Antonianos di AfrodisiaFirst half of the 2nd century AD

Fondazione Cariplo

Fondazione Cariplo
Milan, Italy

The relief was discovered in 1907 at Torre del Padiglione in the countryside between Anzio and Lanuvio. It lawfully became the property of the Istituto dei Fondi Rustici, where it was admired by Marguerite Yourcenar who describes the piece in her ‘Reflections on the Composition of Memoirs of Hadrian’ published in 1953 as an appendix to the novel.The sculpture is of particular importance since it attests to the spread of the cult of Antinous through the Roman empire during Hadrian’s reign. The youth from Bythinia, who was Hadrian’s lover, drowned in the Nile in 130 AD. Deified after his death, he is represented allegorically as Dionysus or possibly a sylvan god, such as Aristeus or Silvanus himself. The attributes of the dog, the scythe and the crown of pine branches are those of the god worshiped by Italian farmers. There is particular evidence of the cult of Antinous in the Lanuvio area, where there was a site dedicated to the youth.The workmanship of the relief is of an extremely high quality; it is reminiscent of Neo-Attic models typical of funerary steles and reveals that Antonianos was among the sculptors from Caria, a province of Asia Minor not far from Smyrna, working in Rome at the time. The subject represented and the signature on the altar would lead us to suppose that the artist frequented imperial circles: interesting in this respect is the indication that the summer residences of various members of the Antonini family, to which Hadrian belonged, were located in the area where the relief was found. The sculpture must have been executed between 130 AD, the year of Antinous’s death, and 138 AD, when worship of the youth gradually petered out after the emperor’s death.


  • Title: Antinous-Silvanus
  • Creator: Antonianos di Afrodisia
  • Date: First half of the 2nd century AD
  • Physical Dimensions: w68.7 x h143 x d8 cm (Complete)
  • Exhibition: Museo Nazionale Romano, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Largo di Villa Peretti, Rome
  • Provenance: Cariplo Foundation, 1991
  • Type: Sculpture, high relief
  • Rights: http://www.artgate-cariplo.it/en/disclaimer.html
  • External Link: www.artgate-cariplo.it
  • Medium: Penteli marble

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