This is part 3 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

Καὶ ὁ Μενέλαος, “ἀλλὰ σύ μοι δοκεῖς,” ἔφη, “μὴ πρωτόπειρος ἀλλὰ γέρων εἰς Ἀφροδίτην τυγχάνειν, τοσαύτας ἡμῖν καταχέας γυναικῶν περιεργίας. ἐν μέρει δὲ καὶ τὰ τῶν παίδων ἀντάκουσον. γυναικὶ μὲν γὰρ πάντα ἐπίπλαστα, καὶ τὰ ῥήματα καὶ τὰ σχήματα· κἂν εἶναι δόξῃ καλή, τῶν ἀλειμμάτων ἡ πολυπράγμων μηχανή. καὶ ἔστιν αὐτῆς τὸ κάλλος ἢ μύρων, ἢ τριχῶν βαφῆς, ἢ καὶ φιλημάτων· ἂν δὲ τῶν πολλῶν τούτων γυμνώσῃς δόλων, ἔοικε κολοιῷ γεγυμνωμένῳ τῶν τοῦ μύθου πτερῶν. τὸ δὲ κάλλος τὸ παιδικὸν οὐκ ἀρδεύεται μύρων ὀσφραῖς οὐδὲ δολεραῖς καὶ ἀλλοτρίαις ὀσμαῖς, πάσης δὲ γυναικῶν μυραλοιφίας ἥδιον ὄδωδεν ὁ τῶν παίδων ἱδρώς. ἔξεστι δὲ αὐτῷ καὶ πρὸ τῆς ἐν Ἀφροδίτῃ συμπλοκῆς καὶ ἐν παλαίστρᾳ συμπεσεῖν καὶ φανερῶς περιχυθῆναι, καὶ οὐκ ἔχουσιν αἰσχύνην αἱ περιπλοκαί· καὶ οὐ μαλθάσσει τὰς ἐν Ἀφροδίτῃ περιπλοκὰς ὑγρότητι σαρκῶν, ἀλλ’ ἀντιτυπεῖ πρὸς ἄλληλα τὰ σώματα καὶ περὶ τῆς ἡδονῆς ἀθλεῖ. τὰ δὲ φιλήματα σοφίαν μὲν οὐκ ἔχει γυναικείαν, οὐδὲ μαγγανεύει τοῖς χείλεσι σινάμωρον ἀπάτην, ὡς δὲ οἶδε φιλεῖ, καὶ οὐκ ἔστι τέχνης ἀλλὰ τῆς φύσεως τὰ φιλήματα. αὕτη δὲ παιδὸς φιλήματος εἰκών· εἰ νέκταρ ἐπήγνυτο καὶ χεῖλος ἐγίνετο, τοιαῦτα ἂν ἔσχες τὰ φιλήματα. φιλῶν δὲ οὐκ ἂν ἔχοις κόρον, ἀλλ’ ὅσον ἐμφορῇ, διψῇς ἔτι φιλεῖν, καὶ οὐκ ἂν ἀποσπάσειας τὸ στόμα, μέχρις ἂν ὑφ’ ἡδονῆς ἐκφύγῃς τὰ φιλήματα.”
(Achilles Tatius, Leukippē & Kleitophōn 2.38)

Menelaus replied: ‘Well, as far as I can tell, you are no inexperienced youngster but an old hand in Aphrodite’s game! What an array of minutiae about women you have showered upon us! But now it is your turn to listen, to the boys’ case. With women, all is artificial, be it pillow-speak or technique. Even if she looks beautiful, there is some multi-talented dexterity with make-up behind it. Her beauty consists in perfumes, hair-dye, or even in kissing: strip her of most of these tricks and she looks like the jackdaw stripped of his wings in the fable*. Boys’ beauty, though, is not tended by watering it with the fragrances of perfumes, nor by any deceitful and alien odours: the sweat of boys smells sweeter than any female perfume. Even before Aphrodite’s bouts begini, he can go to the wrestling-gym to join with another and interlace bodies openly: such embraces carry no shame. What is more, a boy’s sexual clinches are not softened by doughy flesh. Bodies rub firmly against one another in these athletics of pleasure. Yes, a boy’s kisses lack the ingenuity of a woman’s. He does not trump up some lascivious deceit with his lips but kisses in the way he knows: his kisses spring not from art but from nature. Here is an image of a boy’s kiss: if nectar were to solidify and take the form of a lip, you would receive such kisses as this. Your kissing would never be satisfied: no matter how much you swallowed you would still thirst for kisses, and you would not withdraw your mouth untill the very pleasure drove you to flee from those kisses.’

* The reference is to one of Aesop’s fables (fable 103 Hausrath). The jackdaw stuck on some feathers in order to try to pass himself off as a peacock; the peacocks, however, pecked at his plumage so much that they ruined his own feathers, and he was excluded by the jackdaws too.

(tr. Tim Whitmarsh, with his note)

2 thoughts on “Paidikon”

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