You are presumably familiar enough with the story of Saul and David that I do not need to recount it for you here! The gist, for those of you unfamiliar, is that Saul was the big butch king of Israel in the long-ago, whose various misdeeds made him unfit for kingship, and God, via the prophet Samuel, selected the young and ruddy David son of Jesse to replace him, but in an incredibly gaslight-y and passive-aggressive way, namely by sending David off to Saul’s court as a musician to calm the king’s panic attacks and pretend he’s not already planning on replacing him. Which, can you imagine? “I don’t know why you’re so stressed, Saul…No one in this room is planning on killing and supplanting you. You’re crazy, Saul. You must be just going crazy. Anyhow, here’s ‘Wonderwall.'” Or whatever.
Anyhow, even though the relationship between David and Jonathan (Saul’s son) is much more overtly romantic, it gets fairly short shrift among Western artists (probably because it was more overtly romantic). David and Saul, though! That’s a horse of an entirely different and homoerotic color! People loved painting a strapping, snappish Saul with a smooth-cheeked kinglet trying to knit up his raveled sleave of care, and who are we to judge them?
Kindly find my case snugly enfitted in point:
Royal ladies of the court, you are right to shrink back in awe; this strapping youthbeast is here to shirtlessly play the harp at Saul until he knows joy again! Could he be a more wholesome Boy Scout of a nymph, strutting up to a Saul I can only describe as “sexy land King Triton”? “Hi, I’m, uh….I’m here to soothe you.”
Could Saul be sulkier? Could David be, I guess, uke-er? (Alternate titles for this tableaux include: The Hand of the King, Soothing The Royal Beast, And The Band Played On, Mr. Kingface And Toppy, Pulling Strings, Plucked)
“The music isn’t working anymore,” Saul snarled.
“There are other manners of relaxing, my liege,” said the boy-harpist humbly. And then build from there.
THE CAREFULLY PLACED SPEAR. THE ANGELIC EXPRESSION SO OVER-THE-TOP BEATIFIC THAT IT IS CLEARLY A PUT-ON. THAT’S THE KIND OF FACE LORD ALFRED DOUGLAS MAKES. What movie was it that said whoever your feet point toward, that’s who you want to have sex with? I want to say it was actually…an episode of New Girl? As true in ancient Israel as it was in Zooey Deschanel’s loft, I guess.
That gaze! That’s…this fanfic writes itself! The INSOLENT HARPIST, the SULLEN KING with an ATTRACTIVE DRINKING PROBLEM, the difficult-to-remove sandals, the whoever that wonderfully bitchy-looking woman is slinking around angrily in the corner! Everyone saying things roughly and speaking with cruel mouths. Wearing pelts, and whatnot.
THE SCIENTIFIC TERM FOR THIS IS “UNNNNF.” Saul is lounging exactly like Hedonism Bot does in all of his scenes. He knew one day the boy would be his undoing in more ways than one.
“I don’t need you – and you’ve never needed me!”
Saul something something how could he not realize how much he’d always needed him, too much pride, something something, “Then go!”
Do I have to insert a snappy “lol bye” here? It captions itself. That is the most “lol bye” face I have ever seen in my anachronistically-captioning days. “And stay out! Never call me again! In fact, forget you ever knew my number!” You know the kind of fight this clearly is.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.