So, the Greek God Apollo, he is definitely bi right?
Well, there’s a bunch of caveats I have to rattle off whenever someone asks a question like this, ‘cause in ancient Greek culture there’s no such thing as “bi” or “gay” – and there’s definitely no such thing as “straight.” The categories simply don’t exist; there are no words for them in the ancient Greek language. Personally, I think we have reason to believe that the whole concept of being exclusively attracted to only one gender would have seemed a bit alien to the ancient Greeks. It’s just… kind of normal for adult men – men who are married to women and happily participating in a strictly patriarchal and, weirdly, kind of heteronormative social structure – to also be attracted to younger men and teenage boys, and indeed to have sex with them. What’s more, this is totally fine, because in general Greek marriage customs only require that a married woman should not have sex with any men other than her husband (and Sparta had exceptions to even that rule; I also kind of suspect that extramarital lesbian relationships might have been common as well, but that’s a lot harder to track, because almost all our written sources come from male perspectives and they just have an extremely rudimentary understanding of female sexuality). Marriage is a very functional, utilitarian, transactional thing; you get married in order to produce legitimate male heirs who will inherit your property and your place in the social fabric of your city. That’s a duty that you have not just to your family but to your entire community, because it ensures continuity of land ownership, and land is where the community lives and produces food. The point I’m trying to make is that male/male romantic or sexual relationships are doing different things from male/female ones, in a way that wouldn’t have left much room for a modern conception of same-sex relationships, where we want to be seen as equal and equivalent to straight people.
Of course, there totally are gay people in ancient Greece – like, in spite of everything I just said, Agathon and Pausanias in late 5th century Athens definitely seem like life partners who are married in all but name, consciously defying their society’s conventions and basically getting away with it. I just have to go through all these caveats because I don’t want to put the ancient Greeks on a pedestal or make them out to be more liberated or enlightened than they actually were. Men can have sexual relationships with other men, and within certain specific contexts those relationships are even idolised – if you haven’t heard of the Theban “sacred band,” you’re seriously missing out – but ultimately you’re still “supposed” to marry a woman and have babies. Admittedly, men have a lot more freedom than women to opt out of that. Rather than speculating about the identities we might assign to historical figures if they lived today, I think it’s usually a more useful way of putting it to say that the ancient Greeks’ conception of “straightness” – that is, their understanding of what the “default” male sexuality is – was just not the same as ours, and actually involved a lot of gay sex. That seems counterintuitive, but, well, there are men today who identify as straight while having sex with other men, because the notion of a “straight man” refers to a complicated and messy ideal of masculinity that prescribes a lot of other things besides just who you’re attracted to (see also: “fellas, is it gay?”).
What was the question again?
Oh, right. Apollo.
Well, if you ever go to Sparta (which is underrated in my opinion; although somewhat remote and not as impressive as Athens, modern Sparti is a lovely place to visit and has some very neat archaeological sites) you can take a quick jaunt out to Amyklai, the most remote of the five villages that united to form the ancient city-state of Sparta, and visit the Throne of Apollo. There’s not much of it left, but it was once a very important shrine with a famous colossus of Apollo as its cult statue. Apollo was Sparta’s most important god, and the Throne of Apollo was the site of one of Sparta’s two most important “national” religious festivals (alongside the Karneia, also dedicated to Apollo): the Hyakinthia, which took place during the month of Hyakinthios. Amyklai’s patron god was Hyacinthus, once a young mortal whom Apollo had pursued romantically, only to kill him in a tragic accident, and the Throne of Apollo was built over an ancient burial mound that the Spartans believed was Hyacinthus’ tomb. The Hyakinthia was a celebration of the union of Apollo and Hyacinthus, symbolising the union between Amyklai and the other four villages of Sparta (which were all much closer together and didn’t retain separate identities to the same extent). So… I suppose what I’m saying is, not only does Greek mythology have a well-known romantic relationship between Apollo and a mortal man, the fact of that relationship was part of the bedrock of Spartan identity, and its commemoration was the focus of one of the most important festivals of the Spartan year.
so yeah I guess “bi” kinda covers it
Bonus fact: the -nth- consonant cluster, which we also see in “Corinth,” is widely believed to be non-Greek – that is, words containing that particular sound (most of them proper names) are not Indo-European in origin, and may be remnants of the lost languages spoken in Greece during the Early Bronze Age (c. 3000-2000 BC). Hyacinthus is therefore probably an ancestral deity of Laconia, whose worship there predates almost everything we now know as “Greek mythology.”