Degree Name

Master of Music

Document Type


Date Created



The myth of Achilles has long been considered a narrative model for homosexual relationships. Jean-Baptiste Lully set the story of Achilles and Patroclus to music in the first act of his last opera, Achille et Polyxène. In 17th-century France, various queer men held positions of significant influence, including members of the royal family, such as Louis XIII and Philippe of Orléans. Another powerful queer man was Louis Joseph de Bourbon, the duc de Vendôme who was part of an influential group of libertines. Lully entered the service of the duc in 1685, when he was banished from court after he was caught in an affair with another man, Brunet. In Vendôme’s service, Lully collaborated with Jean Galbert de Campistron, a dramatist and the secretary to Vendôme, to write two operas. Achille et Polyxène was the second of these operas and the last Lully would work on. In the opera’s first act, Campistron’s text and Lully’s music work together to imply a romantic relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, which has been used to portray homosexuality since ancient Greece.


French Opera; Queer; Lully; Achilles; Louis XIV; homosexuality; Baroque; Libertine; Drama

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