About the Writer
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, McDonald now lives in Virginia.
What Inspired This Novel
I first encountered Antinous in Marguerite Yourcenar's novel Memoirs of Hadrian. Then I read that St. Athanasius described Antinous as a "shameless and scandalous boy." I decided to get to know him better.
At the Uffizi Museum in Florence, Italy, busts of Hadrian and Antinous reside along opposite sides of a long hall off
one wing of galleries. What a shame to have separated them, I thought at first.
After a while, I saw what the museum curator must have known, as the river of museum visitors rushed past between them: how their relationship must have been affected, even eroded, by a constant torrent of people all seeking an audience with the emperor of eternal Rome, even before the two were parted forever by the Nile. The curator in charge of placement there in the great hall had got it right. . .
Antinous appears to have been the love
of Hadrian's life; one wonders whether
the emperor was the love of his as well.
The heart knows no gender or boundary, and lays claim where it will.