Thus was cornerstoned the school of Athens:
Laid in long devotion by Nyanthes
For the glory of taking Timarchus.
Indeed, ‘twas lust that did leverage his word;
Desire to bed the fair youth bolstered him
And thrust bravely forth his fine argument.
What, then, from such a lust was engendered?
What legacy by Nyanthes took root?
Why, ‘tis all we have come to celebrate
When we sing of that spectacular shore!
The Athens of Pericles, whose pillars
Upon its Acropolis make breathless
Still our most blustering architects;
The Athens of Socrates, whose buzzing
About the Agora made tiny fools
Of they that sought to swat the great gadfly;
The Athens of Plato, who made for us
A record of his rascal teacher’s words.
How could Aristotle fit with Athens
Any other city claiming equal
Right in that category of its own?
And all of it born; all bodied forward
I’the blast of a one for his Favourite:
Had Nyanthes not for Timarchus pined,
Ne’er would Athens be this day so gloried.
Therefore, friends, and therefore friendly Romans;
Therefore Emperors and Catamites all –
Let us give to unfettered lust its due:
From firm buttocks and their roundest appeal
Let us give ample thanks for history.
And let us acknowledge the physical
Lure of beauteous youth ever worthy
Of turning common impulse heroic:
To want in our bed a succulent flesh
May heave as much a city as a sigh.
By this hard, violet, and engorged logic,
We wonder if Rome anon shall suffer
The stubborn celibacies of her king,
As, comparing, we witness how weighty
In manhood was boyish Athens freighted
When Favourite lust at last was sated.
Hadrian stands and stares for a long
time at Favorinus. Finally he turns and exits the room.
By the gods aghast, sir, what hast thou done?
I’ve done, Antinous, what was promised,
And argued for thy mute aspiration.
So please you, friends, my speeching is ended:
His floor I restore to Statianus,
And take my leave in soaked celebration
That still with wagging tongue I’m encumbered! (Exit.)
Good souls, be not so hasty departed:
Stay a time, and consider our victuals!
Come, Antinous, and be sheltered here…
Exit Statianus and Antinous.