This week’s sculpture from Hadrian’s Villa is a marble head of Antinous depicted as the god Dionysos, the closest Greek equivalent to the Egyptian god Osiris. It was unearthed in 1769 during excavations undertook by the art dealer and archaeologist Gavin Hamilton who secured it for Lord Lansdowne. The latter was an avid collector of antiquities and owned a fine collection of classical sculpture until most of it was sold and dispersed in 1930 (including the Lansdowne Amazon and the Lansdowne Hercules). Today the Lansdowne Antinous graces the “Greece and Rome” room of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England.
This week’s sculpture from Hadrian’s Villa is a marble head of Antinous, one of the ten marble images of Antinous found there. This portrait of Antinous is conserved in the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme in Rome. It is related to a coin type minted in the city of Adramyttium in Mysia (modern Edremit, Turkey) by an individual called Gessius (his name appears on the reverse of the coin). The coin was struck with the head of Antinous on the obverse and the words ΙΑΚΧΟC ΑΝΤΙΝΟΟC (Iacchos Antinous). Antinous is portrayed as Iacchos, a minor Dionysian deity (also epithet of Dionysus) associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries (Hadrian first took part in the Mysteries in about 124 AD and again in late summer 128 AD together with Antinous). The British Museum holds such a coin with the Eleusinian goddess Demeter on the reverse.
This week’s sculpture from Hadrian’s Villa is a marble head of a companion of Odysseus, copied after a famous work from the Hellenistic period. This head shows the face of a man that probably belonged to a multi-figure group depicting Odysseus with his twelve companions blinding the one-eyed giant (and the most famous of the Cyclopes), Polyphemus, with a burning stake.