GAY GUYS AND PREVENTION OF SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES

Here below you can read the first part of chapter 18 of the Textbook on Homosexuality by Gay Project, you can easily download it here, absolutely free, unfortunately at the moment only in Italian:
http://gayproject.altervista.org/manuale…ualita.pdf
The chapter can also be heard in voice (only in Italian) on the Gay Project Radio website, at:
http://progettogayradio.blogspot.it/2013…zione.html
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From “GAY PROJECT HOMOSEXUALITY TEXTBOOK” – CHAP. 18

GAYS AND PREVENTION

It has been rightly pointed out that sex education cannot be reduced to alerting young people to the risks associated with sexuality (unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases) but must take the fundamental task of contributing to individual well-being increasing the value of the pleasure as a means to improve the quality of life. Certainly we cannot disagree with such a statement, however, it remains that, in particular about sexual education of gay guys, the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases plays an absolutely fundamental role. Let us now try to understand why.

We start from data updated to 2012, which come from the Italian Higher Institute of Health (Istituto Superiore di Sanità):

In Italy in 2011, there are 94.146 cases of HIV infections treated (HIV-positive and AIDS), adding the estimated share of unaware HIV-positive people, the number rises to 156.910.

The causes of transmission of the virus are divided as follows:

37.2% heterosexual relationships
28.5% injective users of substances
27.7% homosexual relationships between males

At first glance one gets the impression that heterosexual relationships are now even more dangerous than homosexual ones but it should be kept in mind that heterosexuals are about 92% of the population, while homosexual males are about 4%, so 92% of population, composed of heterosexuals, contributes 37.2% to the total number of infections, while 4% of the population, composed of homosexual males, contributes 27.7%. As a result, male homosexuals have a statistical probability of becoming infected with HIV which is 17.3 times higher than that of heterosexuals. The number 17.13 represents the so-called risk ratio gay on hetero for male subjects in Italy, but if we look at Europe, the risk ratio goes well beyond this number. In essence, statistically the risk of contracting HIV for gay males is “much” higher than for straight males.

That’s why, for gays, education to the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases is absolutely essential.

Obviously it is doctors’ competence to explain in detail the techniques of disease prevention and therefore it is right to refer to the site of the Ministry of health that contains updated information shared by the scientific community. The Internet addresses of the site of the Ministry of Health and of the most accredited Organizations dealing with the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases can be found at the end of this chapter.

I would like to proceed now, on the basis of the experience gained in Gay Project, to analyze three different documents pertaining to the issue of prevention related to different age groups and different personal situations. The first document, very brief, regards the younger boys and their approach to sexuality and prevention, the second is a testimony of how we can move from a substantially dissipated life, spent in the search for false satisfactions, to a life lived with a very solid moral commitment. The third document concerns the fear of being HIV-positive that hangs a guy 19 years old but also witnesses a beautiful friendship born between two gay guys with the only purpose of doing a stretch of their own road together with the certainty of not being alone.

So let’s start from the approach to sexuality of the very young guys.

It happens to me, even if not very frequently, to chat with very young guys who are becoming aware of their being gay. The contents of these chats are often very different from the typical chat content with older guys. With the younger guys I often find myself faced with the need to make people understand:

1) that being gay has nothing to do with “doing this or that” in terms of sex, but it means in the first place to love another guy,

2) that the exasperated research of sexuality in too early age is not a sign of affective maturity but exactly the opposite,

3) that sexuality is not a game,

4) that the couple sexuality is substantially different from masturbation because it is not about dealing with one’s own fantasies but with a real guy and with his psychological reality, that is about creating serious affective relationships,

5) that feelings need time to grow and a guy who, as soon as he knows you in chat, tells you that he is in love with you, isn’t really looking for you but just for a bit of sex,

6) that having sexual intercourses can entail serious risks to health and that the use of condom is always and absolutely essential,

7) that in networked contacts it is necessary to be cautious, we must avoid in the most absolute way to give unknown people cell phone numbers, telephone numbers, home addresses or other elements for personal identification.

If on the one hand it is natural that very young guys tend to explore sexuality, there is on the other the risk that “curiosity” becomes the only or the main motivation towards sexuality. From the interviews it is clear that the youngest gay guys have practically no comparison with reliable adult people on the subject of sexuality and homosexuality in particular. A lot of guys are very shy and embarrassed so that a dialogue (that is, a two-way conversation) is in fact impossible, usually I’m the only one who speaks trying to expose the contents that seem to me of greater interest on the basis of the few words exchanged with the interlocutor. In some cases, about 50%, we get to an open dialogue but not immediately, and it is clear that the guys are not used to talk about sexuality in a serious way. In some cases a climate of trust is created and the dialog becomes less theoretical and much more personal.

When very young guys, who start by setting up all the talk on matters of sexual techniques, feel stopped and brought back to a more serious dimension, or run away or radically change their tone. Those who run away probably do not have the maturity necessary to understand that being gay is something that involves the deep emotional life or perhaps of that deep emotional life they don’t yet feel the need and are stuck to the phase purely exploratory of sexuality. Those who don’t run away but change their tone come to a serious and personalized dialogue. These guys, who certainly have a gay affective dimension already quite defined, don’t try to enhance it spontaneously, but instinctively prefer the sexual dimension by considering it more adult, for them sexuality is still subordinated to the anxiety of growing and sometimes they are amazed by the fact that I give so much importance to the gay affective dimension and that I consider it fundamental, what they consider quite strange, at least at the beginning.

Many guys, even very young, in their anxiety of experimentation of sexuality go far beyond masturbation and begin to mentally build the idea that they must “try with a guy”. The idea of the experiment is sometimes dominant. The couple sexual experience is considered a sort of sexual license of adult life. The “trying” is reduced, however, to try a technique, and the emotional dimension is completely marginalized. In some situations I found myself in front of very young guys who boasted a certain sexual experience and spoke with pride about the number of sexual intercourses they had had and about the sexual practices they had experienced (more or less credible) as it was a real Curriculum to be presented to a competition.

Stopped by me in a drastic way, however, they showed an unexpected will of dialogue. Basically they were facing, probably for the first time, an adult vision of sexuality that in some way fascinated them. In the face of expressions such as “my friends have done it”, or “why not?”, Or “gays do it” I often reacted in a strong way and then tried to resume the conversation calmly. The key thing in chats with very young guys is to listen and make them get to the conclusions by themselves.

Very often, with very young guys I tackle the subject of caution, both in terms of the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, and in terms of prudence on the net. It is clear that no one has ever talked to these guys in any way even minimally serious about these things and that they have absolutely no perception of risk. My insistence on the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases has sometimes been the cause of the interruption of dialogue with young guys who didn’t like such things and considered them a just form of moralism aimed only at terrorizing guys to put them in mind that sex is a bad thing. In some cases, following my speech on the use of condoms, I found myself faced with paradoxical answers followed by the abandonment of the chat, as in the following little dialogue between a 16-year-old (his nickname is Nofear).

Nofear – I met him in chat, he’s thirty years old but is very strong, with him we do everything
Project – but always protected?
Nofear – that is?
Project – with condoms
Nofear – of course no condom, I don’t like such things, with a condom you lose the best
Project – do you realize what you say? Look, it’s dangerous
Nofear – those who are not risking don’t even win …
Project – wait … let’s try to reason
Nofear – if you want to preach, please go preach to somebody else, hi

In essence from the chats with the very young guys it is clear that they are completely abandoned by the adult world and that their sexual education, as a comparison with responsible adults on issues related to sexuality, homosexuality and in particular the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, practically doesn’t exist at all.

We now come to the second document, it is an email I received from a gay doctor on 11/27/2011.

“Hi Project, reading your blog I had a jolt of pride and it happens to me very rarely. I am 43 years old and experienced a lot of things that you would not like. I have been publicly declared for a very long time, or better I can say that I have been publicly declared and have passed through the complete succession of what you call, with many elegance, things labeled gay. Fortunately for me I managed to save my health and this comforts me because there are people who have been much less lucky than me.

When I was 18/20 years old internet practically did not exist yet, and I had made my own ideas, a little as you say, the frenzy of trying, believing that going into the circle would have facilitated things and in a sense it was true but from other points of view it was destructive, first of all the news that I was gay quickly spread throughout the city, a small city in the northern Italy where gossip and hypocrisy are always the masters. Fortunately, I was studying in another city and I finished my studies, but when I started the profession I had huge problems because everyone ran away from me (I’m a doctor) and I had to change city, I had to start all over again, not to mention the terrible recriminations on the part of my family that treated me like an idiot without remedy, which pushed me even more to leave.

In the new city, after a while I started going to clubs again, because it had almost become a drug. I met people out of mind that in some cases made me really scared and after five years I had to go again to a different, smaller city, here there were no clubs but I started with chats and even there it was a torment, just like a drug, I knew some guys in the chat, then we met, did a bit of sex and then they disappeared and were reckless guys that when I talked about condoms took me for crazy. I had the frenzy of sex, I was more than 30 years old, even almost more than 32, but I spent all my free time looking for contacts. I felt alone, and I was alone, the relations with my family were completely inexistent. My father and mother no longer made themselves heard after I left home, I called them but they did not answer me deliberately.

The only points of reference were the guys I knew only for sex, one in particular I had fallen in love with, he told me so many sweet things and was a very nice guy but he wanted to come to live with me, which I could not do because I would have ended up not to work anymore and to create a mess of problems with all the people I had around, then he disappeared, but before disappearing I vomited all the possible insults against me, that I was a worm, one who does not have the courage to be what he is and above all that I was a starving man, because he liked to make the good life and with me he could not do it for sure.

This story lasted three years and left me with a sense of rejection and very strong bitterness. Over the years, the young guys stopped contacting me and only the fifties were looking for me but they were people out of mind much more than me, depressed to hospitalize, who thought they were young boys and tried to behave as if they really were, even married men, even people with diseases with a religious background, a variety of humanity that I did not even think could exist. They arrived to offer me money in exchange for sex. One was sick, had a strong asthma and I convinced him to be hospitalized because he was a high-risk patient.

In August 2009 I said “It’s enough!” and deleted all the gay contacts I had.

I changed my mobile number and I threw myself completely into my work, practically I went back to university to do a very demanding and very long specialization that leads me now to deal with aids, I finished the first two years and started the third, it’s a thing very serious and I’m completely committed to this, now I work part time and I earn very little money and all I earn goes for specialization. I am really interested in my studies and I think for the first time that I have made the right choice. I don’t tell you what I see in the hospital, there is a really desperate need for people to take care of these things, I have been reborn and I have found my way. There is a lot to do and not so much in Italy or in Europe but especially in Africa where AIDS, without medicines and in the midst of total ignorance, is a real scourge.

Days ago I found “gay project” just looking for sites that deal with prevention and then I put myself to read also the rest. Project, don’t let the guard down! What you do makes sense. Life has a meaning and it is not in seeking sex but in giving love without conditions, I understood it late but fortunately I understood it. Being gay makes sense and I think that being gay and having experienced everything I’ve been through is the real spring of my underlying motivation. I told you my story in short, publish it if you want, I would like it. Permit me a professional notation, never abandon the discourse on prevention because they are very few to do it and there is a huge need of them. I’ll add the link to the hiv and aids page of the Ministry of Health:

http://www.salute.gov.it/hiv/hiv.jsp which remains a fundamental reference point for finding serious information, even for doctors (see the updating of the guidelines). I would like to devote some time to the forum but now I have other goals for which I ask you to keep my privacy
[signed letter]

The third document is particularly touching and, beyond the theme centered on the fear of HIV, it allows to understand the spiritual depths of gay guys and what it means to love each other. This is an email I received on July 4th, 2007 and I published the same day (in Italian) on the old Gay Project Forum.
The name of one of the protagonists of the story has been replaced with an X for reasons of privacy.

“First I met X through words. For me they were important, they made me feel good and I did not even understand why, I only read and reread them. I made sure to get some courage and ask his msn even if with an incredible difficulty because for the things that I really care about I am very shy and perhaps also of a crazy cowardice. Talking with him gave me so much! He has his own way of seeing things, maybe strange and difficult to understand but he always managed to get me out of my depression, in one way or another gave me a deep sense of serenity. I had a boulder inside, something that I had hidden inside me for years and that took everything away from me. I never thought I’d ever have the strength to tell it anyone. Instead, it came spontaneous to tell X about it and it made me feel good.

Being gay for me has always been an unacceptable and monstrous thing, not the feelings but just the idea of sex. I have a lousy family. They don’t care about me, I have always been the classic useless baggage, after their divorce I have been continually tossed about here and there. No affection, no attention, no dialogue. In reality it was as if I wasn’t there, if I’m away from home they even notice it and when I am taken into consideration it is only to impose, order, claim, offend or worse to beat be. For years I have been depressed and for two years it’s really worse, so that I have no more friendships, I dropped them all, I was rejected at school, I’m always home alone. No, they don’t notice it at all. I’ve always felt lonely, since I realized that maybe I was gay too, it was a crescendo. But now I’m also used to it, because you know when you live without hope, loneliness is not so bad anymore.

But this is not the boulder. What I confided to X is another thing: when I was 14 a guy much older than me, who sometimes attended the company of my cousin and that everyone knew he was gay has abused me. That’s why I hate gay sex. When I fell in love with a guy for the first time two years ago I thought it was for that abuse. I suffered too much. I felt as if something impure had crept into me. For me it was like a contagion. A curse that clung to me. But this is not the worst thing, the worst thing is the fact that one year and a half after what he had done to me I found out from my cousin that the guy was HIV-positive and I knew he had not used any precautions with me. I never saw him again and I didn’t speak to him anymore to know if I too could have become HIV-positive, but then I don’t know if I would have had the courage to do it.

I still perfectly remember what I experienced finding it out. It’s a bit like dying. I was holding the form for enrolling in a creative writing course that I was very fond of and it was the first time I had fought so hard to get something at my house, I started ripping it into smaller and smaller pieces and it was a bit how to tear up my future. Since then, the ice has not left me anymore. I continued to live but only on the margins because everything made me suffer too much.

The doubt I kept buried inside me, as deep as possible, was something I never thought of but that anyway stood there and poisoned everything. Since then I have always been inconclusive, defeatist and submissive throughout. I heard others talk about what they wanted to do and I did not say anything, I did not think about anything. Lately with some I had a little loose. I thought about what I really wanted to do, I did some programs, to a guy with whom I spoke on msn one day I also said that I would go to see him this summer. A little I believed, I hoped it but then my enthusiasm ended in nothing. Yes, in my heart it was like I was already dead.

Talking with X made me feel good. He has a boyfriend and they are very much in love, he is happy and fulfilled, but even if he did not know me at all, even if talking to me was always so difficult and painful, I think, he was looking for me and if he didn’t find me or it was me who did not make me available because I was too depressed, he still wrote me even just a few words that made me feel that at least one person was really interested. Yes, he always devoted so much time and attention to me, a constant and sincere thought, was the only one to really do it and in the most disinterested way possible, to give me a little of himself and without receiving or wanting anything in return. I thought a thousand times that it was very strange that a person could be like that and even more with someone like me. But he is special and UNIQUE.

In the end he also managed to convince me that I had to go and take the test. He did it telling me that he would accompany me. I waited to finish my graduation exam and immediately the next day we met through msn and he came to take me in the city where I live. When I saw him I could not believe it was really him, although I could see that he was really beautiful even from the avatar. Because X is very beautiful but the point is that there are a lot of guys I don’t say very beautiful but certainly beautiful, but X is a thing apart. And then he has incredible eyes, which one would think there could not be two eyes like that. Nobody after looking at them, even the most materialist, could ever be able to think that there is no soul. I fell in love with him immediately.

It’s hallucinating but as soon as I saw him, I no longer thought I was going to take the HIV test, that is, I thought it was a secondary thing. I was too busy with him. I immediately felt beautiful feelings and for me to try them was a natural and right thing. And yes, he also attracted me physically and very much, for me it was really too embarrassing but I managed to hide it well and for the first time it did not disgust me, even that was beautiful and natural and it was fine that way. To take the test we went to a rather distant city, because I wanted so, a stupid thing I know but it made me feel more anonymous and sure, he brought me there by car. I thought I had to go fasting for blood collection, when X knew it smiled to me, I was very pale for anxiety and agitation, he told me “It’s not that you go down right now?” And while we waited, he held my hand tight all the time, under a newspaper folded to the side so that no one could see and I was not embarrassed.

As soon as he got out of the clinic he put his arm around my shoulders and took me to breakfast. But after eating instead of feeling better I was very bad. I was struck in the harshest way by the image the nurse who was taking my blood sample, the latex gloves, the way he sat with his torso all the way back and how he barely touched me, just the indispensable, but above all by the vision of my blood. From that day on which I knew, the thought of my blood has always obsessed me. It was a nightmare that I sometimes did at night; my blood suddenly splashed on my schoolmates while I was in class, the terror of their gaze remained on my mind all day so that I thought I saw it in their eyes. I was afraid and disgusted with my blood. And now that I had seen it go out I felt crazy.

At that point I burst inside. I began to think only of the one thing that felt real to me, of what I could have inside me, of the fact that I had to accompany myself to this foreign and enemy thing for the time that remained to me to live, that I would be a danger, that I would continue to be alone until the end, that I would be kept at a distance but above all that I would have kept everything and everyone at a distance from me not to have to suffer even more. And all this at only 19 years old. Nothing behind and nothing in front. One passes graduation and should start planning his long-distance future. In my case, I felt it made no sense, never had a sense for me. X stared at me but I did not say anything to him and as we walked I moved away and moved further and further.

At one point he stopped me and hugged me without speaking any word and hugged me so tightly! I just said “You know, I always knew I was already dead.” X shook me strongly and made me sick and said “Don’t be silly!! Even if it were, life doesn’t end for this, only changes.” I don’t know how long he hugged me, I wanted to cry but I could not and it’s bizarre because I’m crying every single fucking day, yet at that moment I was dry and that dry was too bad for me. But at a certain point I began to feel X’s body, his breath against me, his warmth, his smell. I held my breath and focused on the beating of his heart to hear it with my ear but also with my skin. I felt an inexpressible yearning that rose from my stomach, something so beautiful and intense that it almost hurt and then, in short, I had an erection. Even if I continued to feel that I was HIV-positive, I felt even more strongly that I was wanting X with all my might and I felt that I was willing to do anything to have him close to me, even being HIV-positive.

I know it seems absurd but in these three months I have discovered that it is real life that is absurd, not that imagined. I tried to move away from him, but it was too embarrassing, and then I thought that rightly he could take it badly. But he did not let me go, and even told me “Do you see it? Your body knows that you are alive and you want to stay alive.” We were still embraced, someone looked at us badly, someone said something. I did not care at all, I would have liked to stay that way forever. X left me at some point and I felt a great emptiness inside, so I spontaneously told him that his boyfriend is the luckiest person on earth, he blushed, smiled and said “Believe me it’s me the one lucky to have him.” I thought he would take me back, in the end I had done what I had to do, instead X still wanted to stay with me. We walked around the city, we did not talk much but we simply walked, sometimes we sat somewhere. We went for lunch but my stomach was closed for him even though I lied to him and said it was still for the test.

X is so beautiful that I will never stop to look at him, has a smile of continuous light in the eyes and then he is sweet and affectionate in words but also in the gestures in a way that makes you feel protected and warm inside. While we were around, he often showed me things that I would never have seen on my own and surprised me and moved me in that way that he has all of his own to look at the world and be happy for certain things that never interest anyone. Every now and then he had a gesture toward me very sweet as touching my arm or a light squeeze of my hand, a separate communication with which he made me understand that he was there. In the evening he took me back to the place where we had arranged to meet.

I was all upset, X told me that he would come back with me to take the result of the test, because they give it to you after a few days and you have to go and pick it up. I felt very sad with that sense of emptiness that grew bigger and bigger. X looked at me, he was tense, worried and said “All right?”. Then I thought how bad all that could hurt him. I had glued on him weeks and weeks of anguish and depression, mine, and he had never avoided all this, but a wonderful creature like him did not even deserve the billionth part of it. I felt petty and selfish in the worst way. I tried to tell him that everything was fine, that I was better but it was evident that he did not believe it at all.

However, we said goodbye and in doing so he gave me a light kiss on the mouth. It was a kiss of a very beautiful sweetness, it had no sexual value, it just said what no words could explain. That he was not afraid of me even though I could be HIV-positive and that I would have had from him anyway the availability, affection and warmth of a true friendship. Nobody has ever given me something more beautiful. That kiss completely filled my soul, I think that I will always carry that feeling inside me. at that moment I thought, and I still think now, that at least I have a beautiful thing and no one can take it away from me, it will be mine until the end.”

At the end of this wonderful document, which I am particularly attached to because I knew the protagonists, I am happy to let you know that the analysis confirmed that the guy who wrote the email above was HIV-negative.

Questions and answers on AIDS and HIV (from the Ministry of health):

http://www.salute.gov.it/imgs/C_17_pubblicazioni_2005_allegato.pdf

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If you like, you can join the discussion on this post on Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/T-gay-guys-and-prevention-of-sexually-transmitted-diseases

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MACHIAVELLI HOMOSEXUAL

Investigating the sexuality of great personalities of the past is not always easy, for some the documentation deriving from private correspondence is very limited but explicit, as in the case of Torquato Tasso, for others, who have left a considerable amount of private correspondence, the documentation is sometimes really encrypted and difficult to interpret, as in the case of Niccolò Machiavelli.
Reading the private correspondence between Machiavelli and Francesco Vettori, ambassador of the Florentine Republic to the Papal Court, we are often perplexed, because we reach the end of a letter with the clear impression of not having understood exactly the meaning that is hidden behind the words.
Machiavelli was a person of considerable political importance and the letters he sent, even the private ones, were subject to some form of encryption in order to make them difficult to interpret for anyone who did not possess the right keys to read. The discourses contained in particular in the private correspondence with Vettori, sometimes apparently vague and incomprehensible, are actually full of implications and metaphors that can be deciphered correctly only if one is very familiar with that form of correspondence.
So let’s get into the subject.
Machiavelli was born in Florence on May 3th, 1469.
On May 23th, 1498, when Machiavelli had just turned 29, Fra Girolamo Savonarola was hanged and burned in Piazza della Signoria. Between mid-June and mid-July Machiavelli was elected secretary of the Second Chancellery and also became secretary of the Council of Ten that was responsible for the policy of territorial expansion of Florence and for the affairs of war. In 1501, at age 32, a decidedly mature age for the time, Machiavelli married Marietta Corsini, with whom he had 7 children. It could be argued that there is no more convincing proof of Niccolò’s exclusive heterosexuality, however, many years later, Francesco Vettori, writing to an almost 54-year-old Machiavelli, on April 17th, 1523, will say: “we sometimes accuse the nature itself as a stepmother when, instead, we should accuse our parents and ourselves: if you had truly known yourself, you would never have taken a wife; and my father, if he had known my desires and habits, would never have joined me to a wife, as one who nature had generated for play and for fun, not eager to make money and in the least worried about his wealth. But a wife would have forced me to change, which, however, cannot be accomplished happily for anyone.”[1]
Vettori’s speech seems to allude more to heterosexual adventures, both of Machiavelli and Vettori, both very free in sexual behavior, rather than to homosexuality, but, as we will see, Machiavelli certainly did not disdain even homosexual adventures and probably a similar discourse could also be done for Vettori.
That Machiavelli was not only a married heterosexual, who limited himself only to sexual intercourses with his wife but that he went to look for sex for “foia”, that is for lust, even with very low-level female prostitutes is evidenced by his letter of December 8th 1509, when Machiavelli was 40, to Luigi Giucciardini (brother of the historian Francesco Guicciardini). In fact, Machiavelli tells Guicciardini that he had gone through an irrepressible craving of sex (affogaggine) with a very ugly woman, an authentic monster, only because there was just a bit of light that didn’t allow to see her clearly, but then, taken an ember from the fire he lit up the lamp, he saw how ugly she was and felt a very strong sense of rejection. [2]
On May 27th, 1510, an anonymous connoisseur put in a hole of anonymous denunciations this denunciation: “I notify to you, Eight gentlemen (police authority), that Niccolò of Messer Bernardo Machiavelli fucks Lucretia colled “la Riccia” (“The woman with curly hair”) in the ass”. [3]
Machiavelli was therefore accused of sodomy with that prostitute named Lucrezia called la Riccia (“The woman with curly hair”). The accusation is about sodomy but with a woman, the vox populi (popular rumor) who tries to discredit Machiavelli, a politically important man, married and with several children, does not therefore contain any reference to homosexuality, which would have been, on the other hand, not very credible.
The political fortunes of Machiavelli are linked to the Florentine Republic and to the pro-popular conceptions of Pier Soderini, perpetual gonfalonier. On September 16th, 1512, after the escape of Soderini, the Medici resumed control of Florence and the fate of Machiavelli precipitated. On November 7th he was deposed from his offices, on November 10th he sentenced to a year of confinement within the Florentine territory. Suspected of having favored the conspiracy of Agostino Capponi and Pietropaolo Boscoli to restore the Republic, on February 12th, 1513, he was arrested and put to the rope torture.
Machiavelli quickly tries to mobilize his powerful friends and gets results. While Capponi and Boscoli are put to death, Machiavelli is condemned to pay a large deposit, which he is not able to pay, but still comes out of prison in a short time because on March 11th, 1513, Giovanni de’ Medici, son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, already created cardinal at the age of 13, becomes Pope Leo X. Leo X’s election is followed in Florence by the general amnesty and Machiavelli, released from prison, takes the prudent decision to disappear from Florence and retire to the farm of the Albergaccio, in Sant’Andrea in Percussina. Machavelli was then 44 years old.
On December 19th, 1513, Machiavelli wrote to Vettori a letter, cryptic in the first part but very interesting in the second, from our point of view. Let us limit ourselves to the analysis of the second part, which also suggests a reason for the so encrypted first part.
Machiavelli remembers that Vettori had written four verses about a certain Riccio (“a guy with curly hair”), a guy available to homosexual contacts, also indicating the names of those who had been put “in berta” (had been ridiculed) because they had gone with Riccio. Machiavelli recited those verses from memory to Giovanni Machiavelli, thus accusing him of homosexual activities. Giovanni Machiavelli took it badly and tried to insist, saying “that he does not know where you have found that he touches (touching means having homosexual relationships in the cryptic jargon of Florentine homosexuals)”. Vettori had not accused Giovanni Machiavelli of homosexuality, but it was Niccolò who, by changing the names, had given the impression that instead he had done so. Giovanni Machiavelli wants to give and ask for explanations and Niccolò laughs at the insult he has made. It should be noted that the verb “to touch” is fundamental because, as we shall see, it is necessary to correctly interpret a discourse that Machiavelli makes about himself. [4]
In the same letter Machiavelli mentions a Franciscan friar who makes politics preaching and throws words of fire from the pulpit. Machiavelli writes, not without pungent irony: “These things shocked me yesterday so that I had to go this morning to be with the Riccia, and I did not go there; but I do not know, if I had had to be with the Riccio, if the effect of the words of the friar would have been the same. I didn’t hear the preaching because I’m not used to such things, but I heard it repeated like this from all Florence. [5]
On January 5th, 1514 Machiavelli wrote a very interesting letter to Vettori.[6] He begins by observing that men are blind in the things in which they sin as they are bitter persecutors of the vices they do not have.
So, then, Machiavelli wrote to Vettori that had shown him that he was worried about the fact that having hosted in his house ser Sano, a well-known homosexual, could discredit him through the gossip of Filippo Casavecchia, and explains to Vettori that Filippo Casavecchia, another well-known homosexual and friend of Machiavelli, would never have criticized Vettori even if ser Sano had remained at his house from one jubilee to another, and indeed he would have congratulated Vettori for the choice. And the Brancaccio then, another well-known homosexual friend of Machiavelli, wouldn’t have dared to comment even if Vettori had taken home the whole brothel of Valencia, indeed he would have considered him a great man more for this than if he had seen him talk better than Demosthenes before the Pope.
Filippo Casavecchia would have thought it unseemly that Vettori would bring easy guys home, but not someone like Ser Sano who was prudent and Brancaccio would not like to see Vettori in the company of cheap whores. However, if Vettori had followed their advice, removing Ser Sano and the easy women, Casavecchia would have wondered where Ser Sano had gone and would have done everything to get him back. Machiavelli adds, to make things even clearer, a discourse that sounds more or less like this: if I had happened in Vettori’s house when he had chased away Sano and the easy women from his house, “I, who am running next to both guys and girls [7] would have said “Dear Ambassador, you will get sick because it does not seem that you take any fun, here there are no guys and there are no women, what the “cock”-house is this?”
On February 25th 1514, Machiavelli wrote to Vettori a very interesting letter [8], I quote the full text in a note and transcribe some parts here, simplifying the descriptions of the places, very detailed in the text, and trying to report the real meaning in a language more understandable at first reading. “I received your letter the other week and I waited until now to answer you because I wanted to have clearer information about a fact that I will tell you below and then I can respond appropriately to your letter. A kind thing happened, or to call it by its real name a ridiculous metamorphosis, which would be worthy of being noted in the books of the ancients. And since I do not want anyone to complain about me, I’ll tell you it hidden under allegorical forms.”
Machiavelli, in the introduction, then tries to tickle the curiosity of Vettori and is preparing to tell the story in the manner of Boccaccio’s novels.
Giuliano Brancacci, eager, so to speak, to go to the bush [which means to go in search of homosexual contacts], one evening a few days ago, after the Ave Maria, seeing that the weather was overcast and windy and that it was beginning to drizzle (all things that you can well believe that every bird [obscene allusion to homosexuals] waits), back home, put on a pair of big shoes [like those used to hunt], tied the game bag to the belt, took with him a lantern and the tools to hunt the birds, and went away for a while snaking through the alleys that lead to the center of the city, and not finding birds waiting for him, he went to the parts of the goldsmith that you know, he went a little further and, looking very carefully at the places where the birds used to hide, he found a beautiful young thrush and caught him using his tools to capture birds and took him to the bottom of the ravine, under the cave where Panzano used to stay.
He then stayed with the young thrush and, finding that he had the “vein” wide (obscene allusion to the ass), after having kissed it several times, he re-stuck two feathers of his tail and put it in his back bag.” [The Italian text is very ambiguous and clearly allusive to an anal intercourse: “Si intrattenne quindi col giovane tordo e, trovando che aveva la “vena” larga, dopo avergliela baciata più volte, gli riacconciò due penne della coda e lo mise nel carniere di dietro.”]
So far the metaphor, then Machiavelli continues more or less like this [even here I render the text more comprehensible]:
“Since I cannot lengthen the subject too much, I will proceed in clear and go bevenayond the metaphors. Brancaccio, who had found the thrush, wanted to know who he was and asked him and the boy replied that he was Michele, nephew of Consiglio Costi. Then Brancaccio said to him: “You are the son of a good man, and if you can do it, you have found your way.” So the Brancaccio [feeling that he could ran the risk of being involved in dangerous affairs] told the boy [lying] that he was Filippo Casavecchia [9] and he also told him where he had his shop [that of Casavecchia, of course]. Since I have no money with me now, come or send someone directly to the shop tomorrow morning and I will pay you.
The next morning, the boy, who was more lascivious than stupid, sent another to Filippo Casavecchia with a slip of paper, asking him to pay his debt and reminded him of what he had promised. Filippo read the note and made a sad face and replied: Who is he and what does he want from me? I have nothing to do with him, tell him to come to me. The boy who had brought the note came back to Michele, who had sent him and told him about Filippo Casavecchia’s answer. The boy did not even get a little scared and went to Casavecchia, reminded him of the benefits he enjoyed and concluded that if the man thought he could deceive him that way, he would have no problem to publicly blame him.
After that answer Filippo felt himself squeezed, let the boy in the shop and said: – Michele, you have been cheated, [but not by me!] I am a very moderate man and I don’t care such squalid things, so you have to think rather to find who deceived you, so that who has received pleasure from you pay the due to you, rather than to insult me in this way without you get any advantage. Now go back home and come tomorrow to me and I’ll tell you what I’ve come up with. –
The boy went away all confused and accepted the idea of returning the next day to Casavecchia. Casavecchia, left alone, was very worried about the fact and did not seem to be able to get out easily and felt as agitated as the sea in front of Pisa when the Libeccio  [a warm southwest wind] blows strongly. He said to himself: – If I’m good and quiet and I keep Michele good with a florin, I end up being blackmailed by him, I recognize myself his debtor, I confess the sin and from innocent I became guilty, but if I deny without finding the true guilty I could be compared with the boy, I should justify myself with him and also with others and the wrong would be all on my side. If I try to understand how things really went, however, I should still blame someone, I might not be able to blame anyone, I would make enemies and with all this I would not come out clean anyway of all this. –
While he was so anguished, he chose the last hypothesis as less unpleasant and was so fortunate that he addressed the first idea that came to his mind to the right target! And he thought that it was Brancaccio who had made him that bad joke, because Brancaccio was one who hunted for boys (“macchiaiuolo”, he gave himself to the bush, in the double sense of the word) and other times he had deceived him.
He then went to see Alberto Lotti, told him the fact, told him also what he had in mind and asked him to speak reservedly with Michele, who was one of his relatives, to see if other matches could be found. Lotti, who was used to those things and knew them very well, immediately thought that Casavecchia had seen right and promised that he would do everything possible, then sent to call Michele and after talking to him for a long time, he came to this conclusion. He said to the boy: If you heard the one who pretended to be Filippo Casavecchia, would you have the courage to recognize him by his voice? – The boy answered yes and Lotti took him to sant’Ilario where he knew that Brancaccio often entertained, saw the Brancaccio who sat among so many people telling stories, and shrewdly had the boy approached behind Brancaccio in such a way that he heard him speak, then they appeared before him and Brancaccio saw them, changed his attitude quickly and went away and everything was clear to everyone. Filippo Casavecchia came out completely clean and Brancaccio was covered with insults. And in Florence in this last carnival nothing else has been talked about, except: – Are you the Brancaccio or the Casa{vecchia}? – And this story was very well known to anyone. I think you already had news of it but I wanted to tell you the same in detail, because it seemed my duty.
As for you, I can only tell you to follow the love at loose bridles because the pleasure you can take today you cannot take it tomorrow, and if the things are as you have described them, I envy you more than the king of England! I beg you to follow your own inclination and do not let anything escape for any reason, because I believe, believed and always will believe really true what Boccaccio says: that is better to do and repent, than not to do and repent! “
So far, as we have seen, Machiavelli makes homosexuality a theme for spicy stories in the manner of Boccaccio, also hints at his “touching” that is at the fact that he does not disdain homosexual activities, but so far lacks the emotional dimension of homosexuality. Machiavelli is now 45 years old, has a wife and seven grown-up children and still behaves like a young man who goes into a cheerful brigade hunting for adventures.
However, a letter to the Vettori of August 3th, 1514 [10] shows that Machiavelli also felt the affective side of homosexuality. He congratulates Vettori for his romantic adventures in Rome and tells him that he (Machiavelli) has found correspondence “in a creature so kind, so delicate, so noble, both by nature and by accident, that I could neither praise nor love her so much that she could not deserve more.” The pronouns are used to the feminine because they agree with the term creature that is of female gender, this does not however have to deceive on the sex of that creature. 
Machiavelli adds: “And do not believe that Love to take me used ordinary ways, but knowing that they would not have been enough, he followed extraordinary ways, from which I didn’t know, and didn’t want to beware. It is enough that, already close to fifty years, neither these suns offend me, nor the harsh streets crush me, nor the obscurities of the nights amaze me. Everything seems easy to me, and I adapt myself to every appetite, also different and contrary to what should be mine. And although I seem to have entered great labor, nevertheless I feel so much sweetness in it, for what his so rare and suave appearance produces in me, and also because it puts aside the memory of all my troubles, so that if I was able to free me, I would not.”
We do not know who the “creature” is so kind, so delicate, so noble, but certainly it is the first time that Machiavelli does not use the tones of the Boccaccio satire but those of love.
If there is still any doubt that it is a homosexual love, it will be easily dispelled by a letter from Vettori to Machiavelli dated January 16th, 1515 [11]. Vettori writes to Machiavelli:
“Dear main man. I have no letters from anyone that I read more willingly than yours, and I would like to be able to write many things, which I know cannot be entrust to the letters. It’s been several months since I understood very well how you loved, and I was to say, “Ah, Coridon, Coridon, quae te dementia cepit?” [Coridon, Coridon, what madness took you?] Then, thinking within myself that this world is nothing but love, or, to tell it more clearly, lust, I held back; and I have been considering how much in such things men have their hearts far from what they say with their mouths.”
The Latin quote is taken from the second Eclogue by Virgil (Bucolics II, 69). “Ahi, Corydon Corydon, What madness took you?” Corydon’s Madness was the love of the beautiful Alexis. Corydon was already in the times of Virgil one of the most known myths related to homosexuality and certainly Vettori was well aware of that when he quoted Corydon and the second Bucolic in relation to Machiavelli. Corydon assumed such a symbolic value that André Gide (a character to whom I will soon dedicate an article) called “Corydon” a dialogue published in 1924 which contains a first attempt to demolish the respectability that condemned homosexuality. Gide writes in Corydon: “The important thing is to understand that, where you say against nature, it would be enough to say: against costume”. After the publication of Gide’s Corydon, Paul Claudel, a Catholic intellectual, stopped speaking to Gide. Current Catholic homophobia has distant roots.
________________________
[1] nos aliquando naturam ipsam tamquam novercam incusamus, cum potius parentes aut nos ipsos incusare debemus: tu, si te ipsum bene novisses, numquam uxorem duxisses; pater meus, si ingenium, si mores meos scisset, me numquam uxori alligasset, quippe quem ad ludos, ad iocos natura genuerat, lucris non inhiantem, rei familiari minime intentum. Sed uxor filie me mutare coegerit, quod nemimi feliciter succedere potest.– Niccolò Machiavelli, Tutte le opere a cura di Mario Martelli, Sansoni Editore, Firenze 1971 
 
[2] Niccolò Machiavelli a Luigi Guicciardini
Verona, 8 dicembre 1509
Spectabili viro Luigi Guicciardini in Mantova tanquam fratri carissimo.
Affogaggine, Luigi; et guarda quanto la Fortuna in una medesima faccienda dà ad li huomini diversi fini. Voi, fottuto che voi havesti colei, vi è venuta voglia di rifotterla et ne volete un’altra presa; ma io, stato fui qua parechi dì, accecando per carestia di matrimonio, trovai una vechia che m’imbucatava le camicie, che sta in una casa che è più di meza sotterra, né vi si vede lume se non per l’uscio. Et, passando io un dì di quivi, la mi riconobbe et, fattomi una gran festa, mi disse che io fussi contento andare un poco in casa, che mi voleva mostrare certe camicie belle, se io le volevo comperare. Onde io, nuovo cazo, me lo credetti, et, giunto là, vidi al barlume una donna con uno sciugatoio tra in sul capo et in sul viso, che faceva el vergognoso, et stava rimessa in uno canto. Questa vechia ribalda mi prese per mano et, menatomi ad colei, dixe: Questa è la camicia che io vi voglio vendere, ma voglio la proviate prima et poi la pagherete.
Io, come peritoso che io sono, mi sbigotti’ tucto; pure, rimasto solo con colei et al buio (perché la vechia si uscì sùbito di casa et serrò l’uscio), per abbreviare, la fotte’ un colpo; et benché io le trovassi le coscie vize et la fica umida et che le putissi un poco el fiato, nondimeno, tanta era la disperata foia che io havevo, che la n’andò. Et facto che io l’hebbi, venendomi pure voglia di vedere questa mercatantia, tolsi un tizone di fuoco d’un focolare che v’era et accesi una lucerna che vi era sopra; né prima el lume fu apreso, che ’l lume fu per cascarmi di mano. Omè! fu’ per cadere in terra morto, tanta era bructa quella femina. E’ se le vedeva prima un ciuffo di capelli fra bianchi et neri, cioè canuticci, et benché l’avessi el cocuzolo del capo calvo, per la cui calvitie ad lo scoperto si vedeva passeggiare qualche pidochio, nondimeno e pochi capelli et rari le aggiugnevono con le barbe loro infino in su le ciglia; et nel mezo della testa piccola et grinzosa haveva una margine di fuoco, che la pareva bollata ad la colonna di Mercato; in ogni puncta delle ciglia di verso li ochi haveva un mazetto di peli pieni di lendini; li ochi haveva uno basso et uno alto, et uno era maggiore che l’altro, piene le lagrimatoie di cispa et e nipitelli dipillicciati; il naso li era conficto sotto la testa arricciato in su, et l’una delle nari tagliata, piene di mocci; la bocca somigliava quella di Lorenzo de’ Medici, ma era torta da uno lato et da quello n’usciva un poco di bava, ché, per non havere denti, non poteva ritenere la sciliva; nel labbro di sopra haveva la barba lunghetta, ma rara; el mento haveva lungo aguzato et torto un poco in su, dal quale pendeva un poco di pelle che le adgiugneva infino ad la facella della gola. Stando adtonito ad mirare questo mostro, tucto smarrito, di che lei accortasi volle dire: — Che havete voi messere? —; ma non lo dixe perché era scilinguata; et come prima aperse la bocca, n’uscì un fiato sì puzolente, che trovandosi offesi da questa peste due porte di dua sdegnosissimi sensi, li ochi et il naso, e’ m’andò tale sdegno ad lo stomaco per non potere sopportare tale offesa, tucto si commosse et commosso operò sì, che io le rece’ addosso. Et così, pagata di quella moneta che la meritava, ne parti’. Et per quel cielo che io darò, io non credo, mentre starò in Lombardia, mi torni la foia; et però voi ringratiate Iddio della speranza havete di rihavere tanto dilecto, et io lo ringratio che ho perduto el timore di havere mai più tanto dispiacere.
Io credo che mi avanzerà di questa gita qualche danaio, et vorre’ pure, giunto ad Firenze, fare qualche trafficuzo. Ho disegnato fare un pollaiolo; bisognami trovare uno maruffino che me lo governi. Intendo che Piero di Martino è così sufficiente; vorrei intendessi da lui se ci ha el capo, et rispondetemi; perché, quando e’ non voglia, io mi procaccierò d’uno altro.
De le nuove di qua ve ne satisfarà Giovanni. Salutate Jacopo et raccomandatemi ad lui, et non sdimenticate Marco.
In Verona, die viii Decembris 1509.
Aspecto la risposta di Gualtieri ad la mia cantafavola.
Niccolò Machiavegli
http://www.classicitaliani.it/machiav/p … s.html#170 Niccolò Machiavelli, Tutte le opere, a cura di Mario Martelli, Sansoni editore, Firenze 1971.
 

[3] “Notifichasi a voi, signori Otto, chome Nicholò di messer Bernardo Machiavelli fotte la Lucretia vochata la Riccia nel culo.”

[4] Quelli quattro versi che voi scrivete del Riccio, nel principio della lettera di Donato, noi li dicemmo a mente a Giovanni Machiavelli; e in cambio del Machiavello e del Pera vi annestammo Giovanni Machiavelli. Lui ne ha fatto un capo come una cesta; e dice che non sa dove voi avete trovato che tocchi, e che ve ne vuole scrivere in ogni modo; e per un tratto Filippo e io ne avemmo un piacere grande.

[5] http://digilander.libero.it/il_machiave … ttere.html Edizione di riferimento: “Tutte le opere storiche e letterarie di Niccolò Machiavelli”, a cura di Guido Mazzoni e Mario Casella, G. Berbera Editore, Firenze, 1929.
“Queste cose mi sbigottirono ieri in modo, che io aveva andare questa mattina a starmi con la Riccia, e non vi andai; ma io non so già, se io avessi auto a starmi con il Riccio, se io avessi guardato a quello. La predica io non la udi’, perché io non uso simili pratiche, ma la ho sentita recitare così da tutto Firenze.”

[6] Niccolò Machiavelli, Tutte le opere a cura di Mario Martelli, Sansoni Editore, Firenze 1971.
Niccolò Machiavelli a Francesco Vettori
Firenze, 5 gennaio 1514

Magnifico oratori florentino Francisco Victorio benefattori suo observandissimo.
Magnifico oratore. Egli è per certo gran cosa a considerare quanto gli huomini sieno ciechi nelle cose dove e’ peccono, et quanto e’ sieno acerrimi persecutori de’ vizii che non hanno. Io vi potrei addurre in exemplis cose greche, latine, hebraiche, caldee, et andarmene sino ne’ paesi del Sophi et dei Prete Janni, et addurreve’li, se li exempli domestichi et freschi non bastassino. Io credo che ser Sano sarebbe possuto venirvi in casa dall’un giubbileo all’altro, et che mai Filippo harebbe pensato che vi desse carico alcuno; anzi gli sarebbe parso che voi dipigneste ad usar seco, et che la fosse proprio pratica conforme ad uno ambasciadore, il quale, essendo obbligato ad infinite contenenze, è necessario habbia de’ diporti et delli spassi; et questo di ser Sano gli sarebbe parso che quadrasse appunto, et con ciascuno harebbe laudato la prudenza vostra, et commendatovi insino al cielo di tale electione. Dall’altro canto, io credo che se tutto il bordello di Valenza vi fosse corso per casa, non sarebbe stato mai possibile che il Brancaccio ve ne havesse ripreso, anzi vi harebbe di questo più commendato che se vi havesse sentito innanzi al papa orare meglio che Demosthene.
Et se voi havessi voluto vedere la ripruova di questa ragione, vi bisognava, senza che loro havessino saputo delli ammonimenti l’uno dell’altro, che voi havessi fatto vista di credere loro, et volere observare i loro precepti. Et serrato l’uscio alle puttane, et cacciato via ser Sano, et ritiratovi al grave, et stato sopra di voi cogitativo, e’ non sarebbono a verun modo passati quattro dì, che Filippo harebbe cominciato a dire: Che è di ser Sano? Che vuol dire che non ci capita più? Egli è male che non ci venga; a me pare egli uno huomo dabbene: io non so quel che queste brigate si cicalano, et parmi che egli habbia molto bene i termini di questa corte, et che sia una utile bazzicatura. Voi doverreste, ambasciadore, mandare per lui. Il Brancaccio non vi dico se si sarebbe doluto et maravigliato della absenzia delle dame, et se non ve lo havessi detto, mentre che egli havessi tenuto vòlto il culo al fuoco, come harebbe fatto Filippo, e’ ve lo harebbe detto in camera da voi a lui. Et per chiarirvi meglio, bisognava che in tal vostra disposizione austera io fussi capitato costì, che tocco et attendo a femmine: subito avvedutomi della cosa, io harei detto: Ambasciadore, voi ammalerete; e’ non mi pare che voi pigliate spasso alcuno; qui non ci è garzoni, qui non sono femmine; che casa di cazzo è questa?
Magnifico oratore, e’ non ci è se non pazzi; et pochi ci sono che conoschino questo mondo, et che sappino che chi vuol fare a modo d’altri non fa mai nulla, perché non si truova huomo che sia di un medeximo parere. Cotestoro non sanno che chi è tenuto savio il dì, non sarà mai tenuto pazzo la notte; et che chi è stimato huomo da bene, et che vaglia, ciò che e’ fa per allargare l’animo et vivere lieto, gli arreca honore et non carico, et in cambio di essere chiamato buggerone o puttaniere, si dice che è universale, alla mano et buon compagno. Non sanno anche che dà del suo, et non piglia di quel d’altri, et che fa come il mosto mentre bolle, che dà del sapore suo a’ vasi che sanno di muffa, et non piglia della muffa de’ vasi.
Pertanto, signore oratore, non habbiate paura della muffa di ser Sano, né de’ fracidumi di mona Smeria, et seguite gli instituti vostri, et lasciate dire il Brancaccio, che non si avvede che egli è come un di quelli forasiepi, che è il primo a schiamazzare et gridare, et poi, come giugno la civetta, è il primo preso. Et Filippo nostro è come uno avvoltoio, che quando non è carogne in paese, vola cento miglia per trovarne una; et come egli ha piena la gorga, si sta su un pino et ridesi delle aquile, astori, falconi et simili, che per pascersi di cibi delicati si muoiono la metà dell’anno di fame. Sì che, magnifico oratore, lasciate schiamazzare l’uno, et l’altro empiersi il gozzo, et voi attendete alle faccende vostre a vostro modo.
In Firenze, addì 5 di gennaio 1513.
Niccolò Machiavelli

[7] “tocco et attendo a femmine”. 
To touch is a specific verb that indicates homosexual activities. “Tocco” and “attend” are not synonymous and we have already seen a clear example of this in the letter previously examined.

[8] Niccolò Machiavelli a Francesco Vettori
Firenze, 25 febbraio 1514
Magnifico oratori florentino Francisco Vettorio apud S. Pontificem suo observandissimo. Rome.
Magnifico oratore. Io hebbi una vostra lettera dell’altra settimana, et sono indugiatomi ad hora a farvi risposta, perché io desideravo intendere meglio il vero di una novella che io vi scriverrò qui dappiè: poi risponderò alle parti della vostra convenientemente. Egli è accaduto una cosa gentile, o vero, a chiamarla per il suo diritto nome, una metamorfosi ridicola, et degna di esser notata nelle antiche carte. Et perché io non voglio che persona si possa dolere di me, ve la narrerò sotto parabole ascose.
Giuliano Brancacci, verbigrazia, vago di andare alla macchia, una sera in fra l’altre ne’ passati giorni, sonata l’Ave Maria della sera, veggendo il tempo tinto, trarre vento, et piovegginare un poco (tutti segni da credere che ogni uccello aspetti), tornato a casa, si cacciò in piedi un paio di scarpette grosse, cinsesi un carnaiuolo [cerniere], tolse un frugnuolo [lanterna da caccia], una campanella al braccio, et una buona ramata [strumento per la caccia agli uccelli]. Passò il ponte alla Carraia, et per la via del Canto de’ Mozzi ne venne a Santa Trinita, et entrato in Borgo Santo Appostolo, andò un pezzo serpeggiando per quei chiasci che lo mettono in mezzo; et non trovando uccelli che lo aspettassino, si volse dal vostro battiloro, et sotto la Parte Guelfa attraversò Mercato, et per Calimala Francesca si ridusse sotto il Tetto de’ Pisani; dove guardando tritamente tutti quei ripostigli, trovò un tordellino, il quale con la ramata, con il lume, et con la campanella fu fermo da lui, et con arte fu condotto da lui nel fondo del burrone sotto la spelonca, dove alloggiava il Panzano, et quello intrattenendo et trovatogli la vena larga et più volte baciatogliene, gli risquittì [riacconciare le penne agli uccelli] dua penne della coda et infine, secondo che gli più dicono, se lo messe nel carnaiuolo di drieto.
Ma perché il temporale mi sforza a sbucare di sotto coverta, et le parabole non bastano, et questa metaphora più non mi serve, volle intendere il Brancaccio chi costui fosse, il quale gli disse, verbigrazia, essere Michele, nipote di Consiglio Costi. Disse allhora il Brancaccio: — Sia col buono anno, tu sei figliuolo di uno huomo dabbene, et se tu sarai savio, tu hai trovata la ventura tua. Sappi che io sono Filippo da Casavecchia, et fo bottega nel tal lato; et perché io non ho danari meco, o tu vieni, o tu mandi domattina a bottega, et io ti satisfarò. — Venuta la mattina, Michele, che era più presto cattivo che dappoco, mandò un zana a Filippo con una poliza richiedendoli il debito, et ricordandoli l’obbligo; al quale Filippo fece un tristo viso, dicendo: — Chi è costui, o che vuole? io non ho che fare seco; digli che venga a me. — Donde che, ritornato il zana a Michele, et narratogli la cosa, non si sbigottì di niente il fanciullo, ma animosamente andato a trovare Filippo, gli rimproverò i benefici ricevuti, et li concluse che se lui non haveva rispetto ad ingannarlo, egli non harebbe rispetto a vituperarlo; tale che parendo a Filippo essere impacciato, lo tirò drento in bottega, et li disse: — Michele, tu sei stato ingannato; io sono un huomo molto costumato, et non attendo a queste tristizie; sì che egli è meglio pensare come e’ si habbi a ritrovare questo inganno, et che chi ha ricevuto piacere da te, ti ristori, che entrare per questa via, et senza tuo utile vituperare me. Però farai a mio modo; andra’tene a casa, et torna domani a me, et io ti dirò quello a che harò pensato. — Partissi il fanciullo tutto confuso; pure, havendo a ritornare, restò paziente. Et rimasto Filippo solo, era angustiato dalla novità della cosa, et scarso di partiti, fluctuava come il mare di Pisa quando una libecciata gli soffia nel forame. Perché e’ diceva: Se io mi sto cheto, et contento Michele con un fiorino, io divento una sua vignuola, fummi suo debitore, confesso il peccato, et di innocente divento reo: se io niego senza trovare il vero della cosa, io ho a stare al paragone di un fanciullo, hommi a giustificare seco, ho a giustificare gli altri; tutti i torti fieno i mia. Se io cerco di trovarne il vero, io ne ho a dare carico a qualcuno, potrei non ivi apporre, farò questa inimicizia, et con tutto questo non sarò giustificato.
Et stando in questa ansietà, per manco tristo partito prese l’ultimo; et fugli in tanto favorevole la fortuna, che la prima mira che pose, la pose al vero brocco, et pensò che il Brancaccio gli havesse fatto questa villania, pensando che egli era macchiaiuolo, et che altre volte gli haveva fatto delle natte quando lo botò a’ Servi. Et andò in su questo a trovare Alberto Lotti, verbigrazia, et narratoli il caso, et dectoli l’oppenione sua, et pregatolo havesse a sé Michele, che era suo parente, vedesse se poteva riscontrare questa cosa. Giudicò Alberto, come pratico et intendente, che Filippo havesse buono occhio, et promessoli la sua opera francamente, mandò per Michele, et abburattatolo un pezzo, li venne a questa conclusione: — Darebbet’egli il cuore, se tu sentissi favellare costui che ha detto di essere Filippo, di riconoscerlo alla boce? — A che il fanciullo replicato di sì, lo menò seco in Santo Hilario, dove e’ sapeva il Brancaccio si riparava, et facendogli spalle, havendo veduto il Brancaccio che si sedeva fra un monte di brigate a dir novelle, fece che il fanciullo se gli accostò tanto, che l’udì parlare; et girandosegli intorno, veggendolo il Brancaccio, tutto cambiato se li levò dinanzi; donde a ciascuno la cosa parse chiara, di modo che Filippo è rimaso tutto scarico, et il Brancaccio vituperato. Et in Firenze in questo carnasciale non si è detto altro, se non: — Se’ tu il Brancaccio, o se’ il Casa? —; « et fuit in toto notissima fabula coelo ». Io credo che habbiate hauto per altre mani questo avviso, pure io ve l’ho voluto dire più particulare, perché mi pare così mio obbligo.
Alla vostra io non ho che dirvi, se non che seguitiate l’amore totis habenis, et quel piacere che voi piglierete hoggi, voi non lo harete a pigliare domani; et se la cosa sta come voi me l’havete scritta, io ho più invidia a voi che al re di Inghilterra. Priegovi seguitiate la vostra stella, et non ne lasciate andare un iota per cosa del mondo, perché io credo, credetti, et crederrò sempre che sia vero quello che dice il Boccaccio: che gli è meglio fare et pentirsi, che non fare et pentirsi.
Addì 25 di Febbraio 1514.
Niccolò Machiavelli in Firenze
http://www.classicitaliani.it/machiav/mac64_let_06.htm Edizione di riferimento Niccolò Machiavelli, Tutte le opere a cura di Mario Martelli, Sansoni Editore, Firenze 1971.

[9] Notoriously homosexual. Of Filippo Casavecchia, in Florence, the relationships he had with Niccolò Machiavelli are better documented, to which he was bound by strong bonds of friendship. The familiarity between the two, which dates back to before 1500, results in particular from a group of five letters sent by Casavecchia between 1507 and 1509, during the stays at Fivizzano and Barga, and by the references that appear in letters by Machiavelli to common friends.
 
[10] Niccolò Machiavelli a Francesco Vettori
Firenze, 3 agosto 1514
A Francesco Vettori in Roma.
Voi, compare, mi havete con più avvisi dello amor vostro di Roma tenuto tutto festivo, et mi havete levato dallo animo infinite molestie, con leggere et pensare a’ piaceri et alli sdegni vostri, perché l’uno non sta bene senza l’altro. Et veramente la Fortuna mi ha condotto in luogo, che io ve ne potrei rendere iusto ricompenso; perché, standomi in villa, io ho riscontro in una creatura tanto gentile, tanto delicata, tanto nobile, et per natura et per accidente, che io non potrei né tanto laudarla, né tanto amarla, che la non meritasse più. Harei, come voi a me, a dire i principii di questo amore, con che reti mi prese, dove le tese, di che qualità furno; et vedresti che le furono reti d’oro, tese tra fiori, tessute da Venere, tanto soavi et gentili, che benché un cuor villano le havesse potute rompere, nondimeno io non volli, et un pezzo mi vi godei dentro, tanto che le fila tenere sono diventate dure, et incavicchiate con nodi irresolubili. Et non crediate che Amore a pigliarmi habbia usato modi ordinarii, perché, conoscendo non li sarebbono bastati, tenne vie extraordinarie, dalle quali io non seppi, et non volsi guardarmi. Bastivi che, già vicino a cinquanta anni né questi soli mi offendono, né le vie aspre mi straccano, né le obscurità delle notti mi sbigottiscano. Ogni cosa mi pare piano, et a ogni appetito, etiam diverso et contrario a quello che doverrebbe essere il mio, mi accomodo. Et benché mi paia essere entrato in gran travaglio, tamen io ci sento dentro tanta dolcezza, sì per quello che quello aspetto raro et suave mi arreca, sì eziam per havere posto da parte la memoria di tutti e mia affanni, che per cosa del mondo, possendomi liberare, non vorrei. Ho lasciato dunque i pensieri delle cose grandi et gravi; non mi diletta più leggere le cose antiche, né ragionare delle moderne; tutte si sono converse in ragionamenti dolci; di che ringrazio Venere et tutta Cipri. Pertanto se vi occorre da scrivere cosa alcuna della dama, scrivetelo, et dell’altre cose ragionerete con quelli che le stimono più, et le intendono meglio, perché io non ci ho mai trovato se non danno, et in queste sempre bene et piacere. Valete.
Ex Florentia, die III Augusti 1514.
Vostro Niccolò Machiavelli
http://www.classicitaliani.it/machiav/mac64_let_06.htm Edizione di riferimento Niccolò Machiavelli, Tutte le opere a cura di Mario Martelli, Sansoni Editore, Firenze 1971.

[11] Francesco Vettori a Niccolò Machiavelli
Roma, 16 gennaio 1515
Spectabili viro Nicholò Machiavelli in Firenze.
† A’ dì 16 di Gennaio 1515.
Caro compare. Io non ho lettere da nessuno che io legha più volentieri, che le vostre, e vorrei potere scrivere molte choxe, le quale conosco non potersi commettere alle lettere. E’ sono più mesi che io intexi benissimo in che modo amavi, e fui per dirvi: « Ah, Coridon, Coridon, quae te dementia cepit? ». Poi, pensando intra me medesimo che questo mondo non è altro che amore, o, per dir più chiaro, foia, mi ritenni; e sono ito considerando quanto li huomini in questo chaxo son dischosto chol chuore a quello dicono cholla bocha. Ha un padre il figluolo e dice volerlo nutrire honesto: non di meno gli chomincia a dare un maestro che tutto dì stia con lui et che habbi commodità farne a suo modo, e gli lascia leggere qualchoxa da fare risentire un morto. La madre lo pulisce, lo veste bene, acciò che piaccia più: quando chomincia crescere, gli dà una camera terrena, dove sia cammino e tutte le altre commodità, perché possa sguazare a modo suo, e menarvi e condurvi chi gli pare. E tutti facciamo choxì, et errano in questo, più quelli a’ quali pare essere ordinati: e però non è da maraviglarsi ch’e nostri giovani sieno tanti lascivi quanto sono, perché questo procede dalla pessima educatione. Et voi et io, anchor che siamo vechi, riteniamo in qualche parte e chostumi presi da giovani, et non c’è rimedio. Duolmi non essere chostì, perché potessimo parlare insieme di queste choxe et di molte altre.
Ma voi mi dite choxa che mi fa stare admirato: d’havere trovato tanta fede e tanta chompassione nella Riccia che, vi prometto, li ero per amor vostro partigiano, ma hora li son diventato stiavo, perché il più delle volte le femmine soglono amare la fortuna et non li huomini, et quando essa si muta mutarsi anchor loro. Di Donato non mi maraviglo perché è huomo di fede, e oltre a questo pruova del continuo il medesimo che voi.
Io vi scripsi che l’otio mi faceva innamorato et choxì vi raffermo, perché ho quasi faccenda nessuna. Non posso molto leggere, rispetto alla vista per l’età diminuita: non posso ire a solazo se non achompagnato, e questo non si può far sempre: non ò tanta auctorità né tante facultà che habbi a essere intratenuto; se mi ochupo in pensieri, li più mi arrechono melanchonia, la quale io fuggo assai; e di necessità bixogna ridursi a pensare a choxe piacevole, né so chosa che dilecti più a pensarvi e a farlo, che il fottere. E filosofi ogni huomo quanto e’ vuole, che questa è la pura verità, la quale molti intendono choxì ma pochi la dichano. Fo pensiero a primavera ridurmi a voi, se mi fia lecito, e parleremo insieme di questo et molte altre choxe. Racomandatemi a Filippo, Giovanni e Lorenzo Machiavelli e a Donato. Christo vi guardi.
Francesco Victori oratore in Roma

http://www.classicitaliani.it/machiav/mac64_let_07.htm Edizione di riferimento: Niccolò Machiavelli, Tutte le opere a cura di Mario Martelli, Sansoni Editore, Firenze 1971.

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GAY BETRAYAL AND GAY LOVE

Hello Project,
I like your blog because there are so many things that have the taste of real life. Since reading the blog I have never felt any sense of rejection or even perplexity, I would like to tell you a part of my story that some years ago put me in a crisis and that ended in an absolutely non-standard way. This is to say that abstract behavior rules have no meaning.
 
The subject is betrayal. The story is simple, I had a boyfriend and we also had sex together, even though it was not that trivial, because we understood each other, we trusted each other, and over all we loved each other, then for various reasons he had his experiences but we were still in touch, we were not ex-boyfriends, because we never had been engaged, we just loved each other and it’s a very different thing.
 
At some point he was alone and we got together. I underline that he had always spoken to me very sincerely, I knew the guys he was attending and they seemed to me good guys, that is, guys who loved him. I do not say they seemed good guys because now I think they are not, on the contrary I’m even more convinced now than before that they are good guys. He has never interrupted the relationships (even sexually) with the guys who really had loved him, and I too am among them, I do not even have the presumption to be more important to him than others or more exactly than the two others.
 
When we got together, he was alone in the sense that those guys kept him away, because they would have liked him to have a monogamous behavior, but for him it is practically impossible. And here the alternative in theory is clear, or you really accept him as he is, or you have to go away. Well, that was what I was thinking, but I was really naive. Or rather, I thought I understood the rules governing the affective life, but I didn’t understand anything.
 
One night, at a very late hour, in practice almost in the morning, he comes to my house, with the risk of waking up all my gossipy neighbors, and tells me he wants to have sex with me, but also tells me that he has to tell me something immediately: “Before I came here I was at A.’s home (A. is one of the other two guys) and I had sex with him because I could not help it. Does it bother you?” I replied: “No, it doesn’t bother me, A. is a proper guy, he never played with you and loved you in the true sense of the word.”
 
Then I added that I didn’t I want to have sex with him because I was tired of the previous day. He got up to leave and said, “Okay … I understand.” But he was disappointed. I replied: “You have not understood anything and at this time I do not let you go with the car, otherwise I get a heart attack before time! I prepare you the room, at least you can sleep a little.” It was a speech he didn’t expect, he looked at me happily surprised, then told me:” I would like a cup of tea, tell me where are the things I need and I do it all.” We went to the kitchen, put the water to boil, and as he waited I went to arrange the room for him. Then I prepared the tea, he drunk it then stood up, approached me and embraced me and gave me a squeeze just there, saying, “Okay, it will be next time. I love you B.!”
 
The next morning we talked for a long time and very seriously about his studies, I saw him quiet, much less neurotic than usual. Then we started to meet more frequently, but always stressing that we are not a couple, that we are free and that there are no obligations between us. It was not the world of dreams I wanted at the age of 18, but in my opinion it had (and it still has) a deep sense and then it doesn’t matter to me that he is my boyfriend in the classic sense of the term, we have overcome these things for years, it only matters to me that he is happy, or rather that he feels better with me than if he were alone. He trusts me, he considers me a reliable person, he knows that I love him and this fact is not indifferent to him, although it was not enough to bring him to monogamy, or better to monogamy 100%.
 
When I tried to tell this story to my friends, even to gay friends, I found a reaction that made me very annoyed: they considered me stupid, weak, they told me that I had been fooled, that the rules must exist and those who don’t respect the rules must be removed without regrets. Only a girl understood the meaning of what I was saying, she didn’t give any judgments, but was inclined to think that if I had made such a choice it was not for naivety but for love, because I probably knew more or less unconsciously that he loved me even if in his own way. But the others were all aligned to the idea that couple means something very similar to marriage and those who do not accept such a thing must be marginalized without hesitation.
 
In their opinion I’m just a naïve guy who has been clutched by a guy without scruples, but for me, things are not like that. We love each other, I think we are really important for each other. I never regretted my choices and I would repeat them. They told me I’m throwing away life and serious occasions, but what does serious mean? Should I give up my boyfriend (maybe he is not even my boyfriend, ok) to look for another one? No! Absolutely not! It’s been almost 10 years since we’re “somehow” together, he’s neurotic, angry, and so on, all you want, but he is honest, he doesn’t hide anything, he does not fool me, tells me what he thinks, everything, even brutally, but he, with all his flaws, never really abandoned me, in moments of difficulty I found him close, he did not talk, but he was there and understood how I really felt.
 
Some of my friends have known him and avoid him because when they do their hypocritical discourses, he makes them notice it and so embarrasses them. Sometimes they invite me pointing out that I have to go by myself, sometimes they don’t invite me at all, but I don’t mind, I don’t really give up him to go to a party!
 
That’s the story, Project. He is not perfect, he has many defects, I know it well and then I have many defects too. They tell me that if I am with him I will never be happy, yet it is exactly the opposite. He went and goes  even now with other guys, actually only two and the only two who really loved him, but I cannot really see anything like betrayal, but betrayal of what? He needs sex and even affection, I understand it well and I don’t feel upset at all. We love each other in our own way, the rules of others don’t concern us, in their eyes we can also appear to be two poor naive people who will never understand anything, but for us what people say or think doesn’t matter at all. I add something before closing this mail, Project, I’m convinced that there are many situations like ours, although nobody talks about it. There are no rules when you love someone, feelings are the only possible reference.
What do you think, Project? Obviously you can post this email if you think it’s okay.
Lawrence
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GAY PAMPERING VERSUS GAY SEX

Hello Project,
I’m twenty years old and study engineering and all in all I’m pretty happy about my life. After some hesitation, I decided to write to you because reading for a long time your sites, I have been struck by the fact that you talk a lot about the affective world of gays rather than about the sexual one. By browsing the internet, I find a huge amount of gay sexual content or that looks gay, but in practice I do not find references to the gay affective world, which for me is very important. 
I confess that I considered myself as a sui generis  gay and asked myself several times if there was something wrong with me, since for me the idea of sex without love is inconceivable, that is, I cannot understand sex as a game, like something that can be done with the first cute guy passing and that is available. Until about a year ago I saw a lot of pornography but somehow I censured it by myself, I saw the part I was interested in, the most affective, then when the video went through the penetration I changed video. I feel 100% gay, I never fell in love with a girl, not even at minimal levels, but, I tell you clearly, I never had fantasies about anal penetration, which is something I cannot even conceive. 
I think of sex with a guy as something extremely sweet, tender, affectionate, with no script to be respected, I see it a little bit like a free and disinhibited being in two, a thorough reciprocal knowledge even from that point of view. For me, the fundamental thing would be to see my boyfriend’s convincing participation. Some gay friends whom I have spoken about these things have puzzled me because they told me that my sexuality is immature, almost childish more than adolescent or adult, they think that I’m very inhibited, that I’m afraid of certain sexual practices, but in principle I have nothing against anal sex, if someone likes it, do it freely, but it certainly is something I don’t feel mine and frankly I don’t feel less gay because of this. 
As you say, there are so many ways of being gay and my is much more affective than sexual, I need a guy who loves me, who wants to pamper me and get pampered by me, and, dear Project, a guy can be pampered in a thousand different ways and not just in bed. I always dreamed of meeting a gay guy who would love me among my fellow students to be able to study together, but I often thought that if my boyfriend was studying other things, I would let him study quiet but at six in the afternoon I would take him a cup of tea with some sliced bread with a bit of butter and jam. This means also pampering for me. Pampering means taking care of the loved guy, trying to make him feel good. It is not trivial, loving a guy cannot be reduced to a sex issue, it takes a dimension of intimacy, mutual trust, credibility. 
I like sex, too, but it has to come all out of my mind spontaneously. And then hugging each other naked in bed is a way to have sex, is a direct and intimate contact with your boyfriend, a way of perceiving his warmth, her breathing, the beat of his heart, is just the shared intimacy that is beautiful and I really like it a lot. I understand and desire a true intimacy even without sex, but sex without affectivity, that is, without love I will never understand it. I’m romantic inside. I happened to find guys who made explicit suggestions about sex, but by saying that it was only sex for them, I replied: “No, thank you!” And they looked at me with astonishment, maybe it was the first time someone was saying them “No, thank you”. 
I dream of being in bed with my boyfriend, embracing him and seeing that he is good with me and that he wants to stay there, that our thoughts go in unison, that there are no mental reservations, double bottoms, and unambiguous motivations. I dream that we can caress, that we can huddle each other and then also do a bit of sex, but always in a reciprocal way, I dream to be able to intimately touch my boyfriend, to masturbate him and see that he’s is happy to be with me, obviously he would have with me the freedom to do spontaneously what he wants, the only limit must be what is good for me as well. This should be the only true limit of individual spontaneity: respect the limits of the other, never try to impose something. 
I have often found guys convinced that they had understood what sex was, who assumed that their way of seeing things was not only good for them but was the only way to see gay sexuality. Frankly, I do not think there are two gay boys with the same behaviors and the same sexual and affective desires. Cuddles are not something just for kids, and then there is a reflection that comes to my mind now: also animals like cuddles. My neighbor has a big white dog that people leave because they are afraid of him, but that dog when he sees me starts to wag his tail, then he falls to the ground and I start to caress him and he closes his eyes and I see that he is satisfied. The desire for pampering is so ancestral to be even common with animals, a bit like sex, because pampering transmits safety, tranquility, heat, in short, helps to be well. I think that many gay people like me really exist, though I have not met them so far. I greet you, Project, if you put this mail in your forum, maybe some gay lover of pampering will feel less alone and encouraged to go on.
David
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GAY LOVE WITH LITTLE SEX

I’m 42, I’m gay, no need to say, I have had my own experiences, really few, only one meaningful that lasts for a couple of years and is still going on. Before this my being gay was limited to gay porn and a bit of fantasy. I had never had concrete opportunities. I met some gay guys through dating sites, actually a few guys, they seemed pretty reliable, we became friends, but it was a superficial friendship, they had their own group, their world, far away from mine. I slowly lost contact with those guys and I did not even notice it. I spent years working from morning till night to save some money and finally buy a home. Two years ago I bought a mini-apartment in the city center and I spent everything I had set aside and I still have to pay the mortgage, though not very heavy. From this point of view I felt satisfied, but my black hole was the affective life that, until two years ago, had never taken off. I am a very common type, I have nothing outstanding in any field, I’m physically a normal person, I do not think I’m particularly ugly, but at 42 I’m certainly not a nice guy and on the other hand I’ve never been. From the economic point of view I have a stable job, but nothing remarkable. I’m not a brilliant guy, I do not go to gay clubs or of any other kind, I spend my time working even when I’m home, because I connect with my office even from home, so I do not know what boredom is, while I certainly know what are fatigue and stress.
But now I come to the real reason for my mail. About two years ago I met through a meeting site a 26 year old guy (much younger than me). We exchanged some mail, we chatted a bit, he looked like a good guy. After a few days we met in person, and we went to have a pizza together, then we had some sex in the car, but only touching each other because I did not want to risks neither did he. Things of that kind had happened to me some other time and generally everything ended there, and we did not meet again. With him it was not like that. In fact, the next day I had already forgotten him because I took it for granted that everything was over, but that was not the case. He called me and told me that for him it had been a very important experience, he perceived my respect, the fact that I was trying not to make things difficult for him, that I did not want him to do anything that was not good for him as well, etc. 
He asked me if we could meet again and I told him yes. Frankly it seemed odd that he was looking for someone like me, 14 years older, and I felt a little agitated. When we met for the second time it was Sunday and we went to the sea together, it was summer, it was hot and we spent the whole day together, we had also some sex this time, I thought things would go further, but instead stopped at the same point of the previous time. I confess that such a thing not only did not upset me but for me it was a reassuring element. Being there with that guy was really nice, seen in swimsuit he was really a nice guy, and was standing there at sea with me … Was he there to have sex? Maybe, but it did not seem to me his real purpose. 
Between us, we created an almost familiar environment of mutual attentiveness, remembering all the words of the other, underlining that it was nice to be together and that a day like that was really important. Sometimes he looked almost absentminded and then smiled at me, he spoke little, silences were long, the facial expressions and the eyes were strongly communicative. At the end of the day we came back to the city. He did not want to be accompanied at home but only at the subway stop. When I got home I felt happy, oddly happy. What could I expect from that guy? Objectively little or nothing, yet it was also for me an absolutely unique Sunday. 
Within the next three days I did not hear him and I started to feel nostalgic about his presence, but I decided not to call him anyway. On the fourth day, at five o’clock in the afternoon, he sent me a message: “I’m under your house, would you like to walk a bit?” I replied, “Ok!” And I went down. As usual he spoke very little, but he asked many questions, he wanted to try to get a clearer idea of my life. He asked me if I had a boyfriend, if I had had one in the past, how I meant the couple’s life, what value for me had the sex and so many things of this kind. I first answered his questions but then I told him I did not know anything about him and he just said, “You’re right, sorry, I’m inappropriate and intrusive.” But he did not speak to me about himself. 
There have been moments of embarrassment, we did not know what to say, then he looked in my eyes for a few seconds and said, “Are you sure you want to know something about me?” And I said, “I think so.” He started with the latest times: still studying, lives at his parents’ home who do not know anything about him and they do not even suspect that he is gay because he has so many female friends and brings them home too. Through dating sites he met several guys, in fact, only 5, with whom he tried to build a relationship, but it was not possible because they were just looking for sex, so there were 5 disappointments. None of those guys were interested in building something or understanding how he really was. He tells me he feels comfortable with me, free, not crammed. 
Then he started another argument I did not expect, he told me that he had been raped at age 19 by a guy who then was known to be HIV positive, but luckily there were no consequences because that guy in all probability was not yet HIV positive at the time. He told me he did the test several times and that it always was negative. Then he told me that anal sex is an intolerable thing for him, because that practice reminds him of things he does not want to remember. He told me that the fact that I did not insist on doing things he didn’t want to do was greatly appreciated and asked if anal sex for me was very important. I told him that I have never had fantasies of that kind and that for me being gay is essentially an emotional issue, there is certainly sex, but as a form of tenderness, certainly not of aggressiveness or of dominance, which I would consider awful. 
The afternoon passed this way. Then he told me he had to study because he had to take an exam after about a month and we greeted. I thought that such a speech was a prelude to a separation of about a month but it was not so. The next day he called me and asked me if he could stay at my house because he needed tranquility to study. I was puzzled but then told him yes and after a couple of hours he joined me with a bag full of books and his computer. I had prepared the room, with the bed just made, the desk and the armchair, it was almost four in the afternoon, he settled in the room and then started studying, we exchanged only a few words. I went to my room to work. 
At about eight o’clock, I went to the kitchen and I prepared dinner, I put the plates for him on a tray and brought all to him in the room, he looked at me and made a wonderful smile. I said, “Be quiet, later I’ll bring you a coffee.” He studied until about 23 o’clock, then opened the door of the room and let me in, sat on the armchair and lay on the bed, he said we did not have to say a word and I did so. After a dozen minutes he told me, “Are you sorry if we do not do it today? … because I’m very tired and I need to sleep.” I told him that I just needed to see him smiling. He hugged me tight, then I asked him what time he wanted to be woken the next day, he said “At seven o’clock.” And I went to sleep in my room. 
The next morning I got up at 6.30 am, I went to the bar and took the breakfast for myself and for him and then brought it to him in the tray. I greeted him, told him that everything was ready for lunch in the fridge and went out to go to work. In the afternoon I found him very busy studying. He had not eaten, then I cooked something very quickly, he stopped studying and we had lunch together though it was advanced afternoon. In the 30 days before the examination there were also sexual contacts, always very light but desired by both sides, exchanges of reassuring tenderness. 
We talked very little, he was totally absorbed by the study, when he did not understand something he filled out pages of calculations to try to overcome the problem and if he could not he felt very depressed. The closer he approached the day of examination, the more he was anxious. The night before the exam we slept together embraced, but without sex. In the morning he went to the exams and I waited for the written test to finish. He seemed quite satisfied, but the anxiety was not completely vanished. The following day he sent me a message to tell me that the written test was fine and that he would have the oral examination the next day. Even that night we slept hugged. 
The next day I received another message: “All OK!” I came home after 6pm, he slept and I did not wake him up. I sat on the armchair beside his bed and I was there to see his rest. When he woke up he said, “I love you!” And I felt happy till the seventh heaven! There is also sex between us, but what I appreciate most is that love itself is fundamental to him. there was no formal statement of any kind between us, now he is at my house, also because it is close to university, he studies, I see him motivated, between us exists a very nice relationship that I never thought could be realized. Two years have passed and now I can no longer stay without him. The thing I like most is when he falls asleep in my arms. I’ve never experienced moments of deeper tenderness.
__________
If you like, you can participate in the discussion of this post, on Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/showthread.php?tid=139

AFFECTIVE GAY SEX

Dear Project,

reading here and there on the Gay Project sites I felt comfortable and I did not feel the same way reading other sites that talk about gay sexuality. I often felt embarrassed in talking with guys about sex and came to think that there was something wrong with me, something that did not work as it should have been.

I’m 26 and I have never had sex with anyone. Sometimes, but in practice only a couple of times, I thought that with the guys I met in chat we could even get to have sex, but the impression was quickly denied when I heard what they meant for gay sexuality. Maybe I dream too much, maybe I’m infantile in my way of conceiving sexuality, but I have the impression that with a guy, let’s say better, with the majority of the guys I would feel uncomfortable. I’m not sex phobic, I do not have nudity-related psychological complexes, I’ve been a team-mate for years, and I’ve never had problems with changing rooms and showers, I do not have religious complexes, I masturbate as all the guys do and I don’t have complexes even on this. Physically I think I’m a guy I do not say handsome but at least normal, but from a sexual point of view I feel a little disadvantaged.

I try to explain to you how I mean gay sex, or rather I try to explain how I would have sex with a guy.

First of all, I dream of love and not of sex, and it is not a matter of words, I dream of loving and being loved, I dream a true, deep, mutual love. I know that so many people would say that these are just fantasies and that reality is very different but with a guy who does not really love me and I really do not love him, I would feel absolutely uncomfortable, it would be a mutual instrumentalization. My purpose is not to have sex with a guy but to create a love relationship that can last in time, which can make us feel like a couple to help us in the real difficulties of life and then that is stable and faithful. I want a guy I can trust not one who speaks in one way and acts in another, he must be my boyfriend and I his, that is, our love must be exclusive, otherwise it is better to be alone. With my guy there should be a perfect consonance, a total complicity to understand each other without saying even a word.

But I come to sexual fantasies: first I dream about pampering, because I see it as a sign of tenderness, affection, physical proximity, sharing without reservations even physicality. I dream of sleeping together naked, feeling the warmth of my partner, I dream of being able to join him with my whole body, I dream of caressing him and of course I dream that he also does the same with me. I never, absolutely never, thought of sexual roles, my relationship with a guy must be absolutely equal, in the utmost spontaneity and in total agreement. Never and ever impositions, not even veiled, nor even repeated requests. Relationship must proceed in a totally spontaneous way. It is of particular importance to be embraced for a few minutes, to exchange heat, then, of course, kisses, caresses, hands moving into the hair and hugging tight, naked body with naked body.

Then I think also of something more strictly sexual and here I feel very strongly my distance from the mentality of so many guys. You may think it’s incredible, but I have never had sexual fantasies about anal penetration and, I would say, not even about oral sex. Pornography is full of these things but I cannot understand such things because they have never been part of my fantasies. Instead, I think of a sexual intimacy based on intimate genital caresses, to understand the physical sexual reactions of the partner, always under conditions of total reciprocity. I dream of having a partner with a dick very similar to mine, because I would somehow know it already and would know how it reacts. Then I think we would easily get to masturbation, but always having a long time, with long pauses, that is, without considering sex something separate from the rest of life, but on the contrary integrating it with everything else in a totally spontaneous way. And then the relationship would not end with ejaculation, but it would go on afterwards, staying close, hugging, cuddling even afterwards.

I would like to add something that might sound stupid but I think it is very important. I have often thought that my way of seeing gay sex would radically reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and, in my opinion at least, would not reduce the pleasure of having sex with a guy.

You can imagine the reactions when I talked about such things chatting with guys. Being considered a Martian was the least, many guys often considered me an unrecoverable psychopath, then when I came to Gay Project, I found your article on anal sex and I was shocked. I was not a pathologic case! But not only, there are so many guys who think more or less like me though unfortunately it is not easy to find them.
Project, I quote below the mail I received from a guy after we had talked a bit on chat. I think it may be indicative.

“But are you kidding me? Cuddles? How old are you? You have to start getting some real experience, you have to wake up! If you like, [Sorry, Project, I apologize for the vulgar expression] I’m available to fuck you and I think you’ll like it. So many guys act like fussy persons, but then, when they understand what sex really is, they don’t stop anymore.”

Perhaps another guy’s mail is even more interesting.

“Alt! Stop! If you’re out of your head I’ll leave you right away. I have enough psychopaths, I’m just looking for sex, I told you so clearly and I do not have time to lose, so bye and I block you right away.”

I also received a serious email and I have to say the truth, I thought he was the right person. I thought a lot about what I should have answered and in the end I sent my long and meditated email. Obviously I didn’t get any answer and that user disappeared from the chat. I think that falling in love and feeling the love of the partner it’s really beautiful, but to me it never happened. I do not know if it will ever happen, but I still do not give up on my dreams to find answers, which would not be what I’m going to look for. At least on Gay Project I feel I’m not alone.

If you want to post this mail do it, maybe my letter can help somebody else not to feel alone.

L.V.

__________

If you like, you can participate in the discussion of this post, open on the Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/showthread.php?tid=127

LORD BYRON HOMOSEXUAL

The problem of sources

André Raffalovich deals with Byron’s homosexuality in an extremely synthetic way, not to say reductive, but it should be kept in mind that Byron, more than a person, is an icon, a myth of English Romanticism, and that a myth is such as it is supported by a mythology, which, as is well known, is an enemy of history. Raffalovich was certainly not superficial when conducting his studies on homosexuality in history and literature, his succinctness derives from substantial reasons and not from personal assessments. Raffalovich on Byron had only very small and widely censored sources.

Thomas Moore, with his “Letters and Journals of Lord Byron” has for a long time been the only point of reference for Byron’s life studies. The work was published in 1830 but the collection began in 1814, when Byron himself sent Moore a first packet of letters and diaries so that they could be preserved and eventually published. By 1818 Byron began writing his autobiography, which Moore should have published, with additions taken from letters and diaries. Byron assumed that Moore could earn profits from the publication. Moore through Byron’s Letters and Diaries publishing intended to correct the idea that Byron was a vicious misanthropist, idea widespread in England well before the poet died, showing in the contrary his amiability. From the correspondence between Byron and Moore it is clear that both worked and in agreement on the project. Byron expresses concern for the fate of all that material, but at the same time invites to trust Moore, even though he knows that after his death Moore will still work a censorship, so to speak, a prudential censorship.

In 1830, just a few years after Byron’s death, most of the people mentioned in his letters were still alive, and the lawyers of those families would certainly read Moore’s biography. The people involved in Byron’s most or less honorable events were very powerful and influential, and it could not be surprising that Moore has acted censorship, but it is surprising that the biography has not been much more censored than it really was. The original memories of Byron, the core of the business, was destroyed by the will of Byron’s friends, and in particular by the executor, Hobhouse, who was largely involved in Byron’s affair with homosexuality, despite Moore’s protests. http://www.lordbyron.org/contents.php?doc=ThMoore.1830.Contents

Evidently, full publication would have created a great deal of embarrassment on many powerful people whose private life would have been put on the streets and would have heavily discredited Byron’s memory, supporting the allegations of homosexuality, sodomy, and incest that had been brought against him. It is not a moralistic censorship choice, as it is often presented, but an option without real alternatives, save perhaps the freezing of the publication for 50 or more years.

Byron biography books are many and also those who deal with the theme of the poet’s homosexuality are quite numerous. For me, in 2017, the greatest risk of trying to write a Byron homosexual biography is to be a “great translator of Homer’s translators”, that is to use rather than the sources, what others have written on the subject. The temptation is great and the work would be greatly facilitated, but when it comes to highlighting historiography more than documents, history becomes history of historiography and that’s exactly what I want to avoid here.

In the studies on Byron, a milestone is represented by the monumental and punctual philological work done by Peter Cochran (1944- 2015), who not only has rigorously transcribed an immense amount of Byron’s letters, documents, and texts but has opened to anyone free access to his archives. I have constantly referred to these archives in my attempt to reconstruct the facts, avoiding, as far as possible, deforming them on the basis of ideological assumptions.

The early years

George Gordon Noel Byron, was born in London, at Holles Street n.16, January 22, 1788, by John Byron and Catherine Gordon of Gight. A contraction of the Achilles tendon, found at birth, he made him slightly limp since he was a child. George Gordon spends his early years in Aberdeen at his mother’s home. His father, reduced to poverty from debt, retires to France, where he dies, probably suicidal, in 1791. At the time of his death, in 1798, George Gordon inherited his noble title and his property at the age of 10, becoming Sixth Baron Byron of Rochdale and then Lord. He leaved the Aberdeen’s maternal home and went to Newstead Abbey that was in abandonment at that time. He had inherited from his uncle great possessions but also many debts.

Cambridge          

In October 1805, at age 17, nearly 18, he joined Trinity College in Cambridge, where he became acquainted with those who became his closest friends: Edward Noel Long, William Bankes, Francis Hodgson, Douglas Kinnaird, John Cam Hobhouse, Scrope Berdmore Davies and Charles Skinner Matthews are all among his close friends. At Trinity College, in October 1815, Byron also met John Edleston (then sixteen), a blond, beautiful boy, then Trinity College chorister. In 1816 Edleston gave Byron a spell of cornelian shaped heart. At the gift Byron writes:

THE CORNELIAN(a)
1.
No specious splendour of this stone
Endears it to my memory ever;
With lustre ‘only once’ it shone,
And blushes modest as the giver. (b)
2.
Some, who can sneer at friendship’s ties,
Have, for my weakness, oft reprov’d me;
Yet still the simple gift I prize,
For I am sure, the giver lov’d me.
3.
He offer’d it with downcast look,
As ‘fearful’ that I might refuse it;
I told him, when the gift I took,
My ‘only fear’ should be, to lose it.
4.
This pledge attentively I view’d,
And ‘sparkling’ as I held it near,
Methought one drop the stone bedew’d,
And, ever since, ‘I’ve lov’d a tear.’
5.
Still, to adorn his humble youth,
Nor wealth nor birth their treasures yield;
But he, who seeks the flowers of truth,
Must quit the garden, for the field.
6.
‘Tis not the plant uprear’d in sloth,
Which beauty shews, and sheds perfume;
The flowers, which yield the most of both,
In Nature’s wild luxuriance bloom.
7.
Had Fortune aided Nature’s care,
For once forgetting to be blind,
‘His’ would have been an ample share,
If well proportioned to his mind.
8.
But had the Goddess clearly seen,
His form had fix’d her fickle breast;
‘Her’ countless hoards would ‘his’ have been,
And none remain’d to give the rest.

(a) The cornelian was a present from his friend Edleston, a Cambridge chorister, afterwards a clerk in a mercantile house in London. Edleston died of consumption, May 11, 1811. (See letter from Byron to Miss Pigot, October 28, 1811.) Their acquaintance began by Byron saving him from drowning. (MS. note by the Rev. W. Harness.)
(b) ‘But blushes modest’.

On February 23, 1807, Byron wrote from Southwell to Edward Noel Long, his childhood friend and added to his letter this post scriptum: “If possible I will pass through Granta, in March, pray, keep the subject of my “Cornelian” Secret.” (Granta is the original name, still in use locally, for the River Cam, this name indicates, by extension, the city of Cambridge). Thomas Moore, who deleted homosexual passages from survived diaries and letters, called Edleston “adopted brother” of Byron.

A short time before Byron left Cambridge on June 27, 1807 he sent to John Edleston a short note written in cypher characters and translated by Leslie Marchand with the help of an alphabetical key found in his papers.

LORD BYRON TO JOHN EDLESTON  May, 1807

D–R–T [Dearest?] —  Why not? With this kiss make me yours again forever.
Byron

[“Byron’s Letters and Journals” a new selection – From Leslie A. Marchand’s – twelve-volume edition – Oxford University Press, 2015. Page. 22.]

To that same Cornelian, donated by Edleston to Byron, the poet refers in the poem “The Adieu” (of which we do not possess the date) at the time of separation from Edleston.

The Adieu

by George Gordon Lord Byron

Written Under The Impression That The Author Would Soon Die.

Adieu, thou Hill! where early joy
Spread roses o’er my brow;
Where Science seeks each loitering boy
With knowledge to endow.
Adieu, my youthful friends or foes,
Partners of former bliss or woes;
No more through Ida’s paths we stray;
Soon must I share the gloomy cell,
Whose ever‑slumbering inmates dwell
Unconscious of the day.

Adieu, ye hoary Regal Fanes,
Ye spires of Granta’s vale,
Where Learning robed in sable reigns,
And Melancholy pale.
Ye comrades of the jovial hour,
Ye tenants of the classic bower,
On Cama’s verdant margin placed,
Adieu! while memory still is mine,
For, offerings on Oblivion’s shrine,
These scenes must be effaced.

Adieu, ye mountains of the clime
Where grew my youthful years;
Where Loch na Garr in snows sublime
His giant summit rears.
Why did my childhood wander forth
From you, ye regions of the North,
With sons of pride to roam?
Why did I quit my Highland cave,
Mar’s dusky heath, and Dee’s clear wave,
To seek a Sotheron home!

Hall of my Sires! a long farewell–
Yet why to thee adieu?
Thy vaults will echo back my knell,
Thy towers my tomb will view:
The faltering tongue which sung thy fall,
And former glories of thy Hall,
Forgets its wonted simple note–
But yet the Lyre retains the strings,
And sometimes, on Æolian wings,
In dying strains may float.

Fields which surround yon rustic cot,
While yet I linger here,
Adieu! you are not now forgot,
To retrospection dear.
Streamlet! along whose rippling surge
My youthful limbs were wont to urge,
At noontide heat, their pliant course;
Plunging with ardour from the shore,
Thy springs will lave these limbs no more,
Deprived of active force.

And shall I here forget the scene,
Still nearest to my breast?
Rocks rise and rivers roll between
The spot which passion blest;
Yet, Mary, all thy beauties seem
Fresh as in Love’s bewitching dream,
To me in smiles display’d;
Till slow disease resigns his prey
To Death, the parent of decay,
Thine image cannot fade.

And thou, my Friend! whose gentle love
Yet thrills my bosom’s chords,
How much thy friendship was above
Description’s power of words!
Still near my breast thy gift I wear
Which sparkled once with Feeling’s tear,
Of Love the pure, the sacred gem;
Our souls were equal, and our lot
In that dear moment quite forgot;
Let Pride alone condemn!

All, all is dark and cheerless now!
No smile of Love’s deceit
Can warm my veins with wonted glow,
Can bid Life’s pulses beat:
Not e’en the hope of future fame
Can wake my faint, exhausted frame,
Or crown with fancied wreaths my head.
Mine is a short inglorious race,–
To humble in the dust my face,
And mingle with the dead.

Oh Fame! thou goddess of my heart;
On him who gains thy praise,
Pointless must fall the Spectre’s dart,
Consumed in Glory’s blaze;
But me she beckons from the earth,
My name obscure, unmark’d my birth,
My life a short and vulgar dream:
Lost in the dull, ignoble crowd,
My hopes recline within a shroud,
My fate is Lathe’s stream.

When I repose beneath the sod,
Unheeded in the clay,
Where once my playful footsteps trod,
Where now my head must lay,
The weed of Pity will be shed
In dew-drops o’er my narrow bed,
By nightly skies, and storms alone;
No mortal eye will deign to steep
With tears the dark sepulchral deep
Which hides a name unknown.
Forget this world, my restless sprite,
Turn, turn thy thoughts to Heaven:
There must thou soon direct thy flight,
If errors are forgiven.
To bigots and to sects unknown,
Bow down beneath the Almighty’s Throne;
To Him address thy trembling prayer:
He, who is merciful and just,
Will not reject a child of dust,
Although his meanest care.

Father of Light! to Thee I call;
My soul is dark within:
Thou who canst mark the sparrow’s fall,
Avert the death of sin.
Thou, who canst guide the wandering star,
Who calm’st the elemental war,
Whose mantle is yon boundless sky,
My thoughts, my words, my crimes forgive:
And, since I soon must cease to live,
Instruct me how to die.

On June 30, 1807, Byron, while still in Cambridge, probably after a short absence (and after the farewell to Edleston), writes to his friend Elizabeth Bridget Pigot (1783-1866).

[Byron to Elizabeth Pigot, from Trinity College, Cambridge, June 30th 1807: (Source: text from Newstead Abbey Collection NA 948(j); LJ I 120-3; QI 28-9; BLJ I 123-4)]

LORD BYRON TO ELIZABETH BRIDGET PIGOT      Cambridge June 30th, 1807

. . . I am almost superannuated here. My old friends (with the exception of a very few) all departed, and I am preparing to follow them, but remain till Monday to be present at 3 Oratorios, 2 Concerts, a Fair, and a Ball. I find I am not only thinner but taller by an inch since my last visit. I was obliged to tell every body my name, nobody having the least recollection of visage, or person. Even the hero of my Cornelian (who is now sitting vis-à-vis, reading a volume of my Poetics) passed me in Trinity walks without recognising me in the least, and was thunderstruck at the alteration which had taken place in my countenance, &c., &c. Some say I look better, others worse, but all agree I am thinner, – more I do not require. . . .
I quit Cambridge with little regret, because our set are vanished, and my musical protégé before mentioned has left the choir, and is stationed in a mercantile house of considerable eminence in the metropolis. You may have heard me observe he is exactly to an hour two years younger than myself. I found him grown considerably, and as you will suppose, very glad to see his former Patron. He is nearly my height, very thin, very fair complexion, dark eyes, and light locks. My opinion of his mind you already know; – I hope I shall never have reason to change it. Every body here conceives me to be an invalid. The University at present is very gay from the fêtes of divers kinds. I supped out last night, but eat (or ate) nothing, sipped a bottle of claret, went to bed at two, and rose at eight. I have commenced early rising, and find it agrees with me. The Masters and the Fellows are all very polite but look a little askance – don’t much admire lampoons – truth always disagreeable.

The relationship between Byron and John Edleston continues until Byron leaves Trinity in the summer of 1807. Farewell takes place July 5, 1087, as we know from a Byron letter to Miss Pigot.

Byron to Elizabeth Pigot, from Trinity College Cambridge, July 5th 1807: (Source: text from Newstead Abbey Collection NA 948(k); LJ I 133-6; QI 29-31; BLJ I 124-5)

LORD BYRON TO ELIZABETH BRIDGET PIGOT  Trin. Coll. Camb. July 5th, 1807

My Dear Eliza.

Since my last letter I have determined to reside another year at Granta, as my rooms, etc. etc. are finished in great style, several old friends come up again, and many new acquaintances made; consequently my inclination leads me forward, and I shall return to college in October if still alive. My life here has been one continued routine of dissipation – out at different places every day, engaged to more dinners, etc. etc. than my stay would permit me to fulfil. At this moment I write with a bottle of claret in my head and tears in my eyes; for I have just parted with my “Cornelian,” who spent the evening with me. As it was our last interview, I postponed my engagement to devote the hours of the Sabbath to friendship: – Edleston and I have separated for the present, and my mind is a chaos of hope and sorrow. To-morrow I set out for London: you will address your answer to “Gordon’s Hotel, Albemarle Street,” where I sojourn during my visit to the metropolis.

I rejoice to hear you are interested in my protégé; he has been my almost constant associate since October, 1805, when I entered Trinity College. His voice first attracted my attention, his countenancefixed it, and his manners attached me to him for ever. He departs for a mercantile house in town in October, and we shall probably not meet till the expiration of my minority, when I shall leave to his decision either entering as a partner through my interest, or residing with me altogether. Of course he would in his present frame of mind prefer the latter, but he may alter his opinion previous to that period; – however, he shall have his choice. I certainly love him more than any human being, and neither time nor distance have had the least effect on my (in general) changeable disposition. In short we shall put Lady E. Butler and Miss Ponsonby to the blush, Pylades and Orestes out of countenance, and want nothing but a catastrophe like Nisus and Euryalus to give Jonathan and David the “go by”. He certainly is perhaps more attached to me than even I am in return. During the whole of my residence at Cambridge we met every day, summer and winter, without passing one tiresome moment, and separated each time with increasing reluctance. I hope you will one day see us together. He is the only being I esteem, though I like many. . . . My protégé breakfasts with me; parting spoils my appetite – excepting from Southwell [i.e. leaving England altogether].

So far, the reader has been able to follow Byron’s homosexual history until the age of nineteen and a half: the resulting picture is still conforming to the Byronian myth: there is the love for a boy who was two years younger than the poet, but the border between love and friendship is very labile and the term “protector”, which Byron uses to designate Edleston without being too explicit, seems to emphasize more than a difference in age, a social difference, which is not overcome by feelings. Byron certainly will not give up on the Grand Tour, typical of high-ranking youth, to stay alongside Edleston, who will follow his way as a businessman. We must always keep in mind, however, that we are dealing with Byron’s homosexuality relying only on the little that has remained after the destruction of his Memories, wanted by his friends after the poet’s death. The beautiful youth surrounding Byron had little to do with the heroes of Foscolo and Alfieri heroes, they were young guys, who belonged to aristocratic and very rich British families, and for them the university life in Cambridge was certainly not limited to the study. Byron himself, as we have seen, highlights the festive aspect of university life, especially in the summer, but student life could not be reduced to ritual parties and entertainments, or rather ritual parties could be interesting occasions for heterosexual students, certainly not for homosexual ones. There was, then, as there is now, an underground university life linked to homosexuality, and Byron was not alien to all this. We cannot hope to find out such things in Moore’s Biography, but clues and evidences exist anyway. We have fortunately a letter from Charles Skinner Matthews to Byron, London, June 30, 1809, on the departure of Byron for the Grand Tour, of this letter will be discussed in detail below. Matthews, the author of this letter, was born on March 26, 1785 and therefore nearly three years older than Byron, was elected a fellow of Downing College in Cambridge (this fact is mentioned in the letter) and unfortunately died drowned in the Cam, while bathing, August 3, 1811, at age 26. When Matthews, defined by Moore as “the libertine friend of Byron,” wrote the mentioned letter, he was at the beginning of his 24  and Byron was 21. The letter highlights many interesting facts: at least three people (Byron, Hobhouse and Matthews) used to convey homosexual content a “mysterious” style, so they define it, “that style in which more is meant than meets the Eye”. Matthews found the reason very simply in the fact that “should the tabellarians [postmen] be inclined to peep”. In a time when homosexuality was a serious offense and sodomy involves the death penalty, a cryptic language imposed itself as an indispensable security condition. We’ve already seen that Byron and Edleston in the college exchanged encrypted messages, but here we are not talking about short messages but about real letters with encrypted and unencrypted parts. The “mysterious” style was recently inaugurated and was in the process of being routed because it was designed to keep long-distance correspondence between guys involved in the Grand Tour and guys in England. The likelihood that Turkish police could inspect letters sent to England from very wealthy foreigners was certainly far more than a theoretical hypothesis and the encrypted text was not to be recognized as such. The use of expressions in French, of words to be understood according to French reading or the identification of coded words, among others, with the addition of one “e” at the end, were artifices unlikely to be recognizable to an unknowing eye. Thus a true brotherhood was created, the brotherhood “de la Methode” (in French) (Methode (ending with “e”) = homosexuality) and the adepts were the Methodistes (with “e”), who obviously had nothing to do with the Methodist Church. We can talk about Methodiste desires, other Methodistes, apostles of religion, and so on. Hunting for boys is encrypted with the botanical metaphor of collecting flowers and flowers have significant names: Hyacinth (which alludes to the boy loved by Apollo) represents the homosexual partner available; but the metaphor goes even further, because according to the legend, Hyacinth died during a launch of disks or rings because the wind let go back the disk that struck Hyacinth violently. In English “coit” is a variant of “quoit” = ring of iron, plastic, rope, etc., used in the game of quoits. Therefore Hyacinth died for a “coit”, a word that alludes openly to “coitus” = sexual intercourse. To indicate a complete sexual intercourse, the Methodistes (with “e”) used the acronym pl&optC = “plenum et optabilem coitum” (full and desirable sexual intercourse), an expression used by Petronius in his Satyricon. Some traits of Matthews’s letter remain nevertheless obscure. Beyond the Methodistes Sect and their cryptic language, Matthews’ letter contains another very important element in Byron’s homosexual biography. Matthews talks about an “Abbey Hyacinth” (with reference to the fact that Byron had lived the first adolescence in Newstead Abbey), the “Abbey Hyacinth” is Robert Rushton ( 1793-1833), a boy who was about 16 years old at the time of Matthews’ letter. Robert Rushton was the son of William Rushton, one of the most important tenants in Newstead estate. In 1808, at the age of about 14 to 15 years, Robert was in service at the Abbey as a Byron page, Byron took the boy with himself on the journey to Europe in 1809, but then sent him back home from Gibraltar and paid the expenses for his education in Newark; however, we will have the opportunity to deal again with Rushton later, let us here just note that among Byron’s friends Rushton is considered as one of the complacent boys whom Byron could enjoy. We will see that Byron showed friendly attitudes towards Rushton, even in very embarrassing situations for the poet. A reflection should be made on a very important point: the “loves” or perhaps more banally Byron’s homosexual interests are not directed towards its peers but towards boys of very different social condition. Raffalovich, at the end of the eighteenth century, will blame John Addington Symonds for similar attitudes, but Symonds, while being a wealthy man, was certainly not a lord and his attitudes show a substantial affection for young men (non-adolescents) whom he falls in love with, Byron, perhaps because he is still very young, seems to swing between romantic and goliardic attitudes, where homosexuality becomes argument of social play and hot speeches between mates.

On June 25, 1809, just before embarkation, Byron communicated to Henry Drury that one of the reasons for his trip to the eastern Mediterranean was the ambition to contribute to a book proposed by Hobhouse [Byron’s Letters and Journals, ed. Leslie A. Marchand, 13 vols, John Murray, 1973-94; I 208.]]

“… a chapter on the state of morals, and a further treatise on the same to be entituled “Sodomy simplified or Pæderasty proved to be praiseworthy from ancient authors and from modern practice.” – Hobhouse further hopes to indemnify himself in Turkey for a life of exemplary chastity at home by letting out his “fayre body” to the whole Divan.(a)” (BLJ I 208)

(a) The Divan is a Turkish reserved room, meaning, obviously joking, that Hobhouse wanted to prostitute with all those present.

Byron, Hobhouse and Matthews’s interest in boys is very evident in a letter written by Byron and Hobhouse to Matthews from Falmouth just before their departure for the Grand Tour on June 22, 1809. Byron and Hobhouse use this in this letter the code “mysterious”. Hobhouse writes:

Byron and John Cam Hobhouse to Charles Skinner Matthews, from Falmouth, June 22nd 1809:

(Source: text from B.L.Add.Mss. 47226 ff.6-7; BLJ I 206-7) [(in Byron’s hand): Falmouth June twenty-two / C.S.Matthews Esqre / 13 Bunbury Court / Strand / London / Byron]

Falmouth June 22

My dear Matthews Under  – omissis – As to the journey of Byron & myself to this port I have little or nothing to inform you of, except that nothing happened worthy of notice. I should not however forget to inform a Methodiste,(a) that by a curious accident we overtook Caliph Vathek(b) at Hartford Bridge; we could not obtain a sight of this great apostle,(c) he having closed the shutters on the out-side. By another strange coincidence, we heard at Salisbury, that a noble namesake of a Trinity Friend of your’s(d) was upon the road for his Devonshire seat.

These things do not happen without some intention of the gods, & are certainly ominous of either something very bad or very fortunate – Besides all this, the Cornish air is so exceedingly favorable to complexion, that the roses of the genus andron(1) are the most universally blooming you ever beheld, so much so, that our conversation here, pupis pars non minima fueris,(e) has generally turned on that interesting topic – … – omissis –

Byron writes: My dear Mathieu, – I take up the pen which our friend has for a moment laid down merely to express a vain wish that you were with us in this detestable region, as I do not think Georgia itself can emulate its capabilities or incitements to the “Plen. and optabil. – Coit.”(g) the port of Falmouth & parts adjacent. – –

We are surrounded by Hyacinths & other flowers of the most fragrant [tear: “na”]ture, – & I have some intention of culling a handsome Bouquet to compare with the exotics we expect to meet in Asia. – One specimen I shall certainly carry off, but of this hereafter. – Adieu Mathieu! — —

(a) Codeword for “homosexual”.
(b) William Beckford, author of Vathek, B.’s favourite book.
(c) At BLJ I 210 (letter to Francis Hodgson, June 25th 1809) B. refers to Beckford as “the great Apostle of Pæderasty”. See CHP I st.22, especially its first version.
(d) Trinity friend unidentified.
(e) Male gender.
(f) Latin expression that should mean “You were not a negligible topic for kids” but the term “pupis” seems rather unlikely in Latin
(g) Petronius, Satyricon, par. 86.

But let’s come to Matthews’s letter.

Charles Skinner Matthews to Byron, from London, June 30th 1809:
(Source: National Library of Scotland 12604 / 4247G)

London. Saturday June 30. 1809
In transmitting my dispatches to Hobhouse, mi carissime βυρον (a) I cannot refrain from addressing a few lines to yourself: chiefly to congratulate you on the splendid success of your first efforts in the mysterious, that style in which more is meant than meets the Eye.(b) I shall have at you in that style before I fold up this sheet.

Hobhouse too is uncommonly well, but I must recommend that he do not in future put a dash under his mysterious significances, such a practise would go near to letting the cat out of the bag, should the tabellarians(c) be inclined to peep: And I positively decree that every one who professes ma methode do spell the term w ch. designates his calling with an e at the end of it – methodiste, not methodist; and pronounce the word in the French fashion. Every one’s taste must revolt atconfounding ourselves with that sect of horrible, snivelling, fanatics.

As to your Botanical pursuits, I take it that the flowers you will be most desirous of culling will be of the class polyandria,(d) and not monogynia (e) but nogynia.(f) However so as you do not cut them it will all do very well.

A word or two about hyacinths. Hyacinth, you may remember, was killed by a Coit.(g) but not that “full and to-be- wished-for Coit.” have a care then that your Abbey Hyacinth (h) be not injured by either sort of coit. If you should find anything remarkable in the botanical line, pray send me word of it, who take an extreme

interest in your anthology; and specify the class & if possible the name of each production.

Tomorrow morning I am going to Cambridge to invest myself with the magisterial hat, to drink ale, &, eventually, to play at Coits. It is not auditable (though from it’s auricular qualities it might almost be called so) which I am so eager to obtain, but some which comes from a more northern part of the kingdom. You who are so well acquainted with the topography of our cellar will immediately comprehend the sort I mean, when I tell you that I mean to broach one of two butts which I have often pointed out to your notice; not the tall one. And of the pl&optC, (i) should I be so happy as to obtain one, or of the progress towards it, you shall be fully informed.

I have not yet seen the hero of that Treatise on the Bathos which you promised me, but were too much engaged to execute; But, in another point, I have been admitted behind the scenes & was very much disappointed on a rear inspection of the Palma.

I admire the stoical unconcern & Christian resignation with which both of you seem to bear your disappointment of the Packet; & the consequent prolongation of your stay in this country. From which I readily infer that there must be something in Falmouth not a little delectable, and deplore my lot that I am not sharing your delights. I enclose with this the frontispiece to the Trial of Cap. Sutherland: which I bought yesterday thinking that it might contain quelque chose de la methode: but nothing of the kind appears. The face & right thumb of the negro are the principal features in the picture: which I send you on account of it’s oddity: and think that you, Hobhouse, & M.

l’Abbé Hyacinth (l) might represent the scene with much effect, taking the parts of the Captain, the negro, & the cabin boy, respectively.

I cannot conclude without exhorting & beseeching you, as I have besought Hobhouse, to oblige me with frequent favours in the epistolary way both before & after your leaving England.

Adieu my dear Lord; I wish you, not as Dr Johnson wished Mr Burke, all the success which an honest man can or ought to wish you, (m) but as grand founder and arch-Patriarch of the Methode I give your undertaking my benediction, and wish you, Byron of Byzantium, and you, Cam of Constantinople, jointly & severally, all the success which in your most methodistical fantasies you can wish yourselves.
So sail along with happy auspices & believe me.
Your’s very sincerely
C.S.M.

(a) “Byron” (Greek).
(b) Matthews refers to the coded style of B.’s letter of June 22nd.
(c) Postmen.
(d) “with many males”.
(e) “with a single female”.
(f) “nogynia” is Matthews’ coinage: “with no females”.
(g) Hyacinth was killed when a discus he with which he was practising in a contest with Apollo, his lover, was flung back at him by the jealous West Wind.
(h) Robert Rushton.
(i) “Coitum plenum et optabilem” – “full and highly satisfactory sex”. From Petronius’ Satyricon.
(l) Robert Rushton.
(m) “When the general election broke up the delightful society in which we had spent some time at Beconsfield, Dr. Johnson shook the hospitable master of the house [Burke] kindly by the hand, and said, “Farewell my dear Sir, and remember that I wish you all the success which ought to be wished you, which can possibly be wished you indeed – by an honest man.’” – Piozzi’s Anecdotes, p.242

If Matthews’s letter stopped only with goliardic gossip about homosexuality, it would just be another manifestation of the desecrating livelihood of a group of homosexual young people, after all, nothing at all disruptive, but Matthews’s letter presents another element, not immediately obvious, but that needs to be clarified to understand the mentality of these guys more closely. The three Methodistes follow the English press carefully. Matthews’s letter is dated June 30, 1809, and refers to the trial of Captain Sutherland, who had been hanged the day before, on June 29, at the strength of the capital executions on the banks of the River Thames, used for the judgments handed down by the Admiralty. On November 5, 1808, Captain Sutherland (captain of a British shipping vessel on the Tagus, one mile from Lisbon) had killed with a dagger William Richardson, a 15-year-old boy. A black sailor, John Thompson, testifies to the trial in a way that could suggest that the captain had taken the boy in Lisbon about a month earlier because he was sexually concerned with him: the guy often went to the captain and the captain sent all sailors to the ground and stayed on the ship with the boy only. This testimony was not read by the Admiralty as a sign of sodomy, but after a brief process, Sutherland was sentenced and hanged for murder. It is amazing that on such a recent and so objectively terrible story, Matthews can make the spirit with his friends, but that’s just what happens. Matthews obtains a record of the process to look for Sutherland homosexuality, but he does not find it, sends out some drawings published in the papers to his friends and suggests that the three of them may represent the scene of the assassination. Matthews’s behavior shows some disturbing element of perversion, which goes far beyond the banal gay goliardery.

Accompanied by his valet Robert Rushton and by John Cam Hobhouse, Byron sailed from Falmouth on July 2, 1809 to Lisbon, then to visit Seville, Cádiz and Gibraltar. In Gibraltar, Byron decides to send back home Rushton and writes to the boy’s father:

Byron to Mr Rushton, from Gibraltar, August 14th 1809: (Source: NLS Acc.12604/ 4219A or C; LJ I 242-3; BLJ I 222)

Gibraltar August 14th 1809 Mr. Rushton, – I have sent Robert home with Mr. Murray, because the country which I am now about to travel through, is in a state which renders it unsafe, particularly for one so young. – I allow [you] to deduct five and twenty pounds a year for his education for three years provided I do not return before that time, & I desire he may be considered as in my service, let every care be taken of him, & let him be sent to school; in case of my death I have provided enough in my will to render him independent. – – He has behaved extremely well, & has travelled a great deal for the time of his absence. – Deduct the expense of his education from your rent. – Byron

Arrived in Malta on August 19, Byron and Hobhouse stay about a month before leaving for Preveza, the port of Epirus, reached September 20, 1809. From there they move to Giannina and then to Albania, to Tepelenë, where they meet Alì Pasha. They then settle in Athens, except for some months in Constantinople. On May 3, 1810, Byron crosses the Dardanelli’s narrow swimming. That same May 3, 1810 he writes to Henry Drury:

Byron to Henry Drury, from the frigate Salsette, off the Dardanelles, May 3rd 1810: (Source: text from Wren Library R2 40a , Trinity College Cambridge; LJ I 262-9; QI 63-7; BLJ I 237- 40)

… I see not much difference between ourselves & the Turks, save that we have foreskins and they none, that they have long dresses and we short, and that we talk much and they little. – In England the vices in fashion are whoring & drinking, in Turkey, Sodomy & smoking, we prefer a girl and a bottle, they a pipe and pathic. [A passive partner] …

It has long been credited to the news according to which John Cam Hobhouse recorded in his diary on June 6, 1810: “messenger arrived from England – bringing a letter from [Francis] Hodgson to B[yron] – tales spread – the Edleston accused of indecency.”

But Paul Elledge [[In “Lord Byron at Harrow School: Speaking Out, Talking Back, Acting Up, Bowing Out”] [The Johns Hopkins University Press, Beltimore and London, 2000]] showed that the annotation involved a collection of Hobhouse’s poems, considered obscene, the word “Collection” was confused with the word Edleston. Poor John Edleston was in fact not accused of anything.

During the voyage, Byron rejects the love offerings of Donna Josepha Beltram in Seville, Constance Spencer Smith in Malta, and Teresa Macri (or rather Mrs Macri on behalf of Teresa) in Athens. In a letter dated July 29, 2010, sent to Hobhouse from Patras, Byron tells about the first encounter with Eustathius Georgiou, the first boy to fascinate him in Greece:

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from Patras, July 29th 1810: (Source: text from NLS Acc.12604 / 4123A; 1922 I 10-12, censored; QI 74-7; BLJ II 5-8) Patras. July 29th . 1810

… At Vostitza I found my dearly-beloved Eustathius – ready to follow me not only to England, but to Terra Incognita, if so be my compass pointed that way. – This was four days ago, at present affairs are a little changed. – The next morning I found the dear soul upon horseback clothed very sprucely in Greek Garments, with those ambrosial curls hanging down his amiable back, and to my utter astonishment and the great abomination of Fletcher, a parasol in his hand to save his complexion from the heat. – However in spite of the Parasol on we travelled very much enamoured, as it should seem, till we got to Patras, where Stranè received us into his new house where I now scribble. …

On August 16, however, Byron is already tired of Eustathius and tells Hobhouse that he has sent him to his home because the boy is epileptic.

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from Tripolitza, August 16th 1810: (Source: text from NLS Ms.43438 f.15; 1922 I 12-13, cut; QI 77-82; BLJ II 9-11) Byron’s account of his meeting with Veli Pacha. Tripolitza August 16th. 1810

I have sent Eustathius back to his home, he plagued my soul out with his whims, and is besides subject to epileptic fits (tell M. this)(a) which made him a perplexing companion, in other matters he was very tolerable, I mean as to his learning, being well versed in the Ellenics.You remember Nicolo at Athens Lusieri’s wife’s brother. – Give my compliments to Matthews from whom I expect a congratulatory letter. – – I have a thousand anecdotes for him and you, but at present Τι να καμυ? (b) I have neither time nor space, but in the words of Dawes, “I have things in store.” –

(a) Why should Matthews be especially interested in the fact that Georgiou waseplieptic?
(b) “What to do?”

The “Nicolo” to which Byron refers, the boy whom the poet loved the most during Grand Tour, was actually called Nicolas Giraud and was born in Greece by French parents. The name Nicolo is a name coined by Byron. From what Byron himself says, Nicolo would be the brother-in-law of John the Baptist Lusieri, a Roman painter and swap agent of Thomas Bruce, the 7th Count of Elgin, Lord Elgin. But things were more complicated; Demetrius Zoggrafo, Byron’s guide, informed the poet that Lusieri, now sixty years old, was not married but cuddled two women at the same time, pointing to both of them who would marry her. The link between Lusieri and Giraud seemed very solid and it is not unlikely that they were actually father and son. In the Cappuccini Convent of Athens, Byron succeeds in realizing his dream of a homosexual community similar to Harrow’s, with some extra erotic adventure. On August 23, 1810, Hobhouse wrote in a mixed English language of abundant approximate quotations in Italian, not without a hint of Greek and French:

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from Athens, August 23rd 1810: (Source: text from NLS Ms.43438 f.1; 1922 I 13-17; BLJ II 11-14) Byron’s account of his life at the Athenian convent. The Convent. Athens. August 23, 1810.

… – I am most auspiciously settled in the Convent, which is more commodious than any tenement I have yet occupied, with room for my suite, and it is by no means solitary, seeing there is not only “il Padre Abbate” but his “schuola” consisting of six “Regatzi” all my most particular allies. – These Gentlemen being almost (saving Fauvel and Lusieri) my only associates it is but proper their character religion and morals should be described. – Of this goodly company three are Catholics and three are Greeks, which Schismatics I have already set a boxing to the great amusement of the Father who rejoices to see the Catholics conquer. – Their names are, Barthelemi, Giuseppe, Nicolo, Yani, and two anonymous at least in my memory. – Of these Barthelemi is a “simplice Fanciullo” according to the account of the Father, whose favourite is Guiseppe who sleeps in the lantern of Demosthenes. – We have nothing but riot from Noon till night. – The first time I mingled with these Sylphs, after about two minutes reconnoitering, the amiable Signor Barthelemi without any previous notice seated himself by me, and after observing by way of compliment, that my “Signoria” was the “più bello” of his English acquaintances saluted me on the left cheek, for which freedom being reproved by Giuseppe, who very properly informed him that I was “μεγαλοσ”(a) he told him I was his “φιλοσ”(b) and “by his beard,” he would do so again, adding

in reply to the question of “διατι ασπασετε?”(c) you see he laughs, as in good truth I did very heartily. –

But my friend as you may easily imagine is Nicolo, who by the bye, is my Italian master, and we are already very philosophical. – I am his “Padrone” and his “amico” and the Lord knows what besides, it is about two hours since that after {informing} me he was most desirous to follow him (that is me) over the world, he concluded by telling me it was proper for us not only to live but “morire insieme.” –

The latter I hope to avoid, as much of the former as he pleases. – I am awakened in the morning by these imps shouting “venite abasso” and the friar gravely observes it is “bisogno bastonare” everybody before the studies can possibly commence. – Besides these lads, my suite, to which I have added a Tartar and a youth to look after my two new saddle horses, my suite I say, are very obstreperous and drink skinfuls of Zean wine at 8 paras the oke daily. – Then we have several Albanian women washing in the “giardino” whose hours of relaxation are spent in running pins into Fletcher’s backside. – “Damnata di mi if I have seen such a spectaculo in my way from Viterbo.” – In short what with the women, and the boys, and the suite, we are very disorderly. – But I am vastly happy and childish, and shall have a world of anecdotes for you and the “Citoyen.” [[another name for Charles Skinner Matthews, suggesting his democratic politics]] – – Intrigue

flourishes, the old woman Teresa’s mother was mad enough to imagine I was going to marry the girl, but I have better amusement, Andreas is fooling with Dudu as usual, and Mariana has made a conquest of Dervise Tahiri, Viscillie Fletcher and Sullee my new Tartar have each a mistress, “Vive l’Amour!. – –

I am learning Italian, and this day translated an ode of Horace “Exegi monumentum” {into that language} I chatter with every body good or bad and tradute prayers out of the Mass Ritual, but my lessons though very long are sadly interrupted by scamperings and eating fruit and peltings and playings and I am in fact at school again, and make as little improvement now as I did then, my time being wasted in the same way. – However it is too good to last, I am going to make a second tour of Attica with Lusieri who is a new ally of mine, and Nicolo goes with me at his own most pressing solicitation “per mare, per terras” – “Forse” you may see us in Inghilterra, but “non so, come &c.” – For the present, Good even, Buona sera a vos signoria, Bacio le mani.

(a) “a great lord”.
(b) “friend”.
(c) “Why did you embrace him?”

On August 24, 1810, in an addition to the letter dated August 23, Byron adds:

I have as usual swum across the Piræus, the Signore Nicolo also laved, but he makes as bad a hand in the water as L’Abbe Hyacinth at Falmouth, it is a curious thing that the Turks when they bathe wear their lower garments as your humble servant always doth, but the Greeks {not,} however questo Giovane e vergogno. – omissis – I have been employed the greater part of today in conjugating the verb “ασπαζω”(b) (which word being Ellenic as well as Romaic may find a place in the Citoyen’s Lexicon) I assure you my progress is rapid, but like Cæsar “nil actum reputans dum quid superesset agendum”(c) I {must} arrive at the pl&optC, and then I will write to ——. …

(a) Sheridan, The Rivals.
(b) “to embrace”.
(c) Lucan, Phars. II 657 (“… believed nothing had been done while anything was left to be done”).

In his diary of July 17, 1810, Hobhouse had annotated, speaking of an unidentified Greek boy:

Hobhouse’s diary for July 17th 1810 reads, “Took leave, non sine lacrymis, of this singular young person on a little stone terrace near some paltry magazines at the end of the bay, dividing with him a little nosegay of flowers, the last thing perhaps I shall ever divide with him”.

[https://petercochran.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/byron-and-hobhouse-11.pdf  pag. 14, footnote 44.]

On October 4, 1810, Byron wrote to Hobhouse from Patras. In the letter, the “M” refers to Charles Skinner Matthews, their fellow of Cambridge, the Grand Master of the Methodiste Sect. The reference to the flower bouquet is to be interpreted through the botanical metaphor of the Methodistes.

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from Patras, October 4th 1810: (Source: text from NLS Ms.43438 f.18; LJ I 301-5; QI 85-7; BLJ II 21-3) Patras. Morea. October 4th. 1810.

… Tell M. that I have obtained above two hundred pl&optC’s and am almost tired of them, for the history of these he must wait my return, as after many attempts I have given up the idea of conveying information on paper. – You know the monastery of Mendele, it was there I made myself master of the first. – Your last letter closes pathetically with a postscript about a nosegay, I advise you to introduce that into your next sentimental novel – I am sure I did not suspect you of any fine feelings, and I believe you are laughing, but you are welcome. – Vale, I can no more like Ld . Grizzle144 – y rs . µπαιρων

Beyond the goliardic letters exchanged between the Methodistes, it is difficult to understand what kind of relationship Byron really had with the guys he talks about and with Nicolo Giraud in particular. I prefer not to venture into hypotheses and I limit myself to what the documents say. Nicholas Giraud cared for Byron when he took the fever in Patras and traveled with him to Malta when Byron was on the way back to England in 1811. In his testament written in August 1811, Byron left Giraud 7,000 pounds, but later the legacy was canceled.

Return to England

Byron returns to England on July 14, 1811. The first of August his mother dies. He lives in London at St Jame’s Street no. 8. Edleston’s sister, the sister of the boy who had been the poet’s first youth love, told him that his brother died in May of that same year. It is a terrible blow for Byron. Edleston was only twenty-one years old when he was worn out by illness. Byron, deeply touched by Edleston’s death, produces at least seven moving elegies in his memory, including “To Thyrza”, “Away, away, ye are notes of woe!”, “One fight more, and I am free.” They are dead, as young and fair”, “On a Cornelian Heart Which Was Broken” and a Latin elegy recently discovered and published in 1974, the only poem that uses masculine gender “You, you, care puer!”. Although Byron dedicates to the death of Edlaston several poetic texts, we will limit ourselves to examining three of them. Let’s begin with “A Thyrza”. Byron takes the name Thyrza from the poem by Solomon Gessner: “Abel’s death,” in which Thyrza is Abele’s wife. This is obviously a female name, but that does not mean anything. Byron was repeatedly required to reveal who was the person whose death his poem talked about but never answered this question. It is interesting to note that here (as in other poems, dedicated to Edleston), the poet strictly avoids any gender connotation of the character in question; in the text there are never personal pronouns like he, she, him, her, instead of the pronouns the word “form” is used, and the text is almost always in second person. It is significant to note that the Italian translation by Carlo Rusconi, published in 1853, takes on the assumption that it is about the death of a woman. At that time, a text without gender connotations was automatically read to the feminine (George Gordon Byron. Opere complete – Volume V. Traduzione di Carlo Rusconi. Torino, Giunti Pombe e comp. Editori, 1853, pp. 238-240).

A THYRZA

Without a stone to mark the spot,
And say, what Truth might well have said,
By all, save one, perchance forgot,
Ah !    Wherefore art thou lowly laid?

By many a shore and many a sea
Divided, yet beloved in vain;
The Past, the Future fled to thee,
To bid us meet — no — ne’er again !

Could this have been — a word, a look,
That softly said, “We part in peace,”
Had taught my bosom how to brook,
With fainter sighs, thy soul’s release.

And didst thou not, since Death for thee
Prepared a light and pangless dart,
Once long for him thou ne’er shall see
Who held, and holds thee in his heart?

Oh ! Who like him had watch’d thee here?
Or sadly mark’d thy glazing eye,
In that dread hour ere death appear,
When silent sorrow fears to sigh,

Till all was past?   But when no more
“Twas thine to reck of human woe
Affection’s heart-drops, gushing o’er
Had flow’d as fast — as now they flow.

Shall they not flow, when many a day
In these, to me, deserted towers,
Ere call’d but for a time away,
Affection’s mingling tears were ours?

Ours too the glance none saw beside;
The smile none else might understand;
The whisper’d thought of hearts allied,
The pressure of the thrilling hand.

The kiss, so guiltless and refined,
That Love each warmer wish forbore;
Those eyes proclaim’d so pure a mind
Even Passion blush’d to plead for more.

The tone, that taught me to rejoice,
When prone, unlike thee, to repine;
The song, celestial from thy voice,
But sweet to me from none but thine;

The pledge we wore — I wear it still,
But where is thine? —  Ah !  Where art thou?
Oft have I borne the weight of ill,
But never bent beneath till now !

Well hast thou left in life’s best bloom
The cup of woe for me to drain.
If rest alone be in the tomb,
I would not wish thee here again..

But if in worlds more blest than this
Thy virtues seek a fitter sphere,
Impart some portion of thy bliss,
To wean me from mine anguish here.

Teach me — too early taught by thee !
To bear, forgiving and forgiven:
On earth thy love was such to me;
It fain would form my hope in heaven !

The short Latin Elegy “Te, te, care puer” (You, you dear boy) entitled “Edleston”, shows a deep pain, though enclosed in classical forms:

Me miserum! Frustra pro te vixisse precatum,
Cur frustra volui te moriente mori? –
Heu, quanto minus est iam serta, unguanta, puellas
Carpere con reliquis quam meminisse tui?

Oh woe! I prayed in vain for having lived for you
Why did I want to die in vain at your own death?
Alas, how is less important to enjoy the laurel wreaths,
the scents and the girls, than to remember you!

Byron sadly communicates Edleston’s death to friends who knew him.

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from Newstead Abbey, October 13th 1811: (Source: NLS Ms.43438 f.35; BLJ II 113-14) Another letter filling four sides. It’s clear that Byron knows Greece and Albania better than Hobhouse does. Byron alludes casually to the death of Edleston. Newstead Abbey. Octr . 13th. 1811.

At present I am rather low, & dont know how to tell you the reason – you remember E at Cambridge – he is dead – last May – his Sister sent me the account lately – now though I never should have seen him again, (& it is very proper that I should not)107 I have been more affected than I should care to own elsewhere; Death has been lately so occupied with every thing that was mine, that the dissolution of the most remote connection is like taking a crown from a Miser’s last Guinea. – – – – – –

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from King’s College Cambridge, October 22nd 1811: (Source: NLS Ms.43438 f.37; BLJ II 117-18) [Cambridge October twenty third 1811 / Capt . Hobhouse / Royal Miners / Enniscorthy / Ireland // Byron]

… The event(a) I mentioned in my last has had an effect on me, I am ashamed to think of, but there is no arguing on these points. I could “have better spared a better being.”(b) – Wherever I turn, particularly in this place, the idea goes with me, I say all this at the risk of incurring your contempt, but you cannot despise me more than I do myself. – I am indeed very wretched, & like all complaining persons I can’t help telling you so. – – …

(a) The Death of Edleston.
(b) Shakespeare, Henry IV I V iv 104 (adapted).

Byron, who, before departing for the Grnad Tour, had entrusted to Miss Pigot the heart of red cornelian that Edleston had given him, he now feels the need to have that object back again and writes to Mrs. Pigot asking her to solicit her daughter to send it. It is interesting to note that in the letter there is no gender connotation that can make it clear whether the dead person is a man or a woman. Byron speaks of “a person” or “the giver”.

Byron to Mrs Pigot, from Cambridge, October 28th 1811: (Source: text from Newstead Abbey Collection NA 48(n); BLJ II 119-20) Cambridge, Octr . 28th 1811 Dear Madam, – I am about to write to you on a silly subject & yet I cannot well do otherwise. – You may remember a cornelian which some years ago I consigned to Miss Pigot, indeed gave to her, & now I am going to make the most selfish & rude of requests. – – The person who gave it to me, when I was very young, is dead, & though a long time has elapsed since we ever met, as it was the only memorial (almost) I possessed of that person (in whom I was once much interested) it has acquired a value by this event, I could have wished it never 1:2 to have borne in my eyes. – If therefore Miss P should have preserved it, I must under these circumstances beg her to excuse my requesting it to be transmitted to me at No. 8 St . James’s Street London & I will replace it by something she may remember me by equally well. – – As she was always so kind as to feel interested in the fate of [those?] that formed the subject of our conversations, you may tell her, that the Giver of that Cornelian died in May last of a consumption at the age of twenty one, making the sixth within four months of friends & relatives that I have lost between May & the end of August! – Believe [me] Dear Madam yrs. very sincerely BYRON

P.S. – I go to London tomorrow.

In the last months of 1811, the references, obviously covered, to Edleston’s death appear several times in Byron’s poems and with heartfelt accents. I just quote two texts.

AWAY, AWAY, YE NOTES OF WOE!
1.
Away, away, ye notes of Woe!
Be silent, thou once soothing Strain,
Or I must flee from hence—for, oh!
I dare not trust those sounds again.
To me they speak of brighter days—
But lull the chords, for now, alas!
I must not think, I may not gaze,
On what I am—on what I was.
2.
The voice that made those sounds more sweet
Is hushed, and all their charms are fled;
And now their softest notes repeat
A dirge, an anthem o’er the dead!
Yes, Thyrza! yes, they breathe of thee,
dust! since dust thou art;
And all that once was Harmony
Is worse than discord to my heart!
3.
‘Tis silent all!—but on my ear
The well remembered Echoes thrill;
I hear a voice I would not hear,
A voice that now might well be still:
Yet oft my doubting Soul ’twill shake;
Ev’n Slumber owns its gentle tone,
Till Consciousness will vainly wake
To listen, though the dream be flown.
4.
Sweet Thyrza! waking as in sleep,
Thou art but now a lovely dream;
A Star that trembled o’er the deep,
Then turned from earth its tender beam.
But he who through Life’s dreary way
Must pass, when Heaven is veiled in wrath,
Will long lament the vanished ray
That scattered gladness o’er his path.

December 8, 1811.
[First published, Childe Harold, 1812 (4to).]

ONE STRUGGLE MORE, AND I AM FREE.
1.
One struggle more, and I am free
From pangs that rend my heart in twain;
One last long sigh to Love and thee,
Then back to busy life again.
It suits me well to mingle now
With things that never pleased before:
Though every joy is fled below,
What future grief can touch me more?
2.
Then bring me wine, the banquet bring;
Man was not formed to live alone;
I’ll be that light unmeaning thing
That smiles with all, and weeps with none.
It was not thus in days more dear,
It never would have been, but thou
Hast fled, and left me lonely here;
Thou’rt nothing,—all are nothing now.
3.
In vain my lyre would lightly breathe!
The smile that Sorrow fain would wear
But mocks the woe that lurks beneath,
Like roses o’er a sepulchre.
Though gay companions o’er the bowl
Dispel awhile the sense of ill;
Though Pleasure fires the maddening soul,
The Heart,—the Heart is lonely still!
4.
On many a lone and lovely night
It soothed to gaze upon the sky;
For then I deemed the heavenly light
Shone sweetly on thy pensive eye:
And oft I thought at Cynthia’s noon,
When sailing o’er the Ægean wave,
“Now Thyrza gazes on that moon”—
Alas, it gleamed upon her grave!
5.
When stretched on Fever’s sleepless bed,
And sickness shrunk my throbbing veins,
“‘Tis comfort still,” I faintly said,
“That Thyrza cannot know my pains:”
Like freedom to the time-worn slave—
A boon ’tis idle then to give—
Relenting Nature vainly gave
My life, when Thyrza ceased to live!
6.
My Thyrza’s pledge in better days,
When Love and Life alike were new!
How different now thou meet’st my gaze!
How tinged by time with Sorrow’s hue!
The heart that gave itself with thee
Is silent—ah, were mine as still!
Though cold as e’en the dead can be,
It feels, it sickens with the chill.
7.
Thou bitter pledge! thou mournful token!
Though painful, welcome to my breast!
Still, still, preserve that love unbroken,
Or break the heart to which thou’rt pressed.
Time tempers Love, but not removes,
More hallowed when its Hope is fled:
Oh! what are thousand living loves
To that which cannot quit the dead?

[First published, Childe Harold, 1812 (4to).]

Love and betrayals

At the end of 1811, something new happened in Byron’s life. A Byron letter to Hobhouse, dated December 25, 1811, informs us that the poet had “at least a bit” fall in love with a Welsh servant, Susan Vaughan.

Byron to John Cam Hobhouse, from Newstead Abbey, December 25th 1811: (Source: not yet found in NLS Ms.43438; BLJ II 151)

… I am at present principally occupied with a fresh face & a very pretty one too, as H will tell you, a Welsh Girl(a) whom I lately added to the bevy, and of whom I am tolerably enamoured for the present. But of this by the way, I shall most probably be cool enough before you return from Ireland. – …

(a) Susan Vaughan.

Susan Vaughan will betray Byron the following month by seducing Robert Rushton, the Byron page, who had accompanied him to Gibraltar in the Grand Tour. In a letter dated January 20, 1812, Susan Vaughan suggests to Byron that Rushton, then about nineteen, was seduced by Lusy, another Byron servant who, according to Ralph Lloyd-Jones, might have been the mother of one of Byron’s sons.

However, Byron’s letters to Rushton (BLJ II 158) and Susan (BLJ II 159) clearly show that Susan, not Lucy, had a story with Rushton. Byron forgave Rushton (“I am sure you would not deceive me, though she would”), but did not forgive Susan. The affair bothered Byron’s servants: Rushton treated aggressively Susan, Byron rebuked him with great firmness, pointing out that Susan had to be treated with the utmost civilization. Rushton had to accept the reproach but answered with great dignity. Byron tried to keep a positive relationship with the boy.

Byron to Robert Rushton, from 8 St James’s Street, January 25th 1812: (Source: Ms. not found; text from LJ II 94; QI 130-1; BLJ II 158) 8, St. James’s Street, January 25, 1812.

… If any thing has passed between you before or since my last visit to Newstead, do not be afraid to mention it. I am sure you would not deceive me, though she would. Whatever it is, you shall be forgiven. I have not been without some suspicions on the subject, and am certain that, at your time of life, the blame could not attach to you. You will not consult any one as to your answer, but write to me immediately. I shall be more ready to hear what you have to advance, as I do not remember ever to have heard a word from you before against any human being, which convinces me you would not maliciously assert an untruth. There is not any one who can do the least injury to you, while you conduct yourself properly. I shall expect your answer immediately. Yours, etc., BYRON

On January 28, 1812, Byron gave final leave to Susan.

Byron to Susan Vaughan, from 8 St James’s Street London, January 28th 1812: (Source: BLJ II 159) 8. St. James’s Street. January 28th. 1812 I write to bid you farewell, not to reproach you. – The enclosed papers, one in your own handwriting will explain every thing. – I will not deny that I have been attached to you, & I am now heartily ashamed of my weakness. – You may also enjoy the satisfaction of having deceived me most completely, & rendered me for the present sufficiently wretched. – From the first I told you that the continuance of our connection depended on your own conduct. – – All is over. – I have little to condemn on my own part, but credulity; you threw yourself in my way, I received you, loved you, till you have become worthless, & now I part from you with some regret, & without resentment. – I wish you well, do not forget that your own misconduct has bereaved you of a friend, of whom nothing else could have deprived you. – Do not attempt explanation, it is useless, I am determined, you cannot deny your handwriting; return to your relations, you shall be furnished with the means, but him, who now addresses you for the last time, you will never see again. BYRON
God bless you!

On October 18, 1812, Byron wrote to Rushton in a completely different tone:

Byron to Robert Rushton, from Cheltenham, October 18th 1812: (Source: Ms. not found; text from LJ II 177; BLJ II 232) Cheltenham, Oct. 18th, 1812.

Robert,—I hope you continue as much as possible to apply yourself to Accounts and LandMeasurement, etc. Whatever change may take place about Newstead, there will be none as to you and Mr. Murray. It is intended to place you in a situation in Rochdale for which your pursuance of the Studies I recommend will best fit you. Let me hear from you; is your health improved since I was last at the Abbey? In the mean time, if any accident occur to me, you are provided for in my will, and if not, you will always find in your Master a sincere Friend. B.

Wedding stories and incest

Byron had an half-sister, Augusta Maria, born on January 26, 1783, five years older than him. Augusta was the daughter of the first wife of the poet’s father. Augusta married and had seven children; she only met her half-brother when he was a student at Harrow School, and kept with him an exchange of letters focused on Byron’s conflicts with his mother, but she met him very rarely. Throughout the travel period in the East, the exchange of letters broke down. When Byron came back to England, Augusta sent condolences to him on the death of his mother and from July 1813 the two became lovers. Augusta, however, was married, had children and was not planning to put her family in trouble for Byron’s sake. In April 1814, Augusta gave birth to a little girl, Elizabeth Medora  Leigh (April 15, 1814 – August 28, 1849), a few days later, Byron went to his hald-sister’s house to see the little girl. The conviction that Medora was the daughter of Byron became the subject of much talk, and still today the question is unclear. Byron on January 2, 1815, also to silence gossip about his relationship with Augusta, marries Anne Isabella Milbanke, nicknamed Annabella, an heiress learned and passionate about Mathematics, and goes to live in London with her. Byron had not only to silence gossip about his relationship with his half-sister, but also on his homosexuality, that was beginning to move insistently; marriage seemed, among other things, a propitious opportunity to take possession of his wife’s belongings. In December 1815, his daughter Augusta Ada was born, but Byron resumed her relationship with her sister Augusta, and Annabella on January 15, 1816 asked for separation. Byron was accused of incest, adultery, homosexuality, sodomy, free love, and so on. The situation quickly became unsustainable, and the risk of moving from gossip to criminal charges was real and heavy. Byron on April 21, 1816, signed the separation document from his wife and decided to voluntarily exile from England, where he no longer came back.

In Switzerland Shelley

He embarked for the continent on April 25, 1816. Before leaving England, Byron had started a relationship with Claire Clairmont, step-sister of Mary Godwin Wollstonecraft (wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley). With Shelley, his wife and her step-sister, Byron spent a lot of time in good company. From Byron’s relationship with Claire was born Allegra, in January 1817.

In Italy

In October 1816 Byron moved to Milan where he met Silvio Pellico, Vincenzo Monti and Stendhal, then in November 1816 he settled in Venice, where he stayed for three years. Here he learned Italian very well but did not neglect amorous adventures, he boasted of have had sex with more than two hundred women, and he had two important relationships, the first with his hostess’s wife, Marianna Segati, and the latter with the twenty-two years old Margarita Cogni (the Fornarina). Byron’s house on the Grand Canal became a fixed reference point for all the Englishmen who went to Venice, here the fame of tombeur de femmes that accompanied Byron for decades grew. Shelley had been able to see closely Byron’s home in Venice but probably he was not very impressed by all this, some Shelley’s statements, which were very friendly to Byron, seemed generic and referred to the English in general rather than to those who attended Byron’s home. So Shelley writes in the sixth letter to Peacock:

Peacock’s Memoris of Shelley – With Shelley’s Letters to Peacock – Edited by H.
F. B. Brett-Smith – London – Henry Frowde – 1909 – Oxford : Horace Hart – Printed to the University.

LETTER 6

Milan, April 20, 1818.

Lord Byron, we hear, has taken a house for three years, at Venice ; whether we shall see him or not, I do not know. The number of English who pass through this town is very great.

They ought to be in their own country in the present crisis. Their conduct is wholly inexcusable. The people here, though inoffensive enough, seem both in body and soul a miserable race. The men are hardly men ; they look like a tribe of stupid and shrivelled slaves, and I do not think that I have seen a gleam of intelligence in the countenance of man since I passed the Alps.

In April 1819, Byron knew the 18-year-old Teresa, wife of the rich sixty-year-old Count Guiccioli: the woman soon became his lover and the two settled down to the end of 1819 in Ravenna, where Guiccioli lived. The young woman has a very positive influence on the poet, who finally adopts a less franyic lifestyle. Between 1820 and 1821 Byron entered Carboneria (a secret society that conspired against Austria for Italian independence) through the contacts of Teresa’s brother, Count Pietro Gamba. He wants his daughter Allegra to be educated as a Roman Catholic, and he accompanies her in March 1821 in the boarding school run by the Sisters of Bagnacavallo, in Romagna. Allegra will die on April 21, 1822 and July 8 of the same year will also die Shelley, drowned together with his friend Edward Elleker Williams, ten miles from Viareggio.

The Greece and the death

 

In 1823 Byron, induced by his friend John Cam Hobhouse, joined the London Philoellenic Association in support of the Greek Independence and against the Ottoman Empire. Byron organizes an expedition with the utmost care. He convinces Teresa to come back to Ravenna and on July 16  1823, Brigantine “The Hercules” leaves Genoa for Greece. They accompany Byron, Pietro Gamba, Trelawny, a young Italian doctor, as well as eight servants five horses and two dogs. In Livorno climbs to the brigantine a young Scottish, Hamilton Browne. On August 3 the brigantine stops at Kefalonia. On Greek island Byron knows Lukas Chalandritsanos, a Greek boy 15-year-old, and falls in love with him insanity, but his sentiment is not reciprocated. Byron is no longer the lovely boy of Edleston’s time, he is fat, loses his hair and has teeth in a bad state, yet he seeks at least gratitude if not love, spending over a period of six months enormous sums of money to satisfy the boy’s whims. Byron realizes that he is no longer physically a desirable person, but nevertheless he is animated by a love at the limit of madness, the more acute and painful the more rejected. Finally, in December, the poet seems destined to take up the part of Prince Mavrokordato, who more than others guaranteed a serious possibility of establishing a stable authority, and sails for Missolungi, where he came January 5, 1824. Here, in a three-story house occupied by Colonel Stanhope and by a group of Christian Albanians who Byron had hired in Kefalonia, resumes with unremitting obstinacy to work to strengthen the Greek resistance. The main tasks were two: to form an artillery brigade, to assault and conquer Lepanto leading forces whose core should have been constituted by his Albanian guard. Unfortunately, Byron does not get any results. Meanwhile, the story with Lukas became for Byron increasingly destructive. The sign of the terrible despair of that impossible love story (Byron had never experienced anything like this with a woman) can be read in a poem dated January 22, 1824, the thirty-sixth birthday of the poet.

January 22nd 1824. Messalonghi.
On this day I complete my thirty sixth year.

’Tis time this heart should be unmoved,
Since others it hath ceased to move –
Yet though I cannot be beloved
Still let me love!

My days are in the yellow leaf(a)
The flowers and fruits of Love are gone –
The worm – the canker, and the grief
Are mine alone!

The Fire that on my bosom preys
Is lone as some Volcanic Isle,
No torch is kindled at its blaze –
A funeral pile!

The hope, the fear, the jealous care
The exalted portion of the pain
And power of Love I cannot share,
But wear the chain.

But ’tis not thus – and ’tis not here –
Such thoughts should shake my Soul, nor now,
Where Glory decks the hero’s bier
Or binds his Brow.

The Sword – the Banner – and the Field –
Glory and Greece around us see!
The Spartan born upon his shield,
Was not more free!

Awake! – (not Greece – She is awake! –)
Awake my Spirit! think through whom
Thy Life=blood tracks its parent lake,
And then Strike home!

Tread those reviving passions down,
Unworthy Manhood; – unto thee
In different should the smile or frown
Of Beauty be.(b)

If thou regret’st thy Youth, why live?
The Land of honourable Death
Is here – up to the Field! and Give
Away thy Breath.

Seek out – less often sought than found –
A Soldier’s Grave – for thee the best –
Then Look around and choose thy Ground
And take thy Rest!

(a) Macbeth, V iii 22-3: My way of life / Is fall’n into the sear, the yellow leaf …
(b) Refers to Loukas’ indifference. Compare B.’s confession of his inadequacy as a Stoic, at Don Juan, XVII, stanza 10:

If such doom waits each intellectual Giant,
We little people, in our lesser way,
To Life’s small rubs should surely be more pliant;
And so for one will I – as well I may.
Would that I were less bilious – but, Oh fie on’t!
Just as I make my mind up every day
To be a “totus, teres” Stoic Sage,
The Wind shifts, and I fly into a rage.

It is as if Byron was now looking for a heroic death as an alternative to a life without love, almost the search for a martyrdom, caused by a violent and rejected love. In the next few days Byron writes two more poems always dedicated to Lukas, the last of his life, in the first he confesses to be crazy for love facing boy’s rejection, and recognizes that the boy’s magic power is mighty while the poet is so much weak; in the second he surrenders to his destiny:

Thus much and more; and yet thou lov’st me not,
And never wilt!  Love dwells not in our will.
Nor can I blame thee, though it be my lot
To strongly, wrongly, vainly love thee still.

(Bloom, Harold – Poets and Poems – Bloom’s 20th anniversary collection, Chelsea Hose Publishers, pag. 115-116)

February and March pass between rebellions, rains, raids, telluric shocks, incompetence demonstrations, repatriation requests by British blasters, betrayals. When the Turkish fleet appears on the horizon it is now clear that the city is not defensible, the poet tries to personally organize the few troops and encourage the terrorized citizens. In the evening, after a mile ride in the rain, Byron has a violent fever attack. On April 10 and 11, he wants to go out on horseback again, but his fiber is surrendering. Doctors are beginning to be seriously worried and they think they will embark him for Zante if the sea conditions allow it. On Day 15 Byron’s condition worsens. William Parry, in The Last Days of Lord Byron (The Last Days of Lord Byron), reports:

He spoke to me about my own adventures. He spoke of death also with great composure, and though he did not believe his end was so very near, there was something about him so serious and so firm, so resigned and composed, so different from any thing I had ever before seen in him, that my mind misgave me, and at times foreboded his speedy dissolution.

(William Parry, “The last days of Lord Byron”  – Paris – A. and W. Galignani, 1826, pag. 95.)

His speeches began to get disjoined. Among other things, he stated that he wanted to return to England to live with his wife and with his daughter Ada. On the 18th day, in Italian and English, imagining perhaps the attack on Lepanto, he shouted, “Come on! Come on! Courage! Follow My Example!” And in delirium he repeatedly named his sister, wife, daughter, children’s places. His last words were: “Now I have to sleep.” He died the next day, Monday 19 April 1824, at six and a quarter of the afternoon. That same evening, Lukas ran away taking the money from the garrison. The funeral saw an endless procession of forty seven carriages mourned but empty, with the just the driver: it was the last vengeance of the aristocracy against the rebellious poet.

__________

If you like, you can participate in the discussion of this post, on Gay Project Forum:

Section 1: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/showthread.php?tid=111

Section 2: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/showthread.php?tid=112