The Chaste Consecration of the Thighs: Post-Homeric Representations of Achilles and Patroclus in classical Greek Literature

Celsiana Warwick

Abstract

Although Homer’s Iliad does not explicitly portray Achilles and Patroclus as lovers, they were characterized as such by many later authors in antiquity. A number of post-Homeric texts attempt either to redefine Achilles’ and Patroclus’ friendship as a sexual relationship, or to argue against such redefinition. Previous scholarship has tended to focus on the difficulty of adapting the Iliadic Achilles and Patroclus to the paradigm of Classical Greek pederastic homosexuality. This article demonstrates and analyzes how Classical and Hellenistic interpretations of Achilles’ and Patroclus’ relationship reflect the literary agendas of the works in which they are contained. We suggest that rather than “misreading” Homer, ancient authors creatively re-interpret the Iliad in order to present Achilles and Patroclus as the quintessential example of whichever type of bond between men they wish to praise, problematize, or otherwise evaluate.   

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