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Catamite is a term sometimes used to refer to passive gay men or youths. It derives from the Latin catamitus which was in turn derived via Etruscan from the Greek Ganymede referring to the cupbearer of Zeus.

C S Lewis in his autobiography described the social roles during his time at Wyvern College including the role of "Tart": "a pretty and effeminate-looking small boy who acts as a catamite to one or more of his seniors..." and noted that "pederastry ...was not [frowned upon as seriously as] wearing one's coat unbuttoned." [1]

Anthony Burgess's novel 1980 Earthly Powers uses the word in its "outrageously provocative"[2] opening sentence: "It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me."

The former MP Leo Abse called Daniel Defoe "William III's catamite.[3]


  1. C S Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life, Chapter IV Bloodery, pp.83-84.
  2. "An arresting opening" Telegraph
  3. Leo Abse, The bi-sexuality of Daniel Defoe: a psychoanalytic survey of the man and his works Karnac Books, London, 2006. ISBN 978-1-85575-456-0