You Call This Boy Love?!
You may wonder what exactly this painting by Rembrandt is about. Why, it celebrates the
abduction of young Ganymede by Zeus, to be his immortal lover in Heaven!
There is nothing heavenly about the scene, you say? The beloved is only a baby? And those people
below his furious parents? And the king of gods an ugly bird of prey?? And the ass of the child
is front and center???
No, perhaps Rembrandt was not exactly celebrating homosexuality, or the love of boys, in this
work. Was he a bigot, or was he simply being realistic? Stereotypes rarely spring out of a
vacuum. Surely he had legitimate cause for his anger, who would deny that some men abuse boys?
His anger was did not begin with him, its roots are as old as civilization. Rembrandt directed
his anger at the homosexuality of the ancient Greeks, and at all those who have followed their
example since that time, seeing them all as child molesters. What Rembrandt did not know is that
the very same Greeks who used the love between a man and a boy to build a brilliant culture, at
the same time expressed anger against any men who abused their young boyfriends, and directed
their greatest contempt at those who buggered or otherwise penetrated boys, calling them
“hubristes,” meaning “violators.” Those ethical Greek pederasts used myth, philosophy, and
oratory to express their disgust and condemnation of men who sodomized boys.
Today the anger that inspired Rembrandt to paint this indictment of child abuse has been fanned
into a firestorm that effectively blocks most men and boys from ever forming intimate
friendships, even chaste ones. At the same time the modern developed world has blithely embraced
sexual practices between males that threaten lovers with disease, dysfunction, and death, and
many men who claim to love boys act as if it is their right to inflict such practices on their
young lovers, many of whom are too ignorant to say “No!”
I know, I know, moralizing can be a bore . . . so I decided to encode my thoughts into a poem
about the love of boys, about what freedom to love really means, and about the lessons handed
down by ancient lovers. The name of the poem is “Obit for a Murdered Love”, only snippets of
which you will find here, the full version is at the link below.
. . . Aesop man’s greed and foolishness did skewer,
Here fabled Zeus helped him to ford a sewer:
“Fair goddess Shame defied the Olympic king
And warned that she would fly from men, unchained,
Should Eros from behind try entering.”
Shameless such men by Aesop were ordained.
Who would have guessed Aesop wrote a fable condemning buggery?! Why it is systematically left
out of modern collections of his works is anyone’s guess, it is at least as memorable as the one
about the fox and the grapes.
Hear now Plato, whom Ganymede inflamed
And verses penned his boyfriends, not some dame.
His peals of laughter roll from the tomb’s night
Mocking those men who restraint lack in bed
And his sharp words chide them in black and white:
“Why lurch you on all fours to mate like quadrupeds?”
“You men fancy yourselves of noble stock?
You’re nought but piglets scratching ’gainst a rock.”
Thus Socrates, whom boyish charms entranced.
Thus, since our world was new, the blame in fact
Was not sweet love that man for youth advanced
But the blind urge to barge up his digestive tract.
Plato is often presented as a philosopher who in his late works condemned “homosexual sex.”
Utter nonsense! The only thing Plato condemned was buggery. Fortunately, we males have a great
many ways to pleasure each other, and are in no way obligated to mount or to be mounted.
Speak, O captain of philosophy’s seas,
Futtering males you dubbed mental disease.
Yet, Aristotle, your loves’ names fill a book!
Yet, jibed you, only blind men crave not beauty!
How then, in youth, for lover Hermias you took,
And your acolytes embraced as sacred duty?
Aristotle, a consummate scientist at heart, saw buggery as a neurosis, akin to pulling one’s
hair out, nail biting, or eating earth. In other words, just another irrational, destructive
compulsion. Sounds about right.
Speak, old Aeschines, you fiery orator,
Athenian lads you courted and adored.
But you knew chaste from vicious love of boys.
Before all Athens, one you named a whore:
Timarchus, his honor squandered as men’s toy,
You brought to ground for flinging open his back door.
And say you more, in this Areopagus?
The ancient lore of love would you teach us?
Then pray, make known to all, what kind of man
A woman makes of his beloved male?
“Two stains mark out for us that noisome clan,
Brutal are they, uncultured too, beyond the pale.”
With those exact two words, “brutal and uncultured” Aeschines describes the men who pay boys for
sex AND do disgusting and shameful things with them, a double crime. This argument was declaimed
by Aeschines, a proud pederast himself, before a jury of five hundred Athenian men, most of them
pederasts too, no doubt, in order to fan their repugnance against Timarchus, who had allowed
several men to bugger him in his youth, in exchange for room and board. Aeschines swayed the
jury to his side, and won the case, suggesting that all most of those Athenians felt the same disgust of
There is more to recount about the views of the Greeks on the differences between boy love that
ennobles and boy love that degrades, and the poem leaves no gravestone unturned, but here I
shall skip ahead to address “gay liberation,” a travesty that liberates the anuses of the few
while imprisoning the hearts of the many — for in most other cultures all men enjoyed male love,
not just a few:
There is no freedom nor shall there ever be
Till boy with boy hand in hand can be free.
The few flaunt license, the rest in shame hide.
To say “It gets better” is a sad lie,
See youth after hurt youth leap into suicide,
Their parents want to know, how many more must die?
Thus pressed, the ranks of these eclectic
Protest, “The feeling is electric,”
And pledge to Socrates allegiance.
In vain they claim to hang with that Greek cat,
They’re just Romans flying a flag of convenience,
Loath to hoist their own “Asinus asinum fricat.”
Like the feeble who lonely solace find
Beguiled by poppies that entrap the mind
These wights cling fast to thrills they deem a treasure.
The learned trade the pleasant for the good,
And just as reason deems opium a fool’s pleasure
The Greeks to shun this folly understood.
Wrath told leads me past anger into sadness
To muse upon the random ways of madness.
How blind belief in this dead end of lust
Has robbed all men of love that might have been.
Instead up rise hard walls of fear and disgust
And young and old esteem the tender touch unclean . . . .
So here you have a brief summary of a poem that is itself the summation of the article preceding
it, that sets out the argument in its full panoply. Its title is “Pinning Anal Sex on the Greeks
A Millennial Slur”. You will find it at my Academia.edu page in its entirety, together with many
other works in many languages: