Jan 11th, 2006, 03:51 AM
NOTE: Originally written 3rd of January, 2006. I wrote it on my blog. Thanks.
I was interested in reading about the famed period of Greek homosexuality, a period which a lot of people try to use to justify the homosexuality as a normal and commonplace act, one that is merely suppressed by society. I wanted to see if I could find: How prevalent it was, what the homosexual culture of the time was like, who is doing it, who is getting done in it, how did women ever fit into the picture, etc.
In my effort to answer these questions, I would like to provide some answers for us all for our continued discussion on homosexuality by discussing a history of it.
How prevalent was homosexuality in ancient Greece?
One source notes, "Of course homosexuality existed in Greece, just as it has existed, and will continue to exist, everywhere and at all times in human history. However, while it did exist, it was never legally sanctioned, thought to be a cultural norm, or engaged in without risk of serious punishment, including exile and death."
The same source notes that Greek law at the time detailed that a homosexual must not "become one of the nine archons, nor to discharge the office of priest, nor to act as an advocate for the state, nor shall he hold any office whatsoever, at home or abroad, whether filled by lot or by election; he shall not be sent as a herald; he shall not take part in debate, nor be present at the public sacrifices; when the citizens are wearing garlands, he shall wear none; and he shall not enter within the limits of the place that has been purified for the assembling of the people. Any man who has been convicted of defying these prohibitions pertaining to sexual conduct shall be put to death (Aeschines. "Contra Timarchus," as cited in Georgiades, p. 69). "
Wikipedia also notes that "Love between adult men was known, and though it was discouraged and ridiculed there are records of many such couples. The third, and best known category was love between adult men and adolescent boys, known as pederasty."
So even in the sense of the Spartans and their boys, it was an issue of pederasty and considered distinctly different from adult homosexuality which was strongly discouraged and ridiculed, as even objective sources do note.
Who was doing it in ancient Greece?
We do know that http://www.bigeye.com/sexeducation/ancientgreece.html"When homosexual men wrote about their love for other men the most loved boys were usually age 12-14. Some homosexual men wouldn't even try to have sex with a boy over the age of 17."[/quote]
To me this sounds like an idealization of youth, and sort of that in the minds of others men became dirty after a certain age and were not fit for sexual interaction. It goes into the notion of Pederasty again, and further separates the concept and delineates that the concept of grown men engaging in a homosexual relationship was unheard of.
Why were Greeks often homosexual?
Some places suggest that "the Greeks hated and victimized their women" and thus were inclined to practice homosexuality out of the notion that women were not fit for love.
Pederasty, as wikipedia notes, "In antiquity, pederasty as a moral and educational institution was practiced in Ancient Greece and Rome."
In many senses, we can understand the concept of Greek homosexuality as being primarily of a pederastic nature, and thus as more of an institution of an older man taking a younger man as an apprentice. This coupled with a general disdain of women as being only for family and being less intelligent than men, would probably make the men interested in intimate, intellectual relationships that would result in a homosexual act.
Conclusion: Homosexuality in ancient Greece is incredibly abused and misused in trying to justify the normality of homosexual relationships amongst men, and that there is absolutely no evidence to conclude that homosexual is simply a natural phenomenon that society represses, but rather that even in ancient Greece it was still a ridiculed concept if two older men acted as homosexuals.