So this is story of two young lads and their True Totally-Platonic Love. Allegedly.
But, I mean, it's Ancient Greece. It was probably at least a little gay.
Anyway, our two title characters, Damon and Pythias, were both young noble Sicilian men who lived in Syracuse.
Now, ever since they were children, these two were thick as thieves. Absolutely the very bestest of best friends.
They were inseparable in school, where they were students of the Pythagorean philosophy. They did everything together, and no one and nothing could come between them.
Unfortunately for the both of them, Syracuse was under the leadership of a selfish, paranoid and notoriously cruel leader named Donald Dionysius. He had come to power through treachery, and continued to spread his horribleness wherever he could. So petty and vindictive was this man, that he once dreamed of one of his subjects trying to kill him, and so put the man literally to death the next day in the waking world.
Dionysius did not agree with the Pythagorean school of thought, and one day, while in town, he overheard young Pythias espousing the ideas, and immediately accused the boy of trying to overthrow his leadership.
Try as he might, Pythias could not persuade Dionysius of his innocence, and so, he was sentenced to death for treason.
Pythias realized there was no way out of this situation, so he accepted the sentence, but pleaded that he might be allowed a few days to say his goodbyes and put his affairs in order prior to his execution. Dionysius, however, refused at first, certain that Pythias would take the excuse to run away and escape his fate.
So, to prove his good faith, Pythias would have to leave a hostage behind while taking care of business. Of course, who should immediately come to the young man's mind but his very dear and bestest best friend, Damon.
Thus, Damon was forthwith brought before the court, and so loving his dear friend, believed that it would be a small thing to hold his place as a final act of kindness before they were parted forever. Dionysius agreed to the deal, but made it very clear that if Pythias did not return to face his sentence by the appointed time, Damon would be put to death in his place. Damon was not afraid, however, because he trusted Pythias completely.
Dionysius figured this was a total sucker bet, but even he wondered at the sincerity of their bond as Pythias kissed his dear friend goodbye and left to take care of his final affairs.
Well, the days passed. And poor Pythias, he did all he could to be true to his word that he would return in time to face his execution, but it was just his luck that he became a victim of Murphy's Law: everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and at the worst possible time. Traffic, roadblocks, pirates, you name it. So he was significantly delayed in returning to Dionysius's court.
The day of the execution came, and still Pythias had not arrived. So, Damon was fetched from the dungeons to be brought before the executioner instead. Dionysius sneered at him, certain that Pythias had abandoned Damon like a coward, but still Damon held his head high, having unshakable faith in his beloved Pythias.\
Outside, most of the city had gathered, for the bond between Damon and Pythias was well-known to just about everyone as a paragon of True Love and the Power of Friendship. They couldn't believe that Pythias would abandon Damon either, and as Damon was led to the chopping block, they too cried out in sympathy for him.
And then, at the last minute, there was a cry from the back of the crowd, and a young man raced up to the platform, shoving his way through the crowd. Pythias had arrived, breathless, exhausted and weeping with grief and terror that he was too late to save his precious Damon.
He ran to Damon, flinging his arms around him, and sobbing and kissing him with relief that he had made it in time after all.
There wasn't a dry eye in the crowd either.
Even Dionysius could hardly believe what he was seeing, and his heart softened at the display of devotion. So astonished and pleased was he at the strength of their love, that he declared both of the young men pardoned and called off the execution for the both of them.
So impressed, even, was Dionysius, that he approached the pair and asked if he could be their friend too. Here, tellings vary, where some say that the young men agreed to the request and they became a Best Friend Trio until the end of their days, and some say they rebuffed the king's advances, staying true only to each other.
Some versions also have that the entire thing had been set-up by Dionysius as a test of proof to see if these two young Pythagoreans would live up to the reputation of moral strength and superiority their school of thought had, in which case, they passed the test with flying colors.
But regardless, Damon and Pythias became a timeless symbol for the Power of True Friendship that may or may not be at least somewhat gay.