Monday, July 13, 2020

M/M: Love Conquers Evil: Harmodius & Aristogeiton, Max. Tyr. Diss. VIII

Adolescens quidam Atticus, amatores habebat duos, privatum hominem et tyrannum: quorum alter vir probus erat, conditionis suae memor: alter improbus, potentiae fiducia. Sed et adolescens vere pulcher erat, et amore non indignus: quo facilius tyrannum contempsit, privatum hominem amplexus est. Quare succensus ille, praeter alias iniurias, queis utrunque affecit, sororem Harmodii quae Panathenaeorum festo ad gerendum canistrum veniebat, cum ignominia eiecit. Huius facinoris poenam statim Pisistratidae dedere, causaque Atheniensibus libertatis fuit, contumeliosa tyranni libido, adolescentis audacia, probusque amor, et amatoris virtus. 

--Maximus of Tyre, Dissertation VIII

A certain Athenian youth [Harmodius] had two lovers: one was a citizen [Aristogeiton] and one was a tyrant [Hipparchus]. One of these men [Aristogeiton] was distinguished for his behavior, and knew his place in life; the other [Hipparchus] was wicked, and abused his position. This youth [Harmodius] was beautiful and worthy of love; and so he matter-of-factly rejected the tyrant [Hipparchus] and dated the private citizen. The tyrant became angry at this fact and, took his anger out on both youths, as well as Harmodius’ sister, whom he banned from carrying the sacred baskets at the Panathenian Festival (implying she was not a virgin). Immediately this tyrant [Hipparchus] paid the penalty for his conduct, and the shameful lust of the tyrant, together with the daring of the youth, his appropriate love, and his love of virtue, was the cause of the liberation of Athens [from tyranny].



Sunday, July 12, 2020

A Transgender Man: Caeneus, Vat. Myth. II.130

TRIGGER WARNING: rape

Caenis virgo fuit, quae a Neptuno pro stupro praemium sexus mutationem meruit. Fuit etiam invulnerabilis. Sed pugnando pro Lapythis contra centauros, crebris ictibus fustium paulllatim fixus in terra est. Post mortem tamen in sexum rediit.

--Vatian Mythographers II.130

Neptune assaulted the woman Caenis and in return, gave her as a gift the change of gender. [Caeneus] also became indestructible (impervious to being stabbed). But when he helped the Lapiths battle the centaurs, he was crushed to death by logs. When he died, his gender changed back.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Challenging Gender Roles: Telesilla, Suidas in Telesilla T.260

Telesilla poetria. Huic statua posita est, ad cuius pedes libri iacent: galea vero capiti eius imposita est. Etenim cum Lacedaemonii, interfectis iis, qui in templum Argorum confugerant, ad urbem capiendum irent, Telesilla mulieres, quae per aetatem arma ferre poterant, armavit, et sic hostibus obviam processit. Quod conspicati Lacedaemonii retro cesserunt, turpe ducentes cum mulieribus pugnare, quas et vincere nulla sit gloria, et a quibus vinci, magnum sit dedecus.

--Suidas, in Telesilla, [T.260]; Translated into Latin by Ludolfus Kufterus


Telesilla the Poet: She is depicted with a helmet upon her head and with books scattered at her feet. For when the Lacedaemonians had killed those who had fled to the temple in Argos, and had marched against the city to capture it,  Telesilla armed the women capable of battle and went out to meet the enemy. When the Lacedaemonians saw them, they retreated, thinking it would be inappropriate to fight against women, since they would earn no glory if they won, but great shame if they lost.

The Terrible Fate of Intersex Children in Ancient Rome: Livy, AUC XXXI.12

TRIGGER WARNING: During early Roman history, the birth of an intersex child was seen as a bad omen. This passage gives explicit details of the inhumane treatment of these unfortunate children. However, the fact that an intersex child was discovered at the age of 16 shows that some parents were successful in protecting their intersex children from Rome's brutal religious laws.


curam expiandae uiolationis eius templi prodigia etiam sub idem tempus pluribus locis nuntiata accenderunt. in Lucanis caelum arsisse adferebant, Priuerni sereno per diem totum rubrum solem fuisse, Lanuui i<n> templo Sospitae Iunonis nocte strepitum ingentem exortum. iam animalium obsceni fetus pluribus locis nuntiabantur: in Sabinis incertus infans natus, masculus an femina esset, alter sedecim iam annorum item ambiguo sexu inuentus; Frusinone agnus cum suillo capite, Sinuessae porcus cum capite humano natus, in Lucanis in agro publico eculeus cum quinque pedibus. foeda omnia et deformia errantisque in alienos fetus naturae uisa: ante omnia abominati semimares iussique in mare extemplo deportari, sicut proxime C. Claudio M. Liuio consulibus deportatus similis prodigii fetus erat. 


--Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, XXXI.12


Furthermore, the fact that numerous bad omens were reported in many places at that time period encouraged the Romans to expiate the violation of the Temple of Persephone [in Locri]. For in Lucania, they say that the sky burned red; at Privernum, the sun was red throughout the entire day, even though the sky was clear; at the Temple of Juno Sospita in Lanuvium, a giant crash was reported. Furthermore, unusual births were announced in many places: among the Sabines, a child of uncertain sex was born, and another person of ambiguous sex was found at the age of sixteen. At Frusino a lamb was born with a pig’s head; at Sinuessa, a pig was born with a human head; and on public land at Lucania, a colt was born with five feet. These unhealthy omens and misshapen births seemed to show nature straying into different paths: of all these omens, the ill-omened intersex children were immediately ordered to be dragged out to sea, as similar children had been treated during the consulship of C. Claudius and M. Livius.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

M/M: A Praise of Patroclus: Maximus of Tyre, Diss. VIII

Et ecce statim in principio operis amatores introducit duos, qui de captiva una inter se certant, quorum alter audax est & furiosus: alter lenior quidem, huius tamen perturbationis haud immunis. Alter ex oculis flammam iacit, omnibusque maledicit, et minatur ordine: alter tacite recedit, humi lacrimans procumbit & anxius oberrat: discessurum denique se ait, cum maneat. Alia est impudici amoris imago, quam in Paride habes, qui proelio se subducit, thalamum intrat, et ubique moecho est similis. Invenies et castum amorem, qui utrinque mutuo respondet, quem in Hectore habes & Andromache: quae viro suo et amatori Hectori, patris fratrisque et si quae praeterea amicissima sunt tribuit nomina. Ille vicissim, ne de matre quidem sua se tam sollicitum esse ait, quam de illa. Habes et Venereum in concubitu Iunonis & Iovis. Et libidinosum, in procis: illecebrosum in Calypsone, veneficum in Circe, virilem in Patroclo: qui labore mutuo accenditur, et ad mortem usque constans manet. Quorum uterque iuvenis, uterque pulcher, uterque castus est. Alter instruit, alter instruitur, alter dolet, solatur alter, alter canit, auscultat alter. Affectum amatorium et hoc exprimit, quod cum pugnae potestatem sibi fieri optet Patroclus, lacrimetur tanquam non impetraturus hoc ab amante. Qui tamen et veniam illi concedit, et arma sua. Sed et cunctante eo metuit, et iam mortuo mori quoque optat, iramque suam deponit. Amatoriae sunt et nocturnae visiones, et somnia, et lacrimae illae: donum postremo ultimum quod sepulchro impendit, capillus. Haec sunt amatoria Homeri.

--Maximus of Tyre, Dissertation VIII, Translated from the Greek by Claudius Larjot


Right at the beginning of the Iliad, Homer presents us with two lovers who are fighting over a captive woman: one [Agamemnon] is bold and passionate, the other [Achilles] is soft spoken, but not impervious to feeling emotion. The one [Agamemnon] shoots daggers from his eyes, slanders everyone, and threatens each and everyone present; the other [Achilles] quietly leaves, throwing himself on the ground and weeping, lost; he says he will leave, but stays nonetheless.

Another type of love is shameful love, the kind that Paris has: he withdraws from the heat of battle to snuggle with his lover, and is an adulterer in every sense of the word.

You can also find perfect love [castum amorem], which is reciprocal, the kind that Hector and Andromache shared. Andromache called Hector her husband and lover, her husband and brother, and every other name shared with a loved one. In turn, he told her that he was more worried for her than for his own mother.

You can read about sexual love [Venereum] in the bedding scene of Juno & Jupiter.

You can read about lust in Penelope’s suitors; seductive love in the case of Calypso; loves brought about by love potions with Circe, and manly love [virilem] in the case of Patroclus. This love [between Patroclus and Achilles] is brought about by mutual effort, and remains steadfast even in death. It exists between two young men, both beautiful, both consensual [castus]. They both take care of each other. One grieves, the other consoles; one sings, the other enjoys the song.

The one expresses his feelings to the other: when Patroclus wants permission to join the fight, on the verge of tears if he wasn’t allowed by his lover. Yet when Achilles allows him to join the Greeks in battle, he gave both his blessing and even his own weapons. And Achilles is terrified while Patroclus is engaged in battle, and wishes to die when Patroclus is slain, and then resolves his anger. His nightly visions, his dreams, his tears are all proof of his love for Patroclus: even the lock of hair that he offers to his lover’s tomb in a final gift [is proof].

These are the types of love you find in Homer.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Aphrodite, Come! Sappho VIII

Ades, Venus, aureis
in poculis, elegantibus
commixtum germinibus
nectar ut affundas
his amicis
meisque tuisque.

Ἕλθε, Κύπρι,
Χπρυσίασιν ἐν κυλίκεσσιν ἄβραισ
συμμεμιγμένον θαλίαισι νέκταρ
     οἰνοχόεισα

--Sappho, Fragment 8 (modern fragment 6) Translated from the Greek by Johannis Christianus Wolfius

Come, Venus, 
pour the nectar mixed with savory herbs, 
pour the nectar in golden goblets,
pour the nectar for these friends of yours & mine.

The Terrible Fate of Intersex Children in Rome, Continued: Livy AUC XXVII.37

TRIGGER WARNING: During the crisis of Hannibal's invasion of Italy in the Second Punic War (218 - 201 BCE), the birth of an intersex child was seen as a bad omen. This passage gives explicit details of the inhumane treatment of the unfortunate child. The details of this story are odd: did the infant look "four years old" because the parents were successful in protecting their child from public execution for several years? Did the numerous and humiliating punishments inflicted on Roman women afterwards occur in response to a mother disobeying public religious practices to protect her intersex child?

[37] Priusquam consules proficiscerentur nouendiale sacrum fuit quia Ueiis de caelo lapidauerat. sub unius prodigii, ut fit, mentionem alia quoque nuntiata: Minturnis aedem Iouis et lucum Maricae, item Atellae murum et portam de caelo tactam; Minturnenses, terribilius quod esset, adiciebant sanguinis riuum in porta fluxisse; et Capuae lupus nocte portam ingressus uigilem laniauerat. haec procurata hostiis maioribus prodigia et supplicatio diem unum fuit ex decreto pontificum. inde iterum nouendiale instauratum quod in Armilustro lapidibus uisum pluere. liberatas religione mentes turbauit rursus nuntiatum Frusinone natum esse infantem quadrimo parem nec magnitudine tam mirandum quam quod is quoque, ut Sinuessae biennio ante, incertus mas an femina esset natus erat. id uero haruspices ex Etruria acciti foedum ac turpe prodigium dicere: extorrem agro Romano, procul terrae contactu, alto mergendum. uiuum in arcam condidere prouectumque in mare proiecerunt. decreuere item pontifices ut uirgines ter nouenae per urbem euntes carmen canerent. id cum in Iouis Statoris aede discerent conditum ab Liuio poeta carmen, tacta de caelo aedis in Auentino Iunonis reginae; prodigiumque id ad matronas pertinere haruspices cum respondissent donoque diuam placandam esse, aedilium curulium edicto in Capitolium conuocatae quibus in urbe Romana intraque decimum lapidem ab urbe domicilia essent, ipsae inter se quinque et uiginti delegerunt ad quas ex dotibus stipem conferrent; inde donum peluis aurea facta lataque in Auentinum, pureque et caste a matronis sacrificatum. confestim ad aliud sacrificium eidem diuae ab decemuiris edicta dies, cuius ordo talis fuit. ab aede Apollinis boues feminae albae duae porta Carmentali in urbem ductae; post eas duo signa cupressea Iunonis reginae portabantur; tum septem et uiginti uirgines, longam indutae uestem, carmen in Iunonem reginam canentes ibant, illa tempestate forsitan laudabile rudibus ingeniis, nunc abhorrens et inconditum si referatur; uirginum ordinem sequebantur decemuiri coronati laurea praetextatique. a porta Iugario uico in forum uenere; in foro pompa constitit et per manus reste data uirgines sonum uocis pulsu pedum modulantes incesserunt. inde uico Tusco Uelabroque per bouarium forum in cliuum Publicium atque aedem Iunonis reginae perrectum. ibi duae hostiae ab decemuiris immolatae et simulacra cupressea in aedem inlata.

--Livy, Ab Urbe Condita XXVII.37

Before the consuls set out for war, they offered public sacrifices for nine days, since it rained stones in Veii. Once that bad omen occurred, others were soon announced: lightning struck the temple of Jupiter in Minturnae, as well as the sacred grove of Marcia and both the city walls and gate of Atella. At Minturnae, they added another terrifying omen: a river of blood flowed into their city gate. At Capua, a wolf entered the city at night and mauled a guardsman. The consuls expiated these bad omens with more sacrifices, and another public day of prayer was decreed by the head priests. Another nine days of public sacrifices were ordered when it seemed to rain stones in Armilustrum. As soon as the public’s minds were put to ease by the expiation, they were terrified yet again by the announcement that in Frusio, that there was a child [infantem] born the size of a four-year old. But the child’s size wasn’t the miraculous part, but rather the similarity to what had happened in Sinuessa two years prior: the child was indistinguishably male or female (incertus mas an femina). The religious specialists summoned from Etruria declared that the omen was foul and wretched: they declared that the child must be banished from Roman territory, drowned in the sea far from the sight of land. The child was locked in a coffin and thrown into the sea. The priests also decreed that three groups of nine maidens (virgines) should travel throughout the city, singing a hymn composed by the poet Livius. While they were memorizing this hymn in the temple of Jupiter Stator, lightning struck the temple of Juno on the Aventine Hill. The soothsayers said that  this omen was the women’s (matronas) fault, and that Juno should be appeased with a gift. An edict from the curule aediles in the Capitolium decreed that all women who lived within ten miles of Rome should assemble, and that twenty five of them to gather the offering, using money from their dowries. They melted down the gold to create an offering basin, and presented it to the goddess in her temple on the Aventine Hill in a pure and chaste manner by the matrons.
Immediately the decemvirs decreed another day of sacrifice to the same goddess, in the following ceremony: two white cows would be led from the temple of Apollo through the Carmental gate into the city; two cult statues of Juno made of cypress wood would be carried behind them. Then twenty seven young women (virgines), wearing long tunics, would follow singing hymns to Juno. [At the time, these songs were praise-worthy to rustic minds, but now the words are no longer appropriate.] The decemvirs, wearing toga praetexta and crowns, would follow the troop of maidens. They would travel from the Carmental gate along the Street of Yoke Makers into the Forum. The parade would end at the Forum, and the maidens, all holding a rope would sing a song using the rhythm of their stomping feet to keep time. From there they continued through the Tuscan Street and Velabrum Street through the Farmer’s Market onto the Clivus Publicius and then reach the Temple of Juno. Once there, the decemvirs would sacrifice the two cows and the wooden cult statues would be offered to the goddess. 





The Terrible Fate of Intersex Children in Rome: Livy, AUC XXVII.11

TRIGGER WARNING: During the crisis of Hannibal's invasion of Italy in the Second Punic War (218 - 201 BCE), the birth of an intersex child was seen as a bad omen. This is one of two passages from Livy's AUC Book XXVII. The second passage more explicitly describes the tragic fate of the child. 

[11] Prodigia quoque priusquam ab urbe consules proficiscerentur procurari placuit. in Albano monte tacta de caelo erant signum Iouis arborque templo propinqua, et Ostiae lacus, et Capuae murus Fortunaeque aedis, et Sinuessae murus portaque. haec de caelo tacta: cruentam etiam fluxisse aquam Albanam quidam auctores erant, et Romae intus in cella aedis Fortis Fortunae de capite signum quod in corona erat in manum sponte sua prolapsum. et Priuerni satis constabat bouem locutum uolturiumque frequenti foro in tabernam deuolasse, et Sinuessae natum ambiguo inter marem ac feminam sexu infantem, quos androgynos uolgus, ut pleraque, faciliore ad duplicanda uerba Graeco sermone appellat, et lacte pluuisse et cum elephanti capite puerum natum. ea prodigia hostiis maioribus procurata, et supplicatio circa omnia puluinaria, obsecratio in unum diem indicta.

--Livy, Ab Urbe Condita Libri XXVII.11


Before the consuls left the city, they decided to expiate certain omens.   For lightning had hit both the statue of Jupiter and the tree next to his temple on Mt. Alba, as well as the harbor of Ostia, the city walls and Temple of Fortuna in Capua, as well as both the city walls and gate of Sinuessa. Furthermore, some authors stated that the Alban river flowed red with blood, and in the temple of Fors Fortuna in Rome, a figure from the cult statue’s crown fell off of the statue’s head and into the statue’s hand by itself. It was generally agreed that in Privernum a cow spoke, a vulture flew into a shop in a busy forum, and in Sinuessa, a child was born of ambiguous sex (somewhere between a male and a female), which is commonly called “androgynous” (yet another Greek term, for it is easier to make compound words in the Greek language). It also rained milk and a boy was born with an elephant’s head. These bad omens were taken care of with additional sacrifices; a public sacrifice was held for all shrines, as well as a public prayer was held on a special day

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

M/M: The Army of Theban Lovers, Maximus of Tyre, Diss. VIII

Epamonidas amatorio stratagemate Thebas in liberatem a Lacedaemoniis vindicavit. Erant Thebis multi pulchri adolescentuli qui amabantur, multi pulchri iuvenes qui amabant. Utrisque arma in manum Epamonidas dat, et utrisque cohortem instruit amatoriam, quae mirae virtutis planeque inexpugnabilis cum esset, conferto simul agmine facile hostium impetum sustinuit. Qualem neque imperatorum solertissimus Nestor, in Troiano agro, neque in Peloponnesiaco Heraclidae, neque in Attico instruxere Peloponnesii. Necesse enim fuit amatores singulos, vel existimationis suae causa, quod in oculis adolescentulorum pugnarent, vel necessitatis, quod singuli amicissimum defenderent, strenue rem gerere. Vehemens rursus aemulatio adolescentulos pungebat, ut cum amatoribus sibi suis paria facerent: sicut in venatione catuli, qui maiores canes sequuntur. 

--Maximus of Tyre, Dissertations VIII., Translated from the Greek by Claudius Larjot


Epamonidas liberated Thebes from Sparta’s control by weaponizing love. In Thebes there were many teenagers (adolescentuli) who were loved, and many youths (iuvenes) who were loving them.  Epamonidas put weapons in their hands, and created a squadron of lovers who had incredible valor and were undefeatable; whether in battle line or in melee they easily repelled the enemy’s assault, the likes of which have never been seen, not even under the skillful leadership of the Trojan War hero Nestor, nor in the descendants of Heracles in the Peloponnesian campaign,  nor in the Peloponnesian campaign against Athens.
For each man had to prove themselves to their lover, either to fight well in their beloved’s eyes, or out of necessity, since each man had to defend his own sweetheart (amicissimum). And in turn, a rivalry spurred on their bravery, so they could perform equally as well as their lover, just as the puppies of hunting dogs follow the bigger dogs in the pack.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Sappho & Socrates: A Comparison, Maximus of Tyre, Dis. VIII

Sapphus vero (si quidem antiquiora cum recentioribus conferre fas est) quid est aliud quam amatoria ars Socratis? Videntur enim mihi idem spectare uterque, hic cum virorum, illa cum mulierum celebrat amorem. Uterque plurimos se amare fatetur, et ab omnibus formosis facillime capi. Quod enim Alcibiades illi & Charmides, et Phedrus, hoc Sapphoni Lesbiae Gyrinna, Athis, et Anactoria: et quod Socrati aemuli illi Prodicus, Gorgias, Thrasymachus, et Protagoras, hoc Sapphoni Gorgo et Andromeda. Interdum namque increpat illas, interdum arguit, tum ubique urbana illa Socratis elucet dissimulatio. Ionem salvere iubeo, ait Socrates. Plurimum salvere Polyanactis filium iubeo, ait Sappho. Negat se Alcibiadem quem diu ante amarat, priusquem e coloquiis suis fructum haurire posset, accedere voluisse Socrates. Parva mihi puella videre, nec adhuc matura, ait Sappho. Ille habitum alibi & discubitum sophistae perstringit: ila alibi canit, Quaedam rustica tunica induta. Amorem ait Diotima apud Socratem, non filium, sed pedissequum esse Veneris & famulum. Venus alibi apud Sapphonem in oda quadam ait, Et tu pulcherrime famule amor. Rursus Diotima ait, florere amorem cum abundat, mori cum eget. Illa utrumque coniungit: cum Amorem dulceamarum vocat, et dona aid dare, sed molesta. Socrates Amorem sophistam vocat, Sappho verborum architectum. Phaedri amore tanquam Bacchico furore concitare se ait Socrates. Illa vero, Amore mihi mentem, inquit, impulit, venti instar qui montanis incidit arboribus. Socrates Xanthippen perstringit, cum mortem eius dolet: illa filiae suae scribit, Nefas in poetica domo luctum esse; neque id nobis sit dignum. 

--Maximus of Tyre, Diss. VIII, Translated into Latin by Claudius Larjot

Well, if it's appropriate to compare ancient literature with modern, what is Sappho's poetry except the Socratic art of love? For it seems to me that they both sought after the same thing: Socrates enjoyed the love of men, Sappho enjoyed the love of women.
  • Both confessed that they loved many people, and were captivated by the most beautiful. 
    • And the relationship that  Alcibiades, Charmides, and Phaedrus had with Socrates, 
    • so too did Gyrinna, Athis and Anactoria have with Sappho. 
  • And Prodicus, Gorgias, Thrasymachus and Protagoras were Socrates' rivals, 
    • Gorgo and Andromeda were Sappho's rivals. 
  • Sometimes Sappho blew off her lovers, sometimes she yelled at them, sometimes she would blow them away with the charm of Socratic wit.
  • Socrates said: "Io, protect me!"
    • Sappho said, "Protect me, son of Polyanax!"
  • Socrates said that he did not date Alcibiades (whom he had a crush on for a while) until he could handle advanced conversations. 
    • Sappho said, "you're just a little girl, way too immature.
  • Socrates criticized the body language and how sophists sat down; 
    • Sappho sang, "the woman wearing a country-style dress." 
  • Diotima said to Socrates that Cupid was not the son but the slave and attendant of Venus. 
    • Sappho says the same thing in one of her poems: "You, too, o Cupid, you most beautiful slave." 
  • Diotima said  that love flourishes in good times, and dies in bad times. 
    • Sappho says the same thing: she calls love "bittersweet" and that it  gives troublesome gifts
  • Socrates calls love a sophist; 
    • Sappho called it a architect of words
  • Socrates said that his love of Phaedrus put him in a Bacchic rage; 
    • Sappho said that love shakes her mind like the winds shake the mountain treetops.   
  • Socrates chided Xanthippe when she was sad about his impending death; 
    • Sappho wrote to her daughter that "Grief wasn't appropriate (nefas) in the house of the muses, and it certainly isn't appropriate for us."

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Dangerous Beauty: A List, Hyginus, Fab. 271

TRIGGER WARNING: Beauty was seen as a dangerous trait for young men and women alike; most of these myths end in abduction / rape. It is important to note the objectification of these men in this passage; the author makes clear that unwanted sexual attention is an unfortunate consequence of beauty in Greco-Roman mythology.

Qui ephebi formosissimi fuerunt:
  • Adonis Cinyrae et Smyrnae filius quam Venus amavit.
  • Endymion Aethlii filius quem Luna amavit.
  • Ganymedes Erichthonii filius, quem Iovis amavit.
  • Hyacinthus Oebali filius quem Apollo amavit.
  • Narcissus Cephisi fluminis filius qui se ipsum amavit.
  • Atlantius Mercurii et Veneris filius qui hermaphroditus dictus est.
  • Hylas Thiodamantis filius, quem Hercules amavit.
  • Chrysippus Pelopis filius, quem Theseus ludis rapuit.


--Hyginus, Fabulae CCLXXI

A list of exceedingly beautiful youths:

  • Adonis (the son of Cinyras and Smyrna), whom Venus loved.
  • Endymion (the son of Aethlius), whom the Moon loved.
  • Ganymede (the son of Erichthonius), whom Jupiter loved.
  • Hyacinthus (the son of Oebalus), whom Apollo loved.
  • Narcissus (the son of the Cephissus River), who fell in love with himself.
  • Atlantius (the son of Mercury and Venus), who is called a "hermaphrodite."
  • Hylas (the son of Thiodamas), whom Hercules loved.
  • Chrysippus (the son of Pelops), whom Theseus abducted from the games.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

M/M: A Love Letter for Homework, Marcus Aurelius and Fronto, Add. 7

In this letter, the future Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius uses erotic terms in his homework assignment from his mentor Fronto, who has asked him to read Plato's Phaedrus. It is interesting to note that Marcus has flipped the traditional arrangement of the Greek same-sex model; although Fronto is his mentor, Marcus calls himself the erastes [lover in charge of the relationship].


Have mi magister optime.

Ave perge, quantum libet, comminare et argumentorum globis criminare: Numquam tu tamen erasten tuum, me dico depuleris; nec ego minus amare me Frontonem praedicabo minusque amabo, quod tu tam variis tamque vehementibus sententiis adprobaris minus amantibus magis opitulandum ac largiendum esse. Ego hercule te ita amore depereo neque deterreor isto tuo dogmate ac, si magis eris aliis non amantibus properus et promptus, ego tamen amabo atque usque amabo. Ceterum quod ad sensuum densitatem, quod ad inventionis argutiarum, quod ad aemulationis tuae felicitatem adtinet, nolo quidem dicere te multo placentis illos sibi et provocantis Atticos antevenisse, ac tamen nequeo quin dicam. Amo enim et hoc denique amantibus vere tribuendum esse censeo, quod victoriis τῶν ἐρωμένων magis gauderent. Vicimus igitur, vicimus, inquam. Num . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . praestabilius sub laquearibus quam sub platanis, intra pomerium quam extra murum, sine deliciis quam ipsa Lai proxime adsistente habitanteve disputari? Nequeo retejaclari, utra re magis caveam, quod de Lysia orator saeculi hujus dogma tulerit an quod magister meus de Platone. 3 Illud equidem non temere adjuravero: Si quis iste re vera Phaeder fuit, si umquam is a Socrate afuit, non magis Socraten Phaedri desiderio quam me per istos dies (‘dies’ dico? ‘menses’, inquam) tui adspectus cupidine arsisse… Tua epistula haec fecit, ne ille Diona esset quin tantum amet nisi confestim tuo amore corripitur.

 Vale, mihi maxima res sub caelo, gloria mea. Sufficit talem magistrum habuisse. Domina mater te salutat.

--A letter of Marcus Aurelius preserved in the correspondence of Marcus Cornelius Fronto, Add.7 ( 249 Haut, Haines I.30)


Hello, my best mentor!

Go on then, threaten and complain with any heap of arguments as much as you can: for you will never get rid of me, your lover (erasten)! For even if you give me a convincing argument with varied and vehement words that the *object* of a lover’s desire (minus amantibus, a Latin pun on the Greek term eromenos) ought to be cherished and lavished with gifts [more than the lover himself], I will not I will not stop declaring that I love my Fronto any less, and I won’t stop loving you. For by Hercules, I am dying for love of you, nor am I kept in check by your rules (dogmate). Even if you treat others--others that you don’t love--better than me, I will still keep on loving you.

[Reading Plato's Phaedrus] I shouldn’t say that you’re better than all those cocky and self-sure Attic intellectuals [in the book] because of the wealth of your thoughts, the cleverness of your wit, the utter perfection of your imitation: but here I am, saying it. I love you and I reckon that it’s proper for a person in love to say that they enjoy their lovers’ [τῶν ἐρωμένων] victories more than their own. We’ve won, so in effect, I’ve won …

But [still reading Plato’s Phaedrus] whether someone is under intricately paneled ceiling or under a plane tree, whether inside or outside the city walls, holding a discussion without your sweetheart (deliciis) is [main clause missing] than while Lais herself is not only at hand, but also a neighbor. But I can’t seem to wrap my head around which is worse, what the politician (orator) Fronto said about Lysia or what my mentor (magister) Fronto has said about Plato. And I don’t say this lightly: if Phaedrus actually existed in real life, if he was ever apart from Socrates, Socrates could not have burned in longing for Phaedrus more than I burn in longing for you all these days (“days”? I mean “months”!). Your letter has such effect that he wouldn’t need to be Dion* to love you so much, but rather he’d immediately be seized by a love for you at first sight.

Goodbye, my glory, the best thing to happen to me under heaven. It’s enough that I had such a mentor. My mother says “hi.”

*Dion was one of Plato's lovers

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Punished for Her Asexuality: Polyphonte, Antoninus Liberalis Met. XXI

Trigger Warning: Like the myth of Hippolytus, the asexual Polyphonte was punished by Venus for not conforming.

Thrassam Martis et Tereae, quae Strymone nata fuit, filiam, Hipponus Triballi filiam duxit. Eo ex coniugio nata est filia, nomine Polyphonte. Haec, re venerea ignominiose spreta, in montem se contulit, et consuetidine ludi ac studiorum Dianae sociam se praebuit. Venus contemptu suarum rerum incitata, insanum illi ursi amorem immisit: .... Diana illo conspecto facinore, Polyphontem immenso est prosecuta odio, omnesque in eam convertit feras. 

--Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses XXI,  translated from the Greek by Wilhelm Xylander

Hipponus, the sun of Triballus, married Thrassa, the daughter of Mars and Terea (the daughter of Strymon). Together they had a daughter named Polyphonte. She spurned love and sex (re venerea), and moved to the mountains, becoming a companion (sociam) to Diana in her travels and hunts. Venus grew angry at Polyphonte's lifestyle, and made her fall in love with a bear... Diana was disgusted by this, and viciously punished Polyphonte, making all wild animals attack her.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

A Transgender Man: Iphis, Ovid, Meta.X.665-795

TRIGGER WARNING: infanticide, homophobic comments, misgendered pronouns, mention of bestiality [Minotaur]

Fama novi centum Cretaeas forsitan urbes
implesset monstri, si non miracula nuper
Iphide mutata Crete propiora tulisset.
proxima Cnosiaco nam quondam Phaestia regno
progenuit tellus ignotum nomine Ligdum,               670
ingenua de plebe virum, nec census in illo
nobilitate sua maior, sed vita fidesque
inculpata fuit. gravidae qui coniugis aures
vocibus his monuit, cum iam prope partus adesset.
'quae voveam, duo sunt: minimo ut relevere dolore,               675
utque marem parias. onerosior altera sors est,
et vires fortuna negat. quod abominor, ergo
edita forte tuo fuerit si femina partu,—
invitus mando; pietas, ignosce!—necetur.'
dixerat, et lacrimis vultum lavere profusis,               680
tam qui mandabat, quam cui mandata dabantur.
sed tamen usque suum vanis Telethusa maritum
sollicitat precibus, ne spem sibi ponat in arto.
certa sua est Ligdo sententia. iamque ferendo
vix erat illa gravem maturo pondere ventrem,               685
cum medio noctis spatio sub imagine somni
Inachis ante torum, pompa comitata sacrorum,
aut stetit aut visa est. inerant lunaria fronti
cornua cum spicis nitido flaventibus auro
et regale decus; cum qua latrator Anubis,               690
sanctaque Bubastis, variusque coloribus Apis,
quique premit vocem digitoque silentia suadet;
sistraque erant, numquamque satis quaesitus Osiris,
plenaque somniferis serpens peregrina venenis.
tum velut excussam somno et manifesta videntem               695
sic adfata dea est: 'pars o Telethusa mearum,
pone graves curas, mandataque falle mariti.
nec dubita, cum te partu Lucina levarit,
tollere quicquid erit. dea sum auxiliaris opemque
exorata fero; nec te coluisse quereris               700
ingratum numen.' monuit, thalamoque recessit.
laeta toro surgit, purasque ad sidera supplex
Cressa manus tollens, rata sint sua visa, precatur.
     Ut dolor increvit, seque ipsum pondus in auras
expulit, et nata est ignaro femina patre,               705
iussit ali mater puerum mentita. fidemque
res habuit, neque erat ficti nisi conscia nutrix.
vota pater solvit, nomenque inponit avitum:
Iphis avus fuerat. gavisa est nomine mater,
quod commune foret, nec quemquam falleret illo.               710
inde incepta pia mendacia fraude latebant.
cultus erat pueri; facies, quam sive puellae,
sive dares puero, fuerat formosus uterque.
     Tertius interea decimo successerat annus:
cum pater, Iphi, tibi flavam despondet Ianthen,               715
inter Phaestiadas quae laudatissima formae
dote fuit virgo, Dictaeo nata Teleste.
par aetas, par forma fuit, primasque magistris
accepere artes, elementa aetatis, ab isdem.
hinc amor ambarum tetigit rude pectus, et aequum               720
vulnus utrique dedit, sed erat fiducia dispar:
coniugium pactaeque exspectat tempora taedae,
quamque virum putat esse, virum fore credit Ianthe;
Iphis amat, qua posse frui desperat, et auget
hoc ipsum flammas, ardetque in virgine virgo,               725
vixque tenens lacrimas 'quis me manet exitus,' inquit
'cognita quam nulli, quam prodigiosa novaeque
cura tenet Veneris? si di mihi parcere vellent,
parcere debuerant; si non, et perdere vellent,
naturale malum saltem et de more dedissent.               730
nec vaccam vaccae, nec equas amor urit equarum:
urit oves aries, sequitur sua femina cervum.
sic et aves coeunt, interque animalia cuncta
femina femineo conrepta cupidine nulla est.
vellem nulla forem! ne non tamen omnia Crete               735
monstra ferat, taurum dilexit filia Solis,
femina nempe marem. meus est furiosior illo,
si verum profitemur, amor. tamen illa secuta est
spem Veneris; tamen illa dolis et imagine vaccae
passa bovem est, et erat, qui deciperetur, adulter.               740
huc licet ex toto sollertia confluat orbe,
ipse licet revolet ceratis Daedalus alis,
quid faciet? num me puerum de virgine doctis
artibus efficiet? num te mutabit, Ianthe?
     'Quin animum firmas, teque ipsa recolligis, Iphi,               745
consiliique inopes et stultos excutis ignes?
quid sis nata, vide, nisi te quoque decipis ipsam,
et pete quod fas est, et ama quod femina debes!
spes est, quae faciat, spes est, quae pascat amorem.
hanc tibi res adimit. non te custodia caro               750
arcet ab amplexu, nec cauti cura mariti,
non patris asperitas, non se negat ipsa roganti,
nec tamen est potiunda tibi, nec, ut omnia fiant,
esse potes felix, ut dique hominesque laborent.
nunc quoque votorum nulla est pars vana meorum,               755
dique mihi faciles, quicquid valuere, dederunt;
quodque ego, vult genitor, vult ipsa, socerque futurus.
at non vult natura, potentior omnibus istis,
quae mihi sola nocet. venit ecce optabile tempus,
luxque iugalis adest, et iam mea fiet Ianthe—               760
nec mihi continget: mediis sitiemus in undis.
pronuba quid Iuno, quid ad haec, Hymenaee, venitis
sacra, quibus qui ducat abest, ubi nubimus ambae?'
pressit ab his vocem. nec lenius altera virgo
aestuat, utque celer venias, Hymenaee, precatur.               765
quae petit, haec Telethusa timens modo tempora differt,
nunc ficto languore moram trahit, omina saepe
visaque causatur. sed iam consumpserat omnem
materiam ficti, dilataque tempora taedae
institerant, unusque dies restabat. at illa               770
crinalem capiti vittam nataeque sibique
detrahit, et passis aram complexa capillis
'Isi, Paraetonium Mareoticaque arva Pharonque
quae colis, et septem digestum in cornua Nilum:
fer, precor,' inquit 'opem, nostroque medere timori!               775
te, dea, te quondam tuaque haec insignia vidi
cunctaque cognovi, sonitum comitantiaque aera
sistrorum, memorique animo tua iussa notavi.
quod videt haec lucem, quod non ego punior, ecce
consilium munusque tuum est. miserere duarum,               780
auxilioque iuva!' lacrimae sunt verba secutae.
visa dea est movisse suas (et moverat) aras,
et templi tremuere fores, imitataque lunam
cornua fulserunt, crepuitque sonabile sistrum.
non secura quidem, fausto tamen omine laeta               785
mater abit templo. sequitur comes Iphis euntem,
quam solita est, maiore gradu, nec candor in ore
permanet, et vires augentur, et acrior ipse est
vultus, et incomptis brevior mensura capillis,
plusque vigoris adest, habuit quam femina. nam quae               790
femina nuper eras, puer es! date munera templis,
nec timida gaudete fide! dant munera templis,
addunt et titulum: titulus breve carmen habebat:
DONA: PUER : SOLVIT: QUAE: FEMINA: VOVERAT: IPHIS.
postera lux radiis latum patefecerat orbem,               795
cum Venus et Iuno sociosque Hymenaeus ad ignes
conveniunt, potiturque sua puer Iphis Ianthe.


--Ovid, Metamorphoses X.665-797
Perhaps the report of this new marvel would have filled Crete’s hundred cities, except Crete had a miracle of its own: the transformation of Iphis. For in Phaestus (a city near royal Knossos), a man was born named Ligdus. He was a local man, not high born, but pure in life and ways. When his wife was pregnant, he told her, “I pray for two things: that you give birth with minimal pain, and that you give birth to a boy. For girls are more of a burden, and they lack resources (vires).  I hate to say this (pardon me, Pietas, for I say this out of necessity),if you give birth to a girl, kill it.”
He said this with tears in his eyes, and she wept hearing them. Telethusa pestered her husband, begging him to change his mind, but Ligdus remained firm.
Right before she gave birth, in the middle of the night, she dreamed that Inachus’ daughter Io / Isis stood beside her bed, accompanied by other immortals. The golden goddess crowned with twin horns of the moon, holding golden shafts of wheat and bearing other royal insignia and her sacred rattles (sistra). The barking god Anubis was there, too, along with sacred Bast, dappled Apis, as well as Harpocrates (the god who presses his finger to his lips to indicate silence), and Osiris, the one Isis sought and never found, as well as the wandering serpent whose venom brings sleep.
Telethusa woke, startled by the vision, and the goddess told her:
“O Telethusa, my follower, stop worrying! Don’t listen to your husband. Don’t doubt us. When Lucina eases your delivery, accept whatever you give birth to and raise it. I am a goddess who answers others’ prayers—don’t complain that I never answered yours.”
Isis finished speaking and left the room. Telethusa rose from her bed joyfully, raising her hands to the stars, praying that her dream was real.
Later when she went into labor, the fruit of her womb entered the world, and a girl was born. Father Ligdus never knew this; mother Telethusa had it raised as a boy. And everyone believed her; no one knew the truth except the child’s wetnurse.
The newly made father accepted the child and named the boy after its grandfather Iphis. Telethusa loved the name, because it was gender neutral [commune], so she wouldn’t need to be deceitful misgendering the child.

This pious act of naming sealed the deal. The child was raised a boy; he had a face you could think was a boy’s or a girl’s; the child was beautiful either way.
Iphis was thirteen years old when their father pledged him in marriage to golden-haired Ianthe, the prettiest girl in all Phaestus. They were the same in age, in beauty, and in lessons; they were even learning from the same teachers.
Love inflamed their hearts from the start; both felt the wounds of passion, but they both had different coutcomes. For Ianthe expected marriage, a wedding bouquet, and a ceremony, because she thought Iphis was a man. Iphis loved her, knowing they were unable to fulfil their desires, but this fact made them burn even more: a girl in love with a girl [ardetque in virgine virgo]! Scarcely holding back tears, Iphis said, “What is to become of me, who loves a way none have loved before? If the gods wanted to spare me, they should have done it. If they wanted me dead, they should at least give me over to a conventional passion. For cows don’t lust after cows, mares don’t lust after mares. A sheep lusts after a ram, and a doe loves its buck. Even male and female birds mate in the animal kingdom. A woman *never* loves another woman.
“I wish I weren’t a girl! Crete already has an odd romance: Pasiphae loved a bull. But still, it was a woman who loved a male animal. My love is worse than hers! Pasiphae yearned for love, she dressed as a cow, and became an adulterer of a bull. But Daedalus, the most intelligent man in the entire world, the one who flew away with waxen wings, he invented a way to let it happen. Could he do the same for me: make a girl into a boy? Could he even change you, Ianthe?
“Make up your mind, pull yourself together! Think, don’t feel! Look, you were born a girl! Stop deceiving yourself, love what you’re supposed to [fas], love what a woman ought to! Hope creates love, and hope nourishes it, but reality is keeping you from her. Nothing else is keeping you from her embrace: no guardian, no husband, no stern father. She’s not keeping you away, either. Yet you cannot be happy, you cannot attain your heart’s desire, as gods and men work hard to attain.
"So far no part of my prayers have been in vain. The gods readily gave whatever they could to me and my family. They’ve provided what I want, what my father wants, what my father-in-law wants. But Nature herself doesn’t want this, and she overrides us all.
Look, the perfect occasion is here; the wedding day is here. Ianthe will soon be mine. But it’s no use! I thirst while drowning in waves. What’s the purpose of my matron of honor Juno being here? Why has Hymenaeus come? The groom is absent, but two brides are here [quibus qui ducat abest, ubi nubimus ambae?].”
 Iphis finished their prayer. And Ianthe prayed just as fervently, praying for their wedding day to arrive.
Terrified of being discovered, Telethusa kept putting off the day, faking illness, using superstitious omens to delay the inevitable. But soon she ran out of excuses, and the night before the wedding arrived. Tearing off the headdress off her daughter’s head and her own, she let their hair down and embraced the altar, crying, “Isis, you who cherish Paraotorius and Maerotic lands, as well as Pharos and the seven mouths of the Nile, I beg you, help alleviate our fear! A long time ago, I saw your regal insignia, I recognized you and the sound of your bronze sistra. I kept your commands in my heart and I let my daughter live. I followed your advice, and I welcomed the girl as your gift. Pity us both! Help us!”
The goddess seemed to reply. The altar shook; the doors of the temple rumbled in an earthquake, and the moonlike horns on her statue glowed. Her sacred sistra rattled.
Happy from the good omen, but unsure of the outcome, both mother and daughter left the temple. But as Iphis followed, their gait changed, the womanly glow on their cheeks fled. Their strength increased, their facial features sharpened. Their hair grew shorter, less groomed. And where once a woman was—now there is a man! [nam quae femina nuper eras, puer es!] Praise the gods, Telethusa! Offer them gifts to their temples! Rejoice in their miracles!
So they gave a thanksgiving offering to the temples, and added the following inscription: 


IPHIS THE BOY FULFILLS A VOW THAT HE MADE AS A GIRL. 

The next day, when Venus, Juno, Hymenaeus and others assembled, beneath the sacred wedding torches the boy Iphis took Ianthe as his bride.



Wednesday, May 13, 2020

M/M: A Little Cygnet: Cupavo, Vergil, Aen. 10.185-195


Non ego te, Ligurum ductor fortissime bello,               185

transierim, Cynare, et paucis comitate Cupavo,

cuius olorinae surgunt de vertice pennae

(crimen, Amor, vestrum) formaeque insigne paternae.

namque ferunt luctu Cycnum Phaethontis amati,

populeas inter frondes umbramque sororum               190

dum canit et maestum Musa solatur amorem,

canentem molli pluma duxisse senectam

linquentem terras et sidera voce sequentem.

filius aequalis comitatus classe catervas

ingentem remis Centaurum promovet:                    195

---Vergil, Aeneid X.185-195



And I won’t fail to mention you, 
brave leader of the Ligures, Cynaris,

or you, Cupavo, with your small band of warriors.

Cupavo, whose helmet crest had swan feathers

In defiance of Love, and to honor his father.

For they say his father Cygnus, out of love for his beloved Phaethon

While singing in the leafy shade of his lover’s sisters*

And consoling himself for his lost love (maestum amorem) with music

His gray hairs turned to soft feathers

And leaving behind the earth as a singing swan

He sought the stars.

His son Cupavo, accompanied by a troop of his peers

Steers the huge ship Centaur with its oars…

* According to myth, Phaethon's sisters, the Heliades, grieved so much that they were transformed into poplar trees; their tears became amber.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

M/M: In Honor of Their Love & Service: Harmodius & Aristogeiton, Val. Max. II.10.ext.1


Harmodii et Aristogitonis, qui Athenas tyrannide liberare conati sunt, effigies aeneas Xerxes ea urbe devicta in regnum suum transtulit. Longo deinde interiecto tempore Seleucus in pristinam sedem reportandas curavit. Rhodii quoque eas urbi suae appulsas, cum in hospitium publice invitassent, sacris etiam in pulvinaribus collocaverunt. Nihil hac memoria felicius, quae tantum venerationis in tam parvulo aere possidet.

--Valerius Maximus, Fact. Mem. II.10.ext.1


When Xerxes captured Athens, he removed the bronze statues of Harmodius and Aristogeiton (who tried to liberate the city from a tyrant) and brought them back to his kingdom. After a long time had passed, Seleucus returned them to their original location. On the statues’ way back to Athens, the townspeople of Rhodes invited them to be public guests, and displayed them on their sacred couches*. There is nothing more blessed than this memory: that such reverence was held for such a meager amount of bronze.


*During festivals, cult statues would be removed from temples and put on display in special litter-like "couches" and paraded throughout the city.

Friday, May 8, 2020

M/M: Love and Alliance, Vergil, Aen. VIII.154-171

Evander Explains Why He Will Join Aeneas' Side:

ut te, fortissime Teucrum,
accipio agnoscoque libens! ut verba parentis               155
et vocem Anchisae magni vultumque recordor!
nam memini Hesionae visentem regna sororis
Laomedontiaden Priamum Salamina petentem
protinus Arcadiae gelidos invisere finis.
tum mihi prima genas vestibat flore iuventas,               160
mirabarque duces Teucros, mirabar et ipsum
Laomedontiaden; sed cunctis altior ibat
Anchises. mihi mens iuvenali ardebat amore
compellare virum et dextrae coniungere dextram;
accessi et cupidus Phenei sub moenia duxi.               165
ille mihi insignem pharetram Lyciasque sagittas
discedens chlamydemque auro dedit intertextam,
frenaque bina meus quae nunc habet aurea Pallas.
ergo et quam petitis iuncta est mihi foedere dextra,
et lux cum primum terris se crastina reddet,               170
auxilio laetos dimittam opibusque iuvabo.
--Vergil, Aeneid VIII.154-177


"How happily I welcome you, bravest of Trojans!

How happily I see your father Anchises’ words and mannerisms in you!

For I remember Priam visited me in Arcadia

When he went to visit his sister Hesione in Salamis.

At that time I was still young—just entering my teens—

And I was amazed by the Trojan leaders, even Priam himself;

But Anchises was the best of all.

I had a giant crush on him [mihi mens iuvenali ardebat amore]

And I was dying to have him talk to me, or to give me a handshake,

I went up to him and took him on a tour of the city of Pheneum.

When he went back to Troy, he gave me

a wonderful quiver full of Lycian arrows

a beautiful cloak embroidered with golden thread

and the two horse bits and bridles

that I’ve given to my son Pallas to use.

So I will gladly join hands in treaty with you,

And at daybreak, I will happily give you troops and supplies.”