Athene smilingly replied: ‘Sprung as I am from Zeus, I have never felt the arrows of Cupid, and of love charms I know nothing.’Apollonius' Argonautica III
Sts. Sergius and Bacchus
(martyred ca. 303)
Sts. Sergius and Bacchus are ancient Christian martyrs who were tortured to death in Syria because they refused to attend sacrifices in honor of Jupiter. Recent attention to early Greek manuscripts has also revealed that they were openly gay men and that they were erastai, or lovers. These manuscripts are found in various libraries in Europe and indicate an earlier Christian attitude toward homosexuality.
After their arrest, the two saints were paraded through city streets in women’s clothing, treatment that was meant to humiliate them as officers in the Roman army. They were then separated and each was tortured. Bacchus died first and appeared that night to Sergius, who was beginning to lose heart. According to the early manuscripts, Bacchus told Sergius to preserve, that the delights of heaven were greeter than any suffering, and that part of their reward would be to be re-united in heaven as lovers.
The feast of these saints is October 7. The inscription at the bottom of the icon is their names in Arabic. The saints are particularly popular throughout the Mediterranean lands, in Latin America, and among the Slavs. For nearly a thousand years they were the official patrons of the Byzantine armies, and Arab nomads continue to revere them as their special patron saints.
Never, never again shall I return from HadesPatroclus, the Iliad (Fagles)
once you have given me the soothing rites of fire.
Never again will you and I, alive and breathing,
huddle side-by-side, apart from loyal comrades,
making plans together—never.
Gallias Caesar subegit, Nicomedes Caesarem: ecce Caesar nunc triumphat qui subegit Gallias, Nicomedes non triumphat qui subegit Caesarem.
Suetonius, Iul 49. Chanted by Caesar’s soldiers at his triumphal procession as they marched behind his chariot
Caesar conquered Gaul, Nicomedes conquered Caesar: behold, Caesar now is in triumph, who conquered Gaul, but Nicomedes is not in triumph, who conquered Caesar.
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 lie on a mat at the door, and endure a slavery worse than that of any slave-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…Plato’s Symposium
Etruscan black-figure vase, 4th Century BCE (?)
They have a peculiar custom in regard to love affairs, for they win the objects of their love, not by persuasion, but by abduction; the lover tells the friends of the boy three or four days beforehand that he is going to make the abduction; but for the friends to conceal the boy, or not to let him go forth by the appointed road, is indeed a most disgraceful thing, a confession, as it were, that the boy is unworthy to obtain such a lover; and when they meet, if the abductor is the boy’s equal or superior in rank or other respects, the friends pursue him and lay hold of him, though only in a very gentle way, thus satisfying the custom; and after that they cheerfully turn the boy over to him to lead away; if, however, the abductor is unworthy, they take the boy away from him.Strabo (10.4.21) on Cretan pederastic customs