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Rocco, Antonio (1586-1653)  
page: 1  2  

When the teacher's arguments become more and more persuasive, the boy assures him that he is listening attentively. But when the teacher says, "To work then, my sweetest! Experience will teach you more than will lectures and arguments," the boy becomes a bit of a tease and replies: "It is certainly my wish, but I fear that when you no longer need to convince me, you will become less explicit in your discourse, and your lessons will become less interesting. Therefore continue with your arguments, and don't be concerned about the rest."

The teacher's final argument is that the sperm of a man improves a boy's intellect. "A boy who wishes to be the equal of his master has no other way than this. I don't deny that the semen of any man, given that it is adequately warm and temperate, benefits the brain of a boy, but the benefit is greater when the man is noble and distinguished."

Now the boy is completely convinced. He says, "Now then, dearest teacher, it is the desire for true learning, more than anything else, that inclines me to your pleasure. You see me ready to content your every longing." At this point, the student lifts his robe, and the master attains his goal.

The book concludes: "How they continued their pleasures and their loving caresses is what you will find in a second part, even more lascivious." But the second part apparently never appeared.

L'Alcibiade fanciullo a scola needs to be seen in various contexts. As a "Carnival book," it may have been intended as a playful satire, its outrageousness finding an excuse in the excesses of Carnival. Moreover, inasmuch as the book may have been written specifically for fellow members of the Accademia degli Incogniti, it may have been intended as a witty parody of academic discourse, a playful exercise intended to amuse rather than to be taken seriously.

As a satire, its targets may have included the pedagogical practices of the time, especially the use of the Socratic dialogue to instill learning and to reinforce the teacher-student relationship. It may also have been intended as both a parody of and a contribution to the tradition of Renaissance sodomitical satires. It has also been seen as a satire on Machiavelli's doctrine of expediency.

Although the outraged condemnation of the book by censors over the years may strike the modern reader as entirely overblown, it may be that L'Alcibiade fanciullo a scola was also consciously intended as a work of pornography. The wit of the arguments and the recondite allusions notwithstanding, the graphic depiction of forbidden sexual acts may have been powerfully arousing to an audience whose reading habits were vigilantly--but not always successfully--policed by censors.

Hubert Kennedy

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literature >> Overview:  Erotica and Pornography

Erotic and pornographic works have been written in many cultures since ancient times and recently have flourished with the relaxation of censorship.

literature >> Overview:  Italian Literature

Until quite recently, male homosexuality has had a discontinuous, fragmented, and largely condemnatory history in Italian literature, and lesbianism has been almost totally ignored.

social sciences >> Overview:  Pederasty

Pederasty is the erotic relationship between an adult male and a boy, generally one between the ages of twelve and seventeen, in which the older partner is attracted to the younger one who returns his affection.

literature >> Overview:  Sadomasochistic Literature

Sadomasochistic literature, one of the most controversial forms of lesbian and gay writing, confronts such issues as domination, submission, uniformity, and humiliation and poses a constant challenge to them.

social sciences >> Alcibiades

In glbtq history, Alcibiades is especially noted for his (failed) "seduction" of Socrates in Plato's Symposium, his transgression of gender roles, his sexual "versatility," his violent and unpatriotic eros, and his appropriation as a gay icon in later literature.

literature >> Bruno, Giordano

Burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic Church, Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno has been seen as a martyr to religious intolerance; only recently has he also been recognized as a queer hero.

social sciences >> Burton, Sir Richard F.

Although evidence of his own homosexual leanings is inconclusive, in his lifetime Sir Richard Burton was regarded with suspicion because of his knowledge and understanding of same-sex sexual activity.

social sciences >> Ficino, Marsilio

The fifteenth-century Italian philosopher Marsilio Ficino introduced the phrase "platonic love," by which he meant a relationship that included both the physical and the spiritual.

literature >> Plato

Among Greek writers on homosexual themes, Plato is preeminent not only as a major philosopher but also as the greatest master of Greek prose.

literature >> Poliziano

The fifteenth-century Italian scholar and poet Poliziano wrote many homoerotic Greek and Latin epigrams, published when he was seventeen.

social sciences >> Ulrichs, Karl Heinrich

Nineteenth-Century German activist Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was both the first modern theorist of homosexuality and the first homosexual to "come out" publicly.


Asoka, Louis. "Alcibiades the Schoolboy." Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia 2 (1987): 49-54.

Maggi, Armando. "The Discourse of Sodom in a Seventeenth-Century Venetian Text." Reclaiming the Sacred: The Bible in Gay and Lesbian Culture. Raymond-Jean Frontain, ed. New York: Haworth, 1997. 25-43; also published as Journal of Homosexuality 33.3-4 (1997): 25-43.

Rocco, Antonio. L'Alcibiade fanciullo a scola. Laura Coci, ed. Rome: Salerno, 1988.

_____. Alcibiades the Schoolboy. J. C. Rawnsley, trans. Amsterdam: Entimos, 2000.

_____. Der Schüler Alkibiades: Ein philosophisch-erotischer Dialog. Original Italian, with German translation and afterword by Wolfram Setz. Hamburg: MännerschwarmSkript, 2002.

Salazar, Philippe-Joseph. "Rocco, Antonio." Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History: From Antiquity to World War II. Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon, ed. London: Routledge, 2001. 373-75.

Setz, Wolfram. "Antonio Roccos Der Schüler Alkibiades: Ein Buch und seine Leser." Forum Homosexualität und Literatur 40 (2002): 99-110.


    Citation Information
    Author: Kennedy, Hubert  
    Entry Title: Rocco, Antonio  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2005  
    Date Last Updated August 26, 2005  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2005, glbtq, inc.  


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