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Table of Contents > 2.1 Plutarch, Love Stories

2.1: Plutarch, Love Stories 2.772E-773B

Plutarch tells the story of an Argive family that settled in Corinth. These events, if historical, would have occurred around 735-30 BCE. The story is alluded to by Alexander of Aetolia, an early Hellenistic poet.

[772] This Melissus had a son named Actaeon, the handsomest and most modest youth of his age, who had many lovers, chief of whom was Archias, of the family of the Heracleidae,1 in wealth and general influence the most outstanding man in Corinth. Now when he could not gain the boy by persuasion, he determined to carry him off by force. So he got together a crowd of friends and servants, went as in a drunken frolic to the house of Melissus, and tried to take the boy away. But his father and his friends resisted, the neighbors also ran out and pulled against the assailants, [773] and so Actaeon was pulled to pieces and killed; the assailants thereupon went away. But Melissus took his sonís body and exhibited it in the marketplace of the Corinthians, demanding the punishment of the men who had done the deed; but the Corinthians merely pitied him and did nothing further. So, being unsuccessful, he went away and waited for the Isthmian festival,2 when he went up upon the temple of Poseidon, shouted accusations against the Bacchiadae, and reminded the people of his father Habronís benefactions,3 whereupon, calling upon the gods to avenge him, he threw himself down from the rocks. Not long afterwards the city was afflicted by drought and pestilence, and when the Corinthians consulted the oracle concerning relief, the god replied that the wrath of Poseidon would not relax until they inflicted punishment for the death of Actaeon. Archias knew of this, for he was himself one of those sent to consult the oracle, and voluntarily refrained from returning to Corinth. Instead he sailed to Sicily and founded Syracuse. There he became the father of two daughters, Ortygia and Syracusa, and was treacherously murdered by Telephus, who had been his beloved and had sailed with him to Sicily in command of a ship.
This website makes available to the public the first two chapters of Homosexuality in Greece and Rome: A Sourcebook of Basic Documents, edited by Thomas K. Hubbard and published by University of California Press in April 2003. The index also lists the rest of the sourcebook's contents; the book may be ordered at, list price $34.95 paperback. In addition, a file of close to 200 pertinent artistic images is assembled, including those published in the sourcebook and many others. Acknowledgement is made to University of California Press for permission to reproduce this material, as well as to the various museums that have granted permission to use their photographic images. Comments may be directed to Prof. Hubbard at