Cover image for Pictures and passions : a history of homosexuality in the visual arts
Pictures and passions : a history of homosexuality in the visual arts
Saslow, James M.
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New York : Viking, [1999]

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vii, 342 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
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N8217.H67 S27 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Saslow (art history, City U. of New York) ranges from the dawn of time to the present and from Europe and North America to China and Australia. He presents and discusses visual images relating to gay men and lesbians, but not always related to sex itself; the Stonewall riot and the AIDS quilt for example are represented.

Author Notes

James M. Saslow earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University and is professor of art history at Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. His previous books include Ganymede in the Renaissance: Homosexuality in Art and Society. He served for many years as East Coast arts editor of The Advocate, the national gay and lesbian newsmagazine, and was a cofounder of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at City University of New York. In addition to acting as general editor of the Bibliography of Gay and Lesbian Art, he has published articles on the subject in numerous books and periodicals. He lives in New York City.



Chapter One THE CLASSICAL WORLD: GREECE AND ROME Classical antiquity--the world of ancient Greece and its cultural godchild, the Roman Empire--was saturated with a positive appreciation of eros, itself the Greek name for the god of love. As early as the eighth century B.C.E., the poet Hesiod extolled the primacy of passion: his account of creation declared that the first two divinities to arise from the primeval chaos were "broad-breasted Earth, and Eros, most beautiful among the immortals." In Plato's dialogue on love, The Symposium , Phaedrus delivers a long oration on Eros, concluding that "he is the most venerable and valuable of the gods, and that he has sovereign power to provide all virtue and happiness for men." Fear of that awesome power wove a contrasting thread of Stoic ascetism into the checkered tapestry of sexual values: Plato himself, whose long life (428-347 B.C.E.) embittered him about human frailty, later condemned most forms of sexuality. But the underlying warp was strung from the acceptance and celebration of erotic desire, especially the bonds that united man to man: Phaedrus exalts the passionate comradeship between warriors, which ranked highest in the amorous hierarchy, with the mythic lovers Achilles and Patroclus (fig. 1.1). So it is hardly surprising that we today use Greek terms for "platonic" (male) and "sapphic" or "lesbian" (female) homosexuality.     Nor, of course, are these the only concepts inherited from the Greeks, long revered as the Western world's fountainhead of human reason and its civilizing application to mathematics, philosophy, government, and the arts. The statue in Athens to the warrior-lovers Harmodius and Aristogiton, commemorating their rescue of democracy from a dictator (fig. 1.3), memorializes both their devotion to civic duty and their mutual love, two ideals that intertwined and reinforced each other. Today we are perhaps less inclined than earlier generations to place these Greeks on a pedestal, or to overlook the gulf that separates us: they kept slaves, limited education and public life to wealthy males, and organized sexual life into very different categories. But they were the first to imagine political and artistic ideals, such as democracy and "classic" visual harmony, whose echoes have reverberated from the Italian Renaissance to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., a transplanted Athenian Parthenon. For more than a millennium, from well before the glory days of Periclean Athens to the waning grandeur of the Christianized Roman Empire, homoerotic love was celebrated and satirized in history, myth, and literature. The earliest remains recall the sexual customs of rural Greek tribes from Homeric times in the second millennium B.C.E.; later, as these tribes settled in small city-states, they adapted their social patterns to urban life. Still later, the cities sent merchants and armies around the Mediterranean Sea, spreading their art and ideas to western Asia, Egypt, and Italy. The Romans, though much influenced by Greek exports, refitted them to local values. The cultural legacy of classical society--poetry, theater, philosophy, history, and visual arts--preserves the memory of the Western world's last sexually innocent, pre-Christian culture. Ancient society was still close enough to prehistory's animistic nature-worship to celebrate sexuality as a beneficent universal force encouraging strength and fertility. The penis was revered as an emblem of virile power, and every Greek doorway featured a herm, or phallus sculpture, to ward off evil. While ideally reason and moderation were to govern the passions, sexuality was as much a part of human nature as of the rest of creation, and only a cause for shame or censure when it overstepped higher social priorities. The gods themselves, who personified the forces of nature, were athletically amorous; their mythic exploits provided archetypes through which mortals could understand the wide range of desire and its dilemmas. Jupiter (Zeus to the Greeks), Apollo, and Bacchus (Dionysus) all enjoyed bisexual adventures, while Venus (Aphrodite) was the patroness of heterosexual passion; and the moon goddess Diana (Artemis) turned her affections toward a band of female followers who were "virginal" only with regard to men, not to one another.     Ordinary mortals, like their celestial counterparts, were presumed to be potentially bisexual: numerous painted drinking vessels, such as the famous Peithinos Cup in Berlin, show young men simultaneously courting both boys and women. Aristophanes, another orator in The Symposium , told a historical fable to justify what Sigmund Freud later called "polymorphous perversity." Human beings, he explained, were originally doubled creatures, fusing two heads and two bodies into one; the angry gods split each couple in half, so that ever since each of us fractured mortals has yearned to restore lost wholeness through erotic union. Those primeval pairs came in three types--male-female, male-male, and female-female--accounting equally for heterosexual, male homosexual, and lesbian longing. While attitudes toward homosexual love varied, the image of the hermaphrodite, a creature combining both sexes who became especially popular in Hellenistic times, suggests how all permutations of beauty and desire held a place in the Greek scheme of nature. Individuals might display a stronger appetite for one or the other, but the modern dichotomy between heterosexual and homosexual meant little to antiquity. The Roman historian Suetonius reports a revealing question from Marc Antony to the emperor Augustus, "Can it matter where or in whom you put it?"     As Antony's remark reveals, sexuality was organized, discussed, and illustrated largely from the viewpoint of men, who dominated a patriarchal society. From the classical era onward, women of the citizen class were segregated from men in most Greek cities, denied a written education, and secluded at home. As female status waned, the appeal of male homosexuality waxed brighter. Seldom available before marriage, valued but subservient within it, and deprived of access to public life or literary culture, women were not equipped for a friendship of equals rooted in common interests; men could passionately share ideas and aspirations only with other men. Plato dismissed the love of women as merely physical and procreative; only intimacy with men could serve higher spiritual goals. The Greek author Strato of Sardis put it more crassly: "Animals, being mindless, only couple with females, whereas men, having the advantage of intelligence, do it differently. Therefore any man who goes out of his mind for a girl is an animal." His fellow writer Lucian concurred: "All men should marry, but let only the wise be permitted to love boys, for perfect virtue grows least of all among women."     The Greeks and Romans did not rank erotic acts by the sex of the partners, but according to who played the active and passive parts, a compelling metaphor for the proper gender roles of men and women in social life. Adult males considered anyone lower on the totem pole of sex, age, and class to be fair game, and reserved the dominant role of insertor exclusively for themselves. Only women, slaves, and (under certain conditions) boys could submit to phallic penetration without surrendering the physical and moral integrity indispensable to a warrior and a citizen. Ditto for economic dependency: Timarchus, an Athenian who was accused of having prostituted himself as a youth, ran the risk of a lifetime ban from political participation on the grounds that he had abdicated male autonomy.     Greek and Roman art visualized these sexual values and activities across a variety of genres, or types of art, usually associated with particular groups of patrons. Monumental public art depended for patronage on the secular government, whether the democratic city-states of earlier Greece who commissioned public buildings and sculptures or the autocratic regimes of Alexander's Hellenistic monarchy and imperial Rome. Religious art, ordered by the priestly caste or grateful worshippers, included cult statues and temple decorations. Wealthy patrons paid for private art ranging from pottery to jewelry to interior decoration; in Roman times, a smattering of images catered to a less comfortable clientele, including the merchants and laborers who frequented bathhouses and brothels.     The subjects chosen, and the attitudes depicted, range from the epic glorification of selfless devotion to lighthearted hedonism, bawdy humor, and satirical exaggeration. Readers hoping for graphic images of sexual acts may, except for some vase paintings and silverware, be disappointed: the ancients were actually rather reticent about illustrating physical intimacy of any kind. And when art does treat homosexual characters or episodes, eros is often the background of the plot rather than the foreground. Mythic drama was concerned above all with civic and martial virtues; while viewers understood that the bonds between many great heroes were homosexual, the principal reason to depict these men was their glorious public deeds, not their private behavior--though the two were hard to separate, as in the touching image of Achilles binding the battle wounds of his beloved Patroclus (fig. 1.1). ARCHAIC AND EARLY CLASSICAL GREECE: FROM HOMER TO SAPPHO The Greeks' glorification of heroic male bonding dates back to their earliest written records: Homer's sprawling verse epic the Iliad , recounting the Trojan War (along with his Odyssey , another anthology of exemplary characters and episodes, the nearest Greek equivalent to the Bible). As written down about the eighth century B.C.E., Homer's poem, set in the twelfth century, is the final flower of a vine of oral myth and legends rooted in the even earlier Mycenaean period. Homer extolled the passionate friendship of his central character, the young warrior Achilles, handsomest and noblest of the Greeks, for his older lover Patroclus: when Patroclus was slain by Hector, son of the Trojan king Priam, Achilles' grief was wildly inconsolable, like a good classical widow. Although Homer never discusses their sex life, later commentators took erotic attraction between his warriors for granted.     Achilles and Patroclus first appeared in art toward the end of the sixth century, when illustrations of Achilles dragging Hector's corpse behind his chariot around the tomb of Patroclus were popular in Athenian black-figure vase painting. While not overtly erotic, this avenging farewell depends for its tragic pathos on the viewer's awareness of the intense bond that unites the lovers even after death. Red-figure vases from the late sixth through the fourth centuries depicted an earlier and more physically intimate episode of the myth, Achilles' bandaging Patroclus' wounds (fig. 1.1). In this example the artist follows Homer in depicting Achilles as the junior partner, not yet bearded like Patroclus on the left (later authors called Achilles the senior partner). Behind the public ideal of heroic comradeship, which harnessed male passions to the military bandwagon, we can glimpse mutual devotion and tenderness.     This warrior eroticism had its roots in the male initiation rituals central to many tribal societies whose survival depended on hunting and warfare. Our earliest evidence of such rites in Greece is a small bronze cut-out plaque from the seventh century showing two hunters (fig. 1.2). Although most of the city-states linked male homosexuality with military training, it is not surprising that this incised relief comes from the island of Crete, settled by the Dorian people who brought to Greece the prehistoric rites of their Indo-European ancestors. The sculpture illustrates a critical moment in the Dorians' elaborate rite of passage: When he reached maturity, an aristocratic Cretan boy was ceremonially abducted by a sympathetic older man who took him on a two-month expedition in the forest for training in the use of arms. To bond this emerging adult to the males of his tribe, both of them feasted together on what the young man caught, and the youth submitted to intercourse with his elder; upon their return to civilization, the youth was admitted to the rituals of the adult elite, including the men's mess hall banquets at which he would first perform as cupbearer to his mentor.     The younger man is bearing a wild goat (ibex) on his shoulders, perhaps a trophy of his fledgling skills to be presented to the bearded bowman at the right, who grasps his arm in affectionate greeting. The activity that will further unite them is hinted at by their short tunics, which reveal the boy's genitals; this male-male contact ritualized the boy's separation from the childhood sphere of women and magically impregnated him with the adult potency symbolized by semen. Although the plaque emphasizes the young apprentice's gifts to his teacher, the older benefactor in turn rewarded his successful trainee with armor and a drinking cup, which would both symbolize his graduation into adult society and equip him for its responsibilities; the famous Chieftain Cup and other splendid vessels showing two men of different ages may be examples of such gifts. Several plaques similar to this one were unearthed at a rural sanctuary on Crete, where they had been nailed onto trees in a ritual grove near the couples' seclusion, as offerings that commemorated and sanctified the rites of passage enacted there.     Athens and many other city-states prescribed a similar form of pederasty (from the Greek "love of youths"), in which the older partner, called erastes , took a young eromenos , or "beloved," under his wing for training, inspiration, and sexual initiation. These citified folk no longer sent their couples into the bush, but the ideal of imparting masculine skills and values remained. A sculptural group erected in Athens to commemorate Harmodius and his eromenos Aristogiton for their attack on tyranny in 514 B.C.E.--the first public statue to honor mortal, rather than divine, heroes--demonstrates how highly classical society revered male comradeship as an inspiration to civic duty. The target of their assault was Hipparchus, brother of the dictator Hippias. Hipparchus tried to seduce Aristogiton, who was "in the flower of his youth," detonating a quarrel in which the offended lovers killed him; during the fracas, Harmodius was himself slain, and Aristogiton imprisoned and tortured. Although Hippias was not actually expelled from the city for four more years, popular legend quickly enshrined the martyred couple as tyrannicides.     The grateful citizenry erected the original Tyrannicide Monument in 510; Persians looted it, but once the Athenians expelled the invaders they commissioned a replacement (fig. 1.3) by the influential sculptors Kritios and Nesiotes. The couple stand side by side in the nude--the conventional un-dress for heroes--striding purposefully toward their invisible foe just before the climax: Aristogiton raises his sword arm to strike as the older, originally bearded lover lunges forward, his outstretched arm and cloak providing protective cover for the younger man. No longer archaic in style, the group is enlivened by the early classical concern for idealized realism and movement. Both figures, powerfully defined through accurate and expressive depiction of skeleton and muscles, perform dynamic yet restrained actions; although the impassive faces are too generic to be portraits, the sculptors differentiated the thinner and less developed body of Aristogiton from the rippling torso and bulging veins of his mature companion. This popular monument became a trademark for heroic action, repeated on vases, coins, and sculptural reliefs; later sculptors adapted its venerable poses whenever other subjects called for a similar grandeur. It remains our most eloquent witness to the moral dignity associated with pederasty, which inspired lovers to deeds of valor in the public good.     The political implications of this love were clear to later classical writers: Pausanias, in The Symposium , labeled it a pillar of democratic government. In regions where the people live under foreign domination, he noted, laws often discourage male love, along with training in philosophy and sport, "because of their despotic government; since, I presume, it is not in the interests of their princes to have lofty notions engendered in their subjects, or any strong friendships and communions; all of which Love is preeminently apt to create." Taking as his example the very couple whose statue had by then stood in his city for nearly a century, Pausanias comments, "This is a lesson that our [Athenian] despots learned by experience; for Aristogiton's love and Harmodius's friendship grew to be so steadfast that it wrecked their power."     The spur of such intimacy was deemed the key to success for armies like that of Sparta, where the erastes' responsibility for his young charge and bedmate lasted from puberty until adulthood. The crack Theban battalion mustered in the fourth century by Epaminondas and Gorgidas, with 150 pairs of lovers, was called the Sacred Band because each couple swore an oath of mutual devotion on the tomb of Iolaus, a mythical beloved of the demigod Hercules, patron of Thebes. At the shrine to Harmodius and Aristogiton, young Athenian lovers similarly pledged loyalty to each other and to the tyrannicides' ideals, and before battle soldiers made sacrifices to the god Eros. The historian Plutarch commented that a sanctified cadre like the Theban Band, its disciplined morale "cemented together by friendship grounded upon love, is never to be broken, and invincible; since the lovers, ashamed to be base in the sight of their beloved, willingly rush into danger for each other's relief." The regiment in fact remained undefeated until the Battle of Chaeronea (338 B.C.E.), in which they died to a man, each beside his own beloved, to demonstrate their worthiness of their companions' love. A portrait of Epaminondas by the artist Aristolaus might claim the honor of the first painting to celebrate a man for achievements directly related to male love, but it is, regrettably, long vanished.     The literary and visual heritage of lesbian love is far scantier than for males; the written record is limited to a single female voice. Sappho, the renowned poet of love between women, whom Plato acclaimed as "the tenth Muse," was born about 612 B.C.E. and was probably an old woman by the time an archaic plate (Thera, Archaeological Museum) was painted with the popular scene of two women courting. Both figures carry garlands, perhaps setting their encounter at the all-female festivities for Diana, goddess of unmarried women; one chucks the other's chin affectionately in a gesture that universally spelled seduction, regardless of gender.     Lesbian love, which Plato included without comment in his tripartite myth of the origins of sexual desire, was nowhere condemned in Greek law. Intimate relations between women were permitted, and were even institutionalized in Sparta where, Plutarch tells us, the most respectable women loved girls. These amorous dalliances blossomed within the thiasoi , educational and social communities where older women trained teenage girls in music and dancing, charm and beauty. Sappho was often described as a "schoolmistress" of the thiasos she ran, in competition with several others, on the island of Lesbos, but these were more than finishing schools. They paralleled male initiation customs: like boys with their erastes, girls were segregated from society and performed rituals honoring Diana, goddess of virginity, in which they wore garlands, played music, and sang. Although thiasoi theoretically were preparing girls for marriage, during this phase of their lives, at least, they paid homage to their woman-centered patroness through eros among themselves. Girls thrilled to passionate crushes on their contemporaries and their mutually smitten elders; thanks to their refined education, they could express those passions in poetry, now known only from the epistles of Sappho herself.     Sappho's specialty was the love lyric, often addressed to various amours, including her own pupils. Her ecstatic verses pour out both delight in longing and despair at being overwhelmed by the tempest of desire and its dark twin, jealousy. Perhaps the paired women on the Thera plate are like the two young students Sappho egged on: "I bid you, Abanthis, take your lyre and sing of Gongyla, while desire once again flies around you, the lovely one--for her dress excited you when you saw it." Or perhaps one is a teacher, confessing as did Sappho herself the infatuations that repeatedly left her feeling that "Love shook my heart like a wind falling on oaks on a mountain"--or bidding a bittersweet farewell to a young beloved who is leaving against her will to get married and urging her to remember "the good times we had," which included decking each other with floral wreaths and anointing themselves with perfume.     Sappho fast became a cultural icon, receiving tribute in numerous statues and paintings, engraved gems, and even the coins of her native city of Mytilene; a red-figure vase from the mid-fifth century (fig. 1.4) typically depicts her seated among female admirers who wave a symbolic lyre and garland. Love between women was part and parcel of Sappho's exalted reputation, but in these portraits, her sexuality is more background than foreground. The scene acknowledges implicitly that female homosexuality, like its male counterpart, could inspire the highest creative flights; but it memorializes a generalized symbol of genius without delving into the content of her work. In any case, no one would have thought of her as a lesbian in today's sense of the word: she was married, and her bisexuality was no more remarkable than that of prominent men and gods. Only in modern times has the term "lesbian," which began as a geographical label for residents of Sappho's homeland, been attached to the primary sexual interests of its best-known daughter and made the basis for an exclusive erotic category; ancient viewers would have read this image as representing a woman who, among a range of common experiences, loved other women.     Both as an author and as an independent educator, Sappho had no successors. In her own day, women could still exercise some cultural leadership, at least within the female domain. But after the sixth century, as Greek women were increasingly confined at home with limited education, the thiasoi faded away, and with them the social and intellectual support for female creativity. Although the Roman compiler Pliny listed a handful of obscure women painters, virtually all the art and literature after Sappho was produced by men, who had little interest in a world that did not include them and had no public consequences. So it is hardly surprising that they rarely illustrated or wrote about lesbian love--or that later playwrights and poets, finding an imaginative anchor for their own male viewpoint in Sappho's bisexuality, kept inventing male lovers for her. Women very probably carried on intimate relationships with others of their sex within the domestic sphere, preserving some vestige of the thiasos tradition, whose lyrical passion and emotional reciprocity could hardly be sought in marriage with its built-in disparities of age, power, and experience. But except for scattered and tantalizingly vague glimpses of women alone together (fig. 1.21), we are blind to their experience, and the literary sources are deaf. THE CLASSICAL AGE: PERICLES, PEDERASTY, AND POTTERY When the Athenians replaced the Tyrannicide Monument stolen by the retreating Persians, the new sculpture symbolized both their renewed political independence and the dawn of a cultural golden age, the classical period of the fifth and fourth centuries. As the biggest gun in a defensive alliance temporarily, at least, uniting the Greek city-states, Athens under the statesman Pericles commanded the power and resources for an outpouring of art, literature, drama, and philosophy that still represents a "classic" moment at the wellspring of the Western tradition. Homosexuality was an integral part of that legacy, from the comedies of Aristophanes and the dialogues of Plato to painting and sculpture. It was also integral to society: pederasty was key to the Athenian educational process, and the dominant model against which all male sexuality was judged. This ritualized urban courtship had its own stage sets in the gymnasiums, schools, and banquet halls where the male elite gathered. The gymnasium was both a school for young men and a social center for grown-ups; activities ran the gamut from nude athletics, infused with a tacit celebration of male beauty and physical contact, to the erotic intimacy that might follow such public displays.     Our widest window on this physical and emotional comradery, as on much of classical Greek life, is the only form of early painting to survive, on vases and pots. Vessels of terra-cotta (baked clay) were staples for storing grain, oil, and wine, as well as for serving food and drink. Neighborhood craftworkers mass-produced bowls, cups, and pots that they hand-painted, often to special order, for a middle- and upper-class clientele both locally and as far afield as the Greek overseas colonies and their Etruscan neighbors in central Italy. The wide repertory of subjects ransacked mythology, theater, and genre or daily life. Several hundred from the sixth and fifth centuries show men in a variety of erotically charged activities, from athletics to courtship to copulation; but even the less graphic themes testify to an unabashed admiration for bodily perfection and enjoyment. Though these amount to only a fraction of the known heterosexual scenes, homosexual taste was neither uncommon nor exclusive.     Many scenes depict the stages of courtship between boys and men, including the rivalry between two or more suitors illustrated in figure 1.5. The rules of this social dance, restricted to the leisured class of freeborn citizens, were elaborate and high-minded. Older males wooed boys, who ranged from puberty to age seventeen, for an intimate mentorship in physical, moral, and intellectual skills that initiated the eromenos into adult society; as part of that initiation, the boy would gratify his erastes as a passive sexual partner. At age eighteen, when pubic hair and beard sprouted, a boy graduated to an ephebe , or young adult, at which point he performed military service and was expected to shift from passive to active, himself pursuing younger men. This intermediate category lasted until age twenty-five, when he grew a beard and was generally expected to marry, though mature men could also continue to take younger male lovers.     An erastes who was attracted to a boy was expected to approach him with tact, flattery, and generosity--to prove himself not merely lustful, but willing to give as well as receive. One obligatory sign of honorable intentions was a courting gift, often depicted as an animal such as a cock, a hare, or the stag carried by the suitor in the illustration. Men approaching youths in pictures also make standard gestures of interest; often, like the central suitor here, they combine two common gestures in the "up-down pose," one hand chucking the boy under the chin, the other fondling his genitals. Pottery not only illustrated such seductions, it abetted them. A lover might have a portrait of his eromenos painted on a cup, or some subject that expressed his feelings, often accompanied by a witty inscription including the beloved's name or simply the words eros kalos , "the boy is beautiful." The youth could then use the gift at banquets, showing off the man's conquest to mutual friends.     Images of seduction seldom detail their physical setting, but the boy in figure 1.6 is brandishing a lyre, suggesting that this unwelcome encounter takes place at a gymnasium or a banquet, two commonly illustrated courting grounds. We can well understand why the adult suitor would stretch out his arm imploringly to the youth, who must often have been doubly desirable: the curriculum aimed to combine physical excellence, developed by exercise and competitive training, with intellectual and artistic accomplishment, encouraged by parallel instruction in music. The palaestra, or wrestling court, was one main attraction (shown above the main scene in fig. 1.5), while the boy in figure 1.6 has perhaps been interrupted while practicing. Either a lyre or a ball or other athletic gear may also appear as a courting gift, translating the hunt-related offerings of tribal times into more refined urban pursuits.     These vases visualize a consistent ideal of virile masculine beauty: broad shoulders, well-defined muscles in the chest and above the hips, the torso tapering to a narrow waist above prominent buttocks and massive thighs. Bodies almost never sport pubic hair, since the perfect pinup was adolescent and smooth-skinned, a preference that seemed to carry over to adults (except for their beards). "What I love above all else is a boy at the palaestra," wrote Strato, "his dusty body, his sturdy limbs, his soft skin." Depictions of such youths, victorious in their games, being honored by their trainers and judges spotlight the erotic undercurrent of a space where men were expected to gaze upon handsome boys--a spectacle in which "looking after" their charges could easily slip into "looking them over." As homoerotic architecture, structured to accommodate sexual activity within the rituals of male bonding, these gathering places were often dedicated to Eros or the demigod Hercules, the archetype of physical and sexual prowess. Ancient authors credit Hercules with more male conquests than anyone; the tomb of his beloved Iolaus, where Theban lovers exchanged vows, was located next to the gymnasium.     Besides real people, vases often illustrate mythology, equally rich in ho-passion ran in the family: Pisistratus, father of the tyrannicides' victim Hipparchus, was reportedly the beloved of the great lawgiver Solon, and Hipparchus, who provoked the couple's violence, had an erastes of his own. The Pisistratids set an erotic fashion for the city's elite, epitomized by Hipparchus' inviting to Athens the poet Anacreon, already famous for lyric verses whose celebration of wine, women, and song blithely included boys. The Athenians lionized the author, ordering his portrait on vases and later setting up a statue of him on the Acropolis, wine cup in hand, next to Pericles.     Besides hymning the hothouse atmosphere of early classical Athens, Anacreon's verses expose the link between psychology and aesthetics that inspired the artistic outpouring of his time. One heavy-breathing poem gives first-person testimony to how the desire for male beauty triggers the parallel urge to enjoy it in art: he implores an artist to "draw for me my companion Bathyllus, as I instruct you; make his ringlets shining and as dark as midnight." Moving beyond subject matter to nepotism, desire also swayed artistic life behind the scenes. Phidias, the sculptor who decorated the Parthenon--the sumptuous temple Pericles erected to the city's patroness Athena had a pupil named Agoracritus who, Pliny tells us, "pleased him because of his youthful good looks, and consequently Phidias is said to have allowed him to pass as the author of several of his works." (Continues...) Copyright © 1999 James M. Saslow. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. vii
Introduction: From Stone Age to Stonewallp. 1
Chapter 1 The Classical World: Greece and Romep. 13
Chapter 2 The Middle Ages: Dogma Versus Desirep. 55
Chapter 3 From Renaissance to Reform: Europe and the Globe, 1400-1700p. 79
Chapter 4 Asia and Islam: Ancient Cultures, Modern Conflictsp. 125
Chapter 5 From Winckelmann to Wilde: The Birth of Modernity, 1700-1900p. 151
Chapter 6 Modernism, Multiplicity, and the Movement: 1900-1969p. 207
Chapter 7 Post-Stonewall, Post-Modernp. 259
Further Readingp. 311
Illustration Creditsp. 319
Indexp. 327