Gay History - May 10, 320 BC: Greek Poet Theocritus Is Born.

Gay History – May 10, 320 BC: Greek Poet Theocritus Is Born.

May 10, 320 BC. Theocritus is born in Syracuse and is credited with being the first and greatest filthy pastoral poet.

In the history of homosexual literature ancient Greece holds a unique place. Here was a society relatively hospitable to the love love between men and youths. Such affections formed a significant part of its culture. Theocritus developed the verse form known as the “bucolic” or “pastoral” poem a stylized and artful form usually about shepherds or cowherds who sing of love and friendship and were  highly homoerotic.

Thirty (nearly) complete poems and twenty-five epigrams are attributed under the name “Theocritus.”

Seven of the thirty poems (idylls) completed by Theocritus are homoerotic. In the fifth idyll two shepherds good- naturedly accuse each other of pederasty (one accusing the other of anal rape in the bushes), using colloquial expressions that are “obscene” enough to be printed in Latin in some modern English translations.

In Theocritus seventh idyll; Aratus is passionately in love with a boy. In the twelfth idyll a lover addresses his absent beloved and describes a kissing contest amongst boys in honor of Diocles, lover of Philolaus. In the thirteenth idyll Hercules frantically searches for his beloved Hylas. In the twenty-third idyll a lover commits suicide and is revenged by a statue of Eros falling upon his faithless beloved. In the twenty-ninth idyll a lover speaks to his inconstant and immature beloved. And in the thirtieth idyll a rejected suitor reflects upon the heartbreak caused by the love of lads.

Theocritus portrayed the homosexual lover as one who experiences fleeting moments of gaiety ending in dejected frustration and pensive memory – the very same way in which he portrays heterosexual lovers. His work was highly regarded in his own time, and he was celebrated by later poets, including the Roman poet Ovid.

Please continue to this link to read the great Oscar Wilde’s: Theocritus: A Villanelle

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