Sacred Nights of Antinous: Antinous in the Underworld

Anyone, Egyptian or foreigner, known to have been carried off by a crocodile or drowned by the river itself, must by all means be embalmed and wrapped as attractively as possible and buried in a sacred coffin by the people of the place where he is cast ashore; none of his relatives or friends may touch him, but his body is considered something more than human, and is handled and buried by the priests of the Nile themselves.

Herodotus, Book II, Chapter 90

The death and apotheosis of Antinous is inextricably bound to the revivification and deification of Osiris. During the nightly voyage of the Solar Barge in the Amduat, those drowned in the Nile are regenerated by the same power that revitalizes the sun-god.

He whispered, “And a river lies

Between the dusk and dawning skies, 

And the hours are distance, measured wide

Along that transnocturnal tide–

Too doomed to fear, lost to all need,

These voyagers blackward fast recede

Where darkness shines like dazzling light

Throughout the Twelve Hours of the Night.”

From The Twelve Hours of the Night by William Ashbless

Today, October 29, the modern cult of Antinous commemorates the descent of Antinous to the Underworld.

Image: Terracotta oil lamp in the shape of a boat 2nd century C.E., Roman-Egyptian. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. OASC

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