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    AC Benus
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

The Great Mirror of Same-Sex Love - Prose - 48. Edward Carpenter “Afar from feminine society”

.

“And as to the loves of Hercules, it is difficult

to record them because of their number. But some

who think that Ioläus was one of them, do to this

day worship and honor him; and make their

loved ones swear fidelity at his tomb.”

—Plutarch,[i]

circa 95 BC

 

 

Friedrich the Great, a selection

from “Ioläus”

 

[Concerning Schiller’s 1787 play] There is little, I believe, in the historical facts relating to [the real-life] Don Karlos to justify this tale of [tragic same-sex love]; but there seems great probability that the incidents were transferred by Schiller from the history of Frederick the Great, of Prussia, when a youth at his father’s court. The devotion that existed between young Frederick and Lieutenant [Hans] von Katte, the anger and severities of the royal parent, the supposed conspiracy, the imprisonment of Frederick, and the execution of Katte, are all reproduced in Schiller’s play.

Katte was a young man of good family and strange but charming personality, who, as soon as he came to Court, being three or four years older than Frederick, exercised a strong attraction upon the latter. The two were always together, and finally, enraged by the harshness of the royal father, they plotted flight to England. They were arrested, and Katte, accused of treason to the throne, was condemned to death. That this sentence was pronounced, not so much for political reasons, as in order to do despite to the affections between him [sic] and the Crown Prince, is strongly suggested by the circumstances. Katte was sent from a distance in order to be executed at Küstrin, in the fortress where the Prince was [later to be] confined, and with instructions that the latter should witness his execution. Carlyle, in his life of Frederick II:

 

“(Besserer, the chaplain of the Garrison, describing the scene as [the Prince and he] approached the Castle, says:) Here, after long wistful looking about, [Friedrich] did get sight of his beloved [Hans] at a window in the Castle, from whom, he, with politest and most tender expression, speaking in French, took leave, with no little emotion of sorrow.

‘Pardonnez moi, mon cher Katte,’ cried Friedrich. [‘Please forgive me, my dear Katte.’]

‘La mort est douce, pour un si aimable Prince,’ said Katte. [‘Death becomes sweet, if for such a loving Prince.’]

[The Prince and Besserer] fared on; round some angle of the Fortress it appears not in sight of [his beloved], and Friedrich sank in a faint, [fearing he] had seen his last glimpse of Katte in the world.

[However, later, just before the time of execution,] Katte wore, by order, a brown [uniform] exactly like the Prince’s; the Prince [having] already [been] brought down into a lower room to see Katte as he passes – to see Katte die has been the royal order, but they smuggled that into abeyance [with this brief meeting] – and Katte [knew] he shall see him.”

 

Frederick’s grief and despair were extreme for a time. Then his royal father found him a wife, in the Princess Elizabeth of Brunswick, whom he obediently married, but in whom he showed little interest – their meetings growing rarer and rarer, till at last, they became merely formal. Later, and after his accession, he spent most of his leisure time when away from the cares of war and political reorganization, at his retreat at Sans-Souci, afar from feminine society (a fact which provoked Voltaire’s sarcasms), and in the society of his philosophic and military friends, to whom many of whom he was much attached. Kupffer has unearthed from his poems printed at Sans-Souci in 1750 the following, addressed to Count von Kaiserlinck, a favorite companion, on whom he bestowed the by-name of Cesarion:

 

“Cesarion, let us keep unspoiled

Our faith, and be true friends,

And pair our lives like noble Greeks,

And to like nobler ends!

That friend from friend may never hide

A fault through weakness or through pride,

Or sentiment that cloys.

Thus gold in fire the brighter glows,

Refined from all alloys.”

 

There is also in the same collection a long and beautiful ode “To the shades of Cesarion,” of which the following are a few lines:

 

“O God! how hard the word of Fate!

Cesarion dead! His happy days

Death to the grave has consecrate.

His charm I mourn and gentle grace.

He’s dead – my tender, faithful mate!

A thousand daggers pierce my heart;

It trembles, torn with grief and pain.

He’s gone! the dawn comes not again!

Thy grave’s the goal of my heart’s strife;

Holy shall thy remembrance be;

To thee I poured out love in life;

And love in death I vow to thee.”

—Edward Carpenter,[ii]

circa 1925

 

¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤

 

 

 

 

 

 


[i] “And as to the loves of Hercules” Plutarch; this quote forms the epigraph to Carpenter’s 1902 anthology of same-sex love throughout history and around the world. I note with dismay, reprints of this compendium almost invariably omit the epigraph. Why? Because with it in place, the collection obviously becomes instantly about love between men, and therefore refutes the plausible deniability having the word “Friendship” affords in the book’s title.

[ii] “Friedrich the Great” Edward Carpenter Ioläus: An Anthology of Friendship (New York 1935), ps. 149-158. All translations are presumably Carpenter’s, who was fluent in German, even having peer-reviewed papers published in scholarly journals in that country (although the King's poems would have been translated from the French originals). The anthology's first edition came out in 1902, but this section on the Prussian king was added in a later iteration, which I am unable to pin an exact date to.

_ 

Copyright © 2021 AC Benus; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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2 hours ago, Lux Apollo said:

Thank you so much for sharing this.

Thanks, Lux. I have a couple of more entries to share from Carpenter

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@84MagsThanks for reading, and I can understand why you'd leave a "sad" like for this piece. The king and Katte form one of history's great love tragedies, and German kids are taught about it as just that. 

But what made me sad today was accidentally seeing the opening lines to the English wiki entry on the pair. Sad and pissed off that any schmuck online can add hateful qualifiers "the pair were possibly lovers..." to deface Gay history as much as they like. Can I then go to the wiki page on Romeo and Juliet and say they possibly hooked up just to anger their parents? Sounds preposterous, right?

 

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84Mags

Posted (edited)

4 hours ago, AC Benus said:

@84MagsThanks for reading, and I can understand why you'd leave a "sad" like for this piece. The king and Katte form one of history's great love tragedies, and German kids are taught about it as just that. 

But what made me sad today was accidentally seeing the opening lines to the English wiki entry on the pair. Sad and pissed off that any schmuck online can add hateful qualifiers "the pair were possibly lovers..." to deface Gay history as much as they like. Can I then go to the wiki page on Romeo and Juliet and say they possibly hooked up just to anger their parents? Sounds preposterous, right?

 

My husband and I lived in Germany just prior to and then after the fall of the Berlin Wall. We were never able to visit Frederick’s Sanssouci. However, throughout our extensive travels, I recall King Frederick being discussed with admiration and his homosexuality as factual. My sadness over today’s offering was partly due to my memories of how Frederick’s life unfolded and also from the evocative writing. 

I followed your lead and went to Wikipedia. I found under Sexuality of Frederick the Great that unfortunately you are correct. There, the best that could be written is, ‘almost certain…primarily homosexual’ as part of the opening paragraph. That made me sigh. Loudly. One isn’t supposed to use those types of sources as factual or authoritative as they are open to the public, but your anger is obviously well placed. The fight for equality continues. 
 

Edited by 84Mags
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I’m sorry to be tardy in my reaction to this. It is heartbreaking, the cruelty of Frederick’s father. Frederick’s poetry quoted here leaves no doubt as to who or how he loved. I was especially moved by Cesarion, let us keep unspoiled…. 

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On 2/26/2022 at 5:48 PM, Parker Owens said:

I’m sorry to be tardy in my reaction to this. It is heartbreaking, the cruelty of Frederick’s father. Frederick’s poetry quoted here leaves no doubt as to who or how he loved. I was especially moved by Cesarion, let us keep unspoiled…. 

Thanks, @Parker Owens. At some point in the near future, I will have to delve deep online and see if I can locate the early/earliest printed versions of the king's poetry. As, other than Carpenter's translations above, I have yet to encounter Fredrick's love poems in any other Gay anthology. I'm sure there are many more gems needing to be brought forward :)     

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