Commentary on Hymn XIV: To Antinous-Hermes, Lover

You are not known for your loves, Antinous Hermes,
but you have not lacked them. Among the goddesses
you dallied with Aphrodite, Brimo, and Daeira,
sought Persephone, and called Peitho your wife.
Amongst the nymphs Penelopeia bore you
the great god Pan, and Carmentis went to Latium
with Evander, her son, the seed of a future empire.
Many were the mortal women whom you found desirable,
and there were men, too, especially Krokos, flower-lad.
You are he who woos with wit, who persuades with suasion,
who seduces with banter, who charms with speech,
lover of the mind and the mind’s lover, who shows us
how to join sense, sensibility, and sensuality, and
for this we praise you, Antinous Hermes.

The Antinoopolitan Lovers

Hermes, like his brother Apollon and others of the younger Olympians, is a deity who remained unmarried and dallied with a good many lovers, both males and females, deities and mortals. He was sometimes called the husband of Peitho, a goddess whose name means “persuasion” or even “seduction”, but who seems to have been worshiped in conjunction with Aphrodite or with the Charites (the Graces) more often than with the messenger god.

In writing this hymn I ran with the idea of the god as a lover of the mind, as someone who could find a way to one’s heart (and/or one’s loins) through the head. While there is not much hint of this in the myths, it is certainly a way of courting that works for me. I am not alone in being a fan of fictional couples who woo and wed with witty banter; it’s a trope that’s been popular at least since Shakespeare gave us Much Ado about Nothing and has fueled such diverse tv shows as Moonlighting, The X-Files, and (a personal favorite) Remington Steele. As it happens, my still-favorite musician, Hozier, included a song on his last album that perfectly embodies what I had in mind, and the lyrics are complete with mythological references.

Commentary on Hymn XIII: To Antinous-Hermes, Navigator

No one knows the pathways better than you, O Antinous Hermes:
The broad roads and the hidden trails, the crossroads
and the market places, the inns where a traveler may rest,
the springs that are pure and the springs that are poison.
You guide the living and the dead, the mortal and immortal,
whispering the passwords that open all doors. See me safely
through this life, Antinous Hermes, and see me safely
into the next, the life without ending; guide me on all
the highways and by-ways, in all my perplexities,
and let me not venture forth alone, leave me not unprotected,
but always, always, gracious god, bring me home.

This somewhat short hymn does exactly what it says on the tin, really; it is a prayer for guidance directed to a god known as a guide. Hermes, guide of travellers and of souls, merged with Antinous, the Navigator of the Boat of Millions of Years, is available to guide us in our present life and afterward, in this world and through other worlds. My mention of springs and passwords hints at the famous Orphic tablets that gave instructions to the dead for passing into the underworld without loss of memory and identity.

What prompts me to dig a little deeper is the final request to be brought home. Where, then, is home? For me, as his devotee, to be with Antinous is home. He has had a place in my home, a shrine of some kind, for most of the past seven years. My initiation into his Mysteries promises me a place with him in the afterlife, whether in a part of the underworld ruled by him or on his celestial barque. I don’t believe that there’s one single process for every human in the afterlife or one moral choice or one (or two destinations); I believe that happiness with the god of one’s heart, rebirth, punishment, and even extinction are possibilities, as well as others I haven’t imagined or heard of, no doubt. To come home to Antinous is to be true to my values in this life, because the god and I share many of them, and to be with him in the afterlife as a beloved friend.

Prayers to Antinous in a time of crisis

A Litany for Antinous the Liberator

In the name of Antinous, the Liberator, the Savior, the Human-God, Victorious One, Emperor of Peace.

From all that oppresses us, Antinous, liberate us.

From all that inhibits us, Antinous, liberate us.

From all that constrains us, whether without or within, Antinous, liberate us.

From racism and all racial prejudice, Antinous, liberate us.

From sexism and all misogyny, Antinous, liberate us.

From disrespect for our elders, Antinous, liberate us.

From disrespect for our youth, Antinous, liberate us.

From homophobia and all hatred of sexual minorities, Antinous, liberate us.

From transphobia and all hatred of gender minorities, Antinous, liberate us.

From all contempt for women and girls and for effeminate men, Antinous, liberate us.

From all injustice, Antinous, liberate us.

From sexual violence, Antinous, liberate us.

From bullying and harassment, Antinous, liberate us.

From depression and melancholy, Antinous, liberate us.

From loneliness and despair, Antinous, liberate us.

From doubt of our own gifts, Antinous, liberate us.

From doubt of our ability to act, Antinous, liberate us.

From the wounds of the past, Antinous, liberate us.

From fear of the future, Antinous, liberate us.

From all our addictions and from contempt for the addicted, Antinous, liberate us.

From poverty and the shaming of the poor, Antinous, liberate us.

From hunger and from greed and grasping, Antinous, liberate us.

From all illness of body, mind, or soul, Antinous, liberate us.

From ignorance, especially willful ignorance, Antinous, liberate us.

From the tyranny of the wealthy and their greed, Antinous, liberate us.

From the tyranny of the bigoted and their fear, Antinous, liberate us.

From the tyranny of the lustful and their self-loathing, Antinous, liberate us.

From every kind of hatred and violence, Antinous, liberate us.

[Additional petitions may be inserted here. ]

Guard and defend us, Antinous, as we struggle to free ourselves; guard and defend us, Antinous, as we strive to liberate others; guard and defend us, Antinous, as we await the rising of your star.

Ave, ave, Antinoe!

Haec est unde vita venit!

 

antinous_pio-clementino_inv256_n2

Hymn II: To Antinous the Liberator

Many are the burdens we bear, and high are the walls

that are built around us; many are the voices we answer

to and the eyes of the judges; many are the wounds

that never healed and the old pains that catch at

the spine, and we lower our eyes to the pavement

and feel that nothing will ever change.

But you, Antinous,

have defeated all the archons, and nothing can withstand

your power. You offer your hand to all those who are bound

up in their own knots; you lift your spear in defense of all

who live under tyranny. Where there is a march for justice,

you march with them; where there is a fire for freedom,

you bear the torch. Where truth is spoken to power,

you stand beside; where the truth of a soul is opened,

you listen in witness. You are the Liberator from all

that oppresses or inhibits; you hunt down the tyrant,

strike open the locks, trample down the doors.

O liberate me, Liberator, from all that oppresses

or inhibits, that I may have the freedom of your friendship

now and forever.

2af62d6900000578-3184551-image-a-46_1438648885578

Hymn IX: To Antinous-Dionysus, Liberator

As long as there’s music to dance to, he will come.

As long as there’s a bottle of wine or something else to share, he will come.

As long as lovers slip off and couple even when there’s no place or time for it,

he will come, Antinous Dionysus, Dionysus Lusios, Liberator.

As long as there’s sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll, he will come.

As long as people march in peace and break windows in fury, he will come.

As long as people sit home in the darkness, afraid to get up and step out

into the light, he will come, Antinous Dionysus, the breaker, the loosener.

He will come and break the bonds of tyranny and oppression.

He will come and loosen the knots we tie ourselves up in, inside.

He will throw open the windows and doors, turn stairs into ramps,

water into wine, sorrow into joy, depression into weeping,

tears into laughter, He will come, Antinous Dionysus, Lusios,

Liberator, deliverer, he will come, he will come, if we call:

Evohe! Evohe! Evohe!

 

antinous_osiris_louvre_2

A prayer to Antinous in this time of crisis

O Antinous, Beautiful Boy, Osirantinous, Justified One,
I cry out to you in a time of many struggles.
My nation is an empire falling to its knees and falling apart.
There is no good emperor. There is no just rule.
I cry out to you as Liberator
on behalf of the immigrants imprisoned in camps:
Set them free.
I cry out to you as Liberator
on behalf of the protestors in our streets:
March with them. Protect them.
I cry out to you as Antinous Hermes:
May the images of resistance and brutality
be spread far and wide.
May wickedness be exposed.
May police and governments be held accountable.
I cry to you as Antinous Asklepios:
We still suffer from the plague of coronavirus.
Send us healing. Protect the healers.
I cry out to you as Lover:
May these armies of lovers not fail
who love one another more than their privilege,
who love justice more than order,
who love equality more than hierarchy.
And I cry out to you as Navigator:
Show us the way forward.
Turn the wheel of the ages.
Show us how to untie the knots
of hatred, hierarchy, bigotry, privilege,
how to pull on the threads that will
unravel the whole tapestry of
-isms that covers the world
so that we may unveil the true beauty
of the world, of one another, of ourselves.