In classical antiquity, writers such as Herodotus, Plato, Xenophon, Athenaeus and many others explored aspects of homosexuality in Greece. The most widespread and socially significant form of same-sex sexual relations in ancient Greece was between adult men and pubescent or adolescent boys, known as pederasty (marriages in Ancient Greece between men and women were also age structured, with men in their thirties commonly taking wives in their early teens). Though sexual relationships between adult men did exist, at least one member of each of these relationships flouted social conventions by assuming a passive sexual role. It is unclear how such relations between women were regarded in the general society, but examples do exist as far back as the time of Sappho.
The ancient Greeks did not conceive of sexual orientation as a social identifier as modern Western societies have done. Greek society did not distinguish sexual desire or behavior by the gender of the participants, but rather by the role that each participant played in the sex act, that of active penetrator or passive penetrated. This active/passive polarization corresponded with dominant and submissive social roles: the active (penetrative) role was associated with masculinity, higher social status, and adulthood, while the passive role was associated with femininity, lower social status, and youth.
The most common form of same-sex relationships between males in Greece was paiderastia (pederasty), meaning "boy love". It was a relationship between an older male and an adolescent youth. A boy was considered a "boy" until he was able to grow a full beard. In Athens the older man was called erastes. He was to educate, protect, love, and provide a role model for his eromenos, whose reward for him lay in his beauty, youth, and promise.
The roots of Greek pederasty lie in the tribal past of Greece, before the rise of the city-state as a unit of political organization. These tribal communities were organized according to age groups. When it came time for a boy to embrace the age group of the adult and to "become a man," he would leave the tribe in the company of an older man for a period of time that constituted a rite of passage. This older man would educate the youth in the ways of Greek life and the responsibilities of adulthood.
The rite of passage undergone by Greek youths in the tribal prehistory of Greece evolved into the commonly known form of Greek pederasty after the rise of the city-state, or polis. Greek boys no longer left the confines of the community, but rather paired up with older men within the confines of the city. These men, like their earlier counterparts, played an educational and instructive role in the lives of their young companions; likewise, just as in earlier times, they shared a sexual relationship with their boys. Penetrative sex, however, was seen as demeaning for the passive partner, and outside the socially accepted norm. In ancient Greece, sex was generally understood in terms of penetration, pleasure, and dominance, rather than a matter of the sexes of the participants. For this reason, pederasty was not considered to be a homosexual act, given that the ‘man’ would be taking on a dominant role, and his disciple would be taking on a passive one. When intercourse occurred between two people of the same gender, it still wasn't entirely regarded as a homosexual union, given that one partner would have to take on a passive role, and would therefore no longer be considered a ‘man’ in terms of the sexual union.
An elaborate social code governed the mechanics of Greek pederasty. It was the duty of the adult man to court the boy who struck his fancy, and it was viewed as socially appropriate for the younger man to withhold for a while before capitulating to his mentor's desires. This waiting period allowed the boy to ensure that his suitor was not merely interested in him for sexual purposes, but felt a genuine emotional affection for him and was interested in assuming the mentor role assigned to him in the pederastic paradigm.
The age limit for pederasty in ancient Greece seems to encompass, at the minimum end, boys of twelve years of age. To love a boy below the age of twelve was considered inappropriate, but no evidence exists of any legal penalties attached to this sort of practice. Traditionally, a pederastic relationship could continue until the widespread growth of the boy's body hair, when he is considered a man. Thus, the age limit for the younger member of a pederastic relationship seems to have extended from 12 to about 17 years of age.
The ancient Greeks, in the context of the pederastic city-states, were the first to describe, study, systematize, and establish pederasty as a social and educational institution. It was an important element in civil life, the military, philosophy and the arts. There is some debate among scholars about whether pederasty was widespread in all social classes, or largely limited to the aristocracy.
The Sacred Band of Thebes, a separate military unit reserved only for men and their beloved, is usually considered the prime example of how the ancient Greeks used love between soldiers in a troop to boost their fighting spirit. The Thebans attributed to the Sacred Band the power of Thebes for the generation before its fall to Philip II of Macedon, who was so impressed with their bravery during battle, he erected a monument that still stands today on their gravesite. He also gave a harsh criticism of the Spartan views of the band:
Pammenes' opinion, according to Plutarch, was that
These bonds, reflected in episodes from Greek mythology, such as the heroic relationship between Achilles and Patroclus in the Iliad, were thought to boost morale as well as bravery due to the want to impress and protect their lover. Such relationships were documented by many Greek historians and in philosophical discourses, as well as in offhand remarks such as Philip II of Macedon's recorded by Plutarch demonstrates:
During the Lelantine War between the Eretrians and the Chalcidians, before a decisive battle the Chalcidians called for the aid of a warrior named Cleomachus (glorious warrior). He answered their request, bringing his lover to watch. Leading the charge against the Eretrians he brought the Chalcidians to victory at the cost of his own life. The Chalcidians erected a tomb for him in the marketplace in gratitude. It is said that one of the most noble things is to give one's own life to save their lover. Although this did not occur during the Lelantine War example it was still a heroic act for Cleomachus and even a perfect time to show his lover his selfless ways.
The gender representations in Greek theatre was that of the stereotypical roles within Ancient Greece. Men were sought to be manipulative, powerful, had control over their own freewill, and control over their surroundings. Women were expected to be contained to the house and to do all the house work. They were also expected to produce offspring and act modestly. In the play "The Bacchae", the gender roles becomes evident in how the characters within the play are written and perceived. The women, or better known in the play as the Bacchae, are manipulated by the god named Dionysus. Dionysus is a strong and witty male character within the play and is written to easily manipulate the women due to this. In the same play, when the women start to gain control over themselves, they are perceived to be "wild" and "loose". The Greek men viewed the women in this state with both fear and anxiety.
Given the importance in Greek society of cultivating the masculinity of the adult male and the perceived feminizing effect of being the passive partner, relations between adult men of comparable social status were considered highly problematic, and usually associated with social stigma. This stigma, however, was reserved for only the passive partner in the relationship. According to contemporary opinion, Greek males who engaged in passive anal sex after reaching the age of manhood – at which point they were expected to take the reverse role in pederastic relationships and become the active and dominant member – thereby were feminized or "made a woman" of themselves. There is ample evidence in the theater of Aristophanes that derides these passive men and gives a glimpse of the type of biting social opprobrium and shame ("atimia") heaped upon them by their society. Regardless of the opprobrium, homosexual behavior was common among men of all classes despite the protocols and conventions surrounding it, Hubbard, op. cit. p. 7.
The first recorded appearance of a deep emotional bond between adult men in ancient Greek culture was in the Iliad (800 BC). Homer does not depict the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus as sexual. The ancient Greeks emphasised the supposed age difference between the two by portraying Patroclus with a beard in paintings and pottery, while Achilles is cleanshaven, although Achilles was an almost godlike figure in Greek society. This led to a disagreement on whom to make the erastes and whom the eromenos, since the Homeric tradition made Patroclus out to be older but Achilles stronger. Other ancients held that Achilles and Patroclus were simply close friends.
Aeschylus in the tragedy Myrmidons made Achilles the protector since he had avenged his lover's death even though the gods told him it would cost his own life. However, the character of Phaedrus in Plato's Symposium asserts that Homer emphasized the beauty of Achilles, which would qualify him, not Patroclus, as “eromenos”.
Sappho, a poet from the island of Lesbos, wrote many love poems addressed to women and girls. The love in these poems is sometimes requited, and sometimes not. Sappho is thought to have written close to 12,000 lines of poetry on her love for other women. Of these, only about 600 lines have survived. As a result of her fame in antiquity, she and her land have become emblematic of love between women.
In addition to being a poet, Sappho was the head of what was known as a thiasos. Thiasoi were communities of women in which Greek women could receive a limited form of education. Critically, however, girls in these communities also experienced same-sex love, sometimes for their mistresses (Sappho writes of her love for various students of hers) and sometimes for each other. As the polis evolved, however, marriage came to be an integral instrument for the organization of the culture, and women were confined to their houses; the thiasoi were no more. Girls were taught from their infancies that it was their duty and destiny in life to give their love to the men who would one day be their husbands. Female-female love had no place within the constraints of this new social organization.
Pedagogic erotic relationships are also documented for Sparta, together with athletic nudity for women. Plato's Symposium mentions women who "do not care for men, but have female attachments". In general, however, the historical record of love and sexual relations between women is sparse.
After a long hiatus marked by censorship of homosexual themes, modern historians picked up the thread, starting with Erich Bethe in 1907 and continuing with K. J. Dover and many others. These scholars have shown that same-sex relations were openly practised, largely with official sanction, in many areas of life from the 7th century BC until the Roman era.
Some scholars believe that same-sex relationships, especially pederasty, were common only among the aristocracy, and that such relationships were not widely practised by the common people (demos). One such scholar is Bruce Thornton, who argues that insults directed at pederastic males in the comedies of Aristophanes show the common people's dislike for the practice. Other scholars, such as Victoria Wohl, emphasize that in Athens, same-sex desire was part of the "sexual ideology of the democracy," shared by the elite and the demos, as exemplified by the tyrant-slayers, Harmodius and Aristogeiton. Even those who argue that pederasty was limited to the upper classes generally concede that it was "part of the social structure of the polis".
Considerable controversy has engaged the scholarly world concerning the nature of same-sex relationships among the ancient Greeks described by Thomas Hubbard in the Introduction to Homosexuality in Greece and Rome, A Source Book of Basic Documents, 2007, p. 2: "The field of Gay Studies has, virtually since its inception, been divided between 'essentialists' those who believe in an archetypical pattern of same gender attraction that is universal, transhistorical, and transcultural, and "social constructionists," those who hold that patterns of sexual preference manifest themselves with different significance in different societies and that no essential identity exists between practitioners of same-gender love in, for instance, ancient Greece and post industrial Western society. Some social constructionists have even gone so far as to deny that sexual preference was a significant category for the ancients or that any kind of subculture based on sexual object-choice existed in the ancient world," p. 2 (he cites Halperin and Foucault in the social constructionist camp and Boswell and Thorp in the essentialist; cf. E. Stein for a collection of essays, Forms of Desire: Sexual Orientation and the Social Constructionist Controversy, 1992). Hubbard states that "Close examination of a range of ancient texts suggests, however, that some forms of sexual preference were, in fact, considered a distinguishing characteristic of individuals. Many texts even see such preferences as inborn qualities and as "essential aspects of human identity..." ibid. Hubbard utilizes both schools of thought when these seem pertinent to the ancient texts, pp. 2–20.
During Plato's time there were some people who had "the audacity to say" that homosexual sex was shameful in any circumstances. Indeed, Plato himself eventually came to hold this view. At one time he had written that same-sex lovers were far more blessed than ordinary mortals. He even gave them a headstart in the great race to get back to heaven, their mutual love refeathering their mottled wings. Now he seemed to contradict himself. In his ideal city, he says in his last, posthumously published work known as The Laws, homosexual sex will be treated the same way as incest. It is something contrary to nature, he insists, and although there won't be laws against it, nevertheless a propaganda programme will encourage everyone to say that it is "utterly unholy, odious-to-the-gods and ugliest of ugly things.
The subject has caused controversy in most of modern Greece. In 2002, a conference on Alexander the Great was stormed as a paper about his homosexuality was about to be presented. When the film Alexander, which depicted Alexander as romantically involved with both men and women, was released in 2004, 25 Greek lawyers threatened to sue the film's makers, but relented after attending an advance screening of the film.
Spyridon-Adonis Georgiadis (Greek: Σπυρίδων-Άδωνις Γεωργιάδης; born 6 November 1972), better known as Adonis Georgiadis, is a Greek politician, historian, publisher and author. He is the Vice-President of New Democracy. He was Minister of Health from June 2013 until June 2014.Cebalinus
Cebalinus or Kebalinos (Ancient Greek: Κεβαλῖνος) was a Macedonian who lived at the time of Alexander the Great. He was the brother of Nicomachus, the eromenos of Dimnus, who instigated a plot against Alexander in 330 BC. When Dimnus revealed the plot to Nicomachus, Nicomachus revealed it to Cebalinus. Cebalinus reported this plot to Philotas, but when on the day of the planned assassination, Philotas had still not told Alexander, he also told Metro, a royal page. Metro reported the plot to Alexander, and took Cebalinus to see him.Cleomachus
Cleomachus (Greek: Κλεόμαχος) was an Ancient Greek warrior from Thessaly, notable for his defeat of the Eretrians in the Lelantine War.
Cleomachus was a widely known and celebrated soldier, and was called upon to fight by the Chalcidians in their war against the Eretrians. He agreed to fight and brought his male lover and companion to fight alongside him. Cleomachus charged the Eretrian lines and brought the Chalcidians to victory. Unfortunately he was slain during the battle, but his courage inspired the Chalcidians and changed their opinions on homosexuality, and they erected a tomb dedicated to him in the marketplace of Chalcis, the pillar of which stands today.Aristotle attributed a popular local song to the legacy of Cleomachus:
Ye lads of grace and sprung from worthy stockGrudge not to brave men converse with your beautyIn cities of Chalcis, Love, looser of limbsThrives side by side with courage
Though largely forgotten, Cleomachus is a notable example of Ancient Greek attitudes toward homosexuality.Greek Homosexuality (book)
Greek Homosexuality (1978; second edition 1989; third edition 2016) is a book about homosexuality in ancient Greece by the classical scholar Kenneth Dover, in which the author uses archaic and classical archaeological and literary sources to discuss ancient Greek sexual behavior and attitudes. He addresses the iconography of vase paintings, the speeches in the law courts, and the comedies of Aristophanes, as well as the content of other literary and philosophical source texts.
The first modern scholarly work on its topic, Greek Homosexuality received some negative reviews but was enormously influential, helping to shape the views of other classicists. Dover has been praised for discussion of sexual practices such as intercrural copulation.Greek homosexuality
Greek homosexuality may refer to:
Homosexuality in ancient Greece
Greek Homosexuality (book)
Homosexuality in modern Greece (see Category:LGBT in Greece)Homosexuality in the militaries of ancient Greece
Homosexuality in the militaries of ancient Greece was regarded as contributing to morale. Although the primary example is the Sacred Band of Thebes, a unit said to have been formed of same-sex couples, the Spartan tradition of military heroism has also been explained in light of strong emotional bonds resulting from homosexual relationships. Various ancient Greek sources record incidents of courage in battle and interpret them as motivated by homoerotic bonds.James Davidson (historian)
James Davidson is a professor of ancient history at the University of Warwick. Davidson specialises in the social history of ancient Greece and has made significant contributions to the study of ancient homosexuality. He was educated at Columbia and Oxford University, where he received a DPhil. From 2001 to 2004 he was a member of the Council for the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies from 2001 to 2004, and from 2000 to 2010 a member of the Classical Association Journals Board. His book The Greeks and Greek Love: a Radical Reappraisal of Homosexuality in Ancient Greece was awarded the Mark Lynton History Prize in 2010.LGBT themes in classical mythology
Greco-Roman mythology features male homosexuality in many of the constituent myths. In addition, there are instances of cross-dressing, and of androgyny which in post-1990s gender terminology has been grouped under the acronym LGBT.List of pre–Stonewall riots American television episodes with LGBT themes
Most American television episodes with LGBT themes that aired before the 1969 Stonewall riots were on various local talk shows. Generally, these shows would gravely discuss the "problem" of homosexuality with a panel of "experts" on the subject, none of whom were identified as homosexual. These included such programs as Confidential File out of Los Angeles, which produced "Homosexuals and the Problems They Present" in 1954 and "Homosexuals Who Stalk and Molest Our Children" in 1955, and The Open Mind out of New York which aired "Introduction to the Problem of Homosexuality", "Homosexuality: A Psychological Approach" and "Male and Female in American Society" during its 1956–1957 season. One notable exception to this rule was Showcase, hosted out of New York by author Fannie Hurst beginning in 1958. Showcase presented several of the earliest well-rounded discussions of homosexuality and was one of the few programs on which homosexual men spoke for themselves rather than being debated by a panel of "experts". Hurst was praised by early homophile group the Mattachine Society, which invited Hurst to deliver the keynote address at the Society's 1958 convention.A brief break from this pattern came in 1961 with the production of The Rejected, the first documentary program on homosexuality aired on American television. The Rejected presented information on such topics as the Kinsey Reports and featured anthropologist Margaret Mead discussing homosexuality in ancient Greece and among Native American cultures. A representative from the Mattachine Society also appeared on-air. However, the old model quickly re-emerged with such broadcasts as "Society and the Homosexual" in 1962 from the Los Angeles-based Argument and Chicago's Off the Cuff, which in 1963 presented a discussion of lesbianism with an all-male panel. CBS became the first national network to broadcast a documentary hour, in 1967. CBS Reports: The Homosexuals featured men interviewed in shadow and from behind potted plants to conceal their identities and anti-gay psychologists Charles W. Socarides and Irving Bieber in a broadcast that has been described as "the single most destructive hour of antigay propaganda in our nation's history".During the 1960s, a few fiction series broached the subject obliquely, with "coded" or repressed lesbians like Miss Brant from 1961's The Asphalt Jungle or discussion of characters who may or may not have been gay like Channing's Buddy Crown in 1963. Those episodes that featured identified lesbian or gay characters tended to present them as either victims or killers. Following the 1969 Stonewall riots, a seminal event in the American gay rights movement, gay activist groups began speaking out more forcefully, challenging how homosexuality was portrayed on-screen.One Hundred Years of Homosexuality
One Hundred Years of Homosexuality: and other essays on Greek love is a 1990 book about homosexuality in ancient Greece by the classicist David M. Halperin, in which the author supports the social constructionist school of thought associated with the French philosopher Michel Foucault. The work has been praised by several scholars, but criticized by others, some of whom have attributed to Halperin the view that the coining of the word "homosexuality" in the nineteenth century brought homosexuality into existence. The book was often reviewed alongside John J. Winkler's The Constraints of Desire (1990).Sexuality in Africa
Sexuality in Africa has various manifestations with attitudes varying, according to by region.
Attitudes towards sexuality may diverge along regions between Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa, with the former having been under the influence of Christianity and the latter under the influence of Islam. Much discussion surrounding sexuality in Africa focuses on the effects of sexually transmitted diseases. Although there exist African communities that are accepting of female pleasure, others may repudiate against such an attitude, while others view sexual acts as primarily a path towards reproduction. Differences in genetic diversity show that in ancient African history, women were more likely than men to copulate and sire offspring, possibly due to female hypergamy.Sexuality in Bangladesh
Sexuality in Bangladesh is influenced by religion and culture. Bangladeshi culture is predominantly conservative and patriarchal. Several issues in Bangladesh, including sexual education, homosexuality, and sexual behavior are taboo topics.Sexuality in China
Sexuality in China has undergone revolutionary changes and this "sexual revolution" still continues today. Chinese sexual attitudes, behaviors, ideology, and relations have changed dramatically in the past decade of reform and opening up of the country. Many of these changes have found expression in the public forum through a variety of behaviors and ideas. These include, but are not limited to the following cultural shifts: a separation of sex and marriage, such as pre- and extramarital sex; a separation of sex from love and child-bearing such as Internet sex and one-night stands; an increase in observable sexual diversity such as homo- and bisexual behavior and fetishism; an increase in socially acceptable displays and behaviors of female sexual desire; a boom in the sex industry; and a more open discussion of sex topics, including sex studies at colleges, media reports, formal publications, on-line information, extensive public health education, and public displays of affection.As can be seen by these developments, China no longer exerts strict control over personal sexual behavior. Sex is increasingly considered something personal and can now be differentiated from a traditional system that featured legalized marital sex and legal controls over childbirth. The reduction in controls on sexual behavior has initiated a freer atmosphere for sexual expression. More and more people now regard sexual rights as basic human rights, so that everyone has the right and freedom to pursue his or her own sexual bliss.Change in the field of sexuality reveals not only a change of sexual attitudes and behaviors but also a series of related social changes via the process of social transformation. From the sociological perspective, there have been several main factors that have created the current turning point in the contemporary Chinese social context.Sexuality in India
Multicultural India has developed its discourse on sexuality differently based on its distinct regions with their own unique cultures. However, one common aspect remains: the existence of a subtle conspiracy of silence and taboos that clouds the Indian world of sexual desires and expressions. The origins of this silence towards India's rich contributions to sexuality and shunning of it almost are to be found in the repurcussions of the colonial rule and of the Bible. This shaped the attitude and opinions Indian people hold about their sexuality today; one that is hegemonically hetereosexual and must aim at procreation after marriage. However, from the second half of the 20th century, several significant voices have challenged this silence imposed over sexuality and questioned the roles assigned to desires within the socio-political and artistic fields. Many recently published studies confirm the richness of India's erotic past and popular voices are now spotlighting this for the masses to know. A myriad of folk tales, sculptures like those in Khajuraho, religious poetry and scholary documents reveal homoerotic content and how love and sex between women, men, gods, semi-gods and goddesses was expressed.Sexuality in South Korea
Sexuality in South Korea has been influenced by culture, religion, and westernization. Viewpoints in contemporary society can be viewed as a conflict between the traditional, conservative older generation and the more liberal and 'modern' generation. Due to this conflict, several issues in Korea, including sexual education, homosexuality, and sexual behavior is highly contested.Sexuality in the Philippines
Sexuality in the Philippines encompasses sexual behavior, sexual practices, and sexual activities exhibited by men and women of the Philippines past and the present. It covers courtship strategies for attracting partners for physical and emotional intimacy, sexual contact, sexual reproduction, building a family, and other forms of individual interactions or interpersonal relationships, as set and dictated by their culture and tradition, religion, beliefs, values and moral convictions, psychology, foreign influences, and other related factors.Sexuality in the United States
Sexuality in the United States has had an assorted approach, depending on both the region in the country and the specific time period.The Last of the Wine
The Last of the Wine is Mary Renault's first novel set in ancient Greece, the setting that would become her most important arena. The novel was published in 1956 and is the second of her works to feature male homosexuality as a major theme. It was a bestseller within the gay community. The book is a portrait of Athens at the close of the Golden Age and the end of the Peloponnesian War with Sparta, and includes Socrates as a character.