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A Survey of

Gay Literature

From Homer Through

The First World War

Single Volume

Edited by Keith Hale


© 2018 by Keith Hale

Watersgreen House

6.69" x 9.61" (16.993 x 24.409 cm) 
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ISBN-13: 978-1723240027
ISBN-10: 1723240028

BISAC: Literary Collections / LGBT

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12 Chapter One


From The Iliad


Boys and Sport






“David and Jonathan”

Song of Songs


Ode X

Ode XV




From Gnomai


Ode to Theoxenos

31 Chapter Two




103 Chapter Three


From The Symposium


Contra Mundum


In the Field-Path


Love the Runaway

Summer Noon

The Loadstar

Broken Vows

Forsaken Maecius









Various verses


Eclogue II: Alexis

Lord Byron’s paraphrase of The Aenied, Book 9


Odes, Book I, XIII

Odes, Book IV, I

Titus Petronius

From The Satyricon


From Parallel Lives

From Moralia


From Metamorphoses, Book X

Aelian (Claudius Aelianus)

From Various Histories

Strato (Straton of Sardis)

On Boys’ Ages

Chance Encounter

To a Boy’s Book


A Kiss Within a Cup

156 Chapter Four


From The Divani Shamsi Tabriz

From The Masnavi


From Gulistan, chapter 5, “On Love and Youth”

Story 2

Story 4

Story 6

Story 8

Story 9

Story 10

Story 11


From The Divan














Non Vider Gli Occhi Miei


From Essay on Friendship

Christopher Marlowe

From Hero and Leander

A Passionate Shepherd to His Love

William Shakespeare




























Richard Barnfield
















Poems in Divers Humors:

Sonnet I

193 Chapter Five

Katherine Philips

To Mrs. Mary Awbrey

To Mrs. M.A. at Parting

Content, To My Dearest Lucasia

Friendship’s Mystery, To My Dearest Lucasia

Orinda to Lucasta Parting October 1661 at London

Aphra Behn

To the Fair Clarinda

Anna Seward


Sonnet XII

Sonnet XIII

Sonnet XIX

To the Right Honourable Lady Eleanor Butler

James Silk Buckingham

From Travels in Assyria, Media, and Persia

Lord Byron

To E—

To D—

Epitaph on a Beloved Friend

Harrow, 1803

On a Distant View of the Village and School of Harrow on the Hill, 1806

Imitated from Catullus

The Cornelian

Hours of Idleness

To the Earl of Clair

Lines Written Beneath an Elm in the Churchyard of Harrow

L’Amitie, est l’amour sans ailes

Pignus Amoris

Stanzas to Jessy

The Adieu


Farewell to the Muse

On Revisiting Harrow

There Was a Time, I Need Not Name

Remind Me Not, Remind Me Not

To a Youthful Friend

Childish Recollections

I Would I Were a Careless Child

From Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Canto II

To Thyrza

Away, Away, Ye Notes of Woe!

One Struggle More, and I am Free

And Thou Art Dead, as Young and Fair

If Something in the Haunts of Men

On a Cornelian Heart which was Broken

The Chain I Gave

Lines Written on a Blank Leaf of The Pleasures of Memory

On the Quotation, “And my true faith can alter never, though thou art gone perhaps for ever.”

Remember Him, Whom Passion’s Power

Oh! Snatched Away in Beauty’s Bloom

When We Two Parted

Love and Death

Last Words on Greece

On This Day I Complete My 36th Year

258 Chapter Six

Benjamin Disraeli

From Coningsby

Nikolai Gogol

St. John’s Eve

Henry David Thoreau


Herman Melville

“Carlo” (from Redburn)

Walt Whitman

For Him I Sing

From Pent-Up Aching Rivers

I Sing the Body Electric

A Woman Waits for Me

Spontaneous Me

One Hour to Madness and Joy

Out of the Rolling Ocean the Crowd

Ages and Ages Returning at Intervals

I Am He That Aches with Love

Native Moments

As Adam Early in the Morning

Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand

For You, O Democracy

These I Singing in Spring

Not Heaving from My Ribb'd Breast Only

Of the Terrible Doubt of Appearances

The Base of All Metaphysics

When I Heard at the Close of the Day

Are You the New Person Drawn Toward Me?

Not Heat Flames Up and Consumes

City of Orgies

Behold This Swarthy Face

I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing

To a Stranger

I Hear It Was Charged Against Me

The Prairie-Grass Dividing

When I Peruse the Conquer'd Fame

We Two Boys Together Clinging

No Labor-Saving Machine

A Glimpse

A Leaf for Hand in Hand

Earth, My Likeness

I Dream'd in a Dream

What Think You I Take My Pen in Hand?

To the East and to the West

Sometimes with One I Love

To a Western Boy

Among the Multitude

O You Whom I Often and Silently Come

That Shadow My Likeness

Song of the Answerer

The Runner

Eighteen Sixty-One

Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night

A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim

As Toilsome I Wander'd Virginia's Woods

The Wound-Dresser

O Tan-Faced Prairie-Boy

As I Lay with My Head in Your Lap Camerado

The Sleepers


Ashes of Soldiers

So Long!

With Husky-Haughty Lips, O Sea!

The Dead Tenor

Twenty Years

The Pallid Wreath

318 Chapter Seven

Gustave Flaubert

Bayard Taylor

To a Persian Boy

Ernst Haeckel

From My Visit to Ceylon

Samuel Butler

In Memoriam H.R.F.

An Academic Exercise

A Prayer


Walter Pater


John Addington Symonds

From A Problem on Greek Ethics

From A Problem on Modern Ethics

Henry James

The Pupil

Stanley Lane-Poole

From Turkey, Story of Nations

358 Chapter Eight

Oscar Wilde

From The Picture of Dorian Gray

André Gide

Oscar Wilde

Marcel Proust

From Swann’s Way

395 Chapter Nine

Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman

The Long Arm

A.E. Housman

From A Shropshire Lad:

III The Recruit





XIX To an Athlete Dying Young










From Last Poems:




XIV The Culprit

XV Eight O’Clock


From More Poems:




From Additional Poems:


XVIII Oh Who is that Young Sinner

Willa Cather

Paul’s Case

Gertrude Stein


Miss Furr and Miss Skeene

448 Chapter Ten

W. Somerset Maugham

From Of Human Bondage

Aleister Crowley

Household Gods

Thomas Mann

From Tonio Kröger

Renée Vivien

The Touch

Your Strange Hair

E.M. Forster

The Story of a Panic

Lytton Strachey

From Eminent Victorians: Thomas Arnold, headmaster at Rugby School

Radclyffe Hall

If You Were a Rose and I Were the Sun (Song)

A Memory



The Day


The Fond Lover

Hugh Walpole

The Prelude to Adventure, Chapter One: The Last Chapter

D.H. Lawrence

From Women in Love

H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)

At Baia

514 Chapter Eleven

Siegfried Sassoon


The Hero

The Dug-Out


How to Die

Sick Leave



A Letter Home


Rupert Brooke

The Call

The Wayfarers

The Beginning


The Hill


The Way that Lovers Use


It’s Not Going to Happen Again


Letter to James Strachey, 10 July 1912

T.E. Lawrence

Dedication page to Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Wilfred Owen

Maundy Thursday

Greater Love

Apologia pro Poemate Meo

Parable of the Old Man and the Young

Arms and the Boy

Anthem for Doomed Youth

Dulce et Decorum Est


Chapter One

Homer (800-701 BC)

The premiere epic poem of ancient Greece, Homer’s The Iliad also contains the most revered pair of male lovers, Achilles and Patroclus. While it was the general pattern in ancient and classical Greece for a dominant older male to mentor and become lovers with an attractive, submissive younger male, Homer’s story shows us that there were plenty of important exceptions to this general pattern. Achilles was certainly the dominant partner in the relationship, but he was younger than Patroclus and also more praised for his beauty. Alexander the Great and his best friend/lover Hephaestion modeled their relationship on the legend of Achilles and Patroclus. Alexander carried a copy of The Iliad with him on his journey across Asia; at Troy, Alexander sacrificed on Achilles’ tomb while Hephaestion did the same on the tomb of Patroclus.

From The Iliad, Book XVIII

Translated by Edward, Earl of Derby

Thus, furious as the rage of fire, they fought.
Meantime Antilochus to Peleus' son,
Swift-footed messenger, his tidings bore.
Him by the high-beak'd ships he found, his mind
Th' event presaging, fill'd with anxious thoughts,
As thus he commun'd with his mighty heart:

"Alas! what means it, that the long-hair'd Greeks,
Chas'd from the plain, are thronging round the ships?
Let me not now, ye Gods, endure the grief
My mother once foretold, that I should live
To see the bravest of the Myrmidons
Cut off by Trojans from the light of day.
Menoetius' noble son has surely fall'n;
Foolhardy! yet I warn'd him, and besought,
Soon as the ships from hostile fires were safe,
Back to return, nor Hector's onset meet."

While in his mind and spirit thus he mus'd,
Beside him stood the noble Nestor's son,
And weeping, thus his mournful message gave:

"Alas! great son of Peleus, woeful news,
Which would to Heav'n I had not to impart,
To thee I bring; Patroclus lies in death;
And o'er his body now the war is wag'd;
His naked body, for his arms are now
The prize of Hector of the glancing helm."

He said; and darkest clouds of grief o'erspread
Achilles' brow; with both his hands he seiz'd
And pour'd upon his head the grimy dust,
Marring his graceful visage; and defil'd
With black'ning ashes all his costly robes.
Stretch'd in the dust his lofty stature lay,
As with his hands his flowing locks he tore;
Loud was the wailing of the female band,
Achilles' and Patroclus' prize of war,
As round Achilles, rushing out of doors,
Beating their breasts, with tott'ring limbs they press'd.
In tears beside him stood Antilochus,
And in his own Achilles' hand he held,
Groaning in spirit, fearful lest for grief
In his own bosom he should sheathe his sword.
Loud were his moans; his Goddess-mother heard,
Beside her aged father where she sat
In the deep ocean caves; she heard, and wept:
The Nereids all, in ocean's depths who dwell,
Encircled her around; Cymodoce,
Nesaee, Spio, and Cymothoe,
The stag-ey'd Halia, and Amphithoe,
Actaea, Limnorea, Melite,
Doris, and Galatea, Panope;
There too were Oreithyia, Clymene,
And Amathea with the golden hair,
And all the denizens of ocean's depths.
Fill'd was the glassy cave; in unison
They beat their breasts, as Thetis led the wail:

"Give ear, my sister Nereids all, and learn
How deep the grief that in my breast I bear.
Me miserable! me, of noblest son
Unhappiest mother! me, a son who bore,
My brave, my beautiful, of heroes chief!
Like a young tree he throve: I tended him,
In a rich vineyard as the choicest plant;
Till in the beaked ships I sent him forth
To war with Troy; him ne'er shall I behold,
Returning home, in aged Peleus' house.
Even while he lives, and sees the light of day,
He lives in sorrow; nor, to soothe his grief,
My presence can avail; yet will I go,
That I may see my dearest child, and learn
What grief hath reach'd him, from the war withdrawn."

She said, and left the cave; with her they went,
Weeping; before them parted th' ocean wave.
But when they reach'd the fertile shore of Troy,
In order due they landed on the beach,
Where frequent, round Achilles swift of foot,
Were moor'd the vessels of the Myrmidons.
There, as he groan'd aloud, beside him stood
His Goddess-mother; weeping, in her hands
She held his head, while pitying thus she spoke:

"Why weeps my son? and what his cause of grief?
Speak out, and naught conceal; for all thy pray'r
Which with uplifted hands thou mad'st to Jove,
He hath fulfill'd, that, flying to their ships,
The routed sons of Greece should feel how much
They need thine aid, and mourn their insult past."

To whom Achilles, deeply groaning, thus:
"Mother, all this indeed hath Jove fulfill'd;
Yet what avails it, since my dearest friend
Is slain, Patroclus? whom I honour'd most
Of all my comrades, lov'd him as my soul.
Him have I lost: and Hector from his corpse
Hath stripp'd those arms, those weighty, beauteous arms,
A marvel to behold, which from the Gods
Peleus receiv'd, a glorious gift, that day
When they consign'd thee to a mortal's bed.
How better were it, if thy lot had been
Still 'mid the Ocean deities to dwell,
And Peleus had espous'd a mortal bride!
For now is bitter grief for thee in store,
Mourning thy son; whom to his home return'd
Thou never more shalt see; nor would I wish
To live, and move amid my fellow-men,
Unless that Hector, vanquish'd by my spear,
May lose his forfeit life, and pay the price
Of foul dishonour to Patroclus done."

To whom, her tears o'erflowing, Thetis thus:
"E'en as thou sayst, my son, thy term is short;
Nor long shall Hector's fate precede thine own."

Achilles, answ'ring, spoke in passionate grief:
"Would I might die this hour, who fail'd to save
My comrade slain! far from his native land
He died, sore needing my protecting arm;
And I, who ne'er again must see my home,
Nor to Patroclus, nor the many Greeks
Whom Hector's hand hath slain, have render'd aid;
But idly here I sit, cumb'ring the ground:
I, who amid the Greeks no equal own
In fight; to others, in debate, I yield.
Accurs'd of Gods and men be hateful strife
And anger, which to violence provokes
E'en temp'rate souls: though sweeter be its taste
Than dropping honey, in the heart of man
Swelling, like smoke; such anger in my soul
Hath Agamemnon kindled, King of men.
But pass we that; though still my heart be sore,
Yet will I school my angry spirit down.
In search of Hector now, of him who slew
My friend, I go; prepar'd to meet my death,
When Jove shall will it, and th' Immortals all.
From death not e'en the might of Hercules,
Though best belov'd of Saturn's son, could fly,
By fate and Juno's bitter wrath subdued.
I too, since such my doom, must lie in death;
Yet, ere I die, immortal fame will win;
And from their delicate cheeks, deep-bosom'd dames,
Dardan and Trojan, bitter tears shall wipe,
And groan in anguish; then shall all men know
How long I have been absent from the field;
Then, though thou love me, seek not from the war
To stay my steps; for bootless were thy speech."

Whom answer'd thus the silver-footed Queen:
"True are thy words, my son; and good it is,
And commendable, from the stroke of death
To save a worsted comrade; but thine arms,
Thy brazen, flashing arms, the Trojans hold:
Them Hector of the glancing helm himself
Bears on his breast, exulting; yet not long
Shall be his triumph, for his doom is nigh.
But thou, engage not in the toils of war,
Until thine eyes again behold me here;
For with to-morrow's sun will I return
With arms of heav'nly mold, by Vulcan wrought."

Thus saying, from her son she turn'd away,
And turning, to her sister Nereids spoke:
"Back to the spacious bosom of the deep
Retire ye now; and to my father's house,
The aged Ocean God, your tidings bear;
While I to high Olympus speed, to crave
At Vulcan's hand, the skill'd artificer,
A boon of dazzling armour for my son."

She said; and they beneath the ocean wave
Descended, while to high Olympus sped
The silver-footed Goddess, thence in hope
To bear the dazzling armour to her son.
She to Olympus sped; the Greeks meanwhile
Before the warrior-slayer Hector fled
With wild, tumultuous uproar, till they reach'd
Their vessels and the shore of Hellespont.
Nor had the well-greav'd Greets Achilles' friend,
Patroclus, from amid the fray withdrawn;
For close upon him follow'd horse and man,
And Hector, son of Priam, fierce as flame;
Thrice noble Hector, seizing from behind,
Sought by the feet to drag away the dead,
Cheering his friends; thrice, clad in warlike might,
The two Ajaces drove him from his prey.
Yet, fearless in his strength, now rushing on
He dash'd amid the fray; now, shouting loud,
Stood firm; but backward not a step retir'd.
As from a carcass herdsmen strive in vain
To scare a tawny lion, hunger-pinch'd;
E'en so th' Ajaces, mail-clad warriors, fail'd
The son of Priam from the corpse to scare.
And now the body had he borne away,
With endless fame; but from Olympus' height
Came storm-swift Iris down to Peleus' son,
And bade him don his arms; by Juno sent,
Unknown to Jove, and to th' Immortals all.
She stood beside him, and address'd him thus:

"Up, son of Peleus! up, thou prince of men!
Haste to Patroclus' rescue; whom, around,
Before the ships, is wag'd a fearful war,
With mutual slaughter; these the dead defending,
And those to Ilium's breezy heights intent
To bear the body; noble Hector chief,
Who longs to sever from the tender neck,
And fix upon the spikes, thy comrade's head.
Up then! delay no longer; deem it shame
Patroclus' corpse should glut the dogs of Troy,
Dishon'ring thee, if aught dishonour him."

Whom answer'd thus Achilles, swift of foot:
"Say, heav'nly Iris, of th' immortal Gods
Who bade thee seek me, and this message bring?"

To whom swift Iris thus: "To thee I come
By Juno sent, th' imperial wife of Jove;
Unknown to Saturn's son, and all the Gods
Who on Olympus' snowy summit dwell."

To whom again Achilles, swift of foot:
"How in the battle toil can I engage?
My arms are with the Trojans; and to boot
My mother warn'd me not to arm for fight,
Till I again should see her; for she hop'd
To bring me heav'nly arms by Vulcan wrought:
Nor know I well whose armour I could wear,
Save the broad shield of Ajax Telamon
And he, methinks, amid the foremost ranks
Ev'n now is fighting o'er Patroclus' corpse."

Whom answer'd storm-swift Iris: "Well we know
Thy glorious arms are by the Trojans held;
But go thou forth, and from above the ditch
Appear before them; daunted at the sight,
Haply the Trojans may forsake the field,
And breathing-time afford the sons of Greece,
Toil-worn; for little pause has yet been theirs."

Swift Iris said, and vanish'd; then uprose
Achilles, dear to Jove; and Pallas threw
Her tassell'd aegis o'er his shoulders broad;
His head encircling with a coronet
Of golden cloud, whence fiery flashes gleam'd.
As from an island city up to Heav'n
The smoke ascends, which hostile forces round
Beleaguer, and all day with cruel war
From its own state cut off; but when the sun
Hath set, blaze frequent forth the beacon fires;
High rise the flames, and to the dwellers round
Their signal flash, if haply o'er the sea
May come the needful aid; so brightly flash'd
That fiery light around Achilles' head.
He left the wall, and stood above the ditch,
But from the Greeks apart, rememb'ring well
His mother's prudent counsel; there he stood,
And shouted loudly; Pallas join'd her voice,
And fill'd with terror all the Trojan host.
Clear as the trumpet's sound, which calls to arms
Some town, encompass'd round with hostile bands,
Rang out the voice of great Aeacides.
But when Achilles' voice of brass they heard,
They quail'd in spirit; the sleek-skin'd steeds themselves,
Conscious of coming ill, bore back the cars:
Their charioteers, dismay'd, beheld the flame
Which, kindled by the blue-ey'd Goddess, blaz'd
Unquench'd around the head of Peleus' son.
Thrice shouted from the ditch the godlike chief;
Thrice terror struck both Trojans and Allies;
And there and then beside their chariots fell
Twelve of their bravest; while the Greeks, well pleas'd,
Patroclus' body from the fray withdrew,
And on a litter laid; around him stood
His comrades mourning; with them, Peleus' son,
Shedding hot tears, as on his friend he gaz'd,
Laid on the bier, and pierc'd with deadly wounds:
Him to the war with horses and with cars
He sent; but ne'er to welcome his return.
By stag-ey'd Juno sent, reluctant sank
Th' unwearied sun beneath the ocean wave;
The sun had set, and breath'd awhile the Greeks
From the fierce labours of the balanc'd field;
Nor less the Trojans, from the stubborn fight
Retiring, from the chariots loos'd their steeds:
But ere they shar'd the ev'ning meal, they met
In council; all stood up; none dar'd to sit;
For fear had fallen on all, when reappear'd
Achilles, from the battle long withdrawn.
First Panthous' son, the sage Polydamas,
Address'd th' assembly; his sagacious mind
Alone beheld the future and the past;
The friend of Hector, born the selfsame night;
One in debate, the other best in arms;
Who thus with prudent speech began, and said:

"Be well advis'd, my friends! my counsel is
That we regain the city, nor the morn
Here in the plain, beside the ships, await,
So far remov'd from our protecting walls.
While fiercely burn'd 'gainst Atreus' godlike son
That mighty warrior's wrath, 'twas easier far
With th' other Greeks to deal; and I rejoic'd
When by the ships we pass'd the night, in hopes
We soon might call them ours; but now, I own
Achilles, swift of foot, excites my fear.
His proud, impetuous spirit will spurn the plain,
Where Greeks and Trojans oft in warlike strife
Their balanc'd strength exert; if he come forth,
Our fight will be to guard our homes and wives.
Gain we the city; trust me, so 'twere best.
Now, for a while, ambrosial night detains
The son of Peleus; but at early morn
If issuing forth in arms he find us here,
His prowess we shall know; and happy he
Who, flying, shall in safety reach the walls
Of sacred Troy; for many a Trojan slain
Shall feed the vultures; Heav'n avert such fate!
But if, though loth, ye will by me be rul'd,
This night in council husband we our strength;
While tow'rs, and lofty gates, and folding doors
Close join'd, well-fitting, shall our city guard:
Then issuing forth in arms at early morn
Man we the tow'rs; so harder were his task
If, from the ships advancing, round the wall
He offer battle; bootless to return,
His strong-neck'd horses worn with labour vain
In coursing, purposeless, around the town.
To force an entrance, or the town destroy,
Is not his aim; and ere that end be gain'd,
The dogs of Troy upon his flesh shall feed."

To whom thus Hector of the glancing helm
With stern regard: "Polydamas, thy words
Are such as grate unkindly on mine ear,
Who fain wouldst have us to the walls retire.
What? have ye not already long enough
Been coop'd within the tow'rs? the wealth of Troy,
Its brass, its gold, were once the common theme
Of ev'ry tongue; our hoarded treasures now
Are gone, to Phrygian and Maeonian shores
For sale exported, costly merchandise,
Since on our city fell the wrath of Jove.
And now, when deep-designing Saturn's son
Such glory gives me as to gain the ships,
And, crowded by the sea, hem in the Greeks,
Fool! put not thou these timid counsels forth,
Which none will follow, nor will I allow.
But hear ye all, and do as I advise:
Share now the meal, by ranks, throughout the host;
Then set your watch, and each keep careful guard;
And whom his spoils o'erload, if such there be,
Let him divide them with the gen'ral crowd;
Better that they should hold them than the Greeks:
And with the morn, in arms, beside the ships,
Will we again awake the furious war.
But if indeed Achilles by the ships
Hath reappear'd, himself, if so he choose,
Shall be the suff'rer; from the perilous strife
I will not shrink, but his encounter meet:
So he, or I, shall gain immortal fame;
Impartial Mars hath oft the slayer slain."

Thus Hector spoke; the Trojans cheer'd aloud:
Fools, and by Pallas of their sense bereft,
Who all applauded Hector's ill advice,
None the sage counsel of Polydamas!
Then through the camp they shar'd the ev'ning meal.

Meantime the Greeks all night with tears and groans
Bewail'd Patroclus: on his comrade's breast
Achilles laid his murder-dealing hands,
And led with bitter groans the loud lament.
As when the hunters, in the forest's depth,
Have robb'd a bearded lion of his cubs;
Too late arriving, he with anger chafes;
Then follows, if perchance he may o'ertake,
Through many a mountain glen, the hunters' steps,
With grief and fury fill'd; so Peleus' son,
With bitter groans, the Myrmidons address'd:

"Vain was, alas! the promise which I gave,
Seeking the brave Menoetius to console,
To bring to Opus back his gallant son,
Rich with his share of spoil from Troy o'erthrown;
But Jove fulfils not all that man designs:
For us hath fate decreed, that here in Troy
We two one soil should redden with our blood;
Nor me, returning to my native land,
Shall aged Peleus in his halls receive,
Nor Thetis; here must earth retain my bones.
But since, Patroclus, I am doom'd on earth
Behind thee to remain, thy fun'ral rites
I will not celebrate, till Hector's arms,
And head, thy haughty slayer's, here I bring;
And on thy pyre twelve noble sons of Troy
Will sacrifice, in vengeance of thy death.
Thou by our beaked ships till then must lie;
And weeping o'er thee shall deep-bosom'd dames,
Trojan and Dardan, mourn both night and day;
The prizes of our toil, when wealthy towns
Before our valour and our spears have fall'n."

He said, and bade his comrades on the fire
An ample tripod place, without delay
To cleanse Patroclus from the bloody gore:
They on the burning fire the tripod plac'd,
With water fill'd, and kindled wood beneath.
Around the bellying tripod rose the flames,
Heating the bath; within the glitt'ring brass
Soon as the water boil'd, they wash'd the corpse,
With lissom oils anointing, and the wounds
With fragrant ointments fill'd, of nine years old;
Then in fine linen they the body wrapp'd
From head to feet, and laid it on a couch.
And cover'd over with a fair white sheet.
All night around Achilles swift of foot
The Myrmidons with tears Patroclus mourn'd.

Solon (638-558 BC)

An Athenian statesman and reformer, Solon must be presented here with some caveats. He was a key reformer in Athenian democracy who succeeded in upgrading the structures of government and who also instigated moral reforms against greed and arrogance. While he was a lawmaker, homosexual love became more codified, with some prohibitions against relationships between slaves and “citizens.” However, it cannot be said for certain if Solon himself initiated or even supported these reforms. A love relationship with a youth thirty years his junior has been ascribed to him, but again, there is no historical record to prove this with certainty. Likewise, while he undoubtedly wrote poetry, only fragments have survived, and the poems now bearing his name that indicate a love of male youths may very well have been written by someone else. Theognis has been suggested as a possible author.

Boys and Sport

Translated by John Addington Symonds

Blest is the man who loves and after early play

Whereby his limbs are supple made and strong

Retiring to his house with wine and song

Toys with a fair boy on his breast the livelong day!

Sappho (c. 630/612 BC-c. 570 BC)

As with Solon, there is little we can say of Sappho with certainty. Obviously, we know that she was a Greek lyric poet and was regarded as the most accomplished lyric poet of her age. We know she lived on the island of Lesbos. Almost all other information about her is suspect, and even the famous poetry has been lost except for one or two complete poems and some 200 fragments.

The surviving fragments, if autobiographical, indicate she had a daughter named Cleis, that she loved both women and men, and that she lived into old age. There is also some evidence that she was exiled to Sicily for at least ten years. It is generally assumed that she returned to Lesbos after exile, although there is no precise historical record to confirm that fact. Victorians tried to rewrite her sketchy biography to make it more in line with their own values by claiming she ran a girls’ finishing school and was a teacher, but this is all made up. No historical records support that fiction.

The Library of Alexandria, the intellectual centerpiece of its time, collected Sappho’s poetry into nine books. As noted, of this large body of work, one or two complete poems and more than 200 fragments have survived. Some evidence suggests that after the establishment of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire, church leaders were instrumental in the destruction of her work along with other same-sex literature from the ancient world.

Translation of Sappho’s ancient Greek into modern English has been problematic, as well, particularly since translators have mere fragments of poems to translate. Few of the translations flow well enough to suggest the poetic prowess she is said to have possessed. Bliss Carman’s work on Sappho is undeniably as much or more Bliss Carman than Sappho, but at least the poems read well and helped provide Sappho a modern audience.


Translated and reconstructed by Bliss Carman

The courtyard of her house is wide
And cool and still when day departs.
Only the rustle of leaves is there
And running water.

And then her mouth, more delicate
Than the frail wood-anemone,
Brushes my cheek, and deeper grow
The purple shadows.


I loved thee, Atthis, in the long ago,
When the great oleanders were in flower
In the broad herded meadows full of sun.
And we would often at the fall of dusk
Wander together by the silver stream,
When the soft grass-heads were all wet with dew,
And purple-misted in the fading light.
And joy I knew and sorrow at thy voice,
And the superb magnificence of love,—
The loneliness that saddens solitude,
And the sweet speech that makes it durable,—
The bitter longing and the keen desire,
The sweet companionship through quiet days
In the slow ample beauty of the world,
And the unutterable glad release
Within the temple of the holy night.
O Atthis, how I loved thee long ago
In that fair perished summer by the sea!


"Who was Atthis?" men shall ask,
When the world is old, and time
Has accomplished without haste
The strange destiny of men.

Haply in that far-off age
One shall find these silver songs,
With their human freight, and guess
What a lover Sappho was.


Over the roofs the honey-coloured moon,
With purple shadows on the silver grass,

And the warm south-wind on the curving sea,
While we two, lovers past all turmoil now,

Watch from the window the white sails come in,
Bearing what unknown ventures safe to port!

So falls the hour of twilight and of love
With wizardry to loose the hearts of men,

And there is nothing more in this great world
Than thou and I, and the blue dome of dusk.

David and Jonathan (written c. 630-540 BC, author unknown)

Church leaders have for centuries tried to explain the relationship between David and Jonathan as one of mere friendship. An unbiased reading of the passages from any reliable translation would suggest their relationship was more than that. The story of David and Jonathan reads like other stories of male lovers from that era and geographic region.

1 Samuel 18 (King James translation)

18 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house.

Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.

And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.

I Samuel 20: 41-42

41 And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded.

42 And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, The Lord be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city.

II Samuel 1: 23-27

Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had abode two days in Ziklag;

It came even to pass on the third day, that, behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head: and so it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the earth, and did obeisance.

And David said unto him, From whence comest thou? And he said unto him, Out of the camp of Israel am I escaped.

And David said unto him, How went the matter? I pray thee, tell me. And he answered, That the people are fled from the battle, and many of the people also are fallen and dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.

And David said unto the young man that told him, How knowest thou that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead?

And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him.

And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called unto me. And I answered, Here am I.

And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite.

He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me.

10 So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.

11 Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and likewise all the men that were with him:

12 And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the Lord, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword.

13 And David said unto the young man that told him, Whence art thou? And he answered, I am the son of a stranger, an Amalekite.

14 And David said unto him, How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the Lord's anointed?

15 And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died.

16 And David said unto him, Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the Lord's anointed.

17 And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son:

18 (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)

19 The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!

20 Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.

21 Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.

22 From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty.

23 Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.

24 Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel.

25 How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places.

26 I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.

27 How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!

Song of Songs (dated anywhere from 950-200 BC; author unknown)

Song of Songs is problematic for biblical scholars. Given the book’s lack of religious content and presence of explicit sexual content, it is surprising that Athanasius of Alexandria included the book in his collection of texts that eventually became the Bible, and it is even more surprising that both councils that approved the contents of the present Catholic and Protestant Bibles left them there. Unconvincing attempts were made by translators and church theologians to make Song of Songs appear to be written as a dialogue between a bride and bridegroom or Christ talking to his “bride,” the church. But would Christ, several centuries before he was born, speak of his church with such sensuous imagery and speak of his beloved as male? The attempts to explain that away are, frankly, hysterical to read for their delicious absurdity. It took a massive consensual brainwashing for Christians to believe this interpretation, but many did and still do. Recently, Paul R. Johnson, in his book The Song of Songs: A Gay Love Poem (Fidelity Press, 1995), argues that Song of Song was written by Asher, a son of Solomon (and grandson of King David from the David and Jonathan story) for Caleh, a shepherd and soldier whom he loved. While some other scholars feel his arguments are not entirely convincing, his theory is at least plausible and, unlike the Christ-and-his-church story, not entirely ludicrous. Others who read Song of Songs, whether trained scholars or casual readers, see it as bisexual love poetry.

King James translation

Chapter 2 I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.

As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.

As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.

Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.

His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.

I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.

The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.

My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.

10 My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.

11 For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;

12 The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

13 The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

14 O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.

15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.

16 My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.

17 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.

Chapter 5

I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.

I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.

I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?

My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.

I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.

I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.

The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love.

What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?

10 My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.

11 His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.

12 His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set.

13 His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.

14 His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.

15 His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.

16 His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

Anacreon (582-485 BC)

Born at Teos, a Greek coastal city on what is now the Izmir province of western Turkey, Anacreon wrote light-hearted poems praising both the love of women and boys. He was so popular that statues and coins from Teos and Athens bore his likeness.

Ode X

Translated by Thomas Moore

'Tell me, gentle youth, I pray thee,

What in purchase shall I pay thee

For this little waxen toy,Image of the Paphian boy?

'Thus I said the other day,

To a youth who pass'd my way:

'Sir,' he answer'd, and the while

Answer'd all in Doric style,

'Take it, for a trifle take it;

Think not yet that I could make it;

Pray, believe it was not I;

No—it cost me many a sigh,

And I can no longer keep

Little gods, who murder sleep!

Here, then, here,' (I said with joy)

'Here is silver for the boy:

He shall be my bosom guest,

Idol of my pious breast!'

Little Love! thou now art mine,

Warm me with that torch of thine;

Make me feel as I have felt,

Or thy waxen frame shall melt.

I must burn in warm desire,

Or thou, my boy, in yonder fire!

Ode XV

Grave me a cup with brilliant grace,

Deep as the rich and holy vase,

Which on the shrine of Spring reposes,

When shepherds hail that hour of roses.

Grave it with themes of chaste design,

Form'd for a heavenly bowl like mine.

Display not there the barbarous rites,

In which religious zeal delights;

Nor any tale of tragic fate,

Which history trembles to relate!

No—cull thy fancies from above,

Themes of heaven and themes of love.

Let Bacchus, Jove's ambrosial boy,

Distil the grape in drops of joy,

And while he smiles at every tear,

Let warm-eyed Venus dancing near,

With spirits of the genial bed,

The dewy herbage deftly tread.

Let Love be there, without his arms,

In timid nakedness of charms;

And all the Graces link'd with Love,

Blushing through the shadowy grove;

While rosy boys disporting round,

In circlets trip the velvet ground;

But ah! if there Apollo toys,

I tremble for my rosy boys!


And now with all thy pencil's truth,

Portray Bathyllus, lovely youth!

Let his hair in lapses bright,

Fall like streaming rays of light,

And there the raven's dye confuse

With the yellow sunbeam's hues.

Let not the braid, with artful twine,

The flowing of his locks confine;

But loosen every golden ring,

To float upon the breeze's wing,

Beneath the front of polished glow.

Front as fair as mountain-snow,

And guileless as the dews of dawn,

Let the majestic brows be drawn,

Of ebon dies, enriched by gold,

Such as the scaly snakes unfold.

Mingle in his jetty glances,

Power that awes, and love that trances;

Steal from Venus bland desire,

Steal from Mars the look of fire,

Blend them in such expression here,

That we by turns may hope and fear!

Now from the sunny apple seek

The velvet down that spreads his cheek;

And there let Beauty's rosy ray

In flying blushes richly play;

Blushes, of that celestial flame

Which lights the cheek of virgin shame.

Then for his lips, that ripely gem—

But let thy mind imagine them!

Paint, where the ruby cell uncloses,

Persuasion sleeping upon roses;

And give his lip that speaking air,

As if a word was hovering there!

His neck of ivory splendour trace,

Moulded with soft but manly grace;

Fair as the neck of Paphia's boy,

Where Paphia's arms have hung in joy.

Give him the winged Hermes' hand.

With which he waves his snaky wand:

Let Bacchus then the breast supply,

And Leda's son the sinewy thigh.

But oh! suffuse his limbs of fire

With all that glow of young desire,

Which kindles, when the wishful sigh

Steals from the heart, unconscious why.

Thy pencil, though divinely bright,

Is envious of the eye's delight,

Or its enamoured touch would shew

His shoulder, fair as sunless snow,

Which now in veiling shadow lies,

Removed from all but Fancy's eyes,

Now, for his feet—but hold—forbear—

I see a godlike portrait there;

So like Bathyllus! sure there's none

So like Bathyllus but the Sun!

Oh! let this pictured god be mine,

And keep the boy for Samos' shrine;

Phoebus shall then Bathyllus be,

Bathyllus then the deity!


I saw the smiling bard of pleasure,

The minstrel of the Teian measure;

'Twas in a vision of the night.

He beam'd upon my wond'ring sight;

I heard his voice, and warmly prest

The dear enthusiast to my breast.

His tresses wore a silvery dye,

But beauty sparkled in his eye;

Sparkled in his eyes of fire,

Through the mist of soft desire.

His lip exhaled, whene'er he sigh'd,

The fragrance of the racy tide;

And, as with weak and reeling feet,

He came my coral kiss to meet,

An infant, of the Cyprian band,

Guided him on with tender hand.

Quick from his glowing brows he drew

His braid, of many a wanton hue,

I took the braid of wanton twine,

It breathed of him and blush'd with wine!

I hung it o'er my thoughtless brow,

And ah! I feel its magic now!

I feel that e'en his garland's touch

Can make the bosom love too much!

Theognis (c. 540 BC)

The traditional Greek mentorship of young adolescents was an important concept to Theognis, who wrote lovingly of his young companion Kurnus as he sought to educate the youth in the ways of Greek citizenship. Theognis writes of the love of youths as being both beautiful and aggravating.

From Gnomai (translated by G. Lowes Dickinson)

Youths in their loveliness shall make thee sound

Upon the silver flute's melodious breath;

And when thou goest darkling underground

Down to the lamentable house of death,

Oh yet not then from honor shalt thou cease,

But wander, an imperishable name,

Kurnus, about the seas and shores of Greece,

Crossing from isle to isle the barren main.

Horses thou shalt not need, but lightly ride

Sped by the Muses of the violet crown,

And men to come, while earth and sun abide,

Who cherish song shall cherish thy renown.

Yea, I have given thee wings! and in return

Thou givest me the scorn with which I burn.

Pindar (522-443 BC)

Pindar, from Thebes, is generally regarded along with Sappho as the greatest of the Greek lyric poets. He appeared to take great pleasure in describing in his poetry the physical attributes of young Greek athletes. He also wrote poems about the homosexual relationships of Greek gods and legends and even appears to have invented a homosexual-themed myth or two of his own. In his old age, Pindar’s primary love interest was a young man named Theoxenos. Historians wrote that at eighty years of age, Pindar died in a theater, his head on Theoxenos’ shoulder.

Ode to Theoxenos (translated by John Addington Symonds)

O soul, ‘tis thine in season meet

To pluck of love the blossom sweet

When hearts are young:

But he who sees the blazing beams,

The light that from that forehead streams,

And is not stung:--

Who is not storm-tossed with desire,--

Lo! he, I ween, with frozen fire

Of adamant or stubborn steel,

Is forged in his cold heart that cannot feel.

Disowned, dishonoured, and denied

By Aphrodite glittering-eyed,

He either toils

All day for gold, a sordid gain,

Or bent beneath a woman’s reign

In petty broils,

Endures her insolence, a drudge,

Compelled the common path to trudge;

But I, apart from this disease,

Wasting away like wax of holy bees,

Which the sun’s splendor wounds, do pine,

Whenever I see the young-limbed bloom divine,

Of boys. Lo! Look you well, for here in Tenedos,

Grace and perfection dwell in young Theoxenos.

Chapter Two

Plato (427-347 BC)

Although the word platonic derives from Plato’s aversion to sex, the word frequently is used today to denote relationships that are not romantic. Plato’s relationships with young men, however, while apparently devoid of genital contact, often involved romantic affection. Plato, who never married, did not consider kissing his young men as something out of bounds and freely admitted that such kisses gave him much pleasure.

Regarded as both one of classical Greece’s premiere philosophers and writers, Plato is of course still well-known today, although two of his best works, The Symposium and The Phaedrus, are perhaps not taught as often as some of his other, lesser works. The reason? Both books are treatises on homosexuality, with the subject covered not only from Plato’s restrained point of view but also from the point of view of those who consider the love of adolescent males the highest form of love and at least one person, Pausanias, who feels the greatest love is between males who are more mature and more equal in age.

Symposium (translated by Benjamin Jowett)

PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: Apollodorus, who repeats to his companion the dialogue which he had heard from Aristodemus, and had already once narrated to Glaucon. Phaedrus, Pausanias, Eryximachus, Aristophanes, Agathon, Socrates, Alcibiades, A Troop of Revellers.

SCENE: The House of Agathon.

Concerning the things about which you ask to be informed I believe that I am not ill-prepared with an answer. For the day before yesterday I was coming from my own home at Phalerum to the city, and one of my acquaintance, who had caught a sight of me from behind, calling out playfully in the distance, said: Apollodorus, O thou Phalerian man, halt! So I did as I was bid; and then he said, I was looking for you, Apollodorus, only just now, that I might ask you about the speeches in praise of love, which were delivered by Socrates, Alcibiades, and others, at Agathon's supper. Phoenix, the son of Philip, told another person who told me of them; his narrative was very indistinct, but he said that you knew, and I wish that you would give me an account of them. Who, if not you, should be the reporter of the words of your friend? And first tell me, he said, were you present at this meeting?

Your informant, Glaucon, I said, must have been very indistinct indeed, if you imagine that the occasion was recent; or that I could have been of the party.

Why, yes, he replied, I thought so.

Impossible: I said. Are you ignorant that for many years Agathon has not resided at Athens; and not three have elapsed since I became acquainted with Socrates, and have made it my daily business to know all that he says and does. There was a time when I was running about the world, fancying myself to be well employed, but I was really a most wretched being, no better than you are now. I thought that I ought to do anything rather than be a philosopher.

Well, he said, jesting apart, tell me when the meeting occurred.

In our boyhood, I replied, when Agathon won the prize with his first tragedy, on the day after that on which he and his chorus offered the sacrifice of victory.

Then it must have been a long while ago, he said; and who told you—did Socrates?

No indeed, I replied, but the same person who told Phoenix;—he was a little fellow, who never wore any shoes, Aristodemus, of the deme of Cydathenaeum. He had been at Agathon's feast; and I think that in those days there was no one who was a more devoted admirer of Socrates. Moreover, I have asked Socrates about the truth of some parts of his narrative, and he confirmed them. Then, said Glaucon, let us have the tale over again; is not the road to Athens just made for conversation? And so we walked, and talked of the discourses on love; and therefore, as I said at first, I am not ill-prepared to comply with your request, and will have another rehearsal of them if you like. For to speak or to hear others speak of philosophy always gives me the greatest pleasure, to say nothing of the profit. But when I hear another strain, especially that of you rich men and traders, such conversation displeases me; and I pity you who are my companions, because you think that you are doing something when in reality you are doing nothing. And I dare say that you pity me in return, whom you regard as an unhappy creature, and very probably you are right. But I certainly know of you what you only think of me—there is the difference.

COMPANION: I see, Apollodorus, that you are just the same—always speaking evil of yourself, and of others; and I do believe that you pity all mankind, with the exception of Socrates, yourself first of all, true in this to your old name, which, however deserved, I know not how you acquired, of Apollodorus the madman; for you are always raging against yourself and everybody but Socrates.

APOLLODORUS: Yes, friend, and the reason why I am said to be mad, and out of my wits, is just because I have these notions of myself and you; no other evidence is required.

COMPANION: No more of that, Apollodorus; but let me renew my request that you would repeat the conversation.

APOLLODORUS: Well, the tale of love was on this wise:—But perhaps I had better begin at the beginning, and endeavour to give you the exact words of Aristodemus:

He said that he met Socrates fresh from the bath and sandalled; and as the sight of the sandals was unusual, he asked him whither he was going that he had been converted into such a beau:—

To a banquet at Agathon's, he replied, whose invitation to his sacrifice of victory I refused yesterday, fearing a crowd, but promising that I would come to-day instead; and so I have put on my finery, because he is such a fine man. What say you to going with me unasked?

I will do as you bid me, I replied.

Follow then, he said, and let us demolish the proverb:—

'To the feasts of inferior men the good unbidden go;'

instead of which our proverb will run:—

'To the feasts of the good the good unbidden go;'

and this alteration may be supported by the authority of Homer himself, who not only demolishes but literally outrages the proverb. For, after picturing Agamemnon as the most valiant of men, he makes Menelaus, who is but a fainthearted warrior, come unbidden to the banquet of Agamemnon, who is feasting and offering sacrifices, not the better to the worse, but the worse to the better.

I rather fear, Socrates, said Aristodemus, lest this may still be my case; and that, like Menelaus in Homer, I shall be the inferior person, who

'To the feasts of the wise unbidden goes.'

But I shall say that I was bidden of you, and then you will have to make an excuse.

'Two going together,'

he replied, in Homeric fashion, one or other of them may invent an excuse by the way.

This was the style of their conversation as they went along. Socrates dropped behind in a fit of abstraction, and desired Aristodemus, who was waiting, to go on before him. When he reached the house of Agathon he found the doors wide open, and a comical thing happened. A servant coming out met him, and led him at once into the banqueting-hall in which the guests were reclining, for the banquet was about to begin. Welcome, Aristodemus, said Agathon, as soon as he appeared—you are just in time to sup with us; if you come on any other matter put it off, and make one of us, as I was looking for you yesterday and meant to have asked you, if I could have found you. But what have you done with Socrates?

I turned round, but Socrates was nowhere to be seen; and I had to explain that he had been with me a moment before, and that I came by his invitation to the supper.

You were quite right in coming, said Agathon; but where is he himself?

He was behind me just now, as I entered, he said, and I cannot think what has become of him.

Go and look for him, boy, said Agathon, and bring him in; and do you, Aristodemus, meanwhile take the place by Eryximachus.

The servant then assisted him to wash, and he lay down, and presently another servant came in and reported that our friend Socrates had retired into the portico of the neighbouring house. 'There he is fixed,' said he, 'and when I call to him he will not stir.'

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