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When reading ancient epics, such as Virgil's Aeneid (Pharr 1964; West 1990) and Homer's Iliad, parallels can be discerned from the com plexities that lie underneath relations between certain characters, which highlight cultural aspects of ancient society. There exist undeniable similarities between the examples of heavenly love, Nisus and Euryalus from the Aeneid and Achilles and Patroclus from the Iliad, and the examples of common love, Dido and Aeneas from the Aeneid and Paris and Helen from the Iliad. Plato's Symposium provides further insight into how ancient philosophers considered homosexual relations and what they deemed beneficial out of the love that two people share. In short, this paper argues that Plato's Symposium can help provide insight into Virgil's and Homer's attitudes toward spiritual love and a more sexual love. This paper is organized into two main sections, focusing on the respective characters from the Aeneid and the Iliad. Each section provides a brief summary of the events of that epic, followed by examples from each story placed within the theoretical context of Plato's explorations of love in the Symposium. Through close reading of these texts, this paper provides the reader with a sense of how homosexual relations have been understood and portrayed through the works of Virgil, Homer, and Plato.

The Aeneid

In his epic, Virgil whisks the reader through the Trojan warrior Aeneas' journey as he, among the other Trojans, is forced to leave their land, defeated by the Greeks in the Trojan War, and eventually found Rome. The obstacles that Aeneas and his men face are the workings of the goddess Juno, who resents the Trojans and tries to prevent them from reaching the shores of Italy, even though Aeneas is destined to found Rome. Along their journey, a storm incited by Juno's envious rage drowns many of his men, but Neptune guides Aeneas and the rest of the Trojan warriors safely to the shores of Carthage. Aeneas's mother, the goddess Venus, empathizes with her distressed son and resolves to make his stay in Carthage pleasurable by providing Aeneas with the company of a lover. Under Venus's command, Cupid strikes Dido, Queen of Carthage, with his arrow, causing Dido to fall head over heels for Aeneas. Lovesick Dido is quickly disappointed when her lover Aeneas must abandon her to continue his journey and fulfill his destiny, as determined by Jupiter. Devastated by Aeneas's betrayal, Dido believes the only way to ease her pain is to commit suicide. This tragic love story of Dido and Aeneas reminds the reader that many of Virgil's characters are simply pawns of the gods and only serve to promote the founding of Rome.

While reading the Aeneid, certain relations between characters, like Nisus and Euryalus and Aeneas and Pallas, resonate as examples of the heavenly love depicted in Plato's Symposium. Plato's Symposium exposes various ancient Greek philosophers' understandings about the goddess of Love, and it exposes the different motivations behind each type of love. Phaedrus, one of the ancient Greek philosophers, suggests that love between an older man and a younger man is most effective in guiding men to lead good lives, more so than the family, the state, or money, because this love teaches men shame when behaving disgracefully. Pausanias, another ancient Greek philosopher, strengthens Phaedrus' theory by describing two different goddesses of love, Heavenly Aphrodite and Common Aphrodite, and associating them with two different types of love, heavenly love and common love. According to Pausanias, common love is deemed bad because it consists of attraction only between the bodies of a man and a woman and not between minds. Heavenly love, on the other hand, is only shared between two males and consists of a loved one who gratifies his lover, or his mentor, in exchange for wisdom and gaining virtue. When recognizing Pausanias' two different types of love in the Aeneid, we observe that common love, like the love between Dido and Aeneas, is a form of divine intervention, whereas heavenly love, like the love between Nisus and Euryalus, is divinely protected.

The fleeting love between Dido and Aeneas encompasses Book 4 of Virgil's Aeneid; however, even though it is the most memorable example of love in the Aeneid, there exist other displays of romantic and erotic themes. The tragic love story of Dido and Aeneas outwardly contains erotic themes, especially lovesick Dido's passion for Aeneas, but the intimacy of romance is actually depicted more in the relationship of the two warriors Nisus and Euryalus. Their devoted love for one another strongly suggests that the Aeneid remains interested in love beyond Dido's devastating suicide, and even establishes different lands of love. Dissecting love through the lens of Plato's Symposium, the Aeneid exploits both common love and heavenly love, and expressing Dido and Aeneas' love as common denotes that it was doomed from the start. Exploring erotic themes and the erastes-eromenos relationships of Nisus and Euryalus and that of Aeneas and Pallas provides the reader with a more intimate understanding of the kind of love where two souls are eternally bound and connected on a deeper level than physical attraction. Love in the Aeneid is not only displayed in the relationship between Dido and Aeneas, but also plays a defining role in the intimacy of Nisus and Euryalus and the emotional connection between Aeneas and Pallas.

Aside from the fleeting love between Aeneas and Dido, Virgil exploits a similar, yet visibly more mutual, love shared between two Trojan warriors, Nisus and Euryalus. The homosexual tension between Nisus and Euryalus is undeniable, as Nisus, consumed with desire to avenge his loved one, submits himself tragically to his own death, falling on Euryalus and intertwining their bodies in their last moments of life. When Volcans attacks Euryalus, Nisus, "out of his mind with terror and unable to endure his anguish, he broke cover, shouting at the top of his voice: 'Here I am! Here I am! I am the one who did it!'" (1) Nisus's readiness to reveal himself to his enemy, drawing their attention away from his beloved Euryalus, demonstrates his ultimate willingness to sacrifice himself, a deed some consider an act of true love. The striking contrast of Nisus and Euryalus' love to the lack of devoted love Dido receives from Aeneas contributes to the reader's skepticism of the existence of Dido and Aeneas' "marriage." The eroticized death of Euryalus and the romantic picture of the two lovers lying together as they die emphasize the existence of a romantic relationship between the two warriors. Euryalus dies "like a scarlet flower languishing and dying when its stem has been cut by the plough, or like poppies bowing their heads when the rain burdens them and their necks grow weary." (2) Comparing Euryalus to a flower portrays him in a very feminine way, unlike the ferocious Euryalus who had just slayed the Rutulians. Perhaps this comparison not only alludes to Nisus and Euryalus as lovers, but also exploits Euryalus's innocence, as he is the younger and, arguably, the less wise of the two. Further exposing the intense love shared between Nisus and Euryalus, Nisus relentlessly avenges his beloved, finding himself killed in the process, but the two are joined once again: "Then, pierced through and through, he hurled himself on the dead body of his friend and rested there at last in the peace of death." (3) The sexually charged image of Nisus's body resting on Euryalus's is one of the more intimate moments of the Aeneid; with no similar description provided, the reader can only interpret the physical relationship between Dido and Aeneas, distinguishing further the strength of Nisus and Euryalus's love.

Even when Virgil first introduces Nisus and Euryalus in the funeral games in Book 5, he exposes their devoted "friendship," specifically between these two Trojan warriors, and the nurturing way they regard one another. As Aeneas announces a grand prize for those who dare to enter a foot race, Virgil's first description of Nisus emphasizes how his loyalty to Euryalus defines him: "Nisus and Euryalus were first, Euryalus standing out for the bloom of his youthful beauty and Nisus for the loving care he showed to him." (4) This depiction of Euryalus as youthful and Virgil's use of "bloom" connect to Virgil's comparison of Euryalus' death to a flower that was cut down. Both descriptions allude to Euryalus' innocence and this continuous romantic characteristic of him. The fact that Virgil explicitly states how Nisus stands out "for the loving care he showed to him (Euryalus)" denotes the significance of Nisus's love for Euryalus, as it defines him from the minute he is introduced to the reader. During the foot race, Nisus strides out in front of all of the other warriors but then trips and falls right in front of the finish line. Nisus was furious but manages to get up only so that he can know over Salius, who was in second place, so that his beloved Euryalus would win the foot race. Virgil claims that Nisus, when victory quickly slips out of his hands, "was not the man to forget Euryalus and the love he bore him" (Virgil 5.334-335). As Euryalus finds himself victorious in the foot race, Virgil exploits "his beauty as he stood there weeping and the manly spirit growing in that lovely body" (Virgil 2.344-345). (5) The descriptions of both Nisus and Euryalus after the foot race impeccably align with their initial characterizations: Nisus demonstrates his devotion to his beloved by ensuring Euryalus' victory, for he considers a victory for one of them as a victory for both of them, and Virgil again chooses to focus on capturing Euryalus' beauty and pride when victorious. Virgil's initial description of the two Trojan lovers and the events that take place in the foot race expose Nisus's and Euryalus's weaknesses and foreshadow their transgressions during their mission in Book 6, which inevitably submit them to their deaths.

Examining Plato's Symposium to contrast the love between Nisus and Euryalus and Dido and Aeneas provides an understanding to societal connotations of love, and how the Aeneid is charged with relationships of heavenly love and common love. In the Symposium, Pausanias expresses that heavenly love is only directed toward males, whereas common love typically describes the love between a man and a woman because it is based solely on physical attraction and is therefore less pure. The understanding of these two different types of love compliments the love between Dido and Aeneas, which for Aeneas was likely just a sexual relationship and the deeper love of Nisus and Euryalus. Pausanias explains that common lovers "are attracted to...bodies rather than minds," reminding the reader of the "cave scene" in Book 4 and the uncertainty of what actually took place in the cave: marriage or was it simply sex. (6) The notion that Dido and Aeneas' love is common questions the extent of how romanticized their love is and if their relationship is strictly physical, especially compared to the heavenly love of Nisus and Euryalus. One of the few moments Virgil presents the reader with the unity of Dido and Aeneas and alludes to any sort of marriage between them is his description of Aeneas through Mercury's eyes after the events that took place in the cave: "His sword was studded with yellow stars of jasper, and glowing with Tyrian purple there hung from his shoulders a rich cloak given him by Dido into which she had woven a fine cross-thread of gold" (Virgil 4.261-264). (7) Aeneas is depicted as wearing Carthaginian dress, conforming to Carthaginian society, which denotes a unification of Aeneas and Dido and Aeneas and the entire city of Carthage. His cloak of purple and gold remind the reader of Dido's cloak that she wore on the hunt, right before their marriage in the cave, and the fact that the cloak is described as in the Latin as "ardebat" alludes to the burning passion of Aeneas and Dido's love. "Ardebat" is commonly translated as "was burning" or "was in love." This translation symbolizes the cloak as a token of Dido's affection for Aeneas. In addition, Dido is subtly portrayed as a traditional, domestic wife by forging Aeneas's clothes for him, further suggesting a true marriage between them. This imagery, however, does not allude to the same kind of passionate love as the imagery of Nisus and Euryalus' intimate deaths. The intertwinement of Nisus and Euryalus establishes the deep bond between themselves and their souls as they vanish together, whereas the description of the traditional marriage between Aeneas and Dido emphasizes prosperity from this political union and their legacy from family and procreation.

Another moment where Dido and Aeneas' love is described as consuming both of them is "how they were even now indulging themselves and keeping each other warm the whole winter through, forgetting about their kingdoms and becoming the slaves of lust." (8) Virgil's description of Aeneas and Dido as both "neglecting their duties" and as both "becoming the slaves of lust" denotes that Aeneas too was at one point infatuated with desire for Dido, but he is portrayed here as showing interest strictly in their physical relationship, especially with the Latin "fovere," or to keep warm or to cherish, as a sexually charged word. This willy-nilly behavior of forgetting responsibilities caused by desire for one another is similar to the reckless behavior of Nisus and Euryalus when they savagely slay Rutulians, perhaps to not only prove their worth to their leader Aeneas and the other Trojans warriors, but also to impress each other. This connects to Phaedrus' description of love and how love guides men to lead good lives. He expresses that love leads men to be more conscious of their behavior, concerned with what their loved one will think: "Take the case of a man in love who is caught acting disgracefully or undergoing something disgraceful because he fails to defend himself out of cowardice. I think it would cause him more pain to be seen in this situation by his boyfriend than by his father, his friends or anyone else." (9) This concept of two men who love each other and therefore want to do everything right in each other's eyes epitomizes the love of Nisus and Euryalus and provides a reasoning behind the extent of their killings. Phaedrus claims that an army of lovers would be the most successful army: "Theirs would be the best possible system of society, for they would hold back from all that is shameful, and seek honor in each other's eyes." (10) Following Phaedrus's theories on love, the multitude of Nisus's and Euryalus's killings is likely a display of their bravery, motivated by the urge to be their best selves in front of their lover.

The love between Nisus and Euryalus is emphasized by their shared love for glory, plunder, and battle. (11) Expressing similar interests and goals intensifies the bond between the two warriors and makes their love eternal, unlike Dido and Aeneas. Scholar Lee Fratantuono claims, "Nisus and Euryalus die together and in love, and so in death, perversely, they constitute the only 'successful' couple in the epic." (12) Aside from their shared goals as warriors, Nisus and Euryalus expose differences in their demeanor during their expedition to retrieve Aeneas. As they slay the sleeping Rutulians, they are both compared to animals slaughtering their prey; however, Euryalus is described as less in control then Nisus, for he was "in a blazing frenzy." (13) When Nisus "noticed Euryalus was being carried away by bloodlust and greed," (14) he tries to warn his loved one and convince him to continue on with their mission, relating to Pausanias' idea of the erastes-eromenos relationship. (15) The romantic relationship between the elder Nisus and the younger Euryalus is embodied by the erastes-eromenos relationship, which Pausanias claims to be heavenly love and appropriate under these circumstances: "when lover and boyfriend come together, each observing the appropriate rule: that the lover is justified in any service he performs for the boyfriend who gratifies him, and that the boyfriend is justified in any favour he does for someone who is making him wise and good. Also, the lover must be able to develop the boyfriend's understanding and virtue in general, and the boyfriend must want to acquire education and wisdom in general." (16) This heavenly love, in which the younger is supposed to learn from the elder, is expressed as Nisus voices concern for Euryalus's savage behavior and urges him to follow Nisus's lead by continuing with the mission. The unspoken agreement of an erastes-eromenos relationship establishes a much stronger connection between the two lovers because they are connected to each other both mentally and physically, as opposed to the physical love between Dido and Aeneas.

Similar to Nisus and Euryalus' love, yet less apparent, is the relationship between Aeneas and Pallas which can also be understood as eroticized and another example of erastes-eromenos. Virgil explicitly describes their relationship as a mentoring one with Evander's words "Let him be hardened to the rigours of war under your leadership. Let him daily see your conduct and admire you from his earliest years correlating to the loved taught virtues and wisdom by the lover." (17) More apparent is the familial relationship between the two with a father teaching a young boy and guiding him so that he may follow in his footsteps. However, there are subtle sexual innuendos that point to the possibility of a more sexual relationship like erastes-eromenos between Aeneas and Pallas. When Aeneas and Pallas first embrace, "he (Pallas) took Aeneas by the right hand in a long clasp" (Virgil 8.124-125). (18) Scholar Michael Putnam claims, "the line heaps chiasmus on chiasmus to convey, through sound and verbal deployment, the intensity of Pallas' gesture." (19) The use of the words "long" and "clasp" provides the reader with a sense of eternity and unity between the two, demonstrating their devotion to this friendship or erastes-eromenos partnership. The use of "right hand" denotes further a romantic relationship, for "right hand" can have the connotation of marriage and is used in Book 4 by Dido herself as she questions her fleeing lover: "Did you think you could slip away from this land of mine and say nothing? Does our love have no claim on you? Or the pledge your right hand once gave me?" (20) In a similar manner of Nisus consumed only with the thought of avenging his lover as Euryalus dies, Aeneas recognizes Pallas' armor on Turnus, motivating him to drive his sword through Turnus. After remembering his beloved Pallas, Aeneas is described as "burning with mad passion and terrible in his wrath" (21) and "blazing with rage" (Virgil 12.950), (22) alluding to the deep passion Aeneas feels for his eromenos and his urge to avenge the Pallas he cherished. (23)

Presenting the reader with underlying themes of common love and heavenly love, Virgil possibly exploits his own opinions about love and how the land of love one would die for is the love that establishes a deep connection between the minds of two men. Familial love, though less romantic and erotic, is another version of love that is carried out throughout the Aeneid, and one that should not be overlooked. The love that Aeneas has for Anchises, his father, and Ascanius, his son, surpasses the love he has for his Trojan wife Creusa, for he chooses to carry his mentor and the one he mentors, leaving Creusa to die with burning Troy. Familial love like Pausanias' heavenly love is based on the sharing of wisdom between two people and the idea of passing on the torch, as opposed to love based simply on sexual desire. Looking at their relationship from Dido's perspective, however, she would say that there were real feelings and a deep connection between her and Aeneas. This possible misconception, based on the actions of Aeneas, sparked her suicide, proving the disorderly nature of common love. Simply attributing love in the Aeneid to only the love story of Dido and Aeneas does not account for the various types of love depicted in the Aeneid, and this notion removes the examination of other intimate relationships that drive the actions of certain characters.

The Iliad

The Aeneid is not the only ancient epic where different types of love seep through the pages. Exempla of common love and heavenly love are also embedded in Homer's Mad, with the common love between Paris and Helen and the heavenly love between warriors Achilles and Patroclus. As Virgil found inspiration through Homer's epics, the similarities between the erastes-eromenos relationships of Trojan warriors Nisus and Euryalus and Achaean warriors Achilles and Pallas are uncanny. The Iliad takes place nine years after the start of the Trojan War, a war between the Trojans and the Achaeans, incited by Trojan Prince Paris's "capture" of Helen, Queen of Sparta. The story opens with the Achaeans capturing two beautiful Trojan maidens as prisoners of war. King Agamemnon presented one of the maidens as a gift to his cherished warrior Achilles and kept the other maiden for himself. However, because one of the maiden's fathers was a priest for Apollo, Apollo rained a thousand arrows down on the Achaeans, killing much of Agamemnon's army. With many of his men dead, Agamemnon surrendered his prisoner of war and takes Achilles's for himself to replace this loss. Furious with Agamemnon for stealing his prize, Achilles refuses to fight for his king. In the absence of the mighty warrior Achilles from the battlefield, the Achaeans suffer many losses and nearly get destroyed by the Trojans. Proud Achilles finally agrees to contribute to the war efforts of the Achaeans by allowing his beloved Patroclus fight in his place, even wearing his own armor. Patroclus, embodying the strength of Achilles, excels in battle and for a short time the Achaeans triumph in the Trojan War. When Trojan Hector slays Patroclus, Achilles is stunned and filled with rage and sets out to avenge his beloved. Achilles ferociously decimates Hector taunting the Trojans by dragging the corpse behind his chariot, emphasizing the deep connection and love he feels toward Patroclus, fearlessly avenging him.

An epic seemingly based on the events of the Trojan War, filled with battle, plunder, blood, and glory, the Iliad exposes the love involved in the relations between certain warriors. With the memorable example of common love embodied in the relationship between Paris and Helen, and the erastes-eromenos relationship between the Achaean warriors Achilles and Patroclus, the Iliad exposes more about ancient Greek customs than simply war tactics and battle history. Even though there is less romantic imagery surrounding Achilles and Patroclus, compared to Nisus and Euryalus in the Aeneid, the description of Achilles's reaction to the death of Patroclus resembles that of a mother mourning the loss of her child. The disheveled description of Achilles, broken by the news of his beloved, reveals the vast depths of the love and care intertwining Achilles and Patroclus.

The ambiguity behind the so-called "capture" of Helen parallels the ambiguity associated with the so-called "marriage" of Dido and Aeneas. Helen may have willingly gone with Paris to Troy, escaping her duties as Queen of Sparta to enjoy the luxuries of Troy and indulge in the lust between her and the handsome Paris. In both cases, the pairs of lovers were swept away by their lust for one another, neglecting their duties and their roles in promoting society. Whether Paris selfishly seized Helen as his prize or Helen stole away in the night with her secret lover, this sexual attraction and infatuation between them made them blind to their societal obligations. Similarly, the physical connection between Dido and Aeneas causes both of them to neglect their duties and forget their purpose. The Greek philosophers of Plato's Symposium consider this type of love or sexual desire as toxic, hindering society's progress. Both the common love between Paris and Helen and Dido and Aeneas led to complete destruction of a civilization: For the fleeing of Paris and Helen incited the Trojan War and contributed to the downfall of Troy and the irresponsibility that went hand in hand with the physical love between Dido and Aeneas led to the downfall of Carthage and decelerated the founding of Rome. Compared to heavenly love that emphasizes the exchange of wisdom and perhaps certain political or social favors, both Virgil and Homer demonstrate how this common love is too distracting and serves as a weakness. Common love as weakness is exploited by the gods throughout epic, as they intervene with human affairs by introducing temptations to further the agenda of one god as they compete with another. For example, Venus, the mother of Aeneas, has Cupid strike Dido with his arrow to make Aeneas' stay more pleasurable in Carthage, since Juno delayed his journey to Rome by calling on the god of the winds to blow Aeneas and his men off course. Venus' intervention in Aeneas' affairs by providing him with a lover ignites this common love between Aeneas and Dido, distracting him from his mission with temptation, as she wants her son to indulge in the pleasures of life and forget about his hardships.

Through the death of Patroclus, the erastes-eromenos relationship between Achilles and Patroclus becomes apparent, with the intensity of Achilles' grief for his lost beloved and the extent to which Achilles feels compelled to avenge his beloved. With the Achaeans struggling in battle, Achilles, who excused himself from fighting with the Achaeans to spite Agamemnon, finally agrees to assist the Achaean army by allowing his companion Patroclus to fight. Patroclus, dressed in the mighty warrior Achilles' armor, instills hope among the Achaean army. This hope is soon squandered, however, when Achilles' armor is stripped from him, revealing his identity as Patroclus, and as Hector executes him in the battlefield. When news of his beloved Patroclus' death reaches Achilles, Achilles is stunned with grief and rage: "A black cloud of grief came shrouding over Achilles. Both hands clawing the ground for soot and filth, he poured it over his head, fouled his handsome face and black ashes settled onto his fresh clean war-shirt. Overpowered in all his power, sprawled in the dust, Achilles lay there, fallen... tearing his hair, defiling it with his own hands." (24) This "black cloud of grief" and Homer's depiction of Achilles as so distraught that he covers himself in dirt and pulls out his hair allude to the deep erastes-eromenos relationship between Achilles and Patroclus and how crazed Achilles feels with this loss. Achilles beats the ground as someone who is truly devastated by the loss of a loved one, to the point where they may blame themselves and feel as though they cannot move on. Achilles was so distraught by the news of the death of his beloved Patroclus that he burst out "Then let me die at once." (25) Similar to Nisus' reaction of wanting nothing but revenge, Achilles seeks out to destroy Hector, knowing that he is likely submitting himself to his own death in doing so. By willingly sacrificing themselves to join their lovers in the afterlife, Nisus and Achilles epitomize these soldiers intertwined with their eromenos, further emphasizing the sanction behind an army of lovers.

Besides the self-sacrificing nature of the erastes-eromenos relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, the mentorship and true sharing of wisdom nature of the erastes-eromenos relationship is exposed. When Achilles allows Patroclus to fight in his place and even wear his armor, he provides him with instructions to only fight long enough to save the burning Achaean ships. Just the fact that Achilles allows his beloved Patroclus to take his place in battle and basically pretend to be him speaks much to the love that Achilles feels toward Patroclus. Achilles is a proud warrior, as exposed earlier in the epic when he sulks over Agamemnon taking away his prisoner of war. Giving Patroclus the opportunity to embody Achilles and succeed in battle for them both demonstrates that even though Achilles is proud, this pride encompasses his beloved Patroclus. Similar to how Nisus and Euryalus share in their search for glory when they slay the Rutilians, Achilles and Patroclus almost become one, as Patroclus is given the opportunity to make his erastes proud and live up to Achilles' legacy on the battlefield. Interestingly, demonstrating the mentoring aspect of the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, Homer explicitly states that it was not until after Patroclus wore Achilles' armor did the fate of the Achaeans in battle turn in their favor. Both Nisus and Achilles warn their loved ones and give them specific orders to ensure their safety. While Nisus advises Euryalus not to get carried away in his slayings of the Rutulians, Achilles warns Patroclus to contribute only to the efforts of the war until the Achaeans stopped the Trojans from burning their ships, so he does not find himself in danger with Hector. As the older, wiser soldiers in their erastes-eromenos relationships, Nisus and Achilles mentor their lovers and are deeply concerned with their well-being, rightfully so, as Euryalus and Patroclus, so motivated by killings disobey their erastes. Both Euryalus and Patroclus cannot control themselves while slaying their enemies, flooded with this desire to cut down every enemy that steps in their paths. This flawed trait of both younger soldiers, fueled by their desire for glory in battle, inevitable leads them to their downfall.


Throughout both epics the Aeneid and the Iliad, the examples of common love with Dido and Aeneas and Paris and Helen prove to be the most destructive in the progression of ancient civilization. When Dido and Aeneas are infatuated with one another, all construction of buildings in Carthage seize, slowing down the progression of Carthaginian society, as Dido neglects her duties as queen. With the fleeing of Paris and Helen resulting in the Trojan War, countless men on both sides die in battle and the city of Troy crumbles. Even though the erastes-eromenos relationships between Nisus and Euryalus and Achilles and Patroclus seem to be flawed or fail, as both Euryalus and Patroclus are killed, resulting in the deaths of Nisus and Achilles, these relationships do not directly result in the destruction of a city or the death of thousands. These examples of heavenly love do not directly affect the survival of populations or the advancements of civilizations, but rather they only seemingly impact the two parties involved, the erastes and the eromenos. Thus, heavenly love between two men and this sacred exchange of wisdom and protection, as explained by Phaedrus and Pausanias, prove to be most beneficial for the progressions of society and hence, divinely protected.


(1.) Virgil 9.426-427.

(2.) Virgil 9.435-438.

(3.) Virgil 9.446-448.

(4.) Virgil 5.294-296.

(5.) Virgil 2.344-345.

(6.) Plato, and Christopher Gill. The Symposium. London, England: Penguin Books, 1999: 13. Print. Penguin Classics.

(7.) Virgil 4.261-264.

(8.) Virgil 4.193-196.

(9.) Plato, and Christopher Gill. The Symposium. London, England: Penguin Books, 1999: 10. Print. Penguin Classics.

(10.) Ibid.

(11.) Fratantuono, Lee. ""Pius Amor": Nisus, Euryalus, and the Footrace of "Aeneid" V." Latomus 69.1 (2010): 51-52. Print.

(12.) Ibid.

(13.) Virgil 9.345.

(14.) Virgil 9.355-356.

(15.) Ibid.

(16.) Plato, and Christopher Gill. The Symposium. London, England: Penguin Books, 1999: 17. Print. Penguin Classics.

(17.) Virgil 8.516-518.

(18.) Virgil 8.124-125.

(19.) Putnam, Michael C. J. Virgil's Aeneid: Interpretation and Influence. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995: 33. Print.

(20.) Virgil 4.307-309v.

(21.) Virgil 12.945-946.

(22.) Virgil 12.950.

(23.) Ibid.

(24.) Homer 18.24-30.

(25.) Homer 18.114.

Works Cited

Fratantuono, Lee, 2010, ""Pius Amor": Nisus, Euryalus, and the Footrace of "Aeneid" V," Latomus 69(1): 43-55.

Pharr, Clyde, 1964, Vergil's Aeneid Books I-IV: Revised Edition, Lexington, MA: DC Heath and Company.

Plato, Christopher Gill, 1999, The Symposium (Penguin Classics), London, UK: Penguin Books.

Putnam, Michael C. J., 1995, Virgil's Aeneid: Interpretation and Influence, Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

West David, 1990, "Virgil: The Aeneid," A New Prose Translation: 114. Print.

Morgan van Kesteren is a student at Colgate University, majoring in Classical Studies, minoring in Psychology, and following the pre-med track. Studying Latin and Greek languages and culture, Morgan examines classical literature while focusing on patterns that reflect the contemporary world. While translating the Aeneid during a Latin class, Morgan remarked on the parallels between the homoerotic relations of Nisus and Euryalus and Achilles and Pallas in the fliad. Fascinated with the different types of love presented in ancient epic, Morgan examined Plato's Symposium as a lens for discerning ancient cultural beliefs about love. Morgan presented this paper at the UNCC Sex and Religion Conference in the spring of 2019.
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Date:Dec 1, 2019
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