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Edward Carpenter:



The full text of IOLÄUS is available.

Page numeration is indicated by [square brackets]

[Introduction: Edward Carpenter's Ioläus is an attempt to provide a historical context for male friendship. One should not be misled, however. Carpenter, one of the earliest English homosexual activists, is writing about homosexual relationships and trying to provide a historical grounding for them. As such his work is of interest not only for its references, but also as evidence of the strategies of the early gay movement .]



WITH regard to Greece, J. Addington Symonds has some interesting remarks, which are well worthy of consideration; he says:

" Nearly all the historians of Greece have failed to insist upon the fact that fraternity in arms played for the Greek race the same part as the idealization of women for the knighthood of feudal Europe. Greek mythology and history are full of tales of friendship, which can only be paralleled by the story of David and Jonathan in the Bible. The legends of Herakles and Hylas, of Theseus and Peirithous, of Apollo and Hyacinth, [14]of Orestes and Pylades, occur immediately to the mind. Among the noblest patriots, tyrannicides, lawgivers, and self-devoted heroes in the early times of Greece, we always find the names of friends and comrades received with peculiar honor Harmodius and Aristogeiton, who slew the despot Hipparchus at Athens; Diocles and Philolaus, who gave laws to Thebes; Chariton and Melanippus, who resisted the sway of Phalaris in Sicily; Cratinus and Aristodemus, who devoted their lives to propitiate offended deities when a plague had fallen on Athens; these comrades, staunch to each other in their love, and elevated by friendship to the pitch of noblest enthusiasm, were among the favorite saints of Greek legend and history. In a word, the chivalry of Hellas found its motive force in friendship rather than in the love of women; and the motive force of all chivalry is a generous, soul-exalting, unselfish passion. The fruit which friendship bore among the Greeks was courage in the face of danger, indifference to life when honor was at stake, patriotic ardor, the love of liberty, and lion-hearted rivalry in battle. Tyrants,' said Plato, ' stand in awe of friends."'
Studies of the Greek Poets. By J. S. Symonds, Vol. I, p. 97.

[15] THE customs connected with this fraternity in arms, in Sparta and in Crete, are described with care and at considerable length in the following extract from Muller's History and Antiquities of the Doric Race, book iv., ch. 4, par. 6:

" At Sparta the party loving was called eispnelas and his affection was termed a breathing in, or inspiring (eispnein); which expresses the pure and mental connection between the two persons, and corresponds with the name of the other, viz.: aitas i.e., listener or hearer. Now it appears to have been the practice for every youth of good character to have his lover; and on the other hand every well-educated man was bound by custom to be the lover of some youth. Instances of this connection are furnished by several of the royal family of Sparta; thus, Agesilaus, while he still belonged to the herd (agele) of youths, was the hearer (aitas) of Lysander, and himself had in his turn also a hearer; his son Archidamus was the lover of the son of Sphodrias, the noble Cleonymus; Cleomenes III was when a young man the hearer of Xenares, and later in life the lover of the brave Panteus. The connection usually originated from the proposal of the lover; yet it was necessary that the listener should accept him with real affection, as a regard to the riches of the proposer was consid ered very disgraceful; sometimes, however, it [16] happened that the proposal originated from the other party. The connection appears to have been very intimate and faithful; and was recognized by the State. If his relations were absent. the youth might be represented in the public assembly by his lover; in battle too they stood near one another, where their fidelity and affection were often shown till death; while at home the youth was constantly under the eyes of his lover, who was to him as it were a model and pattern of life; which explains why, for many faults, particularly want of ambition, the lover could be punished instead of the listener."
"This ancient national custom prevailed with still greater force in Crete; which island was hence by many persons considered as the original seat of the connection in question. Here too it was disgraceful for a well-educated youth to be without a lover; and hence the party loved was termed Kleinos, the praised; the lover being simply called philotor. It appears that the youth was always carried away by force, the intention of the ravisher being previously communicated to the relations, who, however, took no measures of precaution and only made a feigned resistance; except when the ravisher appeared, either in family or talent, unworthy of the youth. The lover then led him away to his apartment (andreion), and afterwards, with any chance companions, either to the mountains or to his estate. Here they remained two months (the period prescribed by custom), which [17] were passed chiefiy in hunting together. After this time had expired, the lover dismissed the youth, and at his departure gave him, according to custom, an ox, a military dress, and brazen cup, with other things; and frequently these gifts were increased by the friends of the ravisher. The youth then sacrificed the ox to Jupiter, with which he gave a feast to his companions: and now he stated how he had been pleased with his lover; and he had complete liberty by law to punish any insult or disgraceful treatment. It depended now on the choice of the youth whether the connection should be broken off or not. If it was kept up, the companion in arms (parastates), as the youth was then called, wore the military dress which had been given him, and fought in battle next his lover, inspired with double valor by the gods of war and love, according to the notions of the Cretans; and even in man's age he was distinguished by the first place and rank in the course, and certain insignia worn about the body.
" Institutions, so systematic and regular as these, did not exist in any Doric State except Crete and Sparta; but the feelings on which they were founded seem to have been common to all the Dorians. The loves of Philolaus, a Corinthian of the family of the Bacchiadae, and the lawgiver of Thebes, and of Diocles the Olympic conqueror, lasted until death; and even their graves were turned towards one another in token of their affection; and another person of the same name was [18] honored in Megara, as a noble instance of self-devotion for the object of his love."

For an account of Philolaus and Diocles, Aristotle (Pol. ii. 9) may be referred to. The second Diocles was an Athenian who died in battle for the youth he loved.

" His tomb was honored with the enagismata of heroes, and a yearly contest for skill in kissing formed part of his memorial celebration."
J. A Symonds" A Problem in Greek Ethies, privately printed, 1883; see also Theocritus, Idyll xii. infra.

HAHN, in his Albanesische Studien, says that the Dorian customs of comradeship still flourish in Albania " just as described by the ancients," and are closely entwined with the whole life of the people-though he says nothing of any military signification. It appears to be a quite recognized institution for a young man to take to himself a youth or boy as his special comrade. He instructs, and when necessary reproves, the younger; protects him, and makes him presents of various kinds. The relation generally, though not always ends with the marriage of the elder. The following is reported by Hahn as in the actual words of his informant (an Albanian):

[19] "Love of this kind is occasioned by the sight of a beautiful youth; who thus kindles in the lover a feeling of wonder and causes his heart to open to the sweet sense which springs from the contemplation of beauty. By degrees love steals in and takes possession of the lover, and to such a degree that all his thoughts and feelings are absorbed in it. When near the beloved he loses himself in the sight of him; when absent he thinks of him only." These loves, he continued, " are with a few exceptions as pure as sunshine, and the highest and noblest affections that the human heart can entertain."
Hahn, vol. I, p. 166.

Hahn also mentions that troops of youths, like the Cretan and Spartan agelae, are formed in Albania, of twenty-five or thirty members each. The comradeship usually begins during adolescence, each member paying a fixed sum into a common fund, and the interest being spent on two or three annual feasts, generally held out of doors.

THE Sacred Band of Thebes, or Theban Band, was a battalion composed entirely of friends and lovers; and forms a remarkable example of military comradeship. The references to it in later Greek literature are very numerous, and there seems no reason to doubt the general truth of the traditions concerning its formation and its [20]complete annihilation by Philip of Macedon at the battle of Chaeronea (B.C. 338). Thebes was the last stronghold of Hellenic independence, and with the Theban Band Greek freedom perished. But the mere existence of this phalanx, and the fact of its renown, show to what an extent comradeship was recognized and prized as an institution among these peoples. The following account is taken from Plutarch's Life of Pelopidas, Clough's translation:

" Gorgidas, according to some, first formed the Sacred Band of 300 chosen men, to whom as being a guard for the citadel the State allowed provision, and all things necessary for exercise; and hence they were called the city band, as citadels of old were usually called cities. Others say that it was composed of young men attached to each other by personal affection, and a pleasant saying of Pammenes is current, that Homer's Nestor was not well skilled in ordering an army, when he advised the Greeks to rank tribe and tribe, and family and family, together, that so 'tribe might tribe, and kinsmen kinsmen aid,' but that he should have joined lovers and their beloved. For men of the same tribe or family little value one another when dangers press; but a band cemented together by friendship grounded upon love is never to be broken, and invincible: since [21] the lovers, ashamed to be base in sight of their beloved, and the beloved before their lovers, willingly rush into danger for the relief of one another. Nor can that be wondered at since they have more regard for their absent lovers than for others present; as in the instance of the 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. It is a tradition likewise that Ioläus, who assisted Hercules in his labors and fought at his side, was beloved of him; and Aristotle observes that even in his time lovers plighted their faith at Ioläus' tomb. It is likely, therefore, that this band was called sacred on this account; as Plato calls a lover a divine friend. It is stated that it was never beaten till the battle at Chaeronea; and when Philip after the fight took a view of the slain, and came to the 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.'
" It was not the disaster of Laius, as the poets imagine, that first gave rise to this form of attachment among the Thebans, but their law-givers, designing to soften whilst they were young their natural fickleness, brought for example the pipe into great esteem, both in serious and sportive [22] occasions, and gave great encouragement to these friendships in the Palaestra, to temper the manner and character of the youth. With a view to this, they did well again to make Harmony, the daughter of Mars and Venus, their tutelar deity; since where force and courage is joined with gracefulness and winning behavior, a harmony ensues that combines all the elements of society in perfect consonance and order.
" Gorgidas distributed this sacred Band all through the front ranks of the infantry, and thus made their gallantry less conspicuous; not being united in one body, but mingled with many others of inferior resolution, they had no fair opportunity of showing what they could do. But Pelopidas, having sufficiently tried their bravery at Tegyrae, where they had fought alone, and around his own person, never afterwards divided them, but keeping them entire, and as one man, gave them the first duty in the greatest battles. For as horses run brisker in a chariot than single, not that their joint force divides the air with greater ease, but because being matched one against another circulation kindles and enflames their courage; thus, he thought, brave men, provoking one another to noble actions, would prove most serviceable and most resolute where all were united together."

[23] STORIES of romantic friendship form a staple subject of Greek literature, and were everywhere accepted and prized. The following quotations from Athenaeus and Plutarch contain allusions to the Theban Band, and other examples:

" And the Lacedaemonians offer sacrifices to Love before they go to battle, thinking that safety and victory depend on the friendship of those who stand side by side in the battle array.... And the regiment among the Thebans, which is called the Sacred Band, is wholly composed of mutual lovers, indicating the majesty of the God, as these men prefer a glorious death to a shameful and discreditable life."
Athenaeus, bk. xiii., ch. 12.

Ioläus, above-mentioned, is said to have been the charioteer of Hercules, and his faithful companion. As the comrade of Hercules he was worshipped beside him in Thebes, where the gymnasium was named after him. Plutarch alludes to this friendship again in his treatise on Love (Eroticus, par. 17)

" And as to the loves of Hercules, it is difficult to record them because of their number; but those who think that Ioläus was one of them do to this day worship and honor him, and make their loved ones swear fidelity at his tomb."

[24]And in the same treatise:

" Consider also how love (Eros) excels in warlike feats, and is by no means idle, as Euripides called him, nor a carpet knight, nor ' sleeping on soft maidens' cheeks.' For a man inspired by Love needs not Ares to help him when he goes out as a warrior against the enemy, but at the bidding of his own god is ' ready ' for his friend ' to go through fire and water and whirlwinds.' And in Sophocles' play, when the sons of Niobe are being shot at and dying, one of them calls out for no helper or assister but his lover.
" And you know of course how it was that Cleomachus, the Pharsalian, fell in battle.... When the war between the Eretrians and Chalcidians was at its height, Cleomachus had come to aid the latter with a Thessalian force; and the Chalcidian infantry seemed strong enough, but they had great difficulty in repelling the enemy's cavalry. So they begged that high-souled hero, Cleomachus, to charge the Eretrian cavalry first. And he asked the youth he loved, who was by, if he would be a spectator of the fight, and he saying he would, and affectionately kissing him and putting his helmet on his head, Cleomachus, wlth a proud joy, put himself at the head of the bravest of the Thessalians, and charged the enemy's cavalry with such impetuosity that he threw them into disorder and routed them; and the Eretrian infantry also fleeing in consequence, the Chalcidians won a splendid [25] victory. However, Cleomachus got killed, and they show his tomb in the market place at Chalcis, over which a huge pillar stands to this day."
Eroticus, par. 17, trans. Bohn's Classics.

And further on in the same:

" And among you Thebans, Pemptides, is it not usual for the lover to give his boylove a complete suit of armor when he is enrolled among the men ? And did not the erotic Pammenes change the disposition of the heavy-armed infantry, censuring Homer as knowing nothing about love, because he drew up the Achaeans in order of battle in tribes and clans, and did not put lover and love together, that so ' spear should be next to spear and helmet to helmet' (lliad, xiii. 131), seeing that love is the only invincible general. For men in battle will leave in the lurch clansmen and friends, aye, and parents and sons, but what warrior ever broke through or charged through lover and love, seeing that when there is no necessity lovers frequently display their bravery and contempt of life."

THE following is from the Deipnosophists of Athenaus (bk. xiii., ch. 78):-

" But Hieronymus the peripatetic says that the loves of youths used to be much encouraged, for this reason, that the vigor of the young and their close agreement in comradeship have led to the overthrow of many a tyranny. For in the [26] presence of his favorite a lover would rather endure anything than earn the name of coward; a thing which was proved in practice by the Sacred Band, established at Thebes under Epaminondas; as well as by the death of the Pisistratid, which was brought about by Harmodius and Aristogeiton.
"And at Agrigentum in Sicily the same was shown by the mutual love of Chariton and Melanippus-of whom Melanippus was the younger beloved, as Heraclides of Pontus tells in his Treatise on Love. For these two having been accused of plotting against Phalaris, and being put to torture in order to force them to betray their accomplices, not only did not tell, but even compelled Phalaris to such pity of their tortures that he released them with many words of praise. Whereupon Apollo, pleased at his conduct, granted to Phalaris a respite from death; and declared the same to the men who inquired of the Pythian priestess how they might best attack him. He also gave an oracular saying concerning Chariton.
' Blessed indeed was Chariton and Melanippus, Pioneers of Godhead, and of mortals the one most beloved (*)"'
*This curious oracle seems purposely to confuse the singular and plural.

Epaminondas, the great Theban general and statesman, so we are told by the same author, had [27] for his young comrades Asopichus and Cephisodorus, " the latter of whom fell with him at Mantineia, and is buried near him."

THESE are mainly instances of what might be called "military comradeship," but as may be supposed, friendship in the early world did not rest on this alone. With the growth of culture other interests came in; and among the Greeks especially association in the pursuit of art or politics or philosophy became a common ground. Parmenides, the philosopher, whose life was held peculiarly holy, loved his pupil Zeno (see Plato Parm, 127A):-

" Parmenides and Zeno came to Athens, he said, at the great Panathenaean festival; the former was, at the time of his visit, about 65 years old, very white with age, but well-favored. Zeno was nearly 40 years of age, of a noble figure and fair aspect; and in the days of his youth he was reported to have been beloved of Parmenides."

Pheidias, the sculptor, loved Pantarkes, a youth of Elis, and carved his portrait at the foot of the Olympian Zeus (Pausanias v. II)~ and politicians and orators like Demosthenes and Aischines were proud to avow their attachment. It was in a [28] house of ill-fame, according to Diogenes Laertius (ii. 105) that Socrates first met Phaedo:

" 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 engross his earnings for his own pocket. A friend of Socrates, perhaps Cebes, bought him from hls 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 Phaedo, and prophesied that he would soon have to cut it short in mourning for his teacher."
J. A. Symonds, A Problem in Greek Ethics, p. 58.

The relation of friendship to the pursuit of philosophy is a favourite subject with Plato, and is illustrated by some later quotations (see infra ch. 2).

I CONCLUDE the present section by the insertion of three stories taken from classical sources. Though of a legendary character, it is probable that they enshrine some memory or tradition of actual facts. The story of Harmodius [29] and Aristogeiton at any rate is treated by Herodotus and Thucydides as a matter of serious history. The names of these two friends were ever on the lips of the Athenians as the founders of the city's freedom, and to be born of their blood was esteemed among the highest of honors. But whether historical or not, these stories have much he same value for us, in so far as they indicate he ideals on which the Greek mind dwelt, and which it considered possible of realization.

Harmodius and Aristogeiton

" Now the attempt of Aristogeiton and Harmodius arose out of a love affair, which I will narrate at length; and the narrative will show that he Athenians themselves give quite an inaccurate account of their own tyrants, and of the incident in question, and know no more than other Hellenes. Pisistratus died at an advanced age in possession of the tyranny, and then, not as is the common opinion Hipparchus, but Hippias (who was the eldest of his sons) succeeded to his power.
" Harmodius was in the flower of his youth, and Aristogeiton, a citizen of the middle class, became his lover. Hipparchus made an attempt to gain the affections of Harmodius, but he would not listen to him, and told Aristogeiton. The latter was naturally tormented at the idea, and fearing that Hipparchus, who was powerful, would resort to violence, at once formed such a plot as a man in his station might for the overthrow of the [30] tyranny. Meanwhile Hipparchus made another attempt; he had no better success, and thereupon he determined, not indeed to take any violent step, but to insult Harmodius in some underhand manner, so that his motive could not be suspected. [Digression in praise of the political administration of the Pisistratids.].
" When Hipparchus found his advances repelled by Harmodius he carried out his intention of insultmg him. There was a young sister of his whom Hipparchus and his friends first invited to come and carry a sacred basket in a procession, and then rejected her, declaring that she had never been invited by them at all because she was unworthy. At this Harmodius was very angry, and Aristogeiton for his sake more angry still. They and the other conspirators had already laid their preparations, but were waiting for the festival of the great Panathenasa, when the citizens who took part in the procession assembled in arms; for to wear arms on any other day would have aroused suspicion. Harmodius and Aristogeiton were to begin the attack, and the rest were immediately to join in, and engage with the guards. The plot had been communicated to a few only, the better to avoid detection; but they hoped that, however few struck the blow, the crowd who would be armed, although not in the secret, would at once rise and assist in the recovery of their own liberties.
" The day of the festival arrived, and Hippias went out of the city to the place called the [31] Ceramicus, where he was occupied with his guards in marshalling the procession. Harmodius and Aristogeiton, who were ready with their daggers, stepped forward to do the deed. But seeing one of ,he conspirators in familiar conversation with Hippias, who was readily accessible to all, they took alarm and imagined that they had been betrayed, and were on the point of being seized. Whereupon they determined to take their revenge first on the man who had outraged them and was the cause of their desperate attempt. So they rushed, just as they were, within the gates. They found Hipparchus near the Leocorium, as it was called, and then and there falling upon him with all the blind fury, one of an injured lover, the other of a man smarting under an insult, they smote and slew him. The crowd ran together, and so Aristogeiton for the present escaped the guards; but he was afterwards taken, and not very gently handled ( i.e., tortured ) . Harmodius perished on the spot."
Thuc: vi. 54-56, trans. by B. Fowett.

Orestes and Pylades

" Phocis preserves from early times the memory of the union between Orestes and Pylades, who taking a god as witness of the passion between them, sailed through life together as though in one boat. Both together put to death Klytemnestra, as though both were sons of Agamemnon; and Egisthus was slain by both. Pylades suffered more than his friend by the punishment which pursued Orestes. He stood by him when condemned, nor did they limit their tender friendship by the [32] bounds of Greece, but sailed to the furthest boundaries of the Scythians-the one sick, the other ministering to him. When they had come into the Tauric land straightway they were met by the matricidal fury; and while the barbarians were standing round In a circle Orestes fell down and lay on the ground, seized by his usual mania, while Pylades 'wiped away the foam, tended his body, and covered him with his well-woven cloak '-acting not only like a lover but like a father.
" When it was determined that one should remain to be put to death, and the other should go to Mycenae to convey a letter, each wishes to remain for the sake of the other, thinking that if he saves the life of his friend he saves his own life. Orestes refused to take the letter, saying that Pylades was more worthy to carry it, acting more like the lover than the beloved. ' For,' he said, ' the slaying of this man would be a great grief to me, as I am the cause of these misfortunes.' And he added, ' Give the tablet to him, for (turning to Pylades) I will send thee to Argos, in order that it may be well with thee; as for me, let any one kill me who desires it.'
" Such love is always like that; for when from boyhood a serious love has grown up and it becomes adult at the age of reason, the long-loved object returns reciprocal affection, and it is hard to determine which is the lover of which, for - as from a mirrr0r-the affertion of the lrover is [33] reflected from the beloved."
Trans. from Lucian's Amores, by W. J. Baylis.

Damon and Pythias

" Damon and Phintias, initiates in the Pythagorean mysteries, contracted so faithful a friendship towards each other, that when Dionysius of Syracuse intended to execute one of them, and he had obtained permission from the tyrant to return home and arrange his affairs before his death, the other did not hesitate to give himself up as a pledge of his friend's return.[For the two men lived together, and had their possessions in common., Iamblichus. de Vita Pythgore, bk. i. ch. 33] He whose neck had been in danger was now free; and he who might have lived in safety was now in danger of death. So everybody, and especially Dionysius, were wondering what would be the upshot of this novel and dubious affair. At last, when the day fixed was close at hand, and he had not returned, every one condemned the one who stood security, for his stupidity and rashness. But he insisted that he had nothing to fear in the matter of his friend's constancy. And indeed at the same moment and the hour fixed by Dionysius, he who had received leave, returned. The tyrant, admiring the courage of both, remitted the sentence which had so tried their loyalty, and asked them besides to receive him in the bonds of their friendship, saying that he would make his third place in their affection agreeable by his utmost goodwill and effort. Such indeed are the powers of friendship: to breed contempt of death, to overcome the sweet [34] desire of life, to humanize cruelty, to turn hate into love, to compensate punishment by largess; to which powers almost as much veneration is due as to the cult of the immortal gods. For if with these rests the public safety, on those does private happiness deDend; and as the temples are the sacred domiciles of these, so of those are the loyal hearts of men as it were the shrines consecrated by some holy spirit."
Valerius Maximus, bk. iv. ch. 7. De Amicitiae Vinculo.


[37] THE extent to which the idea of friendship (in a quite romantic sense) penetrated the Greek mind is a thing very difficult for us to realize; and some modern critics entirely miss this point. They laud the Greek culture to the skies, extolling the warlike bravery of the people, their enthusiastic political and social sentiment, their wonderful artistic sense, and so forth; and at the same time speak of the stress they laid on friendship as a little peculiarity of no particular importance-not seeing that the latter was the chief source of their bravery and independence, one of the main motives of their art, and so far an organic part of their whole polity that it is difficult to imagine the one without the other. The Greeks themselves never made this mistake; and their literature abounds with references to the romantic attachment as the great inspiration of political and individual life. Plato, himself, may almost be said to have founded his philosophy on this sentiment.

Nothing is more surprising to the modern than [38] to find Plato speaking, page after page, of Love, as the safeguard of states and the tutoress of philosophy, and then to discover that what we call love, i.e., the love between man and woman, is not meant at all-scarcely comes within his consideration-but only the love between men what we should call romantic friendship. His ideal of this latter love is ascetic; it is an absorbing passion, but it is held in strong control. The other love-the love of women-is for him a mere sensuality. In this, to some extent, lies the explanation of his philosophical position.

But it is evident that in this fact-in the fact that among the Greeks the love of women was considered for the most part sensual, while the romance of love went to the account of friendship, we have the strength and the weakness of the Greek civilization. Strength, because by the recognition everywhere of romantic comradeship, public and private life was filled by a kind of divine fire; weakness, because by the non-recognition of woman's equal part in such comradeship, her saving, healing, and redeeming influence was lost, and the Greek culture doomed to be to that extent one-sided. It will, we may hope, be the great triumph of the modern love (when it becomes more [39] of a true comradeship between man and woman than it yet is) to give both to society and to the individual the grandest inspirations, and perhaps in conjunction with the other attachment, to lift the modern nations to a higher level of political and artistic advancement than even the Greeks attained.

BISHOP THIRLWALL, that excellent thinker and scholar, in his History of Greece (vol. I, p. 176) says:

" One of the noblest and most amiable sides of the Greek character is the readiness with which it lent itself to construct intimate and durable friendships; and this is a feature no less prominent in the earliest than in the latest times. It was indeed connected with the comparatively low estimation in which female society was held; but the devotedness and constancy with which these attachments were maintained was not the less admirable and engaging. The heroic companions whom we find celebrated, partly by Homer and partly in traditions, which if not of equal antiquity were grounded on the same feeling, seem to have but one heart and soul, with scarcely a wish or object apart, and only to live, as they are always ready to die, for one another. It is true that the relation between them is not always one of perfect equality: but this is a circumstance which, while it [40] often adds a peculiar charm to the poetical description, detracts little from the dignity of the idea which it presents. Such were the friendships of Hercules and Ioläus, of Theseus and Pirithöus, of Orestes and Pylades: and though these may owe the greater part of their fame to the later epic or even dramatic poetry, the moral groundwork undoubtedly subsisted in the period to which the tradition referred. The argument of the Iliad mainly turns on the affection of Achilles for Patroclus-whose love for the greater hero is only tempered by reverence for his higher birth and his unequalled prowess. But the mutual regard which united Idomeneus and Meriones, Diomedes and Sthenelus - though, as the persons themselves are less important, it is kept more in the background - is manifestly viewed by the poet in the same light. The idea of a Greek hero seems not to have been thought complete, without such a brother in arms by his side."

The following is from Ludwig Frey (Der Eros und die Kunst, p. 33 ):-

" Let it then be repeated: love for a youth was for the Greeks something sacred, and can only be compared with our German homage to womensay the chivalric love of mediaeval times."

[41] GLOWES DICKINSON, in his Greek View of Life, noting the absence of romance in the relations between men and women of that civilization, says:

"Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to conclude, from these conditions, that the element of romance was absent from Greek life. The fact is simply that with them it took a different form, that of passionate friendship between men. Such friendships, of course, occur in all nations and at all times, but among the Greeks they were, we might say, an institution. Their ideal was the development and education of the younger by the older man, and in this view they were recognized and approved by custom and law as an important factor in the state."
Greek View of Life, p. 167.
" So much indeed were the Greeks impressed with the manliness of this passion, with its power to prompt to high thought and heroic action, that some of the best of them set the love of man for man far above that of man for woman. The one, they maintained, was primarily of the spirit, the other primarily of the flesh; the one bent upon shaping to the type of all manly excellence both the body and the soul of the beloved, the other upon a passing pleasure of the senses."
Ibid, p.172.

The following are some remarks of J. A. Symonds on the same subject:-

[42] "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."
A Problem in Greek Ethics, p. 68.

And he continues:

"Socrates therefore sought to direct and moralize a force already existing. In the Phaedrus he describes the passion of love between man and boy as a ' mania,' 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 onlv 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 [43] 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 Phaedrus 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 splendor, capable of soaring to the contemplation of eternal verities."

The Symposium

IN the Symposium or Banquet of Plato (B.C. 428-B.C. 347), a supper party is supposed, at which a discussion on love and friendship takes place. The friends present speak in turn-the enthusiastic Phaedrus, the clear-headed Pausanias, the grave doctor Eryximachus, the comic and acute Aristophanes, the young poet Agathon; Socrates, tantalizing, suggestive, and quoting the profound sayings of the prophetess Diotima; and Alcibiades, drunk, and quite ready to drink more;-each in his turn, out of the fulness of his heart, speaks; and thus in this most dramatic dialogue we have love discussed from every point of view. and with [44] insight, acumen, romance and humor unrivalled.

Phaedrus and Pausanias, in the two following quotations, take the line which perhaps most thoroughly represents the public opinion of the day as to the value of friendship in nurturing a spirit of honor and freedom, especially in matters military and political:

Speech of Phaedrus

"Thus numerous are the witnesses who acknowledge love to be the eldest of the gods. And not only is he the eldest, he is also the source of the greatest benefits to us. For I know not 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 honor, nor wealth, nor any other motive is able to implant so well as love. Of what am I speaking? of the sense of honor and dishonor, 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 dishonorable act, or submitting through cowardice when any dishonor is done to him bv 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 [45] 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 dishonor, and emulating one another in honor; 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 infuses into the lover."
Symposium of Plato, trans. B. Fowett.

Speech of Pausanais

" In Ionia and other places, and generally in countries which are subject to the barbarians, the custom is held to be dishonorable; loves of youths 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."

[46] ARISTOPHANES goes more deeply into the nature of this love of which they are speaking. He says it is a profound reality-a deep and intimate union, abiding after death, and making of the lovers "one departed soul instead of two." But in order to explain his allusion to " the other half " it must be premised that in the earlier part of his speech he has in a serio-comic vein pretended that human beings were originally constructed double, with four legs, four arms, etc.; but that as a punishment for their sins Zeus divided them perpendicularly, " as folk cut eggs before they salt them," the males into two parts, the females into two, and the hermaphrodites likewise into two-since when, these divided people have ever pursued their lost halves, and " thrown their arms around and embraced each other, seeking to grow together again." And so, speaking of those who were originally males, he says:

Speech of Aristophanes

" And these when they grow up are our statesmen, and these only, which is a great proof of the truth of what I am saying. And when they reach manhood they are lovers of youth, and are not naturally inclined to marry or beget children, which they do, if at all, only in obedience to the law, but they are satisfied if they may be allowed to live with one another unwedded; and such a [47]nature is prone to love and ready to return love, always embracing that which is akin to him. And when one of them finds his other half, whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and one will not be out of the other's sight, as I may say, even for a moment: they will pass their whole lives together; yet they could not explain what they desire of one another. For the intense yearning that each of them has towards the other does not appear to be the desire of lovers' intercourse, but of something else which the soul of either evidently desires and cannot tell, and of which she only has a dark and doubtful presentiment. Suppose Hephaestus, with his instruments, to come to the pair who are lying side by side and say to them, ' What do you people want of one another?' they would be unable to explain. And suppose further that when he saw their perplexity he said: ' Do you desire to be wholly one; always day and night to be in one another's company? for if this is what vou desire, I am ready to melt you into one and let you grow together, so that being two you shall become one, and while you live, live a common life as if you were a single man, and after your death in the world below still be one departed soul instead of two-I ask whether this is what you lovingly desire, and whether you are satisfied to attain this?'-there is not a man of them who when he heard the proposal would deny or would not [48] acknowledge that this meeting and melting in one another's arms, this becoming one instead of two, was the very expression of his ancient need."

SOCRATES, in his speech, and especially in the later portion of it where he quotes his supposed tutoress Diotima, carries the argument up to its highest issue. After contending for the essentially creative, generative nature of love, not only in the Body but in the Soul, he proceeds to say that it is not so much the seeking of a lost half which causes the creative impulse in lovers, as the fact that in our mortal friends we are contemplating (though unconsciously) an image of the Essential and Divine Beauty; it is this that affects us with that wonderful " mania," and lifts us into the region where we become creators. And he follows on to the conclusion that it is by wisely and truly loving our visible friends that at last, after long, long experience, there dawns upon us the vision of that Absolute Beauty which by mortal eyes must ever remain unseen:

Speech of Socrates

" He who has been instructed thus far in the things of love, and who has learned to see the beautiful in due order and succession, when he comes towards the end will suddenly perceive a [49] nature of wondrous beauty . . . beauty absolute, separate, simple and everlasting, which without diminution and without increase, or any change, is imparted to the evergrowing and perishing beauties of all other things. He who, from these ascending under the influence of true love, begins to perceive that beauty, is not far from the end."

This is indeed the culmination, for Plato, of all existence-the ascent into the presence of that endless Beauty of which all fair mortal things are but the mirrors. But to condense this great speech of Socrates is impossible; only to persistent and careful reading (if even then) will it yield up all its treasures.

The Phaedrus

IN the dialogue named Phaedrus the same idea is worked out, only to some extent in reverse order. As in the Symposium the lover by rightly loving at last rises to the vision of the Supreme Beauty; so in the Phzdrus it is explained that in reality every soul has at some time seen that Vision (at the time, namely, of its true initiation, when it was indeed winged)-but has forgotten it; and that it is the dim reminiscence of that Vision, constantly working within us, which guides us to our earthlv loves and renders their effect [50] upon us so transporting. Long ago, in some other condition of being, we saw Beauty herself:

"But of beauty, I repeat again that we saw her there shining in company with the celestial forms; and coming to earth we find her here too, shining in clearness through the clearest aperture of sense. For sight is the keenest of our bodily senses; though not by that is wisdom seen; her loveliness would have been transporting if there had been a visible image of her, and the same is true of the loveliness of the other ideas as well. But this is the privilege of beauty, that she is the loveliest and also the most palpable to sight. Now he who is not newly initiated, or who has become corrupted, does not easily rise out of this world to the sight of true beauty in the other; he looks only at her earthly namesake, and instead of being awed at the sight of her, like a brutish beast he rushes on to enjoy and beget; he consorts with wantonness, and is not afraid or ashamed of pursuing pleasure in violation of nature. But he whose initiation is recent, and who has been the spectator of many glories in the other world, is amazed when he sees any one having a god-like face or form, which is the expression of Divine Beauty; and at first a shudder runs through him, and again the old awe steals over him; then looking upon the face of his beloved as of a god he reverences him, and if he were not afraid ot being [51] thought a downright madman, he would sacrifice to his beloved as to the image of a god."
The Phaedrus of Plato, trans. B. Fowett.

And again:

"And so the beloved who, like a god, has received every true and loyal service from his lover, not in pretence but in reality, being also himself of a nature friendly to his admirer, if in former days he has blushed to own his passion and turned away his lover, because his youthful companions or others slanderously told him that he would be disgraced, now as years advance, at the appointed age and time, is led to receive him into communion. For fate which has ordained that there shall be no friendship among the evil has also ordained that there shall ever be friendship among the good And when he has received him into communion and intimacy, then the beloved is amazed at the goodwill of the lover; he recognizes that the inspired friend is worth all other friendships or kinships, which have nothing of friendship in them in comparison. And when this feeling continues and he is nearer to him and embraces him, in gymnastic exercises and at other times of meeting, then does the fountain of that stream, which Zeus when he was in love with Ganymede named desire, overflow upon the lover, and some enters into his soul and some when he is filled flows out again; and as a breeze or an echo rebounds from the smooth rocks and returns whence it came, so does the [52] stream of beauty, passing the eyes which are the natural doors and windows of the soul, return again to the beautiful one; there arriving and quickening the passages of the wings, watering them and inclining them to grow, and filling the snul of the beloved also with love."

For Plato the real power which ever moves the soul is this reminiscence of the Beauty which exists before all worlds. In the actual world the soul lives but in anguish, an exile from her true home; but in the presence of her friend, who reveals the Divine, she is loosed from her suffering and comes to her haven of rest.

"And wherever she [the soul] 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 [53] is not only the object of his worship, but the only physician who can heal him in his extreme agony."

The Symposium of Xenophon

AT another time, in the Banquet of Xenophon, Socrates is again made to speak at length on the subject of Love-though not in so inspired a strain as in Plato:

"Truly, to speak for one, I never remember the time when I was not in love; I know too that Charmides has had a great many lovers, and being much beloved has loved again. As for Critobulus, he is still of an age to love, and to be beloved; and Nicerates too, who loves so passionately his wife, at least as report goes, is equally beloved by her.... And as for you, Callias, you love, as well as the rest of us; for who is it that is ignorant of your love for Autolycus? It is the town-talk; and foreigners, as well as our citizens, are acquainted with it. The reason for your loving him, I believe to be that you are both born of illustrious families; and at the same time are both possessed of personal qualities that render you yet more illustrious. For me, I always admired the sweetness and evenness of your temper; but much more when I consider that your passion for Autolycus is placed on a person who has nothing luxurious or affected in him; but in all things shows a vigor and temperance worthy of a virtuous soul; which is a proof at the same time [54] that if he is infinitely beloved, he deserves to be so. I confess indeed I am not firmly persuaded whether there be but one Venus or two, the celestial and the vulgar; and it may be with this goddess, as with Jupiter, who has many different names though there is still but one Jupiter. But I know very well that both the Venuses have quite different altars, temples and sacrifices. The vulgar Venus is worshipped after a common negligent manner; whereas the celestial one is adored in purity and sanctity of life. The vulgar inspires mankind with the love of the body only, but the celestial fires the mind with the love of the soul, with friendship, and a generous thirst after noble actions.... Nor is it hard to prove, Callias, that gods and heroes have always had more passion and esteem for the charms of the soul, than those of the body: at least this seems to have been the opinion of our ancient authors. For we may observe in the fables of antiquity that Jupiter, who loved several mortals on account of their personal beauty only, never conferred upon them immortality. Whereas it was otherwise with Hercules, Castor, Pollux, and several others; for having admired and applauded the greatness of their courage and the beauty of their minds, he enrolled them in the number of the gods.... You are then infinitely obliged to the gods, Callias, who have inspired you with love and friendship for Autolycus, as they have inspired Critobulus with the same for Amandra; for real and pure [55] friendship knows no difference in sexes."
Banquet of Xenophon # viii. (Bohn).

PLUTARCH, who wrote in the first century A.D. (nearly 500 years after Plato), carried on the tradition of his master, though with an admixture of later influences; and philosophized about friendship, on the basis of true love being a reminiscence.

" The rainbow is I suppose a reflection caused by the sun's rays falling on a moist cloud, making us think the appearance is in the cloud. Similarly erotic fancy in the case of noble souls causes a reflection of the memory from things which here appear and are called beautiful to what is really dlvine and lovely and felicitous and wonderfut But most lovers pursuing and groping after the semblance of beauty in youths and women, as in mirrors, [cf. "For now we see by means of a mirror darkly (lit. enigmatically); but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." I Cor. xiii. 12.] can derive nothing more certain than pleasure mixed with pain. And this seems the love-delirium of Ixion, who instead of the joy he desired embraced only a cloud, as children who desire to take the rainbow into their hands, clutching at whatever they see. But different is the behavior of the noble and chaste lover: for he reflects on the divine beauty that can only be felt, while he uses the beauty of the visible body only [56] as an organ of the memory, though he embraces it and loves it, and associating with it is still more infiamed in mind. And so neither in the body do they sit ever gazing at and desiring this light, nor after death do they return to this world again, and skulk and loiter about the doors and bedchambers of newly-married people, disagreeable ghosts of pleasure-loving and sensual men and women, who do not rightly deserve the name of lovers. For the true lover, when he has got into the other world and associated with beauties as much as is lawful, has wings and is initiated and passes his time above in the presence of his Deity, dancing and waiting upon him, until he goes back to the meadows of the Moon and Aphrodite, and sleeping there commences a new existence. But this is a subject too high for the present occasion."
Plutach: Eroticus # XX. trans. Bohn's Classics.

ARISTOTLE (Ethics, bk.viii.) says:

"Friendship is a thing most necessary to life, since without friends no one would choose to live, though possessed of all other advantages." . . . " Since then his own life is, to a good man, a thing naturally sweet and ultimately desirable, for a similar reason is the life of his friend agreeable to him, and delightful merely on its own account, and without reference to any object beyond it; and to live without friends is to be destitute of a good, unconditioned, absolute, and in itself desirable; [57] and therefore to be deprived of one of the most solid and most substantial of all enjoyments."

" Being asked ' What is Friendship ? ' Aristotle replied, 'One soul in two bodies."'
Diog. Laertius

EPAMINONDAS and Pelopidas, the Theban statesmen and generals, were celebrated for their devotion to each other. In a battle (B. C. 385) against the Arcadians, Epaminondas is said to have saved his friend's life. Plutarch in his Life of Pelopidas relates of them:

"Epaminondas and he were both born with the same dispositions to all kinds of virtues, but Pelopidas took more pleasure in the exercises of the body, and Epaminondas in the improvements of the mind; so that they spent all their leisure time, the one in hunting, and the pelestra, the other in learned conversation, and the study of philosophy. But of all the famous actions for which they are so much celebrated, the judicious part of mankind reckon none so great and glorious as that strict friendship which they inviolably preserved through the whole course of their lives, in all the high posts they held, both military and civil.... For being both in that battle, near one another in the infantry, and fighting against the Arcadians, that wing of the Lacedaemonians in which they were, gave way and was broken; which Pelopidas and Epaminondas perceiving, [58] they joined their shields, and keeping close together, bravely repulsed all that attacked them, till at last Pelopidas, after receiving seven large wounds, fell upon a heap of friends and enemies that lay dead together. Epaminondas, though he believed him slain, advanced before him to defend his body and arms, and for a long time maintained his ground against great numbers of the Arcadians, being resolved to die rather than desert his companion and leave him in the enemy's power; but being wounded in his breast by a spear, and in his arm by a sword, he was quite disabled and ready to fall, when Agesipolis, king of the Spartans, came from the other wing to his relief, and beyond all expectation saved both their lives."

POLEMON and Krates were followers of Plato in philosophy, and in their time (about 300 B. C.) leaders of the Platonic School. They were, according to Hesychius, devoted friends:

" Krates and Polemon loved each other so well that they not only were occupied in life with the same work, but they almost drew breath simultaneously; and in death they shared the same grave. On account of which, Archesilaus, who visited them in company with Theophrastus (a pupil of Aristotle), spoke of them as gods, or survivors from the Golden Age."
Hesychius xl.

[59] ALEXANDER, the great World-Conqueror, was born B.C. 356, and was King of Macedonia B. C. 336-323. His great favorite was Hephaestion, who had been brought up and educated with him.

"When Hephaestion died at Ecbatana (in 324) Alexander placed his weapons upon the funeral pyre, with gold and silver for the dead man, and a robe-which last, among the Persians is a symbol of great honor. He shore off his own hair, as in Homeric grief, and behaved like the Achilles of Homer. Indeed he acted more violently and passionately than the latter, for he caused the towers and strongholds of Ecbatana to be demolished all round. As long as he only dedicated his own hair, he was behaving, I think, like a Greek; but when he laid hands on the very walls, Alexander was already showing his grief in foreign fashion. Even in his clothing he departed from ordinary custom, and gave himself up to his mood, his love, and his tears."
Aelian's Varia Historia, vii, 8.


[63] THE fact, already mentioned, that the romance of love among the Greeks was chiefly felt towards male friends, naturally led to their poetry being largely inspired by friendship; and Greek literature contains such a great number of poems of this sort, that I have thought it worth while to dedicate the main portion of the following section to quotations from them. No translations of course can do justice to the beauty of the originals, but the few specimens given may help to illustrate the depth and tenderness as well as the temperance and sobriety which on the whole characterized Greek feeling on this subject, at any rate during the best period of Hellenic culture. The remainder of the section is devoted to Roman poetry of the time of the Caesars.

The Iliad

It is not always realized that the Iliad of Homer turns upon the motive of friendship, but the extracts immediately following will perhaps make this clear. E. F. M. Benecke in his Position of Women in Greek Poetry ( p. 76 ) says of the Iliad:

[63] " It is a story of which the main motive is the love of Achilles for Patroclus. This solution is astoundingly simple, and yet it took me so long to bring myself to accept it that I am quite ready to forgive any one who feels a similar hesitation. But those who do accept it cannot fail to observe, on further consideration, how thoroughly suitable a motive of this kind would be in a national Greek epic. For this is the motive running through the whole of Greek life, till that life was transmuted by the influence of Macedonia. The lover-warriors Achilles and Patroclus are the direct spiritual ancestors of the sacred Band of Thebans, who died to a man on the field of Chaeronaea"

The following two quotations are from The Greek Poets by J. A. Symonds, ch. iii., p. 80 et seq.:

" The Iliad therefore has for its whole subject the passion of Acnilles-that ardent energy or menis of the hero which displayed itself first as anger against Agamemnon, and afterwards as love for the lost Patroclus. The truth of this was perceived by one of the greatest poets and profoundest critics of the modern world, Dante. When Dante, in the Inferno, wished to describe Achilles, he wrote, with characteristic brevity:
"Achille/ Che per amore al fine combatteo."
[65]("Achilles/ Who at the last was brought to fight by love.")
" In this pregnant sentence Dante sounded the whole depth of the Iliad. The wrath of Achilles for Agamemnon, which prevented him at first from fighting; the love of Achilles, passing the love of women, for Patroclus, which induced him to forego his anger and to fight at last; these are the two poles on which the Iliad turns."

After his quarrel with Agamemnon, not even ail the losses of the Greeks and the entreaties of Agamemnon himself will induce Achilles to fight -not till Patroclus is slain by Hector-Patroclus, his dear friend " whom above all my comrades I honored, even as myself."Then he rises up, dons his armor, and driving the Trojans before him revenges himself on the body of Hector. But Patroclus lies yet unburied; and when the fighting is over, to Achilles comes the ghost of his dead friend:

" The son of Peleus, by the shore of the roaring sea lay, heavily groaning, surrounded by his Myrmidons; on a fair space of sand he lay, where the waves lapped the beach. Then slumber took him, loosing the cares of his heart, and mantling softly around him, for sorelv wearied were his radiant limbs with driving Hector on by windy [66] Troy. There to him came the soul of poor Patroclus, in all things like himself, in stature, and in the beauty of his eyes and voice, and on the form was raiment like his own. He stood above the hero's head, and spake to him:
" Sleepest thou, and me hast thou forgotten, Achilles? Not in my life wert thou neglectful of me, but in death. Bury me soon, that I may pass the gates of Hades. Far off the souls, the shadows of the dead, repel me, nor suffer me to join them on the river bank; but, as it is, thus I roam around the wide-doored house of Hades. But stretch to me thy hand I entreat; for never again shall I return from Hades when once ye shall have given me the meed of funeral fire. Nay, never shall we sit in life apart from our dear comrades and take counsel together. But me hath hateful fate enveloped-fate that was mine at the moment of my birth. And for thyself, divine Achilles, it is doomed to die beneath the noble Trojan's wall. Another thing I say to thee, and bid thee do it if thou wilt obey me:-lay not my bones apart from thine, Achilles, but lay them together; for we were brought up together in your house, when Menetius brought me, a child, from Opus to your house, because of woeful bloodshed on the day in which I slew the son of Amphidamas, myself a child, not willing it but in anger at our games. Then did the horseman, Peleus, take me, and rear me in his house, and cause me to be called thy squire. So then let one grave also hide [67] the bones of both of us, the golden urn thy goddess-mother gave to thee.'
" Him answered swift-footed Achilles:
'Why, dearest and most honored, hast thou hither come, to lay on me this thy behest? All things most certainly will I perform, and bow to what thou biddest. But stand thou near: even for one moment let us throw our arms upon each other's neck, and take our fill of sorrowful wailing.'
" So spake he, and with his outstretched hands he clasped, but could not seize. The spirit, earthward, like smoke, vanished with a shriek. Then all astonished arose Achilles, and beat his palms together, and spake a piteous word:
" ' Heavens ! is there then, among the dead, soul and the shade of life, but thought is theirs no more at all? For through the night the soul of poor Patroclus stood above my head, wailing and sorrowing loud, and bade me do his will; it was the very semblance of himself.'
" So spake he, and in the hearts of all of them he raised desire of lamentation; and while they were yet mourning, to them appeared rose-fingered dawn about the piteous corpse."
Iliad, xxiii. 59 et seq.

PLATO in the Symposium dwells tenderly on this relation between Achilles and Patroclus:-

[67] [And great] " was the reward of the true love of Achilles towards his lover Patroclus-his lover and not his love (the notion that Patroclus was the beloved one is a foolish error into which AEschylus has fallen, for Achilles was surely the fairer of the two, fairer also than all the other heroes; and, as Homer informs us, he was still beardless, and younger far). And greatly as the gods honor the virtue of love, still the return of love on the part of the beloved to the lover is more admired and valued and rewarded by them, for the lover has a nature more divine and worthy of worship. Now Achilles was quite aware, for he had been told by his mother, that he might avoid death and return home, and live to a good old age, if he abstained from slaying Hector. Nevertheless he gave his life to revenge his friend, and dared to die, not only on his behalf, but after his death. Wherefore the gods honored him even above Alcestis, and sent him to the Islands of the Blest."
Symposium, speech of Phedrus, trans. by B. Fowett.

And on this passage Symonds has the following note:-

" Plato, discussing the Myrmidones of AEschylus, remarks in the Symposium that the tragic poet was wrong to make Achilles the lover of Patroclus, seeing that Patroclus was the elder of the two, and that Achilles was the youngest and [69] most beautiful of all the Greeks. The fact however is that Homer raises no question in our minds about the relation of lover and beloved. Achilles and Patroclus are comrades. Their friendship is equal. It was only the reflective activity of the Greek mind, working upon the Homeric legend by the light of subsequent custom, which introduced these distinctions."
The Greek Poets, ch. iii. p. 103

From the time of Homer onwards, Greek literature was full of songs celebrating friendship:

" And in fact there was such emulation about composing poems of this sort, and so far was any one from thinking lightly of the amatory poets, that AEschylus, who was a very great poet, and Sophocles too introduced the subject of the loves of men on the stage in their tragedies: the one describing the love of Achilles for Patroclus, and the other, in his Niobe, the mutual love of her sons (on which account some have given an ill name to that tragedy); and all such passages as those are very agreeable to the spectators."
Athenaeus, bk. xiii. ch. 75.

ONE of the earlier Greek poets was Theognis (B.C. 550) whose Gnoma or Maxims were a series of verses mostly addressed to his young friend Kurnus, whom by this means he sought to [70] guide and instruct out of the stores of his own riper experience. The verses are reserved and didactic for the most part, but now and then, as in the following passage, show deep underlying feeling:

"Lo, I have given thee wings wherewith to fly
Over the boundless ocean and the earth;
Yea, on the lips of many shalt thou lie
The comrade of their banquet and their mirth.
Youths in their loveliness shall make thee sound
Upon the silver flute's melodious breath;
And when thou goest darkling underground
Down to the lamentable house of death,
Oh yet not then from honor shalt thou cease,
But wander, an imperishable name,
Kurnus, about the seas and shores of Greece,
Crossing from isle to isle the barren main.
Horses thou shalt not need, but lightly ride
Sped by the Muses of the violet crown,
And men to come, while earth and sun abide,
Who cherish song shall cherish thy renown.
Yea, I have given thee wings! and in return
Thou givest me the scorn with which I burn."
Theognis Gnomai, lines 237-254,
trans. by G. Lowes Dickinson.

AS Theognis had his well-loved disciples, so had the poetess Sappho (600 B. C.). Her devotion to her girl-friends and companions is indeed proverbial.


"What Alcibiades and Charmides and PhCedrus were to Socrates, Gyrinna and Atthis and Anactoria were to the Lesbian."
Max Tyrius,quoted in H. T. Wharton's Sappho, p. 23.

Perhaps the few lines of Sappho, translated or paraphrased by Catullus under the title To Lesbia, form the most celebrated fragment of her extant work. They may be roughly rendered thus:

" Peer of all the gods unto me appeareth
He of men who sitting beside thee heareth
Close at hand thy syllabled words sweet spoken,
Or loving laughter"
That sweet laugh which flutters my heart and bosom.
For, at sight of thee, in an instant fail me
Voice and speech, and under my skin there courses
Swiftly a thin flame;
" Darkness is on my eyes, in my ears a drumming,
Drenched in sweat my frame, my body trembling;
Paler ev'n than grass-'tis, I doubt, but little
From death divides me."


SEVERAL of the odes of Anacreon (B.C. 5 20) are addressed to his young friend Bathyllus. The following short one has been preserved to us by Athenaeus (bk. Xiii. #17)

"O boy, with virgin-glancing eye,
I call thee, but thou dost not hear;
Thou know'st not how my soul doth cry
For thee, its charioteer."

Anacreon had not the passion and depth of Sappho, but there is a mark of genuine feeling in some of his poems, as in this simple little epigram:

" On their hindquarters horses
Are branded oft with fire,
And any one knows a Parthian
Because he wears a tiar;
And I at sight of lovers
Their nature can declare,
For in their hearts they too
Some subtle flame-mark bear"

The following fragment is from Pindar's Ode to his young friend Theoxenos-in whose arms Pindar is said to have died (B. C. 442):

" O soul, 'tis thine in season meet,
O pluck of love the blossom sweet,
When hearts are young:
[73] But he who sees the blazing beams,
The light that from that forehead streams,
And is not stung;
Who is not storm-tossed with desire,
Lo! he, I ween, with frozen fire,
Of adamant or stubborn steel
Is forged in his cold heart that cannot feel."
Trans. by J. Addington Symonds, The Greek Poets, vol. I, p. 286.

PLATO'S epigrams on Aster and Agathon are r well known. The two first-quoted make a play of course on the name Aster (star).

To Aster:

"Thou wert the morning star among the living,
Ere thy fair light had fled;
Now, having died, thou art as Hesperus, giving
New splendor to the dead."

To the same:

"Thou at the stars dost gaze, who art my star
-O would that I were
Heaven, to gaze on thee, ever with thousands of eyes."

To Agathon:

"Thee as I kist, behold ! on my lips my own soul
was trembling;
For, bold one, she had come, meaning to find
her way through."

[74] There are many other epigrams and songs on the same subject from the Greek writers. The following is by Meleager (a native of Gadara in Palestine) about 60 B. C., and one of the sweetest and most human of the lyric poets:

"O mortals crossed in love I the Southwind, see I
That blows so fair for sailor folk, hath ta'en
Half of my soul, Andragathos, from me.
Thrice happy ships, thrice blessed billowy main,
And four times favored wind that bears the youth,
O would I were a Dolphin! so, in truth,
High on my shoulders ferried he should come
To Rhodes, sweet haunt of boys, his island- home."
From the Greek Anthology, ii. 402.

Also from the Greek Anthology:

O say, and again repeat, fair, fair-and still I will say it
How fair, my friend, and good to see, thou art;
On pine or oak or wall thy name I do not blazon
Love has too deeply graved it in my heart."

" Perhaps the most beautiful [says J. A. Symonds of the sepulchral epigrams Is one by an [75] unknown writer, of which I here give a free paraphrase. Anth. Pal., vii. 346:

"' Of our great love, Parthenophil,
This little stone abideth still
Sole sign and token:
I seek thee yet, and yet shall seek,
Tho' faint mine eyes, my spirit weak
With prayers unspoken.
"Meanwhile best friend or friends, do thou,
If this the cruel fates allow,
By death's dark river,
Among those shadowy people, drink
No drop for me on Lethe's brink:
Forget me never I "'
The Greek Poets, vol 2, p. 298.

THEOCRITUS, though coming late in the Greek age (about 300 B. C.) when Athens had yielded place to Alexandria, still carried on the Greek tradition in a remarkable way. A native of Syracuse, he caught and echoed in a finer form the life and songs of the country folk of that region-themselves descendants of Dorian settlers. Songs and ballads full of similar notes linger among the Greek peasants, shepherds and fisher-folk, even down to the present day.

The following poem (trans. by M. J. [76] Chapman, 1836) is one of the best known and most beautiful of his Idyls:

"Art come, dear youth? two days and nights away I
(Who burn with love, grow aged in a day.)
As much as apples sweet the damson crude
Excel; the blooming spring the winter rude;
In fleece the sheep her lamb; the maiden in sweetness
The thrice-wed dame; the fawn the calf in fleetness;
The nightingale in song all feathered kind
So much thy longed-for presence cheers my mind.
To thee I hasten, as to shady beech,
The traveller, when from the heaven's reach
The sun fierce blazes. May our love be strong,
To all hereafter times the theme of song!
' Two men each other loved to that degree,
That either friend did in the other see
A dearer than himself. They lived of old
Both golden natures in an age of old.'
" O father Zeus I ageless immortals all !
Two hundred ages hence may one recall,
Down-coming to the irremeable river,
This to my mind, and this good news deliver:
'E'en now from east to west, from north to south,
Your mutual friendship lives in every mouth.'
This, as they please, th' Olympians will decide:
[77] Of thee, by blooming virtue beautified,
My glowing song shall only truth disclose;
With falsehood's pustules I'll not shame my nose.
If thou dost sometime grieve me, sweet the pleasure
Of reconcilement, joy in double measure
To find thou never didst intend the pain,
And feel myself from all doubt free again.
" And ye Megarians, at Nisaae dwelling,
Expert at rowing, mariners excelling,
Be happy everl for with honors due
Th' Athenian Diocles, to friendship true
Ye celebrate. With the first blush of spring
The youth surround his tomb: there who shall bring
The sweetest kiss, whose lip is purest found,
Back to his mother goes with garlands crowned.
Nice touch the arbiter must have indeed,
And must, methinks, the blue-eyed Ganymede
Invoke with many prayers-a mouth to own
True to the touch of lips, as Lydian stone
To proof of gold-which test will instant show
The pure or base, as money changers know."

The following Idyl, of which I append a rendering, is attributed to Theocritus:

" They say, dear boy, that wine and truth agree;
And, being in wine, I'll tell the truth to thee
[78].es, all that works in secret in my soul.
'Tis this: thou dost not love me with thy whole
Untampered heart. I know; for half my time
Is spent in gazing on thy beauty's prime;
The other half is nought. When thou art good,
My days are like the gods'; but when the mood
Tormenting takes thee, 'tis my night of woe.
How were it right to vex a lover so?
Take my advice, my lad, thine elder friend,
'Twill make thee glad and grateful in the end:
In one tree build one nest, so no grim snake
May creep upon thee. For to-day thou'lt make
Thy home on one branch, and to-morrow changing
Wilt seek another, to what's new still ranging;
And should a stranger praise your handsome face,
Him more than three-year-proven friend you'llgrace,
While him who loved you first you'll treat as cold
As some acquaintanceship of three days old.
Thou fliest high, methinks, in love and pride;
But I would say: keep ever at thy side
A mate that is thine equal; doing so,
The townsfolk shall speak well of thee alway,
And love shall never visit thee with woe-
Love that so easily men's hearts can flay,
And mine has conquered that was erst of steel.
Nay, by thy gracious lips I make appeal:
Remember thou wert younger a year agone
[79] And we grow grey and wrinkled, all, or e'er
We can escape our doom; of mortals none
His youth retakes again, for azure wings
Are on her shoulders, and we sons of care
Are all too slow to catch such flying things.
Mindful of this, be gentle, is my prayer,
And love me, guileless, ev'n as I love thee;
So when thou hast a beard, such friends as were
Achilles and Patroclus we may be."

BION was a poet of about the same period as Theocritus, but of whom little is known.

The following is a fragment translated by A. Lang:

"Happy are they that love, when with equal love they are rewarded. Happy was Theseus, when Pirithous was by his side, yea tho' he went down to the house of implacable Hades. Happy among hard men and inhospitable was Orestes, for that Pylades chose to share his wanderings. And he was happy, Achilles AEacides, while his darling lived,-happy was he in his death, because he avenged the dread fate of Patroclus."
Theocritus, Bion and Moschus, Golden Treasury series, p. 182.

The beautiful Lament for Bion by Moschus is interesting in this connection, and should be [80 compared with Shelley's lament for Keats in Adonais -for which latter poem indeed it supplied some suggestions:

"Ye mountain valleys, pitifully groan!
Rivers and Dorian springs for Bion weep!
Ye plants drop tears I ye groves lamenting moan !
Exhale your life, wan flowers; your blushes deep
In grief, anemonies and roses, steep!
In softest murmurs, Hyacinth I prolong
The sad, sad woe thy lettered petals keep;
Our minstrel sings no more his friends among
Sicilian muses now begin the doleful song."
M. F. Chapman trans. in the Greek Pastoral Poets, 1836.

The allusion to Hyacinth is thus explained by Chapman:

"Hyacinthus, a Spartan youth, the son of Clio, was in great favor with Apollo. Zephyrus, being enraged that he preferred Apollo to him, blew the discus when flung by Apollo, on a day that Hyacinthus was playing at discus-throwing with that god, against the head of the youth, and so killed him. Apollo, being unable to save his life, changed him into the flower which was named after him, and on whose petals the Greeks fancied they could trace the notes of grief. [Seen within the flower we call Larkspur'].A festival called the Hyacinthia was celebrated for three [81] days in each year at Sparta, in honor of the godand his unhappy favorite."
Note to Moschus, Idyl ii:.

The story of Apollo and Hyacinth is gracefully told by Ovid, in the tenth book of his Metamorphoses:

" Midway betwixt the past and coming night
Stood Titan [the Sun] when the pair, their limbs unrobed,
And glist'ning with the olive's unctuous juice,
In friendly contest with the discus vied."
[The younger one is struck by the discus; and like a fading flower]
" To its own weight unequal drooped the head
Of Hyacinth; and o'er him wailed the god:-
Liest thou so, OEbalia's child, of youth
Untimely robbed, and wounded by my fault-
At once my grief and guilt?-This hand hath dealt
Thy death I 'Tis I who send thee to the grave!
And yet scarce guilty, unless guilt it were
To sport, or guilt to love theel Would this life
Might thine redeem, or be with thine resigned!
But thou-since Fate denies a god to die-
Be present with me everl Let thy name
[82]Dwell ever in my heart and on my lips,
Theme of my lyre and burden of my song;
And ever bear the echo of my wail
Writ on thy new-born flowerl The time shall come
When, with thyself associate, to its nameThe mightiest of the Greeks shall link his own.
Prophetic as Apollo mourned, the blood
That with its dripping crimson dyed the turf
Was blood no more: and sudden sprang to life
A flower."
Ovid's Metamorphoses trans. H. King, London, 1871


IN Roman literature, generally, as might be expected, with its more materialistic spirit, the romance of friendship is little dwelt upon; though the grosser side of the passion, in such writers as Catullus and Martial, is much in evidence. Still we find in Virgil a notable instance. His 2nd Eclogue bears the marks of genuine feeling; and, according to some critics, he there under the guise of Shepherd Corydon's love for Alexis celebrates his own attachment to the youthful Alexander:

" Corydon, keeper of cattle, once loved the fair lad Alexis;
But he, the delight of his master, permitted no hope to the shepherd.
[83]Corydon, lovesick swain, went into the forest of beeches,
And there to the mountains and woods-the one relief of his passion
With useless effort outpoured the following art less complainings:
Alexis, barbarous youth, say, do not my mourn ful lays move thee ?
Showing me no compassion, thou'lt surely compel me to perish.
Even the cattle now seek after places both cool and shady;
Even the lizards green conceal themselves in the thorn-bush.Thestylis, taking sweet herbs, such as garlic and thyme, for the reapers
Faint with the scorching noon, doth mash them and bray in a mortar.
Alone in the heat of the day am I left with the screaming cicalas,
While patients in tracking thy path, I ever pur sue thee, Beloved."
Trans. by J. W. Baylis.

There is a translation of this same 2nd Eclogue, by Abraham Fraunce (1591), which is interesting not only on account of its felicity of phrase, but because, as in the case of some other Elizabethan hexameters, the metre is ruled by quantity, i.e., length of syllables, instead of by accent. The [84] following are the first five lines of Fraunce's translation:

"Silly shepherd Corydon lov'd hartyly fayre lad Alexis,
His master's dearling, but saw noe matter of hoping;
Only amydst darck groves thickset with broade-shadoe beech-trees
Dayly resort did he make, thus alone to the woods, to the mountayns,
With broken speeches fond thoughts there vaynly revealing.

CATULLUS also (b. B.C. 87) has some verses of real feeling:

"Quintius, if 'tis thy wish and will
That I should owe my eyes to thee,
Or anything that's dearer still,
If aught that's dearer there can be;
" Then rob me not of that I prize,
Of the dear form that is to me,
Oh I far far dearer than my eyes,
Or aught, if dearer aught there be."
Catullus, trans. Hon. F. Lamb, 1821.
" If all complying, thou would'st grant
Thy lovely eyes to kiss, my fair,
Long as I pleased; ohl I would plant
Three hundred thousand kisses there.
[85]"Nor could I even then refrain,
Nor satiate leave that fount of blisses,
Tho' thicker than autumnal grain
Should be our growing crop of kisses."
" Long at our leisure yesterday
Idling, Licinius, we wrote
Upon my tablets verses gay,
Or took our turns, as fancy smote,
At rhymes and dice and wine.
" But when I left, Licinius mine,
Your grace and your facetious mood
Had fired me so, that neither food
Would stay my misery, nor sleep
My roving eyes in quiet keep.
But still consumed, without respite,
I tossed about my couch in vain
And longed for day-if speak I might,
Or be with you again.
" But when my limbs with all the strain
Worn out, half dead lay on my bed,
Sweet friend to thee this verse I penned,
That so thou mayest condescend
To understand my pain.
" So now, Licinius, beware!
And be not rash, but to my prayer
A gracious hearing tender;
[96] Lest on thy head pounce Nemesis:
A goddess sudden and swift she is-
Beware lest thou offend her."

The following little poem is taken from Martial:

"As a vineyard breathes, whose boughs with grapes are bending,
Or garden where are hived Sicanian bees;
As upturned clods when summer rain's descending
Or orchards rich with blossom-laden trees;
So, cruel youth, thy kisses breathe -so sweet -
Would'st thou but grant me all their grace, complete ! "



From: Edward Carpenter: IOLÄUS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF FRIENDSHIP (1908). Full test is available here.

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