Biography / History
Oscar Wilde with Lord Alfred Douglas
Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas, 1893


15 Famous Men Who Had Boy Lovers
(in chronological order)

PINDAR (514-438 B.C.),  Greek poet
His beloved was a beautiful young boy, Theoxenus of Tenedos, in whose arms he is said to have died in the theater at Argos. He once wrote of himself, "I, like wax of the sacred bees when smitten by the sun, am melted when I look at the young limbs of boys."

ALEXANDER THE GREAT (356-323 B.C.),  Macedonian ruler
Among the peace offerings sent to him by the Persians after the death of King Darius III was an uncommonly beautiful boy, Bagoas, who had been castrated at an early age to preserve his tender young looks. According to one ancient source, Bagoas "had been loved by Darius and was afterwards to be loved by Alexander."

CATULLUS (84-54 B.C.),  Roman poet
In his poems, he liked to boast of his conquests of young boys, and bragged that once, after surprising a boy and girl in the act of making love, he mounted the boy "to please Venus;" Catullus, barely thirty when he died, expressed disgust for most homosexuals, except those who were active lovers of young boys.

HADRIAN (76-138 A.D.),  Roman emperor
His great love was Antinous, a 15-year-old boy he discovered on a journey through Bithynia. When Antinous died by drowning at the age of 21, Hadrian was grief-stricken. He had the dead boy deified, founded a city in Egypt to honor him, erected statues in honor of him through-out the empire, and commissioned sculptures, paintings and coins to be made bearing his likeness. The resulting cult of Antinous excited such awe and admiration that it threatened to overshadow the growing cult of Jesus of Nazareth; accordingly, early Christian sects went to great lengths to villify both Hadrian and his boy lover.

STRATO (2nd Century),  Greek poet
One of the most cheerfully gluttonous boy chasers of the ancient world, Strato was the editor and primary author of the Musa Puerilis, an anthology of over two hundred epigrams devoted to the subject of boy-love. He blithely confessed that he liked "a boy's body hot from the park, all grimy and the sight of his flesh rubbed down with oil. Nice, and artless; none of the pretty 'enchantment' laid on by your merchants of the romantic."

LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452-1519),  Italian painter, inventor, scientist
At the age of 38, Leonardo "adopted" a beautiful but roguish 10-year- old boy, nicknamed Salai ("Little Devil"). His presence in Leonardo's home has perplexed scholars for several centuries, since Salai was neither servant nor apprentice, and since Leonardo himself described the boy as a "thieving, lying, obstinate" glutton. The two were inseparable companions for nearly twenty-six years.

MICHELANGELO (1475-1564),  Italian sculptor and painter
Michelangelo was in his late sixties when he met Cecchino dei Bracci, the charming and beautiful 15-year-old nephew of one of his friends. Of the boy's beauty, he wrote: "With his face God wished to correct nature." Bracci died in 1544, at the age of 16. Michelangelo designed the boy's tomb and composed no fewer than fifty epitaphic poems mourning his death. Other boys thought to have been Michelangelo's lovers were: Gherardo Perini, a strikingly beautiful young male model whose relation- ship with Michelangelo was the subject of much gossip at the time; Tommaso Cavalieri, an intelligent and handsome young nobleman who remained one of Michelangelo's lifelong friends; and Febo di Poggio, a luckless young male prostitute, of whom Michelangelo wrote: "Up from the earth I rose with his wings, and death itself I could have found sweet."

CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE (1564-1593),  English dramatist
Marlowe's tastes are best characterized by his famous epigram, "All they that love not tobacco and boys are fools."

HORATIO ALGER (1834-1899),  U.S. novelist
As pastor of the Unitarian Church in Brewster, Massachusetts, he befriended many of the local boys and took them on afternoon seaside picnics, which, to the outrage of the community, turned out to be mini-orgies in the dunes. When the truth came out, Alger was arrested and run out of town.

JOHN ADDINGTON SYMONDS (1840-1893),  English author and historian
He believed that "beauty came first, before virtue" and as a fellow at Magdalen College, he became infatuated with one choirboy after another. Suffering a nervous breakdown at 23 (probably due in large part to sexual conflicts), he went to Switzerland to recover his health, and there apparently had an affair with a beautiful 19-year-old: "It is a splendid sight to see him asleep with the folded arms and the vast chest of a young Hercules, innocent of clothing." Later, doing historical research in Italy, he had affairs with various young gondoliers and the like.

OSCAR WILDE (1854-1900),  Irish dramatist and wit
He once bragged to a friend of having had love affairs with five different boys in a single night. "I kissed each one of them in every part of their bodies," he said. "They were all dirty and appealed to me just for that reason." Wilde claimed to prefer lower-class boys because "their passion was all body and no soul."

FRIEDRICH ALFRED KRUPP (1854-1902),  German industrialist
Described by one writer as "a devious and disingenuous character," Krupp set up a lavish private pleasure palace in a grotto on Capri, where he entertained under-age Italian boys, mostly the sons of local fishermen. Sex was performed to the accompaniment of a live string quartet, and orgasms were celebrated with bursts of fireworks. When Krupp's wife, back home in Germany, got wind of what was going on, she went straight to the Kaiser who promptly had her committed to an insane asylum; the Krupp empire was too vital to German national security to be compromised by such stories. However, the German press eventually found out about Krupp's private sex parties and printed the whole messy story, complete with photographs taken by Krupp himself in the grotto. Rather than face the inevitable disgrace, Krupp committed suicide in Italy.

CONSTANTINE CAVAFY (1863-1933),  Greek poet
Living in Alexandria, he frequented the houses of prostitution where strong, well-built Greek boys (most of them poor and with wretched jobs during the day) earned extra money by having sex with homosexuals. He bribed his servants to ruffle up his bed at night, so that his mother wouldn't suspect he had been out all night long.

ANDRE GIDE (1869-1951),  French author
He had his first homosexual experience when he was 23, with a 14-year-old Arab boy in Tunisia. In Algeria, he fell in love with his 15-year-old servant boy; Gide wanted to take him back to France, but Gide's mother objected to the idea of a "Negro" in the house. When he was 47, Gide fell in love and had a long-lasting affair with a 16-year-old boy, Marc Allegret, who later became a well-known film producer.

From the NAMBLA Bulletin, Vol. 7, No. 10, Pgs. 14 - 15, 1986.
Copyright © NAMBLA, 2007

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