AUTHOR:Melanie McDonald INFO:Paperback, Fiction, 158 pages PUBLISHED:Seriously Good Books, 2011 SOURCE:Received from Author for Review and Book Tour
FROM GOODREADS:Eros and Thanatos converge in the story of a glorious youth, an untimely death, and an imperial love affair that gives rise to the last pagan god of antiquity. In this coming-of-age novel set in the second century AD, Antinous of Bithynia, a Greek youth from Asia Minor, recounts his seven-year affair with Hadrian, fourteenth emperor of Rome. In a partnership more intimate than Hadrian’s sanctioned political marriage to Sabina, Antinous captivates the most powerful ruler on earth both in life and after death.
This version of the affair between the emperor and his beloved ephebe vindicates the youth scorned by early Christian church fathers as a “shameless and scandalous boy” and “sordid and loathsome instrument of his master’s lust.” EROMENOS envisions the personal history of the young man who achieved apotheosis as a pagan god of antiquity, whose cult of worship lasted for hundreds of years—far longer than the cult of the emperor Hadrian.
In EROMENOS, the young man Antinous, whose beautiful image still may be found in works of art in museums around the world, finds a voice of his own at last.
MY TAKE: I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I agreed to review this book. Hadrian is a historical figure that I had heard of before, but I wasn’t familiar with his personal story or that of his beloved Antinous. The fact that this is in actuality a love story piqued my interest and made me want to find out more. Especially when I read that a grief-stricken Hadrian had immortalized Antinous and literally put him up on a pedestal next to his own.
I learned a lot about Hadrian and the times he lived in. This story is about a powerful man and the boy he loved. The young and attractive Antinous caught the great emperor’s attention at a very early age. Extra opportunities and advantages were bestowed upon Antinous, including an excellent education. Hadrian enjoyed quick minds as well as youthful beauty and was grooming Antinous to be his companion or courtesan, if you please.
Told from Antinous’ point of view as he looks back over his brief life, it shares the details of a close relationship that is doomed because of the society they live in, the expectations that are put upon them and the simple fact that the wheel of time turns. Melanie McDonald has given Antinous a voice to tell his story in his own way. I enjoyed seeing the Romans through his eyes and seeing how the different levels of society lived and were treated by each other. It truly is a story of love between two people that are at different stages in their lives and on two completely different Socioeconomic levels.
One of the things that really jumped out at me was the author’s attention to detail. It is very obvious that she put a lot of research into the time period and what was normal for both the upper and lower classes. I was amazed when the dishes of one of the feasts were being listed and it included hummingbird! I was horrified to think of the little beauties that come to my window every day being in a dish. But then my logical side took over and I started wondering about who would have to catch the little hummers, pluck them, clean them, etc. I started feeling sorry for that person. Can you imagine having that task? Especially since the birds would barely be a mouthful for all of that effort… (Be sure to read Melanie’s guest post about Food and Feasts in Ancient Rome).
I do recommend this book to those who enjoy a fresh look at an important time and person. It’s a much more intimate and personal look into the story of a larger-than-life man in Rome’s history. The author does a beautiful job of sharing a poignant and tragic tale that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading the book. There is also a helpful section at the end of the book with questions for reader’s groups or book clubs.
The author is generously offering one copy of Eromenos to one lucky winner here at One Book Shy! The contest is open INTERNATIONALLY to readers 13 years of age or older. To enter just leave a comment with your email address. Tell us if you’ve ever heard of Antinous before now. Drawing will close at midnight PST Friday, September 9th. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to notification.
Thank you Melanie and Amy for including One Book Shy as a tour stop for Eromenos.
~~~~~ Disclaimer: All opinions expressed on this blog are 100% my own. I do not receive monetary compensation for my reviews but do utilize affiliate links. I may receive books in order to facilitate a review, but this does not guarantee a good review – only a completely honest one. Each review post denotes how I obtained the book.