“Firm Outlines and Hard Muscles Immortalised”: Ancient Statuary and E.P. Warren’s “Uranian Ideal”
This chapter examines the role of ancient sculpture in the homoerotic ideals and real-life relationships of collector Edward Perry Warren in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The classical male nude in particular facilitated for Warren the establishment of models of virile masculinity and age-differentiated male-male attachments, as well as their wider dissemination through the provision of material to international museums. He saw certain styles of ancient art as embodying specific ancient values which could challenge contemporary heteronormativity, but also associations between homosexuality, effeminacy and aestheticism, and could confront emerging political ideas around gender equality.
A set of photographs taken around 1895 show a classical statue in a British garden.1 The statue is a slightly under life-size male nude, made of marble, and its limbs are missing below the elbows and the upper thighs. The statue is not pictured immobile on a plinth, as we might expect of a Victorian outdoor scene, however.2 Rather it appears in different places within the garden. In one photograph the statue is held on the lap of a man who is sitting on a bench with two other men at his side. The statue in these photographs resembles a living subject, changing place and position, and being touched and embraced by human companions. Its potential sensuality is underlined in photographs of it seemingly reclining against a chair covered in sumptuous fabrics, reminiscent of a nude portrait.3 The careful display of the statue in these images also presages its eventual exhibit in a museum or gallery, where it might be valued as an important artistic or historical specimen. We could read the presence of a sundial in the background of the photograph with the men on the bench as emphasising the aspect of temporality within this scene in which real-life Victorians engage with an ancient figure of marble. The intersections between statuary, sexuality and history captured in this set of photographs are the starting point for this chapter.
The person holding the statue in the photograph of the three men on the bench is Edward Perry Warren (1860–1928).4 Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1862 but living most of his life in Britain, Warren became one of the foremost antiquities collectors of his day. The photographs of the statue in the garden also resemble those taken of ancient objects by Warren and his colleagues for documentation purposes, as part of the mass sale and exchange of antiquities in Europe and North America, at the turn of the twentieth century.5 Warren is now most famous for his acquisition of the Roman silver drinking cup that was named after him and features the most explicit scenes of sex between men extant from classical antiquity.6 The sculpture from the garden photographs is from the Roman imperial period (made AD 30–40), although it is thought to be modelled on an early classical Greek style.7 Now identified as “Mercury”, Warren referred to the statue by the Greek name, “Hermes”,8 a god associated with homoeroticism in the ancient world.9 It is one of a number of male nudes, in addition to hundreds of other pieces of sculpture and antiquities, from Greeceand Rome which Warren purchased in collaboration with the man pictured with him in the garden photographs, his collecting and life partner, the archaeologist John Marshall (1862–1928).10
As Warren’s latest biographer, David Sox, suggests, Warren’s life and work were framed by the Winckelmannian idea that “the love of beautiful young men was connected with the spirit of Greek sculpture”.11Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–1768) had instituted this notion as part of the establishment of his enduring paradigm for the modern appreciation and analysis of antique sculpture.12 Like Winckelmann, Warren’s own contribution to Western engagement with ancient sculpture (substantially expanding the collections of antiquities in European and, in particular, American museums at the turn of the twentieth century) was also framed and fuelled by homoerotic desires,13 in particular those inspired by the ancient convention of paederastia (paederasty)—an erotic mentorship between an older man (erastes, lover) and younger man (eromenos, beloved).14 Warren clearly subscribed to Winckelmann’s thesis that Greek sculpture’s unsurpassed artistic achievement was inextricably linked to a profound ancient admiration of youthful, male beauty.15 These ideas continued to facilitate modern male–male desire for men like Warren via the nineteenth-century reception of Winckelmann by Walter Pater (1839–1894) and his disciples, as part of the Aesthetic movement.16
Both Warren and Winckelmann are also noted for their especially visual and haptic relationship with antiquity. According to Warren’s friends and biographers, Osbert Henry Burdett (1885–1936) and Edgar Henry Goddard (1896–1983): “Being born with a strong visual and tactile sense [Warren] never fell into the common error of over-emphasis on the literary and philological side of the Classics”.17 The photograph of Warren holding the Hermes recalls the account of how Winckelmann “fingers those pagan marbles” as part of his famously embodied, sensory and emotional engagement with ancient male nudes.18 However, like Winckelmann and his followers, statues were not only important for Warren as material objects in the present day with which one could engage visually and tangibly,19 they were also vehicles which could transmit to the present a sense of an historical Greek past.20 Ancient sculpture was not just the means by which—because of its especial veneration in Western eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century society—men could engage more safely with images of naked male bodies21; it also spoke of actual historical relations between men, and specific qualities of those relations, from a culture in which they had been celebrated.
While previous scholarship has acknowledged the importance of ancient sculpture in Warren’s life and work, this aspect of his relationship with the past and its connection to his sexual philosophy, as well as to his real-life relationships, has not yet been examined in detail. Scholars such as classicist and art historian Caroline Vout have rightly criticised the too readily made conclusion that male collectors’ interests in classicised male nudes are necessarily always proof of personal homoerotic tastes. Vout has also advised caution about viewing Warren’s wider collection as a straightforward stand-in for his sexual ideals and she highlights many other factors which shaped Warren’s acquisition strategy.22 I address these concerns in this chapter by picking apart the precise role ancient sculpture played in formulating specific aspects of Warren’s sexual ideology. I consider Warren’s collection of male nudes in conjunction with analysis of evidence from his archival material and published works that demonstrates the ideologically and erotically driven motivations of his interest in this ancient object-type.
Studying Warren’s life and work in this way elucidates statuary’s role in constructing same-sex identities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and also how this related to rapidly changing gender politics at the time. It demonstrates how interpretations of historical material and visual culture fed into, and were fed by, debates within sexological, scholarly and aesthetic circles about the nature of male–male relationships, behaviours and identities, and associated legal and societal changes. These debates included the issue of age difference between male partners; the connection between masculinity and same-sex desire; the extent to which close attachments between men were sexual; and the role of women in a society that supports erotic relationships between men. Many of these debates in the latter half of the nineteenth century, insofar as they drew upon antiquity, had largely focused on readings of Plato.23 According to Warren these fourth-century BC texts could present an inaccurate image of ancient relationships between men and boys as a largely chaste and effeminated attachment. Warren challenged these ideas by turning to statuary, as well as other ancient visual culture, which had been made in—or in the style of—the early Classical Greek period (the first half of the fifth century BC), which he identified as a golden age for the type of paederastic attachments he espoused. Ancient male nudes in particular allowed Warren to affirm a model of a virile, ethical attachment between an older and younger man, which also had a sexual dimension. Statues helped him to develop a paradigm for contemporary Western society in which such relationships could be accepted and celebrated, and within which men could resist what Warren saw as the damaging effects of religious and sexual repression, and a culture increasingly “feminised” by growing gender equality.
Age- and Class-Structured Relationships
The association between Hellenism and homoeroticism, which reached a peak in the latter half of the nineteenth century, has been widely recognised as having played a significant role in the negotiation and defence of male–male relationships, at a time when these were legally and socially proscribed, while antiquity was nevertheless revered as an ancestor of Western civilisation.24 Warren was in particular an advocate for “Uranian Love”, a term derived from the ancient Greek “heavenly” love of boys described in Plato’s Symposium.25 In the modern world, “Uranian” came to be used in a variety of ways in the context of male–male desire: it appeared in Germany as a new nineteenth-century sexological term for men who desired men, and in Britain to describe a specific group of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century poets and writers, including Warren, who drew upon Greece in their depictions of desire for younger men and boys.26 Warren’s ideal was described in his three-volume work A Defence of Uranian Love (published in 1928–1932 but started around 1913), which sets out his vision for how ancient paederasty could be revived and justified in the modern age.27 Although age-consistent desire between adult men and age-unequal desire between older men and boys were frequently conflated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, there were specific anxieties about the corruption of young people by adults at this time, as discussed below.28 For men like Warren, the ancient celebration of paederasty played an important role in affirming and validating this type of hierarchical attachment.29
This can be seen in Warren’s engagement with statuary. Warren was in his thirties in the 1890s when he purchased the Hermes nude and had photographs taken of himself embracing it. Like many Classical depictions of Hermes/Mercury, the god is shown in Warren’s statue as a teenager or young man.30 Warren’s photographs therefore rehearse nineteenth-century Greek-inspired paederastic fantasies about the ancient god.31 As well as providing pleasing representations of the young male body in the present, Warren believed that statues had played a role in facilitating paederasty in the ancient past, and that this might be re-enacted in the present-day. In Defence Warren describes how the ancient paederast, or “boy-lover” as he translates this ancient term, was inspired by seeing young bodies “immortalised in sculpture”.32 This immortalisation preserves the youths at the age at which they are most appealing to the paederast.33 It also means the same bodies are preserved to be “admired and imitated in due course by the next generation (and all later generations)” of paederasts—an idea also featured in Winckelmann’s writing, as art historian Whitney Davis has observed.34 The modern “boy-lover”, Warren suggests, admires boys who have “the beauty of a Greek statue”.35 In this way, Warren’s writings resemble Pater’s description of the slippage between Winckelmann’s admiration for classical statuary and the eighteenth-century Italian young men he desired.36
In Defence Warren is careful to point out that he is concerned with “love distinguished by inequality of age”.37 His apologia is “restricted to the love of boys” which he calls “Uranian Love”—as opposed to love of fellow adult men, which he calls “Pausanian Love”, another reference to Plato’s Symposium.38 The “inequality” between partners within paederasty was a key aspect of Warren’s “defence” of age-differentiated relationships in the face of anxieties about the corruption of youth—in his own day and in antiquity, as this is an issue the ancient Greeks had also been concerned about. That Warren published Defence and his Uranian poetry under a pseudonym, Arthur Lyon Raile, suggests a sensitivity towards societal anxieties about paederasty. Warren stresses the benefits of Uranian Love for the younger partner, who, in the older, finds a dedicated teacher and guide.39 These ideas draw directly from the Platonic dialogues,40 but they also resemble other contemporary British discussions about “Uranian” relationships, such as those of Edward Carpenter (1844–1929).41 Another nineteenth-century writer and classicist, John Addington Symonds (1840–1893), had also espoused such ideas. However, as English scholar Jana Funke has shown, Symonds increasingly struggled with the issue of corruption and eventually concluded that age-different relationships between males could not be defended, even with reference to noble ideals from classical philosophy, and recommended that only age-equal relationships be decriminalised in UK law.42 Warren’s ideas often followed those of Symonds, as we will see, but he diverged from this earlier writer in remaining adamant that paederastia could play a positive role in modern society.
Warren’s collection, display and dissemination of the classical male nude statue were an important part of his attempt to promulgate this Uranian ideal, in the face of public censure. The garden which appears in the photographs of the Hermes is that of Lewes House in Sussex, the eighteenth-century townhouse where Warren and Marshall set up an all-male community from 1890 and within which Warren displayed classical statuary from their collections as part of the inculcation of his Greek ideal amongst his like-minded friends.43 Furthermore, while he had published his writings and poetry pseudonymously, Warren’s collection of statues of naked youths and their dissemination to major museums allowed him the opportunity to celebrate Uranian Love much more publicly and safely. Although their public display was not unproblematic, as I explore below, there was an establishment endorsement of classical male nudes throughout the modern period.44 The third person who appears in the photograph of Warren, Marshall and the Hermes is regular Lewes guest Richard Fisher.45 Fisher went on to work for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston,46 where Warren would send the Hermes in 1896, probably soon after the photographs were taken.47 Warren called his work for Boston a “paederastic evangel”,48 and, according to Warren’s biographers, “[e]ach piece… was carefully chosen, not because it was archäologisch wichtig [archaeologically important] but because it displayed to a renegade world something of what Greece meant”.49 Warren’s provision of Greek malenudes in particular was meant to display Greek homoeroticism to a wider public.50 This included making public images like the Hermes, which encouraged not just the appreciation of male bodies,51 but of youthful male bodies, and which furthermore embodied the ancient valorisation of ethical, pedagogical and erotic mentorships between men and boys.52
However, despite fuelling Warren’s idealisation of paederasty, I suggest statuary also played an important part in his most significant real-life relationship—that with John Marshall, who was in fact nearly the same age as him. According to Warren’s biographers, Marshall shared Warren’s “fortune, his projects, and his heart”, and theirs was a partnership in some ways characterised by equality.53 A photograph, possibly taken in the same session as the Hermes set, shows how Warren and Marshall came to closely resemble one another: here they are dressed in the same clothes and even hold matching dogs.54 While English scholar Michael Kaylor has suggested that “[Warren’s] collecting activities certainly arose in the context of love, it was paederastic love—not […] his Pausanian love for Marshall,”55 I argue that statuary bolstered and enriched both types of male attachments in Warren’s life and work.
Statues were able to strengthen Warren and Marshall’s age-equal relationship: the connoisseurial, intellectual, romantic and domestic aspects of their partnership were facilitated through a shared project of study and collecting. This is exemplified by their jointly developed “pelvic line” method of analysing male nudes by the shape of a statue’s pubic region, including that of “our Hermes”, the statue from the photographs.56 In the summer of 1893 on a trip to Rome, away from his partner, Marshall wrote to Warren about his analysis of the “pelvic line” of statues he was encountering, declaring that “those beastly Hebungen [“swellings”] will be the only thing to rescue me from blank despair […] for I feel very lonely here”.57 As a subject of eroticised scholarship, the male nude—even those embodying Uranian sentiments such as the Hermes—served to establish a connection between these men of equal age in the absence of physical intimacy. Art historian John Potvin has also explored the way in which, throughout Lewes House, statuary—the fruits of Warren and Marshall’s joint acquisitions programme—was displayed as part of the interior decoration of their shared home, and the fashioning of what Potvin has described as their alternative “queer domesticity”.58 The egalitarian nature of their relationship is highlighted in the strength of their collecting partnership, which brought together Warren’s connoisseurial talents with Marshall’s archaeological skills—each partner bringing his own expertise.59 One reason for the production of the photographs of Warren and Marshall with the Hermes is very likely the fact that this was probably the first male nude which they purchased together, in 1895, near the start of their shared collecting venture.60
However, despite this, I want to highlight that there was also an asymmetrical aspect to Warren and Marshall’s relationship if we consider the issue of class-differentiation, and in this, too, statuary had its role.61 Although class was not a key part of Warren’s ideal, he acknowledges in Defence that in a Uranian attachment “the boy” may be “not of [the older partner’s] own station”.62 Carpenter had championed class difference as an alternative or complement to age difference in a beneficial “Uranian” relationship.63 Marshall was from a middle-class background, while Warren’s family was distinctly upper class and his abundant wealth created hierarchy in their relationship.64 According to his biographers, Warren acted as “patron and protector, guide and inspiration” to many “boys and young men” considerably younger than him, but Marshall, despite being Warren’s contemporary, was his foremost beneficiary.65 Marshall was officially Warren’s secretary, and Warren provided the means for him to live, travel and collect sculpture and antiquities.66 Sculpture here functioned as a commodified object, the purchase of which created a hierarchy between the person with money and the person spending it. In letters approving Marshall’s spending on acquisitions, Warren addresses him as “my dear boy”.67 These letters therefore evoke both an employer-employee and erastes-eromenos dynamic which existed in conjunction with the egalitarian qualities of their relationship discussed above. As art historian James Murley suggests, the composition of the photograph of Warren, Marshall and the Hermes, with Warren in the centre, facing front and holding the statue, signalling his ownership, while Marshall at his side leans into him, does hint at a real-life attachment structured not by age, but by financial means.68
Statuary, therefore, acting as an aesthetic image of a youthful ideal of beauty, a piece of archaeological evidence about the historical existence of ancient male–male relations, an antiquity for connoisseurial appreciation and a prized commodity for purchase, was able to facilitate both the development of Warren’s sexual ideal of age-different male attachments, and his real-life relationships with other men which in reality encompassed both egalitarian and hierarchal aspects.
The specific brand of ancient age-different relationship that Warren wished to revive in the modern day was one which roundly rejected effeminacy, and this was informed by his engagement with a particularly athletic style of classical male nude. Warren’s ideas here should be viewed against a backdrop of an ongoing debate about the compatibility of masculinity and male same-sex desire in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. In Defence Warren explains that it was with “no softened ἐρώμενος (eromenos, beloved) that the Greek lover was occupied”.69 Upon seeing young men’s “firm outlines and hard muscles immortalised in sculpture” the ancient paederast was struck by the “power and glory of the masculine”.70 The sculpted representations which inspired the ancient paederast depict not just any young male bodies, then, but bodies, Warren explains, perfected by time spent at the palaestra (wrestling ground) and other spaces of athleticism.71 These ideas are drawn from Winckelmann;72 however, in his particular insistence on the “hardness” of the physical and moral qualities of the Greek eromenos, trained in self-discipline, Warren’s model is more closely aligned to that of Symonds in A Problem in Greek Ethics (1873).73 Not only does the Hermes statue from the photographs exemplify aesthetically the type of sculpted body Warren describes, but the god himself was especially significant in this regard: Hermes was the Greek deity of athletics, with statues of him often erected in ancient gymnasiums, and in poetry he was associated with erotic liaisons that happened between men and boys who trained naked in this space.74
Warren’s, and Symonds’s, use of the “hard” and “soft” dichotomy to describe the aesthetic and ethical qualities of real-life ancient young men and their sculpted form, drew upon the language of art historical analysis, especially the chronological classification of Greek statuary first proposed by Winckelmann in History of the Art of Antiquity in 1764. Warren revered the athletic depictions of male bodies of Winckelmann’s “High Style” of the early classical Greek period (the first half of the fifth century BC),75 which art historian Alex Potts has described as being characterised by “hardness and angularity of contour”.76 For instance, Myron’s famous Discobolus (discus-thrower), a statue of a body caught in a moment of action in the very activity that honed its toned physique, personifying the disciplined training of the palaestra, the space where such bodies might have been admired or even accessed by the ancient paederast.77
In Winckelmann’s chronology the “High Style” had been followed by the “Beautiful Style” of the later Classical Greek period (the later fifth century and fourth century BC), in which the “hardness” of previous periods was replaced by what Potts has described as a “new graceful beauty”.78 Though considered by Winckelmann and his nineteenth-century followers as the pinnacle of Greek achievement, Warren viewed the Beautiful Style largely as a degradation in ancient art and in homoerotic aesthetics. Warren was highly critical of Praxiteles—often thought to be the master of the Beautiful Style—describing a male nude identified as a copy of a Praxitelean Eros, for instance, as a “drooping figure”.79 Warren’s divergence from popular views about sculpture were in line with what his biographers describe as his wider criticism of the “standard ‘Classical’ view”, established by previous generations of Hellenists and aesthetes like Pater, which supposedly betrayed a certain “softness” caused by a “sentimental intrusion from their own Romantic age”.80 Again, Warren here followed Symonds who had also noted the “lack of true virility” in later Greek statuary.81Warren did admire the much later fourth-century BC work of the sculptorLysippos but precisely because he found himself “refreshed by the Lysippean reaction against that softer and more feminine art” of the later Classical period.82 Warren describes Lysippos’ “ideal of athletic manhood”, the brawny Apoxyomenos , as a “hero of discipline”.83 This statue shows an athlete depicted in the moment of scraping sweat from his body following vigorous exercise, and embodies the “hard” quality of ancient homoeroticism which Warren aimed to revive in the modern day.
Warren’s preference for the “hard” aesthetics of Greek male nudes and ethics of ancient paederasty was an important part of his defence of male–male relationships against the charge of associated effeminacy, degeneration, and corruption. In Defence Warren poses a question he anticipates from readers: “Will there not be something immoral and unmanly in [the older lover’s] nature tending to demoralise or effeminate the boy?”84 “Boy-love”, he continues “is often thought of as a disease”.85 In the latter half of the nineteenth century German sexological theories had proposed that “sexual inversion” could be explained in terms of a “feminine soul contained in a masculine body”.86 Symonds had responded to this pathologised model of male–male desire by stressing the “hardihood” of ancient attachments between men,87 and this supported his later proposition that modern “inverts” could be healthy as well as “athletic, masculine in habits, frank in manner”.88 They could, in other words, conform to what historian Ivan Crozier calls “Victorian concepts of manliness”.89 For Warren, masculinity was not only compatible with male–male desire, but was the crucial difference between true “boy-love” and “vice”.90 Although Warren did not engage as directly with medicine and the law as Symonds had done, he nevertheless speaks to contemporary debates that clearly moved between these fields and the fields of aesthetics, classics and collecting into the early twentieth century. Nineteenth-century aestheticism had also perpetuated an association between homoerotic desires and effeminate behaviour, and linked these with the love of antiquity and classical art. These ideas had been brought to greater public attention in 1895, the year Warren and Marshall purchased the Hermes, with the trial of writer Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)—one of the best known aesthetes and Hellenists of the time—on the charge of “gross indecency” with other men, including younger individuals.91 English and Classics scholar Stefano Evangelista has suggested that the Aesthetic movement and its turn to Greece lost credibility following Wilde’s arrest.92 Warren in many ways continued to subscribe to the principles of aestheticism and in particular its paederastic elements after this moment, but was determined to try to sever the association with “softness” and a loss of masculinity.
In order to promote these ideals through the wider dissemination of sculpture, Warren hoped to be able to acquire an example of “High Style” Greek statuary from the early Classical period. However, as Warren himself proclaimed, even for the foremost collector of antiquities at that time, “[o]riginal Greek marbles” were hard to find.93 The Hermes is one of a number of Roman statues acquired by Warren which were thought to be based upon the early Classical Greek style,94 and which had to satisfy Warren’s desire for a Greek “original”.95 In providing the Hermes and other examples to museums, Warren was not only trying to evangelise about age-differentiated relationships, but was motivated by an attempt to demonstrate the particular virile, masculine quality of ancient attachments, which he believed was embodied in this certain type of Greek statuary.
Platonic Love and Sexual Relationships Between Men and Boys
Statuary also played a role in Warren’s insistence that Uranian Love should be a sexual attachment. Here Warren was speaking to another long-standing modern dispute about the physical dimension of ancient and modern paederasty. In the nineteenth century there had been an attempt to defend contemporary male–male relations from what historian Linda Dowling has called the “blind urgencies of a merely animal sexuality”, by drawing attention away from enduring associations between male bonding and sodomy.96 The interpretation of Plato’s Symposium and Phaedrus—texts which gained in popularity from the mid-nineteenth century—fed such debates about the nature of modern relationships between men and boys. As we will see, statuary and other antiquities provided a different perspective on this topic for Warren.
Warren’s Defence begins with instructions that the modern day Uranian lover must fulfil “both his bodily and his spiritual nature”,97 so long as this sensual relationship will also be beneficial for the junior partner, as discussed above. This draws upon what Warren refers to as a “golden passage” from Plato’s Symposium, in which the character of Pausanias declares it is considered ethical if the eromenos “gratifies [his lover] in the hope of becoming better through the lover’s friendship”.98
Warren brought his ideas about the aesthetic styles of Greek male nudes, as discussed in the previous section, to his analysis of ancient physical paederasty. Warren and Marshall, through their pioneering study and collection of antiquities, also recognised that a particular type of scene painted on Greek vases, in which older and younger men engage in sexual activity, appeared only in the sixth and early fifth century BC, and practically disappeared after this.99 This disappearance coincides with the change in the later fifth century and fourth century BC to the supposed “softer” male nude statue, as discussed above. Warren also identified an aesthetic shift in written descriptions of paederasty. Plato’s fourth-century BC dialogues, although highly influential on Warren’s thinking, were “not of the good period”, according to a note in one of Warren’s notebooks.100 In other words Plato was not working in the “golden age of boy-love”,101 or what Warren also called the “pre-eminently paederastic period”102—the early Classical period which had produced the type of “hard” male nudes and vase paintings with scenes of paederastic sex that he admired. Warren describes Plato as “Praxitelean”—referring to the sculptor of the same period whose “softer” depictions of men Warren disparaged, as we have seen.103 In one of Warren’s notebooks Plato is accused of “softening” the “strict fifth-century rule” by changing the definition of “beauty” from athletic heroism to a “soft, smooth, slippery thing”.104 Furthermore, Warren believed that aspects of Plato’s writing on paederastia, like the vases of the same period, lack sexuality: they are “Puritan”, according to Defence.105 This reading, although Warren does not make it explicit (he often refers simply to “Plato”, without specifying a text or passage), is most probably derived from a particular interpretation of the speech of Socrates in Plato’s Symposium. Here Plato arguably prioritises abstract spiritual and philosophical learning over the physical desire for a boy.106 As we have already seen, Plato’s Symposium also provided Warren with his “golden passage” about the physical nature of paederasty and other sentiments with which he strongly agreed. It is important to acknowledge that Plato’s texts include many different characters who propose sometimes contradictory ideas about paederastia, including in regards to its physical nature.107 Warren contrasted the “Puritan” aspects of Plato with the odes of early Classical poet Pindar, written during the “golden age of boy-love” which wholeheartedly celebrate the sexual appeal of young, naked male athletes.108 For instance, compare Socrates in Plato’s Symposium: “he will regard beauty of body as something petty”,109 with Pindar’s “I […] melt […] whenever I look upon the fresh-limbed youth of boys”.110 From his analysis of evidence from literature, vase painting and Greek sculptural art, therefore, we see that Warren observed a feminisation in depictions of the male body and a diminishment in the celebration of physical paederastic encounters after the early Classical Greek period.
Warren’s insistence on the sexual nature of paederasty should be viewed in the context of his fellow modern Uranians’ recourse to ideas of spiritual celibacy in order to defend male–male love from legal and social censure. As Dowling has described, in the later nineteenth century, by drawing largely on the Socratic philosophy in Plato, Uranian Love had been presented as a “spiritual and emotional attachment that was, at some ultimate level, innocent or asexual”.111 Symonds had argued against this reading of antiquity which suggested ancient relationships between men were “free from sensuality”.112 Warren, as we have seen, did not defend Plato, but criticised what he saw as the “Puritan” elements of the philosophical texts. Rather, he turned to material from earlier Greek history, including statuary, which held out the potential for a sexualised but still healthy and ethical model of relationships with boys. Writing in the early twentieth century, Warren’s particular resolve in Defence on the issue of sexual relations was very likely a response to the well-publicised reference by Wilde in court in 1895 to the “pure” attachment found in Plato between an older and younger man.113
Warren’s use of “Puritan” to describe Platonic works also connects these debates about the interpretation of ancient paederastia with Warren’s condemnation of the “unhealthy Puritanism” of his Bostonian upbringing.114 Of Boston Warren said: “Here with cold winds and snow, the traditions of Puritanism … and the absence of aesthetic sympathy, all Greece is frozen out”.115 This explains Warren’s concentration on Boston and its Museum of Fine Arts in his provision of antiquities to institutions. As I argue elsewhere, material and visual culture were the most powerful tools with which Warren could communicate a pagan “frankness” about sexuality, that he believed would act as a powerful antidote to Boston’s prudery.116 Warren provided the Boston museum with a substantial collection of vases and other ancient artefacts featuring explicit sexual imagery, including sexual acts between men.117 Such imagery, however, proved to be too challenging, and most was not put on public display during Warren’s lifetime. While there is evidence of anxiety within the museum about displaying the male nudes Warren provided, they were enough of a conventional feature of a classical collection that they did appear in Boston’s public galleries.118 Examples of male nudes in the early Greek muscular style in particular could work to publically counter repressive societal attitudes about the naked body and sexuality, but more specifically encourage the celebration of the sexual appeal of the young, athletic male body.
The historical explanation which Warren used to account for, as he saw it, the feminisation of ancient art had disturbing implications for him as he witnessed a disagreeable increase in contemporary female liberation. Warren’s ideas should be seen in the context of the anxieties of many late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century men about women joining the political, educational and social sphere.119 Warren drew upon art historical theories which suggested that the “softening” of ancient Greek artistic styles was due to an increase in the presence of women in daily life in Athens in the second half of the fifth century BC,120 when, as Warren put it, “women mingled with the lives of men”.121 The earlier “golden age of boy-love” had existed, Warren thought, thanks to the strength of Greek patriarchal society.122 Of Greek adult men he writes: “On the male hung all their hope […] it would be a mistake to separate their affection for boys from their desire for sons”.123 Feminine influences in later Greek history had undermined this masculine social organisation and masculine bonding, coinciding with a “softening” in Greek art and culture. I suggest Warren saw this as linked to the diminishment of the sexualised appreciation of young, virile bodies.
The late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century West in which Warren lived had, of course, reached greater gender equality than that which Warren supposed the Greeks had seen.124 He believed the hostility to erotic attachments between men in Christian society, originally produced by its unhealthy repression of sexuality, its heteronormativity, and its inherent effeminate “meekness”, was being further exacerbated by the increasing equality of the sexes and feminisation of society in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.125 In Defence, Warren suggests “the Greeks disregarded women. We have disregarded men”.126 Warren thought that America was especially experiencing the “predominance of women and the feminine virtues”.127 This provides a further explanation for why Warren concentrated on Boston in sending ancient material. Beautiful, classical sculptures of men in the early Greek athletic style could also persuade contemporary men of the benefits of reaffirming a highly masculine social arrangement.
Warren felt especially betrayed by the entry of women into the University of Oxford just as he transferred from Harvard in 1883. Warren’s biographers describe how Oxford was the one place in the modern world where “Greek masculinity could still find its devotees—with its young men working and thinking under the supervision of older men”.128 Warren took the famous Classics course known as Literae Humaniores (or ‘Greats’),129 in which, as classicist Daniel Orrells has described, the Symposium and Phaedrus were read in intimate sessions between male tutors and pupils, mirroring Plato’s descriptions of pedagogic, if not erotic, attachments between older and younger men.130 By the time Warren arrived “Oxford Hellenism” had already produced writers such as Pater, Symonds and Wilde, all of whom deployed Greek motifs in their homoerotic poetry and writing.131 Warren believed that if such a place could “foster real personal sympathy and love between older and younger [men]”, it was required that “women should be kept out”.132 Around the time Warren arrived at Oxford the permission granted to dons to marry and the new admission of women students was, according to Dowling, “weakening the male homosocial college bond”—changes which many men like Warren resented and resisted.133
Warren’s establishment of Lewes House—his exclusively “masculine, communal environment”134—after leaving Oxford can be seen as a way of resisting the “feminisation” of Western society, and sculpture was significant in this effort. Warren set up a network to acquire ancient statuary and other antiquities which revolved around Lewes House, and which followed in a tradition of homosocial, if not homoerotic, collecting cultures that largely excluded women.135 Women were also not permitted to stay in or visit Lewes House as they “distract from the severe and higher ideal by inventing a refinement that it is the merit of Greek art to lack”.136 Inside the sanctuary of the house, Warren’s male guests could properly benefit from the impact of engaging with the ancient sculpture that was displayed in the home. Statues functioned as some of the only decoration in the otherwise sparse set-up, which Potvin calls “masculine minimalism”, designed to encourage “rigorous simplicity and vigorous aesthetics” for the men of the household.137 The photographs of the Hermes in Lewes House garden show that, unlike a public museum, this was a private space in which Warren’s male guests could get close to, examine at leisure and even touch the ancient male body.138 Statues like the Hermes, as we have seen, embodied the creed Warren wanted for his community: the privileging of masculinity and male bonding, especially a paederastic eroticism, and the exclusion of femininity.
This chapter set out to explore the way in which ancient statuary—acting as tangible objects to be engaged with in the present and as embodiments of a historical reality in the past—helped to navigate male same-sex desire for the antiquities collector, classicist, and Uranian advocate Edward Perry Warren in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. We have seen that statuary provided inspiration for a specific ideal of older and younger men in an erotic relationship, as well as the mode by which to promote that ideal to the world. As material artefacts to be collected and studied, sculpture also played a central role in Warren’s real-life age-equal partnership, highlighting the complexity of the history of the development of sexual identity and different models of male–male attachments in this period. For Warren, ancient statuary held out the possibility of virile, healthy and physical relationships between older and younger men. Warren thought the chronology of Greek art, in which a “harder” masculine aesthetic of male nudes of early Greek art was replaced by “softer” feminised depictions of young men, was evidence of the diminishment of the ancient masculine-centred social organisation which had cherished this type of relationship. This should be seen as a response in particular to late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century anxieties about the growing emancipation of women in the West. Although the acceleration of gender politics in Warren’s time brought a novel dimension to debates about masculinity, many of the issues that concerned Warren were a continuation of questions from the nineteenth century around the connection between the idealisation of ancient art, same-sex desire and gender expression. Ancient statuary, for Warren, could intervene in debates which had concerned the fields of classics and aestheticism, as well as medicine and the law, for several decades. These included the dangers or benefits of age-different attachments; the compatibility of masculinity with male same-sex desire; the pathologisation of this desire; and the role of sex or chastity within relationships between men.
The photographs are reproduced in James Murley, “The Impact of Edward Perry Warren on the Study and Collections of Greek and Roman Antiquities in American Academia” (Ph.D. diss., University of Louisville, 2012), Figs. 17, 19–21. The dissertation is available open access here: https://ir.library.louisville.edu/etd/1028/. The photographs are in the Edward Reeves archive, a photographic studio based in Lewes, Sussex, UK which created several portraits and photographs of and for Warren. It is unknown if the set of photographs discussed in this chapter had a specific purpose or audience.
See Patrick Eyres and Fiona Russell, eds., Sculpture and the Garden (Burlington, VT: Routledge, 2006).
See Murley, “Impact,” 99.
The photograph is reproduced in Murley, “Impact,” Fig. 17. See Footnote 1.
For instance, artefacts were photographed against draped fabrics, see “Trading Antiquities in early 20th-Century Europe. The John Marshall Archive Research Project Colloquium 2016,” posted January 28, 2016, https://britishschoolatrome.wordpress.com/2016/01/28/trading-antiquities-in-early-20th-century-europe-the-john-marshall-archive-research-project-colloquium-2016/.
Dyfri Williams, The Warren Cup, British Museum Objects in Focus (London: The British Museum Press, 2006).
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Collection Database. “95.67”, http://www.mfa.org/collections, accessed January 1, 2018. Photographs of the statue can be viewed on the online database, https://www.mfa.org/collections/object/mercury-hermes-151148, accessed January 1, 2018. See Mary B. Comstock and Cornelius C. Vermeule, Sculpture in Stone: The Greek, Roman and Etruscan Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston: Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 1976), 145.
Osbert Henry Burdett and Edgar Henry Goddard, Edward Perry Warren : The Biography of a Connoisseur (London: Christophers, 1941), 185.
Thomas F. Scanlon, Eros and Greek Athletics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 252.
On Warren’s collection, see Murley, “Impact”. On Warren’s sexually-themed acquisitions, see Jennifer Grove, “The Collection and Reception of Sexual Antiquities in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century” (Ph.D. diss., University of Exeter, 2013).
H. David Sox, Bachelors of Art: Edward Perry Warren & the Lewes House Brotherhood (London: Fourth Estate, 1991), 17.
Alex Potts, Flesh and the Ideal: Winckelmann and the Origins of Art History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994).
See Martin Burgess Green, The Mount Vernon Street Warrens: A Boston Story, 1860–1910 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1989), 88; Whitney Davis, Queer Beauty : Sexuality and Aesthetics from Winckelmann to Freud and Beyond (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), Chapter 1.
William A. Percy, Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996).
See Potts, Flesh, 5.
Stefano Evangelista and Katherine Harloe, “Pater’s ‘Winckelmann’: Aesthetic Criticism and Classical Reception,” in Pater the Classicist: Classical Scholarship, Reception, and Aestheticism , eds. Charles Martindale, Stefano Evangelista, and Elizabeth Prettejohn (Oxford: OUP Oxford, 2017), 63–80.
Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 365.
Lene Østermark-Johansen, Walter Pater and the Language of Sculpture (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), 87.
See the Introduction to this volume.
Daniel Orrells, Classical Culture and Modern Masculinity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 19–20. See Katharina Boehm in this volume.
See Donald H. Mader, “The Greek Mirror: The Uranians and Their Use of Greece,” Journal of Homosexuality 49, no. 3/4 (2005): 377–420 (388).
Caroline Vout, “Romantic Visions: Collecting, Display and Homosexual Self-fashioning,” in Ancient Rome and the Construction of Modern Homosexual Identities, ed. Jennifer Ingleheart (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 232–51 (236).
Linda Dowling, Hellenism and Homosexuality in Victorian Oxford (Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 1994).
E.g. David M. Halperin, One Hundred Years of Homosexuality: And Other Essays on Greek Love (New York: Routledge, 1990), 3–4. On Rome, see Jennifer Ingleheart, Ancient Rome and the Construction of Modern Homosexual Identities (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).
Plato, The Symposium, trans. Christopher Gill (London: Penguin, 1999), 180d–e, 181c.
Kaylor challenges the widely held belief that the word ‘Uranian’ used by British poets and authors is an Anglicised version of the German ‘urning’, first used by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs in 1864 to describe men who desired men. Kaylor argues the British Uranians, being mostly Classicists, likely appropriated the term themselves directly from the Greek. They do not seem to have been associated with the German same-sex apologist movement, and differed in focusing more overtly on pederastic relationships and in not identifying with Ulrichs’ model of a Uranian as a female soul in a man’s body (see Footnote 86), Michael Matthew Kaylor, Secreted Desires: The Major Uranians: Hopkins, Pater and Wilde (Brno, CZ: Masaryk University, 2006), xiii. For more on Uranian writers, see Timothy D’Arch Smith, Love in Earnest: Some Notes on the Lives and Writings of English ‘Uranian’ poets from 1889 to 1930 (London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1970).
On Warren writing his “Magnum Opus” as he called it, which was done partly at Taormina, a paederastic destination in Sicily, Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 385.
Jana Funke, “‘We Cannot Be Greek Now’: Age Difference, Corruption of Youth and the Making of Sexual Inversion,” English Studies 94, no. 2 (2013): 139–53.
See Kaylor, Secreted.
Martin Henig, Religion in Roman Britain (London: Batsford, 1984), 41.
See Robert Aldrich, The Seduction of the Mediterranean: Writing, Art and Homosexual Fantasy (London; New York: Routledge, 1993), 84.
Edward Perry Warren, A Defence of Uranian Love, ed. Mark R. Miner (Kansas City: Valancourt Books, 2009), 85.
The theme of young men losing their appeal as they age features in Warren’s poetry, see Michael Matthew Kaylor, “Introduction,” in The Collected Works & Commissioned Biography of Edward Perry Warren. Vol. I, ed. Michael Matthew Kaylor (Brno: Masaryk University Press, 2013), xi–cv (lxxxi, lxxii).
Davis, Queer, 31.
Warren, Defence, 16. See Green, Warrens, 87–8.
Walter Pater, The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry: The 1893 Text, ed. Donald L. Hill (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1980), 152.
Warren, Defence, 22.
Ibid., 22, n. 1. In Symposium Pausanias describes an attraction to “boys only when they start to have developed intelligence, and this happens around the time that they begin to grow a beard” (Plato, Symposium, 181d). Warren acknowledges that this passage describes young men but insists they are “more or less” adult, where as his ideal involves younger boys, although he never specifies an age, minimum or maximum. See Percy, Pederasty , 9.
Warren, Defence, 21.
Plato, Symposium, 178c, 184d–e. See Alastair Blanshard, Sex: Vice and Love from Antiquity to Modernity (Chichester, UK and Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 98.
Edward Carpenter, The Intermediate Sex: A Study of Some Transitional Types of Men and Women (New York; London: Mitchell Kennerley, 1912), 104.
Funke, “Cannot”. See Orrells, Classical, Chapter 3.
John Potvin, “Askesis as Aesthetic Home: Edward Perry Warren, Lewes House, and the Ideal of Greek Love,” Home Cultures 8, no. 1 (2011), 71–89 (83).
Blanshard, Sex, 10.
The information about his identity was provided by Ann Spike, formerly of Lewes Town Council.
Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 139.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Collection Database. “95.67”, http://www.mfa.org/collections, accessed January 4, 2018.
Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 400.
Ibid., 366. Warren and his friends often wrote in German, Latin and Greek, see Kaylor, “Introduction,” liii.
See Green, Warrens, 127.
See Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 400.
Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 110.
This is the cover image for Rodger Streitmatter, Outlaw Marriages: The Hidden Histories of Fifteen Extraordinary Same-Sex Couples (Boston: Beacon Press, 2012). See Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 100–1.
Kaylor, “Introduction,” liv.
Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 183–5. See Green, Warrens, 88.
Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 183. See Murley, “Impact,” 100.
Potvin, “Askesis,” 80.
Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 338.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Collection Database. “95.67”, http://www.mfa.org/collections, accessed January 1, 2018; Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 342, see 151.
On Uranianismandclass, see Mader “Mirror,” 390.
Warren, Defence, 33.
Carpenter, Intermediate Sex, 107–8.
Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 101, 70. Kaylor, “Introduction,” xli.
Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 81, 131. Warren’s relationships with most younger men were probably not romantic or sexual, see Kaylor, “Introduction,” lxiii.
Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 119-120, see also Chapter 9.
Warren to Marshall, 24/10/1892, reproduced in ibid., 164.
Murley, “Impact,” 99.
Warren, Defence, 85. The words in brackets are the editor’s of this edition of Defence.
Davis, Queer, 31.
John Addington Symonds, A Problem in Greek Ethics, Being an Inquiry into the Phenomenon of Sexual Inversion; Addressed Especially to Medical Psychologists and Jurists (London: Privately printed, 1901), 69.
Scanlon, Eros , 252.
John Davidson Beazley, “Obituary Edward Perry Warren,” The Times, January 1, 1929, 3.
Potts, Flesh, 68.
See Ian Jenkins, The Discobolus (London: British Museum, 2012). On Warren and Discobolus , see Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 10.
Potts, Flesh, 67–8, 91.
Warren, Defence, 32. This refers to the Eros at Thespiai, a lost Greek sculpture thought to be known to modernity via Roman copies, see Aileen Ajootian, “Praxiteles,” in Personal Styles in Greek Sculpture, ed. Olga Palagia and J.J. Pollitt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 91–129 (113–4).
Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 365. See Østermark-Johansen, Pater, 73.
John Addington Symonds, Essays Speculative and Suggestive (Chapman and Hall, 1890), 66. See also Ernest Henry Short, A History of Sculpture (London: William Heinemann, 1907), 194.
Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 334.
Warren, Defence, 33.
See Footnote 26. Ulrichs interpreted this as love of “young men” rather than “boys”, Matzner, “Uranians to Homosexuals,” 80.
Symonds, Greek Ethics, 69.
John Addington Symonds, A Problem in Modern Ethics. Being an Enquiry into the Phenomenon of Sexual Inversion, Addressed Especially to Medical Psychologists and Jurists (London: Privately Published, 1896), 15.
Ivan Crozier, “Introduction,” in Havelock Ellis and John Addington Symonds, Sexual Inversion, A Critical Edition, ed. Ivan Crozier (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 1–86 (8).
Warren, Defence, 39.
Dowling, Hellenism, Chapter 1.
Stefano Evangelista, British Aestheticism and Ancient Greece: Hellenism, Reception, Gods in Exile (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 158–65. Wilde and Pater had attempted to deploy a reading of pederasty as described by Plato as virile and not effeminate, see Dowling, Hellenism, 3; Orrells, Classical, 159.
See Edward Perry Warren, “The Bowdoin Collection,” in Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 414–9 (417). Availability of material is another factor shaping Warren’s collecting, see Footnote 22.
Other examples are “01.8190” and “92.2741”, http://www.mfa.org/collections, accessed January 4, 2018.
Jen Grove, “The Role of Roman Artefacts in E. P. Warren’s ‘Paederastic Evangel’,” in Ancient Rome and the Construction of Modern Homosexual Identities, ed. Jennifer Ingleheart (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 214–31 (221).
Dowling, Hellenism, 115–6.
Warren, Defence, 13.
Ibid. See Plato, Symposium, 185a–b.
Grove, “Collection,” 229–35, 244; Warren, Defence, 84. Scholars now suggest all sexual scenes dramatically reduced on vases after this period, see Robin Osborne, “Desiring Women on Athenian Pottery,” in Sexuality in Ancient Art: Near East, Egypt , Greece and Italy , eds. Natalie Kampen and Bettina Ann Bergmann (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 65–80 (72).
Notebook, Edward Perry Warren Archives (uncatalogued.) Now housed in the Antiquities Department of the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.
Warren, Defence, 85.
Ibid., 32, 233. See 428.
Notebook, Edward Perry Warren Archives (uncatalogued.) Now housed in the Antiquities Department of the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford. This refers to Plato’s Lysis.
Warren, Defence, 130.
Plato, Symposium, 210c–d.
Christopher Gill, “Preface,” in Plato, Symposium, vii.
Warren, Defence, 85.
Plato, Symposium, 210c.
Pindar, Fragment 123, Beloved Boy Theoxenus, translation from Thomas. K. Hubbard, “Pindar, Theoxenus, and the Homoerotic Eye,” Arethusa 35, no. 2 (2002): 255–96 (256).
Dowling, Hellenism, 115.
Symonds, Greek Ethics, 8.
Dowling, Hellenism, 1.
Warren to Brimmer, 8/12/1894, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston records, 1870–1973, REELS 536–565, Archives of American Art.
Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 111.
Grove, “Role,” 218–9.
Walter Muir Whitehill, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: A Centennial History (Cambridge, MA and London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; Oxford University Press, 1970): 31, 674. Anxieties about displaying male nudes were increased if—unlike the Hermes—the genitalia were still intact.
Michael S. Kimmel, “Men’s Responses to Feminism at The Turn of the Century,” Gender & Society 1, no. 3 (1987): 261–83.
Henry Beauchamp Walters, History of Ancient Pottery: Greek, Etruscan, and Roman (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1905), 376.
Warren, “Bowdoin,” 416.
Warren, Defence, 85.
On Warren’s misogyny, see Sox, Bachelors, 17. On Uranianism and misogyny, see Kaylor, Secreted, 66.
Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 391–2. See also 301.
Warren, Defence, 305. These comments are likely inspired in large part by the granting of the vote for (some) women in the UK in 1918 and the US in 1920.
Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 301.
Ibid., 67; Kaylor, “Introduction,” xxxiv.
Orrells, Classical, Chapter 2.
Burdett and Goddard, Warren, 367.
Dowling, Hellenism, 85.
Kaylor, “Introduction,” xlv.
See Whitney Davis, “Homoerotic Art Collection from 1750 to 1920,” Art History 24, no. 2 (2001): 247–77.
Warren, Defence, 59.
Potvin, “Askesis,” 84. Although on women in the house occasionally, see Murley, “Impact,” Footnote 349.
On differences between the public and private display of ancient sexuality via statuary see Donnellan in this volume.
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