Eromenos

Eromenos

by Melanie McDonald

Paperback

$14.99

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780983155409
Publisher: Seriously Good Books LLC
Publication date: 03/11/2011
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Melanie McDonald has an MFA in fiction from the University of Arkansas. Her work has appeared in New York Stories, Fugue, Indigenous Fiction, and online. She won a 2008 Hawthornden Fellowship in Scotland for Eromenos.

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Eromenos 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
presto on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The early part of the second century AD, Hadrian, fourteenth emperor of Rome, is in the habit of taking a young boy for his consort, and his latest selection is a young Greek boy, Antinous of Bithynia. For seven years up to the age of nineteen Antinous will be Hadrian's constant companion as he performs his duties, travels, hunts and sleeps.Eromenos reconstructs the life of Antinous and his intimate relationship with the emperor; his upbringing, his coming to the notice of Hadrian and being summonsed to Rome to attend Hadrian's select school, his selection as Hadrian's favourite and his invitation to his bed, his deflowering, and the subsequent years spent accompanying the emperor as his constant catamite and confident, and to Antinous' tragic and untimely but almost inevitable early death, devastating his emperor and lover, and leading to his deification - with a cult following that lasted hundreds of years and outlast that of Hadrian himself.This is an affectionate interpretation, put in Antinous' own words, and paints the picture of a loyal and beautiful love and friendship often in the face of the jealousies of his contemporaries. It also provides and brief insight into the workings of the court of the Roman Empire.The book concludes with several appendices adding further explanation to events, extensive acknowledgements and questions for discussion.While a fascinating account, what also stands out is the quality of the writing, with so many badly written books making it to the printing presses today it is refreshing to read English as it should be. The book is well produced with the text on the page being uncrowded and having generous margins.Eromenos is interesting, informative, enlightening, but above all it paints the picture of an endearing, intelligent, especially favoured but ultimately doomed beautiful boy.
AlexDraven on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Eronemos is billed as a coming of age novel, woven from the historical threads of Antious and his relationship with the Roman emperor Hadrian. Despite being framed as Antious' own memoirs, I found it hard to feel close to him, hard to get any true sense of the passage of time, and the transformations of his life. The style is meticulous, precise, beautifully turned, but ultimately cold and distancing. This seemed less a coming of age tale, or any sort of love story, and more a study of Stoic philosophy in action, as everything builds towards events which ultimately take place in the hours after Antious' account ends. It's beautifully edited and produced, but the novel doesn't wear it's extensive research lightly, and the carefully constructed structure really drew attention to the craft of the writing, rather than presenting a clear glass to the story being told. I enjoyed that it wasn't conventional, that it made a solid effort to represent an almost entirely alien culture, but ultimately, I found it interesting, rather than engaging, and it left me with as many questions, if not more, than I started with from my understanding of the history alone, so - somewhat unsatisfying.
harperhaven on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Decent historical fiction. Lacking a bit in character development but well researched.
BrokenTeepee on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I love the history of ancient Rome. As I have mentioned in past reviews I have done most of my reading in the eras before, during and after Caesar so I was not that familiar with the Emporer Hadrian other than to remember Hadrian's Wall from history lessons past. This book explores a very short time period in Hadrian's life and a specific love in that time. Hadrian had a passion for young boys but one of them he loved above others - Antinous. Hadrian was so distraught after Antinous' death that he basically deified him.Antinous died by drowning in the Nile. It is not known if he committed suicide, fell accidentally or was pushed intentionally. This book makes a choice and is written in Antinous' voice as a chronicle of his life; from his coming of age as a young country bred child to the cusp of manhood when he dies.Ms. McDonald's writing is magical, it draws you into the story and you feel all of Antinous' emotions - from surprise, to embarrassment, to pride, to anger to loss. A good love story is a good love story no matter the sex of the proponents, but was this a love story? Hadrian held all the power, Antinous really was an adornment for him. As with any courtesan he was never sure of Hadrian's affections, especially as he got older. I fell into this story, the descriptions, the feelings. It's a far more literary work than I usually read but I truly enjoyed it. I found it did help that I had a decent grasp of the Greek and Roman gods and their tales.If you are looking for an intelligent story about love lost this book and it's lyrical writing would be a good choice.
richardderus on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The Book Report: There have been books aplenty in the voice of Hadrian, Emperor of Rome, but so far as I know none in the voice of his beloved Antious of Bithynia. Antinous is portrayed in this book as he reflects on his life at its end. How and why his life is ending, if one isn't familiar with the story, is a question still of some interest to scholars, who don't have a solid consensus about causes and motivations. Hey, it's almost 2,000 years ago! No one knows *any*thing for sure at that distance in time. But Melanie McDonald creates a composed, mature voice for this important and vital character in her novel, titled after the Greek word describing Antinous's relationship to Hadrian. The course of Antinous's life, the exciting events in it, and the reasons for his long tenure as Hadrian's eromenos, are presented in swift, sure prose; the inevitable, it would seem, conclusion is very nicely handled; and the narrative frame, the temple offering of a manuscript in Serapis's sacrificial fire, gives the book a very agreeable frisson of the supernatural.My Review: This is a first novel for both author and publisher. The degree to which this surprises me is a testament to the very high design, production, and editorial standards the publisher adhered to. I think the book is very, very well-conceived, but I know that it owes a great deal to the vision of a small, new publishing venture that it came out at all, and that it looks and feels so good in its present form.Experiencing the joy, pain, humiliation, love, lust, and hate that Antinous feels for his old-man lover is extraordinary. That the author is a married straight lady makes me think she's channeling a past life! (That was a joke, Ms. McD, should you chance to read this review...I think it is, anyway....)The book posits a reason for the mysterious death of Antinous, an event that caused Hadrian such acute agony that his final 8 years were spent in a kind of mourning for his lost love, that had not occurred to me...an explanation that accounts for some of the strangeness of the timing of his death, which has always made me think that the hints and rumors of murder were just off. It's a valid reason, or complex of reasons, and it rings true enough that I wish it were possible to research it. (Absent time travel to the past, an unlikely development, it isn't. Drat you, Albert Einstein!)My quibbles are few, the largest being that I find references made by Antinous to Christianity to be extremely unlikely to be accurate; a minor Jewish cult would not have made the radar screens of a person at such a rareified remove from ancient Palestine's nasty, squabbling inhabitants; the Christians hadn't made it big enough yet for someone not Palestinian to know the things Antinous is portrayed as knowing.It didn't ruin the book for me, though, and I certainly hope you'll all zip right out to Amazon or somewhere and get a copy of this beautiful, well-written, and very engrossing story.
allisonmacias on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Eromenos is the story of Antinous. Antinous hails from a small providence in Rome, who meets Hadrian. Soon, Antinous is called to Rome to be Hadrian's next Eromenos, or beloved youth. Life in Rome is full of challenges for the nature loving youth. He learns the hard burden that comes with ruling, as well as the burden of loving the ruler. For seven years, Antinous stays by Hadrian's side as his devoted lover. But the life of power takes it toll on Antinous, who is shaped and molded by the scupltor Emperor Hadrian. Antinous, ever the romantic continues to love the ruler of his heart, life and empire. Antinous knows that his status as Hadrian's eromenos is fast fleeting as he approaches his nineteenth birthday. Antinous must decide who rules his fate, himself or Hadrian.Melanie McDonald gives the melancholic Antinous a voice that will resonate soundly. Though he was just a boy when he was chosen by Hadrian as a lover, he quickly grew into a man in this story. Navigating the Roman court was no easy task, but Antinous does it with such grace and loyalty that he shines among his brethren. His gentle and loving nature is refreshing. As his wisdom grows, so does his anger and resentment. I was surprised by his anger. Not because it was astounding, but because I felt it and was surprised at how deep it flowed. Even in me. While I knew how Antinous story ended, I loved hearing his voice and seeing the Roman World through his eyes. He has many wise and notable quotes in this book, which I thoroughly enjoyed.While this is a rather short book, it is not a fluffy, light read. It is an intense, moralistic book that will leave you thinking. I would like to share some my favorite quotes."For how dismaying is it to find oneself buffeted at all times by others' never-ending quests for power, to be forced to witness man's cruelty to man, even prevailed upon to participate in it--when after all, one wanted only to seek out love, truth, beauty, the hidden perfection of Forms.""Men always believe their own love to be eternal, unchanging, unending, as so men are fools.""He has defined me to suit himself within the dyad of our relationship; by ascribing to me certain characteristics and virtues, he also has denied me myriad others."
Widsith on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Eromenos is a novel sketched as it were in the margins of Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian. It adds little, though, to the story of Hadrian and Antinous, and the few moments which openly invite comparison between the two books only draw attention to a difference in quality.It's not that bad. If you have an interest in Roman history, this tale of a Greek country boy who became the Emperor's `beloved¿ has some points of interest and McDonald has done plenty of research into the time and place. Unfortunately the book doesn't wear its learning lightly, and some passages ¿ lists of commodity prices in Rome for instance ¿ seem little more than a way to infodump some of the things the author has researched. Similarly Antinous's tendency to compare everything to Greek myth seems less like the behaviour of a second-century teenage diarist and more like the behaviour of a 21st-century novelist who wants us to know she's read Hesiod.Conversation scenes are a little laboured, with a tendency to give us too much information (for my taste anyway). And the historical setting does sometimes tempt the author into rather clunky quasi-archaic word choices, uncolloquial parenthetical asides, and occasional poetic lapses which didn't work well for me:What a happy hound I was in those green and gold days, content to bask beneath the emperor's gaze, loll at his feet and watch him in silence. Looking back, I can see how such adoration, innocent though it was, might well seduce its object with as much efficacy as the oft-honed skills of a jade.It's all rather infelicitously-phrased. I seem to be concentrating on the negatives here, but that's not because I think the book is a waste of time, but because I think there is a good novel somewhere in here that's been slightly buried by a few literary affectations and, perhaps, a lack of confidence in what the narative voice should be.I actually read this straight after reading Yourcenar, which probably didn't help. It made an interesting footnote, but not much more than that.
unittj on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The pleasures of this book begin when you first pick it up. The publishers have chosen a stunningly beautiful cover, very apt if you already know the story of Antinous and Hadrian. The book is written in the first person, and is a fictional autobiography, if there is such a thing, of the beautiful young Bithynian boy who became, first, a favourite of the emperor Hadrian, and then a god. There is very little actually known about Antinous, which gives Melanie McDonald free rein, which she uses well. She sets her story in a reasonably accurate context,using fictional characters who are well rounded and believable. It is important to remember, however, that it is fiction and not history. There is a jarring note however. Antinous is supposed to be 18 or 19 at the time of his death, and the book looks back on his life from the age of about 5. The tone tends towards the clinical, and it is difficult to decide what his real feelings are for Hadrian. Love or duty? There are three scholarly interpretations of the cause of Antinous' death, accident, murder or suicide. McDonald makes her choice evident from the beginning, but that in no way detracts from the story. This is a beautifully written book, presented beautifully.
Bibliotropic on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Not being a real scholar of Greek or Roman history, I went into this novel somewhat blind. I knew various things about the attitudes such cultures held regarding homosexuality, but was not familiar with the story of Antinous and Hadrian, and so I have to say right from the beginning that I can't confirm or deny just how historically accurate this book is. (However, when a book that's less than 200 pages long can boast a 3-page bibliography, it's a fair bet that the author put a good amount of thought and research into what they wrote.)What I can confirm is that if you're someone to enjoy historical fiction set in this time period and you can appreciate the concept of a caring homosexual relationship, then you really ought to read this book. For all that it's short, it doesn't lack for much. Details are sparse in some areas, but given that it's written as though by Antinous himself, in the style of a memoir, that's forgivable. The important details are there, the ones that mean something to Antinous and to the situation he's in. While there is clearly passion, he tries to tell the story in a dispassionate way, to record the facts rather than to wax eloquent. It works well.You can't help but really get a feel for what Antinous goes through, his thoughts and realizations and his dealings with Hadrian's court. Nor can you entirely blame him at the end, for his sacrifice, trying to preserve what they had before it, by necessity, has to end. When Antinous comes of age, he can no longer be accepted as Hadrian's lover, as it was shameful to have two full men be in such a relationship.I closed this book feeling, aside from melancholy, the urge to go and learn more about these two people, and the world in which they lived. Melanie McDonald did a beautiful job of introducing me to a wider world, and for that, she deserves congratulations. I can only imagine the effect that this might have on others, opening them up to a historical romance that's unlike most others.I rated this book 4/5. If I gave half-points, it would have been 4.5, losing a small amount only because I thought the book was a little too short. Not so much as to make the storytelling suffer, but it still felt as though she could have tackled more and still held my interest without complaint. I'll say one thing, though. If I ever find another one of her books, I'll be hard-pressed to not buy it!
copperkid on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I read some of the reviews posted on LibraryThing prior to reading Eromenos as I had no previous recommendations; it had been given to me by a friend who knew I enjoyed historical fiction but who had not personally read the book. It took me quite by surprise as I was unfamiliar with intimate and cultural details of the Roman Empire era, and found this capsulated moment in time presented with creative visualization. I was taken with the writing style immediately as the story opens with the central character deftly described in a quiet but clearly attentive manner which captured my interest. I am not going to relay the details of the story as I would much prefer that readers allow it to unfold for them in its own unique interpretation to them. I very much enjoyed reading Eromenos and have found that it stays in my mind, further evidence of the act of presenting visualization through the art of writing... and was very impressed with the author's assumption of the first person voice of a young man coming of age. A short but compelling dialog.
OpheliaAutumn on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I discovered Antinous during a parisian exhibition about Hadrian's Villa in 1999 and was fascinated by the myth he generated and how little we know about him: a young Greek fron Bithynia which was the Roman Emperor Hadrian's favorite, died at about nineteen by drowning in the Nile, and was later deified. I was looking forward to reading a fiction about him and I was not disappointed at all by this fictional autobiography.Melanie McDonald's Eromenos is an impressive first book - with a beautiful cover!The book is carefully researched and it shows - in a positive way. A lot of historical and cultural references are intelligently used, for instance, carefully selected comparisons refering to Greek or Roman culture as well as to a country-based childhood - "like a tiny Antaeus", ... - that Antinous could really have used.Antinous thinks and acts like a Greek Roman subject of his time, and thus sometimes quite differently from us, which proves the tale to be carefully researched and historically acurate.Indeed, Ms McDonald has carefully attended to topics such as Greek and/or Roman sexuality, philosphy, politics, way of life, ... and it is very interesting.But the historical accuracy is not all that is likeable in the book nor all that makes it believable. The cultural clashes between Hadrian's time and ours don't prevent us from caring for Antinous. Indeed, the novel exudes emotion and empathy, Antinous is a real human being, not the unknowable and mysterious idol we might think of. I liked to read Ms McDonald's account of what his character could have been as well as that of Hadrian, not to mention the interesting secondary characters such as Korias, Amyrra, Marcus, Favorinus...It is a powerful tale about love and hate, free-will and death.The writing style embellishes this novel, I really found it beautifully written and witty (I loved such sentences as "butterflies, those scraps of color that feather the meadows each spring" ). It is also carefully divided between the four Elements, all of them leading to the fateful conclusion.
ChrisSterry on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This is a book I don¿t think I would have read if I hadn¿t seen it offered on EarlyReviewers. Yet I am thoroughly glad I did! This is a beautifully written, very lyrical book. It is a wonderful evocation of a pagan world in which `every mountain, wood and stream belonged to a particular deity¿. Having lost his mother when he was four, and his father when he was nine Antinous develops a critical independence. ¿That day I made a vow to myself, never to betray any weakness of my own to an enemy if it lay within my power to conceal it.¿ (p.20).Antinous grows outward and upward, socially as well as geographically, first by being sent to study in Deucualion in the nearest city of Nikomedia, then when he is noticed by Hadrian and taken to study in Rome.As he becomes Hadrian¿s favourite he moves onwards and upwards religiously as well, seeing a wider world of gods than those of `mountain wood and stream¿, and being initiated, with his lover, into the Eleusynian mysteries.Hadrian¿s progress to Egypt reminds one of the seamless way in which that ancient country and culture accepts its newest Ruler, and also how its ancient power seduces him. As Antinous accepts the inescapable fact that Hadrian will soon cast him aside, he himself is seduced by the power of Egypt and enters, forever, into the deepest mystery of all, and himself becomes a god who will outlive his Master.A wonderful, beautifully written and researched book. Highly recommended!
melmmo on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Admittedly, I knew close to nothing about Hadrian and had never heard of Antinous when I began reading so I cannot comment on historical accuracy or research. The novel has effected a fascination and longing to learn more and I have added Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian to my reading list. This novel affords an intriguing slice of Roman life and I enjoyed the references to Greek myth as well. The text has a lyrical quality which made it a joy to read. My only complaint would be that it was too short (although I cannot tell you what could have been added - I just wanted more) and I could have done without the erotic passages.
Oldfan More than 1 year ago
The Book Report: There have been books aplenty in the voice of Hadrian, Emperor of Rome, but so far as I know none in the voice of his beloved Antious of Bithynia. Antinous is portrayed in this book as he reflects on his life at its end. How and why his life is ending, if one isn't familiar with the story, is a question still of some interest to scholars, who don't have a solid consensus about causes and motivations. Hey, it's almost 2,000 years ago! No one knows *any*thing for sure at that distance in time. But Melanie McDonald creates a composed, mature voice for this important and vital character in her novel, titled after the Greek word describing Antinous's relationship to Hadrian. The course of Antinous's life, the exciting events in it, and the reasons for his long tenure as Hadrian's eromenos, are presented in swift, sure prose; the inevitable, it would seem, conclusion is very nicely handled; and the narrative frame, the temple offering of a manuscript in Serapis's sacrificial fire, gives the book a very agreeable frisson of the supernatural. My Review: This is a first novel for both author and publisher. The degree to which this surprises me is a testament to the very high design, production, and editorial standards the publisher adhered to. I think the book is very, very well-conceived, but I know that it owes a great deal to the vision of a small, new publishing venture that it came out at all, and that it looks and feels so good in its present form. Experiencing the joy, pain, humiliation, love, lust, and hate that Antinous feels for his old-man lover is extraordinary. That the author is a married straight lady makes me think she's channeling a past life! (That was a joke, Ms. McD, should you chance to read this review...I think it is, anyway....) The book posits a reason for the mysterious death of Antinous, an event that caused Hadrian such acute agony that his final 8 years were spent in a kind of mourning for his lost love, that had not occurred to me...an explanation that accounts for some of the strangeness of the timing of his death, which has always made me think that the hints and rumors of murder were just off. It's a valid reason, or complex of reasons, and it rings true enough that I wish it were possible to research it. (Absent time travel to the past, an unlikely development, it isn't. Drat you, Albert Einstein!) My quibbles are few, the largest being that I find references made by Antinous to Christianity to be extremely unlikely to be accurate; a minor Jewish cult would not have made the radar screens of a person at such a rareified remove from ancient Palestine's nasty, squabbling inhabitants; the Christians hadn't made it big enough yet for someone not Palestinian to know the things Antinous is portrayed as knowing. It didn't ruin the book for me, though, and I certainly hope you'll all zip right out to Amazon or somewhere and get a copy of this beautiful, well-written, and very engrossing story.
gottsponer More than 1 year ago
Intriguiging, surprisingly touching story, voiced in first-person journal narrative. Not a long book, but so richly told you'll feel like you're there -- time travel in print. Plan to read this in one sitting. Tremendous detail in every area from culture to food to attitudes (reflecting massive amounts of research). Relationship between Hadrian and Antinous very well imagined and tenderly portrayed. Don't be dissuaded by the subject of a male-male relationship; this is a portrayal of early Roman and Greek culture, recounted elegantly. The private interactions between characters are much more subtle than graphic; I've actually OK'd this for my teenage daughter, who is into ancient culture. Recommended reading indeed.
louisefarmersmith More than 1 year ago
In EROMENOS Melanie McDonald's lush language slips you backstage in the court of the Roman Emperor Hadrian to stand in amazement at the life of his favorite, a beautiful boy, whom he brought under his power when the boy was twelve. Though packed with historical facts, this is no documentary. Life at court in 116 A.D. was a gossip's paradise. Louise Farmer Smith