Enchiridion Juveni -
Handbook for a Young Man
This is a work of fiction completely. It may contain certain facts to give it verisimilitude, but it emerged from my mind entire. David Fairmont and the Enchiridion Juveni unfortunately do not exist except in the minds of the author and readers. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, or any other characters from anyone else's work, is completely coincidental. This does contain sexual information, situations, and references. It is not appropriate for underage persons.
This is dedicated to the memory of John E. 'Jeb' Boswell, gay man, classical scholar, and Yale professor extraordinaire. He discovered and published the beautiful truth about gay people in the early Middle Ages, in his book Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, which shows, from source documents found in the Vatican Library, that gay people were welcomed and their relationships were affirmed in the early Christian church.
Comments may be made to: AkaDavidFairmont@gmail.com
+ â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` +-â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` +-â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` + â€` +
for the young man who loves another.
Steps up the mountain [of enlightenment]
to freely loving and living with other young men.")
Dissertation by David Michel Fairmont,
as partial requirement for the
Doctorate of Philosophy in Classical Studies,
University of Oxbridge, United Kingdom
10 January 2010).
Dearest young man: having come upon this parchment read and learn. Having presumably already loved another youth from afar, or come across other boys joining [their bodies], or possibly having had such experience yourself, you seek knowledge from someone who can guide you. I, this enchiridion [handbook], am your guide, your master, your teacher, and for a time, your beloved.
The incipit of Enchiridion Juveni, translation by the author.
Journal Entry: Saturday, 1 Nov 2008, Rome, Italy 5:20 p.m. local time.
I am utterly baffled and numb. How can I reveal this to the world? I have so many jumbled up thoughts â€` I must work through this in an orderly way â€` but where do I begin?
I have discovered a hidden manuscript, a group of well-preserved parchment pages, written in an archaic form of Latin, while doing research in the Vatican Library.
I have no idea how to date it, but it is old, really old. The manuscript book (codex) that I was studying was from the late 1200s, and my guess is that the newly uncovered text is much older than that. It may be a copy of a much more ancient manuscript, maybe from the Late Roman Period(?)
It is a sex manual, a howâ€`to book on sex between young men, from the Middle Ages or earlier! I still cannot believe it. Who will believe me if I reveal this amazing discovery. I am so excited I can hardly contain myself. Also, from what little I could make out so far, it is pretty graphic, very detailed in its descriptions.
Being gay myself, my objectivity and scholarship will be questioned, of course. But how will I ensure its preservation given the current feelings of the Holy Roman Church about gay people (anathema, abomination), and especially gay sex (disgust, at best)?
I am truly afraid that it will disappear before anyone else can see it. If I publish anything about it â€` I'm afraid it will never reappear, at least in my lifetime. If I say nothing the chances of it being rediscovered by someone else are slim to none.
It was well hidden, and if I hadn't snagged my white glove on the edge of the codex I might never have discovered it. I almost didn't see it myself. It was hidden inside the leather binding of the book. The leather had split on the right edge and after the edge caught on my glove I examined that part more closely. Inside of the binding was a bundle of parchment pages which I carefully removed.
Dearest youth: having come upon this parchment, read and learn.
You may already love another boy from afar, or have come across
other youths joining themselves together in love and passion, or
you may have had such an experience yourself. You seek know-
ledge from someone who can guide you. I, Enchiridion, am
your guide, your
master, your teacher, and for a time, your beloved.
Journal Entry: Sunday, 2 Nov
2008, Rome, Italy. Hotel Arcangelo. 15 Via Boetzio, 10:12 p.m. local time.
I am still a little freaked out about my discovery. I wish Jeb Boswell were still alive. Although some of my friends met him or saw him speak, I did not. He could have been a real help to me, since he had done much of the same things that I'm doing, poking around in the archives of the Vatican library, but three decades before me. But in the long view of the Church it was just yesterday, and nothing much has changed. Since the world's communities have been rent asunder by recent events, they might have even got a lot worse. I wonder how Jeb had got access to those documents? Did he have friends in the Vatican? I wonder what Luigi knows? Because of his age I'm sure he wasn't around when Boswell was doing his research, but he might know someone who was, AND who might be sympathetic to my situation. I will have to feel him out about this tomorrow.
Maybe I should go to the section of the library that has some of those documents. I might find out some things. I believe in serendipity, after all.
I did go to the English-speaking AA meeting last night -- it's mostly made up of Ex-pat Americans, students, and a few Brits who work here in Rome. A pretty normal mix of ex-drunks. That is, people who would not normally mix, who get together to celebrate their lives as would people who have just survived a shipwreck. I have a little more than three years sobriety today. One of the British guys, Arnold, has about forty-three years of sobriety, believe it or not. I like him a lot. He's a bit crusty and rough around the edges, but he does most of the work with the newcomers around here, and he sure made me feel welcome when I first arrived in Italy, a few weeks ago.
It felt a little odd not telling anyone else here about what I've discovered, even if I knew this could not be public knowledge yet. I did speak to my sponsor back in Madison this afternoon. I told him everything. He reminded me that I might be sacrificing my future for a temporary glory. He's right but I feel that I need to pursue this at least until the point comes that I have to do anything shady.
I have thought of a possible solution without doing anything illegal or even immoral: the Vatican sometimes uses a service in Rome which specializes in the scanning and digitization of its ancient documents. This is a rather new thing. I suppose they will eventually get their own people to do this, but right now they are farming it out. It's expensive and the Vatican is charging scholars a hefty fee to digitize manuscripts for study. I believe it's $125 a page. I'm sure the bastards are making a profit.
So, maybe if I request two pages (the minimum) and the front and back covers of the codex, and actually request that I help them do it, (so they'll know which pages need to be scanned, the ancients weren't big on numbering pages after all), and while I'm there suddenly discover the "hidden" manuscript and pay them to digitize those additional pages, I could actually get what I want legally, without stealing or "borrowing". It's really a long shot, but it just might work. I also have to come up with some more cash. What is the best enticement for Romans? Gold? Euros? US Dollars (hell no, not with the U.S. economy in shambles). Oh well, there goes the rest of my retirement fund. It's already lost almost half its value this fall. Not good, but this is for posterity, maybe my big contribution to classical scholarship and to gay studies, as well.
Thy will, not mine, be done.
translate the first few sentences, if you can call them sentences. Like many
old manuscripts, even biblical manuscripts in Hebrew or Greek, there is no
punctuation and no spaces between major sections, or indentations. There's
no spaces between
the words either!
The incipit later developed into the title, subtitle, and introduction in literary works, but that's a few hundred years in the future, maybe even a thousand of more, if my guess antiquity of the handbook is correct. At this point based on the vocabulary, and the type of writing, I'm guessing this work was originally produced in or near Rome between years 300 and 450 C.E.
At this point I also think that the pages I found were not the original manuscript, but a copy. I don't believe that any complete manuscript of that age, except the Dead Sea Scrolls, have survived. But it is a pretty important find, since I know of no reference to anything like it, and it has to be at least seven hundred years old. I can't wait to get another look at it. It doesn't have any pictures, obviously, but with just a cursory glance at the pages I noticed references to masturbation (disturbing the genitals), intercruciary sex (between the legs), anal sex (in the backside) and fellatio (with the mouth). There was also a very interesting mention about the Greek philosophers and the origin of sexuality, including homosexuality, which I hope to be able to make sense of.
Maybe I'll just abandon my original idea for my dissertation, which was the transmission of bowed string instruments to Italy from the Arab world. I was trying to come up with more definitive proof either that the Crusaders brought bowed instruments back with them to Europe from the east or, alternatively, that stringed instruments came to Italy through their relationship with Spain, which in turn received this technology from the resident Moors.
I wonder if some of the Crusaders had any role in the preservation of my Handbook? The codex it was found in was a collection of several memoirs of Crusaders who returned from the Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Crusades from about 1254 to about 1298. The last of these was a Frankish Knight Templar who returned from the island of Ruad, off the coast of Syria, before the final overthrow in 1304.
I'm off to say my prayers and to bed.
"Sh'ma yisroel, Adonai, Eloheinu, Adonai echad".
+ - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + -
Monday, 3 November 2008. 7:35 a.m. Local time
"God, I offer myself to you, to build with me and to do with me as you will. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do your will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may show others who I might help, of your love, your power, and your way of life. May I do your will always!"
It's only about a half mile from the Hotel Arcangelo to the Vatican. I walk excitedly after un po' colazione (a little breakfast) at a cafe on the way. When I arrive I try to make small talk with Luigi at the desk at the entrance to the Vatican Library. "How long have you been a priest, Luigi."
"Signore David, I am a novitiate. I have not taken my final vows. God willing, that will happen il pausa di Pasqua, ah... at Easter-time," he replied.
For some reason today I notice Luigi's silky-blond hair and lithe form under his black clothes. I now realize how attractive he is to me, but he's unavailable, and frankly, so am I. But, something is a little different about him. He does not seem to be as guarded as usual. I don't know, maybe it's me; maybe my perspective has changed.
As we walked toward the study room where I have been working I felt bold enough to ask, "Luigi, did you ever hear of a scholar from Yale who caused quite a stir with his stories about homosexual weddings in the church?"
I could tell immediately from his quickly indrawn breath that I'd hit a nerve.
"Shh, not so anyone can hear. Please, let's go to your study area." When we got to my little room in the back section of the library he motioned for me to sit, and he pulled in another chair and closed the door most of the way, but with a wary eye outward.
After a deep breath, he continued. "David, what do you want to know?"
Quietly, I laid out my request. "You have heard of John Boswell then?"
Luigi nodded affirmatively.
"What can you tell me about his research here?" I asked.
"Signore, I must ask, why do you want to know?" he continued cautiously.
I could see we were playing cat and mouse, with each of us being cautious not to give our position away. I decided to go for broke. "Well, Luigi, I'm gay".
"Si, I understand. I hold no prejudice toward you", replied the novitiate.
"I discovered something in my research which might cause the Church some more pain," I continued, "Something very old... something hidden." After a pause, "I'm trying to find out how I can get a copy of it made to take with me without causing alarm, or outright censure. I would like to know if I can expect your cooperation, or will you turn me in." I said, revealing my predicament.
Luigi looking hurt said, "why, David, would you think that?"
Oh, boy. Now I think I've pissed him off. Great. Slipping into Italian, I begged pardon for my question, which obviously hurt him.
Replying also in Italian, Luigi said, "Signore Fairmont, I, Luigi Francesco Ballata, will do nothing to disturb your legitimate scholarly research, even if it makes the Church uncomfortable. I am sworn to not allow theft from or damage to the collections in this institution, but barring that I will do whatever I can to help you. And not only because I consider it a great honor to help such a learned professore, but because I also consider you my friend."
He almost made me cry with gratitude at that last part. If he only knew that four years ago I was a helpless, hopeless drunk, he wouldn't be so gushy with his pronouncements. After swallowing a lump in my throat, I replied, "Oh, Luigi, I'm so sorry to have offended you. Please forgive me. I feel honored to be your friend, as well."
Donning my ever-present cotton gloves, I said, "let me show you what I found" And so I did, all the while watching for other librarians and patrons who might overhear or oversee my revelation to the younger man.
After we had tucked the manuscript back into its hiding place, and returned the codex to its shelf, we went back to the study room and our former places. "Luigi, let me show you what I translated since Saturday." I showed him the second draft of the incipit, which I completed this morning.
The younger man was obviously moved, for good or ill I could not tell. "David, I will get the codex for you again. Between now and my break at noon, would you please copy and translate as much as you can? I will prevent any discovery or disruption. We will leave separately for a little lunch. Meet me at CafÃ© Alfonsi, inside, all the way in the back about 12:10. No? And bring your translation, I MUST see it." He replied, surprising me.
Since he was asking me to do what I was burning to do anyway, it was an easy sell. Luigi left and soon returned with the codex, and departed, quietly shutting the door behind him. I didn't see him again that morning.
A few minutes before noon, I carefully tucked the Handbook back into the brown calves leather of the codex, and returned it to the shelf gingerly. I hated to leave it behind fearing someone might take it away while I was gone. I took only my few handwritten pages with me, folded carefully, so I was not stopped at the exit. Luigi had already left apparently because a guard in quasi-military uniform waved me past, after giving more than a cursory glance to make sure I wasn't packing any part of the collection. Sometimes I like it when I get attention from a man and sometimes I don't. I didn't like the guard's attention to me then, but under different circumstances I might have. He was darkly handsome and muscular, and looked very nice in that colorful uniform.
After a brief jaunt past a throng of tourists, I arrived at the cafÃ© and ordered a sandwich and fruit drink on my way in. Finding Luigi just where I expected him, I sat down and gently flattened out the sheets and turned them toward him. I watched his blue-green eyes darting back and forth as he read the newly translated sections. Honestly, it was still quite rough, but I hoped he would appreciated my attempt.
It is clear to all those who have the mind to observe the world, that nature loves variety. As one watches
the animals and plants, trees and birds, one sees a huge variety. Even among the families of similar
creatures, there is much variation in them as well. When one looks at the animals whether free or tamed, some look
and behave in manifold ways which others do not. If one watches dogs or goats one sees many types of
behavior, even in their mating. Every farm boy sees that the dogs and billy goats mate even with
members of their own sex for their pleasure. Why is it that some of the family of man cannot see that
this is the truth and that we as human beings have members of our own race which desire to do the same,
and all of it is nature's expression of variety?
A master in old Greece, Aristophanes, offered an explanation of human desire for the other, and the
variety of, desire thereof. He was recounted by the master Plato, thusly:
There were three types of human beings in the beginning of the earth. Each had two heads. There
were people with two male halves, two female halves, and those whose parts were mixed, male
and female. The God Zeus split the humans out of anger. Since then human beings have sought
to join with their other half.
The beginning of Eros, of desire in boys, begins very young, since from infancy baby boys will disturb their
genitals [i.e. masturbate] for their own pleasure. As they are weaned and clothed, this activity does not
cease but is more hidden, usually as a pastime in bed. Almost all boys before they begin to gain their hair
of maturity are curious about themselves and other boys as well, and may engage in youthful play with
other's genitals as well as their own. When their change of voice and first beard comes still many are
curious about their friends and engage in play-mating, and simultaneously disturbing their own genitals
in the company of another or exchanging with the other. This happens because their new desire is strong
and they are available to each other, while the young men who are increasingly drawn to the other sex,
still find that their quarry is kept away, unavailable to their approach.
When he had finished reading he let out a long breath and kind of relaxed back into the padded wooden booth with a small smile on his face. After a little more time, in which I was dying to find out what he thought, he kind of squished his mouth together as if unsure of whether to say something or not.
Finally, low and quiet, Luigi said, "sometimes, I struggle." Not sure of what he meant, I waited for him to follow it up. "David, I think I'm gay." Since I was aware he knew he had a sympathetic ear, I again waited.
Luigi went on. "That is part of the reason I was delayed in taking my vows, you see. They didn't want me to go ahead unless I knew what I was giving up with a vow of celibacy. They weren't encouraging me to be unchaste, but wanted me to be able to say for certain where I stood and whether I could make a commitment or not. There also have been witch hunts for gay seminarians because of all the sexual abuse of boys in the American church.
Honestly, I've been considering leaving the priesthood for months and it has gotten worse for certain reasons recently", he said smiling at me, but wiping an overbrimming right eye with his hand.
Our food arrived, and Luigi, averting his eyes, thanked the young lady kindly.
After a few moments I realized he was waiting for some sort of reply. I asked the first thing that came to mind. "I'm assuming you have had a lot of family pressure to join the priesthood".
"Exactly, enormous pressure. You couldn't know the half of it. You see, in my village of Perugia we call it the Second Son Syndrome, il secondo figlio sindrome. Actually I think it sounds better in English," he laughed. "For centuries any family that was lucky to have a second son born dedicated him to the priesthood and did everything in their power to ensure that he followed up with everything: education, service, clean living, chastity, temperance, the whole lasagna, ...or enchilada, whatever you crazy Americans say," he joked.
"This has been very hard for you." I said empathetically. "You know, coming out was hell for me, too."
Luigi's eyebrows went up with that last remark. "Really?"
"Yes, very much so, Luigi," I responded. "And on top of that I had an alcohol problem, which prevented my being able to think clearly for much of my adult life."
"For some reason we Italians often think of Americans as libertine, who live their lives free and easy."
"I'm not surprised. It is a pretty strong aspect of our extroverted culture, but we also have a very strong, rigid, puritanical religious bent as well," I replied.
"Si, si, si. I realize that I know of some of that, with some of those self-righteous bigots in the media."
"Well, I took all of those negative messages from our twisted American culture, as well as my parents expectations of me, as my own. I just stewed in it. As a result, I was suicidally depressed for most of my teenage years and often during my drinking days in my twenties as well. It's a miracle that I'm not dead."
"So you don't drink any more, David?"
Grateful, I replied, "no, I haven't had a drink since the 18th of June of 2005, which is three years, ... four months and ...two weeks today! One day at a time".
"I'm proud for you!" Luigi exclaimed exuberantly, as he dug into his food, which he had completely ignored. I did likewise, with relish.
As we ate our lunch we talked about lighter matters. There isn't an English-speaking AA meeting on Tuesday nights, so we agreed to get together over dinner tomorrow evening to talk more about coming out and what we are going to do about the manuscript. I realized that I was putting Luigi in a difficult position; he really wasn't suppose to fraternize with the patrons, because his superiors felt that too much familiarity would breed conspiracy to pilfer the collection. We had to be discrete as possible.
In the meantime, I have a lot of work to do in translating the text and figuring how I was going to tell my dissertation committee that I've gone in a completely new direction.
First Things First.
P.S. Luigi now wants to be called 'Lui' when we are alone and he's taken to calling me, 'Davie', which I kind of like. But, I am now also somewhat torn about him. Though I find him interesting and attractive, he's quite a bit younger than me. And I don't get into frivolous relationships at all, anymore. As a matter of fact, other than a fun roll in the hay with an long-time friend one night, I've been celibate since I got sober. Also, Luigi is in a pretty fragile state, being confronted with having to make up his mind about who he is and who he wants to be.
I'm pretty sure now that he has a crush on me, partly because I'm someone he is identifying with as a sympathetic friend and confidant, but I WILL NOT take advantage of him merely for my own gratification, if I can help it. (And since I don't drink any more, I can help it). Although I myself had sex with several of the older men who helped me come out when I was eighteen and nineteen, I'm not sure that was a good thing. Most of the time they were "alcohol related incidents", including one time when I woke up in this ancient queen's bed, not remembering how I got there. That's called blackout drinking, I later learned, and is one of the clearest signs of alcoholism.
Luigi may have a hard-on for me, but I'm the only one who's going to be disturbing my genitals tonight. However, having been so close and intimate with Luigi today, and having to think about sex all day while I'm translating this handbook, I'm sure I'm going to end up shooting a hell of a load, I predict. And I'm definitely going to ENJOY it!
Â©2008 David Michel Fairmont (non de plume). All rights reserved.