Monday, August 22, 2011

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Eromenos by Melanie McDonald

From the Back Cover:

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 earth both in life and after death.

This version of the affair between the emperor and his beloved ephebe vindicates the youth scorned by early Christian church fathers as a "shameless and scandalous boy" and "sordid and loathsome instrument of his master's lust". EROMENOS envisions the personal history of the young man who achieved apotheosis as a pagan god of antiquity, whose cult of worship lasted for hundreds of years far longer than the cult of the emperor Hadrian.

In EROMENOS, the young man Antinous, whose beautiful image still may be found in works of art in museums around the world, finds a voice of his own at last.

My Thoughts:

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 for a life he never could have imagined. Given a royal education and a luxurious lifestyle, he is groomed to be Hadrian's companion. It's a strange relationship; simple and complex at the same time. Though Antinous is Hadrian's preferred companion for seven years, they both seem to hold each other at arm's length; neither of them entirely comfortable enough in the relationship to give completely of themselves. Hadrian, because he is unable to fully trust anyone, and Antinous, because he can never get past Hadrian as the emperor and god-like figure, even after seven years of witnessing his faults and weaknesses. Yet in the end, both of them create the ultimate tributes to each other.

This is the only book I've ever read about an important historical figure from the point of view of his male lover, and I didn't really know what to expect going into it. Not much is really known about this relationship, aside from Hadrian's obvious grief upon Antinous's death. Rather than focusing on the sexual relationship, (though there is one, to be sure), this story is more an examination of the dynamics of a relationship between two people of different class and the emotional effects of subservience and self-sacrifice; the humanization of a young man known to history as the deity created by those he left behind. This is historical fiction from a different perspective, and I thought it was very interesting, very well-written, and really rather haunting.

My Rating:  4 Stars out of 5

Want to win your own copy of

Leave a comment with your email address!
This giveaway is open internationally till 11:59pm on Tues., Aug. 30th.
Winner will be selected at random. Thanks, and good luck!

This giveaway is closed and the winner has been selected!
But keep your eye out for more great giveaways coming soon!

Eromenos is on a blog tour!
Click here to view the schedule.
Click here to visit Melanie's website.


  1. I love the idea of this silent historical figure finally being given a voice! I don't know very much about this time period so I am intrigued to learn more. Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. Great review :) I do hear it is good! So yes I am entering.

    blodeuedd1 at gmail dot com

  3. Thanks for the giveaway and review! Eromenos looks really interesting, and I'm glad to see that it doesn't focus too much on the sexual aspects of the relationship.

    susanna DOT pyatt AT student DOT rcsnc DOT org

  4. I enjoyed your review and another good book told from the POV of the male lover of a historical figure (Alexander the Great) is "The Persian Boy" by Mary Renault.
    Thanks for the giveaway.
    d.septer at

  5. Great review -- I so enjoyed this novel. I thought it was quite moving without being melodramatic. The writing was so restrained and yet so lovely!

  6. I've really wanted to read it. Haven't read about Hadrian so I'm curious.

    Thanks for the giveaway!


  7. Here's hoping I still might win this one! Thanks for the giveaway!


  8. This sounds like such a great book - and while it might not be the first thing that would jump out to me, I can't wait to read it.

    Please enter me for this!


  9. I generally consider myself to be fairly up on history but this story of Antonius is completely new to me.

    I always enjoy stories of minor characters in history if the author is able to create a plausible plot and this sounds like it may be one.

    Please enter me in the giveaway.

    Thank you.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  10. Ooh I'd like to check this out. Enter me in the draw:

    Brett G

  11. Great review!! Count me in!!


  12. Thank you for the review and giveaway. :)

    ceeenndee at gmail dot com


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