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Archive for the 'World Civ-Greco-Roman Blog' Category

The Sacred Band [of Lovers]

Friday, August 5th, 2011

So much of Ancient Greek history suggests how far behind we moderns are. Consider the elite fighting force of Thebes. These guys are the functional equivalent of the Navy Seals or the Green Berets. The Sacred Band is composed of 300 of the most well-trained, well-educated Theban soldiers.

They were stoic and fearless beyond imagination. Against all odds, outnumbered 4:1, they routed the Spartans at the Battle of Tegyra in 375. They brought glory to Thebes in 371 BCE with their resounding victory at the Battle of Leuctra, which effectively put an end to Spartan hegemony and ushered in a short but sweet Theban Golden Age. By any account, these guys are timeless heroes who stymied the Spartan menace and changed the course of history.

This band of 300 heroes was composed of 150 male couples. Their bond in love, argues Plutarch, made them Sacred Warriors, “when fighting at each other’s side, although a mere handful, they would overcome the world. For what lover would not choose rather to be seen by all mankind than by his beloved, either when abandoning his post or throwing away his arms? He would be ready to die a thousand deaths rather than endure this. Or who would desert his beloved or fail him in the hour of danger?”

More than two centuries later, the leader of “Civilized World” does not even have the “audacity” to allow (let alone encourage) gay men to serve their country.