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During the first half of the second century CE, Hadrian, the 47-year-old Emperor of Rome met a beautiful young Greek named Antinous, in Bithynia, which is now northern Turkey. What followed shook the inflexible morality of Roman society and still creates discomfort among many western scholars nearly two thousand years later. This tragic tale follows the Emperor and Antinous from their initial meeting, the placement of the youth into a “finishing school for pages” in Rome and eventually at the boy’s age of sixteen, the affair that intrigued an empire and scandalized Roman society. What follows next is a predestined journey through Greece, Asia Minor and eventually to Egypt, where fate and the gods decide to intervene. The relationship between Hadrian and Antinous raised the eyebrows of their contemporaries and the ire of the early Christians, yet the passion and pure essence of their connection remains as fresh and current today as it was during the second century. The contemporary chronicles of Hadrian’s personality and the numerous sculptures of Antinous belie the qualities and power of both characters and make for a seductive, personal story told with clarity and supported by historical facts.

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