The ‘Regiment of Pleasure’
: Cavafy and his homoerotic legacy in Greek writing

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Cavafy has been the key inspiration of a line of younger – and very different – Greek writers who employ homoerotic modes. This thesis, covering the years 1905-2010, concentrates on some major examples (Sikelianos, Lapathiotes, Ritsos, Ioannou, Christianopoulos) chosen for their variety of responses to the homoerotic Cavafy. In aggregate these writers, along with Cavafy himself, can be considered a ‘regiment’: the ‘Regiment of Pleasure’, in Cavafy’s term. In presenting these writers in this fashion, I attempt to illuminate both the work of the successors and that of their influential precursor.
In the three broad yet selective chapters that constitute the main body of my thesis, I seek to display the culture-specific elements of the Modern Greek contribution to homoerotic writing, as these can be extrapolated from a critical examination of the poetic legacy of Cavafy, within three themes:
Chapter 1, ‘The Appropriation of Ancient Greek Eros’, delineates the ways in which modern Greek homoerotic writing exploits Greek Love in Plato (Symposium and Phaedrus) and the Palatine Anthology. Chapter 2, ‘Homoeroticism and the Notion of Sin’, approaches literary homoeroticism as associated with sinfulness and confession. Chapter 3, ‘The Favoured Class and Games of Class- Crossing’, examines literary homoeroticism as connected to class barriers. The writers listed above appear as appropriate in each chapter.
Always in relation with the analysis of the discussed writings, I draw as appropriate on queer theory, theories about tradition and reception, and the writers’ historical and social context.
My aim is to show that different aspects of Cavafy’s queer radicalism have been exploited by a diverse range of Greek successors whose work has not hitherto been fully discussed, either in itself or in relation to Cavafy. Seeing his successors as a cluster is something new, as it also is the interpretative discussion of both poetry and prose in this direction.
Date of Award2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorDavid Ricks (Supervisor) & Roderick Beaton (Supervisor)

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