David, Goliath, and his Lover

DAVID & JONATHAN (1000 bce)

David and Goliath
After killing the Philistine giant, Goliath, the young hero David was brought before Saul, the first king of Israel. Saul’s eldest son Jonathan instantly fell in love with the handsome young warrior, and stripped off his own robe and armor and placed them upon David. When Jonathan was killed by the Philistines on Mt. Gilboa, David mourned and said: “greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” The story of David and Jonathan is told in the Old Testament of the Bible, in books 1 and 2 Samuel.

A Slave to a Slave

MAHMUD OF GHAZNI & MALIK AYAZ (1021 ce)

Mahmud of Ghazni founded the Ghaznavid Empire and ruled as Sultan. He fell in love with Malik Ayaz, a Turkish slave, and their relationship became widely regarded as the epitome of idealized love in Islamic legend and Sufi literature. As the story goes, Ayaz asked Mahmud who the most powerful man in the kingdom was. When the Sultan replied that it was himself, Ayaz corrected him, claiming that in fact Ayaz was the most powerful, since Mahmud was his slave. the “slave to a slave” became a favorite trope in Persian literature.