The Golden Age of Denial: Hercules, the Bisexual Demigod

Hercules has been the icon of alpha-masculinty for centuries — do you know about his gay love life?

BY Christopher Harrity

August 14 2013 6:05 AM ET

Hercules and Diomedes: That Statue
Finding trustworthy source material on why exactly Diomedes has grabbed the goods here is tough. The basic story takes place after the Eighth Labor.


Above: That this statue makes a lot of folks giggle may be a testament to the humor of the Greeks and Romans. This is another example of a sculpture found in gay men's homes in the middle of the last century — sometimes as a lamp base.

Ares' son, Diomedes, King of the Bistones, in Thrace, offers newcomers to his horses for dinner. When Hercules and his friends arrive, the king decides to feed them to the horses, but Hercules turns the tables on the king after a wrestling match — prolonged because it is with with the war god's son. Prolonged. Penis. Grabbing.

In some versions of this story Hercules loses his young lover, Abderus. Hercules leaves Diomedes's horses in the care of Abderus. While Hercules is away, the horses devour Abderus. In revenge, Hercules feeds Diomedes' still-living flesh to his own mares. Hercules founded the city of Abdera near the boy's tomb, where athletic games were held in honor of Abderus.

Tags: Bisexuality, Art

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