Bust of Antinous, Roman, AD 131–138; found in Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli, Italy, marble
Département des Antiquités grecques, étrusques et romaines, Musée du Louvre, Paris, MR 16
[Ting of finger cymbals, Middle Eastern sounding flute plays]
Female Narrator: Why is this gorgeous Greek – a young man called Antinous – wearing a pharaoh’s headdress? Ken Lapatin.
Kenneth Lapatin: This is yet another example of the Roman translation of Egyptian art and culture into a Roman idiom. So the headdress with the cobra is very clearly a reference to Egyptian fashion, but the style of the work with the personalized features of Antinous, especially the deeply cut curly hair, is very much in the Greco-Roman tradition, as is the creation of a portrait bust, which wasn't really an Egyptian fashion, but was a Roman one.
Female Narrator: Antinous was the Roman emperor Hadrian’s lover, and the occasion for this portrait bust is a rather sad one.
Kenneth Lapatin: Hadrian, the Emperor in the early second century AD, made several lengthy tours around the Mediterranean visiting different parts of his empire, and it was on one of these trips in Egypt that his young lover Antinous died by drowning in the Nile.
There's a lot of mystery around it. It's thought that Antinous sacrificed himself to bring some benefit to Hadrian, or to always stay young. Others say it was merely accidental. We don't know. My guess is it was accidental, but then it was dressed up into something more significant...
Female Narrator: In any case, Hadrian founded a cult to Antinous and a city, Antonopoulos on the Nile.
Kenneth Lapatin: But also in his villa back in Italy, he had a shrine to Antinous, and many Egyptianizing statues such as this were found at Hadrian's villa.