Taphoi wrote:However, there are a couple of coded but still fairly clear references in the ancient literature which suggest that there were suspicions that Hephaistion took the active role (at least sometimes). The first is Athenaeus 10.435a, where Theophrastus is given as the source for the suggestion that his parents worried that Alexander might become a "gynnis". The word is a masculine gender version of "woman" - not far different to "shemale" in its implications.
Interesting, although I presently still hold to my previous comments concerning my belief of where the concerns of Philip and Olympias actually lay. Wouldn’t the masculine gender version of woman
equate with effeminate
anyway? As the quote stands, I can (perhaps) believe that the actions of Alexander’s parents in this instance were known and thus recorded. However, I am not too sure whether Philip and Olympias would have publicly shared their thoughts
under these circumstances, especially a concern that Alexander may be, by implication, a shemale
, as you put it. Airing these views would certainly be counterproductive to Olympias’ desire to see Alexander on the throne. Along with this, almost everyone insists that the bulk of ancient evidence indicates that Philip had accepted and/or acknowledged Alexander as his heir. (Discussion of this would be a separate debate.) Would Philip want it known, therefore, that he had such suspicions about Macedonia’s future king? My opinion is that this may be the deduction
of the author, Theophrastus, much the same as Renault’s deduction
in the affair of Alexander being too musically accomplished.
Taphoi wrote:The second is in Curtius 7.9.19, where there is a complicated pun about Hephaistion charming Alexander with his masculinity - it has a secondary meaning that Hephaistion gave Alexander a hare, which was a traditional gift from an erastes to his eromenos.
Now this is what I call new insight based on the sources!
I can’t, however, agree (or disagree, really) that Alexander might have been the eromenos of Hephaistion without further discussion and explanation from you. To assist anyone else interested in this discussion, here is the excerpt from Curtius, as translated in the Penguin Edition:
Curtius 7.9.19  So he received the Sacae delegation courteously and gave them Euxenippus as their companion for the return journey. Euxenippus was still very young and a favourite of Alexander’s because he was in the prime of his youth, but though he rivaled Hephaistion in good looks he could not match him in charm, since he was rather effeminate.
And this is Jeanne Reames’ take on the episode in question, from her article on the Pothos site:
Perhaps a safer allusive comparison is found in Curtius (7.9.19) wherein a certain young Euxenippos is compared to Hephaistion and found wanting in virility. While Curtius' use of conciliatum does not have to mean "beloved," that seems to be the thrust of the passage (pun intended). Euxenippos was a pretty boy who had caught the king's eye. (Alexander would hardly be the first Macedonian king to have a fling with one of his Pages.) This makes the boy's comparison to Hephaistion particularly suggestive. Has the king's current eromenos been set beside his old flame and come off the worse for the comparison? I believe this passage makes far more sense if we assume a romantic affair at some point between Alexander and Hephaistion.
Now, I’ve seen other translations which say that Euxenippus was “less masculine” than Hephaistion, but the meaning is much the same. Either way, I’m unconvinced at this point that Hephaistion being referred to as masculine equates with Hephaistion charming Alexander with his masculinity
(your words). Where it is believed that Alexander and Hephaistion were lovers, it is presumed that the affair began when they were younger and in their teens. (And it is often said that it may not have continued when they were older.) As they were coevals, the greater masculinity of one or the other would likely not have had any relevance to the relationship as it would have in the Dover model of a much older and thus more masculine partner and a boy in his mid-teens. Making an aside here - my son is sixteen and has had (and still does) an enormous number of friends, two of whom are gay in modern terms. Both, at one time or another, have expressed without fear of prejudice (because, wonderfully, no one cares about their sexual orientation) an interest in other members of the group. However, neither of them - nor, for that matter, any other member of the group - can be distinguished from the crowd as being less masculine or obviously effeminate. The lines of distinction are not clearly drawn in the mid-teens. So, returning to Alexander, if, as they grew older, Hephaistion MAY have become more masculine than Alexander, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it was this same masculinity that “charmed” Alexander in the first place. Therefore, any active or passive role can not be deduced (from this). And it also doesn’t follow, IMO, that Hephaistion being more masculine than Euxenippus means that Alexander was less
masculine than Hephaistion.
I think your reasoning that there are “fairly clear references in the ancient literature which suggest that there were suspicions that Hephaistion took the active role (at least sometimes)” must lie solely in the “complicated pun.” Would please elaborate on this for us, preferably translating as you go along, for I believe that only a few of us have any familiarity with the language. And I am most curious as to why these references should be “coded” in any way, especially the one from Curtius. He’s quite frank about Alexander’s sexual relationship with Bagoas. Why then hide a reference to the A/H relationship in a complicated pun that no historian, including Jeanne, seems to have noticed?