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Table of Contents > 1.37-1.83 Theognis

1.37: Theognis 87-90
Don't caress me with words, your heart and mind in another place,
If you love me and your heart is true.
Love me with a pure heart or renounce me,
Start a fight, hate me openly.

1.38: Theognis 371-72
Don't drive me back to the wagon, pricking hard -- I won't go,
Cyrnus, though you drag me all too deeply into your love.

1.39: Theognis 695-96
I can't give you everything you want, heart,43
Be patient. You're not the only lover of pretty boys.

1.40: Theognis 959-62
While I alone was drinking from that deepwater spring
The water seemed to me sweet and fine.
But now it's muddied, the water's mingled with water --
I'll drink from another spring, or stream.

1.41: Theognis 1063-70
In youth you can sleep the night through with a friend, 44
Unloading the desire for lusty action,
1065 And you can go wooing and sing to a flute-girl's tune --
No other thing is more thrilling than these
For men and women. What are wealth and honor to me?
Pleasure conquers all -- and merrily.
Mindless men and fools weep for the dying
1070 Instead of the blossom of youth that's falling.

1.42: Theognis 1091-94
My heart's in pain because of my love of you,
For I can't either hate or love,
Knowing it's hard when a man's your friend
To hate him, and hard to love him if he doesn't want.

1.43: Theognis 1097-1100
Already I've risen up on wings like a bird
From a great marsh, leaving a rotten man behind,
Breaking the bond. And you, who've lost my love,
Will know one day how wise I was.

1.44: Theognis 1231-34
Lines 1231-1389 of the Theognid collection are almost entirely concerned with the relationship of Theognis and Cyrnus. Our manuscripts label them as "Book Two" of Theognis' elegies, but their collection into a separate book was probably the work of later Christian scholars who wanted to segregate the most explicitly pederastic poems from the rest of the corpus.
Merciless Eros, the Frenzies cradled you and gave you suck,
Because of you Troy's citadel was crushed,45
Theseus, great son of Aegeus, was crushed,46 and Ajax crushed,
The noble son of Oileus, by your recklessness.47

1.45: Theognis 1235-38
Boy, my passion's master, listen. I'll tell no tale
That's unpersuasive or unpleasant to your heart.
Just try to grasp my words with your mind. There is no need
For you to do what's not to your liking.

1.46: Theognis 1238a-1242
Don't leave the friend you have to find another,
Yielding to the words of vulgar men.
You know, they'll often lie to me about you,
To you about me. Don't listen to them.
You'll take pleasure in this love that's gone,
And that one will elude your mastery.

1.47: Theognis 1243-44
"Let's love long."48 Then go be with others.
You are a trickster, fidelity's antitype.

1.48: Theognis 1245-46
Water and fire will never mix. And we shall never be
True to each other and kind.

1.49: Theognis 1247-48
Think about my hatred, and the crime. Know in your gut
That I will pay you for this wrong as I am able.

1.50: Theognis 1249-52
Boy, you're like a horse.49 Just now sated with seed,
You've come back to my stable,
Yearning for a good rider, fine meadow,
An icy spring, shady groves.

1.51: Theognis 1253-56
Happy the man who's got boys for loving and single-foot horses,50
Hunting dogs and friends in foreign lands.
The man who doesn't love boys and single-foot horses
And dogs, his heart will never know pleasure.51

1.52: Theognis 1257-58
Boy, you're like those adrift in risks,
Your mood now friendly to some, now others.

1.53: Theognis 1259-62
Boy, you were born good-looking, but your head
Is crowned with stupidity.
In your brain is lodged the character of a kite,52 always veering,
Bending to the words of other men.

1.54: Theognis 1263-66
Boy, you paid back a bad exchange for kindness.
No thanks from you for favors.
You've never given me pleasure. And though I've often
Been kind to you, I never won your respect.

1.55: Theognis 1267-70
Boy and horse, a similar brain: the horse
Doesn't cry when its rider lies in the dust;
No, it takes on the next man, once it's sated with seed.
Same with a boy: whoever's there he loves.

1.56: Theognis 1271-74
Boy, your slutting around has wrecked my affection,
You've become a disgrace to our friends.
You dried my hull for a while. But I've slipped out of the squall
And found a port as night came on.

1.57: Theognis 1275-78
Eros, too, rises in season, when the earth
Swells and blooms with Spring flowers.
Then Eros leaves Cyprus, that lovely island,53
And goes among men, scattering seed on the ground.

1.58: Theognis 1278a-78b
Whoever offered you advice about me, also urged you
To leave behind our love and go your way.

1.59: Theognis 1279-82
I won't mistreat you, even if the deathless gods
Would treat me better, pretty boy.
And I don't sit in judgment on petty errors.
Pretty boys get away with doing wrong.

1.60: Theognis 1283-94
Boy, don't wrong me -- I still want to
Please you -- listen graciously to this:
1285 You won't outstrip me, cheat me with your tricks.
Right now you've won and have the upper hand,
But I'll wound you while you flee,54 as they say
The virgin daughter of Iasius,
Though ripe, rejected wedlock with a man
1290 And fled; girding herself, she acted pointlessly,
Abandoning her father's house, blond Atalanta.55
She went off to the soaring mountain peaks,
Fleeing the lure of wedlock, golden Aphrodite's
Gift. But she learned the point she'd so rejected.

1.61: Theognis 1295-98
Boy, don't stir my heart with rotten anguish,
Don't let your love whisk me off
To Persephone's halls.56 Beware the anger of the gods
And men's talk. Think gentle thoughts.

1.62: Theognis 1299-1304
Boy, how long will you be on the run? I'm following,
Tracking you down. I only wish I'd reach the end
Of your anger. But you, lusting and headstrong,
Run off reckless as a kite.
Stop now, do me a favor. You won't
Hang on to the gift of Cypris,57 violet-wreathed, much longer.

1.63: Theognis 1305-10
Knowing in your heart that the flower of lovely youth
Is briefer than a footrace, loosen my chain.
For even you, mightiest of boys, may some day be compelled
And meet the hard work of the Love Goddess,
Even as I do now with you. Beware!
A boy's wickedness may one day conquer you.

1.64: Theognis 1311-18
You haven't fooled me, boy -- I'm on your trail --
You've stolen off to your new fast friends,
And thrown my love away in scorn.
But you were no friend of theirs before.
No, out of them all, I thought it was you I'd made a trusted
Mate. And now you hold another love.
I, who served you well, am laid low. Looking at you
No one on earth would want to love a boy.

1.65: Theognis 1319-22
Boy, since the goddess Cypris58 gave you a lusty
Grace, and your beauty's every boy's concern,59
Listen to these words and for my sake take them to heart --
Knowing how hard it is for a man to bear desire.

1.66: Theognis 1323-26
Cyprian,60 end these pains, scatter the cares
That eat my soul, turn me back to merriment.
End this awful anxiety, be merciful,
And let me act wisely now that my youth is gone.

1.67: Theognis 1327-34
Boy, as long as your cheek is smooth, I'll never
Stop praising you, not even if I have to die.
For you to give still is fine, for me there's no shame in asking,
Since I'm in love. At your knees . . . I beg,
Respect me, boy, give pleasure, if you're ever
To have the gift of Cypris60 with her wreath of violets,
When it's you who's wanting and approach another. May the goddess
Grant that you get exactly the same response.

1.68: Theognis 1335-36
Happy the lover who has a work-out when he gets home
Sleeping all day with a beautiful boy.

1.69: Theognis 1337-40
I no longer love the boy, I've kicked away terrible pains
And fled in joy from crushing sorrows.
I've been freed from desire by Cytherea61 of the lovely wreath.
Boy, you hold no charm for me at all.

1.70: Theognis 1341-50
Alas! I love a smooth-skinned boy, who to all friends
Displays me, against my will.
But I'll put up with it and not hide. Much is compelled, even unwilling.
For I was not shown tamed by an unappealing boy.
1345 Boy love is a delight, since even the son of Cronus,
King of the gods, once came to love Ganymede,
And seizing him, brought him up to Olympus and made him
Eternal in the lovely flower of boyhood.62
So, Simonides,63 don't wonder that even I
1350 Was shown to be tamed by love of a comely boy.

1.71: Theognis 1351-52
Boy, don't go reveling, heed an old man.
Reveling's not good for a young man.

1.72: Theognis 1353-56
Bitter and sweet, pleasant and harsh is the love of youths,
Cyrnus, till it be achieved.
If achieved, it becomes sweet, but if a man pursues
And achieves not, it is the most grievous of all.

1.73: Theognis 1357-60
For boy lovers a yoke lies on the neck, uncomfortable,
A difficult memory of erstwhile welcome.
For a man who toils to win a boy must lure him into love
Like a hand into a blazing fire of vine twigs.

1.74: Theognis 1361-62
A ship, you struck a rock and missed my love's haven,
Boy, laid hold of a rotten hawser.

1.75: Theognis 1363-64
I'll never hurt you, even when I'm gone; and no one
Will talk me out of loving you.

1.76: Theognis 1365-66
Prettiest, most desirable of boys --
Stick around and listen to me a bit.

1.77: Theognis 1367-68
With a boy there must always be mutual favor. But to a woman
No one's a trusted mate; she always loves the one who's there.

1.78: Theognis 1369-72
Boy love is nice to have, nice to put aside;
It is easier to be found than to achieve.
Countless ills hang on it, countless gains,
But there is some charm even in this.

1.79: Theognis 1373-74
You've never waited for my sake, no, you always
Chase eagerly after every message.

1.80: Theognis 1375-76
Happy the lover of boys who doesn't know the sea
And worry, there on the waves, about the coming night.64

1.81: Theognis 1377-80
Being good-looking and loving vice, you hang out with worthless
Men, and for this you get ugly reproaches,
Boy. But though I lost your love against my will,
I've won, can act a free man.

1.82: Theognis 1381-85
Men thought you came with the gift of the golden
Cyprian.65 Yet the gift of the violet wreathed
Can be the hardest load men have
If the Cyprian doesn't give hardship some relief.

1.83: Theognis 1386-89
Cyprian Cytherea with your web of cunning, Zeus did you honor
By giving you this transcendant gift;
You master men's clever minds, and there is none
So strong and skilled that he can flee.
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