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3.54  ·  Rating details ·  230 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Eros and Thanatos converge in the story of a glorious youth, an untimely death, and an imperial love affair that gives rise to the last pagan god of antiquity. In this coming-of-age novel set in the second century AD, Antinous of Bithynia, a Greek youth from Asia Minor, recounts his seven-year affair with Hadrian, fourteenth emperor of Rome. In a partnership more intimate ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published March 11th 2011 by Seriously Good Books
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Average rating 3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  230 ratings  ·  63 reviews

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Richard Derus
Apr 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Steven White
The Publisher Says: Eros and Thanatos converge in the story of a glorious youth, an untimely death, and an imperial love affair that gives rise to the last pagan god of antiquity. In this coming-of-age novel set in the second century AD, Antinous of Bithynia, a Greek youth from Asia Minor, recounts his seven-year affair with Hadrian, fourteenth emperor of Rome. In a partnership more intimate than Hadrian's sanctioned political marriage to Sabina, Antinous captivates the most powerful ruler on ea ...more
Dec 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
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 awful. 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 plac
Aleksandr Voinov
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: genre-historical
There are plenty of books in the genre that are a struggle to read even once. Even more aren't worth being read more than once. There's nothing left to discover, and I delete these off my reader without regrets. Then there are books like "Eromenos" by Melanie McDonald, which I read twice to be able to review it, and will very likely read a couple more times. (This from somebody who rarely, if ever, re-reads fiction books – non-fiction is a different matter.)

What made Eromenos so compelling for m
Apr 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
I sat down to read just a few pages of Eromenos by Melanie J. McDonald and I couldn’t put it down. I read the entire novel in one sitting and wanted more. Though there are numerous books about the emperor Hadrian and from his viewpoint, this is the first one I’ve come across that features the dead lover Antinous. Here the young Antinous tells his life and how he became the emperor’s favorite and the events that led to his death. The story is beautifully written with obvious historical research b ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Ancient Rome has quickly become one of my favorite places to read about. Okay, really any book that has to do with anything involving Italy or the area that became Italy intrigues me. The Romans are fascinating to me. You have all sorts of larger than life personalities marching through all of the different stories about Ancient Rome. This story was new to me. I knew of Hadrian (my husband had photographed a lot of his villa while in Italy studying during college) but I did not know about the gr ...more
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it
The object of his affection. His beloved. Does anyone question whether the beloved loves in return? Does the beloved have any choice?

A short fictional account of the relationship between the Roman emperor Hadrian and his Bithynian youth Antinous, as told from the latter's point of view. I found Eromenos to be an enjoyable read for the most part. That said, it would have been far more compelling had it dug a lot deeper into the complicated relationship dynamic between the two. Instead, it mostly
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
This slender, quiet novel packs quite a punch and is so easy to slip in to, I challenge anyone not to finish it in one sitting! Set in the second century A.D., the story is told by Antinous, a handsome boy from a rural province who ends up the lover of the emperor Hadrian.

Despite the possibility for some serious torridness, McDonald's writing as Antinous had a kind of restraint that felt aloof at first. But as the story progressed, the facets of love, possession, power, and privilege emerged and
I'm a bit conflicted about this book. It tells the story of the Roman emperor Hadrian and his famous lover Antinous. I love the setting and the context (although I wish Antinous wasn't quite so young) but I almost felt it was too flat; I finished it and I just don't feel satisfied. For a book written from a first-person perspective it never really gets emotional enough for me, but I guess that's because there's very little dialogue. It is very well written though, and presumably well-researched. ...more
Camilla Monk
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is arguably one of my favorite books. The writing is nothing short of sublime, crisp and erudite, void of the weight of purple prose. Every single detail is carefully researched, and the characterization of both Hadrian and Antineous is complex, subtle, and uncompromising. Melanie J. McDonald does not attempt to layer modern moral considerations over this 2,000 years old love story. I can only dream of ever writing something that good.
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gay
Carefully researched and meticulously crafted, this is a story that grabbed my attention from word one, and which refused to relinquish that hold, keeping me in thrall until I had finished every word. This is historical fiction at its finest, honest and open about its subject matter, and straightforward in its telling, with no colouring of events from a contemporary narrator.

On one level, this a simple coming of age tale, taking us through the live (and death) of Antinous. We follow him on a jou
Jenny Q
Jun 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this lyrical and surprisingly poignant short novel. With meticulous research, lush imagery, and admiration and respect for this pair of lovers, Melanie McDonald has lovingly combined a well-rounded portrait of Hadrian as a man as well as an emperor, with a tender and unconventional coming-of-age story set amidst the decadent prosperity of the ancient Roman empire.

Plucked from obscurity as a small boy and favored by Hadrian for his beauty and Greek heritage, Antinous is destined
I've been trying to find a way to start this review. I've thought about making a disclaimer about my lack of knowledge about the history of Ancient Rome, and more. But the phrase that keeps going through my head is "oh, wow."

I must talk about the last section of the book, Water. Even now, I don't have the words to describe it. It's so well-crafted, so beautifully written, but the emotion there is so agonising to read. The ending is particularly powerful and brought a tear for my eye.

As mentione
Mar 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A great novel that brings to life the tragic love affair of Antinous and Hadrian during the Roman Empire.
Dec 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Oh my god, I couldn't put it down. It was awesome and I wanna read it again, I was in tears at the end.
Update 2019: My original thoughts still hold up. Though this time it was more bittersweet.
May 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hadrian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michelle Stockard Miller (True Book Addict)
Eromenos is a perfect example of why historical fiction is important. Having never heard of Antinous, even in my self-induced and dedicated study of all things historical, I learned of an intimate aspect of the reign of the Roman emperor Hadrian. And so the crucial aspect of historical fiction is fulfilled. Attracting lay persons (although I wouldn't consider myself a lay person by any means) to history and historical subjects. Not only was the very fact of Antinous's existence in history brough ...more
Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I won this book thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
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 E
Aug 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jun 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Written by himself on successive evenings, Antinous, Emperor Hadrian's Greek beloved traces his life in this Bildungsroman: from his boyhood in Bithynia through the emperor's meeting him and the two becoming lovers. Then the seven years of their affair unfold until the final decision of the nineteen-year-old Antinous to die, on their trip down the Nile. I enjoyed this haunting, bittersweet novel. Characterization was the strong point; I also got a flavor of the relationship between the two and a ...more
Apr 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Eromenos is the story of Antinous, one of the beloved youths of Emperor Hadrian in the second century. In this book, the reader follows Antinous through his seven years as part of Hadrian's court, first as a young scholar, then as a lover. The story follows their adventures across the ancient world until Antinous is nineteen, the time when he can no longer be Hadrian's favorite and a new boy must be chosen.

Typically historical fiction is a gamble—many of these books tend to lull the readers to
May 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a nice, short history, told from the perspective of one of Hadrian's young male lovers. Deep while still concise, the story chronicles Antinous' years with the emperor of Rome; years which are the most important of his life. In fact, most of Antinous' life (and the Roman world of the era) revolves around the emperor, but it is only when he is sent to live with a family friend, at the age of eleven, that the provincial young man begins to experience the breadth of Roman society. He is imm ...more
Christy English
Jul 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Told in the clear, often sardonic voice of Antinous of Bithynia, Emperor Hadrian's lover, EROMENOS opens a window into the Roman world. This novel is a well-researched and vivid portrayal of the Imperial court of Rome in in early second century AD.

With sharp insight and a razor wit, Melanie McDonald show us the mind of Hadrian's Eromenos, the beloved who is the embodiment of a fleeting beauty that, like all things, will pass away. Through Antinous' eyes, we see first hand what it means to be ch
Laura Gill
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is not a long book--in fact, I read it in a matter of hours--but it captures beautifully the affair between Hadrian and Antinous. It's also the best novel about the subject written from the point-of-view of Antinous.

The novel takes the form of a sacred memoir written over the course of the last four days of Antinous's life; at the end, it will be immolated in sacred fire, just as Antinous himself will end in the sacred waters of the Nile. Why does Antinous choose this end? For more than on
Apr 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Gerry Burnie
Gerry B's Book Reviews -

Until I came across "Eromenos" by Melanie McDonald [Seriously Good Books, 2011] I had never before heard of Antinous of Bithynia, or his legendary affair with the Emperor Hadrian. Just how I could have missed such a charming page in history (referred to as the “real life version of Zeus and Ganymede”) I don’t know, but I am certainly grateful to Ms McDonald for introducing me to it in such an entertaining way.

The story

Antinous was born in the
Sep 05, 2011 rated it liked it
The actual review with a rating of 3.5/5 (and a giveaway)can be found on my blog:
One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

I wasn't really sure what to expect when I agreed to review this book. Hadrian is a historical figure that I had heard of before, but I wasn't familiar with his personal story or that of his beloved Antinous. The fact that this is in actuality a love story piqued my interest and made me want to find out more. Especially when I read that a grief-stricken Hadrian had immortalized Antinous a
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 scuplt ...more
I enjoyed this beautifully written novel very much and only wish it was a little longer! 😃
This is a book for the fans of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and The Persian Boy by Mary Renault; 5 🎇
Aug 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Though slim, this novel is surprisingly thorough in the story of Antinous. Set in the second century A.D., Eromenos recounts Antinous' short life from a young boy living in rural Bithynia to his untimely death.

I loved the richness of the details in this book right from the beginning. Eromenos describes all of the scenery of Antinous' home and travels. I knew very little about this time period or Hadrian's rule. However, without knowing much beforehand, I fell into the story and felt like I knew
Aug 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
This coming-of-age novel is set in the second century AD, and recounts the seven-year relationship between Emperor Hadrian and Antinous of Bithynia, a Greek youth from Asia Minor. Told from Antinous’s point of view, this story recounts the affair between the fourteenth emperor of Rome and a Greek farmboy that was raised to the height of a pagan god because of his famous beauty.

The author gives rigorous attention to historical accuracy in recreating Roman society in the second century AD, and pre
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Melanie McDonald was awarded a 2008 Hawthornden Fellowship for Eromenos.

She has an MFA from the University of Arkansas. Her short stories have appeared in New York Stories, Fugue, Indigenous Fiction, and online. An Arkansas native whose Campbell ancestors were Highland Scots, she now lives in Virginia with her husband, Kevin McDonald, the author of Above the Clouds: Managing Risk in the World of C

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