Antinous was born in Bithynion-Claudiopolis, in the Greek province of Bithynia on the northwest coast of Asia Minor in around 110 AD. Little is known about how Antinous came to be in the house of Hadrian, but it is thought that he was taken from Claudiopolis during one of Hadrian's tours of the provinces in 123 AD. Whether he was taken by force or willingly is open to speculation, but that he soon became the Emperor's favourite seems to preclude his ever being a slave. Furthermore, the fact that many busts were made of Antinous aged around thirteen indicates that he was a member of the Emperor's circle very soon after leaving his home.
It is thought that he was taken to Rome as a page and perhaps entered into the imperial paedagogium, which may have, in part, served as a harem of boys, but its official role being a finishing school designed to train boys to become palace or civil servants. It is impossible to say when Hadrian became enamoured with Antinous, but it is thought to have been sometime between the Emperor's return to Italy in 125 AD and his next trip to Greece in 128 AD, for which Antinous accompanied him as his favourite.
Antinous died in October 130 AD while journeying along the Nile with Hadrian, the reason for his mysterious death unknown. Nevertheless he was deified shortly after and had an influential cult devoted to his name.