Friday, October 20, 2023

M/M: The Sparkle of His Eyes: Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 13.17

Young people who died before reaching societal milestones of adulthood would be euphemistically married to divinities as a way of handling the grief of their lost potential. There are countless references to young people being "snatched by the nymphs," or becoming "brides of Persephone / Hades." Endymion, a youth forever locked in a coma-like sleep, is one of these archetypes. In this version, he is courted by the god Sleep instead of the goddess Selene.

Λικύμνιος δ᾽ ὁ Χῖος τὸν Ὕπνον φήσας ἐρᾶν τοῦ Ἐνδυμίωνος οὐδὲ καθεύδοντος αὐτοῦ κατακαλύπτει τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς, ἀλλὰ ἀναπεπταμένων τῶν βλεφάρων κοιμίζει τὸν ἐρώμενον, ὅπως διὰ παντὸς ἀπολαύῃ τῆς τοῦ θεωρεῖν ἡδονῆς. λέγει δ᾽ οὕτως :

Ὕπνος δὲ χαίρων

ὀμμάτων αὐγαῖς ἀναπεπταμένοις ὄσσοις ἐκοίμιζεν


Licymnius vero Chius, cum Somnum dixisset amare Endymionem, ait, nec claudere eum illi oculos, sed sopire amasium apertis palpebris; quo constanter fruatur voluptate eius adspiciendi. Verba poetae haec sunt:

Somnus gaudens oculorum

splendore, apertis oculis

sopivit puerum.

--Athenaeus Deipnosophistae 13.17, translated into Latin by Johannes Schweighaeuser (1805)

Licymnius the Chian said that Hypnos [Sleep] loved Endymion, and wouldn’t close the youth’s eyes when he fell asleep, but allowed his lover to sleep with his eyes open, so that he could enjoy gazing upon them.  He sang,

Sleep, rejoicing in the sparkle 

in the youth’s open eyes,

Lulled his boyfriend to sleep.

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