The Sacred Antinous - Erotically-charged, Explicitly Illustrated, Queer-Themed Historical Fiction about Antinous and Hadrian
~The Epistles of Antinous
~The Gospel of Epolonius
~The Bathhouse Frescoes
~The Gospel of Gryllus
~The Gospel of Corda
~The Oratory of Favorinus
~The Gospel of Vitalis
~The Isthmian Odes
~The Gospel of Alexander
~The Gospel of Hadrian
~The Song of Lysicles
~Central Figures
~Timeline 1 - Beginnings
~Timeline 2 - The Imperial Tour
~Timeline 3 - Hadrian's Decline
~Antinous Iconography
~Sites of Interest
~Link Back

About This Site

The Vision

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 dramatically intense.

The Mission

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 Richard Wadd.)

Continued below...

Jaw Diers: Raw Youth

Jay 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 what purpose?

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.

The Challenge

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...

~ Bookmark

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 to delightful.

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 beings).

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.

Shawn Postoff
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 Postoff

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.

Sir Richard Wadd
"An extravaganza of
Iambic Porntameter"

Sir Richard Wadd: An Extravaganza of Iambic Porntameter

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.

The Warren Cup
Roman, mid-1st century AD

Said to be from Bittir (ancient Bethther), near Jerusalem.

A silver cup with relief decoration of homoerotic scenes.

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.

Warren Cup Side 1

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.

Warren Cup Side 2

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


Phallic Amulets

The Sacred Antinous is an ongoing work of Historical Fiction, for contemplative and educational purposes.
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