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(4th century B.C.) Greece




Episthenes from Olynthus, was a boy-lover, who, seeing a beautiful boy, just at the beginning of adolescence, holding a light Thracian shield and about to be put to death, ran up to Xenophon and appealed to him to come to the rescue of a beautiful boy. He so stopped the public execution of the teenage boy he had never seen before, by offering the executioner his own life in place of the boy's. In the end Episthenes gets the boy, and keeps his life.

There was a certain Episthenes of Olynthus who was a lover of boys, and upon seeing a handsome boy, just in the bloom of youth and carrying a light shield, on the point of being put to death, he ran up to Xenophon and besought him to come to the rescue of a handsome lad.

So Xenophon went to Seuthes and begged him not to kill the boy, telling him of Episthenes' turn of mind, how he had once assembled a battalion with an eye to nothing else save the question whether a man was handsome, and that with this battalion he proved himself a brave man.

And Seuthes asked: "Would you even be willing, Episthenes, to die for this boy's sake?" Then Episthenes stretched out his neck and said, "Strike, if the lad bids you and will be grateful."

Seuthes asked the boy whether he should strike Episthenes in his stead. The boy forbade it, and besought him not to slay either. Thereupon Episthenes threw his arms around the boy and said: "It is time, Seuthes, for you to fight it out with me for this boy; for I shall not give him up." And Seuthes laughed and let the matter go.

(From Xenophon's Anabasis 7.4.7-11)


Source: https://www.laits.utexas.edu/

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