Brother Adoption Amongst Goethe’s Camerados
By Mitchell Santine GouldJuly, 2012Several years ago, online at LeavesOfGrass.Org, I showed that Sir Walter Scott referred toLord Byron’s coinage of the term
, in the context of
Is not all love prohibited whatever,/ Excepting marriage?
Given Walt Whitman’s expressed affinity for bothGoethe and Sir Walter Scott, it is interesting to find a reference to brotherly adoption in Scott’sworks. This was a 19
century strategy for protecting same-sex relations. The following is anexcerpt from Goethe’s "Goetz von Berlichingen," as translated by Scott.
–––––––––-Re-enter GOETZ with wine and beakers. Goetz:
...We shall hardly find more pleasant days than thosewhich we spent together at the Margrave's court-when we were inseparable night and day. I think withpleasure on the days of my youth...
...We always stuck together like brave boys-
[Fills and hands to WEISLINGEN.]
I shall never forgethow the Margrave used to call us Castor and Pollux: it does me good to think of it. The Bishop of Wurtzburg called us so first.
That Bishop was a learned clerk, and withal so gentle-I shall remember as long as I live how heused to caress us, praise our union, and describe the good fortune of the man who has an adoptedbrother in a friend.
No more of that!
Does it displease you? I know nothing more delightful after fatigue than to talk over old stories.Indeed, when I recall to mind how we were almost the same being, body and soul, and how I thought wewere to continue so all our lives-Was not that my sole comfort when this hand was shot away atLandshut, and when you nursed and tended me like a brother? …
Hadst thou followed me when I wished thee to go to Brabant with me, all would have remainedwell. But then that unhappy turn for Court-dangling seized thee, and thy coquetting and flirting with idlewomen.-I always told thee, when thou wouldst mix with these lounging, begging, court-sycophants, andentertain them with gossiping about unlucky matches and seduced girls, and such trash as they areinterested about-I always told thee, Adelbert, thou wilt become a rogue...