2. Excerpt from an offering prayer from the tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep in Saqqara. Translated by Jon Hirst
Relief from the tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep. Egypt, Saqqara, ca. 2400 BC. The two men were royal manicurists. The gesture of embrace symbolises a close connection: we do not know if they were brothers (perhaps twins), or lovers. For a 3D model of their tomb, click HERE.
4. Plato: Symposium, 179e–180a. Translated by Harold N. Fowler.
Athenian red-figure drinking cup: Achilles dresses the wounds of Patroclus, ca. 500 BC. Sosias (potter) – Sosias Painter. Berlin, Antikensammlung der Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, F 2278 © Antikensammlung der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, source: wikipedia, Bibi Saint-Pol 2008.
6. Propertius I. 20. 45–50, translated by Vincent Katz
Heracles joined the Argonauts in the company of the young Hylas. But somewhere along the Marble Sea the water nymphs abducted the handsome youth. Heracles searched for his beloved companion for a long time, but never found him.
Detail of the so-called Ficoroni cista showing the Argonauts: Hylas and Heracles (?), 340–330 BC. © Rome, Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia, source: flickr, Egisto Sani 2015.
7. Rainer Maria Rilke: Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes. (excerpt), translated by Stephen Mitchell
Roman marble relief: Hermes, Eurydice and Orpheus, 1st century BC (after a Greek relief made around 420–410 BC). The relief captures the moment when Orpheus turns back towards his dead wife on their way out of the Underworld. Hermes, the guide of souls will lead Eurydice back to the realm of the dead – he is already holding her arm. Paris, Musée du Louvre, Ma 854 © 2006 Musée du Louvre / Daniel Lebée / Carine Deambrosis.
8. Ovidius: Metamorphoses, VIII. 709–712, translated by Frank Justus Miller
The poor, elderly couple, Philemon and Baucis generously welcomed the gods disguised as ordinary people into their homes. In return, the gods granted their wish to die together and when their time came, transformed them into trees, one oak and one linden.
Terracotta urn showing an Etruscan couple. From Caere, ca. 530–520. Rome, Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia, 6646, source: wikipedia, Sailko 2017.
9. Ovidius: Metamorphoses, IV. 375–379, translated by Frank Justus Miller
Hermaphroditus was the child of Hermes and Aphrodite. A nymph fell in love with him, but he rejected her. When she embraced the beautiful youth, the gods granted her wish to unite their bodies forever.
Sleeping Hermaphroditus, 100–150 AD. Paris, Musée du Louvre, Ma 231 © 2011 Musée du Louvre / Thierry Ollivier.
Featured image: Rainbow above a village garden. Hungary, 2021.