About This Site
This site and its contents are the
creation of Shawn
Postoff. I'm a professional screenwriter, playwright,
filmmaker and novelist whose interests are many and varied.
With The Sacred Antinous, I'm attempting to construct
a comprehensive "Anti-Religion" - a canonical collection
of "sacred" writings that paradoxically advise their
reader to avoid the standard trappings of an organized religion.
The closest approximation for a genre here
is Historical Fiction. The Sacred Antinous uses as
its starting point the few extant facts that are currently
available in the historical record concerning the emperor
Hadrian, who reigned from 117 to 138 CE, and his young Greek
lover, Antinous. Building from the established (and sometimes
disputed) timeline, I am trying to fill in the missing links
with a comprehensive set of "Sacred
Texts" that seek to flesh out the story in a way
that is culturally sensitive, historically plausable, and
But The Sacred Antinous offers
a great deal more than a romp through one man's fictionalized
vision of the world's holiest boy-toy. There is a deliberate
commentary here concerning the nature of the world's past
and present religions, the portrait gallery of their various
and sundry gods and, by extention, the character of those
that worship them. The very transparency of these Sacred
Texts and their creation by the hand of a mere mortal
(moi) should raise some interesting and challenging
questions among the true believers of any faith. For starters,
a big one would be, "Where do Sacred Texts come from?"
To trace the history of any parchment or scroll backward in
time far enough is to admit that at some point, there was
a human hand involved in creating it. And regardless of whether
this first author was simply transcribing what was allegedly
dictated to him from some supposedly divine source of revelation,
or merely setting to paper what was already mythologically
and culturally established, I intend for this site to demonstrate
that the basic act of putting to paper (or cyberspace) does
not render a text holier than the hand that set it there.
What elevates a text into the stratosphere of religious officialdom
is the popularity that it finds with those who are later exposed
to it. Thus, without a hint of egotism or self-aggrandized
hype, I hereby proclaim the texts contained herein to be utterly
and incontrovertably Sacred. I daresay the rest is up to you.
If your first reaction to all this is to
think "Blasphemy!" then I'm actually surprised you've
gotten this far. You are cordially invited to leave immediately,
as all the subsequent pages on this site will probably offend
you. That being said, the thesis of this website is also potentially
quite liberating, for it suggests that when any Sacred Text
speaks of a god, it's actually speaking of its mortal reader,
thus deifying the reader simply on account of being read.
I suppose it all comes back to that poetry vs. prose debate:
Do you read the lines of a Sacred Text, or do you
read between them? Personally, I like to think of
myself as a between-the-lines kinda guy, and thus people who
are too literal (i.e. fundamentalists) tend to annoy me. But
hopefully, they've all left this site by now in abject terror
of Evil One and we can continue on with the show. (By the
way, for a very different exploration on the tension between
the literal and the metaphorical, the prose and the poetry,
the profane and the sacred, the porn and the art, I direct
you to my other expansive Internet project, Sir
Diers: Raw Youth
The gorgeous ephebes in this photographic
collection of Jay Diers' erotica are bursting
at once with both life and longing.
Using natural as well as studio
light, Jay Diers captures the essence of the youthful
male form in all of its hormonal recklessness.
Dier's work has appeared in
Blue magazine as well as numerous other publications.
In addition to providing the canvas upon
which I'm attempting to paint some monumental history with
a detail brush, and in addition to batting around some fustian
theories about the nature of gods vs. mortals, I'm also striving
to shape the Sacred Texts into
living and breathing documents that can be lifted off the
page and put into the words of actual people. In other words,
I'm composing most of the Sacred
Texts as stage plays. The intention is to illustrate yet
again (this time through form as opposed to content) that
texts are only "sacred" (and religions are only
relevant) when they find commerce with the living and breathing
mortals who interact with them. Let us never forget that a
Sacred Text which tells the story of a particular god is also,
to those unable to decipher it, but nonsensical marks on a
piece of parchment. The key to its holiness is whether it
is actually understood by humans, assuming it is even read
at all. If buried in the desert, forgotten, and unread until
it disintigrates to dust, can the god which it describes be
truly alive? Or have humans through their neglect effectively
killed a once-powerful god? If a god can be destroyed by the
activities (or inactivities) of mortals, what does this suggest
about how gods are created? And by whom? And for
Dedicated readers of The Sacred Antinous
will see this theme recur many times, some more explicitly
than others. But this ever-present question (Do Gods create
Men or do Men create their Gods?) is intended to enhance as
opposed to diminish the value of these Sacred Texts as sources
of entertainment, discussion, and community.
I have one more thing to add to all this,
and it's a brief note about sex. Take a moment now to read
the gloss in the margin entitled "The Warren Cup."
It's a little article devoted to an interesting representation
of male-male sex in Roman art. Go ahead: I'll wait...
All done? Good. So, considering the utter
normalcy of all these graphical representations of
sex going on in the ancient world, it seems reasonable to
me to assume that a young boy such as Antinous, growing up
in the environment he did, would probably have been sexualized
quite early. And because he wasn't subjected to an army of
social workers, politicians, media hawks, psychologists, psychiatrists
and therapists desperately trying to rehabilitate him from
the unfortunate state of having been "damaged,"
I highly doubt that the concept of damage would have entered
his head in the first place. Rather, like most of the boys
in his caste, he likely would have tolerated the many propositions,
endured the many rapes and (perish the thought) once in a
while may have even enjoyed the attentions of a broad
array of courtiers, slaves, patricians, paramours and older
men. At the same time, his perception of these experiences
would probably have varied considerably according to the agreeableness
of the company at hand, and would likely have been described
using a wide spectrum of adjectives ranging from abhorrent
Thus it is my sincere belief that Antinous
would have approached these early sexual experiences not as
"damaging" episodes in his young life that were
destined to mar his future happiness forever, but, like all
the other boys around him, as just another part of his duty
as a page: something to be endured and joked about with his
peers while they compared notes about the cock-size of their
partners, the degree of painfulness they heroically endured,
and what they hoped would come of it from the perspective
of a social or economic payoff. To this end, I have endeavoured
to give to my personal Antinous the dignity of an early sexuality
that is unconcerned with modern-day notions of Obsenity (a
term that is far too often deployed as a weapon of the censors),
or Innocence (a fiction perpetrated upon us by the Bible,
completely nonexistent in Nature and utterly useless as a
means of understanding the physiological development of human
As a result of all this, readers of The
Sacred Antinous will occasionally come across a passage
that describes a sexually violent episode in the life of our
young hero, and may thus experience feelings of discomfort
or disgust. Conversely, there will be times when this same
boy is placed in situations in which he genuinely enjoys and
benefits from a particular sexual encounter, and the reader
could make a good argument for placing this style of writing
under the banner of "Erotica." This, of course,
would instantly subject the text to an exhausting inquiry
concerning its legality. Imagine! People would argue about
it indefinitely. Historians would clash over the authenticity
of this or that particular string of sexual innuendo. Worshippers
would organize week-long orgies in observance of the deity.
Heretics would offer up new visions for what it really, really
told us about the body of Antinous. Some people might even
doubt that Antinous existed at all. I shudder to think about
all the terrible wars that are going to be waged; all those
unfortunate generations who, without any say in the matter,
will be forced to inherit the staggering and venerable debate
about the sexual proclivities of young Antinous in the world
of his Emperor Hadrian.
Alas, I fear by then it will be far too
late to avert a disaster should anyone come up with the simple
explanation that the reason Antinous was sexualized at so
early an age is because it was his duty as a page
in the Imperial household. For all his burgeoning intelligence,
for all his maturing majesty, for all the holiness of his
post-humous deification, for all the nobility of the statues
that paid homage to him, for all the powers of healing and
rebirth and protection that was ascribed to him, for all the
lofty and melancholy verses he has inspired through the ages,
let us never forget that the reason Antinous is famous is
because of what he was originally trained to do: provide for
the Emperor in bed. It's time we all acknowledged
that -- and celebrated its truthful depiction without shock,
euphemism, or shame.
Welcome to The Sacred Antinous.
Writer & Webmaster
Shawn Postoff is both a playwright and an award-winning
writer, director, and producer of short films, most
of which have traveled to festivals around the world.
His second short, Coming
To Terms, was selected for the American Library
Association’s 2002 Booklist, and has been screened
at over 30 international film festivals.
Shawn has written
several feature length scripts both on spec and on commission,
and recently completed his third season on the writing
staff of Showtime’s hit television series, Queer
as Folk -- a gig for which he was twice nominated
for a Writers Guild of Canada screenwriting award.
"An extravaganza of
The universe of Sir Richard Wadd exists simultaneously
in cyberspace and on the stage, where it is reinterpreted
and reinvented with each new performance.
It combines the desiderata of authentic gay
porn with a fictionalized account of its
creator; it dramatizes the ethical, moral, artistic,
and spiritual implications of pornography in a society
that is terrified of its own sexual potency; and it
invites web-surfers, theatre artists and audiences to
explore the treacherous cultural terrain surrounding
pornography’s manufacture, distribution, and consumption.
Created by Shawn Postoff.
Roman, mid-1st century AD
Said to be from Bittir (ancient Bethther), near Jerusalem.
A silver cup with relief decoration of homoerotic
The Cup takes its name from its first owner in modern
times, the art-lover and collector Edward Perry Warren
(1860-1928). After Warren's death the cup remained in
private hands, largely because of the nature of the
subject matter. Only with changing attitudes in the
1980s was the cup exhibited to the public, and in 1999
the British Museum was able to give this important piece
a permanent home in the public domain.
The cup was originally made up of five parts - the
thin-walled bowl with its high relief scenes, raised
by hammering; an inner liner of thicker sheet silver
with a solid rim, which would have made both drinking
and cleaning easier; a pair of handles (now lost) and
a cast foot soldered to the base.
The scenes on each side shows two pairs of male lovers.
On one side the erastes (older, active lover) is bearded
and wears a wreath while the eromenos (younger 'beloved',
passive) is a beardless youth. A servant tentatively
comes through a door. In the background is a draped
textile, and a kithara (lyre) resting on a chest.
In the scene on the other side the erastes is beardless,
while the eromenos is just a boy. Auloi (pipes) are
suspended over the background textile, and folded textiles
are lying on a chest. The surroundings suggest a cultured,
Hellenized setting with music and entertainment.
Representations of sexual acts are widely found in
Roman art, on glass and pottery vessels, terracotta
lamps and wall-paintings in both public and private
buildings. They were thus commonly seen by both sexes,
and all sections of society. The Romans had no concept
of, or word for, homosexuality, while in the Greek world
the partnering of older men with youths was an accepted
element of education. The Warren Cup reflects the customs
and attitudes of this historical context, and provides
us with an important insight into the culture that made
and used it.
Height: 11 cm
Diameter: 9.9 cm (max.)
Quoted from the British
Museum Catalogue Notes