| up a level
from the separating-the-men-from-the-boys dept.
PUERILITIES - Erotic Epigrams of The Greek Anthology, translated by Daryl Hine, is a collection of short poems that once made up Book XII of an anthology of Greek literature compiled by Straton, a literary figure at the court of the Emperor Hadrian (117-138 a.d.).
This particular emperor was famous for his passionate love for his teenaged favorite Antinoüs, a love celebrated in poetry and art, and when he died while still a young man, Hadrian had towns and cities throughout the empire named or renamed after him. Near where Antinoüs died in Egypt there grew up Antinoë, Antinopolis, and Antinoüpolis.
Though not all of these 257 poems are addressed to adolescent boys, the vast majority of them are. In his translations Hine tried to be more faithful to the meaning and the music of the poems than to the exact forms and meters of the originals. He even turns a few of them into limericks! Not all of his translations work that well, but the best seem to convey the true spirit of the originals. Here's his translation of no. XCIII which was composed by Rhianus --
Boys are an inextricable maze;
Along with its purely literary interest a book like this also poses some difficult questions for Thelemites. At the time these poems were written the behavior and attitudes they describe were socially accepted, if not entirely approved by all segments of the Roman culture. In our present culture they would be illegal virtually everywhere and almost as universally condemned. But Thelemites are enjoined to "take your will and fill of love as ye will, when, where, and with whom ye will!". How does that jibe with a legally sanctioned age of consent? What about the protection of the vulnerable members of society? Does "stamp down thewretched & the weak" sanction the sexual exploitation of children? It's a sensitive topic among Thelemites, but books like this one remind us that it's unlikely to go away any time soon.
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