Whether these means are fair or foul is of course precisely the point under examination.
Neither Scipio nor Terence was a child at the time, given that their
relationship purportedly involved literary collaboration, and no
doubt had they been questioned, they would have put a positive spin
on their relationship. Of course, this rumor of an affair may be altogether unfounded, as rumors often
are. However, people do not start rumors accusing others of behavior
of which they have never heard, and if people thought that Terence
and Scipio were involved in a romantic relationship, they must have
thought it possible for two grown men to be so involved.
Although of course one cannot verify scurrilous rumors over two
millenia old, if Scipio Africanus (there are a father and son of the
same name) was of this persuasion, he was of the modern type, of
men who have sex with men, though not exclusively. The apostate
emperor Julian offers rather weak evidence that Scipio was into
'friendship:' "Shall I tell how the famous Scipio, who loved Laelius
and was loved by him [αγαπησας και φιληθεις] in return with equal yoke of friendship, as the
saying is, not only took pleasure in his society, but undertook no
task without first consulting with him and obtaining his advice as
to how he should proceed?" (Julian the Emperor, Volume II, VIII, To
Sallust, p. 177 Loeb edition). Of course often enough friendship
means just exactly that. Valerius Maximus also mentions this figure
in connection with promiscuity, though not homosexuality. It should
not be forgotten that in demanding the searcher find an ancient
homosexuality characterized by exclusivity and monogamy, he is
demanding we find something which scarcely exists today; it is easy
enough to find ancient homosexuality similar to today's format, according to all
Julius Caesar and King Nicomedes
A rumored homosexual affair between Julius Caesar and Nicomedes, King of Bithynia, was widely
believed in Rome. Nor was this the only such accusation against this
first of the Caesars, who tossed the Republic into the trash bin of
history. Though paederasty was common in classical antiquity, the ancients
were by no means unaware of homosexual relations between grown men,
such as Caesar and Mamurra, as scurrilous gossip had it: "Well agreed are the
abominable profligates, Mamurra he effeminate, and Caesar; no wonder
either." (Catullus, Poems, LVII, p. 65 Loeb edition). These two
men, a general and a military engineer, were by no means
Caesar was a magnet for rumors of this sort: "Persistent
rumors surrounding Caesar's time in Bithynia claim that he even had
an affair with its king, Nicomedes. The details were salaciously
relayed by Cicero: 'Caesar was led by Nicomedes' attendants to the
royal bedchamber, where he lay on a golden couch, dressed in a
purple shift. . .'" (Cleopatra the Great, by Joann Fletcher, p.
111). The evidentiary weight of gossip ranges from nil to
substantial, depending on the proximity and integrity of the source,
and the veracity of rumors of this sort cannot now be tracked down
with any degree of certainty. The length of time he spent at the king's
court seems to have given rise to the story: "His first campaign was served in Asia, on the staff of the praetor,
M. Thermus; and being dispatched into Bithynia, to bring thence a fleet, he loitered so long at
the court of Nicomedes, as to give occasion to reports of a criminal
intercourse between him and that prince; which received additional
credit from his hasty return to Bithynia, under the pretext of
recovering a debt due to a freed-man, his client." (Suetonius, Lives of the
Twelve Caesars, Julius Caesar, Chapter II). These rumors stuck with
him all his life: "The only stain upon his chastity was his having cohabited with Nicomedes; and that indeed stuck to him all the days of his life, and
exposed him to much bitter raillery. I will not dwell upon those
well-known verses of Calvus Licinius:
"'Whatever Bithynia and her lord possessed,
Her lord who Caesar in his lust caressed.'" (Suetonius,
Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Julius Caesar, Chapter XLIX).
Suetonius goes on to explain, ". . . I would likewise say nothing of the edicts of Bibulus, in which
he proclaimed his colleague under the name of 'the queen of Bithynia;'
adding, that 'he had formerly been in love with a king, but now coveted
a kingdom.' At which time, as Marcus Brutus relates, one Octavius, a man
of a crazy brain, and therefore the more free in his raillery, after he
had in a crowded assembly saluted Pompey by the title of king, addressed
Caesar by that of queen." (Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Julius Caesar,
Chapter XLIX). The parties to these dalliances, if actual, would not have perceived themselves as
socially unequal, any more than were Cleopatra and her lover and husband Caesar, nor was one
party a child. Of course Caesar cannot have been exclusively homosexual;
distaste and aversion for women is, for some reason, considered by
some partisans as definitional for homosexuality, although the
majority of the men who have sex with men do not share this dislike. Whether any of
Caesar's rumored affairs are factual or not, people do not make up rumors reporting behavior
of which no one has ever heard.
Marc Antony and Curio
In his second Philippic, Cicero dredges up old news about Marc
Antony: that he had supposedly had a homosexual relationship when a
young man, with another young man:
"You assumed the manly gown, which you soon made a womanly one:
at first a public prostitute, with a regular price for your
wickedness, and that not a low one. But very soon Curio stepped in,
who carried you off from your public trade, and, as if he had
bestowed a matron's robe upon you, settled you in a steady and
durable wedlock. No boy bought for the gratification of passion was
ever so wholly in the power of his master as you were in Curio's.
How often has his father turned you out of his house?. . .And he
himself [Curio], burning with love, declared positively that because
he was unable to bear the misery of being separated from you, he
should go into banishment." (Cicero, The Second Philippic, 44-45).
If this relationship began at some time after Antony had assumed
the toga virilis, they may or may not have been under-age by
our standards; however, evidently Antony was able to contract debts,
and Curio to go surety for him, without requiring any other male in
the household to counter-sign. Antony's impecunious habits continued
throughout life. Antony was not a "boy bought" but a volunteer.
As with all scurrilous gossip from antiquity, one can't now
disentangle what actually happened, if anything. But certainly
Cicero thought it was possible for two age-mates, both free-born and
thus equal in the eyes of the law, to fall in love. Rome was never
too proud to adopt practices and customs from the societies she
conquered. Sometimes they showed oddly poor judgment; instead of
chewing the meat and spitting out the bones, they took on the least
impressive features of the fallen society. From the ancient and
imposing Etruscan culture, why adopt bird augury, which one must
imagine exhibits a poor track record in prognosticating the future?
And from the Greeks, who offered such treasures as advanced
mathematics and natural science, why adopt paederasty, which is such
a horror that even we don't recommend it? Why listen to the Greek
arguments in favor of male homosexuality, founded mostly on
misogyny? But they did, leaving an open door for invective such as
this; youngsters eager to show how 'Greek' they were, that they
'got' it, could thereafter be painted as a public disgrace before a
public which did not 'get' it.
Gracchus and Wife
Juvenal, in his First Satire, reports on a homosexual marriage
celebrated with great ceremony:
"Gracchus has settled four hundred thousand on a lowborn
Trumpet player. . .
The license, the contract, are signed.
A huge reception. The 'bride' is lying snugly within
Her husband's arms." (Juvenal, Satires, Satire 1, p. 41, line 117)
The poet indignantly invokes Romulus, "O Romulus, where did such
wickedness come from to assail Your shepherds? How, O Mars, did this
itch spread to your sons? Just look — a rich man of high birth
wed to a man. . ." (Juvenal, Satires, Satire 1, p. 42, Line 126).
The mere fact of this Gracchus, scion of an ancient and honorable
family, being willing to wed this trumpet player and settle a
considerable sum on him shows commitment. The unnamed spouse, a
professional musician, cannot have been a child, unless he was a
prodigy. This author was born in the first century, though his literary
activity spilled over into the second.
Callistratus and Afer
Another first century homosexual marriage is that between Callistartus and Afer:
"Bearded Callistratus as a bride wedded the brawny Afer
in the usual form as when a virgin weds a husband. The torches shone
before him, a wedding-veil disguised his face, nor were the words of
thy song, God of Marriage, unheard. A dower even was arranged." (Martial, Epigrams, Book XII,
"Barbatus rigido nupsit Callistratus Afro,
Hac qua lege viro nubere virgo solet.
Praeluxere faces, velarunt flammea vultus,
Nec tua defuerunt veba, Talasse, tibi."
Given that one party was 'brawny' and the other 'bearded,' we need not fear
they were under legal age.
Nisus and Euryalus
The poet Virgil is a first century figure. . .first century B.C., that is;
he did not survive to see 'A.D.' His 'Aeneid' is a work of imaginative
fiction, a mythologized history of Rome aimed at being more impressive
and stirring than the actual history. Rome rose from a village because
it was a sanctuary city; escaped slaves who resorted there were not
returned. It was, from the start, a polyglot assemblage of peoples,
vagabonds and dreamers. But in Virgil's version of history, refugees
from fallen Troy settled the place, bringing their idols and sacred
utensils with them. Nisus and Euryalus are fictional characters; their
features are those the author chooses to give them. Virgil does not
detail a sexual relationship between them, but neither does he do so for
Dido and Aeneas; yet the reader is expected, and is entitled to, make
that inference. This is not an age-uniform relationship, so it does not
meet Matthew Vines' ideal. However, all available evidence suggests
these two lovers would have been able to enter into a marriage in those
states where two men can marry; Euryalus was probably 16-18 years of
age, though his age is not stated. The cult of youth and beauty is,
reportedly, by no means dead in modern gaydom; if anyone is the
odd man out, it is Matthew Vines' gay Christians, if they do indeed
insist upon age-uniformity.
Running is not a sport, like women's gymnastics, in which a
14-year old would have the advantage over old competitors.
"Now he called on those
Whom hope for gain led to compete in running,
And set out prizes for them. From all sides
They came up, Teucrians with Sicilians mixed,
Nisus and Euryalus in the lead—
Euryalus exceptional for beauty
And bloom of youth, whom Nisus dearly loved." (Virgil, Aeneid,
Book V, Robert Fitzgerald translation, p.135).
Euryalus however won the race, after the leader Nisus fell and tripped another competitor.
Later we see him holding his own in combat; he was not a child. Euryalus was not bare-cheeked:
"Euryalus was his comrade, handsomer
Than any other soldier of Aeneas
Wearing the Trojan gear; a boy whose cheek
Bore though unshaven manhood's early down.
One love united them, and side by side
They entered combat, as that night they held
The gate on the same watch." (Virgil, Aeneid, Book IX, p. 266)
Nisus may not have been much older, because he says, "'Soldiers of
Aeneas, listen With open minds, and let what we propose Be looked on
without reference to our years." (Virgil, Aeneid, Book IX, p. 268). After their night raid went bad, Nisus got clear of the thicket
and could have run away, saving himself. But he went back for
"And with his sword unsheathed
He went straight for Euryalus. Now truly
Mad with terror, Nisus cried aloud.
He could not hide in darkness any longer,
Could not bear his anguish any longer:
"'No, me! Me! Here I am! I did it! Take
Your swords to me, Rutulians. All the trickery
Was mine.'" (Virgil, Aeneid, Book IX, p. 275).
Nisus died trying to save his friend: "Pierced everywhere, He pitched down on the
body of his friend And there at last in the peace of death grew
still. Fortunate, both!" (Virgil, Aeneid, Book IX, p. 276). So
he was not cynically using this young man for his gratification.
And if the 'gay Christians' intend to stamp out such
relationships in their brave new world, how are they going to do
it? By raising the age of consent for gay marriage to 21? In ay event the
theory behind these relationships is that they were understood to be
Hadrian and Antinous
Upon the death of his boyfriend Antinous, Hadrian decreed that the departed
was a god and commanded worship. Had Hadrian and Antinous presented
themselves to the town clerk in a place where gay marriage is legal,
would they have been turned down? No, Antinous was probably between
18-20 years of age when he died; he was not a child. But were they of
unequal status? Perhaps; the man Hadrian was bold indeed to lay lustful
hands on a living God! The early Christian writers did not care much for
this state of affairs and mentioned it frequently. They were being
slaughtered for the crime of worshipping Jesus, mocked for worshipping a
man as God; yet the Romans did so without remorse, and what men! A
rogues' gallery, a line-up of criminal suspects. Something is upside-down. The
reader of Philo Judaeus' 'Embassy to Gaius' is struck at how perfect a
substitute, alter, or anti-Christ, is Caligula; he finds inspiration in
the image of the king as a shepherd; he considers himself to be the God
worshipped at the temple at Jerusalem. But what is this strange god,
"And it is not out of place, we think, to mention here
Antinous, who was alive but lately, and whom all were prompt,
through fear, to worship as a God, though they knew both who he was
and what was his origin." (The First Apology of Justin Martyr,
Chapter 29, p. 313).
"And how was the dead Antinous fixed as a
beautiful youth in the moon? Who carried him thither: unless
perchance, as men, perjuring themselves for hire, are credited
when they say in ridicule of the gods that kings have ascended
into heaven, so some one, in like manner, has put this man also
among the gods, and been recompensed with honor and reward? Why
have you robbed God?" (Address of Tatian to the Greeks, Chapter
10, p. 125).
"I am silent about the temples of Antinous, and of the
others whom you call gods. For when related to sensible persons,
they excite laughter." (Theophilus to Autolycus, Book 3, Chapter
8, p. 219).
"Thus Antinous, through the
benevolence of your ancestors towards their subjects, came to be
regarded as a god." (A Plea for the Christians, by Athenagoras,
Chapter 30, p. 279).
"Another new deity was added to the number with
great religious pomp in Egypt, and was near being so in Greece
by the king of the Romans, who deified Antinous, whom he loved
as Zeus loved Ganymede, and whose beauty was of a very rare
order: for lust is not easily restrained, destitute as it is of
fear; and men now observe the sacred nights of Antinous, the
shameful character of which the lover who spent them with him
knew well. Why reckon him among the gods, who is honored on
account of uncleanness? And why do you command him to be
lamented as a son? And why should you enlarge on his beauty?"
(Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Heathen, Chapter IV,
Insisting the whole world worship your dearly departed lover, building temples and cities in his honor,
shows a kind of mad devotion. Definitely a loving, committed