[lit-ideas] Hieroi Doxoi

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2007 23:18:41 EST

From Wikipedia:
"The Sacred Band (Ιερός Λόχος)  was a troop of picked soldiers, 
numbering 150 age-structured which formed the  elite force of the army. 
Plutarch reports that the Sacred Band consisted of homosexual couples and  
the reason was that lovers would fight more fiercely and more cohesively at 
 other's sides than would strangers with no ardent bonds. So according to  
Plutarch the inspiration for the Band's formation came from Plato’s Symposium,  
wherein the character Phaedrus remarks:

And if there were only some way of contriving that a 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 dishonour, and emulating one  another 
in honour; and when fighting at each other'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  
The Sacred Band originally was formed of picked men in couples, each lover  
and beloved, selected from the ranks of the existing citizen-army. The pairs  
consisted of the older "heniochoi", or charioteers, and the younger  
"paraibatai", or companions. They were housed and trained at the city’s  
expense. During 
their early engagements, in an attempt to bolster a  general morale, they 
were dispersed by their commander throughout the front  ranks of the army. 
Plutarch claims that all three hundred died that day, 
“It is probable, therefore, that the Sacred Band was so named, because Plato  
also speaks of a lover as a friend inspired from Heaven.” Aubrey Stewart &  
George Long translation.  
Paul Walter Ludwig, Eros and Polis: Desire and Community in Greek  Political 
Theory. Cambridge, 2002. 
Homosexuality in the militaries of ancient Greece 
Homosexuality among males in the militaries and warriors of ancient Greek  
city-states were documented by many historians throughout the ages. However the 
importance of them in establishing military formations varied. The 
relationships  themselves were widespread as remarks of Philip II of Macedon's 
by  Plutarch demonstrates: 

"It is not only the most warlike peoples, the Boeotians, Spartans, and 
Cretans, who are the most susceptible to this kind  of love but also the 
heroes of old: Meleager, Achilles, Aristomenes,  Cimon, and Epaminondas." 

XENOPHON: The Spartans ... make our loved ones such  models of perfection 
that even if stationed with foreigners rather than with  their lovers they are 
ashamed to desert their companion." 
Pammenes according to Plutarch:  

"Homer's Nestor was not well skilled in ordering an army when he  advised the 
Greeks to rank tribe and tribe ... he should have  joined lovers and their 
beloved. For  men of the same tribe little value one another when dangers 
but a band  cemented by friendship grounded upon love is never to be broken." 

 Cleomachus answered their request and brought his lover along  with him. He 
charged against the Eretians and brought the Chalcidians to victory  at the 
cost of his own life. It was said he was inspired with love during the  battle.
Gay Warriors, by Burg, B. R., et al.; New York: New York  University Press, 
Aristomenes — Arcadian 
Cimon — Skorkephalos
Asopichus — great warrior and lover of Epaminondas 
Caphisodorus — warrior and lover of Epaminondas whom he died with at the  
Battle of Mantineia. 
Cleomachus — led Chalcis to victory in the Lelantine Wars 
Pammenes — general who was supposed to assume leadership after Epaminondas 
Theron — warrior from Thessaly -- and his lover, Pelikanos 
Harmodius — credited with bringing about Athenian democracy with  Aristogiton 
Aristogiton — credited with bringing about Athenian democracy with  Harmodius 
Pelopidas — general of the elite Sacred Band. 
Epaminondas — Theban general and commander of the Boeotian army credited  
with ending Sparta's dominance -- and his lover Papaleos.
Gorgidas — established the Sacred Band selecting male couples within the  
Meleager — infantry commander under Alexander 
Alexander the Great — Macedon King who conquered the Persian Empire 
Hephaestion — top general and lover of Alexander 
Philip II of Macedon — Macedonia King who unified Greece 
Leonidas — Spartan King who fought in the Battle of Thermopylae 
Ancient Greek mythological heroes in love with each other:
Achilles and Patroclus 
Heracles and Iolaus
--- This online review of "300" noted that "Alexander" with Colin Farrell  
_flopped_ in the USA by making Alexander's bisexuality too obvious. The  
reviewer also mentions the stupidity of having, in "Troy", Brad Bitt  
being the _cousin_ of Patroclus. "Like if you undergo such a wrath  when your 
cousin dies..."
J. L.  Speranza, Esq. 

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