Greek mythology is replete with references of relationships of same-sex. There are a number of references that can be given, like the relationships between Achilles and Patroclus,Apollo and Hyacinthus, or some of the escapades of Zeus himself.
Zeus (as eagle) and Ganymede
Let’s take the case of one such relationship of Zeus. Ganymede was a handsome mortal and the son of Tros, the Lord of the Trojans. Tros loved his son so much that he ensured that he was brought up well under special tutors who taught him wrestling, riding and swimming amongst many of the sports. Once Zeus saw Ganymede from the heavens resting with his friends at Mount Ida and instantly fell in love with him and in the guise of an eagle, swooped down to the earth. He created a storm and turned the day into darkness and tenderly caught hold of Ganymede and flew away with him. Soon they reached the heavens, where Zeus took his original form and took him to bed. Soon all the gods were delighted with the looks of Ganymede and his presence and he was thus appointed the cup-bearer where he would serve wine to all the gods, not before pressing his lips to the cups before handing the cup over to the gods. Back on the earth, Tros was sad and sunk in sorrow, so much so that even Zeus felt sad for him. To make up for the loss of Ganymede, Zeus presented him with a pair of white mares who could walk on water, which filled Tros with the joy as he rode the mares! In the meanwhile, Hera, Zeus’s wife was jealous of this new found love of Zeus and she decided to destroy the Trojans (this is a different myth). Zeus who was enamoured by Ganymede decided to make place for him in the heavens and thus was put among the stars as Aquarius – the water bearer, who till date stands tall and handsome, pouring nectar!
Apollo and Hyacinthus
Another very important myth is that of Apollo and his mortal lover Hyacinthus, the son of the King of Sparta. Apollo was in love with Hyacinthus and the god would come down to the earth to spend time with his mortal lover, listening to music and indulging in boyish pastimes and learning gymnastics from Hyacinthus, an art form supposed to have been developed from the Spartans. During one such visit to earth, both of them applied oil to their glistening bodies and started to try out throwing the discus, where each tried to outdo the other, in throwing it higher and higher. Once Apollo threw the discus very high and the when the same came hurling down to earth, Hyacinthus was hurt in the head, trying to catch it. His head started bleeding. Apollo tried in vain but could not stop the bleeding and soon Hyacinth was dead. Apollo mourned and soon a red flower rose at the spot where Hyacinthus’s blood dropped and the flower was henceforth called the Hyacinth. Painters and scholars have depicted this story of love and death in full pathos, but the fact that this was same-sex relationship has never been denied like many others in the Greek Mythology.
Amongst many of the same-sex relationships there are mentions of a few like the relationships that Aphrodite has with other goddesses and there are references of her being identified as the patron goddess of lesbians. It would be pertinent to mention here that there are more references of gay relationships than that of lesbians. This however, could be explained by the fact that such myths were written/related/orated by men and from the angle of man in general. I wouldn’t ascribe this to anything beyond this.
There are many pictures of paintings and sculptures which have made the above and many other relationships artistically immortal, but due to the moral facade that modern human beings maintain, I am not uploading them. However, those interested and ask for them directly.
Next time we will discuss some references of same-sex relationships from other mythologies. Keep reading …….