Open menu


Open menu


Open menu
three pairs of lovers with space



Themistokles (ca. 524-ca. 459 BC) was the Athenian admiral and statesman often considered the single individual most instrumental in defeating the attempted Persian conquest of Greece in 480-79 BC.

The Greek biographer and essayist Plutarch wrote a biography of him at the beginning of the second century AD, as one of his Parallel Lives. Here follow the only passages in it relating to pederasty.

The translation is by Bernadotte Perrin in the Loeb Classical Library volume XLVII (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1914), with one amendment explained in a footnote. Latinised names have been replaced by romanisations of the Greek.


3 i-ii

Speedily, however, as it seems, and while he was still in all the ardour of youth, public affairs laid their grasp upon Themistokles, and his impulse to win reputation got strong mastery over him. Wherefore, from the very beginning, in his desire to be first, he boldly encountered the enmity of men who had power and were already first in the city, especially that of Aristeides the son of Lysimachos, who was always his opponent. And yet it is thought that his enmity with this man had an altogether puerile beginning. They were both lovers of the beautiful Stesileos, a native of Keos, as Ariston the philosopher has recorded, and thenceforward they continued to be rivals in public life also.

However, the dissimilarity in their lives and characters is likely to have increased their variance.


[III.1] Ταχὺ μέντοι καὶ νεανικῶς ἔοικεν ἅψασθαι τοῦ Θεμιστοκλέους τὰ πολιτικὰ πράγματα καὶ σφόδρα ἡ πρὸς δόξαν ὁρμὴ κρατῆσαι. δι᾿ ἣν εὐθὺς ἐξ ἀρχῆς τοῦ πρωτεύειν ἐφιέμενος ἰταμῶς ὑφίστατο τὰς πρὸς τοὺς δυναμένους ἐν τῇ πόλει καὶ πρωτεύοντας ἀπεχθείας, μάλιστα δὲ Ἀριστείδην τὸν Λυσιμάχου, τὴν ἐναντίαν ἀεὶ πορευόμενον αὐτῷ. καίτοι δοκεῖ παντάπασιν ἡ πρὸς τοῦτον ἔχθρα μειρακιώδη λαβεῖν ἀρχήν· ἠράσθησαν γὰρ ἀμφότεροι τοῦ καλοῦ Στησίλεω, Κείου τὸ γένος ὄντος, ὡς Ἀρίστων ὁ φιλόσοφος ἱστόρηκεν.

[2] ἐκ δὲ τούτου διετέλουν καὶ περὶ τὰ δημόσια στασιάζοντες.

 18 ii

One of several examples given of how Themistokles was “by nature very fond of honour”:

Again, to one who had once been a beauty, Antiphates, and who had at that time treated him disdainfully, but afterwards courted him because of the reputation he had got, "My boy[1]," said he, " 'tis late, 'tis true, but both of us have come to our senses." πρὸς δέ τινα τῶν καλῶν γεγονότων, Ἀντιφάτην, ὑπερηφάνως αὐτῷ κεχρημένον πρότερον, ὕστερον δὲ θεραπεύοντα διὰ τὴν δόξαν, “Ὦ μειράκιον,” εἶπεν, “ὀψὲ μέν, ἀμφότεροι δ᾿ ἅμα νοῦν ἐσχήκαμεν.”


[1] The Greek word used here is “μειρακίον”, which means “adolescent” or “youth”. Perrin here translates it as “young man”, but in the Loeb translation of the same word in the same anecdote  in Plutarch’s Moralia 185c, it is more accurately rendered as “My boy”, which is the expression adopted here.  “Young man”would have been correct for the Greek “νεᾱνῐ́ον”.




If you would like to leave a comment on this webpage, please e-mail it to greek.love.tta@gmail.com, mentioning in the subject line either the title or the url of the page so that the editor can add it.