Commentary on Hymn XXIV: To Antinous Agathos Daimon

You are the protector of our cities, the protector
of our prosperity, guardian of the grain, Antinous
Agathos Daimon, yet you are also the guardian
of our spirits, the genius and juno, the spark
of divinity within. Grant prosperity to us who need it,
first of the body, then of the soul; grant health and
well-being to us who need it, first of the body,
then of the mind and spirit; grant self-knowledge
to us who need it, Antinous Agathos Daimon,
that the Antinous in us may bless the Antinous in you.

Antinous as Agathos Daimon

The next group of hymns are based on a series of titles for Antinous found in inscriptions and other sources. The first of these is Antinous as the Agathos Daimon, the good spirit.

The Agathos Daimon was originally conceived of as a protective spirit of the household or the granary, imaged in the form of a serpent. Snakes prey on rodents who would otherwise help themselves to the family’s grain. Gradually, the agathos daimon came to be seen as a deity in his own right, the spouse of Tyche Agathe (good fortune), then as the protective spirit not only of a household but of its individuals. Every person possessed a good spirit, their guiding presence of divinity, which Romans called the genius in men and the juno in women.

Antinous, as a deified mortal, uniquely embodies and represents the divine potential in human beings. In none of the ancient mythologies of Rome, Greece, or Egypt is there a hard and fast line between deity and humanity. While pride or hubris is certainly a vice and reverence for the gods a virtue, nevertheless immortals mingle with mortals, father or bear their children, and raise humans to godhead. To worship Antinous as Agathos Daimon is to recognize and celebrate our own divine potential and to acknowledge and honor it in others as well. The Antinous in us sees the Antinous in everything.

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