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Beloved & God: The Story of Hadrian and Antinous [Paperback]

Royston Lambert
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 July 1997
Who was Antonius? Why did he become a God? in Beloved and God, Royston Lambert tackles all the mysteries the story presents. With many illustations of the people and places concerned in the affair and of the splendid and fascinating artefacts which it produced, this account, based on thorough research, is a compelling read.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; New edition edition (14 July 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857999444
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857999440
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.6 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 693,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't believe I didn't know about this! 4 July 2001
By A Customer
This book was something of a revelation. I must confess that I (and perhaps several other billion people worldwide) had never heard of Antinous. Most people at least know something about Hadrian, his wall dividing England/Scotland for example, but nothing about the significance of his gay lover.
This book explains how someone of such little apparent importance became so influential. Within a few days of his death, aged 18-20, he was deified; within four years a magnificent city bearing his name had sprung up where he had died; and within a decade a cult worshipping him had spread throughout the Roman empire. This excellent book follows the relationship between Hadrian and Antinous and explains how its effects have reverberated even to our own times.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing "love story". 6 Feb 2008
By Guy Mannering VINE VOICE
You may wonder how a footnote to history can be made to stretch to some 300 pages. After all, there are only a handful of brief references to Antinous in the ancient writers and rather more statues of him in the great museums. But I found every page of Lambert's book totally absorbing both when I first read it some 20 years ago and yet again more recently. It's beautifully written, sensitive and scholarly without being in the least bit dry or academic. And when the author probes the mysteries of Antinous' death and burial place you trust his reasoning and his conclusions. At the time of writing this review I note that the hardback version looks pretty pricey in the secondhand market, but if you invest in the less pricey paperback I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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This is 'the' bible for anyone who wants to know about Antinous and the emperor who loved him, Hadrian. it takes you, step by step through their relationship, the evidence for it. Simply brilliant.

It has helped enormously in helping me research and frame my novel about Hadrian and Antinous - The Love God by Martin Campbell
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ancient History Relevant and Controversial 15 Sep 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Anyone reading this review likely already knows that Antinous was the greek teenage (male) lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who ruled effectively at the height of the pax romana. Antinous drowned in the Nile while in Hadrian's entourage and the distraught Emperor subsequently deified him. Antinous (the god) remained popular until his cult was stamped out by Christianity.
Royston Lambert's book, subtitled The Story of Hadrian and Antinous, is as much about the story of the story of Hadrian and Antinous than about the couple themselves. The facts left to us by ancient history are so scant that we must deduce from prejudiced "secondary sources" for most of what can be surmised about their lives together. Yet Lambert's exposure of the context and motivations of these secondary sources does as much or more to tell us a story as does the laying out of the bare facts.
"The secrets of the imperial bedchamber must for ever be denied to us, and, in view of all the hideous and speculative publicity about their love, Hadrian and Antinous are surely entitled to keep this ultimate and intimate secret." the author says. Although we can know few if any of the details of the relationship between the boy and the Caesar, Lambert gives us much about how others later saw it. This is, in my opinion, the most interesting aspect of Lambert's book. From the early Christian condemnations to the Victorian bowdlerization and rehabilitation, past historians do much to expose their own prejudices and opinions and very little to expose the imperial bedchamber. And just as all the previous commentaries have done, the present text's cool, objective style will give future generations more insight into how today's historians view pederastic behavior than into the lives of two ancient homosexual lovers. Maybe all historical works do more to comment on the times in which they are written than on the times in which they hope to comment?
Beloved and God gives us a story of the last of the gods of classical times and an insight into the cultures of Greece and Rome which remain as the foundations of our own. It was worthwhile for me to learn from Lambert how much times have changed, and yet remain the same.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Emperor grieves his lost lover 19 Aug 2005
By C. B Collins Jr. - Published on
This book adequately demonstrates that Hadrian's private sexual life and his obsession with his young lover Antinous did have an impact on policy and his public actions, particularly the establishment of Antinous as a state sponsored god, to be worshiped by the citizens of the Roman empire.

Antinous was the beautiful young Greek lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. When Antinous, around age 20, was accidentally drowned on the Nile, the 54 year old Hadrian was devasted and his grief changed the Empire. There is some evidence to indicate that Hadrian and Antinous had a 9 year acquatance before Antinous' death. We are unsure if the relationship was sexual in the beginning when Antinous was a child of 11. Other evidence would indicate that he gradually rose to prominence in the Imperial household and became the lover of the Emperor in the final two years of his short life. There are some descriptions of the couple that would indicate Antinous's maturity beyond his years and his calming wise personality brought relief to the restless personality of Hadrian. There is also some evidence that they shared spiritual beliefs and together joined a mystery cult. Hadrian established a cult around Antinous that spread throughout the Mediterranean. There were at least 40 cities with evidence of worship and cults to this state sponsored god. There is some evidence that the cult of Antinous and the cults of Dionysos and Hermes are overlapping since both were named the gods of farm animals, fertility and crops. Sculptors created statues of male adolescent beauty in honor of Antinous, which established the canon of adolescent perfection for many years in the classical world.

Hadrian was an amazing fellow. In his later years he lived at Tivoli in a fantasy village containing replicas of the great landmarks of the empire. He was surrounded by multiple images of his deceased lover.

There is some belief that Antinous was a human sacrifice of some kind to appease the gods or to benefit Hadrian. Handrian himself denied this to be true in his later years. Others believe he was a slave boy. This is certainly false since Rome was built on slave labor and to raise a slave to god status would have been totally beyond the economic and class structures of Rome. Reports that Antinous was a castrated eunich are also to be questioned since the statues all indicate fully developed muscular male beauty and Hadrian outlawed castration of slaves. Some records indicate Hadrian wrote erotic poetry to Antinous but none survives.

Also remember that the cult of Antinous was a competitor with early Christianity. With very few exceptions, writing about the relationship between Antinous and Hadrian are not homophobic with the exception of early Christian writings which were scandalized by the religious cult established by the Emperor in honor of his lover. The festivities around the cult of Antinous supposedly endorsed homosexual orgies. This book is very well researched and documented and certianly is broad reaching and thorough. I would suggest however Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian as a companion book. Hadrian become Emperor at 41, mature and wise to the ways of worldly power. He beame emperor after his Spanish cousin, Trajan, a major character in Yourcenar's Memoirs. Trajan, a childless but happily married man, never showed favoritism to Hadrian and never acknowledged him as his successor. This may have save Hadrian's life and character since he was supposed not favored above others in his military career. his political skills increased as the speech writer for his cousin Trajan. Hadrian quickly consolidated power when Trajan died of a stroke in Syria. He wore a short beard, the first of the Emperors to do so but a style followed by all the others. Twice assassination attempts were made on his life. Hadrian ws known for never forgetting the names of men who served with him in the military and was known to bathe and eat alongside common soldiers. There was never a hint of a military takeover during his reign.

Much like Elizabeth I, he kept his own council, never really trusting those around him. He married Sabina but all indications would indicate this was a marriage of convenience. He respected the Senators but retained the lion's share of power.

Hadrian was known for his many state trips and spent half of his reign outside of Rome. Of the 44 provinces making up the Empire, he visited 38. He died at age 62 atter ruling Rome for 21 years. Lambert has written a good book, speculating sometimes but sticking to the skimpy facts most of the time. The nature of this Imperial homosexual relationship remains a mystery in many ways. The fact that a gay Emperor ruled Rome at the height of power and world dominance, was able to establish a religious cult to his beautiful young deceased lover, and have very little negatively reflected in the surviving texts is testimony that homophobia need not always infect a society.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and informative 4 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really liked this book since it illustrated a little known (at least to the general reader) story of Hadrian and Antinous and examined the evidence in a convincing manner. While some of the art history may be a little dry, the author wisely saves this material for last. Lambert pieces the story together well from his scant written evidence and manages to illustrate a complicated relationship between the two. Lambert leaves it up to the reader to fill in the blanks and give Hadrian's and Antinous's relationship depth.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything he did..he did it for love. 28 Sep 2008
By Jane - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There are two very detailed and comprehensive reviews of the absolute love of Hadrian and Antinous. To say the story deals in absolutes is an understatement!
The wealthiest, most powerful man in the ancient world loves the most beautiful boy. The ulitimate sacrifice. The most inconsolable grief. The most statues,coins,temples,towns,poems to honour a most beautiful boy.

I believe that the evidence illustrated by Lambert shows to me the ultimate self- sacrifice for love was given by Antinous. Whether I am right or wrong is left up to each reader.

More importantly for me,the story comes through to us like an unstoppable force from the past!

Lambert did an excellent job of taking the reader through the times and life of Hadrian and Antinous,even though the evidence is so scarce. But there is enough to know Hadrian's grief was beyond reproach.

The censorship of this culture relationship between a man and boys in the ancient world for over 1000 years is blown away by the unstoppable force of love! Love between a man and a boy. Common then. Uncommon love now!

Here is the power of love! The power of loss! The power of unequalled grief for the unenexpected death of a beloved. The fact that it is same sex means nothing - and everything.

It is the beauty of men in love with the beauty of boys in the ancient world. It is the beauty of Hadrian with Antinous. It is the ethereal beauty of Antinous reaching from the past to dazzle our eyes!

Oh how I wish it didn't end like it did. Oh how I wish I hadn't learned of this love! Oh how I wish my eyes hadn't beheld the beauty of Antinous.

But we in modern times are richer for the knowledge of love it gives us. It is sensual,erotic and tender all at once.

Thank you to my friend Anton for lifting the veil and showing me a love and loss I never dreamed existed!
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much needed historical document! 8 July 2002
By A Customer - Published on
The book is a very well documented historical document in English that covers everything that we know in detail about the life that Hadrian and Antinous shared together and the world in which they lived. Wherever facts are not known, the several existing theories are exposed. It is an open minded, honest book that recovers some of the facts that, due to the political and religious agendas of previous sources, have remained hidden or were not disclosed or explored fully previously.
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