The Greek custom of paiderasteia between members of the same-sex, typically men, was a political, intellectual, and sometimes sexual relationship.
The age difference between partners and their respective roles either active or passive was considered to be a key feature. Pindar 's comparison of the adolescent boxer Hagesidamus and his trainer Ilas to Patroclus and Achilles in Olympian Phaedrus argues that Aeschylus erred in claiming Achilles was the erastes because Achilles was more beautiful and youthful than Patroclus characteristics of the eromenos as well as more noble and skilled in battle characteristics of the erastes.
Further evidence of this debate is found in a speech by an Athenian politician, Aeschines, at his trial in BC. Aeschines, in placing an emphasis on the importance of paiderasteia to the Greeks, argues that though Homer does not state it explicitly, educated people should be able to read between the lines: "Although Homer speaks in many places of Patroclus and Achilles, he hides their love and avoids giving a name to their friendship, thinking that the exceeding greatness of their affection is manifest to such of his hearers as are educated men.
According to William A. Percy III , there are some scholars, such as Bernard Sergent , who believe that in Homer's Ionian culture there existed a homosexuality that had not taken on the form it later would in pederasty. Sergent asserts that ritualized man-boy relations were widely diffused through Europe from prehistoric times. Aristarchus believed that Homer did not intend the two to be lovers. However, he did agree that the "we-two alone" passage did imply a love relation and argued it was a later interpolation. When Alexander the Great and his intimate friend Hephaestion passed through the city of Troy on their Asian campaign, Alexander honoured the sacred tomb of Achilles and Patroclus in front of the entire army, and this was taken as a clear declaration of their own friendship.
The joint tomb and Alexander's action demonstrates the perceived significance of the Achilles-Patroclus relationship at that time around BC. Commentators from the Classical period on have interpreted the relationship through the lens of their own cultures. As a rule, the post- classical tradition shows Achilles as heterosexual and having an exemplary asexual friendship with Patroclus. Medieval Christian writers deliberately suppressed the homoerotic nuances of the figure.
David Halperin compares Achilles and Patroclus to the traditions of Jonathan and David , and Gilgamesh and Enkidu , which are approximately contemporary with the Iliad's composition.
He argues that while a modern reader is inclined to interpret the portrayal of these intense same-sex male warrior friendships as being fundamentally homoerotic, it is important to consider the greater themes of these relationships:. The thematic insistence on mutuality and the merging of individual identities, although it may invoke in the minds of modern readers the formulas of heterosexual romantic love […] in fact situates avowals of reciprocal love between male friends in an honorable, even glamorous tradition of heroic comradeship: precisely by banishing any hint of subordination on the part of one friend to the other, and thus any suggestion of hierarchy, the emphasis on the fusion of two souls into one actually distances such a love from erotic passion.
This can explain the overtones in Book 19 of the Iliad wherein Achilles mourns Patroclus lines — in a similar manner used previously by Briseis lines — Shay places a strong emphasis on the relationships that soldiers who experience combat together forge, and points out that this kind of loss has in fact often led to "berserking" of soldiers stunned with grief and rage, in a way similar to the raging of Achilles in the Iliad.
Shay points out that a frequent topos in veterans' grief for a companion is that companion's gentleness or innocence; similarly, while a warrior of great note, Patroclus is said in the Iliad by other soldiers and by Briseis the captive to have been gentle and kind. The novels of Mary Renault contain frequent symbolic references to Achilles and Patroclus; the pair represent a model for the non-effeminate, comradely homosexual love that was her ideal. Elizabeth Cook's verse novel, Achilles , is not sexually explicit, but a romantic relationship can be inferred. She writes of Achilles, "He also knows the body of his cousin Patroclus.
The relationship is intensely intimate, and certainly exceeds the common bounds of friendship. The film Troy presented Patroclus as a younger relative of Achilles, without any romantic or sexual aspects. The musical Spring Awakening , includes an offhand reference where one boy, Hanschen, entreats another, Ernst to 'do a little Achilles and Patroclus'.
The two characters are later shown engaging in a homosexual relationship. In Christa Wolf 's novel Cassandra , Achilles is depicted as a somewhat conflicted homosexual male, one who would go after both a young man, whom he actually desired, and a young woman, to prove he was like everyone else.
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Patroclus is briefly mentioned as the sole man who could get Achilles to feel truly passionate about defeating Troy, and upon his death Achilles butchered several Troy captives — including two royal children — as a sacrifice. In Ilium , by Dan Simmons , Achilles and Patroclus share a close "brothers in war" type bond, but are also shown to engage in group sex , each with a woman and possibly each other. Raiders of the Lost Ark Paramount Sat. Paramount Sat. AMC Sat. BBC America Thur. BBC America Sun. AMC Mon.
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Noon Sundance Wed. VH1 Thur. Noon IFC Wed. CMT Sun. CMT Sat. It's an answer that will shake not just her, but the very fabric of the world. This book is number eleven in the Young Ancients series for those reading them in order. Genre: Fantasy.