Jacques-Louis David (Detail) Paris and Helen,1788.
On the left we have Patroclus, and on the right, Achilles. These two are two central characters of the great Greek epic- Homer’s Iliad. Patroclus and Achilles have a unique relationship- Achilles while being an arrogant ass to Agamemnon and the others, he is caring towards Patroclus. Most historians define their relationship as pederasty, a socially accepted homoerotic relationship between an adult man and a youth (teenager)- and while many authors (both contemporaneous and modern) criticised this relationship, there is no doubt that it existed in Ancient Greece, and that it was important. Paiderastia (as the Greeks called it) is sometimes even said to be the backbone of the social order- it functioned as a rite of passage, a reinforcement of homosociality (and thus the exclusion of women from many public affairs in many cases) and as a integral aspect of the complicated aristocracy in many Greek city-states.
Ganymede rolling a hoop and carrying a cockerel, a love gift from Zeus who is depicted in pursuit on the other side of this Attic red-figure krater, dated 500-490 BC.
Animal gifts - most commonly hares and roosters, but also deer and felines - were often exchanged between eromenoi and erastai, and when depicted in ancient Greek works, are often interpreted as metaphors of sexual pursuit.