Most gay-identified guys see this sort of tattoo and its slogan as just so much "male posturing."
By which they mean something that straight-identified guys do to impress girls -- and other guys.
Yet, as it happens, "death before dishonor" is what motivated the two men who are without question the most important same-sex couple in the history of the world:
Harmodius and Aristogeiton.
It's important to understand just what happened to those men and the choices they made.
For more pix, see The Warrior Bond
Harmodius and Aristogeiton were a typical erotically-bonded warrior pair living in Athens in 514 BC.
As I say they were typical:
They were citizen-soldiers -- hoplites -- they'd met at the palestra, they'd courted, they were bonded, and everyone knew, including their families, that they were a couple.
At that time, Athens, like most Greek city-states, was governed by a dictator -- called a tyrant.
The tyrant's brother, Hipparchus, who was de facto as powerful as the tyrant, conceived a lust for Harmodius.
And began demanding that Harmodius sleep with him.
Harmodius could have done that -- but since he was pledged to Aristogeiton, that would have been dishonorable.
So he refused.
The tyrant's brother continued pressuring him, and began making life difficult for the families of the two men.
Harmodius still said No.
The tyrant's brother persisted.
At which point, says the great Greek historian Thucydides, Aristogeiton began to fear that "the powerful Hipparchus might take Harmodius by force."
"By force" means rape.
That was proscribed -- forbidden.
Only frottage was allowed.
So to the dishonor of a broken vow, would have been added the dishonor and humiliation of anal rape.
What could they do?
They could have chosen exile, but that wouldn't have stopped the attacks on their families.
And as important to them, I suspect, it would have been a sort of surrender -- an acknowledgment that this man's power was too great to be resisted in their own land.
These men were patriots, and that was not acceptable.
So instead of exile, they decided to kill the tyrant and his brother.
And although they enlisted some friends to help them, they must have known that what they were really choosing was death.
Because the chance of their coup succeeding was very slim.
Nevertheless, that was their choice: death before dishonor.
In the event, Harmodius killed his tormentor Hipparchus, and was himself slain, while Aristogeiton was captured, tortured, and killed.
But -- their act of defiance touched off a democratic revolt in Athens, and though it took four more years and the help of a Spartan army, the tyrant was thrown out and Athens became a democracy.
Arguably the world's first democracy.
Which it remained, vibrantly and gloriously, for about two hundred years.
That's historic fact.
In Mythic Identification and the Warrior Bond, this is what I say about how the Athenians regarded this warrior pair:
Though their plot failed initially, the Athenians quite properly credited Harmodius' and Aristogeiton's act of tyrannicide as the crucial event in the eventual establishment of their democracy, and with it, a sea-change in the political life of Greece.
The honors heaped upon Harmodius and Aristogeiton in death are indicative of the high regard the Greeks had for warrior lovers who displayed this sort of heroism. Statues of these heroes were the first erected in the marketplace of Athens after the tyrant's overthrow; and an official called the Polemarch, a war leader who was responsible for sacrifices and funeral ceremonies for men killed in battle, had charge of a yearly festival honoring the slain tyrannicides and made sure that their descendants got preferential treatment at the civic-religious events that were so important in the life of the city-state.
And succeeding generations could not stop talking about them: every historian had a go at telling their story, including Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon, while philosophers like Aristotle and Plato discussed the inner meaning of their act, and politicians like Aeschines sought to wrap themselves in the mantle of their glory.
The original statues were seized by the invading Persians in 480 BCE -- they well understood what an important symbol of freedom these two men were -- and carried off to Persepolis. One hundred and fifty years later, Alexander the Great conquered Persepolis and, before burning it to the ground, had the originals returned to the Athenians, a gesture of respect to democratic citizens with whom he often didn't get along.
Death before dishonor.
Not just pretty words.
In the case of Harmodius, dishonor would have insured life.
But a blighted life, in which his relationship with Aristogeiton would have been destroyed, and in which all his countrymen would have been forever prey to the whims of tyrants.
Fact is, Harmodius' and Aristogeiton's attempted tyrannicide was a crucial moment in the history of the West.
Two men, private citizens, stood up to a tyrant and said, "Give us liberty, or give us death."
And the world changed.
What happened to the tyrant -- the one who wasn't killed?
After he was thrown out, he deserted to the Persians.
It's a telling choice.
Among the Persians, a guy like Harmodius would have had to give in to a man like Hipparchus.
If the Great King wanted you, you had no choice but to bend over.
That was not true among the Greeks, our spiritual and political forefathers, thanks to Harmodius and Aristogeiton, who fought to the death for their -- and our -- right to live free.
From time to time I get posts and letters from buttboys complaining about the "violence" on the site.
Which is really dopey, since, in the sense of acts which cause grievous bodily harm, irreparable damage, and death, there is NO violence on this site.
Plenty of that sort of violence on analist sites, and, more to the point, in analist life, but NONE here.
Yes, we encourage guys to train in martial arts, and there are stories about guys wrestling or fighting and then making hot, passionate, FROT LOVE.
That's because this site is about MEN; and wrestling, fighting, and FROT are all NATURAL to MEN.
But nowhere, in any of our stories or true-life accounts, is anyone truly hurt or injured.
To repeat: In the sense of acts which cause grievous bodily harm, irreparable damage, and death, there is NO violence on this site.
Yes, we have a few pics of fighters who've been cut during a fight.
But be clear: There is a VAST difference between a cut to the skin honorably received in a fight, and a tear in the mucosal lining of the anus or rectum dishonorably received while being buttfucked.
Physiologically, the skin is set up to deal with cuts.
The anus is not.
Apart from the exterior of the anal sphincter itself, the anus and rectum are internal organs -- extensions of the colon.
They were never meant to be penetrated, and are damaged in each and every act of penetration.
But it's not just a question of physiology and anatomy.
It's also a question of morality and honor.
Two men can honorably elect to fight.
But a man cannot honorably elect to get penetrated anally.
Nor can a man penetrate another honorably.
The act is ipso facto dishonorable.
That's why, in the various memoirs and literary accounts of AIDS, you never see guys saying, I got the virus honorably.
Or, I cherish the act by which I got infected.
Or, it was worth it.
They don't say that because they know it's not true.
Fact is, all those men lost their lives through an act which we know and they knew is meretricious -- without merit.
Anal penetration is without merit and without honor.
That's what it is.
Would that more guys had thought of it in those terms.
They might still be alive.
Because honor is not some archaic ideal.
It's as important to men now as it ever was.
DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR.
One of the things we're about here is reclaiming our masculine heritage -- our birthright as men.
And the idea that an honorable life is worth fighting for -- is part of that birthright.
That's implicit in a post like Bill G's What It Means to be a Man.
What's remarkable to me is just how much opposition our masculinist stance has engendered.
Yet, here's the truth: I didn't like getting fucked because it offended my sense of my own masculinity.
And that's why I'm alive.
Out of all my friends, I alone am still alive -- and that's why.
Because getting fucked offended my sense of my own MASCULINITY.
And I will hold to that truth and keep presenting it to the world.
For my sake, for the sake of my dead lover, for the sake of our dead friends, and most of all for the sake of the living.
DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR.
It's a paradox.
In the case of AIDS, dishonor invited death.
Those who put honor before the deadly demands of the analist mob -- survived.
And continue to thrive.
© All material Copyright 2006 by Bill Weintraub. All rights reserved.
Re: Death Before Dishonor
A great historical account of the TRUTH! Thanks Bill.
"Death Before Dishonor" ought to be the personal motto of every masculine male into frot.
I suspect and know that there are many males who submit to the BFD reluctantly. Instead of submitting and conforming these males need to stand up against the BFD like Harmodius and Aristogeiton. The butt-boys are DESTROYERS and they destroy a masculine male on every level of their being---physically, psychologically, and spiritually!!
As for the "violence" on this site.........WHAT VIOLENCE? I guess I'm missing something here because I don't see any violence on this site. Sports and martial arts are not violence! They are CONTROLLED and DISCIPLINED means for a male to release his NATURAL aggressions WITHOUT slaughtering another human being! Males have always found ways to express and release their natural aggressiveness and most commonly it has been through sports and the martial arts which are activities of MALE HONOR not dishonor. Along with the CONTROLLED physical outlet that sports and martial arts provide there is also DISCIPLINED psychological SELF CONTROL. Martial arts do not only teach physical discipline but also psychological self discipline. Yet, many people don't seem to know or understand that.
But, alas, we live in a society of DISHONOR! Perhaps that is why many seem to know little to nothing about HONOR! A society that is bent on the LACK of self control and, thus, the many in modern society know nothing of SELF DISCIPLINE. So it's no real wonder that they don't understand the greater levels of sports and the martial arts and see only the "violence."
Harmodius and Aristogeiton provide a personal example for the rest of us. They are shining examples of MASCULINE MEN who love each other. Our own individual lives should be modeled after theirs I think. They had the balls to take a stand against a tyrant and we as modern WARRIORS must have the balls to do the SAME. Men can no longer afford to submit to whatever comes their way! We are engaged in a battle geared towards the destruction of masculinity. We must realize that battle and we must BEGIN TO FIGHT that battle because right now most males are not fighting that battle and males are on the losing end of that battle.
DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR !!
Adopt that as your personal motto!
Live it and Breath it!
Be a true masculine WARRIOR and grab your balls and begin to FIGHT against those elements in our modern society which are trying to destroy NATURAL MALE MASCULINITY!
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