Enjoy an exclusive guest post from KA Masters, author of “Per Aquas As Astra,” featured in our upcoming anthology ON TIME.
Antinous was a middle-classed Roman from Bithynia (modern Turkey) who lived during the second century CE. At some point in his adolescence, he attracted the eye of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, and from that point on, his life changed. Like a typical Disney princess or Hallmark movie protagonist, this bewildered teenager’s life was subsumed into the will of the Emperor, as he gave up everything he knew and loved to gain a proper education in the ways of court life. Ancient Rome did not have Instagram or other social media outlets, but every inch of the youth’s body was put on display through the intricately detailed lifesize sculptures of him that quickly flooded the empire. As part of the Roman court and the Emperor’s retinue, Antinous’ life and body no longer belonged to him.
Antinous traveled the world by Hadrian’s side, performing his duties as the imperial consort while the emperor toured the four corners of the Mediterranean world. When Antinous’ lifeless body was found lying on the banks of the Nile in 130 CE, rumors began to spread with the cause of the teenager’s death ranging from ritualistic human sacrifice, murder, magic, to suicide. The emperor Hadrian was heartbroken by the loss of his paramour, and spent the remaining years of his life spreading the worship of his deified lover.
From ancient times to today, Antinous has become a symbol of youthful beauty, eternal youth, and homoerotic love. But Antinous’ own voice is lost to history. Time has preserved thousands of images of the youth; his face and features are preserved forever in stone. His name is preserved in Egypt (the city Antinoopolis) and in the stars (the constellation Antinous); but the youth’s motives and thoughts are lost to time.
My short story, Per Aquas Ad Astra, tells the story of this whirlwind Imperial romance from his perspective, giving a voice to Antinous from beyond.
KA Masters is a fantasy writer who specializes in twisted fairy tales and zombie-infested historic fiction. She attributes her passion for Greco-Roman mythology and Germanic folklore to her alma mater, Dickinson College. Her debut novel, The Morning Tree, was recently published by Indie Gypsy.
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