Handbook for a Young Man
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This is a work of fiction completely. It may contain certain facts to give it verisimilitude, but emerged from my mind entirely. Although referring to works of antiquity, including Plato and others, I believe have avoided plagiarism by carefully documenting whom I quote, or by paraphrasing other people's material beyond recognition. 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 his work, is completely coincidental. Most of the sources are real, but some are made up.
This account contains sexual information, situations, and references and is therefore 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.
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Translation and Interpretation of
Enchiridion Juvenis quisnam diligo alius
Gradus ad Parnassus ut diligo licentia et victus licentia alius pubes.
Handbook: to the young man who loves another.
Steps to enlightenment in the free loving of and open living with another youth.
Dissertation by David Michel Fairmont,
as partial requirement for the Degree of
Doctor of Philosophy in Classical Studies.
University of Oxbridge, United Kingdom
10 January 2010
Author: Unknown, but possibly a Roman who lived in fourth or fifth centuries C.E. The author may have been a pagan, or at the very least a non-practicing Christian. The author does not refer to Christian attitudes or documents at all (except possibly at Paragraph II:7, but the idea is not developed). Based on the anatomical and practical knowledge of male sexual development, the author might have been a physician. Alternatively, he may have relied on some other source document or received help in the anatomical portions, such as Section V. It is also possible that the unknown author was from the circle of physician-philosopher Galenos (Latin - Galen), since he was the physician of note from the beginning of the Late Roman period until the late Middle Ages. At the very least the author's work would have been influenced by the writings of Galen.
Source: Vatican Library. This document was discovered as part of the binding of another document (Monumentum Vir Peregrinus - Memoirs of Heroic Crusaders -Vaticanus 1304:14A). Although not a palimsest, it is not clear if this was merely included to make the leather stiffer in the process of binding the codex or the document was hidden inside for some other reason.
Language: Archaic Latin, similar in language to copies of other documents from the Late Roman period (100 - 395 C.E.). This document has a lot of borrowing from the both Attic and Koine Greek, as well as some borrowings from Gallic (Frankish) vocabulary.
Scope: This document is unique. It is the only one of its kind to deal specifically and exclusively with love, sex, and home life [marriage?] of male same-sex couples found in the early Middle Ages. Although other documents, especially church documents, deal with morality, love, and family life of heterosexual couples, there are few examples (except those uncovered by John Boswell), which deal with same-sex relationships, and no others exclusively so. Unlike many other documents from this period it does not address Christianity directly (but mentions Judaism in relation to circumcision). It was often the custom in this period to quote those whom you oppose to make your point. But, this document seems only to acknowledge earlier sources which agree with it, and excludes the monotheistic religious views of same-sex relationships or sexual activity between males. Not surprisingly, as a document produced the patriarchal Roman society, it completely ignores female to female relationships.
¶I Prologon and Invitation to Androphilos
1 Guide for the young man who loves another [youth].
2 Steps to enlightenment in the free loving and open living with another young man.
3 Dearest youth: having come upon this parchment, read and learn.
4 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 experience yourself.
5 You seek knowledge from one who can guide you.
6 I, Enchiridion, am your guide, your master, your teacher, and for a time, your beloved.
¶II Appeal to Common Sense in Nature's Variety
1 It is clear to all those who have the mind to observe the world that nature loves variety. 2 As one watches the animals and plants, trees and birds, one sees a huge variety among them. 3 Even among the families of similar creatures, wide variation is seen in them as well. 4 When one looks at the animals, whether free or tamed, some look and behave in manifold ways which others do not. 5 If one watches dogs or goats one sees many types of behavior, even in their mating. 6 Every farm boy sees that the dogs and billy goats mate even with
members of their own sex for their pleasure. 7 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 very own race, who desire to do the same, and that all of this is nature's expression of variety?
¶III Aristophanes and Plato, Master's of Greece, Proclaim
1 A master in old Greece, Aristophanes, offered an explanation of human desire for the other, and the variety of desire thereof. 2 He was recounted by the master Plato, thusly: 3 There were three types of human beings in the beginning of the world. 4 Each had two heads. 5 There were people with two male halves, two female halves, and those whose parts were mixed, male and female. 6 The God Zeus split the humans out of anger. 7 Since then human beings have sought to join with their other half.
¶IV The Beginning and Development of Eros Androphilos - Erotic Love Between Males
1 The beginning of eros, of desire, in boys, starts very young, when from infancy baby boys will disturb their genitals [i.e. masturbate] for their own pleasure. 2 As they are weaned and clothed this activity does not cease but is more hidden, usually as a pastime in bed. 3 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. 4 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 masturbating in exchanging with the other. 5 This happens because their new desire is strong and they are available to each other, 6 while the young men who are increasingly drawn to the other sex, often still find that their quarry is kept away, unavailable to their approach.
¶V Eros and Soma - The Erotic Body
1 At the same time that a boy's behavior changes through his years, so is his body changing, and its reactions to these physical activities. 2 When a boy is born he has a sheath of skin covering the end of his penis which does not move, and serves to protect this organ. 3 As the boy gains in years his penis grows very slowly, but this foreflesh gradually loosens until the inner acorn [i.e. glans penis] can slip out. 4 This almost always happens by the time a boy has reached 16 or 17 summers. 5 Now, even from birth the penis becomes hot, longer, and stiff at least once a day. 6 In the middle years [pos. pre-teen to teenage years?] boys often find that it is erect when they awake in the morning. 7 After the time comes for their voices to change, they often find that they will release seed into their bedclothes in their dreams [nocturnal seminal emission], but not all boys have this experience, especially those who masturbate regularly. 8 A few older boys have problems with their foreflesh but usually if the skin is retracted slightly every time when making water, over time this skin will stretch and open up enough to let the acorn slide out even when it is swollen. 9 A very few boys may have to see a surgeon to open this skin, or remove it entirely, as the Jews and other desert peoples do. 10 It takes a long time for this to heal and may make later pleasures more difficult, but may necessary nevertheless.
11 When a boy reaches his puberty, hair begins to grow around his penis and under his arms and his voice changes usually soon after. 12 During the next several years, his genitals grow rapidly and his penis will get hard frequently and often at the most unfortunate times. 13 This is particularly difficult when he is with other young people, and can even occur on a bumpy chariot ride.14 During this time he begins to make seed and this can be released on purpose through masturbation or sexual communion with another. 15 Be gentle with your male parts as they can be easily injured, causing great pain, as you may have already discovered.
16 Masturbation is natural and enjoyable, an expected part of a young man's life. 17 It is good practice before sexual communion with another and may continue during periods throughout his life. 18 To disturb your genitals, simple hold your penis gently with one or both hands and pull the skin on the shaft carefully down and up until the penis gets very hard and then squirts its seed. 19 If the skin is tight, use some sort of oil, clarified or rendered fat, or butter to make it easier, olive oil is one of the easiest to use, but is expensive. 20 Never use soaproot or cleansing balms to masturbate. 21 It dries out the skin, which may burn and itch for days.
Notes: The use of archaic English words such as foreflesh, instead of foreskin, is intentional.
¶V:4 - The Latin word glans actually means 'acorn.'
Enchiridion Juveni, translation by the author. (Rev. 01b)
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Tuesday morning, 4 November 2008. 7:26 Local time. Hotel Arcangelo, Rome, Italy. Election Day in the U.S. and my 35th Birthday. Yay for me, another sober birthday!
Well, last night I decided to rewrite the first four chapters of the Handbook. I also made a preliminary translation of (most of) Chapter V, which covered the basics of male puberty and masturbation pretty thoroughly, though I'm pretty sure I'm going to rewrite it because it is still somewhat awkward in phrasing. It was the hardest part to translate because of all the unfamiliar anatomical terms. I had to look much of it up and made a pretty good, if somewhat stiff (no pun intended), way too literal translation. Sometimes I'm using the exact translation of the word, when a more modern one is somewhat more clear. I'm considering using foreskin, masturbation, sexual intercourse, and urinate instead of the literal words foreflesh, disturbing genitals, sexual communion, and make water, though they are quite colorful and understandable (mostly). The one word which I'm puzzled about is glans. Yes, we use that word as in' glans penis', but the literal translation is "acorn", due to the shape. I think I will use the word glans in my translation but put "acorn" in the translation apparatus or in the footnotes.
My understanding of Latin grammar is getting better, but it is still rough, since I never studied it formally, just other Romance languages, such as French, Spanish, Catalan, and of course, Italian, as well as Greek and Hebrew.
I'm looking forward to dinner with Lui tonight. I wonder where we'll go? I wonder how far Perugia is from here? Maybe I should look it up... (later) Perugia is two hours drive due north of here, almost in the dead center of the peninsula, and near St. Francis's home of Assisi. Maybe we can go up there. We might as well, but we'll have to take the train, if one even goes there, since neither Lui nor I have a car. I know I'm going to stay up REALLY late, since I'm going to wait up for the final returns to come in from home in Wisconsin. I voted for Barak Obama for president, of course. I don't do Republicans (except my last lover, but I'd converted him to a liberal democrat before we split up after a ten-year relationship).
Let's see what happens today. Thy Will, not mine, be done!
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Even after waiting for sometime at the library, I was a little annoyed since Luigi had not arrived, even after a half of an hour. In the meantime, I decided to look for other parallel materials to my Handbook. That is, I looked for other references to it, and other things called enchiridion, and more documents addressed to youth, and of course, sex.
Here are some highlights of my search:
Erasmus, Desiderus (1469?-1536) Enchiridion militi Christiani (Handbook for the Christian Soldier) - 16th century translation in English of a Dutch author's essays on Christian living.
Eck, Johann - (1486 - 1543) - Enchiridion Locorum Communium aduersos Lutheranos. - A book against Lutheranism,
published in 1531.
It is obvious that I'm looking under the wrong things or in the wrong way. I never thought I would be delving into the Late Roman period so I'm having to remember facts from courses I took years ago.
Later, I became happier that Lui had not shown up on time. When he came into my study area afer 10 a.m., with a huge grin, he looked like a cat who just ate the canary. He brought with him the codex Peregrinus, and said he had a surprise for me.
I told him what I had discovered so far in the po' man's library, Wikipedia. I had been looking up various subject ideas in the online encyclopedia when I discovered Galen (or more correctly, Galenos, 129?-217?) a Roman physician from a Greek background, who lived just before the time that Enchiridion Juvenis may have been produced. Having read summaries of Galen's works, and his vast influence, I am convinced that Galen's works influenced the writings of my anonymous author. They may have been heavily borrowed from by the author of Juvenis, but it would take years for me to figure this out because Galen's preserved output amounts to over 20,000 pages in Greek, Latin, and Arabic (and only a third or so of what he wrote survived). I also wonder if this Galen or one of his direct followers was responsible for Juvenis. Who was writing treaties on philosophy and medicine in the decades following Galen? If Luigi had not been late, I would never have thought to start poking around again, and may have not found this clue.
"Okay, Lui", after excitedly relating my find, "What's your surprise?"
"I rented a car! It's your birthday today, is it not? I want to take you somewhere special, so we are driving to Perugia, AND Assisi this afternoon. Could you be ready to leave by 1:45 or so?"
Realizing I was going to lose a few hours worth of work today in the library, but also being incredibly flattered by Lui's generosity, I said "Si, certamente!"
I also realized that Luigi was now setting up certain expectations of me and our relationship that I was not certain I would or could fulfill. I think I'm going to have to try to talk to my sponsor back home before we leave on our trip. I also was planning to go to a meeting at noon, and I was really glad for that, as well.
I continued copying out the next section of the text which honestly was not easy. The manuscript was reasonable well preserved, and obviously had not been handled much, if at all, before it was hidden away, but it was probably at least 700 years old and nothing lasts forever. The next section was on the verso (reverse side) of the page and for some reason the ink had bled through more from the first page, making the Latin characters hard to make out. The parchment was also blotchy and its yellow-tan color was uneven, as was typical of these type of manuscripts. It made for slow going, and honestly, my mind was on Luigi and our night out, my birthday, and the election back in the States. Also, the text became even more obscure because it was dealing with the emotional issues of young men and the words being used were rare, and certainly not in my somewhat limited Latin vocabulary. I did my best to copy the text accurately, now realizing, without my horrible original fears about the situation, that I probably was going to get what I wanted, even if it took a little longer. But, I also realized that I only had about four weeks left to finish up here. And this delicate, nascent relationship with my librarian/overseer wasn't making this shit any easier. Boy, did I need a meeting.
I arrived at the meeting just before noon, having to take a bus through the smelly, polluted streets of Rome to get there. Rome's architecture may be beautiful, but it's crumbling from the smoggy pollution and acid rain. When I got there, my older British friend greeted me, warmly.
"David, very good to see you!"
"Thanks, Arnold", I replied, sitting at the opposite end of the dusty maroon couch on one side of our smallish meeting room,
"It's good to see you, too". I looked around, surprised that no one else had arrived yet.
"Why, the long face, chap? Did your boy Obama lose the election?", he said laughing.
I couldn't help but smile at his jibe because it worked on so many levels, and replied "No, the polls have barely opened in the States. I won't know even preliminary results until midnight or so. Actually, a lot of good things are happening and I really need to talk to my sponsor about it".
Arnold, smiling knowingly, asked, "Okay, is it romance or finance?" referring to the two big issues over which many sober drunks lose their sobriety.
Relieved at his understanding, I went on, "First of all, you know I'm gay but have been celibate for a long time".
"Well, I met somebody and it's quite complicated. Remember, I mentioned that I'd been befriended by my personal librarian, the young man who watches over me to make sure I don't steal or damage the items in the library? Well, he's got a crush on me".
"He's a priest, right"?, Arnold asked.
"Well, he's in the priesthood, but hasn't taken his vows yet. So there's hope, sort of," I said.
"I see what you mean, complicated".
"You can say that again, Arnold!"
So I went on describe what has been going on with me for the last several days, a thumbnail sketch, anyway. It was good to tell someone, and I knew that Arny wouldn't blab. Finally, three more people came in and we started the meeting, a bit late.
By the time I arrived back at the library it was almost 1:30. I had left my work out, absentmindedly, on the desk in my workroom. Not good, but maybe no one was poking around, I hoped.
Almost as soon as I was reached the door of my study room, I was met with a suspicious acting librarian who had some papers in his hand.
"Signore Fairmont?", he asked.
"Yes?", I said.
"I am Benvenuto Vespa, I came by a little earlier to finish up the paperwork on your request to have two pages and the front and back covers of the Codex Monumentum Vir Peregrinus scanned and digitized. You understand that it is 125 Euros for each page to be processed?" I nodded yes, realizing that with the US dollar at an all-time low to the Euro it was going to cost me A LOT more than I had first calculated. He continued, "I also need the incipits of the pages you want copied".
Hmm, a problem. Switching to Italian, I replied, "Actually, Padre, I hoped to accompany the text when it goes out to be scanned. Or, barring that, at least to be there when the work is done to ensure they scan the correct pages, it is extremely expensive work".
Looking down his nose at me, Padre Vespa, replied, "I'm sure that your request will be denied. It is highly irregular. These people are professionals and do excellent work, meticulously. They don't some American slob hanging around while they do their work".
This guy had just turned the corner on nasty, but I refuse to let him get to me. "Breathe deeply, through your nose, Davie, that's it", I told myself.
After calming myself a bit, I quietly replied, "Then I would request that Luigi Ballata, who is familiar with my requirements, be the one to take the Codex to Grafichesi to have the work done".
"Si, of course, that is what would happen anyway since Luigi is your assigned librarian. If you return these pages to me tomorrow by 9:00 a.m. I will have Segniore Ballata take the Codex to be scanned at Grafichesi on Thursday. We, will of course, need a bank draft for the 500 Euros as well. Good day." He turned and left, thank God. That man is really unpleasant. Vespa is his surname and it is the Italian word for 'wasp', and I felt like I'd been stung badly.
I spotted Luigi at the other side of the largest room in the library and caught his eye. He came back to my little office, saying "So, Davie, are you ready to go now?" He noticed my troubled look. Sighing, I told him that he was going to be the one to take the documents to be scanned but we had to stop at the bank to get the draft to give to Vespa in the morning. I didn't delay because, I didn't want to give that prick any more cause to deny my requests or to spew out any more venom.
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It was quite a task getting the bank draft on short notice. We didn't get to leave until almost three, but Lui said that he'd get us to Assisi before dark and he did. He didn't rent a big sadan or one of those tiny European cars that look like roller skates to me. He rented an 8-cylinder Italian sports car (which must have cost a pretty penny), a convertible, and it was RED, bright red.
On the way, as we made many sharp curves, with Luigi hardly slowing to take them, I grew afraid we'd go off the road, so began to quietly sing the Serenity Prayer, to calm myself, to a tune I'd made up:
God, Grant me Serenity - to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and Wisdom to know the difference.
Luigi asked me what I was singing and so I told him, and even why. He kind of smiled to himself and kept driving about 80 miles per hour, oblivious to my white knuckles holding on to the car.
We arrived in Assisi at about 4:30 and he drove me around to see some sights, including a beautiful garden dedicated to Santo Francesco (St. Francis). I'm really glad we went it was really lovely there. Then it was on to Perugia.
"So where are we having dinner, Lui?"
"It's a surprise, Davie", he replied with a twinkle in his eye.
After staring at him with my best pleading look, he relented.
"We're going to Ristorante Ballata".
"Ballata, as in Luigi Ballata?" I asked.
©2008, 2009 by David Michel Fairmont (nom de plume). All rights reserved.