Delphi, Greece, 1894. Archaeologists and workers pose in front of the magnificent statue of Antinous that was rediscovered near the Temple of Apollo in the sanctuary at Delphi.
The statue was unearthed by a team of French archaeologists who in 1891 were granted permission by the Greek government to excavate at Delphi. Most of the workers were locals from the village of Kastri which, before it was relocated, was build almost on top of the archaeological site.
In the summer of 1894, the team unearthed the statue of Antinous commissioned by Hadrian in 130 AD.
Antinous was a young Greek of extraordinary beauty from Bithynia, who became the beloved companion or lover of the Roman emperor Hadrian but later died in Nile under mysterious circumstances.
Dismayed by the death of Antinous, Hadrian, who happened to be an admirer and a passionate supporter of classical Greek Antiquity, as well as a benefactor of the Oracle of Delphi, ordered that statues of the beautiful young man, whom he had loved so passionately, be erected in all sanctuaries and cities of his vast empire. Furthermore, he ordered the institution and establishment of Games in honor of Antinous, who since then was honored and worshiped as a god.
Thus, a statue of Antinous was erected within the sanctuary of Delphi, after his death, in 130 A.D. and it was one of the most beautiful and impressive cult statues.
Today the statue is displayed at the Archaeological Museum of Delphi.
Archaeologists say that Antinous’ long hair was crowned by a wreath, of which there are indications of a band with leaves of a different material.
This work exemplifies the evolution of ancient portraiture. Its melancholy beauty, the graceful angle of the head and the high polish of the marble surface embody the spirit of the Roman Imperial Age, when there was a tendency to revive ancient Greek ideals.