Death on the Nile
The colossal ancient statue known as the 'Braschi' Antinous was discovered (1792-1793) at Palestrina and restored by Giovanni Pierantoni. The statue was exhibited in the Palazzo Braschi in Rome until 1844, hence its sobriquet.
Antinous (c. 111-130) was a favourite and, perhaps, lover of the emperor Hadrian (r. 117-138), who drowned, under mysterious circumstances (accident, murder, sacrifice), while travelling with the emperor along the river Nile in October 130. Hadrian was devastated by the loss and immediately deified the youth. He also founded the city of Antinopolis, close to the site of his death. The city became a centre for the worship of Osiris-Antinous.
We see Antinous here as a god, his head crowned with leaves, ivy berries and a diadem, which would originally have held a cobra (uraeus) or a lotus flower, not the curious object he now sports. The thyrsus (a staff topped with a pine cone), which Antinous holds in his left hand, is also a modern addition.
The 'Braschi' Antinous is on display in the Sala Rotonda in the Museo Pio-Clementino (Vatican Museums).
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My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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