THE GREEK LOVE POEMS OF HILARY THE ENGLISHMAN
Hilarius, a cleric studying in Champagne, France around 1125, but supposed to have been an Englishman, was the author of some Latin poetry preserved in a manuscript in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, and edited and published by J. J. Champollion-Figeac as Hilarii versus et ludi (Paris, 1838). Besides one addressed to his teacher and some religious verse, five of his surviving fourteen poems were love poems, one addressed to a nun and four to boys. Three of the latter are presented below. The remaining one, "To William of Anfonia", will be added in due course.
The translation is by John Boswell in Appendix 2 of his Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality (Chicago, 1980), pp. 372-4. The Latin text is that printed by Champollion-Figeac with two amendments by Boswell explained in footnotes. The enumeration of the poems follows that in Champollion-Figeac.
VII. To a Boy of Anjou
To a Boy of Anjou
Beautiful and singular youth,
Prostrate at your knees,
I am afraid to speak face to face;
Enough, wretch! I barely bore it
As a patient I demand a doctor,
Long held in a dreary jail,
Oh, how I wish you wanted money!
Surely, youth, this is foolishness,
Ad Puerum Andegavensem
Puer pulcher et puer unice,
Ego tuis affusııs genibus,
Loqui presens presenti vereor;
Satis, miser! pene sustinui
Eger ego deposco medicum
Gravi diu detentus carcere,
O! Quam vellem ut velles precium,
Certe, pııer, hoc est inscicia,
Castitatis grave propositum
IX. To an English Boy
To an English Boy
Hail, fair youth, who seeks no bribe,
Golden haired, fair of face, with a small white
When nature formed you, she doubted for a
Afterward, she does ﬁnally extend her hand to
No other mortal can be compared with you,
Believe me, if those former days of Jove should
You are the common desire of lasses and lads;
Ad Puerum Anglicum
Ave, puer speciose, qui non queris
Crinis flavus, os decoruın cervísque
Cum natura te creavit, dubitavit paululum
Postquam vero tibi manum extremam
Tibi nequid conparari quislibet mortalium,
Crede mihi, si redirent prisca Jovis secula,
Puellarum juvenumque votum extas
XIII. To an English Boy
To an English Boy
Beautiful boy, flower fair,
The moment I saw you,
Oh, how happy would I be
I will win, as I believe,
Even the ruler of heaven,
Then, in the chambers of heaven,
Ad Puerum Anglicum
Puer decens, decens ﬂoris,
Ut te vidi, ınos cupido
O Quam felix ego forem,
Inpetrabo, sicut credo;
Nam et rector superorum,
Aula tandem in superna ,
 This attribution goes back at least to Jean Mabillon’s Annales ordinis S. Benedicti, vol. 5 (1713), p. 315. In its favour, five of his lyric poems were addressed to English people: three boys and two women.
 Reading “es nescius" (with Herkenrath) instead of the “sed melius” printed by Champollion-Figeac. [Translator’s note]
 Two lines are omitted here; the ﬁrst is missing from the manuscript, leaving the next (“Qui sit pulcris ex pudiciciae”) ambiguous. [Translator’s note]
 The account in Seneca's Phaedra might have been familiar to Hilary [Translator’s note]. In this play, the Hippolytus’s spurning of Phaedra, who had fallen in love with him, led to his doom.
 The biblical Joseph’s spurning of the advances of his master’s wife (not actually a queen) led to his imprisonment (Genesis 39: 7-20).
 For “nequid " I read “nequit," … as does Fuller. [Translator’s note]
 Note the particularly firm assertion of the general assumption in pre-modern Europe that such a beautiful boy would be desired by both sexes.
 A Latin pun on “anglicus" and “angelicus,” doubtless copied from Bede’s famous anecdote explaining why Pope Gregory the Great launched a mission to convert the English to Christianity in AD 597. Long before, Gregory had seen for sale in the market in Rome some particularly beautiful slave-boys whom he was told were “Angli” (English) and heathen. “Non angli sed angeli si forent Christiani (Not English but angels if only they were Christians)” he said. (Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People II 1, though he does not actually quote Gregory’s famous words).
 Dido was the ancient Queen of Carthage who according to Virgil’s Aeneid (IV 642) cursed the lover who abandoned her and his descendants, with ultimately fatal consequences.
 I.e., if I could leave my “Dido” for you, as other men leave one woman for another. The Latin is tortuous. [Translator’s note]