Wikipedia says: "It is a tour de force of pederastic fantasy and one of the frankest and most explicit texts on the subject to have been written before the twentieth century. It has been called "the first homosexual novel". On one hand, the authorities followed the church in denouncing and fiercely persecuting all sodomy. Rocco was the most important of a tiny number of writers who dared counter the various arguments of God, law and nature which were supposed to justify this persecution. Those of God and the law are shown to be irrational inventions and nature is shown to favour the love of men and boys and its consummation. Rocco, or rather Philotimes, then proceeds to show how both these things are superior to the alternatives.

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Jump to: navigation , search Afterword Until now, the history of Alcibiades the Schoolboy in English began, and to all intents and purposes ended, on the back cover of another work of fiction with a similar theme, the Asbestos Diary by "Casimir Dukahz. The first time this little-known 17th century classic has appeared in English. In dialogue form, it is virtually a manual on how to seduce boys. Eglinton, in his introduction, maintains that is also a deadly parody of the Machiavellian doctrine of expediency.

Our edition includes the original Italian text, and a bibliographical appendix by Warren Johansson. In preparation [1] Regrettably, the book never appeared. It is not known who the translator was, although it is possible it was either "J. Eglinton" Walter H. Breen himself, or Warren Johansson whose actual name was Joseph Wallfield.

Nor is it known what happened to the translation, or if indeed it was ever finished. Presumably it was done from the Italian, which was to be printed in the same volume.

About twenty years later another publisher, Global Academic Press, again announced an English translation as appearing shortly. This translation, also from the Italian, was by Brian Williams, M. It is not three times, but four, which makes the charm. II The publishing history of Alcibiades the Schoolboy, or Alcibiade fanciullo a scola, as he was originally known, has been strange and tangled from the beginning.

Of the first edition of the work, apparently published in Venice in early , there are no known surviving copies; evidence for this edition comes from contemporary letters. The oldest existing copies of the work come from two editions, the title pages of which indicate they were from the printer Juan Wart, of Orange, France, in , the first an octavo of pages, the second a duodecimo of pages. The sonnets by "M.

A new edition, still in Italian, appeared in Paris in , from the antiquarian scholar and publisher of erotica, Jules Gay. The edition was condemned by the Public Prosecutor in Paris in , and again in Lille in This translation was accompanied by a fifteen page foreword by M.

Two reprints of this edition, both illustrated, appeared in Brussels in the s, and it was reprinted again without illustrations in A final French edition was issued in Paris in by Marcel Seheur, with engravings. All these French editions - especially those with illustrations - are also extremely rare.

It was not until a German edition of , a reprint of the Italian text in , and a new translation in French in , that the text became easily accessible. Except, of course, in English. III The authorship of Alcibiades is at least as tangled as its publishing history.

The earliest editions bore the attribution "D. A true Renaissance man, he was a painter, art critic, poet, playwright, religious biographer, epistler, gossip monger, political satirist and pornographer. Called in his own time the "Divine Pietro" and "Scourge of Princes," once he was safely dead he gained a further title, Prince of Blackmailers. A few years later Aretino expanded his fame in the field of erotica with his Ragionamenti "Dialogues Not just his pornographic works, but all the fruit of his pen proved wildly successful commercially, making Aretino the best-selling author of his day, and for a long period afterward.

To create the impression that a text came from his hand - particularly an erotic text - was merely smart advertising. Although the attribution was accepted by bibliographers for over two centuries, that was largely for the lack of alternatives. With the rise of scientific literary criticism in the 19th century a new candidate for authorship arrived, proposed by Gianbattista Baseggio in Baseggio makes his attribution on the basis of stylistic comparisons of passages in Alcibiade with other works known to be by Pallavicino.

Obviously, the format and general theme of how to persuade a reluctant party to engage in sexual activity is not worlds away from that of Alcibiade, and it is possible to see the latter as a homosexual pendant to the former. In his political writings, Pallavicino made the grave error of criticizing Pope Urban VIII and his family, the powerful Barberinis, and having made the still graver, indeed fatal mistake of travelling into territory loyal to them, he literally paid with his head in , at the age of He left behind friends and supporters in Venice, however, in the Academia degli Incogniti there, who could well have seen manuscripts he left behind into print in the early s.

It is his name, then, which beginning in appears as author on the new title page of the French translations published in Brussels although they also reproduce a facsimile of the Italian title page of , with the "D. It still remains the entry under which the book is found in many bibliographical authorities to this day.

The apparently true authorship is revealed in the same letters which refer to the now lost first, Venice, edition of , mentioned above. These were brought to light by another Italian literary researcher, Achille Neri, in In a letter dated to January, , Loredano, who clearly had a sense of irony, or knew his man, or both, writes, "I send you a Carnival booklet not so rude, I think, as to trouble the serenity of your spirit.

He might have written it when he was much younger, and I have been holding it in manuscript form for 20 years. While, in light of the age of Alcibiades in the story, that is an interesting thought, in practical terms that rules Pallavicino out as author.

As Neri also noted, this suggests that Loredano, as the source of the manuscript, had at least some role in the publication of the book, if indeed he was not the actual publisher. Antonio Rocco was also a priest, a man of letters, author of many studies on Aristotelian philosophy, and renowned philosophy teacher in Venice.

These five documents, dated between and , among other things allege that he "does not celebrate any Mass, and lives as an atheist," that he "is used to saying many things against the Catholic faith and religion," that he believed that "our soul is not immortal in itself, but for the grace of God," and that "one who behaves honestly will be saved, and also the Infidels will be saved according to Natural Law.

No - on the contrary, she has done simply everything possible for us, both for our pleasure and for her own glorification. Not to use her gifts is to insult her, not to apply her inventions is to alienate oneself from her, to be in revolt against her, and to deserve in consequence to be deprived of life itself. If she gives us pleasure, it is because she wishes it, and thus, by enjoying it, we render homage to the dearest, the wisest, the richest and the kindest of all mothers. For all his deviations, unlike Pallavicino, Rocco died at a ripe old age.

Whatever the case, he did not attach his name to this manuscript, although it is possible to see the "D. IV We now reach the most vexed, and vexing question of all regarding Alcibiades the Schoolboy: just what is this document we have before us?

For what purpose was it intended? An historical and philosophical dissertation in the form of a dialogue? A manual for the seduction of boys? Or is it merely a rude jest for Carnival, as Loredano implies? Asoka terms it "the first novel about pedophilia ever to appear. Is it pedophile? Is it homosexual? Gay, with or without quote marks? For that matter, is it even a novel? At moments like these, one is pleased to have recourse to a postmodern portmanteau like "text.

But that main purpose - a "manual" or "lessons" in seducing boys - is also arrant nonsense. It is a conceit - in both the dictionary senses of the word - to believe that anyone, least of all an adolescent boy, is going to be persuaded to engage in sodomy on the basis of philosophical arguments - and even sillier to suppose that an adolescent is going to respond with such weighty counter-arguments.

However serious the text may be as a compilation of philosophical arguments regarding sodomy, it is certainly of no practical use in seduction. On the other hand, the argument of the two introductions that this text is a warning against sodomitical schoolmasters has something of the "redeeming social value" strategy about it - you can get any old piece of obscenity past a censor if you argue it must be widely known for a good social purpose, like keeping innocents from falling into the vices described - and indeed, the style of these introductions has more than a whiff of the sanctimonious air of feigned, breathless outrage of a British tabloid, salaciously wallowing in every shocking - SHOCKING!

Unquestionably satire is applied liberally, and the portrait of Philotimes in his infatuation as falling so far from the self-knowledge and moderation that are the ideal for a philosopher is but one example, though a major one. The "innocence" of Alcibiades, who can still almost best his master with sophisticated arguments, is another. Rocco was, after all, a philosopher and a "sodomite" himself, and while he is willing to use irony against himself, to tweak himself and his own kind, it is against human foibles and not the arguments themselves that his criticism is levelled.

So Alcibiades is neither a manual for seduction nor an attack on it. The other oppositions are, however, reconcilable. Now, whose arguments are these?

The suggestion that it is a "pedophile" novel similarly can be dismissed: to the extent that the term "pedophile" still means anything today, the arguments in Alcibiades are incompatible with eroticism involving prepubescent children.

Even in - perhaps precisely in - the otherwise hyperbolic language about the attraction of boys "from nine to eighteen" p. Further, the whole argument is certainly incompatible with eroticism with prepubescent children irrespective of their sex, children qua children.

With regard to the adjective "homosexual," however, the ground is firmer. Perhaps the instructive parallel here is with the other word used to describe the book, the noun "novel.

Similarly, although fully acknowledging the differences, I would suggest that on the basis of two key characteristics Alcibiades can also, by backwards extension, be "homosexual. Second, and to my mind just as indisputably, the book gives evidence - is evidence - of the consciousness, the identity which over the last two decades we have come to accept as the key characteristic of homosexuality.

This is not a description of same-sex behaviours embedded in another context, as in the case of the Satyricon, for instance, but a consistent, deliberate marshalling of arguments regarding male-male sexual behaviour, with no purpose aside from that - and that can only be the result of a consciousness and identity shared by the author and his audience.

Almost from the moment Foucault announced that such identity, and the sodality or sociability - in short, the culture or subculture - which went with it was the key to understanding the concept of homosexuality, and located its emergence in the late 19th century along with the emergence of the word itself, other authors have been busy discovering evidence of such identity and culture - or at least emerging identity and culture - earlier.

But if, just as we can see the emerging qualities of the novel in a text like Alcibiades, and thus name it a novel, we can also see the emergence of those qualities of same-sex eroticism and identity in it which are basic to homosexuality, and are thus justified in calling it a homosexual novel - indeed the first homosexual novel - we must acknowledge there are also differences.

The principle difference is, of course, the age-inequality, which today seems foreign to our notion of homosexuality. That is however precisely the second point at which Alcibiades can be significant, as a corrective for memory.

In dealing with non-Western cultures, Stephen O. Murray has proposed a model of multiple homosexualities containing three strands, all of which may be present in any culture, but one or two of which always predominate, while the other one or two recede or disappear.

These are gender-structured, age-structured and more or less egalitarian or mutual relations. In the first, one partner adopts the gender role or expectations of the other sex; in the second, one partner is significantly older than the other; the third is more or less equivalent to the modern "gay" concept, but while dominant presently in the West, is considerably less than dominant in traditional societies.

If this model is applied to Western society, one finds that these three strands have varied in strength, or at least in visibility, since the late Middle Ages and early modern period. Many of the histories of homosexuality which have been mentioned in the course of this afterword - Ruggiero and Rocke for Italy, Noordam for The Netherlands - seem to suggest, on the basis of legal records, that the standard model for male-male eroticism at the beginning of this period was age-structured, although this might be affected by the fact that egalitarian relationships might have been less visible, or less vulnerable to the abuse of power which often brought the older partner in an age-structured relationship to the notice of the authorities.

The egalitarian model gains strength in the late 17th and 18th century, although age-structured relations do not disappear, and there seems, from the Molly Houses of the 18th century through the transvestites of late Victorian homosexual life, to have been a more significant presence of gender-structured relationships as well.

This sketch is extremely global, but to the extent it might be shown to be valid in further investigation, Alcibiades is a reminder that we are not dealing with homosexuality, but with homosexualities, and that the first homosexuality to achieve the identity and subculture necessary to deserve that name was precisely the one which is today most despised, even by the dominant strand of homosexuality. If we may formulate an answer to the final question, then: Alcibiades the Schoolboy is significant as the first homosexual novel - the first clear expression of a homosexual identity and subculture in the modern West; and it is significant as a reminder of the cultural importance and heritage of age-structured homosexual relationships in European culture.

V Finally, a word on this edition. For all the significance attached to Alcibiades the Schoolboy as a cultural and historical document, and as a philosophical argument with regard to male homoeroticism and sexual practices, it is also well to remember that it is not dressed in its academic robe, but in Carnival attire.

We may be confident that its author desired that it be a fun read, full of flashy rhetoric and humour.

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Alcibiades the Schoolboy

Jump to: navigation , search Afterword Until now, the history of Alcibiades the Schoolboy in English began, and to all intents and purposes ended, on the back cover of another work of fiction with a similar theme, the Asbestos Diary by "Casimir Dukahz. The first time this little-known 17th century classic has appeared in English. In dialogue form, it is virtually a manual on how to seduce boys. Eglinton, in his introduction, maintains that is also a deadly parody of the Machiavellian doctrine of expediency.


Alcibiades The Schoolboy

Set in ancient Athens , the teacher is modelled on Socrates , who so desperately wants to consummate the relationship he has with Alcibiades , one of his students, that he uses all tactics of rhetoric and sophistry at his disposal. He argues that Nature gave us sexual organs for our own pleasure, and that it would insult her to use them otherwise, citing examples from Greek mythology and culture, as well as refuting counterarguments based on the Sodom and Gomorrah story. It is "a tour de force of pederastic fantasy and one of the frankest and most explicit texts on the subject to have been written before the twentieth century. The work was first attributed to Pietro Aretino , but an article in by Achille Neri identified the author as Antonio Rocco , a libertine priest and philosopher and member of the Accademia degli Incogniti founded by Giovan Battista Loredan. The text is unashamedly explicit, and it has been argued that "it must be understood in the context of similar texts of the trend of libertinism, using the term in its original sense of a sceptical philosophical tendency.


Alcibiades the Schoolboy (book)

According to Aristophanes the Athenian people "yearns for him, and hates him too, but wants him back". Aeschylus sees Alcibiades as a powerful creation arousing admiration, but also as a "savage figure" unacceptable and dangerous when released in the city. Some scholars, however, consider them spurious. According to Plato, Alcibiades is an extraordinary soul, an embodiment of the pursuit of worldly power. What is extraordinary for the philosopher, however, is not the deeds that result but the soul itself, especially that selfish passion for what is best for himself beyond the conventional offices and honors.


Alcibiades (character)


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