From an early age the stories and exploits of Imperial Rome have gripped me. The mix of bravura, of ambition, of success all drew me in. The names themselves of people, places and battles roused my imagination. And the reality - of Britannia, of Gaul, of Rome itself was all around and me and within reason, accessible.

And so, with my father collecting coins of the Emperor Gordian III on one side, and the near neighbour and leading ancient historian Peter Connolly on the other, my fascination was set. I soon discovered Penguin Classics and tucked into Tacitus, Livy and Pliny the Younger. I well remember Peter himself saying "Why read novels when you have Suetonius?"

It was later when I gained some confidence with the notion of original sources that I shifted into reading Ammianus Marcellinus and Lives of the Later Caesars. Those more obscure sources for less glamorous periods of Roman success also took me into the book series of Loeb Classical Library - or as I know them now Green and Reds. These are the text books where not only do you get the translation, but also the facing original text - Greek is Green and Latin is Red. One of my best friends and I have dreamily posited the notion of a series of Blues laying out Egyptian Hieroglyphic texts... a project for another day or decade I fear.

So right now, I'm sitting here today with a few Penguin Classics to hand: Tacitus's Annals of Imperial Rome, Suetonius The Twelve Ceasars, Letters of the Younger Pliny and realising how little I have on the Emperor Hadrian and his reign and yet so much is known.

To close some of the gap in my knowledge I have turned to Lives of the Later Ceasars (Penguin) but also the Historian Augusta (Red Loeb 139, 140, 263).  These two books are the same texts but having both, gives me fullper confidence in the meaning and translation having them both to hand.

So tonight is a full delve into the life of Hadrian - not out of curiosity of him - though that applies - but for a bit of insight into one of the most fascinating enigmas of the ancient world: Antinous - the gay lover of the Emperor Hadrian. Today 22nd October is widely accepted as being on or about the date of death of  in 130AD. He died in slightly curious circumstances by drowning in the Nile, and was declared a god and widely worshipped for many years since. His status as one of the earliest confirmed gay icons is significant and continues to resonate. Tonight I intend to learn more through some of the original sources.

For now: rest in peace Antinous, may the Gods and Shades hold you gently (Dis Manibus).

Those interested can read my tribute to dear friend Peter Connolly here: