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Title: A Problem in Greek Ethics - Being an inquiry into the phenomenon of sexual inversion
Author: Symonds, John Addington, 1840-1893
Language: English
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_Privately Printed in Holland for the Society._


The following treatise on Greek Love was written in the year 1873, when
my mind was occupied with my _Studies of Greek Poets_. I printed ten
copies of it privately in 1883. It was only when I read the Terminal
Essay appended by Sir Richard Burton to his translation of the _Arabian
Nights_ in 1886, that I became aware of M. H. E. Meier's article on
Pæderastie (Ersch and Gruber's _Encyclopædie_, Leipzig, Brockhaus,
1837). My treatise, therefore, is a wholly independent production. This
makes Meier's agreement (in Section 7 of his article) with the theory I
have set forth in Section X. regarding the North Hellenic origin of
Greek Love, and its Dorian character, the more remarkable. That two
students, working separately upon the same mass of material, should have
arrived at similar conclusions upon this point strongly confirms the
probability of the hypothesis.



I. INTRODUCTION: Method of treating the subject.

II. Homer had no knowledge of paiderastia--Achilles--Treatment of Homer
by the later Greeks.

III. The Romance of Achilles and Patroclus.

IV. The heroic ideal of masculine love.

V. Vulgar paiderastia--How introduced into Hellas--Crete--Laius--The
myth of Ganymede.

VI. Discrimination of two loves, heroic and vulgar. The mixed sort is
the paiderastia defined as Greek love in this essay.

VII. The intensity of paiderastia as an emotion, and its quality.

VIII. Myths of paiderastia.

IX. Semi-legendary tales of love--Harmodius and Aristogeiton.

X. Dorian Customs--Sparta and Crete--Conditions of Dorian life--Moral
quality of Dorian love--Its final degeneracy--Speculations on the early
Dorian _Ethos_--Bœotians' customs--The sacred band--Alexander the
Great--Customs of Elis and Megara--_Hybris_--Ionia.

XI. Paiderastia in poetry of the lyric age. Theognis and
Kurnus--Solon--Ibycus, the male Sappho--Anacreon and Smerdies--Drinking
songs--Pindar and Theoxenos--Pindar's lofty conception of adolescent

XII. Paiderastia upon the Attic stage--_Myrmidones_ of
Æschylus--_Achilles' lovers_, and _Niobe_ of Sophocles--The _Chrysippus_
of Euripides--Stories about Sophocles--Illustrious Greek paiderasts.

XIII. Recapitulation of points--Quotation from the speech of Pausanias
on love in Plato's _Symposium_--Observations on this speech. Position of
women at Athens--Attic notion of marriage as a duty--The institution of
_Paidagogoi_--Life of a Greek boy--Aristophanes' _Clouds_--Lucian's
_Amores_--The Palæstra--The _Lysis_--The _Charmides_--Autolicus in
Xenophon's _Symposium_--Speech of Critobulus on beauty and
love--Importance of gymnasia in relation to paiderastia--Statues of
Erôs--Cicero's opinions--Laws concerning the gymnasia--Graffiti on
walls--Love-poems and panegyrics--Presents to boys--Shops and _mauvais
lieux_--Paiderastic _Hetaireia_--Brothels--Phædon and Agathocles.
Street-brawls about boys--_Lysias in Simonem_.

XIV. Distinctions drawn by Attic law and custom--_Chrestoi
Pornoi_--Presents and money--Atimia of freemen who had sold their
bodies--The definition of _Misthosis_--_Eromenos_, _Hetairekos_,
_Peporneumenos_, distinguished--_Æschines against Timarchus_--General
Conclusion as to Attic feeling about honourable paiderastia.

XV. Platonic doctrine on Greek love--The asceticism of the
_Laws_--Socrates--His position defined by Maximus Tyrius--His science of
erotics--The theory of the _Phædrus_: erotic _Mania_--The mysticism of
the _Symposium_: love of beauty--Points of contact between Platonic
paiderastia and chivalrous love: _Mania_ and Joie: Dante's _Vita
Nuova_--Platonist and Petrarchist--Gibbon on the "thin device" of the
Athenian philosophers--Testimony of Lucian, Plutarch, Cicero.

XVI. Greek liberty and Greek love extinguished at Chæronea--The
Idyllists--Lucian's _Amores_--Greek poets never really gross--_Mousa
Paidiké_--Philostratus' _Epistolai Erotikai_--Greek Fathers on

XVII. The deep root struck by paiderastia in
Greece--Climate--Gymnastics--Syssitia--Military life--Position of Women:
inferior culture; absence from places of resort--Greek leisure.

XVIII. Relation of paiderastia to the fine arts--Greek sculpture wholly
and healthily human--Ideals of female deities--Paiderastia did not
degrade the imagination of the race--Psychological analysis underlying
Greek mythology--The psychology of love--Greek mythology fixed before
Homer--Opportunities enjoyed by artists for studying women--Anecdotes
about artists--The æsthetic temperament of the Greeks, unbiased by
morality and religion, encouraged paiderastia--_Hora_--Physical and
moral qualities admired by a Greek--Greek ethics were
æsthetic--_Sophrosyne_--Greek religion was æsthetic--No notion of
Jehovah--Zeus and Ganymede.

XIX. Homosexuality among Greek women--Never attained to the same dignity
as paiderastia.

XX. Greek love did not exist at Rome--Christianity--Chivalry--The _modus
vivendi_ of the modern world.



For the student of sexual inversion, ancient Greece offers a wide field
for observation and reflection. Its importance has hitherto been
underrated by medical and legal writers on the subject, who do not seem
to be aware that here alone in history have we the example of a great
and highly-developed race not only tolerating homosexual passions, but
deeming them of spiritual value, and attempting to utilise them for the
benefit of society. Here, also, through the copious stores of literature
at our disposal, we can arrive at something definite regarding the
various forms assumed by these passions, when allowed free scope for
development in the midst of refined and intellectual civilisation. What
the Greeks called paiderastia, or boy-love, was a phenomenon of one of
the most brilliant periods of human culture, in one of the most highly
organised and nobly active nations. It is the feature by which Greek
social life is most sharply distinguished from that of any other people
approaching the Hellenes in moral or mental distinction. To trace the
history of so remarkable a custom in their several communities, and to
ascertain, so far as this is possible, the ethical feeling of the Greeks
upon this subject, must be of service to the scientific psychologist. It
enables him to approach the subject from another point of view than that
usually adopted by modern jurists, psychiatrists, writers on forensic


The first fact which the student has to notice is that in the Homeric
poems a modern reader finds no trace of this passion. It is true that
Achilles, the hero of the _Iliad_, is distinguished by his friendship
for Patroclus no less emphatically than Odysseus, the hero of the
_Odyssey_, by lifelong attachment to Penelope, and Hector by love for
Andromache. But in the delineation of the friendship of Achilles and
Patroclus there is nothing which indicates the passionate relation of
the lover and the beloved, as they were afterwards recognised in Greek
society. This is the more remarkable because the love of Achilles for
Patroclus added, in a later age of Greek history, an almost religious
sanction of the martial form of paiderastia. In like manner the
friendship of Idomeneus for Meriones, and that of Achilles, after the
death of Patroclus, for Antilochus, were treated by the later Greeks as
paiderastic. Yet, inasmuch as Homer gives no warrant for this
interpretation of the tales in question, we are justified in concluding
that homosexual relations were not prominent in the so-called heroic age
of Greece. Had it formed a distinct feature of the society depicted in
the Homeric poems, there is no reason to suppose that their authors
would have abstained from delineating it. We shall see that Pindar,
Æschylus and Sophocles, the poets of an age when paiderastia was
prevalent, spoke unreservedly upon the subject.

Impartial study of the _Iliad_ leads us to the belief that the Greeks of
the historic period interpreted the friendship of Achilles and Patroclus
in accordance with subsequently developed customs. The Homeric poems
were the Bible of the Greeks, and formed the staple of their education;
nor did they scruple to wrest the sense of the original, reading, like
modern Bibliolaters, the sentiments and passions of a later age into the
text. Of this process a good example is afforded by Æschines in the
oration against Timarchus. While discussing this very question of the
love of Achilles, he says: "He, indeed, conceals their love, and does
not give its proper name to the affection between them, judging that the
extremity of their fondness would be intelligible to instructed men
among his audience." As an instance the orator proceeds to quote the
passage in which Achilles laments that he will not be able to fulfil his
promise to Menœtius by bringing Patroclus home to Opus. He is here
clearly introducing the sentiments of an Athenian hoplite who had taken
the boy he loved to Syracuse and seen him slain there.

Homer stood in a double relation to the historical Greeks. On the one
hand, he determined their development by the influence of his ideal
characters. On the other, he underwent from them interpretations which
varied with the spirit of each successive century. He created the
national temperament, but received in turn the influx of new thoughts
and emotions occurring in the course of its expansion. It is, therefore,
highly important, on the threshold of this inquiry, to determine the
nature of that Achilleian friendship to which the panegyrists and
apologists of the custom make such frequent reference.


The ideal of character in Homer was what the Greeks called heroic; what
we should call chivalrous. Young men studied the _Iliad_ as our
ancestors studied the Arthurian romances, finding there a pattern of
conduct raised almost too high above the realities of common life for
imitation, yet stimulative of enthusiasm and exciting to the fancy.
Foremost among the paragons of heroic virtue stood Achilles, the
splendour of whose achievements in the Trojan war was only equalled by
the pathos of his friendship. The love for slain Patroclus broke his
mood of sullen anger, and converted his brooding sense of wrong into a
lively thirst for vengeance. Hector, the slayer of Patroclus, had to be
slain by Achilles, the comrade of Patroclus. No one can read the _Iliad_
without observing that its action virtually turns upon the conquest
which the passion of friendship gains over the passion of resentment in
the breast of the chief actor. This the Greek students of Homer were not
slow to see; and they not unnaturally selected the friendship of
Achilles for their ideal of manly love. It was a powerful and masculine
emotion, in which effeminacy had no part, and which by no means excluded
the ordinary sexual feelings. Companionship in battle and the chase, in
public and in private affairs of life, was the communion proposed by
Achilleian friends--not luxury or the delights which feminine
attractions offered. The tie was both more spiritual and more energetic
than that which bound man to woman. Such was the type of comradeship
delineated by Homer; and such, in spite of the modifications suggested
by later poets, was the conception retained by the Greeks of this heroic
friendship. Even Æschines, in the place above quoted, lays stress upon
the mutual loyalty of Achilles and Patroclus as the strongest bond of
their affection: "regarding, I suppose, their loyalty and mutual
goodwill as the most touching feature of their love."[1]


Thus the tale of Achilles and Patroclus sanctioned among the Greeks a
form of masculine love, which, though afterwards connected with
paiderastia properly so-called, we are justified in describing as
heroic, and in regarding as one of the highest products of their
emotional life. It will be seen, when we come to deal with the
historical manifestations of this passion, that the heroic love which
took its name from Homer's Achilles existed as an ideal rather than an
actual reality. This, however, is equally the case with Christianity and
chivalry. The facts of feudal history fall below the high conception
which hovered like a dream above the knights and ladies of the Middle
Ages; nor has the spirit of the Gospel been realised, in fact, by the
most Christian nations. Still we are not on that account debarred from
speaking of both chivalry and Christianity as potent and effective


Homer, then, knew nothing of paiderastia, though the _Iliad_ contained
the first and noblest legend of heroic friendship. Very early, however,
in Greek history boy-love, as a form of sensual passion, became a
national institution. This is proved abundantly by mythological
traditions of great antiquity, by legendary tales connected with the
founding of Greek cities, and by the primitive customs of the Dorian
tribes. The question remains how paiderastia originated among the
Greeks, and whether it was introduced or indigenous.

The Greeks themselves speculated on this subject, but they arrived at no
one definite conclusion. Herodotus asserts that the Persians learned the
habit, in its vicious form, from the Greeks;[2] but, even supposing this
assertion to be correct, we are not justified in assuming the same of
all barbarians who were neighbours of the Greeks; since we know from the
Jewish records and from Assyrian inscriptions that the Oriental nations
were addicted to this as well as other species of sensuality. Moreover,
it might with some strain on language be maintained that Herodotus, in
the passage above referred to, did not allude to boy-love in general,
but to the peculiarly Hellenic form of it which I shall afterwards
attempt to characterise.

A prevalent opinion among the Greeks ascribed the origin of paiderastia
to Crete; and it was here that the legend of Zeus and Ganymede was
localised.[3] "The Cretans," says Plato,[4] "are always accused of
having invented the story of Ganymede and Zeus, which is designed to
justify themselves in the enjoyment of such pleasures by the practice of
the god whom they believe to have been their lawgiver."

In another passage,[5] Plato speaks of the custom that prevailed before
the time of Laius--in terms which show his detestation of a vice that
had gone far toward corrupting Greek society. This sentence indicates
the second theory of the later Greeks upon this topic. They thought that
Laius, the father of Œdipus, was the first to practise _Hybris_, or
lawless lust, in this form, by the rape committed on Chrysippus, the son
of Pelops.[6] To this crime of Laius, the Scholiast to the _Seven
against Thebes_ attributes all the evils which afterwards befell the
royal house of Thebes, and Euripides made it the subject of a tragedy.
In another but less prevalent Saga the introduction of paiderastia is
ascribed to Orpheus.

It is clear from these conflicting theories that the Greeks themselves
had no trustworthy tradition on the subject. Nothing, therefore, but
speculative conjecture is left for the modern investigator. If we need
in such a matter to seek further than the primal instincts of human
nature, we may suggest that, like the orgiastic rites of the later
Hellenic cultus, paiderastia in its crudest form was transmitted to the
Greeks from the East. Its prevalence in Crete, which, together with
Cyprus, formed one of the principal links between Phœnicia and Hellas
proper, favours this view. Paiderastia would, on this hypothesis, like
the worship of the Paphian and Corinthian Aphrodite, have to be regarded
as in part an Oriental importation.[7] Yet, if we adopt any such
solution of the problem, we must not forget that in this, as in all
similar cases, whatever the Greeks received from adjacent nations, they
distinguished with the qualities of their own personality. Paiderastia
in Hellas assumed Hellenic characteristics, and cannot be confounded
with any merely Asiatic form of luxury. In the tenth section of this
Essay I shall return to the problem, and advance my own conjecture as to
the part played by the Dorians in the development of paiderastia into a

It is enough for the present to remark that, however introduced, the
vice of boy-love, as distinguished from heroic friendship, received
religious sanction at an early period. The legend of the rape of
Ganymede was invented, according to the passage recently quoted from
Plato, by the Cretans with the express purpose of investing their
pleasures with a show of piety. This localisation of the religious
sanction of paiderastia in Crete confirms the hypothesis of Oriental
influence; for one of the notable features of Græco Asiatic worship was
the consecration of sensuality in the Phallus cult, the _Hiero douloi_
(temple slaves, or _bayadères_) of Aphrodite, and the eunuchs of the
Phrygian mother. Homer tells the tale of Ganymede with the utmost
simplicity. The boy was so beautiful that Zeus suffered him not to dwell
on earth, but translated him to heaven and appointed him the cupbearer
of the immortals. The sensual desire which made the king of gods and men
prefer Ganymede to Leda, Io, Danaë, and all the maidens whom he loved
and left on earth, is an addition to the Homeric version of the myth. In
course of time the tale of Ganymede, according to the Cretan reading,
became the nucleus around which the paiderastic associations of the
Greek race gathered, just as that of Achilles formed the main point in
their tradition of heroic friendship. To the Romans and the modern
nations the name of Ganymede, debased to Catamitus, supplied a term of
reproach, which sufficiently indicates the nature of the love of which
he became eventually the eponym.


Resuming the results of the last four sections, we find two separate
forms of masculine passion clearly marked in early Hellas--a noble and a
base, a spiritual and a sensual. To the distinction between them the
Greek conscience was acutely sensitive; and this distinction, in theory
at least, subsisted throughout their history. They worshipped Erôs, as
they worshipped Aphrodite, under the twofold titles of Ouranios
(celestial) and Pandemos (vulgar, or _volvivaga_); and, while they
regarded the one love with the highest approval, as the source of
courage and greatness of soul, they never publicly approved the other.
It is true, as will appear in the sequel of this essay, that boy-love in
its grossest form was tolerated in historic Hellas with an indulgence
which it never found in any Christian country, while heroic comradeship
remained an ideal hard to realise, and scarcely possible beyond the
limits of the strictest Dorian sect. Yet the language of philosophers,
historians, poets and orators is unmistakable. All testify alike to the
discrimination between vulgar and heroic love in the Greek mind. I
purpose to devote a separate section of this inquiry to the
investigation of these ethical distinctions. For the present, a
quotation from one of the most eloquent of the later rhetoricians will
sufficiently set forth the contrast, which the Greek race never wholly

     "The one love is mad for pleasure; the other loves beauty. The one
     is an involuntary sickness; the other is a sought enthusiasm. The
     one tends to the good of the beloved; the other to the ruin of
     both. The one is virtuous; the other incontinent in all its acts.
     The one has its end in friendship; the other in hate. The one is
     freely given; the other is bought and sold. The one brings praise;
     the other blame. The one is Greek; the other is barbarous. The one
     is virile; the other effeminate. The one is firm and constant; the
     other light and variable. The man who loves the one love is a
     friend of God, a friend of law, fulfilled of modesty, and free of
     speech. He dares to court his friend in daylight, and rejoices in
     his love. He wrestles with him in the playground and runs with him
     in the race, goes afield with him to the hunt, and in battle fights
     for glory at his side. In his misfortune he suffers, and at his
     death he dies with him. He needs no gloom of night, no desert
     place, for this society. The other lover is a foe to heaven, for he
     is out of tune and criminal; a foe to law, for he transgresses law.
     Cowardly, despairing, shameless, haunting the dusk, lurking in
     desert places and secret dens, he would fain be never seen
     consorting with his friend, but shuns the light of day, and follows
     after night and darkness, which the shepherd hates, but the thief

And again, in the same dissertation, Maximus Tyrius speaks to like
purpose, clothing his precepts in imagery:--

     "You see a fair body in bloom and full of promise of fruit. Spoil
     not, defile not, touch not the blossom. Praise it, as some wayfarer
     may praise a plant--even so by Phœbus' altar have I seen a young
     palm shooting toward the sun. Refrain from Zeus and Phœbus' tree;
     wait for the fruit-season and thou shall love more righteously."

With the baser form of paiderastia I shall have little to do in this
essay. Vice of this kind does not vary to any great extent, whether we
observe it in Athens or in Rome, in Florence of the sixteenth or in
Paris of the nineteenth century;[9] nor in Hellas was it more noticeable
than elsewhere, except for its comparative publicity. The nobler type of
masculine love developed by the Greeks is, on the contrary, almost
unique in[10] the history of the human race. It is that which more than
anything else distinguishes the Greeks from the barbarians of their own
time, from the Romans and from modern men in all that appertains to the
emotions. The immediate subject of the ensuing inquiry will, therefore,
be that mixed form of paiderastia upon which the Greeks prided
themselves, which had for its heroic ideal the friendship of Achilles
and Patroclus, but which in historic times exhibited a sensuality
unknown to Homer.[11] In treating of this unique product of their
civilisation I shall use the terms _Greek Love_, understanding thereby a
passionate and enthusiastic attachment subsisting between man and youth,
recognised by society and protected by opinion, which, though it was not
free from sensuality, did not degenerate into mere licentiousness.


Before reviewing the authors who deal with this subject in detail, or
discussing the customs of the several Greek states, it will be well to
illustrate in general the nature of this love, and to collect the
principal legends and historic tales which set it forth.

Greek love was, in its origin and essence, military. Fire and valour,
rather than tenderness or tears, were the external outcome of this
passion; nor had _Malachia_, effeminacy, a place in its vocabulary. At
the same time it was exceedingly absorbing. "Half my life," says the
lover, "lives in thine image, and the rest is lost. When thou art kind,
I spend the day like a god; when thy face is turned aside, it is very
dark with me."[12] Plato, in his celebrated description of a lover's
soul, writes:[13]--

     "Wherever she thinks that she will behold the beautiful one,
     thither in her desire she runs. And when she has seen him, and
     bathed herself with the waters of desire, her constraint is
     loosened and she is refreshed, and has no more pangs and pains; and
     this is the sweetest of all pleasures at the time, and is the
     reason why the soul of the lover will never forsake his beautiful
     one, whom he esteems above all; he has forgotten mother and
     brethren and companions, and he thinks nothing of the neglect and
     loss of his property. The rules and proprieties of life, on which
     he formerly prided himself, he now despises, and is ready to sleep
     like a servant, wherever he is allowed, as near as he can to his
     beautiful one, who is not only the object of his worship, but the
     only physician who can heal him in his extreme agony."

These passages show how real and vital was the passion of Greek love. It
would be difficult to find more intense expressions of affection in
modern literature. The effect produced upon the lover by the presence of
his beloved was similar to that inspiration which the knight of romance
received from his lady.

     "I know not," says Phædrus, in the _Symposium_ of Plato,[14] "any
     greater blessing to a young man beginning life than a virtuous
     lover, or to the lover than a beloved youth. For the principle
     which ought to be the guide of men who would nobly live--that
     principle, I say, neither kindred, nor honour, nor wealth, nor any
     other motive is able to implant so well as love. Of what am I
     speaking? Of the sense of honour and dishonour, without which
     neither states nor individuals ever do any good or great work. And
     I say that a lover who is detected in doing any dishonourable act,
     or submitting, through cowardice, when any dishonour is done to him
     by another, will be more pained at being detected by his beloved
     than at being seen by his father, or by his companions, or by any
     one else. The beloved, too, when he is seen in any disgraceful
     situation, has the same feeling about his lover. And if there were
     only some way of contriving that a state or an army should be made
     up of lovers and their loves, they would be the very best governors
     of their own city, abstaining from all dishonour; and emulating one
     another in honour; and when fighting at one another's side,
     although a mere handful, they would overcome the world. For what
     lover would not choose rather to be seen by all mankind than by his
     beloved, either when abandoning his post, or throwing away his
     arms? He would be ready to die a thousand deaths rather than endure
     this. Or who would desert his beloved or fail him in the hour of
     danger? The veriest coward would become an inspired hero, equal to
     the bravest, at such a time; love would inspire him. That courage
     which, as Homer says, the god breathes into the soul of heroes,
     love of his own nature inspires into the lover."

With the whole of this quotation we might compare what Plutarch in the
Life of Pelopidas relates about the composition of a Sacred Band;[15]
while the following anecdote from the _Anabasis_ of Xenophon may serve
to illustrate the theory that regiments should consist of lovers.[16]
Episthenes of Olynthus, one of Xenophon's hoplites, saved a beautiful
boy from the slaughter commanded by Seuthes in a Thracian village. The
king could not understand why his orders had not been obeyed, till
Xenophon excused his hoplite by explaining that Episthenes was a
passionate boy-lover, and that he had once formed a corps of none but
beautiful men. Then Seuthes asked Episthenes if he was willing to die
instead of the boy, and he answered, stretching out his neck, "Strike,"
he says, "if the boy says 'Yes,'[17] and will be pleased with it." At
the end of the affair, which is told by Xenophon with a quiet humour
that brings a little scene of Greek military life vividly before us,
Seuthes gave the boy his liberty, and the soldier walked away with him.

In order further to illustrate the hardy nature of Greek love, I may
allude to the speech of Pausanias in the _Symposium_ of Plato.[18] The
fruits of love, he says, are courage in the face of danger, intolerance
of despotism, the virtues of the generous and haughty soul.

     "In Ionia," he adds, "and other places, and generally in countries
     which are subject to the barbarians, the custom is held to be
     dishonourable; loves of youth share the evil repute of philosophy
     and gymnastics because they are inimical to tyranny, for the
     interests of rulers require that their subjects should be poor in
     spirit, and that there should be no strong bond of friendship or
     society among them, which love, above all other motives, is likely
     to inspire, as our Athenian tyrants learned by experience."


Among the myths to which Greek lovers referred with pride, besides that
of Achilles, were the legends of Theseus and Peirithous, of Orestes and
Pylades, of Talos and Rhadamanthus, of Damon and Pythias. Nearly all the
Greek gods, except, I think, oddly enough, Ares, were famous for their
love. Poseidon, according to Pindar, loved Pelops; Zeus, besides
Ganymede, was said to have carried off Chrysippus. Apollo loved
Ayacinth, and numbered among his favourites Branchos and Claros. Pan
loved Cyparissus, and the spirit of the evening star loved Hymenæus.
Hypnos, the god of slumber, loved Endymion, and sent him to sleep with
open eyes, in order that he might always gaze upon their beauty. (Ath.
xiii. 564). The myths of Phœbus, Pan, and Hesperus, it may be said in
passing, are paiderastic parallels to the tales of Adonis and Daphne.
They do not represent the specific quality of national Greek love at all
in the same way as the legends of Achilles, Theseus, Pylades, and
Pythias. We find in them merely a beautiful and romantic play of the
mythopœic fancy, after paiderastia had taken hold on the imagination of
the race. The case is different with Herakles, the patron, eponym, and
ancestor of Dorian Hellas. He was a boy-lover of the true heroic type.
In the innumerable amours ascribed to him we always discern the note of
martial comradeship. His passion for Iolaus was so famous that lovers
swore their oaths upon the Theban's tomb;[19] while the story of his
loss of Hylas supplied Greek poets with one of their most charming
subjects. From the idyll of Theocritus called _Hylas_ we learn some
details about the relation between lover and beloved, according to the
heroic ideal.

     "Nay, but the son of Amphitryon, that heart of bronze, he that
     abode the wild lion's onset, loved a lad, beautiful Hylas--Hylas of
     the braided locks, and he taught him all things as a father
     teaches his child, all whereby himself became a mighty man and
     renowned in minstrelsy. Never was he apart from Hylas,..... and all
     this that the lad might be fashioned to his mind, and might drive a
     straight furrow, and come to the true measure of man."[20]


Passing from myth to semi-legendary history, we find frequent mention
made of lovers in connection with the great achievements of the earliest
age of Hellas. What Pausanias and Phædrus are reported to have said in
the _Symposium_ of Plato, is fully borne out by the records of the
numerous tyrannicides and self-devoted patriots who helped to establish
the liberties of the Greek cities. When Epimenides of Crete required a
human victim in his purification of Athens from the _Musos_ of the
Megacleidæ, two lovers, Cratinus and Aristodemus, offered themselves as
a voluntary sacrifice for the city.[21] The youth died to propitiate the
gods; the lover refused to live without him. Chariton and Melanippus,
who attempted to assassinate Phalaris of Agrigentum, were lovers.[22] So
were Diocles and Philolaus, natives of Corinth, who removed to Thebes,
and after giving laws to their adopted city, died and were buried in one
grave.[23] Not less celebrated was another Diocles, the Athenian exile,
who fell near Megara in battle, fighting for the boy he loved.[24] His
tomb was honoured with the rites and sacrifices specially reserved for
heroes. A similar story is told of the Thessalian horseman
Cleomachus.[25] This soldier rode into a battle which was being fought
between the people of Eretria and Chalkis, inflamed with such enthusiasm
for the youth he beloved, that he broke the foemen's ranks and won the
victory for the Chalkidians. After the fight was over Cleomachus was
found among the slain, but his corpse was nobly buried; and from that
time forward love was honoured by the men of Chalkis. These stories
might be paralleled from actual Greek history. Plutarch, commenting upon
the courage of the sacred band of Thebans,[26] tells of a man "who, when
his enemy was going to kill him, earnestly requested him to run him
through the breast, that his lover might not blush to see him wounded in
the back." In order to illustrate the haughty temper of Greek lovers,
the same author, in his _Erotic Dialogue_, records the names of Antileon
of Metapontum, who braved a tyrant in the cause of the boy he loved;[27]
of Crateas, who punished Archelaus with death for an insult offered to
him; of Pytholaus, who treated Alexander of Pheræ in like manner; and of
another youth who killed the Ambracian tyrant Periander for a similar
affront.[28] To these tales we might add another story by Plutarch in
his Life of Demetrius Poliorketes. This man insulted a boy called
Damocles, who, finding no other way to save his honour, jumped into a
cauldron of boiling water and was killed upon the spot.[29] A curious
legend, belonging to semi-mythical romance related by Pausanias,[30]
deserves a place here, since it proves to what extent the popular
imagination was impregnated by notions of Greek love. The city of
Thespia was at one time infested by a dragon, and young men were offered
to appease its fury every year. They all died unnamed and unremembered
except one, Cleostratus. To clothe this youth, his lover, Menestratus,
forged a brazen coat of mail, thick set with hooks turned upwards. The
dragon swallowed Cleostratus and killed him, but died by reason of the
hooks. Thus love was the salvation of the city and the source of
immortality to the two friends.

       *       *       *       *       *

It would not be difficult to multiply romances of this kind; the
rhetoricians and moralists of later Greece abound in them.[31] But the
most famous of all remains to be recorded. This is the story of
Harmodius and Aristogeiton, who freed Athens from the tyrant Hipparchus.
There is not a speech, a poem, essay, a panegyrical oration in praise of
either Athenian liberty or Greek love which does not tell the tale of
this heroic friendship. Herodotus and Thucydides treat the event as
matter of serious history. Plato refers to it as the beginning of
freedom for the Athenians. "The drinking-song in honour of these lovers,
is one of the most precious fragments of popular Greek poetry which we
possess. As in the cases of Lucretia and Virginia, so here a tyrant's
intemperance was the occasion, if not the cause, of a great nation's
rising. Harmodius and Aristogeiton were reverenced as martyrs and
saviours of their country. Their names gave consecration to the love
which made them bold against the despot, and they became at Athens
eponyms of paiderastia."[32]


A considerable majority of the legends which have been related in the
preceding section are Dorian, and the Dorians gave the earliest and most
marked encouragement to Greek love. Nowhere else, indeed, except among
the Dorians, who were an essentially military race, living like an army
of occupation in the countries they had seized, herding together in
barracks and at public messes, and submitting to martial drill and
discipline, do we meet with paiderastia developed as an institution. In
Crete and Lacedæmon it became a potent instrument of education. What I
have to say, in the first instance, on this matter is derived almost
entirely from C. O. Müllers's _Dorians_,[33] to which work I refer my
readers for the authorities cited in illustration of each detail. Plato
says that the law of Lycurgus in respect to love was _Poikiles_,[34] by
which he means that it allowed the custom under certain restrictions. It
would appear that the lover was called Inspirer, at Sparta, while the
youth he loved was named Hearer. These local phrases sufficiently
indicate the relation which subsisted between the pair. The lover
taught, the hearer learned; and so from man to man was handed down the
tradition of heroism, the peculiar tone and temper of the state to
which, in particular among the Greeks, the Dorians clung with obstinate
pertinacity. Xenophon distinctly states that love was maintained among
the Spartans with a view to education; and when we consider the customs
of the state, by which boys were separated early from their homes and
the influences of the family were almost wholly wanting, it is not
difficult to understand the importance of the paiderastic institution.
The Lacedæmonian lover might represent his friend in the Assembly. He
was answerable for his good conduct, and stood before him as a pattern
of manliness, courage, and prudence. Of the nature of his teaching we
may form some notion from the precepts addressed by the Megarian
Theognis to the youth Kurnus. In battle the lovers fought side by side;
and it is worthy of notice that before entering into an engagement the
Spartans sacrificed to Erôs. It was reckoned a disgrace if a youth found
no man to be his lover. Consequently we find that the most illustrious
Spartans are mentioned by their biographers in connection with their
comrades. Agesilaus heard Lysander; Archidamus, his son, loved
Cleonymus; Cleomenes III, was the hearer of Xenares and the inspirer of
Panteus. The affection of Pausanias, on the other hand, for the boy
Argilus, who betrayed him according to the account of Thucydides,[35]
must not be reckoned among these nobler loves. In order to regulate the
moral conduct of both parties, Lycurgus made it felony, punishable with
death or exile, for the lover to desire the person of a boy in lust;
and, on the other hand, it was accounted exceedingly disgraceful for the
younger to meet the advances of the elder with a view to gain. Honest
affection and manly self-respect were exacted on both sides; the bond of
union implied no more of sensuality than subsists between a father and a
son, a brother and a brother. At the same time great license of
intercourse was permitted. Cicero, writing long after the great age of
Greece, but relying probably upon sources to which we have no access,
asserts that, "Lacedæmoni ipsi cum omnia concedunt in amore juvenum
_præter stuprum_ tenui sane muro dissæpiunt id quod excipiunt:
_complexus enim concubitusque permittunt_."[36] The Lacedæmonians, while
they permit all things except outrage in the love of youths, certainly
distinguish the forbidden by a thin wall of partition from the
sanctioned, for they allow embraces and a common couch to lovers."

In Crete the paiderastic institutions were even more elaborate than at
Sparta. The lover was called _Philetor_, and the beloved one _Kleinos_.
When a man wished to attach to himself a youth in the recognised bonds
of friendship, he took him away from his home, with a pretence of force,
but not without the connivance, in most cases, of his friends.[37] For
two months the pair lived together among the hills, hunting and fishing.
Then the _Philetor_ gave gifts to the youth, and suffered him to return
to his relatives. If the _Kleinos_ (illustrious or laudable) had
received insult or ill-treatment during the probationary weeks, he now
could get redress at law. If he was satisfied with the conduct of his
would-be comrade, he changed his title from _Kleinos_ to _Parastates_
(comrade and bystander in the ranks of battle and life), returned to
the _Philetor_, and lived thenceforward in close bonds of public
intimacy with him.

       *       *       *       *       *

The primitive simplicity and regularity of these customs make it appear
strange to modern minds; nor is it easy to understand how they should
ever have been wholly free from blame. Yet we must remember the
influences which prevalent opinion and ancient tradition both contribute
toward preserving a delicate sense of honour under circumstances of
apparent difficulty. The careful reading of one _Life_ by Plutarch,
that, for instance, of Cleomenes or that of Agis, will have more effect
in presenting the realities of Dorian existence to our imagination than
any amount of speculative disquisition. Moreover, a Dorian was exposed
to almost absolute publicity. He had no chance of hiding from his
fellow-citizens the secrets of his private life. It was not, therefore,
till the social and political complexion of the whole nation became
corrupt that the institutions just described encouraged profligacy.[38]
That the Spartans and the Cretans degenerated from their primitive ideal
is manifest from the severe critiques of the philosophers. Plato, while
passing a deliberate censure on the Cretans for the introduction of
paiderastia into Greece,[39] remarks that _syssitia_, or meals in
common, and _gymnasia_ are favourable to the perversion of the passions.
Aristotle, in a similar argument,[40] points out that the Dorian habits
had a direct tendency to check the population by encouraging the love of
boys and by separating women from the society of men. An obscure passage
quoted from Hagnon by Athenæus might also be cited to prove that the
Greeks at large had formed no high opinion of Spartan manners.[41] But
the most convincing testimony is to be found in the Greek language: "to
do like the Laconians, to have connection in Laconian way, to do like
the Cretans," tell their own tale, especially when we compare these
phrases with, "to do like the Corinthians, the Lesbians, the Siphnians,
the Phœnicians, and other verbs formed to indicate the vices localised
in separate districts.

       *       *       *       *       *

Up to this point I have been content to follow the notices of Dorian
institutions which are scattered up and down the later Greek authors,
and which have been collected by C. O. Müller. I have not attempted to
draw definite conclusions, or to speculate upon the influence which the
Dorian section of the Hellenic family may have exercised in developing
paiderastia. To do so now will be legitimate, always remembering that
what we actually know about the Dorians is confined to the historic
period, and that the tradition respecting their early customs is derived
from second-hand authorities.

       *       *       *       *       *

It has frequently occurred to my mind that the mixed type of paiderastia
which I have named Greek Love took its origin in Doris. Homer, who knew
nothing about the passion as it afterwards existed, drew a striking
picture of masculine affection in Achilles. And Homer, I may add, was
not a native of northern Greece. Whoever he was, or whoever they were,
the poet, or the poets, we call Homer, belonged to the south-east of the
Ægean. Homer, then, may have been ignorant of paiderastia. Yet
friendship occupies the first place in his hero's heart, while only the
second is reserved for sexual emotion. Now Achilles came from Phthia,
itself a portion of that mountain region to which Doris belonged.[42] Is
it unnatural to conjecture that the Dorians in their migration to
Lacedæmon and Crete, the recognised headquarters of the custom, carried
a tradition of heroic paiderastia along with them? Is it unreasonable to
surmise that here, if anywhere in Hellas, the custom existed from
prehistoric times? If so, the circumstances of their invasion would have
fostered the transformation of this tradition into a tribal institution.
They went forth, a band of warriors and pirates, to cross the sea in
boats, and to fight their way along the hills and plains of Southern
Greece. The dominions they had conquered with their swords they occupied
like soldiers. The camp became their country, and for a long period of
time they literally lived upon the bivouac. Instead of a city-state,
with is manifold complexities of social life, they were reduced to the
narrow limits and the simple conditions of a roving horde. Without
sufficiency of women, without the sanctities of established domestic
life, inspired by the memory of Achilles, and venerating their ancestor
Herakles, the Dorian warriors had special opportunity for elevating
comradeship to the rank of an enthusiasm. The incidents of emigration
into a distant country--perils of the sea, passages of rivers and
mountains, assaults of fortresses and cities, landings on a hostile
shore, night-vigils by the side of blazing beacons, foragings for food,
picquet services in the front of watchful foes--involved adventures
capable of shedding the lustre of romance on friendship. These
circumstances, by bringing the virtues of sympathy with the weak,
tenderness for the beautiful, protection for the young, together with
corresponding qualities of gratitude, self-devotion and admiring
attachment, into play, may have tended to cement unions between man and
man no less firm than that of marriage. On such connections a wise
captain would have relied for giving strength to his battalion, and for
keeping alive the flame of enterprise and daring. Fighting and foraging
in company, sharing the same wayside board and heath-strewn bed,
rallying to the comrade's voice in onset, relying on the comrade's
shield when fallen, these men learned the meanings of the words
_Philetor_ and _Parastates_. To be loved was honourable, for it implied
being worthy to be died for. To love was glorious, since it pledged the
lover to self-sacrifice in case of need. In these conditions the
paiderastic passion may have well combined manly virtue with carnal
appetite, adding such romantic sentiment as some stern men reserve
within their hearts for women.[43] A motto might be chosen for a lover
of this early Dorian type from the Æolic poem ascribed to Theocritus:
"And made me tender from the iron man I used to be."

       *       *       *       *       *

In course of time, when the Dorians had settled down upon their
conquered territories, and when the passions which had shown their more
heroic aspect during a period of warfare came, in a period of idleness,
to call for methods of restraint, then the discrimination between
honourable and base forms of love, to which Plato pointed as a feature
of the Dorian institutions, took place. It is also more than merely
probable that in Crete where these institutions were the most precisely
regulated, the Dorian immigrants came into contact with Phœnician vices,
the repression of which required the adoption of a strict code.[44] In
this way paiderastia, considered as a mixed custom, partly martial,
partly luxurious, recognised by public opinion and controlled by law,
obtained among the Dorian Tribes, and spread from them throughout the
states of Hellas. Relics of numerous semi-savage habits--thefts of food,
ravishment as a prelude to marriage, and so forth--indicate in like
manner the survival among the Dorians of primitive tribal institutions.

It will be seen that the conclusion to which I have been drawn by the
foregoing consideration is that the mixed form of paiderastia, called by
me in this essay "Greek love," owed its peculiar quality, what Plato
called its intricacy of "laws and customs," to two diverse strains of
circumstances harmonised in the Greek temperament. Its military and
enthusiastic elements were derived from the primitive conditions of the
Dorians during their immigration into Southern Greece. Its refinements
of sensuality and sanctified impurity are referable to contact with
Phoenician civilisation. The specific form it assumed among the Dorians
of the historic period, equally removed from military freedom and from
Oriental luxury, can be ascribed to the operation of that organising,
moulding and assimilating spirit which we recognise as Hellenic.

The position thus stated is, unfortunately, speculative rather than
demonstrable; and in order to establish the reasonableness of the
speculation, it would be natural at this point to introduce some account
of paiderastia as it exists in various savage tribes, if their customs
could be seen to illustrate the Doric phase of Greek love. This,
however, is not the case. Study of Mr. Herbert Spencer's Tables, and of
Bastian's _Der Mensch in der Geschichte_ (vol. iii. pp. 304-323),
together with the facts collected by travellers among the North American
Indians, and the mass of curious information supplied by Rosenbaum in
his _Geschichte der Lustseuche im Alterthume_, makes it clear to my mind
that the unisexual vices of barbarians follow, not the type of Greek
paiderastia, but that of the Scythian disease of effeminacy, described
by Herodotus and Hippocrates as something essentially foreign and
non-Hellenic. In all these cases, whether we regard the Scythian
impotent effeminates, the North American Bardashes, the Tsecats of
Madagascar, the Cordaches of the Canadian Indians and similar classes
among Californian Indians, natives of Venezuela, and so forth--the
characteristic point is that effeminate males renounce their sex, assume
female clothes, and live either in promiscuous concubinage with the men
of the tribe or else in marriage with chosen persons. This abandonment
of the masculine attributes and habits, this assumption of feminine
duties and costume, would have been abhorrent to the Doric custom.
Precisely similar effeminacies were recognised as pathological by
Herodotus, to whom Greek paiderastia was familiar. The distinctive
feature of Dorian comradeship was that it remained on both sides
masculine, tolerating no sort of softness. For similar reasons, what we
know about the prevalence of sodomy among the primitive peoples of
Mexico, Peru and Yucatan, and almost all half-savage nations,[45]
throws little light upon the subject of the present inquiry. Nor do we
gain anything of importance from the semi-religious practices of
Japanese Bonzes or Egyptian priests. Such facts, taken in connection
with abundant modern experience of what are called unnatural vices, only
prove the universality of unisexual indulgence in all parts of the world
and under all conditions of society. Considerable psychological interest
attaches to the study of these sexual aberrations. It is also true that
we detect in them the germ or raw material of a custom which the Dorians
moralised or developed after a specific fashion; but nowhere do we find
an analogue to their peculiar institutions. It was just that effort to
moralise and adapt to social use a practice which has elsewhere been
excluded in the course of civil growth, or has been allowed to linger
half-acknowledged as a remnant of more primitive conditions, or has
re-appeared in the corruption of society; it was just this effort to
elevate paiderastia according to the æsthetic standard of Greek ethics
which constituted its distinctive quality in Hellas. We are obliged, in
fact, to separate this, the true Hellenic manifestation of the
paiderastic passion, from the effeminacies, brutalities, and gross
sensualities which can be noticed alike in imperfectly civilised and in
luxuriously corrupt communities.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before leaving this part of the subject, I must repeat that what I have
suggested regarding the intervention of the Dorians in creating the type
of Greek love is a pure speculation. If it has any value, that is due to
the fixed and regulated forms which paiderastic institutions displayed
at a very early date in Crete and Sparta, and also to the remnants of
savage customs embedded in them. It depends to a certain extent also
upon the absence of paiderastia in Homer. But on this point something
still remains to be said. Our Attic authorities certainly regarded the
Homeric poems as canonical books, decisive for the culture of the first
stage of Hellenic history. Yet it is clear that Homer refined Greek
mythology, while many of the cruder elements of that mythology survived
from pre-Homeric times in local cults and popular religious observances.
We know, moreover, that a body of non-Homeric writings, commonly called
the cyclic poems, existed by the side of Homer, some of the material of
which is preserved to us by dramatists, lyrists, historians, antiquaries
and anecdotists. It is not impossible that this so-called cyclical
literature contained paiderastic elements, which were eliminated, like
the grosser forms of myth, in the Homeric poems.[46] If this be
conceded, we might be led to conjecture that paiderastia was a remnant
of ancient savage habits, ignored by Homer, but preserved by tradition
in the race. Given the habit, the Greeks were certainly capable of
carrying it on without shame. We ought to resist the temptation to seek
a high and noble origin for all Greek institutions. But there remains
the fact that, however they acquired the habit, whether from North
Dorian customs antecedent to Homer, or from conditions of experience
subsequent to the Homeric age, the Greeks gave it a dignity and an
emotional superiority which is absent in the annals of barbarian
institutions. Instead of abandoning it as part of the obsolete lumber of
their prehistoric origins, they chose to elaborate it into the region of
romance and ideality. And this they did in spite of Homer's ignorance of
the passion or of his deliberate reticence. Whatever view, therefore, we
may take about Homer's silence, and about the possibility of paiderastia
occurring in the lost poems of the cyclic type, or lastly, about its
probable survival in the people from an age of savagery, we are bound to
regard its systematical development among the Dorians as a fact of
paramount significance.

In that passage of the _Symposium_[47] where Plato notices the Spartan
law of love as _Poikilos_, he speaks with disapprobation of the
Bœotians, who were not restrained by custom and opinion within the same
strict limits. Yet it should here be noted that the military aspect of
Greek love in the historic period was nowhere more distinguished than at
Thebes. Epaminondas was a notable boy-lover; and the names of his
beloved Asopichus and Cephisodorus are mentioned by Plutarch.[48] They
died, and were buried with him at Mantinea. The paiderastic legend of
Herakles and Iolaus was localised in Bœotia; and the lovers, Diocles and
Philolaus, who gave laws to Thebes, directly encouraged those masculine
attachments, which had their origin in the Palæstra.[49] The practical
outcome of these national institutions in the chief town of Bœotia was
the formation of the so-called Sacred Band, or Band of Lovers, upon whom
Pelopidas relied in his most perilous operations. Plutarch relates that
they were enrolled, in the first instance, by Gorgidas, the rank and
file of the regiment being composed of young men bound together by
affection. Report goes that they were never beaten till the battle of
Chæronea. At the end of that day, fatal to the liberties of Hellas,
Philip of Macedon went forth to view the slain; and when he "came to
that place where the three hundred that fought his phalanx lay dead
together, he wondered, and understanding that it was the band of lovers,
he shed tears, and said, 'Perish any man who suspects that these men
either did or suffered anything that was base.'"[50] As at all the other
turning points of Greek history, so at this, too, there is something
dramatic and eventful. Thebes was the last strong-hold of Greek freedom;
the Sacred Band contained the pith and flower of her army; these lovers
had fallen to a man, like the Spartans of Leonidas at Thermopylæ,
pierced by the lances of the Macedonian phalanx; then, when the day was
over and the dead were silent, Philip, the victor in that fight, shed
tears when he beheld their serried ranks, pronouncing himself therewith
the fittest epitaph which could have been inscribed upon their stelë by
a Hellene.

       *       *       *       *       *

At Chæronea, Greek liberty, Greek heroism, and Greek love, properly
so-called, expired. It is not unworthy of notice that the son of the
conqueror, young Alexander, endeavoured to revive the tradition of
Achilleian friendship. This lad, born in the decay of Greek liberty,
took conscious pleasure in enacting the part of a Homeric hero, on the
altered stage of Hellas and of Asia, with somewhat tawdry histrionic
pomp.[51] Homer was his invariable companion upon his marches; in the
Troad he paid special honour to the tomb of Achilles, running naked
races round the barrow in honour of the hero, and expressing the envy
which he felt for one who had so true a friend and so renowned a poet to
record his deeds. The historians of his life relate that, while he was
indifferent to women,[52] he was madly given to the love of males. This
the story of his sorrow for Hephaistion sufficiently confirms. A kind of
spiritual atavism moved the Macedonian conqueror to assume on the vast
Bactrian plain the outward trappings of Achilles Agonistes.[53]

Returning from this digression upon Alexander's almost hysterical
archaism, it should next be noticed that Plato includes the people of
Elis in the censure which he passes upon the Bœotians. He accused the
Eleans of adopting customs which permitted youths to gratify their
lovers without further distinction of age, or quality, or opportunity.
In like manner, Maximus Tyrius distinguishes between the customs of
Crete and Elis: "While I find the laws of the Cretans excellent, I must
condemn those of Elis for their license."[54] Elis,[55] like Megara,
instituted a contest for beauty among youths; and it is significant that
the Megarians were not uncommonly accused of _Hybris_, or wanton lust,
by Greek writers. Both the Eleans and the Megarians may therefore
reasonably be considered to have exceeded the Greek standard of taste in
the amount of sensual indulgence which they openly acknowledged. In
Ionia, and other regions of Hellas exposed to Oriental influences, Plato
says that paiderastia was accounted a disgrace.[56] At the same time he
couples with paiderastia, in this place, both addiction to gymnastic
exercise and to philosophical studies, pointing out that despotism was
always hostile to high thoughts and haughty customs. The meaning of the
passage, therefore, seems to be that the true type of Greek love had no
chance of unfolding itself freely on the shores of Asia Minor. Of
paiderastic _Malakia_, or effeminacy, there is here no question, else
Plato would probably have made Pausanias use other language.


Before proceeding to discuss the conditions under which paiderastia
existed in Athens, it may be well to pause and to consider the tone
adopted with regard to it by some of the earlier Greek poets. Much that
is interesting on the subject of the true Hellenic Erôs can be gathered
from Theognis, Solon, Pindar, Æschylus, and Sophocles; while the lyrics
of Anacreon, Alcæus, Ibycus, and others of the same period illustrate
the wanton and illiberal passion (_Hybris_) which tended to corrode and
undermine the nobler feeling.

It is well known that Theognis and his friend Kurnus were members of
the aristocracy of Megara. After Megara had thrown off the yoke of
Corinth in the early part of the sixth century, the city first submitted
to the democratic despotism of Theagenes, and then for many years
engaged in civil warfare. The larger number of the elegies of Theognis
are specially intended to instruct Kurnus how he ought to act as an
illustrious party-leader of the nobles (_Esthloi_) in their contest with
the people (_Deiloi_). They consist, therefore, of political and social
precepts, and for our present purpose are only important as illustrating
the educational authority assumed by a Dorian _Philetor_ over his
friend. The personal elegies intermingled with these poems on conduct
reveal the very heart of a Greek lover at his early period. Here is one
on loyalty:--

     "Love me not with words alone, while your mind and thoughts are
     otherwise, if you really care for me and the heart within you is
     loyal. But love me with a pure and honest soul, or openly disown
     and hate me; let the breach between us be avowed. He who hath a
     single tongue and a double mind is a bad comrade, Kurnus, better as
     a foe than a friend."[57]

The bitter-sweet of love is well described in the following couplets:--

     "Harsh and sweet, alluring and repellent, until it be crowned with
     completion, is love for young men. If one brings it to perfection,
     then it is sweet; but if a man pursues and does not love, then it
     is of all things the most painful."[58]

The same strain is repeated in the lines which begin, "a boy's love is
fair to keep, fair to lay aside."[59] As one time Theognis tells his
friend that he has the changeable temper of a hawk, the skittishness of
a pampered colt.[60] At another he remarks that boys are more constant
than women in their affection.[61] His passion rises to its noblest
height in a poem which deserves to rank with some of Shakespeare's
sonnets, and which, like them, has fulfilled its own promise of
immortality.[62] In order to appreciate the value of the fame conferred
on Kurnus by Theognis, and celebrated in such lofty strains, we must
remember that these elegies were sung at banquets. "The fair young men,"
of whom the poet speaks, boy-lovers themselves, chaunted the praise of
Kurnus to the sound of flutes, while the cups went round or the lyre was
passed from hand to hand of merry-making guests. A subject to which
Theognis more than once refers is calumny:--

     "Often will the folk speak vain things against thee in my ears, and
     against me in thine. Pay thou no heed to them."[63]

Again, he frequently reminds the boy he loves, whether it be Kurnus or
some other, that the bloom of youth is passing, and that this is a
reason for showing kindness.[64] This argument is urged with what
appears like coarseness in the following couplet:--

     "O boy, so long as thy chin remains smooth, never will I cease from
     fawning, no, not if it is doomed for me to die."[65]

A couplet, which is also attributed to Solon, shows that paiderastia at
this time in Greece was associated with manly sports and pleasures:--

    "Blest is the man who loves brave steeds of war,
    Fair boys, and hounds, and stranger guests from far."[66]

Nor must the following be omitted:--

    "Blest is the man who loves, and after play,
    Whereby his limbs are supple made and strong,
    Retiring to his home, 'twixt sleep and song,
    Sports with a fair boy on his breast all day."[67]

The following couplet is attributed to him by Plutarch,[68] nor does
there seem any reason to doubt its genuineness. The text seems to be
corrupt, but the meaning is pretty clear:--

     "In the charming season of the flower-time of youth thou shalt love
     boys, yearning for their thighs and honeyed mouth."

Solon, it may be remembered, thought it wise to regulate the conditions
under which the love of free youths might be tolerated.

The general impression produced by a careful reading of Theognis is that
he entertained a genuine passion for Kurnus, and that he was anxious to
train the young man's mind in what he judged the noblest principles.
Love, at the same time, except in its more sensual moments, he describes
as bitter-sweet and subject to anxiety. That perturbation of the
emotions, which is inseparable from any of the deeper forms of personal
attachment, and which the necessary conditions of boy-love exasperated,
was irksome to the Greek. It is not a little curious to observe how all
the poets of the despotic age resent and fret against the force of their
own feeling, differing herein from the singers of chivalry, who
idealised the very pains of passion.

Of Ibycus, who was celebrated among the ancients as the lyrist of
paiderastia,[69] very little has been preserved to us, but that little
is sufficient to indicate the fervid and voluptuous style of his art.
His imagery resembles that of Anacreon. The onset of love, for instance,
in one fragment is compared to the down-swooping of a Thracian
whirlwind; in another the poet trembles at the approach of Erôs like an
old racehorse who is dragged forth to prove his speed once more.

Of the genuine Anacreon we possess more numerous and longer fragments,
and the names of his favourites, Cleobulus, Smerdies, Leucaspis, are
famous. The general tone of his love-poems is relaxed and Oriental, and
his language abounds in phrases indicative of sensuality. The following
may be selected:--

     "Cleobulus I love, for Cleobulus I am mad, Cleobulus I watch and
     worship with my gaze."[70]


     "O boy, with the maiden's eyes, I seek and follow thee, but thou
     heedest not, nor knowest that thou art my soul's charioteer."

In another place he speaks of[71]--

    "Love, the virginal, gleaming and radiant with desire."

_Syneban_ (to pass the time of youth with friends) is a word which
Anacreon may be said to have made current in Greek. It occurs twice in
his fragments,[72] and exactly expresses the luxurious enjoyment of
youthful grace and beauty which appear to have been his ideal of love.
We are very far here from the Achilleian friendship of the _Iliad_. Yet,
occasionally, Anacreon uses images of great force to describe the attack
of passion, as when he says that love has smitten him with a huge axe,
and plunged him in a wintry torrent.[73]

It must be remembered that both Anacreon and Ibycus were court poets,
singing in the palaces of Polycrates and Hippias. The youths they
celebrated were probably little better than the _exoleti_ of a Roman
Emperor.[74] This cannot be said exactly of Alcæus, whose love for
black-eyed Lycus was remembered by Cicero and Horace. So little,
however, is left of his erotic poems that no definite opinion can be
formed about them. The authority of later Greek authors justifies our
placing him upon the list of those who helped to soften and emasculate
the character of Greek love by their poems.[75]

Two Athenian drinking-songs preserved by Athenæus,[76] which seem to
bear the stamp of the lyric age, may here be quoted. They serve to
illustrate the kind of feeling to which expression was given in public
by friends and boy-lovers:--

     "Would I were a lovely heap of ivory, and that lovely boys carried
     me into the Dionysian chorus."[77]

This is marked by a very delicate, though naïf, fancy. The next is no
less eminent for its sustained, impassioned, simple, rhythmic feeling:--

     "Drink with me, be young with me, love with me, wear crowns with
     me, with me when I am mad be mad, with me when I am temperate be

The greatest poet of the lyric age, the lyrist _par excellence_ Pindar,
adds much to our conception of Greek love at this period. Not only is
the poem to Theoxenos, whom he loved, and in whose arms he is said to
have died in the theatre at Argos, one of the most splendid achievements
of his art;[78] but its choice of phrase, and the curious parallel which
it draws between the free love of boys and the servile love of women,
help us to comprehend the serious intensity of this passion. "The
flashing rays of his forehead," and "is storm-tossed with desire," and
"the young-limbed bloom of boys," are phrases which it is impossible
adequately to translate. So, too, are the images by which the heart of
him who does not feel the beauty of Theoxenos is said to have been
forged with cold fire out of adamant, while the poet himself is compared
to wax wasting under the sun's rays. In Pindar, passing from Ibycus and
Anacreon, we ascend at once into a purer and more healthful atmosphere,
fraught, indeed, with passion and pregnant with storm, but no longer
simply sensual. Taken as a whole, the Odes of Pindar, composed for the
most part in the honour of young men and boys, both beautiful and
strong, are the work of a great moralist as well as a great artist. He
never fails to teach by precept and example; he does not, as Ibycus is
reported to have done, adorn his verse with legends of Ganymede and
Tithonus, for the sake of insinuating compliments. Yet no one shared in
fuller measure the Greek admiration for health and grace and vigour of
limb. This is obvious in the many radiant pictures of masculine
perfection he has drawn, as well as in the images by which he loves to
bring the beauty-bloom of youth to mind. The true Hellenic spirit may be
better studied in Pindar than in any other poet of his age; and after we
have weighed his high morality, sound counsel, and reverence for all
things good, together with the passion he avows, we shall have done
something toward comprehending the inner nature of Greek love.


The treatment of paiderastia upon the Attic stage requires separate
considerations. Nothing proves the popular acceptance and national
approval of Greek love more forcibly to modern minds than the fact that
the tragedians like Æschylus and Sophocles made it the subject of their
dramas. From a notice in Athenæus it appears that Stesichorus, who first
gave dramatic form to lyric poetry, composed interludes upon paiderastic
subjects.[79] But of these it is impossible to speak, since their very
titles have been lost. What immediately follows, in the narrative of
Athenæus, will serve as text for what I have to say upon this topic.
"And Æshylus, that mighty poet, and Sophocles, brought masculine loves
into the theatre through their tragedies. Wherefore some are wont to
call tragedy a paiderast; and the spectators welcome such." Nothing,
unfortunately, remains of the plays which justified this language but a
few fragments cited by Aristophanes, Plutarch, Lucian, and Athenæus. To
examine these will be the business of this section.

The tragedy of the _Myrmidones_, which formed part of a trilogy by
Æschylus upon the legend of Achilles, must have been popular at Athens,
for Aristophanes quotes it no less than four times--twice in the
_Frogs_, once in the _Birds_, and once in the _Ecclesiazusæ_. We can
reconstruct its general plan from the lines which have come down to us
on the authority of the writers above mentioned.[80] The play opened
with an anapæstic speech of the chorus, composed of the clansmen of
Achilles, who upbraided him for staying idle in his tent while the
Achaians suffered at the hands of Hector. Achilles replied with the
metaphor of the eagle stricken by an arrow winged from one of his own
feathers. Then the embassy of Phœnix arrived, and Patroclus was sent
forth to battle. Achilles, meanwhile, engaged in a game of dice; and
while he was thus employed Antilochus entered with the news of the death
of Patroclus. The next fragment brings the whole scene vividly before
our eyes.

"Wail for me, Antilochus, rather than for the dead man--for me,
Achilles, who still live." After this, the corpse of Patroclus was
brought upon the stage, and the son of Peleus poured forth a lamentation
over his friend. The _Threnos_ of Achilles on this occasion was very
celebrated among the ancients. One passage of unmeasured passion, which
described the love which subsisted between the two heroes, has been
quoted, with varieties of reading, by Lucian, Plutarch, and
Athenæus.[81] Lucian says: "Achilles, bewailing the death of Patroclus
with unhusbanded passion, broke forth into the truth in self-abandonment
to woe." Athenæus gives the text as follows:--

     "Hadst thou no reverence for the unsullied holiness of thighs, O
     thou ungrateful for the showers of kisses given."

What we have here chiefly to notice is the change which the tale of
Achilles had undergone since Homer.[82] Homer represented Patroclus as
older in years than the son of Peleus, but inferior to him in station;
nor did he hint which of the friends was the _Erastes_ of the other.
That view of their comradeship had not occurred to him. Æschylus makes
Achilles the lover; and for this distortion of the Homeric legend he was
severely criticised by Plato.[83] At the same time, as the two lines
quoted from the _Threnos_ prove, he treated their affection from the
point of view of post-Homeric paiderastia.

Sophocles also wrote a play upon the legend of Achilles, which bears for
its title _Achilles' Loves_. Very little is left of this drama; but
Hesychius has preserved one phrase which illustrates the Greek notion
that love was an effluence from the beloved person through the eyes into
the lover's soul,[84] while Stobæus quotes the beautiful simile by which
love is compared to a piece of ice held in the hand by children.[85]
Another play of Sophocles, the _Niobe_, is alluded to by Plutarch and by
Athenæus for the paiderastia which it contained. Plutarch's words are
these:[86] "When the children of Niobe, in Sophocles, are being pierced
and dying, one of them cries out, appealing to no other rescuer or ally
than his lover: Ho! comrade, up and aid me!" Finally, Athenæus quotes a
single line from the _Colchian Women_ of Sophocles, which alludes to
Ganymede, and runs as follows:[87] "Inflaming with his thighs the
royalty of Zeus."

Whether Euripides treated paiderastia directly in any of his plays is
not quite certain, though the title _Chrysippus_, and one fragment
preserved from that tragedy--

    "Nature constrains me though I have sound judgment"--

justify us in believing that he made the crime of Laius his subject. It
may be added that a passage in Cicero confirms this belief.[88] The
title of another tragedy, _Peirithous_, seems in like manner to point at
friendship; while a beautiful quotation from the _Dictys_ sufficiently
indicates the high moral tone assumed by Euripides in treating of Greek
love. It runs as follows:--"He was my friend; and never may love lead me
to folly, nor to Kupris. There is, in truth, another kind of love--love
for the soul, righteous, temperate, and good. Surely men ought to have
made this law, that only the temperate and chaste should love and send
Kupris, daughter of Zeus, a-begging." The philosophic ideal of
comradeship is here vitalised by the dramatic vigour of the poet; nor
has the Hellenic conception of pure affection for "a soul, just,
upright, temperate and good," been elsewhere more pithily expressed. The
Euripidean conception of friendship, it may further be observed, is
nobly personified in Pylades, who plays a generous and self-devoted part
in the three tragedies of _Electra_, _Orestes_, and _Iphigenia in

Having collected these notices of tragedies which dealt with boy-love,
it may be well to add a word upon comedies in the same relation. We hear
of a _Paidika_ by Sophron, a _Malthakoi_ by the older Cratinus, a
_Baptœe_ by Empolis, in which Alcibiades and his society were satirised.
_Paiderastes_ is the title of plays by Diphilis and Antiphanes;
_Ganymedes_ of plays of Alkaeus, Antiphanes and Eubulus.

What has been quoted from Æschylus and Sophocles sufficiently
establishes the fact that paiderastia was publicly received with
approbation on the tragic stage. This should make us cautious in
rejecting the stories which are told about the love adventures of
Sophocles.[89] Athenæus calls him a lover of lads, nor is it strange if,
in the age of Pericles, and while he was producing the _Achilles'
Loves_, he should have shared the tastes of which his race approved.

At this point it may be as well to mention a few illustrious names
which, to the student of Greek art and literature, are indissolubly
connected with paiderastia. Parmenides, whose life, like that of
Pythagoras, was accounted peculiarly holy, loved his pupil Zeno.[90]
Pheidias loved Pantarkes, a youth of Elis, and carved his portrait in
the figure of a victorious athlete at the foot of the Olympian Zeus.[91]
Euripides is said to have loved the adult Agathon Lysias, Demosthenes,
and Æschines, orators whose conduct was open to the most searching
censure of malicious criticism, did not scruple to avow their love.
Socrates described his philosophy as the science of erotics. Plato
defined the highest form of human existence to be "philosophy together
with paiderastia," and composed the celebrated epigrams on Aster and on
Agathon. This list might be indefinitely lengthened.


Before proceeding to collect some notes upon the state of paiderastia at
Athens, I will recapitulate the points which I have already attempted to
establish. In the first place, paiderastia was unknown to Homer.[92]
Secondly, soon after the heroic age, two forms of paiderastia appeared
in Greece--the one chivalrous and martial, which received a formal
organisation in the Dorian states; the other sensual and lustful which,
though localised to some extent at Crete, pervaded the Greek cities
like a vice. Of the distinction between these two loves the Greek
conscience was well aware, though they came in course of time to be
confounded. Thirdly, I traced the character of Greek love, using that
term to indicate masculine affection of a permanent and enthusiastic
temper, without further ethical qualification, in early Greek history
and in the institutions of the Dorians. In the fourth place, I showed
what kind of treatment it received at the hands of the elegiac, lyric,
and tragic poets.

       *       *       *       *       *

It now remains to draw some picture of the social life of the Athenians
in so far as paiderastia is concerned, and to prove how Plato was
justified in describing Attic customs on this point as qualified by
important restriction and distinction.

       *       *       *       *       *

I do not know a better way of opening this inquiry, which must by its
nature be fragmentary and disconnected, than by transcribing what Plato
puts into the mouth of Pausanias in the _Symposium_.[93] After observing
that the paiderastic customs of Elis and Bœotia involved no perplexity,
inasmuch as all concessions to the god of love were tolerated, and that
such customs did not exist in any despotic states, he proceeds to

     "There is yet a more excellent way of legislating about them, which
     is our own way; but this, as I was saying, is rather perplexing.
     For observe that open loves are held to be more honourable than
     secret ones, and that the love of the noblest and highest, even if
     their persons are less beautiful than others, is especially
     honourable. Consider, too, how great is the encouragement which all
     the world gives to the lover; neither is he supposed to be doing
     anything dishonourable; but if he succeeds he is praised, and if he
     fail he is blamed. And in the pursuit of his love, the custom of
     mankind allows him to do many strange things, which philosophy
     would bitterly censure if they were done from any motive of
     interest or wish for office or power. He may pray and entreat, and
     supplicate and swear, and be a servant of servants, and lie on a
     mat at the door; in any other case friends and enemies would be
     equally ready to prevent him, but now there is no friend who will
     be ashamed of him and admonish him, and no enemy will charge him
     with meanness or flattery; the actions of a lover have a grace
     which ennobles them, and custom has decided that they are highly
     commendable, and that there is no loss of character in them; and
     what is strangest of all, he only may swear or forswear himself
     (this is what the world says), and the gods will forgive his
     transgression, for there is no such thing as a lover's oath. Such
     is the entire liberty which gods and men have allowed the lover,
     according to the custom which prevails in our part of the world.
     From this point of view a man fairly argues that in Athens to love
     and to be loved is held to be a very honourable thing. But when
     there is another regime, and parents forbid their sons to talk with
     their lovers, and place them under a tutor's care, and their
     companions and equals cast in their teeth anything of this sort
     which they may observe, and their elders refuse to silence the
     reprovers, and do not rebuke them; any one who reflects on all this
     will, on the contrary, think that we hold these practices to be
     most disgraceful. But the truth, as I imagine, and as I said at
     first, is, that whether such practices are honourable or whether
     they are dishonourable is not a simple question; they are
     honourable to him who follows them honourably, dishonourable to him
     who follows them dishonourably. There is dishonour in yielding to
     the evil, or in an evil manner; but there is honour in yielding to
     the good, or in an honourable manner. Evil is the vulgar lover who
     loves the body rather than the soul, and who is inconstant because
     he is a lover of the inconstant, and, therefore, when the bloom of
     youth, which he was desiring, is over, takes wing and flies away,
     in spite of all his words and promises; whereas the love of the
     noble mind, which is one with the unchanging, is lifelong."

Pausanias then proceeds, at considerable length, to describe how the
customs of Athens required deliberate choice and trial of character as a
condition of honourable love; how it repudiated hasty and ephemeral
attachments, and engagements formed with the object of money-making or
political aggrandisement; how love on both sides was bound to be
disinterested, and what accession both of dignity and beauty the passion
of friends obtained from the pursuit of philosophy, and from the
rendering of mutual services upon the path of virtuous conduct.

This sufficiently indicates, in general terms, the moral atmosphere in
which Greek love flourished at Athens. In an earlier part of his speech
Pausanias, after dwelling upon the distinction between the two kinds of
Aphrodite, heavenly and vulgar, describes the latter in a way which
proves that the love of boys was held to be ethically superior to that
of women.[94]

     "The Love who is the offspring of the common Aphrodite is
     essentially common, and has no discrimination, being such as the
     meaner sort of men feel, and is apt to be of women as well as of
     youths, and is of the body rather than the soul; the most foolish
     beings are the objects of this love, which desires only to gain an
     end, but never thinks of accomplishing the end nobly, and therefore
     does good and evil quite indiscriminately. The goddess who is his
     mother is far younger than the other, and she was born of the union
     of the male and female, and partakes of both."

Then he turns to the Uranian love.

     "The offspring of the heavenly Aphrodite is derived from a mother
     in whose birth the female has no part. She is from the male only;
     this is that love which is of youths, and the goddess being older,
     has nothing of wantonness. Those who are inspired by this love turn
     to the male, and delight in him who is the most valiant and
     intelligent nature; any one may recognise the pure enthusiasts in
     the very character of their attachments; for they love not boys,
     but intelligent beings whose reason is beginning to be developed,
     much about the time at which their beards begin to grow. And in
     choosing them as their companions they mean to be faithful to them,
     and pass their whole life in company with them, not to take them in
     their inexperience, and deceive them, and play the fool with them,
     or run away from one to another of them. But the love of young boys
     should be forbidden by law, because their future is uncertain; they
     may turn out good or bad, either in body or soul, and much noble
     enthusiasm may be thrown away upon them; in this matter the good
     are a law to themselves, and the coarser sort of lovers ought to be
     restrained by force, as we restrain or attempt to restrain them
     from fixing their affections on women of free birth."

These long quotations from a work accessible to every reader may require
apology. My excuse for giving them must be that they express in pure
Athenian diction a true Athenian view of this matter. The most salient
characteristics of the whole speech are, first, the definition of a code
of honour, distinguishing the nobler from the baser forms of
paiderastia; secondly, the decided preference of male over female love;
thirdly, the belief in the possibility of permanent affection between
paiderastic friends; and, fourthly, the passing allusion to rules of
domestic surveillance under which Athenian boys were placed. To the
first of these points I shall have to return on another occasion. With
regard to the second, it is sufficient for the present purpose to
remember that free Athenian women were comparatively uneducated and
uninteresting, and that the hetairai had proverbially bad manners. While
men transacted business and enjoyed life in public, their wives and
daughters stayed in the seclusion of the household, conversing to a
great extent with slaves, and ignorant of nearly all that happened in
the world around them. They were treated throughout their lives as
minors by the law, nor could they dispose by will of more than the worth
of a bushel of barley. It followed that marriages at Athens were usually
matches of arrangement between the fathers of the bride and the
bridegroom, and that the motives which induced a man to marry were less
the desire for companionship than the natural wish for children and a
sense of duty to the country.[95] Demosthenes, in his speech against
Neæra, declares:[96] "We have courtesans for our pleasures, concubines
for the requirements of the body, and wives for the procreation of
lawful issue." If he had been speaking at a drinking-party, instead of
before a jury, he might have added, "and young men for intellectual

The fourth point which I have noted above requires more illustration,
since its bearing on the general condition of Athenian society is
important. Owing to the prevalence of paiderastia, a boy was exposed in
Athens to dangers which are comparatively unknown in our great cities,
and which rendered special supervision necessary. It was the custom for
fathers, when they did not themselves accompany their sons,[97] to
commit them to the care of slaves chosen usually among the oldest and
most trustworthy. The duty of the attendant guardian was not to instruct
the boy, but to preserve him from the addresses of importunate lovers or
from such assaults as Peisthetærus in the _Birds_ of Aristophanes
describes.[98] He followed his charge to the school and the gymnasium,
and was responsible for bringing him home at the right hour. Thus at the
end of the _Lysis_ we read:[99]--

     "Suddenly we were interrupted by the tutors of Lysis and Menexenus;
     who came upon us like an evil apparition with their brothers, and
     bade them go home, as it was getting late. At first, we and the
     bystanders drove them off; but afterwards, as they would not mind,
     and only went on shouting in their barbarous dialect, and got
     angry, and kept calling the boys--they appeared to us to have been
     drinking rather too much at the Hermæa, which made them difficult
     to manage--we fairly gave way and broke up the company."

In this way the daily conduct of Athenian boys of birth and good
condition was subjected to observation; and it is not improbable that
the charm which invested such lads as Plato portrayed in his _Charmides_
and _Lysis_ was partly due to the self-respect and self-restraint
generated by the peculiar conditions under which they passed their life.

Of the way in which a Greek boy spent his day, we gain some notion from
two passages in Aristophanes and Lucian. The Dikaios Logos[100] tells

     "in his days, when justice flourished and self-control was held in
     honour, a boy's voice was never heard. He walked in order with his
     comrades of the same quarter, lightly clad even in winter, down to
     the school of the harp-player. There he learned old-fashioned hymns
     to the gods, and patriotic songs. While he sat, he took care to
     cover his person decently; and when he rose, he never forgot to rub
     out the marks which he might have left upon the dust lest any man
     should view them after he was gone. At meals he ate what was put
     before him, and refrained from idle chattering. Walking through the
     streets, he never tried to catch a passer's eye or to attract a
     lover. He avoided the shops, the baths,[101] the Agora, the houses
     of Hetairai.[102] He reverenced old age and formed within his soul
     the image of modesty. In the gymnasium he indulged in fair and
     noble exercise, or ran races with his comrades among the
     olive-trees of the Academy."

The Adikos Logos replies by pleading that this temperate sort of life is
quite old-fashioned; boys had better learn to use their tongues and
bully. In the last resort he uses a clinching _argumentum ad

Were it not for the beautiful and highly-finished portraits in Plato, to
which I have already alluded, the description of Aristophanes might be
thought a mere ideal; and, indeed, it is probable that the actual life
of the average Athenian boy lay mid-way between the courses prescribed
by the Dikaios and the Adikos Logos.

Meanwhile, since Euripides, together with the whole school of studious
and philosophic speculators, are aimed at in the speeches of the Adikos
Logos, it will be fair to adduce a companion picture of the young Greek
educated on the athletic system, as these men had learned to know him. I
quote from the _Autolycus_, a satyric drama of Euripides:--

     "There are a myriad bad things in Hellas, but nothing is worse than
     the athletes. To begin with, they do not know how to live like
     gentlemen, nor could they if they did; for how can a man, the slave
     of his jaws and his belly, increase the fortune left him by his
     father? Poverty and ill-luck find them equally incompetent. Having
     acquired no habits of good living, they are badly off when they
     come to roughing it. In youth they shine like statues stuck about
     the town, and take their walks abroad; but when old age draws nigh,
     you find them as threadbare as an old coat. Suppose a man has
     wrestled well, or runs fast, or has hurled a quoit, or given a
     black eye in fine style, has he done the State a service by the
     crowns he won? Do soldiers fight with quoits in hand, or without
     the press of shields can kicks expel the foeman from the gate?
     Nobody is fool enough to do these things with steel before his
     face. Keep, then, your laurels for the wise and good, for him who
     rules a city well, the just and temperate, who by his speeches
     wards off ill, allaying wars and civil strife. These are the things
     for cities, yea, and for all Greece to boast of."

Lucian represents, of course, a late period of Attic life. But his
picture of the perfect boy completes, and in some points supplements,
that of Aristophanes. Callicratidas, in the _Dialogue on Love_, has
just drawn an unpleasing picture of a woman, surrounded in a fusty
boudoir with her rouge-pots and cosmetics, perfumes, paints, combs,
looking-glasses, hair-dyes, and curling irons. Then he turns to praise

     "How different is the boy! In the morning, he rises from his chaste
     couch, washes the sleep from his eyes with cold water, puts on his
     chlamys,[105] and takes his way to the school of the musician or
     the gymnast. His tutors and guardians attend him, and his eyes are
     bent upon the ground. He spends the morning in studying the poets
     and philosophers, in riding, or in military drill. Then he betakes
     himself to the wrestling-ground, and hardens his body with noontide
     heat and sweat and dust. The bath follows and a modest meal. After
     this he returns for awhile to study the lives of heroes and great
     men. After a frugal supper sleep at last is shed upon his eyelids."

Such is Lucian's sketch of the day spent by a young Greek at the famous
University of Athens. Much is, undoubtedly, omitted; but enough is said
to indicate the simple occupations to which an Athenian youth, capable
of inspiring an enthusiastic affection, was addicted. Then follows a
burst of rhetoric, which reveals, when we compare it with the dislike
expressed for women, the deeply-seated virile nature of Greek love.

     "Truly he is worthy to be loved. Who would not love Hermes in the
     palæstra, or Phœbus at the lyre, or Castor on the racing-ground?
     Who would not wish to sit face to face with such a youth, to hear
     him talk, to share his toils, to walk with him, to nurse him in
     sickness, to attend him on the sea, to suffer chains and darkness
     with him if need be? He who hated him should be my foe, and who so
     loved him should be loved by me. At his death I would die; one
     grave should cover us both; one cruel hand cut short our lives!"

In the sequel of the dialogue Lucian makes it clear that he intends
these raptures of Callicratidas to be taken in great measure for
romantic boasting. Yet the fact remains that, till the last, Greek
paiderastia among the better sort of men implied no effeminacy.
Community of interest in sport, in exercise, and in open-air life
rendered it attractive.[106]

    "Son of Eudiades, Euphorion,
    After the boxing-match, in which he beat,
    With wreaths I crowned, and set fine silk upon,
    His forehead and soft blossoms honey-sweet;
    Then thrice I kissed him all beblooded there;
    His mouth I kissed, his eyes, his every bruise;
    More fragrant far than frankincense, I swear.
    Was the fierce chrism that from his brows did ooze."

     "I do not care for curls or tresses
      Displayed in wily wildernesses;
      I do not prize the arts that dye
      A painted cheek with hues that fly:
      Give me a boy whose face and hand
      Are rough with dust or circus-sand,
      Whose ruddy flesh exhales the scent
      Or health without embellishment:
      Sweet to my sense is such a youth,
      Whose charms have all the charm of truth:
      Leave paints and perfumes, rouge, and curls,
      To lazy, lewd Corinthian girls."

The palæstra was the place at Athens where lovers enjoyed the greatest
freedom. In the _Phædrus_ Plato observes that the attachment of the
lover for a boy grew by meetings and personal contact[107] in the
gymnasiums and other social resorts, and in the _Symposium_ he mentions
gymnastic exercises, with philosophy, and paiderastia, as the three
pursuits of freemen most obnoxious to despots. Æschines, again
describing the manners of boy-lovers in language familiar to his
audience, uses these phrases: "having grown up in gymnasium and games,"
and "the man having been a noisy haunter of gymnasiums, and having been
the lover of multitudes." Aristophanes, also, in the _Wasps_,[108]
employs similar language: "and not seeking to go revelling around in
exercising grounds." I may compare Lucian, _Amores_, cap. 2, "you care
for gymnasiums and their sleek oiled combatants," which is said to a
notorious boy-lover. Boys and men met together with considerable liberty
in the porches, peristyles and other adjuncts to an Attic
wrestling-ground; and it was here, too, that sophists and philosophers
established themselves, with the certainty of attracting a large and
eager audience for their discussions. It is true that an ancient law
forbade the presence of adults in the wrestling-grounds of boys; but
this law appears to have become almost wholly obsolete in the days of
Plato. Socrates, for example, in the _Charmides_, goes down immediately
after his arrival from the camp at Potidæa into the palæstra of Taureas
to hear the news of the day, and the very first question which he asks
his friends is whether a new beauty has appeared among the youths.[109]
So again in the _Lysis_, Hippothales invites Socrates to enter the
private palæstra of Miccus, where boys and men were exercising together
on the feast-day of Hermes.[110] "The building," he remarks, "is a
newly-erected palæstra, and the entertainment is generally conversation,
to which you are welcome." The scene which immediately follows is well
known to Greek students as one of the most beautiful and vivid pictures
of Athenian life. One group of youths are sacrificing to Hermes; another
are casting dice in a corner of the dressing-room. Lysis himself is
"standing among the other boys and youths, having a crown upon his head,
like a fair vision, and not less worthy of praise for his goodness than
for his beauty." The modesty of Lysis is shown by the shyness which
prevents him joining Socrates' party until he has obtained the company
of some of his young friends. Then a circle of boys and men is formed in
a corner of the court, and a conversation upon friendship begins.
Hippothales, the lover of Lysis, keeps at a decorous distance in the
background. Not less graceful as a picture is the opening of the
_Charmides_. In answer to a question of Socrates, the frequenters of the
palæstra tell him to expect the coming of young Charmides. He will then
see the most beautiful boy in Athens at the time: "for those who are
just entering are the advanced guard of the great beauty of the day, and
he is likely to be not far off." There is a noise and a bustle at the
door, and while the Socratic party continues talking Charmides enters.
The effect produced is overpowering:[111]--

     "You know, my friend, that I cannot measure anything, and of the
     beautiful I am simply such a measure as a white line is of chalk;
     for almost all young persons appear to be beautiful in my eyes. But
     at that moment when I saw him coming in, I confess that I was quite
     astonished at his beauty and his stature; all the world seemed to
     be enamoured of him; amazement and confusion reigned when he
     entered; and a troop of lovers followed him. That grown-up men like
     ourselves should have been affected in this way was not surprising,
     but I observed that there was the same feeling among the boys; all
     of them, down to the very least child, turned and looked at him, as
     if he had been a statue."

Charmides, like Lysis, is persuaded to sit down by Socrates, who opens a
discussion upon the appropriate question of _Sophrosyne_, or modest
temperance and self-restraint.[112]

     "He came as he was bidden, and sat down between Critias and me.
     Great amusement was occasioned by everyone pushing with might and
     main at his neighbour in order to make a place for him next to
     them, until at the two ends of the row one had to get up, and the
     other was rolled over sideways. Now I, my friend, was beginning to
     feel awkward; my former bold belief in my powers of conversing with
     him had vanished. And when Critias told him that I was the person
     who had the cure, he looked at me in such an indescribable manner,
     and was going to ask a question; and then all the people in the
     palæstra crowded about us, and, O rare! I caught a sight of the
     inwards of his garment, and took the flame. Then I could no longer
     contain myself. I thought how well Cydias understood the nature of
     love when, in speaking of a fair youth, he warns someone, 'not to
     bring the fawn in the sight of the lion to be devoured by him,' for
     I felt that I had been overcome by a sort of wild-beast appetite."

The whole tenor of the dialogue makes it clear that, in spite of the
admiration he excited, the honour paid him by a public character like
Socrates and the troops of lovers and of friends surrounding him, yet
Charmides was unspoiled. His docility, modesty, simplicity, and
healthiness of soul are at least as remarkable as the beauty for which
he was so famous.

A similar impression is produced upon our minds by Autolycus in the
_Symposium_ of Xenophon.[113] Callias, his acknowledged lover[114] had
invited him to a banquet after a victory which he had gained in the
pancration; and many other guests, including the Socratic party, were
asked to meet him. Autolycus came, attended by his father; and as soon
as the tables were covered and the seats had been arranged, a kind of
divine awe fell upon the company. The grown-up men were dazzled by the
beauty and the modest bearing of the boy, just as when a bright light is
brought into a darkened room. Everybody gazed at him, and all were
silent, sitting in uncomfortable attitudes of expectation and
astonishment. The dinner party would have passed off very tamely if
Phillipus, a professional diner-out and jester, had not opportunely made
his appearance. Autolycus meanwhile never uttered a word, but lay beside
his father like a breathing statue. Later on in the evening he was
obliged to answer a question. He opened his lips with blushes, and all
he said was,[115] "Not I, by gad." Still, even this created a great
sensation in the company. Everybody, says Xenophon, was charmed to hear
his voice, and turned their eyes upon him. It should be remarked that
the conversation at this party fell almost entirely upon matters of
love. Critobulus, for example, who was very beautiful and rejoiced in
having many lovers, gave a full account of his own feelings for

     "You all tell me," he argued, "that I am beautiful, and I cannot
     but believe you; but if I am, and if you feel what I feel when I
     look on Cleinias, I think that beauty is better worth having than
     all Persia. I would choose to be blind to everybody else if I could
     only see Cleinias, and I hate the night because it robs me of his
     sight. I would rather be the slave of Cleinias than live without
     him; I would rather toil and suffer danger for his sake than live
     alone at ease and in safety. I would go through fire with him, as
     you would with me. In my soul I carry an image of him better made
     than any sculptor could fashion."

What makes this speech the more singular is that Critobulus was a
newly-married man.

But to return from this digression to the palæstra. The Greeks were
conscious that gymnastic exercises tended to encourage and confirm the
habit of paiderastia. "The cities which have most to do with
gymnastics," is the phrase which Plato uses to describe the states where
Greek love flourished.[117] Herodotus says the barbarians borrowed
gymnastics together with paiderastia from the Hellenes; and we hear that
Polycrates of Samos caused the gymnasia to be destroyed when he wished
to discountenance the love which lent the warmth of personal enthusiasm
to political associations.[118] It was common to erect statues of love
in the wrestling-grounds; and there, says Plutarch,[119] the god's wings
grew so wide that no man could restrain his flight. Readers of the
idyllic poets will remember that it was a statue of Love which fell from
its pedestal in the swimming-bath upon the cruel boy who had insulted
the body of his self-slain friend.[120] Charmus, the lover of Hippias,
erected an image of Erôs in the academy at Athens which bore this

     "Love, god of many evils and various devices, Charmus set up this
     altar to thee upon the shady boundaries of the gymnasium."[121]

Erôs, in fact, was as much at home in the gymnasia of Athens as
Aphrodite in the temples of Corinth; he was the patron of paiderastia,
as she of female love. Thus Meleager writes:--

     "The Cyprian queen, a woman, hurls the fire that maddens men for
     females; but Erôs himself sways the love of males for males."[122]

Plutarch, again, in the Erotic dialogue, alludes to "Erôs, where
Aphrodite is not; Erôs apart from Aphrodite." These facts relating to
the gymnasia justified Cicero in saying, "Mihi quidem hæc in Græcorum
gymnasiis nata consuetudo videtur; _in quibus isti liberi et concesi
sunt amores_." He adds, with a true Roman's antipathy to Greek æsthetics
and their flimsy screen for sensuality, "Bene ergo Ennius, _flagitii
principium est nudare inter cives corpora_."[123] "To me, indeed, it
seems that this custom was generated in the gymnasiums of the Greeks,
for there those loves are freely indulged and sanctioned. Ennius
therefore very properly observed that the beginning of vice is the habit
of stripping the body among citizens."

The Attic gymnasia and schools were regulated by strict laws. We have
already seen that adults were not supposed to enter the palæstra; and
the penalty for the infringement of this rule by the gymnasiarch was
death. In the same way, schools had to be shut at sunset and not opened
again before daybreak; nor was a grown-up man allowed to frequent them.
The public chorus teachers of boys were obliged to be above the age of
forty.[124] Slaves who presumed to make advances to a free boy were
subject to the severest penalties; in like manner they were prohibited
from gymnastic exercises. Æschines, from whom we learn these facts,
draws the correct conclusion that gymnastics and Greek love were
intended to be the special privilege of freemen. Still, in spite of all
restrictions, the palæstra was the centre of Athenian profligacy, the
place in which not only honourable attachments were formed, but
disgraceful bargains also were concluded;[125] and it is not improbable
that men like Taureas and Miccus, who opened such places of amusement as
a private speculation, may have played the part of go-betweens and
panders. Their walls, and the plane-trees which grew along their open
courts, were inscribed by lovers with the names of boys who had
attracted them. To scrawl up, "Fair is Dinomeneus, fair is the boy," was
a common custom, as we learn from Aristophanes and from this anonymous
epigram in the _Anthology_:[126]--

     "I said and once again I said, 'fair, fair'; but still will I go on
     repeating how fascinating with his eyes is Dositheus. Not upon an
     oak, nor on a pine-tree, nor yet upon a wall, will I inscribe this
     word; but love is smouldering in my heart of hearts."

Another attention of the same kind from a lover to a boy was to have a
vase or drinking-cup of baked clay made, with a portrait of the youth
depicted on its surface, attended by winged genii of health and love.
The word "Fair" was inscribed beneath, and symbols of games were
added--a hoop or a fighting-cock.[127] Nor must I here omit the custom
which induced lovers of a literary turn to praise their friends in prose
or verse. Hippothales, in the _Lysis_ of Plato, is ridiculed by his
friends for recording the great deeds of the boy's ancestors, and
deafening his ears with odes and sonnets. A diatribe on love, written by
Lysias with a view to winning Phædrus, forms the starting-point of the
dialogue between that youth and Socrates.[128] We have, besides, a
curious panegyrical oration (called _Eroticos Logos_), falsely ascribed
to Demosthenes, in honour of a youth, Epicrates, from which some
information may be gathered concerning the topics usually developed in
these compositions.

Presents were of course a common way of trying to win favour. It was
reckoned shameful for boys to take money from their lovers, but fashion
permitted them to accept gifts of quails and fighting cocks, pheasants,
horses, dogs and clothes.[129] There existed, therefore, at Athens
frequent temptations for boys of wanton disposition, or for those who
needed money to indulge expensive tastes. The speech of Æschines, from
which I have already frequently quoted, affords a lively picture of the
Greek rake's progress, in which Timarchus is described as having sold
his person in order to gratify his gluttony and lust and love of gaming.
The whole of this passage,[130] it may be observed in passing, reads
like a description of Florentine manners in a sermon of Savonarola.

The shops of the barbers, surgeons, perfumers, and flower-sellers had an
evil notoriety, and lads who frequented these resorts rendered
themselves liable to suspicion. Thus Æschines accuses Timarchus of
having exposed himself for hire in a surgeon's shop at the Peiræus;
while one of Straton's most beautiful epigrams[131] describes an
assignation which he made with a boy who had attracted his attention in
a garland-weaver's stall. In a fragment from the _Pyraunos_ of Alexis,
a young man declares that he found thirty professors of the "voluptuous
life of pleasure," in the Cerameicus during a search of three days;
while Cratinus and Theopompus might be quoted to prove the ill fame of
the monument to Cimon and the hill of Lycabettus.[132]

The last step in the downward descent was when a youth abandoned the
roof of his parents or guardians and accepted the hospitality of a
lover.[133] If he did this, he was lost.

In connection with this portion of the subject, it may be well to state
that the Athenian law recognised contracts made between a man and boy,
even if the latter were of free birth, whereby the one agreed to render
up his person for a certain period and purpose, and the other to pay a
fixed sum of money.[134] The phrase "a boy who has been a prostitute,"
occurs quite naturally in Aristophanes;[135] nor was it thought
disreputable for men to engage in these _liaisons_. Disgrace only
attached to the free youth who gained a living by prostitution; and he
was liable, as we shall see, at law to loss of civil rights.

Public brothels for males were kept in Athens, from which the state
derived a portion of its revenues. It was in one of these bad places
that Socrates first saw Phædo.[136] This unfortunate youth was a native
of Elis. Taken prisoner in war, he was sold in the public market to a
slave-dealer, who then acquired the right by Attic law to prostitute his
person and engross his earnings for his own pocket. A friend of
Socrates, perhaps Cebes, bought him from his master, and he became one
of the chief members of the Socratic circle. His name is given to the
Platonic dialogue on immortality, and he lived to found what is called
the Eleo-Socratic School. No reader of Plato forgets how the sage, on
the eve of his death, stroked the beautiful long hair of Phædo,[137] and
prophesied that he would soon have to cut it short in mourning for his

Agathocles, the tyrant of Syracuse, is said to have spent his youth in
brothels of this sort--by inclination, however, if the reports of his
biographers be not calumnious.

From what has been collected on this topic, it will be understood that
boys in Athens not unfrequently caused quarrels and street-brawls, and
that cases for recovery of damages or breach of contract were brought
before the Attic law-courts. The Peiræus was especially noted for such
scenes of violence. The oration of Lysias against Simon is a notable
example of the pleadings in a cause of this description.[138] Simon, the
defendant, and Lysias, the plaintiff (or some one for whom Lysias had
composed the speech) were both of them attached to Theodotus, a boy from
Platæa. Theodotus was living with the plaintiff; but the defendant
asserted that the boy had signed an agreement to consort with him for
the consideration of three hundred drachmæ, and, relying on this
contract, he had attempted more than once to carry off the boy by force.
Violent altercations, stone-throwings, house-breakings, and encounters
of various kinds having ensued, the plaintiff brought an action for
assault and battery against Simon. A modern reader is struck with the
fact that he is not at all ashamed of his own relation towards
Theodotus. It may be noted that the details of this action throw light
upon the historic brawl at Corinth, in which a boy was killed, and which
led to the foundation of Syracuse by Archias the Bacchiad.[139]


We have seen in the foregoing section that paiderastia at Athens was
closely associated with liberty, manly sports, severe studies,
enthusiasm, self-sacrifice, self-control, and deeds of daring, by those
who cared for those things. It has also been made abundantly manifest
that no serious moral shame attached to persons who used boys like
women, but that effeminate youths of free birth were stigmatised for
their indecent profligacy. It remains still to ascertain the more
delicate distinctions which were drawn by Attic law and custom in this
matter, though what has been already quoted from Pausanias, in the
_Symposium_ of Plato, may be taken fairly to express the code of honour
among gentlemen.

In the _Plutus_,[140] Aristophanes is careful to divide "boys with
lovers," into "the good," and "the strumpets." This distinction will
serve as basis for the following remarks. A very definite line was drawn
by the Athenians between boys who accepted the addresses of their lovers
because they liked them or because they were ambitious of comradeship
with men of spirit, and those who sold their bodies for money. Minute
inquiry was never instituted into the conduct of the former class; else
Alcibiades could not have made his famous declaration about
Socrates,[141] nor would Plato in the _Phædrus_ have regarded an
occasional breach of chastity, under the compulsion of violent passion,
as a venial error.[142] The latter, on the other hand, besides being
visited with universal censure, were disqualified by law from exercising
the privileges of the franchise, from undertaking embassies, from
frequenting the Agora, and from taking part in public festivals, under
the penalty of death. Æschines, from whom we learn the wording of this
statute, adds:[143] "This law he passed with regard to youths who sin
with facility and readiness against their own bodies." He then proceeds
to define the true nature of prostitution, prohibited by law to the
citizens of Athens. It is this: "Any one who acts in this way towards a
single man, provided he do it with payment, seems to me to be liable to
the reproach in question."[144] The whole discussion turns upon the word
_Misthos_. The orator is cautious to meet the argument that a written
contract was necessary in order to construct a case of _Hetaireia_ at
law.[145] In the statute, he observes, there is no mention of "contract"
or "deed in writing." The offence has been sufficiently established
"when in any way whatever payment has been made."

In order to illustrate the feeling of the Athenians with regard to
making profit out of paiderastic relations, I may perhaps be permitted
to interrupt the analysis of Æschines by referring to Xenophon's
character (_Anab._ si, 6, 21) of the Strategus Menon. The whole tenor of
his judgment is extremely unfavourable toward this man, who invariable
pursued selfish and mean aims, debasing virtuous qualities like ambition
and industry in the mere pursuit of wealth and power. He was, in fact,
devoid of chivalrous feeling, good taste, and honour. About his
behaviour as a youth, Xenophon writes: "With Ariæus, the barbarian,
because this man was partial to handsome youths, he became extremely
intimate while he was still in the prime of adolescence; moreover, he
had Tharypas for his beloved, he being beardless and Tharypas a man
with a beard." His crime seems to have been that he prostituted himself
to the barbarian Ariæus in order to advance his interest, and, probably
with the same view, flattered the effeminate vanity of an elder man by
pretending to love him out of the right time or season. Plutarch
(_Pyrrhus_) mentions this Tharypas as the first to introduce Hellenic
manners among the Molossi.

When more than one lover was admitted, the guilt was aggravated. "It
will then be manifest that he has not only acted the strumpet, but that
he has been a common prostitute. For he who does this indifferently, and
with money, and for money, seems to have incurred that designation."
Thus the question finally put to the Areopagus, in which court the case
against Timarchus was tried, ran as follows, in the words of
Æschines:[146] "To which of these two classes will you reckon
Timarchus--to those who have had a lover, or to those who have been
prostitutes?" In his rhetorical exposition, Æschines defines the true
character of the virtuous _Eromenos_. Frankly admitting his own
partiality for beautiful young men, he argues after this fashion:[147]
"I do not attach any blame to love. I do not take away the character of
handsome lads. I do not deny that I have often loved, and had many
quarrels and jealousies in this matter. But I establish this as an
irrefutable fact, that, while the love of beautiful and temperate youths
does honour to humanity and indicates a generous temper, the buying of
the person of a free boy for debauchery is a mark of insolence and
ill-breeding. To be loved is an honour: to sell yourself is a disgrace."
He then appeals to the law which forbade slaves to love, thereby
implying that this was the privilege and pride of free men. He alludes
to the heroic deed of Aristogeiton and to the great example of Achilles.
Finally, he draws up a list of well-known and respected citizens whose
loves were notorious, and compares them with a parallel list of persons
infamous for their debauchery. What remains in the peroration to this
invective traverses the same ground. Some phrases may be quoted which
illustrate the popular feeling of the Athenians. Timarchus is
stigmatised[148] as, "the man and male who, in spite of this, has
debauched his body by womanly acts of lust," and again as, "one who
against the law of nature has given himself to lewdness." It is obvious
here that Æschines, the self-avowed boy-lover, while seeking to crush
his opponent by flinging effeminacy and unnatural behaviour in his
teeth, assumes at the same time that honourable paiderastia implies no
such disgrace. Again, he observes that it is as easy to recognise a
pathic by his impudent behaviour as a gymnast by his muscles. Lastly, he
bids the judges force intemperate lovers to abstain from free youths,
and satisfy their lusts upon the persons of foreigners and aliens.[149]
The whole matter at this distance of time is obscure, nor can we hope to
apprehend the full force of distinctions drawn by a Greek orator
appealing to a Greek audience. We may, indeed, fairly presume that, as
is always the case with popular ethics, considerable confusion existed
in the minds of the Athenians themselves, and that, even for them, to
formulate the whole of their social feelings on this topic consistently,
would have been impossible. The main point, however, seems to be that at
Athens it was held honourable to love free boys with decency; that the
conduct of lovers between themselves, within the limits of recognised
friendship, was not challenged; and that no particular shame attached to
profligate persons so long as they refrained from tampering with the
sons of citizens.[150]


The sources from which our information has hitherto been
drawn--speeches, poems, biographies, and the dramatic parts of
dialogues--yield more real knowledge about the facts of Athenian
paiderastia than can be found in the speculations of philosophers. In
Aristotle, for instance, paiderastia is almost conspicuous by its
absence. It is true that he speculates upon the Cretan customs in the
_Politics_, mentions the prevalence of boy-love among the Kelts, and
incidentally notices the legends of Diocles and Cleomachus;[151] but he
never discusses the matter as fully as might have been expected from a
philosopher whose speculations covered the whole field of Greek
experience. The chapters on _Philia_, in the _Ethics_, might indeed have
been written by a modern moralist for modern readers, though it is
possible that in his treatment of "friendship with pleasure for its
object," and "friendship with advantage for its object," Aristotle is
aiming at the vicious sort of paiderastia. As regards his silence in
the _Politics_, it is worth noticing that this treatise breaks off at
the very point where we should naturally look for a scientific handling
of the education of the passions; and, therefore, it is possible that we
may have lost the weightiest utterance of Greek philosophy upon the
matter of our enquiry.

Though Aristotle contains but little to the purpose, the case is
different with Plato; nor would it be possible to omit a detailed
examination of the Platonic doctrine on the topic, or to neglect the
attempt he made to analyse and purify a passion, capable, according to
his earlier philosophical speculations, of supplying the starting-point
for spiritual progress.

The first point to notice in the Platonic treatment of paiderastia is
the difference between the ethical opinions expressed in the _Phædrus_,
_Symposium_, _Republic_, _Charmides_, and _Lysis_, on the one hand, and
those expounded in the _Laws_ upon the other. The _Laws_, which are
probably a genuine work of Plato's old age, condemn that passion which,
in the _Phædrus_ and _Symposium_, he exalted as the greatest boon of
human life and as the groundwork of the philosophical temperament; the
ordinary social manifestations of which he described with sympathy in
the _Lysis_ and the _Charmides_; and which he viewed with more than
toleration in the _Republic_. It is not my business to offer a solution
of this contradiction; but I may observe that Socrates, who plays the
part of protagonist in nearly all the other dialogues of Plato, and who,
as we shall see, professed a special cult of love, is conspicuous by his
absence in the _Laws_. It is, therefore, not improbable that the
philosophical idealisation of paiderastia, to which the name of Platonic
love is usually given, should rather be described as Socratic. However
that may be, I think it will be well to deal first with the doctrine put
into the mouth of the Athenian stranger in the _Laws_, and then to pass
on to the consideration of what Socrates is made to say upon the subject
of Greek love in the earlier dialogues.

The position assumed by Plato in the _Laws_ (p. 636) is this: Syssitia
and gymnasia are excellent institutions in their way, but they have a
tendency to degrade natural love in man below the level of the beasts.
Pleasure is only natural when it arises out of the intercourse between
men and women, but the intercourse between men and men, or women and
women, is contrary to nature.[152] The bold attempt at overleaping
Nature's laws was due originally to unbridled lust.

This position is developed in the eighth book (p. 836), where Plato
directs his criticism, not only against what would now be termed the
criminal intercourse between persons of the same sex, but also against
incontinence in general. While framing a law of almost monastic rigour
for the regulation of the sexual appetite, he remains an ancient Greek.
He does not reach the point of view from which women are regarded as the
proper objects of both passion and friendship, as the fit companions of
men in all relations of life; far less does he revert to his earlier
speculations upon the enthusiasm generated by a noble passion. The
modern ideal of marriage and the chivalrous conception of womanhood as
worthy to be worshipped are like unknown to him. Abstinence from the
delights of love, continence except for the sole end of procreation, is
the rule which he proposes to the world.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are three distinct things, Plato argues, which, owing to the
inadequacy of language to represent states of thought, have been
confounded.[153] These are friendship, desire, and a third mixed
species. Friendship is further described as the virtuous affection of
equals in taste, age and station. Desire is always founded on a sense of
contrast. While friendship is "gentle and mutual through life," desire
is "fierce and wild."[154] The true friend seeks to live chastely with
the chaste object of his attachment, whose soul he loves. The lustful
lover longs to enjoy the flower of his youth and cares only for the
body. The third sort is mixed of these; and a lover of this composite
kind is torn asunder by two impulses, "the one commanding him to enjoy
the youth's person, the other forbidding him to do so."[155] The
description of the lover of the third species so exactly suits the
paiderast of nobler quality in Greece, as I conceive him to have
actually existed, that I shall give a full quotation of this

     "As to the mixed sort, which is made up of them both, there is,
     first of all, a difficulty in determining what he who is possessed
     by this third love desires; moreover, he is drawn different ways,
     and is in doubt between the two principles, the one exhorting him
     to enjoy the beauty of the youth, and the other forbidding him; for
     the one is a lover of the body and hungers after beauty like ripe
     fruit, and would fain satisfy himself without any regard to the
     character of the beloved; the other holds the desire of the body to
     be a secondary matter, and, looking rather than loving with his
     soul, and desiring the soul of the other in a becoming manner,
     regards the satisfaction of the bodily love as wantonness; he
     reverences and respects temperance and courage and magnanimity and
     wisdom, and wishes to live chastely with the chaste object of his

It is remarkable that Plato, in this analysis of the three sorts of
love, keeps strictly within the bounds of paiderastia. He rejects desire
and the mixed sort of love, reserving friendship (_Philia_) and
ordaining marriage for the satisfaction of the aphrodisiac instinct at a
fitting age, but more particularly for the procreation of children.
Wantonness of every description is to be made as much a sin as incest,
both by law and also by the world's opinion. If Olympian victors, with
an earthly crown in view, learn to live chastely for the preservation of
their strength while training, shall not men, whose contest is for
heavenly prizes, keep their bodies undefiled, their spirits holy?

Socrates, the mystagogue of amorous philosophy, is absent, as I have
observed, from this discussion of the laws. I turn now to those earlier
dialogues in which he expounds the doctrine of Platonic, or, as I should
prefer to call it, Socratic, love. We know from Xenophon, as well as
Plato, that Socrates named his philosophy the Science of Love. The one
thing on which I pride myself, he says, is knowledge of all matters that
pertain to love. It furthermore appears that Socrates thought himself in
a peculiar sense predestined to reform and to ennoble paiderastia.
"Finding this passion at its height throughout the whole of Hellas, but
most especially in Athens, and all places full of evil lovers and of
youths seduced, he felt a pity for both parties. Not being a lawgiver
like Solon, he could not stop the custom by statute, nor correct it by
force, nor again dissuade men from it by his eloquence. He did not,
however, on that account abandon the lovers or the boys to their fate,
but tried to suggest a remedy." This passage, which I have paraphrased
from Maximus Tyrius,[157] sufficiently expresses the attitude assumed
by Socrates in the Platonic dialogue. He sympathises with Greek lovers,
and avows a fervent admiration for beauty in the persons of young men.
At the same time, he declares himself upon the side of temperate and
generous affection and strives to utilise the erotic enthusiasm as a
motive power in the direction of philosophy. This was really nothing
more or less than an attempt to educate the Athenians by appealing to
their own higher instincts. We have seen that paiderastia in the prime
of Hellenic culture, whatever sensual admixture it might have contained,
was a masculine passion. It was closely connected with the love of
political independence, with the contempt for Asiatic luxury, with the
gymnastic sports, and with the intellectual interests which
distinguished Hellenes from barbarians. Partly owing to the social
habits of their cities, and partly to the peculiar notions which they
entertained regarding the seclusion of free women in the home, all the
higher elements of spiritual and mental activity, and the conditions
under which a generous passion was conceivable, had become the exclusive
privileges of men. It was not that women occupied a semi-servile
station, as some students have imagined, or that within the sphere of
the household they were not the respected and trusted helpmates of men.
But circumstances rendered it impossible for them to excite romantic and
enthusiastic passion. The exaltation of the emotions was reserved for
the male sex.

Socrates, therefore, sought to direct and moralise a force already
existing. In the _Phædrus_ he describes the passion of love between man
and boy as a madness, not different in quality from that which inspires
poets; and, after painting that fervid picture of the lover, he declares
that the true object of a noble life can only be attained by passionate
friends, bound together in the chains of close yet temperate
comradeship, seeking always to advance in knowledge, self-restraint, and
intellectual illumination. The doctrine of the _Symposium_ is not
different, except that Socrates here takes a higher flight. The same
love is treated as the method whereby the soul may begin her mystic
journey to the region of essential beauty, truth, and goodness. It has
frequently been remarked that Plato's dialogues have to be read as
poems, even more than as philosophical treatises; and if this be true at
all, it is particularly true of both the _Phædrus_ and the _Symposium_.
The lesson which both essays seem intended to inculcate is this: love,
like poetry and prophecy, is a divine gift, which diverts men from the
common current of their lives; but in the right use of this gift lies
the secret of all human excellence. The passion which grovels in the
filth of sensual grossness may be transformed into a glorious
enthusiasm, a winged splendour, capable of soaring to the contemplation
of eternal verities. How strange will it be, when once those heights of
intellectual intuition have been scaled, to look down again to earth and
view the _Meirakidia_ in whom the soul first recognised the form of
beauty![158] There is a deeply-rooted mysticism, an impenetrable
soofyism, in the Socratic doctrine of Erôs.

In the _Phædrus_, the _Symposium_, the _Charmides_, the _Lysis_, and the
_Republic_, Plato dramatised the real Socrates, while he gave liberal
scope to his own personal sympathy for paiderastia.[159] In the _Laws_,
if we accept this treatise as the work of his old age, he discarded the
Socratic mask, and wrote a kind of palinode, which indicates more moral
growth than pure disapprobation of the paiderastic passion. I have
already tried to show that the point of view in the _Laws_ is still
Greek: that their author has not passed beyond the sphere of Hellenic
ethics. He has only become more ascetic in his rule of conduct as the
years advanced, importing the _rumores senum severiorum_ into his
discourse, and recognising the imperfection of that halting-point
between the two logical extremes of Pagan license and monastic
asceticism which in the fervour of his greener age he advocated. As a
young man, Plato felt sympathy for love so long as it was paiderastic
and not spent on women; he even condoned a lapse through warmth of
feeling into self-indulgence. As an old man, he denounced carnal
pleasure of all kinds, and sought to limit the amative instincts to the
one sole end of procreation.

It has so happened that Plato's name is still connected with the ideal
of passion purged from sensuality. Much might be written about the
parallel between the _mania_ of the _Phædrus_ and the _joy_ of mediæval
amorists. Nor would it be unprofitable to trace the points of contact
between the love described by Dante in the _Vita Nuova_ and the
paiderastia exalted to the heavens by Plato.[160] The spiritual passion
for Beatrice, which raised the Florentine poet above vile things, and
led him by the philosophic paths of the _Convito_ to the beatific vision
of the _Paradiso_, bears no slight resemblance to the _Erôs_ of the
_Symposium_. Yet we know that Dante could not have studied Plato's
works; and the specific love which Plato praised he sternly stigmatised.
The harmony between Greek and mediæval mysticism in this matter of the
emotions rests on something permanent in human nature, common alike to
paiderastia and to chivalrous enthusiasm for woman.

It would be well worth raising here the question whether there was not
something special both in the Greek consciousness itself, and also in
the conditions under which it reached maturity, which justified the
Socratic attempt to idealise paiderastia. Placed upon the borderland of
barbarism, divided from the Asiatic races by an acute but narrow line of
demarcation, the Greeks had arrived at the first free notion of the
spirit in its disentanglement from matter and from symbolism. But this
notion of the spirit was still æsthetic, rather than strictly ethical or
rigorously scientific. In the Greek gods, intelligence is perfected and
character is well defined; but these gods are always concrete persons,
with corporeal forms adapted to their spiritual essence. The
interpenetration of spiritual and corporeal elements in a complete
personality, the transfusion of intellectual and emotional faculties
throughout a physical organism exactly suited to their adequate
expression, marks Greek religion and Greek art. What the Greeks
worshipped in their ritual, what they represented in their sculpture,
was always personality--the spirit and the flesh in amity and mutual
correspondence; the spirit burning through the flesh and moulding it to
individual forms; the flesh providing a fit dwelling for the spirit
which controlled and fashioned it. Only philosophers, among the Greeks,
attempted to abstract the spirit as a self-sufficient, independent,
conscious entity; and these philosophers were few, and what they wrote
or spoke had little direct influence upon the people. This being the
mental attitude of the Greek race, it followed as a necessity that their
highest emotional aspirations, their purest personal service, should be
devoted to clear and radiant incarnations of the spirit in a living
person. They had never been taught to regard the body with a sense of
shame, but rather to admire it as the temple of the spirit, and to
accept its needs and instincts with natural acquiescence. Male beauty
disengaged for them the passion it inspired from service of domestic,
social, civic duties. The female form aroused desire, but it also
suggested maternity and obligations of the household. The male form was
the most perfect image of the deity, self-contained, subject to no
necessities of impregnation, determined in its action only by the laws
of its own reason and its own volition.

Quite a different order of ideas governed the ideal adopted by mediæval
chivalry. The spirit in its self-sufficingness, detached from the body,
antagonistic to the body, had been divinised by Christianity. Woman,
regarded as a virgin and at the same time a mother, the maiden-mother of
God made man, had been exalted to the throne of heaven. The worship of
woman became, by a natural and logical process, the correlative in
actual human life for that worship of the incarnate Deity which was the
essence of religion. A remarkable point in mediæval love is that the
sensual appetites were, theoretically at least, excluded from the homage
paid to woman. It was not the wife or the mistress, but the lady, who
inspired the knight. Dante had children by Gemma, Petrarch had children
by an unknown concubine, but it was the sainted Beatrice, it was the
unattainable Laura, who received the homage of Dante and of Petrarch.

In like manner, the sensual appetites were, theoretically at least,
excluded from Platonic paiderastia. It was the divine in human
flesh--"the radiant sight of the beloved," to quote from Plato; "the
fairest and most intellectual of earthly bodies," to borrow a phrase
from Maximus Tyrius--it was this which stimulated the Greek lover, just
as a similar incarnation of divinity inspired the chivalrous lover. Thus
we might argue that the Platonic conception of paiderastia furnishes a
close analogue to the chivalrous devotion to women, due regard being
paid to the differences which existed between the plastic ideal of Greek
religion and the romantic ideal of mediæval Christianity. The one veiled
sodomy, the other adultery. That in both cases the conception was rarely
realised in actual life only completes the parallel.

To pursue this inquiry further is, however, alien to my task. It is
enough to have indicated the psychological agreement in respect of
purified affection which underlay two such apparently antagonistic
ideals of passion. Few modern writers, when they speak with admiration
or contempt of Platonic love, reflect that in its origin this phrase
denoted an absorbing passion for young men. The Platonist, as appears
from numerous passages in the Platonic writings, would have despised the
Petrarchist as a vulgar woman-lover. The Petrarchist would have loathed
the Platonist as a moral Pariah. Yet Platonic love, in both its Attic
and its mediæval manifestations, was one and the same thing.

The philosophical ideal of paiderastia in Greece, which bore the names
of Socrates and Plato, met with little but contempt. Cicero, in a
passage which has been echoed by Gibbon, remarked upon, "the thin device
of virtue and friendship which amused the philosophers of Athens."[161]
Epicurus criticised the Stoic doctrine of paiderastia by sententiously
observing that philosophers only differed from the common race of men in
so far as they could better cloak their vice with sophistries. This
severe remark seems justified by the opinions ascribed to Zeno by
Plutarch, Sextus Empiricus, and Stobæus.[162] But it may be doubted
whether the real drift of the Stoic theory of love, founded on
_Adiaphopha_, was understood. Lucian, in the _Amores_,[163] makes
Charicles, the advocate of love for women, deride the Socratic ideal as
vain nonsense, while Theomnestus, the man of pleasure, to whom the
dispute is finally referred, decides that the philosophers are either
fools or humbugs.[164] Daphnæus, in the erotic dialogue of Plutarch,
arrives at a similar conclusion; and, in an essay on education, the same
author contends that no prudent father would allow the sages to enter
into intimacy with his sons.[165] The discredit incurred by philosophers
in the later age of Greek culture is confirmed by more than one passage
in Petronius and Juvenal, while Athenæus especially inveighs against
philosophic lovers as acting against nature.[166] The attempt of the
Platonic Socrates to elevate, without altering, the morals of his race
may therefore be said fairly to have failed. Like his Republic, his love
existed only in heaven.


Philip of Macedon, when he pronounced the panegyric of the Sacred Band
at Chæronea, uttered the funeral oration of Greek love in its nobler
forms. With the decay of military spirit and the loss of freedom, there
was no sphere left for that type of comradeship which I attempted to
describe in Section IV. The philosophical ideal, to which some
cultivated Attic thinkers had aspired, remained unrealised, except, we
may perhaps suppose, in isolated instances. Meanwhile, paiderastia as a
vice did not diminish. It only grew more wanton and voluptuous. Little,
therefore, can be gained by tracing its historical development further,
although it is not without interest to note the mode of feeling and the
opinion of some later poets and rhetoricians.

The Idyllists are the only poets, if we except a few epigrammatists of
the _Anthology_, who preserve a portion of the old heroic sentiment. No
true student of Greek literature will have felt that he could strictly
censure the paiderastic passages of the _Thalysia_, _Aïtes_, _Hylas_,
_Paidika_. They have the ring of genuine and respectable emotion. This
may also be said about the two fragments of Bion which begin, _Hespere
tas eratas_ and _Olbioi oi phileontes_. The _Duserôs_, ascribed without
due warrant to Theocritus, is in many respects a beautiful composition,
but it lacks the fresh and manly touches of the master's style, and
bears the stamp of an unwholesome rhetoric. Why, indeed, should we pity
this suicide, and why should the statue of Love have fallen on the
object of his admiration? Maximus Tyrius showed more sense when he
contemptuously wrote about those men who killed themselves for love of a
beautiful lad in Locri:[167] "And in good sooth they deserved to die."

The dialogue, entitled _Erotes_, attributed to Lucian, deserves a
paragraph. More than any other composition of the rhetorical age of
Greek literature, it attempts a comprehensive treatment of erotic
passion, and sums up the teaching of the doctors and the predilections
of the vulgar in one treatise.[168] Like many of Lucian's compositions,
it has what may be termed a retrospective and resumptive value. That is
to say, it represents less the actual feeling of the author and his age
than the result of his reading and reflection brought into harmony with
his experience. The scene is laid at Cnidus, in the groves of Aphrodite.
The temple and the garden and the statue of Praxiteles are described
with a luxury of language which strikes the keynote of the dialogue. We
have exchanged the company of Plato, Xenophon, or Æschines for that of a
Juvenalian _Græculus_, a delicate æsthetic voluptuary. Every epithet
smells of musk, and every phrase is a provocative. The interlocutors
are Callicratides, the Athenian, and Charicles, the Rhodian.
Callicratides kept an establishment of _exoleti_; when the down upon
their chins had grown beyond the proper point--"when the beard is just
sprouting, when youth is in the prime of charm," they were drafted off
to farms and country villages. Charicles maintained a harem of
dancing-girls and flute-players. The one was "madly passionate for
lads;" the other no less "mad for women." Charicles undertook the cause
of women, Callicratides that of boys. Charicles began. The love of women
is sanctioned by antiquity; it is natural; it endures through life; it
alone provides pleasure for both sexes. Boys grow bearded, rough, and
past their prime. Women always excite passion. Then Callicratides takes
up his parable. Masculine love combines virtue with pleasure. While the
love of women is a physical necessity, the love of boys is a product of
high culture and an adjunct of philosophy. Paiderastia may be either
vulgar or celestial; the second will be sought by men of liberal
education and good manners. Then follow contrasted pictures of the lazy
woman and the manly youth. The one provokes to sensuality, the other
excites noble emulation in the ways of virile living. Lucian, summing up
the arguments of the two pleaders, decides that Corinth must give way to
Athens, adding: "Marriage is open to all men, but the love of boys to
philosophers only." This verdict is referred to Theomnestus, a Don Juan
of both sexes. He replies that both boys and women are good for
pleasure; the philosophical arguments of Callicratides are cant.

       *       *       *       *       *

This brief abstract of Lucian's dialogue on love indicates the cynicism
with which its author viewed the subject, using the whole literature and
all the experience of the Greeks to support a thesis of pure hedonism.
The sybarites of Cairo or Constantinople at the present moment might
employ the same arguments, except that they would omit the philosophic
cant of Callicratides.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is nothing in extant Greek literature, of a date anterior to the
Christian era, which is foul in the same sense as that in which the
works of Roman poets (Catullus and Martial), Italian poets (Beccatelli
and Baffo), and French poets (Scarron and Voltaire) are foul. Only
purblind students will be unable to perceive the difference between the
obscenity of the Latin races and that of Aristophanes. The difference,
indeed, is wide and radical, and strongly marked. It is the difference
between a race naturally gifted with a delicate, æsthetic sense of
beauty, and one in whom that sense was always subject to the
perturbation, of gross instincts. But with the first century of the new
age a change came over even the imagination of the Greeks. Though they
never lost their distinction of style, that precious gift of lightness
and good taste conferred upon them with their language, they borrowed
something of their conquerors' vein. This makes itself felt in the
_Anthology_. Straton and Rufinus suffered the contamination of the Roman
genius, stronger in political organisation than that of Hellas, but
coarser and less spiritually tempered in morals and in art. Straton was
a native of Sardis, who flourished in the second century. He compiled a
book of paiderastic poems, consisting in a great measure of his own and
Meleager's compositions, which now forms the twelfth section of the
_Palatine Anthology_. This book he dedicated, not to the Muse, but to
Zeus; for Zeus was the boy-lover among deities;[169] he bade it carry
forth his message of fair youths throughout the world;[170] and he
claimed a special inspiration from heaven for singing of one sole
subject, paiderastia.[171] It may be said with truth that Straton
understood the bent of his own genius. We trace a blunt earnestness of
intention in his epigrams, a certainty of feeling and directness of
artistic treatment, which show that he had only one object in view.
Meleager has far higher qualities as a poet, and his feeling, as well as
his style, is more exquisite. But he wavered between the love of boys
and women, seeking in both the satisfaction of emotional yearnings which
in the modern world would have marked him as a sentimentalist. The
so-called _Mousa Paidiké_, "Muse of Boyhood," is a collection of two
hundred and fifty-eight short poems, some of them of great artistic
merit, in praise of boys and boy-love. The common-places of these
epigrams are Ganymede and Erôs;[172] we hear but little of
Aphrodite--her domain is the other section of the _Anthology_, called
Erotika. A very small percentage of these compositions can be described
as obscene;[173] none are nasty, in the style of Martial or Ausonius;
some are exceedingly picturesque;[174] a few are written in a strain of
lofty or of lovely music;[175] one or two are delicate and subtle in
their humour.[176] The whole collection supplies good means of judging
how the Greeks of the decadence felt about this form of love. _Malakia_
is the real condemnation of this poetry, rather than brutality or
coarseness. A favourite topic is the superiority of boys over girls.
This sometimes takes a gross form;[177] but once or twice the treatment
of the subject touches a real psychological distinction, as in the
following epigram:[178]--

     "The love of women is not after my heart's desire; but the fires of
     male desire have placed me under inextinguishable coals of burning.
     The heat there is mightier; for the more powerful is male than
     female, the keener is that desire."

These four lines give the key to much of the Greek preference for
paiderastia. The love of the male, when it has been apprehended and
entertained, is more exciting, they thought, more absorbent of the whole
nature, than the love of the female. It is, to use another kind of
phraseology, more of a mania and more of a disease.

With the _Anthology_ we might compare the curious _Epistolai Erotikai_
of Philostratus.[179] They were in all probability rhetorical
compositions, not intended for particular persons; yet they indicate the
kind of wooing to which youths were subjected in later Hellas.[180] The
discrepancy between the triviality of their subject-matter and the
exquisiteness of their diction is striking. The second of these
qualities has made them a mine for poets. Ben Jonson, for example,
borrowed the loveliest of his lyrics from the following _concetto_:--"I
sent thee a crown of roses, not so much honouring thee, though this,
too, was my meaning, but wishing to do some kindness to the roses that
they might not wither." Take, again, the phrase: "Well, and love himself
is naked, and the graces and the stars;" or this, "O rose, that has a
voice to speak with!"--or this metaphor for the footsteps of the
beloved, "O rhythms of most beloved feet, O kisses pressed upon the

While the paiderastia of the Greeks was sinking into grossness,
effeminacy, and æsthetic prettiness, the moral instincts of humanity
began to assert themselves in earnest. It became part of the higher
doctrine of the Roman Stoics to suppress this form of passion.[181] The
Christians, from St. Paul onwards, instituted an uncompromising crusade
against it. Theirs was no mere speculative warfare, like that of the
philosophers at Athens. They fought with all the forces of their
manhood, with the sword of the Lord and with the excommunications of the
Church, to suppress what seemed to them an unutterable scandal. Dio
Chrysostom, Clemens Alexandrinus, and Athanasius, are our best
authorities for the vices which prevailed in Hellas during the
Empire;[182] the Roman law, moreover, proves that the civil governors
aided the Church in its attempt to moralise the people on this point.


The transmutation of Hellas proper into part of the Roman Empire, and
the intrusion of Stoicism and Christianity into the sphere of Hellenic
thought and feeling, mark the end of the Greek age. It still remains,
however, to consider the relation of this passion to the character of
the race, and to determine its influence.

In the fifth section of this essay, I asserted that it is now impossible
to ascertain whether the Greeks derived paiderastia from any of the
surrounding nations, and if so, from which. Homer's silence makes it
probable that the contact of Hellenic with Phœnician traders in the
post-heroic period led to the adoption by the Greek race of a custom
which they speedily assimilated and stamped with an Hellenic character.
At the same time, I suggested in the tenth section that paiderastia, in
its more enthusiastic and martial form, may have been developed within
the very sanctuary of Greek national existence by the Dorians, matured
in the course of their migrations, and systematised after their
settlement in Crete and Sparta. That the Greeks themselves regarded
Crete as the classic ground of paiderastia favours either theory, and
suggests a fusion of them both; for the geographical position of this
island made it the meeting-place of Hellenes with the Asiatic races,
while it was also one of the earliest Dorian acquisitions.

When we come to ask why this passion struck roots so deep into the very
heart and brain of the Greek nation, we must reject the favourite
hypothesis of climate. Climate is, no doubt, powerful to a great extent
in determining the complexion of sexual morality; yet, as regards
paiderastia, we have abundant proof that nations both of North and South
have, according to circumstances quite independent of climatic
conditions, been both equally addicted and equally averse to this
habit. The Etruscan,[183] the Chinese, the ancient Keltic tribes, the
Tartar hordes of Timour Khan, the Persians under Moslem rule--races sunk
in the sloth of populous cities, as well as the nomadic children of the
Asian steppes, have all acquired a notoriety at least equal to that of
the Greeks. The only difference between these people and the Greeks in
respect to paiderastia is that everything which the Greek genius touched
acquired a portion of its distinction, so that what in semi-barbarous
society may be ignored as vice, in Greece demands attention as a phase
of the spiritual life of a world-historic nation.

Like climate, ethnology must also be eliminated. It is only a
superficial philosophy of history which is satisfied with the
nomenclature of Semitic, Aryan, and so forth; which imagines that
something is gained for the explanation of a complex psychological
problem when hereditary affinities have been demonstrated. The deeps of
national personality are far more abysmal than this. Granting that
climate and descent are elements of great importance, the religious and
moral principles, the æsthetic apprehensions, and the customs which
determine the character of a race, leave always something still to be
analysed. In dealing with Greek paiderastia, we are far more likely to
reach a probable solution if we confine our attention to the specific
social conditions which fostered the growth of this passion in Greece,
and to the general habit of mind which permitted its evolution out of
the common stuff of humanity, than if we dilate at ease upon the climate
of the Ægean, or discuss the ethnical complexion of the Hellenic stock.
In other words, it was the Pagan view of human life and duty which gave
scope to paiderastia, while certain special Greek customs aided its

The Greeks themselves, quoted more than once above, have put us on the
right track in this inquiry. However paiderastia began in Hellas, it was
encouraged by gymnastics and syssitia. Youths and boys engaged together
in athletic exercises, training their bodies to the highest point of
physical attainment, growing critical about the points and proportions
of the human form, lived of necessity in an atmosphere of mutual
attention. Young men could not be insensible to the grace of boys in
whom the bloom of beauty was unfolding. Boys could not fail to admire
the strength and goodliness of men displayed in the comeliness of
perfected development. Having exercised together in the
wrestling-ground, the same young men and boys consorted at the common
tables. Their talk fell naturally upon feats of strength and training;
nor was it unnatural, in the absence of a powerful religious
prohibition, that love should spring from such discourse and

The nakedness, which Greek custom permitted in gymnastic games and some
religious rites, no doubt contributed to the erotic force of masculine
passion; and the history of their feeling upon this point deserves
notice. Plato, in the _Republic_ (452), observes that "not long ago the
Greeks were of the opinion, which is still generally received among the
barbarians, that the sight of a naked man was ridiculous and unseemly."
He goes on to mention the Cretans and the Lacedæmonians as the
institutors of naked games. To these conditions may be added dances in
public, the ritual of gods like Erôs, ceremonial processions, and
contests for the prize of beauty.

The famous passage in the first book of Thucydides (cap. vi.)
illustrates the same point. While describing the primitive culture of
the Hellenes, he thinks it worth while to mention that the Spartans, who
first stripped themselves for running and wrestling, abandoned the
girdle which it was usual to wear around the loins. He sees in this
habit one of the strongest points of distinction between the Greeks and
barbarians. Herodotus insists upon the same point (book i. 10), which is
further confirmed by the verse of Ennius: "Flagitii," &c.

The nakedness which Homer (_Iliad_, xxii. 66) and Tyrtæus (i. 21)
describes as shameful and unseemly is that of an old man. Both poets
seem to imply that a young man's naked body is beautiful even in death.

We have already seen that paiderastia, as it existed in early Hellas,
was a martial institution, and that it never wholly lost its virile
character. This suggests the consideration of another class of
circumstances which were in the highest degree conducive to its free
development. The Dorians, to begin with, lived like regiments of
soldiers in barracks. The duty of training the younger men was thrown
upon the elder; so that the close relations thus established in a race
which did not positively discountenance the love of male for male rather
tended actively to encourage it. Nor is it difficult to understand why
the romantic emotions in such a society were more naturally aroused by
male companions than by women. Matrimony was not a matter of elective
affinity between two persons seeking to spend their lives agreeably and
profitably in common, so much as an institution used by the State for
raising vigorous recruits for the national army. All that is known about
the Spartan marriage customs, taken together with Plato's speculations
about a community of wives, proves this conclusively. It followed that
the relation of the sexes to each other was both more formal and more
simple than it is with us; the natural and the political purposes of
cohabitation were less veiled by those personal and emotional
considerations which play so large a part in modern life. There was less
scope for the emergence of passionate enthusiasm between men and women,
while the full conditions of a spiritual attachment, solely determined
by reciprocal inclination, were only to be found in comradeship. In the
wrestling-ground, at the common tables, in the ceremonies of religion,
at the Pan-hellenic games, in the camp, in the hunting-field, on the
benches of the council chamber, and beneath the porches of the Agora,
men were all in all unto each other. Women meanwhile kept the house at
home, gave birth to babies, and reared children till such time as the
State thought fit to undertake their training. It is, moreover, well
known that the age at which boys were separated from their mothers was
tender. Thenceforth they lived with persons of their own sex; their
expanding feelings were confined within the sphere of masculine
experience until the age arrived when marriage had to be considered in
the light of a duty to the commonwealth. How far this tended to
influence the growth of sentiment, and to determine its quality, may be

In the foregoing paragraph I have restricted my attention almost wholly
to the Dorians: but what has just been said about the circumstance of
their social life suggests a further consideration regarding paiderastia
at large among the Greeks, which takes rank with the weightiest of all.
The peculiar status of Greek women is a subject surrounded with
difficulty; yet no man can help feeling that the idealisation of
masculine love, which formed so prominent a feature of Greek life in the
historic period, was intimately connected with the failure of the race
to give their proper sphere in society to women. The Greeks themselves
were not directly conscious of this fact; nor can I remember any passage
in which a Greek has suggested that boy-love flourished precisely upon
the special ground which had been wrestled from the right domain of file
other sex. Far in advance of the barbarian tribes around them, they
could not well discern the defects of their own civilisation; nor was it
to be expected that they should have anticipated that exaltation of the
love of women into a semi-religious cult which was the later product of
chivalrous Christianity. We, from the standpoint of a more fully
organised society, detect their errors, and pronounce that paiderastia
was a necessary consequence of their unequal social culture; nor do we
fail to notice that, just as paiderastia was a post-Homeric intrusion
into Greek life, so women, after the age of the Homeric poems, suffered
a corresponding depression in the social scale. In the _Iliad_ and the
_Odyssey_, and in the tragedies which deal with the heroic age, they
play a part of importance for which the actual conditions of historic
Hellas offered no opportunities.

It was at Athens that the social disadvantages of women told with
greatest force; and this perhaps may help to explain the philosophic
idealisation of boy-love among the Athenians. To talk familiarly with
free women on the deepest subjects, to treat them as intellectual
companions, or to choose them as associates in undertakings of political
moment, seems never to have entered the mind of an Athenian. Women were
conspicuous by their absence from all places of resort--from the
palæstra, the theatre, the Agora, Pnyx, the law-court, the symposium;
and it was here, and here alone, that the spiritual energies of the men
expanded. Therefore, as the military ardour of the Dorians naturally
associated itself with paiderastia, so the characteristic passion of the
Athenians for culture took the same direction. The result in each case
was a highly wrought psychical condition, which, however alien to our
instincts, must be regarded as an exaltation of the race above its
common human needs--as a manifestation of fervid, highly-pitched
emotional enthusiasm.

It does not follow from the facts which I have just discussed that,
either at Athens or at Sparta, women were excluded from an important
position in the home, or that the family in Greece was not the sphere of
female influence more active than the extant fragments of Greek
literature reveal to us. The women of Sophocles and Euripides, and the
noble ladies described by Plutarch, warn us to be cautious in our
conclusions on this topic. The fact, however, remains that in Greece, as
in mediæval Europe, the home was not regarded as the proper sphere for
enthusiastic passion: both paiderastia and chivalry ignored the family,
while the latter even set the matrimonial tie at nought. It is therefore
precisely at this point of the family, regarded as a comparatively
undeveloped factor in the higher spiritual life of Greeks, that the two
problems of paiderastia and the position of women in Greece intersect.

In reviewing the external circumstances which favoured paiderastia, it
may be added, as a minor cause, that the leisure in which the Greeks
lived, supported by a crowd of slaves, and attending chiefly to their
physical and mental culture, rendered them peculiarly liable to
pre-occupations of passion and pleasure-seeking. In the early periods,
when war was incessant, this abundance of spare time bore less corrupt
fruit than during the stagnation into which the Greeks, enslaved by
Macedonia and Rome, declined.

So far, I have been occupied in the present section with the specific
conditions of Greek society which may be regarded as determining the
growth of paiderastia. With respect to the general habit of mind which
caused the Greeks, in contradistinction to the Jews and Christians, to
tolerate this form of feeling, it will be enough here to remark that
Paganism could have nothing logically to say against it. The further
consideration of this matter I shall reserve for the next division of my
essay, contenting myself for the moment with the observation that Greek
religion and the instincts of the Greek race offered no direct obstacle
to the expansion of a habit which was strongly encouraged by the
circumstances I have just enumerated.


Upon a topic of great difficulty, which is, however, inseparable from
the subject-matter of this inquiry, I shall not attempt to do more than
to offer a few suggestions. This is the relation of paiderastia to Greek
art. Whoever may have made a study of antique sculpture will not have
failed to recognise its healthy human tone, its ethical rightness. There
is no partiality for the beauty of the male sex, no endeavour to reserve
for the masculine deities the nobler attributes of man's intellectual
and moral nature, no extravagant attempt to refine upon masculine
qualities by the blending of feminine voluptuousness. Aphrodite and
Artemis hold their place beside Erôs and Hermes. Ares is less
distinguished by the genius lavished on him than Athene. Hera takes rank
with Zeus, the Nymphs with the Fauns, the Muses with Apollo. Nor are
even the minor statues, which belong to decorative rather than high art,
noticeable for the attribution of sensual beauties to the form of boys.
This, which is certainly true of the best age, is, with rare exceptions,
true of all the ages of Greek plastic art. No prurient effeminacy
degraded, deformed, or unduly confounded, the types of sex idealised in

The first reflection which must occur to even prejudiced observers, is
that paiderastia did not corrupt the Greek imagination to any serious
extent. The license of Paganism found appropriate expression in female
forms, but hardly touched the male; nor would it, I think, be possible
to demonstrate that obscene works of painting or of sculpture were
provided for paiderastic sensualists similar to those pornographic
objects which fill the reserved cabinet of the Neapolitan Museum. Thus,
the testimony of Greek art might be used to confirm the asseveration of
Greek literature, that among free men, at least, and gentle, this
passion tended even to purify feelings which, in their lust for women,
verged on profligacy. For one androgynous statue of Hermaphroditus or
Dionysus there are at least a score of luxurious Aphrodites and
voluptuous Bacchantes. Erôs himself, unless he is portrayed according to
the Roman type of Cupid, as a mischievous urchin, is a youth whose
modesty is no less noticeable than his beauty. His features are not
unfrequently shadowed with melancholy, as appears in the so-called
Genius of the Vatican, and in many statues which might pass for genii of
silence or of sleep as well as love. It would be difficult to adduce a
single wanton Erôs, a single image of this god provocative of sensual
desires. There is not one before which we could say--The sculptor of
that statue had sold his soul to paiderastic lust. Yet Erôs, it may be
remembered, was the special patron of paiderastia.

Greek art, like Greek mythology, embodied a finely graduated
half-unconscious analysis of human nature. The mystery of procreation
was indicated by phalli on the Hermæ. Unbridled appetite found
incarnation in Priapus, who, moreover, was never a Greek god, but a
Lampsacene adopted from the Asian coast by the Romans. The natural
desires were symbolised in Aphrodite Praxis, Kallipugos, or Pandemos.
The higher sexual enthusiasm assumed celestial form in Aphrodite
Ouranios. Love itself appeared personified in the graceful Erôs of
Praxiteles; and how sublimely Pheidias presented this god to the eyes of
his worshippers can now only be guessed at from a mutilated fragment
among the Elgin marbles. The wild and native instincts, wandering,
untutored and untamed, which still connect man with the life of woods
and beasts and April hours, received half-human shape in Pan and
Silenus, the Satyrs and the Fauns. In this department of semi-bestial
instincts we find one solitary instance bearing upon paiderastia. The
group of a Satyr tempting a youth at Naples stands alone among numerous
similar compositions which have female or hermaphroditic figures, and
which symbolise the violent and comprehensive lust of brutal appetite.
Further distinctions between the several degrees of love were drawn by
the Greek artists. Himeros, the desire that strikes the spirit through
the eyes, and Pothos, the longing of souls in separation from the object
of their passion, were carved together with Erôs by Scopas for
Aphrodite's temple at Megara. Throughout the whole of this series there
is no form set aside for paiderastia, as might have been expected if the
fancy of the Greeks had idealised a sensual Asiatic passion. Statues of
Ganymede carried to heaven by the eagle are, indeed, common enough in
Græco-Roman plastic art; yet, even here, there is nothing which
indicates the preference for a specifically voluptuous type of male

It should be noticed that the mythology of the Greeks was determined
before paiderastia laid hold upon the race. Homer and Hesiod, says
Herodotus, made the Hellenic theogony, and Homer and Hesiod knew only of
the passions and emotions which are common to all healthy semi-civilised
humanity. The artists, therefore, found in myths and poems
subject-matter which imperatively demanded a no less careful study of
the female than of the male form; nor were beautiful women wanting.
Great cities placed their maidens at the disposition of sculptors and
painters for the modelling of Aphrodite. The girls of Sparta in their
dances suggested groups of Artemis and Oreads. The Hetairai of Corinth
presented every detail of feminine perfection freely to the gaze. Eyes
accustomed to the "dazzling vision" of a naked athlete were no less
sensitive to the virginal veiled grace of the Athenian Canephoroi. The
temples of the female deities had their staffs of priestesses, and the
oracles their inspired prophetesses. Remembering these facts,
remembering also what we read about Æolian ladies who gained fame by
poetry, there is every reason to understand how sculptors found it easy
to idealise the female form. Nor need we imagine, because Greek
literature abounds in references to paiderastia, and because this
passion played an important part in Greek history, that therefore the
majority of the race were not susceptible in a far higher degree to
female charms. On the contrary, our best authorities speak of boy-love
as a characteristic which distinguished warriors, gymnasts, poets, and
philosophers from the common multitude. As far as regards artists, the
anecdotes which are preserved about them turn chiefly upon their
preference for women. For one tale concerning the Pantarkes of Pheidias,
we have a score relating to the Campaspe of Apelles and the Phryne of

It may be judged superfluous to have proved that the female form was
idealised in sculpture by the Hellenes at least as nobly as the male;
nor need we seek elaborate reasons why paiderastia left no perceptible
stain upon the art of a race distinguished before all things by the
reserve of good taste. At the same time, there can be no reasonable
doubt that the artistic temperament of the Greeks had something to do
with its wide diffusion and many sided development. Sensitive to every
form of loveliness, and unrestrained by moral or religious prohibition,
they could not fail to be enthusiastic for that corporeal beauty, unlike
all other beauties of the human form, which marks male adolescence no
less triumphantly than does the male soprano voice upon the point of
breaking. The power of this corporeal loveliness to sway their
imagination by its unique æthetic charm is abundantly illustrated in the
passages which I have quoted above from the _Charmides_ of Plato and
Xenophon's _Symposium_. An expressive Greek phrase, "Youths in their
prime of adolescence, but not distinguished by a special beauty,"
recognises the persuasive influence, separate from that of true beauty,
which belongs to a certain period of masculine growth. The very
evanescence of this "bloom of youth" made it in Greek eyes desirable,
since nothing more clearly characterises the poetic myths which
adumbrate their special sensibility than the pathos of a blossom that
must fade. When distinction of feature and symmetry of form were added
to this charm of youthfulness, the Greeks admitted, as true artists are
obliged to do, that the male body displays harmonies of proportion and
melodies of outline more comprehensive, more indicative of strength
expressed in terms of grace, than that of women.[184] I guard myself
against saying--more seductive to the senses, more soft, more delicate,
more undulating. The superiority of male beauty does not consist in
these attractions, but in the symmetrical development of all the
qualities of the human frame, the complete organisation of the body as
the supreme instrument of vital energy. In the bloom of adolescence the
elements of feminine grace, suggested rather than expressed, are
combined with virility to produce a perfection which is lacking to the
mature and adult excellence of either sex. The Greek lover, if I am
right in the idea which I have formed of him, sought less to stimulate
desire by the contemplation of sensual charms than to attune his spirit
with the spectacle of strength at rest in suavity. He admired the
chastened lines, the figure slight but sinewy, the limbs well-knit and
flexible, the small head set upon broad shoulders, the keen eyes, the
austere reins, and the elastic movement of a youth made vigorous by
exercise. Physical perfection of this kind suggested to his fancy all
that he loved best in moral qualities. Hardihood, self-discipline,
alertness of intelligence, health, temperance, indomitable spirit,
energy, the joy of active life, plain living and high thinking--these
qualities the Greeks idealised, and of these, "the lightning vision of
the darling," was the living incarnation. There is plenty in their
literature to show that paiderastia obtained sanction from the belief
that a soul of this sort would be found within the body of a young man
rather than a woman. I need scarcely add that none but a race of artists
could be lovers of this sort, just as none but a race of poets were
adequate to apprehend the chivalrous enthusiasm for woman as an object
of worship.

The morality of the Greeks, as I have tried elsewhere to prove, was
æsthetic. They regarded humanity as a part of a good and beautiful
universe, nor did they shrink from any of their normal instincts. To
find the law of human energy, the measure of man's natural desires, the
right moment for indulgence and for self-restraint, the balance which
results in health, the proper limit for each several function which
secures the harmony of all, seem to them the aim of ethics. Their
personal code of conduct ended in "modest self-restraint:" not
abstention, but selection and subordination ruled their practice. They
were satisfied with controlling much that more ascetic natures
unconditionally suppress. Consequently, to the Greeks, there was nothing
at first sight criminal in paiderastia. To forbid it as a hateful and
unclean thing did not occur to them. Finding it within their hearts,
they chose to regulate it, rather than to root it out. It was only after
the inconveniences and scandals to which paiderastia gave rise had been
forced upon their notice, that they felt the visitings of conscience and
wavered in their fearless attitude.

In like manner, the religion of the Greeks was æsthetic. They analysed
the world of objects and the soul of man, unconsciously perhaps, but
effectively, and called their generalisations by the names of gods and
goddesses. That these were beautiful and filled with human energy was
enough to arouse in them the sentiments of worship. The notion of a
single Deity who ruled the human race by punishment and favour, hating
certain acts while he tolerated others--in other words, a God who
idealised one part of man's nature to the exclusion of the rest--had
never passed into the sphere of Greek conceptions. When, therefore,
paiderastia became a fact of their consciousness, they reasoned thus: If
man loves boys, God loves boys also. Homer and Hesiod forgot to tell us
about Ganymede and Hyacinth and Hylas. Let these lads be added to the
list of Danaë and Semele and Io. Homer told us that, because Ganymede
was beautiful, Zeus made him the serving-boy of the immortals. We
understand the meaning of that tale. Zeus loved him. The reason why he
did not leave him here on earth like Danaë was that he could not beget
sons upon his body and people the earth with heroes. Do not our wives
stay at home and breed our children? "Our favourite youths" are always
at our side.


Sexual inversion among Greek women offers more difficulties than we met
with in the study of paiderastia. This is due, not to the absence of the
phenomenon, but to the fact that feminine homosexual passions were never
worked into the social system, never became educational and military
agents. The Greeks accepted the fact that certain females are
congenitally indifferent to the male sex, and appetitive of their own
sex. This appears from the myth of Aristophanes in Plato's _Symposium_,
which expresses in comic form their theory of sexual differentiation.
There were originally human beings of three sexes: men, the offspring of
the sun; women, the offspring of the earth; hermaphrodites, the
offspring of the moon. They were round with two faces, four hands, four
feet, and two sets of reproductive organs apiece. In the case of the
third (hermaphroditic or lunar) sex, one set of reproductive organs was
male, the other female. Zeus, on account of the insolence and vigour of
these primitive human creatures, sliced them into halves. Since that
time, the halves of each sort have always striven to unite with their
corresponding halves, and have found some satisfaction in carnal
congress--males with males, females with females, and (in the case of
the lunar or hermaphroditic creatures) males and females with one
another. Philosophically, then, the homosexual passion of female for
female, and of male for male, was placed upon exactly the same footing
as the heterosexual passion of each sex for its opposite. Greek logic
admitted the homosexual female to equal rights with the homosexual male,
and both to the same natural freedom as heterosexual individuals of
either species.

Although this was the position assumed by philosophers, Lesbian passion,
as the Greeks called it, never obtained the same social sanction as
boy-love. It is significant that Greek mythology offers no legends of
the goddesses parallel to those which consecrated paiderastia among the
male deities. Again, we have no recorded example, so far as I can
remember, of noble friendships between women rising into political and
historical prominence. There are no female analogies to Harmodius and
Aristogeiton, Cratinus and Aristodemus. It is true that Sappho and the
Lesbian poetesses gave this female passion an eminent place in Greek
literature. But the Æolian women did not found a glorious tradition
corresponding to that of the Dorian men. If homosexual love between
females assumed the form of an institution at one moment in Æolia, this
failed to strike roots deep into the subsoil of the nation. Later
Greeks, while tolerating, regarded it rather as an eccentricity of
nature, or a vice, than as an honourable and socially useful emotion.
The condition of women in ancient Hellas sufficiently accounts for the
result. There was no opportunity in the harem or the zenana of raising
homosexual passion to the same moral and spiritual efficiency as it
obtained in the camp, the palæstra, and the schools of the philosophers.
Consequently, while the Greeks utilised and ennobled boy-love, they left
Lesbian love to follow the same course of degeneracy as it pursues in
modern times.

In order to see how similar the type of Lesbian love in ancient Greece
was to the form which it assumed in modern Europe, we have only to
compare Lucian's Dialogues with Parisian tales by Catulle Mendès or Guy
de Maupassant. The woman who seduces the girl she loves, is, in the
girl's phrase, "over-masculine," "androgynous." The Megilla of Lucian
insists upon being called Megillos. The girl is a weaker vessel, pliant,
submissive to the virago's sexual energy, selected from the class of
meretricious _ingénues_.

There is an important passage in the _Amores_ of Lucian which proves
that the Greeks felt an abhorrence of sexual inversion among women
similar to that which moderns feel for its manifestation among men.
Charicles, who supports, the cause of normal heterosexual passion,
argues after this wise:

     "If you concede homosexual love to males, you must in justice grant
     the same to females; you will have to sanction carnal intercourse
     between them; monstrous instruments of lust will have to be
     permitted, in order that their sexual congress may be carried out;
     that obscene vocable, tribad, which so rarely offends our ears--I
     blush to utter it--will become rampant, and Philænis will spread
     androgynous orgies throughout our harems."

What these monstrous instruments of lust were may be gathered from the
sixth mime of Herodas, where one of them is described in detail.
Philænis may, perhaps, be the poetess of an obscene book on sensual
refinements, to which Athanæus alludes (_Deipnosophistæ_, viii, 335). It
is also possible that Philænis had become the common designation of a
Lesbian lover, a tribad. In the latter periods of Greek literature, as I
have elsewhere shown, certain fixed masks of Attic comedy (corresponding
to the masks of the Italian _Commedia dell' Arte_) created types of
character under conventional names--so that, for example, Cerdo became a
cobbler, Myrtalë a common whore, and possibly Philænis a Lesbian invert.

The upshot of this parenthetical investigation is to demonstrate that,
while the love of males for males in Greece obtained moralisation, and
reached the high position of a recognised social function, the love of
female for female remained undeveloped and unhonoured, on the same level
as both forms of homosexual passion in the modern European world are.


Greece merged into Rome; but, though the Romans aped the arts and
manners of the Greeks, they never truly caught the Hellenic spirit. Even
Virgil only trod the court of the Gentiles of Greek culture. It was not,
therefore, possible that any social custom so peculiar as paiderastia
should flourish on Latin soil. Instead of Cleomenes and Epameinondas, we
find at Rome, Nero, the bride of Sporus, and Commodus the public
prostitute. Alcibiades is replaced by the Mark Antony of Cicero's
_Philippic_. Corydon, with artificial notes, takes up the song of
Ageanax. The melodies of Meleager are drowned in the harsh discords of
Martial. Instead of love, lust was the deity of the boy-lover on the
shores of Tiber.

In the first century of the Roman Empire, Christianity began its work of
reformation. When we estimate the effect of Christianity, we must bear
in mind that the early Christians found Paganism disorganised and
humanity rushing to a precipice of ruin. Their first efforts were
directed toward checking the sensuality of Corinth, Athens, Rome, the
capitals of Syria and Egypt. Christian asceticism, in the corruption of
the Pagan systems, led logically to the cloister and the hermitage. The
component elements of society had been disintegrated by the Greeks in
their decadence, and by the Romans in their insolence of material
prosperity. To the impassioned followers of Christ, nothing was left but
separation from nature, which had become incurable in its monstrosity of
vices. But the convent was a virtual abandonment of social problems.

From this policy of despair, this helplessness to cope with evil, and
this hopelessness of good on earth, emerged a new and nobler synthesis,
the merit of which belongs in no small measure to the Teutonic converts
to the Christian faith. The Middle Ages proclaimed, through chivalry,
the truth, then for the first time fully apprehended, that woman is the
mediating and ennobling element in human life. Not in escape into the
cloister, not in the self-abandonment to vice, but in the fellow-service
of free men and women must be found the solution of social problems. The
mythology of Mary gave religious sanction to the chivalrous enthusiasm;
and a cult of woman sprang into being, to which, although it was
romantic and visionary, we owe the spiritual basis of our domestic and
civil life. The _modus vivendi_ of the modern world was found.



[1] Compare the fine rhetorical passage in Max. Tyr., _Dissert._, xxiv.
8, ed. Didot, 1842.

[2] i. 135.

[3] Numerous localities, however, claimed this distinction. See Ath.,
xiii. 601. Chalkis in Eubœa, as well as Crete, could show the sacred
spot where the mystical assumption of Ganymede was reported to have

[4] _Laws_, i. 636. Cp. _Timæus_, quoted by Ath., p. 602. Servius, _ad
Aen._ x, 325, says that boy-love spread from Crete to Sparta, and thence
through Hellas, and Strabo mentions its prevalence among the Cretans (x.
483). Plato (Rep. v. 452) speaks of the Cretans as introducing naked
athletic sports.

[5] _Laws_, viii. 863.

[6] See Ath., xiii. 602. Plutarch, in the Life of Pelopidas (Clough,
vol. ii. p. 219), argues against this view.

[7] See Rosenbaum, _Lustseuche im Alterthume_, p. 118.

[8] Max. Tyr., _Dissert._, ix.

[9] See Sismondi, vol. ii. p. 324, Symonds, _Renaissance in Italy_, _Age
of the Despots_, p. 435; Tardieu, _Attentats aux Mœurs_, _Les Ordures de
Paris_; Sir R. Burton's _Terminal Essay_ to the "Arabian Nights;"
Carlier, _Les Deux Prostitutions_, etc.

[10] I say almost, because something of the same sort appeared in Persia
at the time of Saadi.

[11] Plato, in the _Phædrus_, the _Symposium_, and the _Laws_, is
decisive on the mixed nature of paiderastia.

[12] Theocr., _Paidika_, probably an Æolic poem of much older date.

[13] _Phædrus_, p. 252, Jowett's translation.

[14] Page 178, Jowett.

[15] Clough, vol. ii. p. 218.

[16] Book vii. 4, 7.

[17] We may compare a passage from the _Symposium_ ascribed to Xenophon,
viii. 32.

[18] Page 182, Jowett.

[19] Plutarch, _Eroticus_, cap. xvii. p. 791, 40, Reiske.

[20] Lang's translation, p. 63.

[21] See Athenæus, xiii. 602, for the details.

[22] See Athenæus, xiii. 602, who reports an oracle in praise of these

[23] Ar., _Pol._, ii. 9.

[24] See Theocr. _Aïtes_ and the _Scholia_.

[25] See Plutarch's _Eroticus_, 760, 42, where the story is reported on
the faith of Aristotle.

[26] _Pelopidas_, Clough's trans., vol. ii. 218.

[27] Cap. xvi. p. 760, 21.

[28] Cap. xxiii. p. 768, 53. Compare Max. Tyr., _Dissert._, xxiv. 1. See
too the chapter on Tyrannicide in Ar. Pol., viii. (v.) 10.

[29] Clough's trans., vol. v. p. 118.

[30] _Hellenics_, bk. ix. cap. xxvi.

[31] Suidas, under the heading _Paidika_, tells of two lovers who both
died in battle, fighting each to save the other.

[32] See, for example, _Æschines against Timarchus_, 59.

[33] Trans. by Sir G. C. Lewis, vol. ii. pp. 309-313.

[34] _Symp._ 182 A.

[35] i. 132.

[36] _De Rep._, iv. 4.

[37] I need hardly point out the parallel between this custom and the
marriage customs of half-civilised communities.

[38] The general opinion of the Greeks with regard to the best type of
Dorian love is well expressed by Maximus Tyrius, _Dissert._, xxvi. 8.
"It is esteemed a disgrace to a Cretan youth to have no lover. It is a
disgrace for a Cretan youth to tamper with the boy he loves. O custom,
beautifully blent of self-restraint and passion! The man of Sparta loves
the lad of Lacedæmon, but loves him only as one loves a fair statue; and
many love one, and one loves many."

[39] _Laws_, i. 636.

[40] _Pol._, ii. 7, 4.

[41] Lib. 13,602, E.

[42] It is not unimportant to note in this connection that paiderastia
of no ignoble type still prevails among the Albanian mountaineers.

[43] The foregoing attempt to reconstruct a possible environment for the
Dorian form of paiderastia is, of course, wholly imaginative. Yet it
receives certain support from what we know about the manners of the
Albanian mountaineers and the nomadic Tartar tribes. Aristotle remarks
upon the paiderastic customs of the Kelts, who in his times were

[44] See above, Section V.

[45] It appears from the reports of travellers that this form of passion
is not common among those African tribes who have not been corrupted by
Musselmans or Europeans.

[46] It may be plausibly argued that Æschylus drew the subject of his
_Myrmidones_ from some such non-Homeric epic. See below, Section XII.

[47] 182 A. Cp. _Laws_, i. 636.

[48] _Eroticus_, xvii. p. 761, 34.

[49] See Plutarch, _Pelopidas_, Clough, vol. ii. p. 219.

[50] Clough, as quoted above, p. 219.

[51] The connection of the royal family of Macedon by descent with the
Æacidæ, and the early settlement of the Dorians in Macedonia, are

[52] Cf. Athenæus, x. 435.

[53] Hadrian in Rome, at a later period, revived the Greek tradition
with even more of caricature. His military ardour, patronage of art, and
love for Antinous seem to hang together.

[54] _Dissert._, xxvi. 8.

[55] See Athen., xiii., 609, F. The prize was armour and the wreath of

[56] _Symp._ 182, B. In the _Laws_, however, he mentions the Barbarians
as corrupting Greek morality in this respect. We have here a further
proof that it was the noble type of love which the Barbarians
discouraged. For _Malakia_ they had no dislike.

[57] Bergk., _Poetæ Lyrica Græci_, vol. ii. p. 490, line 87 of Theognis.

[58] _Ibid._, line 1,353.

[59] _Ibid._, line 1,369.

[60] _Ibid._, lines 1,259-1,270.

[61] _Ibid._, line 1,267.

[62] _Ibid._, lines 237-254. Translated by me in _Vagabunduli Libellus_,
p. 167.

[63] Bergk., _Poetæ Lyrici Græci_, vol. ii. line 1,239.

[64] _Ibid._, line 1,304.

[65] _Ibid._, line 1,327.

[66] _Ibid._, line 1,253.

[67] _Ibid._, line 1,335.

[68] _Eroticus_, cap. v. p. 751, 21. See Bergk., vol. ii. p. 430.

[69] See Cic., _Tusc._, iv. 33

[70] Bergk., vol. iii. p. 1,013.

[71] _Ibid._, p. 1,045.

[72] _Ibid._, pp. 1,109, 1,023; fr. 24, 26.

[73] _Ibid._, p. 1,023; fr. 48.

[74] Maximus Tyrius, _Dissert._, xxvi., says that Smerdies was a
Thracian, given, for his great beauty, by his Greek captors to

[75] See what Agathon says in the _Thesmophoriazuse_ of Aristophanes.

[76] xv. 695.

[77] Bergk., vol. iii. p. 1,293.

[78] _Ibid._, vol. i. p. 327.

[79] Athen., xiii. 601 A.

[80] See the fragments of the _Myrmidones_ in the _Poetæ Scenici Græci_,
My interpretation of them is, of course, conjectural.

[81] Lucian, _Amores_; Plutarch, _Eroticus_; Athenæus, xiii. 602 E.

[82] Possibly Æschylus drew his fable from a non-Homeric source, but if
so, it is curious that Plato should only refer to Homer.

[83] _Symph._, 180 A. Xenophon, _Symph._, 8, 31, points out that in
Homer Achilles avenged the death of Patroclus, not as his lover, but as
his comrade in arms.

[84] Cf. Eurid., _Hippol._, l. 525; Plato, _Phœdr._, p. 255; Max. Tyr.,
_Dissert._, xxv. 2.

[85] See _Poetæ Scenici_, _Fragments of Sophocles_.

[86] _Eroticus_; p. 790 E.

[87] Ath., p. 602 E.

[88] _Tusc._, iv. 33.

[89] See Athenæus, xiii. pp. 604, 605, for two very outspoken stories
about Sophocles at Chios and apparently at Athens. In 582, e, he
mentions one of the boys beloved by Sophocles, a certain Demophon.

[90] Plato, _Parm._, 127 A.

[91] Pausanias, v. 11, and see Meier, p. 159, note 93.

[92] This, by the way, is a strong argument against the theory that the
_Iliad_ was a post-Herodotean poem. A poem in the age of Pisistratus or
Pericles would not have omitted paiderastia from his view of life, and
could not have told the myth of Ganymede as Homer tells it. It is
doubtful whether he could have preserved the pure outlines of the story
of Patroclus.

[93] Page 182, Jowett's trans. Mr. Jowett censures this speech as
sophistic and confused in view. It is precisely on this account that it
is valuable. The confusion indicates the obscure conscience of the
Athenians. The sophistry is the result of a half-acknowledged false

[94] Page 181, Jowett's trans.

[95] See the curious passages in Plato, _Symp._, p. 192; Plutarch,
_Erot._, p. 751; and Lucian, _Amores_, c. 38.

[96] Quoted by Athen, xiii. 573 B.

[97] As Lycon chaperoned Autolycus at the feast of Callias.--_Xen.
Symp._ Boys incurred immediate suspicion if they went out alone to
parties. See a fragment from the _Sappho_ of Ephippus in Athen., xiii.
p. 572 C.

[98] Line 137. The joke here is that the father in Utopia suggests, of
his own accord, what in Athens he carefully guarded against.

[99] Page 222, Jowett's trans.

[100] _Clouds_, 948 and on. I have abridged the original, doing violence
to one of the most beautiful pieces of Greek poetry.

[101] Aristophanes returns to this point below, line 1,036, where he
says that youths chatter all day in the hot baths and leave the
wrestling-grounds empty.

[102] There was a good reason for shunning each. The Agora was the
meeting-place of idle gossips, the centre of chaff and scandal. The
shops were, as we shall see, the resort of bad characters and panders.

[103] Line 1,071, _et seq._

[104] Caps. 44, 45, 46. The quotation is only an abstract of the

[105] Worn up to the age of about eighteen.

[106] Compare with the passages just quoted two epigrams from the _Mousa
Paidiké_ (Greek _Anthology_, sect. 12): No. 123, from a lover to a lad
who has conquered in a boxing-match; No. 192, where Straton says he
prefers the dust and oil of the wrestling-ground to the curls and
perfumes of a woman's room.

[107] Page 255 B.

[108] 1,025.

[109] _Charmides_, p. 153.

[110] _Lysis_, 206, This seems, however, to imply that on other
occasions they were separated.

[111] _Charmides_, p. 154, Jowett.

[112] Page 155, Jowett.

[113] Cap. i. 8.

[114] See cap. viii. 7. This is said before the boy, and in his hearing.

[115] Cap. iii. 12.

[116] Cap. iv. 10, _et seq._ The English is an abridgment.

[117] _Laws_, i. 636 C.

[118] Athen., xiii. 602 D.

[119] _Eroticus_.

[120] Line 60, ascribed to Theocritus, but not genuine.

[121] Athen., xiii. 609 D.

[122] _Mousa Paidiké_, 86.

[123] Compare the _Atys_ of Catullus: "Ego mulier, ego adolescens, ego
ephebus, ego puer, Ego gymnasi fui flos, ego eram decus olei."

[124] See the law on these points in _Æsch. adv. Timarchum_.

[125] Thus Aristophanes, quoted above.

[126] Aristoph., _Ach._, 144, and _Mousa Paidiké_, 130.

[127] See Sir William Hamilton's _Vases_.

[128] Lysias, according to Suidas, was the author of five erotic
epistles adressed to young men.

[129] See Aristoph., _Plutus_, 153-159; _Birds_, 704-707. Cp. _Mousa
Paidiké_, 44, 239, 237. The boys made extraordinary demands upon their
lovers' generosity. The curious tale told about Alcibiades points in
this direction. In Crete they did the like, but also set their lovers to
execute difficult tasks, as Eurystheus imposed the twelve labours on

[130] Page 29.

[131] _Mousa Paidiké_, 8: cp. a fragment of Crates, _Poetæ Comici_,
Didot, p. 83.

[132] _Comici Græci_, Didot, pp. 562, 31, 308.

[133] It is curious to compare the passage in the second _Philippic_
about the youth of Mark Antony with the story told by Plutarch about
Alcibiades, who left the custody of his guardians for the house of

[134] See both _Lysias against Simon_ and _Æschines against Timarchus_.

[135] _Peace_, line 11; compare the word _Pallakion_ in Plato, _Comici
Græci_, p. 261.

[136] Diog. Laert., ii. 105.

[137] Plato's _Phædo_, p. 89.

[138] _Orat. Attici_, vol. ii. p. 223.

[139] See Herodotus. Max. Tyr. tells the story (_Dissert._, xxiv, 1) in
detail. The boy's name was Actæon, wherefore he may be compared, he
says, to that other Actæon who was torn to death by his own dogs.

[140] 153.

[141] _Symp._, 217.

[142] _Phædr._, 256.

[143] Page 17. My quotations are made from Dobson's _Oratores Attici_,
vol. xii., and the references are to his pages.

[144] Page 30.

[145] Page 67.

[146] Page 67.

[147] Page 59.

[148] Page 75.

[149] Page 78.

[150] Æchines, p. 27, apologises to Misgolas, who was a man, he says, of
good breeding, for being obliged to expose his early connection with
Timarchus. Misgolas, however, is more than once mentioned by the comic
poets with contempt as a notorious rake.

[151] See _Pol._, ii. 7, 5; ii. 6, 5; ii. 9, 6.

[152] The advocates of paiderastia in Greece tried to refute the
argument from animals (_Laws_, p. 636 B; cp. _Daphnis and Chloe_, lib.
4, what Daphnis says to Gnathon) by the following considerations: Man is
not a lion or a bear. Social life among human beings is highly
artificial; forms of intimacy unknown to the natural state are therefore
to be regarded, like clothing, cooking of food, houses, machinery, &c.,
as the invention and privilege of rational beings. See Lucian, _Amores_,
33, 34, 35, 36, for a full exposition of this argument. See also _Mousa
Paidiké_, 245. The curious thing is that many animals are addicted to
all sorts of so-called unnatural vices.

[153] Maximus Tyrius, who, in the rhetorical analysis of love alluded to
before (p. 172), has closely followed Plato, insists upon the confusion
introduced by language. _Dissert._, xxiv. 3. Again, _Dissert._, xxvi. 4;
and compare _Dissert._, xxv. 4.

[154] This is the development of the argument in the _Phædrus_, where
Socrates, improvising an improvement on the speech of Lysias, compares
lovers to wolves and boys to lambs. See the passage in Max. Tyr., where
Socrates is compared to a shepherd, the Athenian lovers to butchers, and
the boys to lambs upon the mountains.

[155] This again is the development of the whole eloquent analysis of
love, as it attacks the uninitiated and unphilosophic nature, in the

[156] Jowett's trans., p. 837.

[157] _Dissert._, xxv. 1. The same author pertinently remarks that,
though the teaching of Socrates on love might well have been considered
perilous, it, formed no part of the accusations of either Anytus or
Aristophanes. _Dissert._, xxiv., 5-7

[158] This is a remark of Diotima's. Maximus Tyrius (_Dissert._, xxvi.
8) gives it a very rational interpretation. Nowhere else, he says, but
in the human form, does the light of the divine beauty shine so clear.
This is the word of classic art, the word of the humanities, to use a
phrase of the Renaissance. It finds an echo in many beautiful sonnets of

[159] See Bergk., vol. ii. pp. 616-629, for a critique of the canon of
the highly paiderastic epigrams which bear Plato's name and for their

[160] I select the _Vita Nuova_ as the most eminent example of mediæval
erotic mysticism.

[161] _Tusc._, iv. 33; _Decline and Fall_, cap. xliv. note 192.

[162] See Meier, cap. 15.

[163] Cap. 23.

[164] Cap. 54.

[165] Page 4.

[166] It is noticeable that in all ages men of learning have been
obnoxious to paiderastic passions. Dante says (_Inferno_, xv. 106):--

    "In somma sappi, che tutti fur cherci,
    E letterati grandi e di gran fama,
    D'un medesmo poccato al mondo lerci."

Compare Ariosto, _Satire_, vii.

[167] _Dissert._, xxvi. 9.

[168] I am aware that the genuineness of the essay has been questioned.

[169] _Mousa Paidiké_, i.

[170] _Ibid._, 208.

[171] _Ibid._, 258, 2.

[172] _Ibid._, 70, 65, 69, 194, 220, 221, 67, 68, 78, and others.

[173] Perhaps ten are of this sort.

[174] 8, 125, for example.

[175] 132, 256, 221.

[176] 219.

[177] 7.

[178] 17. Compare 86.

[179] Ed. Kayser, pp. 343-366.

[180] It is worth comparing the letters of Philostratus with those of
Alciphron, a contemporary of Lucian. In the latter there is no hint of
paiderastia. The life of parasites, grisettes, lorettes, and young men
about town at Athens is set forth in imitation probably of the later
comedy. Athens is shown to have been a Paris _à la Murger_.

[181] See the introduction by Marcus Aurelius to his _Meditations_.

[182] See quotations in Rosenbaum, 119-140.

[183] See Athen., xii. 517, for an account of their grotesque

[184] The following passage may be extracted from a letter of
Winckelmann (see Pater's _Studies in the History of the Renaissance_, p.
162): "As it is confessedly the beauty of man which is to be conceived
under one general idea, so I have noticed that those who are observant
of beauty only in women, and are moved little or not at all by the
beauty of men, seldom have an impartial, vital, inborn instinct for
beauty in art. To such persons the beauty of Greek art will ever seem
wanting, because its supreme beauty is rather male than female." To this
I think we ought to add that, while it is true that "the supreme beauty
of Greek art is rather male than female," this is due not so much to any
passion of the Greeks for male beauty as to the fact that the male body
exhibits a higher organisation of the human form than the female.

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