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Sacred Band of Thebes, written and read by TR (TEST THE NEW AD AUDIO BUTTON!)

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Another short story in rhyme by Tragic Rabbit, as he tells us about the Sacred Band of Thebes, an elite fighting unit of ancient Greece composed solely of homosexual soldiers and their lovers. Plutarch and other ancient sources verify the details of this story, but don't think that makes it dry and boring.

READ OR LISTEN TO The Sacred Band of Thebes written and read aloud by Tragic Rabbit

Hear TR's story and remember that many current governments work to keep gay soldiers out of their armies. According to Plato and Plutarch, they're making a terrible mistake...

Read about those soldier lovers' Sacred Band in Sacred Band of Thebes....OR listen to TR read the tale with the NEW 'wimpy' audio button- just click and hear the story read! Soon, several other TR tales will have audio buttons.

FROM Sacred Band of Thebes:

Thus forty undefeated years

did Thebian Sacred Band

protect fair Thebes and keep the peace

throughout that troubled land.

Men grew old and with their lover

retired to quiet fields,

they were replaced with lovers young

and their bright shining shields.

The fame of these strong fighting men

it spread across the sea;

fair Thebes was safe from enemies

and those who came did flee.

And famous Sacred Band of Thebes

were all above reproach,

in matters of honor and faith

they were each others? coach.

In hot battle or in peacetime

they never ceased to train;

from dishonor and debauch did

the Sacred Band refrain.

At night each man would lay down arms

and crawl into his tent

to close embrace his dearest love

and spend the night content.

READ OR LISTEN TO The Sacred Band of Thebes written and read by Tragic Rabbit


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Very nice work TR, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It?s amazing how the truth is much more incredible then fiction. I?ve always been amazed that many gays don?t know this true story and I?m glad you brought it to light. The fictional Wizard?s Imperial Legion of Icaria that appears in TSOI is based 100% on the real fighting unit who fought so valiantly that they had to be completely slaughtered in order for them to be defeated. I?ve always held the story of the formation of the Thebian fighting unit and their bravery in high regard, it?s one reason I ?modeled? my own fighting troops on them.

It is said that after they were defeated and their bodies lay across the field of battle, Phillip of Macedonia (their conqueror) looking out across the battlefield paid them the highest of compliments saying that he?d never seen such a brave army and one that not only fought for their country, but also for the honor and protection of their lover ? each fighting as a pair to protect the other ? for if they failed they would lose their mate. And he could think of no greater and fiercer motivation.

BTW loved the artwork you choose to illustrate it with. One scene is a relief carved on the ?Alexander Sarcophagus? it depicts scenes of Alexander the Great?s life although he actually never was interred in it. Today it sits in the Turkish National Museum in Istanbul. I got to see it in person this summer during a trip to Turkey. It is very impressive in real life.

Again great job! I hope everyone coming to AD reads it.

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I first heard of the Sacred Band of Thebes many years ago when they were mentioned in a novel I was reading: The Misplaced Legion series by Harry Turtledove (fantasy, about a Roman legion magically transported to another universe). That series had one significant gay character, a minor gay character, and a short section about that universe's equivalent of the Sacred Band (the main gay character reflected on the similarities between the group he was with and the Sacred Band).

I was very impressed, TR. Well done!

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Thank you both, Jamie and Graeme, for your kind remarks on Sacred Band of Thebes.

I'll be quite honest and say I'd never heard of them until earlier this year, when I came across them while researching another story entirely. I was stunned and shocked that such an amazing story had not shown up in anything I'd read so far (I read a lot of LGBT history and commentary) and that it hadn't entered the gays-in-the-military debate that has raged for, what, over a decade? Apparently, those against not only don't understand that gays are already in the military, but don't know that Plato postulated, and Thebes proved, that gay soldiers could actually make better troops than unpaired heterosexuals.

In fact, no one has used this thesis to form a crack unit of soldiers since Thebes, and that's just...odd, considering how renowned and effective they were. Far more common is the idea that gay men are cowards on the field, etc, etc...yet the Sacred Band were anything but cowards.

The events of the story are true, I researched the battle at Chaeronea, Thebes, Philip II, Alexander, the resulting final conquest of Greece by Macedonia/Philip II and other specifics and tried to keep the story entertaining while sticking to the facts that I had at hand. Jamie's right, the two photos are of artwork specific to the Chaeronea situation: top photo is of a presumed homosexual pair of Greek hoplite troops practicing with a chariot, bottom photo is of Alexander using cavalry in battle in the manner his father apparently initiated. Both Alexander and his father were successful generals and, by conquest, created one of the largest empires the world has ever known.

Plutarch is only one ancient source that confirms that these events occurred and that Thebes took the idea directly from Plato's fictional Symposium. There is some controversy about whether a few of the Band survived Chaeronea injured and were taken prisoner but I decided to stick to Plutarch and that version, mainly for dramatic purposes.

Thebes, of course, lost their preeminence after this battle and Philip II extended his hegemony across Greece...his son continued that tradition, but was influenced enough by Greece and Greeks to spread Greek (rather than Persian) culture throughout the lands he later conquered.

Both Alexander and Philip II had male lovers, a fact that seems not to be in dispute. Philip II's tribute on the field of Chaeronea to the Band is true, too, and several sources use the line I begin his tribute with (O Perish any man who...) and I did place it where it is supposed to have occurred, while Philip and young Alexander were standing over the slain bodies of the Band who had, alone and against great odds, held their line.

After finding this information, it went into my Story Ideas file and became an actual TR tale last week. I thought that rhyme fit the older setting, though it makes constructing the story harder, and hope that it and the 'trial' Listen button both worked for readers.


TR :devlish:

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Well, if I recall correctly, the whole episode is pretty movingly treated in Mary Renault's 'A Fire From Heaven', the first of her novels on Alexander the Great. She was a brilliant writer, and the book is very much worth reading.

I did try to write my Senators about the Sacred Band, along about the time 'Don't As, Don't Tell' was being promulgated. I suspect the antiquity of the story keeps it from being taken seriously, which is a shame. (I wonder if they even mention it, in military academies like West Point?)

One other point worth making. If historians like John Keegan are right - the special value of the Sacred Band was enhanced by the way wars were fought in that time. As a rule, the units that stood together, keeping their shields facing the enemy, almost always won; the units that started to flee - turning their backs to the enemy - not only lost, but suffered horrendous casualties, approaching 100 percent. The dynamic was very well understood at the time, by all sides . . .

Thank you for bringing it all back to us.

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