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529336

Antinoüs, Favorite of Hadrian

529336. Sold For $5000

LYDIA, Sala. Antinoüs. Died AD 130. Æ Assarion (22.5mm, 6.60 g, 8h). G. Valerius Andro(nicus), magistrate. ANTINOOC HPΩC, bareheaded and draped bust right / ΕΠΙ Γ ΟΥΑΛ ΑΝΔΡΟ CΑΛΗΝΩΝ, Dionysus standing right with legs crossed, leaning on low column, holding grape bunch and cantharus. RPC III 2447.18 (this coin, illustrated in online version); Blum 1; SNG München 459. Olive-green patina, minor flan preparation marks. EF. An attractive coin, sharply struck. Very rare.


Antinoüs was a handsome young man from Bithynia, who became the beloved companion of the Emperor Hadrian between AD 123/4 and 130, when the youth’s mysterious death occurred during an imperial tour of Egypt. In his (now lost) memoirs, Hadrian insisted Antinoüs had drowned in the Nile by accident; hostile historians implied that the emperor had sacrificed the youth in some rite to restore his failing health, or that Antinoüs had committed ritual suicide. More recently, it has been suggested that Antinoüs was murdered by Hadrian’s jealous wife Sabina and her female traveling companions. Whatever the truth, Antinoüs was extensively honored on the Roman provincial coinage of the East, particularly in Bithynia and Egypt, but was totally absent from the official Roman coinage, since the Romans regarded their emperor’s display of “Greek love” as an embarrassment.