Thus the tale of Achilles and Patroclus sanctioned among the Greeks a form of masculine love, which, though afterwards connected with paiderastia properly so called, we are justified in describing as heroic, and in regarding as one of the highest products of their emotional life. It will be seen, when we come to deal with the historical manifestations of this passion,
that the heroic love which took its name from Homer's Achilles existed as an ideal rather than an actual reality. This, however, is equally the case with Christianity and chivalry. The facts of feudal history fall below the high conception which hovered like a dream above the knights and ladies of the Middle Ages; nor has the spirit of the Gospel been realised, in fact, by the most Christian nations. Still we are not on that account debarred from speaking of both chivalry and Christianity as potent and effective forces.