ANTINOUS born (d: 130 C.E.); If there was an All Time Beautiful Men contest, this man would have been a contender if he didn’t just walk away with the cup. And like most beauties, be married well. Antinous was a famous beauty of the ancient world who became the beloved of the emperor Hadrian.

He may have been a male prostitute when Hadrian met him, but his origins are obscure though later on he was believed to have been the product of a virgin birth. All that is known for certain is that Hadrian was immediately and utterly smitten with the beautiful 15-year-old.

From that time on, Antinous was with the emperor constantly until a journey to Egypt where he was drowned in the Nile. Some say that Antinous, knowing that a prophecy had declared the death of Hadrian unless a living sacrifice were to be offered in his place, died so that his lover might live. Others believe that Antinous, growing into young manhood, was ashamed of playing mistress to the emperor.

The most poignant story is that the boy killed himself because he couldn’t bear the idea of growing old. What we know for certain is that Hadrian’s grief at the death of Antinous was uncontained and nothing short of monumental. He deified him and founded the city of Antinopoölis in Egypt in his honor (and many other Antinopoölises elsewhere in the world) and renamed the boy’s birthplace Antinopoölis as well.

A cult was inaugurated in his honor that focused on the youth who was born of a virgin and went on to sacrifice his own life for the good of mankind. Coins were minted with his likeness and numerous busts and shatteringly beautiful statues were erected to commemorate the beauty of this youth and the love the emperor felt for him (there are so many beautiful images that are purported to be Antinous it is hard to choose which one to include here).

After deification, Antinous was associated with and depicted as the Egyptian god Osiris, associated with the rebirth of the Nile. Virgin birth. Risen from death. Sacrificed for the benefit of all people. 

Sound familiar?

Antinous was depicted as the Roman Bacchus, a god related to fertility, cutting vine leaves. Sociologist Royston Lambert wrote an utterly fascinating study of the relationship of Hadrian and Antinous as well as an equally intriguing discussion of the parallels between this story of a young man, sacrificed and associated with rebirth, and another contemporaneous story about a young man from Nazareth.

Highly recommended: Check this out on Amazon .