Antinous (l. c. 110-130 CE) was a young Greek from Bithynia (present day northwest Turkey) who became the favorite lover of the Roman emperor Hadrian.  When Antinous drowned mysteriously in the Nile, Hadrian declared him a god, erected temples to him, founded a city, Antinoöpolis, near the place where he died, ordered that statues of him be erected in all sanctuaries and cities, and established Games in his honor.

That is an astounding tribute for a 19 year-old and explains why so many statues of Antinous exist today, including one that was discovered at Delphi in 1893. During the excavations, the statue was discovered upright on its pedestal next to the wall of a brick chamber alongside the temple.

Discovery of the sculpture of Antinous. Photo credit unknown.
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Antinous, Delphi Archeological Museum

As a god, Antinous had a strong cult following. However, after Roman Emperor Theodosius I declared Christianity the only legitimate imperial religion, followers of Antinous buried the statue, standing upright, to preserve it from being completely destroyed. The arms had been lost in a prior invasion.

The statue by an unknown sculptor is made of Parian marble and is slightly larger than life size. Wikipedia describes the sculpture as follows:

Taking a closer look at the statue, the head of young Antinous is tilted to the side like he is in a state of reflection. Around its thick and masterfully carved hair, which surround its face and fall on its forehead and cheeks, thus adding a mournful quality to its beautiful, full of vain youthful figure, several holes can be observed that were used to attach a bronze laurel wreath. His body is carved in a way that gives it the beautiful nudity which characterized the statues of gods and heroes of classical antiquity

The statue is displayed at the Archaeological Museum of Delphi.

Thanks for taking a look at this weeks Sculpture Saturday post.

Sculpture Saturday is a challenge hosted by Susan Kelly at No Fixed Plans.

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