Today, August 21, the modern cult of Antinous commemorates the Festival of the Lion Hunt. This hunt for a man-eating lion took place during the Emperor Hadrian’s visit to Libya in 130 C.E. Hadrian, who was an experienced hunter, gave Antinous an opportunity to win fame by killing the lion, but Antinous’ spear missed the mark. The beast attacked Antinous, and Hadrian killed it in turn, saving the life of his beloved companion.
Modern Antinoans observe the occasion of this festival to recall the times over the past year when we have missed the mark. Yet this remains a day to celebrate, because facing a challenge is a victory over fear. As Baron Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, said, “The most important thing is not winning, but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering, but fighting well.”