I am currently reading Marguerite Yourcenar's novel, published in 1951. It is in the form of a letter from Emperor Hadrian to his adoptive son and successor, Marcus Aurelius. It took Yourcenar, a student of ancient Greece and Rome, ten years to write it.
[She] was born in Belgium on 8 June 1903 and died in the USA on 17 December 1987In 1939 Yourcenar's intimate companion at the time, a translator named Grace Frick, invited the writer to the United States to escape the outbreak of World War II in Europe. Yourcenar lectured in comparative literature in New York City and Sarah Lawrence College. Yourcenar was bisexual and she and Frick became lovers in 1937, and would remain so until Frick's death in 1979. They bought a house together in Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island, Maine and lived there for decades.Hadrian:
The Emperor meditates on his past, describing both his triumphs and his failures, his love for Antinous, and his philosophy. This novel has become a modern classic, a standard against which fictional recreations of antiquity are measured.
(24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon.Antinous:
(27 November, c. 111–before 30 October 130) was a beautiful Bithynian youth and the favourite of the Roman emperor Hadrian He was deified after his death, although his exact status in the Roman pantheon was uncertain.
[H]e was born to a Greek family in Bithynion-Claudiopolis, in the Roman province of Bithynia in what is now north-west Turkey, and joined the entourage of the emperor Hadrian at a young age, although nothing certain is known of how, when, or where he and Hadrian met. He is constantly described and depicted as a beautiful boy and youth. The relationship is believed to have been sexual. Antinous drowned in the Nile in October 130. The death was presented as an accident, "but it was believed at the time that Antinous had been sacrificed or had sacrificed himself," and Hadrian "wept for him like a woman."
The grief of the emperor knew no bounds, causing the most extravagant veneration to be paid to his memory. Cities were founded in his name, medals struck with his likeness, and cities throughout the east commissioned godlike images of the dead youth for their shrines and sanctuaries. Following the example of Alexander (who sought divine honours for his beloved general, Hephaestion, when he died) Hadrian had Antinous proclaimed a god. As a result, Antinous is one of the best-preserved faces from the ancient world.