Pan and Daphnis
Daphnis was a hero from the island of Sicily.
His father was Hermes, god of merchants and thieves, and his
mother was a Sicilian nymph who was tricked by Hermes into making
love to him. When her time came and Daphnis was born she abandoned
him to die in a grove of laurels (whence his name) on the Mountain
of Hera, to avenge herself on his father. But Hera saw her and
took pity on the beautiful infant. She made sure that he was
found by some shepherds, who brought him home and raised him
as one of their own. From an early age he was renowned for his
beauty, and for his delightful songs about the shepherd's life.
His great pride were his herd of cattle, which were of the same
stock as those belonging to Helios, the sun god, and of which
he took the greatest care.
Many were those who desired and courted this beautiful boy. He
was a beloved of the god Apollo himself, and also of Pan, who
taught him to play the panpipes. As he grew older it was his
turn to fall in love. One day while tending his herd of magic
cattle he caught a glimpse of a lovely nymph, Nomia by name,
bathing in the river and fell in love with her. At first she
ran off, angry to have been seen by human eyes. He did not give
up and kept chasing her. In the end she relented, but warned
him that if he ever was unfaithful to her she would strike him
blind. He meant to respect her wish, but one day Nomia's rival,
another nymph by the name of Chimaera, plied him with wine and
then seduced him. The furious Nomia took away his eyesight in
revenge, and Daphnis spent the rest of his short life on earth
playing the flute and singing his songs which were now sadder
and even more beautiful than before.
Soon afterwards Hermes found out about his son's misfortune,
and came to take him up to Mount Olympos. As he flew off he struck
the rock with his foot, causing clear water to gush forth. That
spring, close by the town of Syracuse, is said to flow to this
day and still carries the name of the blinded youth. There the
Sicilian shepherds came everafter to offer sacrifices to their
After Robert Graves's
Greek Mythology, Diodorus, and Aelian's Varia Historia
Comments on the Concepts of Gay and Homosexual:
The book The Gay Greek Myths restores the homosexual and homoerotic content of the Greek myths. But Gay Greek Myths, indeed "gay mythology" in general, is a misnomer. "Gay" as a sexual identity is a recent development, emerging only in the 20th Century and our idea of what it means to be gay or a homosexual has largely been influenced by recent gay activism and the emergence of gay rights on the cultural landscape. In the time of the Greeks there was no such identity as gay - or straight - and they did not compartmentalize their sexuality into homosexual and heterosexual. Their homosexual passions were part of their erotic expression as sexual beings. They would not have considered their love for boys as gay or homosexual, as separate from other sexual expressions, and the worth of the relationship was judged not by the gender of the person one loved, but by its results. Nevertheless, throughout this site you will see the use of the words gay, homosexual and homosexuality when referring to ancient practices. Indeed this very section is titled "Homosexual Greek Myths." This is done for practical purposes, so we can easily describe the sexual relations of the ancients with familiar vocabulary. Things, however, were much more complex then the words might indicate.
These Greek myths are based quite closely on ancient fragments, materials until now passed over by modern mythographers. The sources range from poets to historians to playwrights and early Christian polemicists. Thus the form of the stories should be seen as a late one, incorporating in many cases Roman sensibilities.
Of course there has never been any one "true" version of any of these stories, as they were told and retold over a span of at least two thousand years across a region ranging across three continents, from the Black Sea to the shores of North Africa, an area now occupied by such countries as Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Italy and others. Nonetheless, the myths collectively reflect a world view in which male love was wholly compatible with living life in a sacred way, a path to heroism and divinity.
CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following form of citation:
Editorial Board, World History of Male Love, "Greek Mythology", Pan and Daphnis, 1999 <http://www.gay-art-history.org/gay-history/gay-literature/gay-mythology-folktales/homosexual-greek-mythology/pan-daphnis-gay/pan-daphnis-gay.html>
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