barbera, superintendent of Rome’s archaeological heritage.

Monday, April 21, 2014


ON April 21, as the Sun moves into the Sign of Taurus the Bull, we celebrate the ancient festival of THE EROTICON.

On this day we honor the great God of Love, Eros-Cupid, in his guise as Antinous-Phanes, the "radiant being of light who emerges from the egg of night". 

We also honor the Great God Priapus the divine phallus, the column of male virility, the bestower of the fertility of fields, vineyards, orchards and gardens. Priapus is the axis of the cosmos.

On this date we also commemorate the founding of the city of Rome, Natalis Urbis, personified by the Romans as Our Lady Roma. We celebrate the consecration of her sacred border, and of her birth, and eternal life, and remember that we are her children.

And also on this date we remember the Sacred Bear Hunt. While in Mysia in Asia Minor, in the year 129, the court engaged in a Bear Hunt near the city which Hadrian had founded (on an earlier trip) called Hadrianotherae, "Hadrian's hunting ground". It is the modern-day city of Balikesir in a lovely area of wooded forests and lakes in northwestern Turkey.

Hadrian loved animals and is known to have built tombs for his dogs and horses (according to Royston Lambert) and he loved to hunt. The Bear is the sacred animal of Diana-Artemis, and symbolizes the solitary, forest-roaming character of the Virgin Huntress. In the ferocity of the bear lies the secret of Diana's power, against which Hadrian and Antinous pitted themselves, as shown on the tondo from the Arch of Constantine.

The grand themes of the Eroticon are Love and Sex and Ferocious Anger. The Beast is always lurking inside of us. The mystery teaching surrounding the Bear Hunt involves getting to know your animal instincts -- sex and lust and rage -- and to become one with them and to turn them into powerful allies for your spiritual development.

Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia has expressed this mystical mystery meaning as follows:

"Antinous, under Hadrian's guidance, was an accomplished hunter, indeed it is perhaps his natural skill and bravery in the chase that elevated him to the absolute love and adoration of Hadrian. The Emperor was madly in love with hunters, and Antinous was one of the best. Antinous had perhaps been silently stalking and hunting the Emperor's favor for quite some time, and now, in Asia, in the sacred Hunting Grounds of Hadrian, Antinous closed in on the heart of his prey and captured the Emperor completely. In our commemoration of the Sacred Bear Hunt we recognize that Artemis and Antinous are twin deities, and we seek the Dianic-Artemis-Bear within ourselves."

Sunday, April 20, 2014


A mummified baboon has led Egyptologists to the location of the fabled "Land of Punt" ... source of gold, frankincense, myrrh, ivory and baboons for the Ancient Egyptians.

Hatshepsut famously sent an expedition to "Punt" to return with rare animals, ivory, Puntite dignitaries and even entire frankincense trees in pots for replanting in her gardens, as shown in this illustration.

To the Egyptians, Punt was a place of fragrances, giraffes, electrum and other exotic goods, and was 
sometimes referred to as Ta-netjer, or "God’s land" ... no further explanation was needed for them.

Until now, however, experts did not know the exact location of "Punt" ... because, while Egyptian art shows expeditions to Punt in tantalizing detail, the Egyptians apparently assumed everybody would know where it was located ... which was true 3,300 years ago ... but not today.

Now, forensic scientific analysis of a mummified baboon in the British Museum shows Punt was located in what would now be eastern Ethiopia and all of Eritrea.

Analysis of a mummified baboon in the British Museum has revealed the location of the land of Punt as the area between Ethiopia and Eritrea. 

Live baboons were among the goods that we know the Egyptians got from Punt. 

The research team included Professor Salima Ikram from the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, and Professor Nathaniel Dominy and graduate student Gillian Leigh Moritz, both from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Working on the baboon discovered in the Valley of the Kings, the researchers compared the oxygen isotope values in the ancient baboons to those found in their modern day brethren. 

Although isotope values in baboons in Somalia, Yemen and Mozambique did not match, those in Eritrea and Eastern Ethiopia were closely matched.

"All of our specimens in Eritrea and a certain number of our specimens from Ethiopia – that are basically due west from Eritrea – those are good matches," said Professor Dominy.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


TWO names have surfaced of athletes who took part in the famous Games of Antinous in the mid-3rd Century AD ... two teenage wrestlers named Nicantinous and Demetrius.

The modern priests of Antinous rejoice at the discovery by pure chance of their names ... on a crumbling papyrus which had been found 100 years ago but which only now has been translated.

These two youths were rivals in life. The faced each other in a championship match in honor of Antinous.

And the bittersweet irony of it all is that their names were recorded for posterity because they cheated! They names are bound together for all eternity as if in a vice-like wrestler's grip ... because their managers rigged the match.

The remarkable thing is how few names have survived to this day. We know the names of only a handful of Ancient Priests of Antinous ... and even fewer names of his worshipers. 

We know for example that a man called Serapammon commissioned the priests to cast a love spell to win the heart of a woman he adored.

The Games of Antinous, formally called the Great Antinoeia, were held every four years in Antinoopolis which was founded by Emperor Hadrian on the site along the Nile where his beloved Antinous had died in 130 AD. The Games flourished for hundreds of years, but no record had ever been found listing any names connected with the Games.

Until now ... and now a papyrus document has been deciphered which lists two boy wrestlers who took part in the final wrestling championship match in at the 138th Great Antinoeia in the year 267 AD.

Ironically, the papyrus is a contract signed by trainers of the two boys to rig their match so that Nicantinous would win ... and Demetrius would be paid off to lose.

Details of this contract came to light this past week as the Modern Priests of Antinous were making plans for the 2014 Games of Antinous which will be held in August.

We shall never know who Nicantinous and Demetrius were during their lifetimes. Now, of course, they will be forever linked together ... grappling to the end of time ... bound together forever in connection with scandal and corruption involving the Games of Antinous.

We Modern Priests believe it is immaterial whether they were scoundrels or whether they were innocent pawns in the hands of unscrupulous agents ... they were boys in a big-time sport firmly in the hands of quick-talking professionals.

Let us honor both Demetrius and Nicantinous. Presumably Nicantinous won his medals and his prizes and his lifetime pension. But he paid a heavy price. 

Apparently, the bribery contract came to light, for it was found filed away at the Great Library in Oxyrhynchos Egypt. Presumably, a court case ensued.

Perhaps both youths were forced to stand trial. And even if their secret never came to light during their lifetimes, they lived with it and faced the threat of blackmail all their lives.

We think there is great Homotheosis in the image of Nicantinous and Demetrius wrestling in an "unfair" match in which the "winner" is the "loser" and the "loser" possibly should have been the "winner". 

And we are convinced that this ill-fated wrestling match is a metaphor for the way most gay people "wrestle" with spirituality in a homophobic society. We wrestle against religion.

Let us, as Priests of Antinous, acknowledge both the triumph and the humiliation of both Demetrius (who should have won) and Nicantinous (who unfairly won). 

May their names shine as a beacon to all generations of Antinoians … illuminating our way along the narrow path between triumph and folly. 

May we embrace Nicantinous and admire the gold medal hanging round his neck ... may we kiss the gold medal ... may we embrace Nicantinous and take him to our hearts ... for he is us ... and we are him.

And may we embrace Demetrius in the same spirit of forgiveness and compassion for a youthful transgression …which happened long ago … and which now taints his name for all time.

In the Religion of ANTINOUS THE GAY GOD, we do not wrestle against the divine spirit of gay sexuality ... we become one with it ... HOMOTHEOSIS ... Gay-Man-Godliness-Becoming-The-Same ... Demetrius and Nicantinous are two aspects of a gay person's "struggle" with religion. Both are inseparable ... both are victors ... both are the vanquished ... and in the end they merge into one single spiritual entity ... spiritually inseparable.

Images: The Wrestlers (also known as The Two WrestlersThe Uffizi Wrestlers or The Pancrastinae) is a Roman marble sculpture after a lost Greek original of the 3rd Century BC It is now in the Uffizi collection in Florence, Italy.

Friday, April 18, 2014


EXPERTS have deciphered a contract from the famous Games of Antinous in Egypt which ensured that the loser of a rigged wrestling match would at least walk away with his bribe ... rather than walking away empty-handed if he failed to win honestly.

The very odd document seems to raise more questions than it answers ... but it sheds new light on the most famous competition held at Antinoopolis every four years honoring the death and deification of Hadrian's lover Antinous.

The games were held in the city founded on the site where Antinous died mysteriously in the Nile. 

For centuries afterwards, competitions were held in his honor in the areas of poetry, art, music, rowing, athletic events and chariot racing at the city's hippodrome.

The winners of the various events received handsome prizes as well as a stipend allowing them to live in comfort the rest of their lives in Antinoopolis.

But there was no second or third place ... and so losers walked away empty-handed.

In the contract, the father of a wrestler named Nicantinous agrees to pay a bribe to the guarantors (likely the trainers) of another wrestler named Demetrius. 

Both wrestlers were set to compete in the final wrestling match of the 138th Great Antinoeia, the official name of the Games of Antinous. The Games were held in the year 267 AD, when the Games had been going on for more than a century.

They were in the boys' division, which was generally reserved for teenagers.

The contract stipulates that Demetrius "when competing in the competition for the boy [wrestlers], to fall three times and yield," and in return would receive "three thousand eight hundred drachmas of silver of old coinage …"

The contract includes a clause that Demetrius is still to be paid if the judges realize the match is fixed and refuse to reward Nicantinous the win. 

If "the crown is reserved as sacred, (we) are not to institute proceedings against him about these things," the contract reads. 

It also says that if Demetrius reneges on the deal, and wins the match anyway, then "you are of necessity to pay as penalty to my [same] son on account of wrongdoing three talents of silver of old coinage without any delay or inventive argument."

The translator of the text, Dominic Rathbone, a professor at King's College London, noted that 3,800 drachma was a relatively small amount of money — about enough to buy a donkey, according to another papyrus. 

Moreover, the large sum Demetrius would forfeit if he were to back out of the deal suggests his trainers would have been paid additional money Rathbone said.

The games had been going on for more than a century by the time this contract was created, and brought benefits for the people of Antinoopolis.

"You get the visitors; you get the crowd; you get the trade; you get the prestige," Rathbone told Live Science.

The contract was found at Oxyrhynchus, in Egypt, more than a century ago by an expedition led by archaeologists Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt. 

It was translated for the first time by Rathbone and published in the most recent volume of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, an ongoing series that publishes papyri from this site.

"In ancient competitions, coming first is the one and only thing — no silver, no bronze," Rathbone said. Additionally, the cost of training athletes was considerable. 

Athletes from wealthy families could pay their own way, but athletes from less-well-off backgrounds could find themselves in debt to their trainers.

The trainers were ever-present, even overseeing their wrestlers in the ring, as this scene from a drinking cup shows.

"The trainer is going to pay for your food, your accommodations and so on for your training, so you end up in debt to him," Rathbone said.

In this winner-takes-all situation, both sides may have decided to curb their risks by making a deal to fix the match, Rathbone said.

"If you were confident you would win, normally you would go for it," he said. 

"If you're not sure you would win, maybe you're cutting your risk by saying, 'At least I get the bribe,'" Rathbone said.

But researchers still wonder, why did the guarantors for the athletes put a clearly illicit agreement in writing on papyrus (pictured here)?

"That's the really bizarre thing; isn't it?" Rathbone said, noting that if either side reneged on the deal, it would be hard to take the matter to court.

He has also noted oddities in the way the contract was drawn up.

"It doesn't look as though they've actually gone as far as getting a scribe with legal knowledge to do this for them, which makes you wonder if it's a bit of an empty thing," Rathbone said.

"It's not really likely that either side is going to [seek recourse] if the other defaults."

Although this is the only known contract recording a bribe between ancient athletes, there are references in ancient sources indicating that bribery in athletic competitions was not unusual. 

By the time of the Roman Empire, bribery in athletic competitions was getting more prevalent as the events became more lucrative, Rathbone said.

Original article on Live Science.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


ON April 17th the Religion of Antinous honors Saint Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, 17th Century Mexican nun, scholar, poet, scientist, playwright, musician and lesbian.

She was exceptional not only for her intelligence and beauty, but also because she wrote literature centered on intellectual and sexual freedom.

In the poem "Redondillas" she defends a woman's right to be respected as a human being. "Hombres necios" (Stubborn men) criticizes the sexism of the society of her time, and pokes fun at men who publicly condemn prostitutes, among other things, but privately hire them.

She also has a philosophical approach to the relative immorality of prostitution. This was exemplified when she posed the question, "Who sins more, she who sins for pay or he who pays for sin?"

In the romantic comedy entitled "Los empeños de una casa" about a brother and a sister entangled in a web of love, she writes using two of her most prominent themes, love and jealousy.

She did not moralize, but rather, in the spirit of her lifetime interests, inquired of how these deeply emotional matters shaped and carved a woman's pursuit of liberty, knowledge, education and freedom to live her life in self-sovereignty.

Her revolutionary writings brought down upon her the ire of the Roman Catholic Church at the end of the 17th Century. She was ordered to tone down the sexuality of her writings. She did not.

However, powerful representatives from the Spanish court were her mentors and she was widely read in Spain, being called "The Tenth Muse". She was lauded as the most prominent poet of the post-conquest American Continent. Her work was printed by the first printing press of the American Continent in Mexico City.

She is believed to have penned 4,000 works, but only a few have survived. They were rescued by the Spanish Viceroy's wife, who was rumored to be her female lover. In April 1695, after ministering to the other sisters struck down by a rampant plague, she is said to have died at four in the morning on April 17th.

For her love of learning and her devotion to the beauty of sexuality and for her courage to write about controversial things in the face of the Spanish Inquisition, we honor Saint Sor Juana as a Prophet of Homoeros.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


WE honor Kenneth Weishuhn as a blessed Saint of Antinous because he killed himself at age 14 after bullies taunted him relentlessly for being gay.

April 14th, 2012, Kenneth James Weishuhn, of Primghar, Iowa, succumbed to the bullying he'd been receiving since coming out as a gay teen only a few short months earlier.  

He was a very happy young man.  Handsome and full of life.  He was loving to others.  More than that, he was loved by his friends and families.

Unfortunately, coming out of the closet cost him his young life.  The bullying was relentless and severe to the point where he couldn't take it any longer. 

Two of Kenneth's friends, Kristi and Brandi, made a YOUTUBE VIDEO TRIBUTE to their gone-too-soon friend.  

Antinous is the God of teens who suffer for being gay. Kenneth Weishuhn is in the embrace of Antinous the Gay God. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


ON April 15th the Religion of Antinous remembers Jean Genet as a Saint of Antinous.

Saint Jean Genet was one of the first and most modern gay poets, whose elegance and sordid love for the street life was unprecedented, and has never been matched.

Among his most fervent desires, expressed from the very beginning was that he should one day be elevated to Sainthood.

We of the Religion of Antinous, fully and faithfully, take faith in the spirit of Saint Jean Genet, through whom the eternal voice of Antinous spoke with the most voluptuousness and vain-glory. 

Saint Jean Genet died on this day in Paris in1986.

Monday, April 14, 2014


ON April 14th the Religion of Antinous honors one of our most blessed thespian saints and martyrs, St. John Gielgud, who was born on this day in 1904.

The most terrible moment in John Gielgud's life -- on which he maintained a public silence for 50 years -- was the subject of a critically acclaimed play in the London West End.

The play, entitled "Plague Over England", was about the scandal which swept across Britain in 1953 when John Gielgud was arrested by an undercover policeman in a public toilet in London.

But the 2008 play was concerned with much more than Gielgud's arrest in on the charge of "importuning for immoral purposes". The play showed the plight of gay men in the 1950s Cold War atmosphere when gays were associated with Communist espionage. 

Its characters include the producer who nearly ended his career, the virulently anti-homosexual Lord Chief Justice Rayner Goddard, an American fleeing his own country's anti-Communist paranoia, and a doctor who claims to "cure" same-sex attraction with "Clockwork Orange"-style electric shock therapy.

Homosexuals had long been feared and hated in England as men who, it was believed, preyed on the innocent young, and were thus unfit to lead normal, happy lives. Until 1967, they risked prosecution for what the law called "acts of gross indecency between male persons", even in private, and could be arrested for merely showing -- in a police spy's opinion -- an intent to commit them.

Police throughout England were alert for any hints of homosexual behaviour. Just before Gielgud was arrested, two prominent high-class gay men had been uncovered as KGB spies, resulting in a further crackdown on all gay activities. The officer who arrested Gielgud was part of a Metropolitan Police squad established in 1930 that regularly lurked in central London toilets.

The year in which Gielgud came to grief in a Chelsea public convenience was a particularly dangerous one for homosexuals, as the increased frankness of the period allowed politicians, the police, and the press to profit by inflaming public hysteria, warning that a "plague" or "epidemic" of sodomy and Communism was sweeping the land.

The climate of fear was chilling to gay men who paid even the slightest attention to the news.

Gielgud, however, was, in his own words a "silly gubbins" who took no notice of anything outside of acting. On October 21, following the rehearsal for the play "A Day By the Sea", this supremely unworldly man, then 49, had a few drinks at a party and then visited a public lavatory popular with "cottagers" -- English gay slang for men who cruise toilets.

Arrested, and aware that he should give a false identity, he said he was a clerk called Arthur (his real name) Gielgud. The next day he  appeared before a magistrate who did not know who he was, fined him 10 pounds, and ordered him, with the disdain and sexual ignorance of the period, to "see your doctor the moment you leave this court".

Unfortunately, a better-informed Evening Standard reporter was there, too. When that afternoon's paper hit the streets, he was on the front page.

You can imagine the shame and the terror with which Gielgud turned up at rehearsal (he had considered suicide) for the role of a bachelor diplomat whose mother worries that he is lonely and unloved.

But the company, led by his co-star, Dame Sybil Thorndike, in fact welcomed him with open arms. "Oh, John," she said, in one of the most magnificent double entendres of all time, "you HAVE been a silly bugger!"

The producer of "A Day By the Sea", however, the immensely powerful Binkie Beaumont, saw the newspaper articles and the hate mail, and worried that the public would stay away. Yet his thoughts of firing the star were thwarted by Gielgud's brother, Val, who applied a little judicious blackmail about Binkie's very own private life.

Although everyone was nervous that Gielgud might be greeted with silence, or even boos, on his first appearance at the play's opening, as the curtain came down he was cheered to the rafters.

Gielgud was known for having a penchant for anonymous bathroom sex -- It's one of the reasons his knighthood (just a few months before the arrest) was postponed for years. He even had a "cruising cap" for such forays, an attempt to disguise himself so as to avert detection by fans who might recognize him.

The arrest had important consequences, and not only for Gielgud, who was told by the British embassy in Washington to forget about a planned American production of "The Tempest". because he might prove "an embarrassment".

Afterwards, the floodgates opened as the public was confronted by the disturbing fact that an extremely distinguished and beloved artist was one of the people they, in theory, despised. The fuss contributed to the Wolfenden Commission, set up the following year to study prostitution, taking on homosexuality as well. Its recommendations eventually led to decriminalisation in Britain.

While the affair broke Gielgud emotionally, he put himself back together in a way that made him better suited to a theatre in a world of greater change and upheaval.

For his talent and for his courage, the Religion of Antinous honors Saint John Gielgud as a Prophet of Homoeros.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


GLEAMING white marble and limestone sculptures dominate our image of the Mediterranean world in classical antiquity.

However, it is not generally known that ancient architecture and sculptures were once painted in vivid colours.

But now, thanks to technology, experts are delving into the "archaeo-polychromy" of ancient reliefs and sculptures.

They use digital scanners to detect faint smidgens of pigment. And then they do computer projections of what the original must have looked like.

For over a decade now, the traveling exhibit GODS IN COLOR (original title in German: Bunte Götter – Die Farbigkeit antiker Skulptur) shows statues such as "Paris the Trojan Archer" (above), from the west pediment of the Aphaia Temple in Aegina, the way that scientists believe the Ancient Greeks intended them to look.

The traveling exhibition has been seen in major cities on every continent and is still heading to new cities. 

If you are heading to Germany this spring and summer you can catch this spectacular show in Hohentübingen Castle at the UNIVERSITY OF TÜBINGEN. It opened this week and runs through August 10.

The experts stress that these mock-ups are only "best guess scenarios" of what the originals must have looked like. And there are many, many possible variations. The result is very flat and uniform.

After all, the experts are going by only minute flakes of pigment on a chin or cheek to project the color of the entire face.

No doubt the Ancient artists used varying hues, so that this bust of Caligula (left) would look much, much more lifelike than it does here in this modern mock-up.

The experts claim that even bronze statuary was often gilded and painted. We think of bronze being beautiful when it has acquired a patina of greenish age. But the Ancients thought that was dreadful. 

They went to great pains to keep their bronze statues polished so that they gleamed in the sun. They put gemstones in the eyes and they gilded the lips and the brows and eyelashes.

Be sure to watch for this traveling exhibition at a museum near you!

Saturday, April 12, 2014


WE are often asked whether Antinous was gay during his mortal lifetime ... truly gay, at least as we understand the complex sociological and orientation that exist today.

Scholars have quibbled ... especially in Victorian times ... that Hadrian and Antinous were not homosexuals in the modern sense.

Instead, they were engaged in a socially acknowledged erotic relationship between an adult male (the erastes) and a younger male (the eromenos) usually in his teens ... or so the uptight scholars argued.

These semantic nuances allowed academics to sidestep the socially loaded issue of calling some of the greatest figures in history "practicing homosexuals" ... because that might imply that homosexuality was in fact not a degenerate mental illness, but instead was perfectly normal.

Even up until the turn of the 21st Century, many academicians (mostly male) persisted in avoiding the "G" word when referring to Hadrian and Antinous.

All of that changed at a news conference in London a few years ago.

"Hadrian was gay, and we can say that now. The Victorians had a problem with it. But we can say it." Thorsten Opper, a British Museum curator of Greek and Roman sculpture shocked the stuffy world of academia when he made that statement ... at a news conference announcing the Museum's Hadrian: Empire and Conflict" exhibition in 2008.

The British Museum, that bastion of staid and conservative scholarship, signaled a paradigm shift in historical awareness of homosexuality. 

The collage portrait of Antinous by artist Doug Stapleton on this page symbolizes the many layers of perception of gayness through the ages.

Our own high priest, Flamen Antonius Subia, explains the change in attitude that has taken place ... it is not so much gayness which has changed ... but rather the cultural perception of gays has changed ... not only society's perception of gays ... but more especially the perception of gayness amongst gays.

"Gay has always been and always will be, or so I feel," Antonius says. "Antinous was gay in the way that gays were in Roman times, which is different from how gays were in the 1950's, which is different from how gays are now," he says. 

"Antinous represents the divine essence that we all hold in common, so yes, I believe that in his own way and for his time, Antinous was gay just like we are now."

Friday, April 11, 2014


ON April 11 the Religion of Antinous commemorates the arrival of Antinous in Arabia enroute to his date with destiny in Egypt following a triumphal tour of Asia Minor ... a juncture in the year 130 AD signaled a turning point in history.

The glorious tour of the Eastern Provinces would soon turn sour when Hadrian reached Jerusalem, a city he would raze to the ground a few years hence in rage at the Jewish rebellion earning him the enmity of Jews forever more. In a few weeks, the entourage would enter drought-stricken Egypt, where Hadrian would be confronted by despair and discontent.

And only six months hence, his beloved Antinous would be dead. The wise and cautious emperor would turn bitter and cruel without sweet Antinous at his side. The history of Western Civilization was about to change ....

But on this day in the spring of 130 AD, Hadrian basked in the golden glow of adulation, sensing perhaps only vaguely that this glow was in fact the sunset of his reign.

Traveling across the Arabian desert by caravan, with only the inner circle and a light escort, Hadrian and Antinous went south from Syria (where they had spent the winter at Antioch) towards Arabia Petra, crossing the country now called Jordan. 

They skirted the Dead Sea, and went as far as the capital of the province of Arabia, the famous city of Petra, where merchants arrived, carrying frankincense, the most important religious offering in the Roman religion.

The great temple of Petra, carved out of pink limestone rock, was dedicated to their primary god, Al Qaum, who is compared to Mars, our war god, and was said to be the protector of the Caravans.

Al Quam was never depicted, but was represented as an un-worked, cone-shaped stone; set on a golden pedestal, that somewhat resembles a phallus.

The Nabateans had been conquered by Pompey, but were allowed independent rule until Trajan made their kingdom a Roman Province. 

Hadrian so adored the city and lavished great sums on the people, that he decreed that the city should be called after him from then on, so that is was known as Hadriane Petra.

The historical importance of the Nabateans and their fantastic city is that they are the ancestors of the founders of Islam. 

Their language and writing is what evolved into Arabic. 

Their entire culture and religious foundation was embraced by the tribes of the whole Arabian Desert, and ultimately formed the backbone of the Arabian conquest after Mohamed. 

While Europe descended into the Dark Ages, the Islamic culture of art and learning flourished.

The elegance, love for learning and war of the Arabian people extends from the Nabatean culture which had so impressed Hadrian.

On April 11 every third year the Religion of Antinous praises and sanctifies Arabia and the Moslem world as a whole, because ironically even they are touched by Antinous and had influence upon our god. 

We pray that the wisdom of the Nabateans of Arabia Petra will return to calm the crisis of our modern age.