Pederasty in ancient Greece
Pederasty in ancient Greece was a socially acknowledged erotic relationship between an adult male (the erastes) and a younger male (the eromenos) usually in his teens. It was characteristic of the Archaic and Classical periods. The influence of pederasty on Greek culture of these periods was so pervasive that it has been called "the principal cultural model for free relationships between citizens."
Some scholars locate its origin in initiation ritual, particularly rites of passage on Crete, where it was associated with entrance into military life and the religion of Zeus. It has no formal existence in the Homeric epics, and seems to have developed in the late 7th century BC as an aspect of Greek homosocial culture, which was characterized also by athletic and artistic nudity, delayed marriage for aristocrats, symposia, and the social seclusion of women. Pederasty was both idealized and criticized in ancient literature and philosophy. The argument has recently been made that idealization was universal in the Archaic period; criticism began in Athens as part of the general Classical Athenian reassessment of Archaic culture.
Scholars have debated the role or extent of pederasty, which is likely to have varied according to local custom and individual inclination. The English word "pederasty" in present-day usage might imply the abuse of minors in certain jurisdictions, but Athenian law, for instance, recognized consent but not age as a factor in regulating sexual behavior. As classical historian Robin Osborne has pointed out, historical discussion of paiderastia is complicated by 21st-century moral standards:
It is the historian's job to draw attention to the personal, social, political and indeed moral issues behind the literary and artistic representations of the Greek world. The historian's job is to present pederasty and all, to make sure that … we come face to face with the way the glory that was Greece was part of a world in which many of our own core values find themselves challenged rather than reinforced.
The Greek word paiderastia (παιδεραστία) is an abstract noun of feminine gender. It is formed from paiderastês, which in turn is a compound of pais ("child", plural paides) and erastês (see below). Although the word pais can refer to a child of either sex, paiderastia is defined by Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon as "the love of boys," and the verb paiderasteuein as "to be a lover of boys."
Since the publication of Kenneth Dover's work Greek Homosexuality, the terms erastês and erômenos have been standard for the two pederastic roles. Both words derive from the Greek verb erô, erân, "to love"; see also eros. In Dover's strict dichotomy, the erastês (ἐραστής, plural erastai) is the older lover, seen as the active or dominant partner, with the suffix -tês (-τής) denoting agency. Erastês should be distinguished from Greek paiderastês, which meant "lover of boys" usually with a negative connotation. The erastês himself might only be in his early twenties, and thus the age difference between the two lovers might be negligible.
The word erômenos, or "beloved" (ἐρώμενος, plural eromenoi), is the masculine form of the present passive participle from erô, viewed by Dover as the passive or subordinate partner. An erômenos can also be called pais, "child." The pais was regarded as a future citizen, not an "inferior object of sexual gratification," and was portrayed with respect in art. The word can be understood as an endearment such as a parent might use, found also in the poetry of Sappho and a designation of only relative age. Both art and other literary references show that the erômenos was at least a teen, with modern age estimates ranging from 13 to 20, or in some cases up to 30. Most evidence indicates that to be an eligible erômenos, a youth would be of an age when an aristocrat began his formal military training, that is, from fifteen to seventeen. As an indication of physical maturity, the erômenos was sometimes as tall as or taller than the older erastês, and may have his first facial hair. Another word used by the Greeks for the younger partner was paidika, a neuter plural adjective ("things having to do with children") treated syntactically as masculine singular.
In poetry and philosophical literature, the erômenos is often an embodiment of idealized youth; a related ideal depiction of youth in Archaic culture was the kouros, the long-haired male statuary nude. In The Fragility of Goodness, Martha Nussbaum, following Dover, defines the ideal erômenos as
a beautiful creature without pressing needs of his own. He is aware of his attractiveness, but self-absorbed in his relationship with those who desire him. He will smile sweetly at the admiring lover; he will show appreciation for the other's friendship, advice, and assistance. He will allow the lover to greet him by touching, affectionately, his genitals and his face, while he looks, himself, demurely at the ground. … The inner experience of an erômenos would be characterized, we may imagine, by a feeling of proud self-sufficiency. Though the object of importunate solicitation, he is himself not in need of anything beyond himself. He is unwilling to let himself be explored by the other's needy curiosity, and he has, himself, little curiosity about the other. He is something like a god, or the statue of a god.
Dover insisted that the active role of the erastês and the passivity of the erômenos is a distinction "of the highest importance," but subsequent scholars have tried to present a more varied picture of the behaviors and values associated with paiderastia. Although ancient Greek writers use erastês and erômenos in a pederastic context, the words are not technical terms for social roles, and can refer to the "lover" and "beloved" in other hetero- and homosexual couples.
The Greek practice of pederasty came suddenly into prominence at the end of the Archaic period of Greek history; there is a brass plaque from Crete, about 650-625 BC, which is the oldest surviving representation of pederastic custom. Such representations appear from all over Greece in the next century; literary sources show it as being established custom in many cities by the 5th century BC.
Cretan pederasty as a formal social institution seems to have been grounded in an initiation which involved ritual abduction. A man (philetor, "lover") selected a youth, enlisted the chosen one's friends to help him, and carried off the object of his affections to his andreion, a sort of men's club or meeting hall. The youth received gifts, and the philetor along with the friends went away with him for two months into the countryside, where they hunted and feasted. At the end of this time, the philetor presented the youth with three contractually required gifts: military attire, an ox, and a drinking cup. Other costly gifts followed. Upon their return to the city, the youth sacrificed the ox to Zeus, and his friends joined him at the feast. He received special clothing that in adult life marked him as kleinos, "famous, renowned." The initiate was called a parastatheis, "he who stands beside," perhaps because, like Ganymede the cup-bearer of Zeus, he stood at the side of the philetor during meals in the andreion and served him from the cup that had been ceremonially presented. In this interpretation, the formal custom reflects myth and ritual.
The erastes-eromenos relationship played a role in the Classical Greek social and educational system, had its own complex social-sexual etiquette and was an important social institution among the upper classes. Pederasty has been understood as educative, and Greek authors from Aristophanes to Pindar felt it naturally present in the context of aristocratic education (paideia). In general, pederasty as described in the Greek literary sources is an institution reserved for free citizens, perhaps to be regarded as a dyadic mentorship: "pederasty was widely accepted in Greece as part of a male's coming-of-age, even if its function is still widely debated."
In Crete, in order for the suitor to carry out the ritual abduction, the father had to approve him as worthy of the honor. Among the Athenians, as Socrates claims in Xenophon's Symposium, "Nothing [of what concerns the boy] is kept hidden from the father, by an ideal lover." In order to protect their sons from inappropriate attempts at seduction, fathers appointed slaves called pedagogues to watch over their sons. However, according to Aeschines, Athenian fathers would pray that their sons would be handsome and attractive, with the full knowledge that they would then attract the attention of men and "be the objects of fights because of erotic passions."
The age-range when boys entered into such relationships was consonant with that of Greek girls given in marriage, often to adult husbands many years their senior. Boys, however, usually had to be courted and were free to choose their mate, while marriages for girls were arranged for economic and political advantage at the discretion of father and suitor. These connections were also an advantage for a youth and his family, as the relationship with an influential older man resulted in an expanded social network. Thus, some considered it desirable to have had many admirers or mentors, if not necessarily lovers per se, in one’s younger years. Typically, after their sexual relationship had ended and the young man had married, the older man and his protégé would remain on close terms throughout their life. For those lovers who continued their lovemaking after their beloveds had matured, the Greeks made allowances, saying, You can lift up a bull, if you carried the calf.
Pederasty was the idealized form of homoeroticism that had other, less idealized manifestations, such as the sexual use of slaves or being a pornos (prostitute) or hetairos (the male equivalent of a hetaira). Male prostitution was treated as a perfectly routine matter and visiting prostitutes of either sex was considered completely acceptable for a male citizen. However, adolescent citizens of free status who prostituted themselves were sometimes ridiculed, and were permanently prohibited by Attic law from performing some seven official functions because it was believed that since they had sold their own body for the pleasure of others (ἐφ’ ὕβρει eph’ hybrei), they would not hesitate to sell the interests of the community as a whole. If they, or an adult citizen of free status who had prostituted himself, performed any of the official functions prohibited to them by law (in later life), they were liable to prosecution and punishment. However, if they did not perform those specific functions, did not present themselves for the allocation of those functions and declared themselves ineligible if they were somehow mistakenly elected to perform those specific functions, they were safe from prosecution and punishment. As non-citizens visiting or residing in a city-state could not perform official functions in any case whatsoever, they could prostitute themselves as much as they wanted.
Transgressions of the customs pertaining to the proper expression of homosexuality within the bounds of pederaistia could be used to damage the reputation of a public figure. In his speech Against Timarchus in 346 BC, the Athenian politician Aeschines argues against further allowing Timarchus, an experienced middle-aged politician, certain political rights as Attic law prohibited anyone who had prostituted himself from exercising those rights and Timarchus was known to have spent his adolescence as the sexual partner of a series of wealthy men in order to obtain money. Such a law existed because it was believed that anyone who had sold their own body would not hesitate to sell the interests of the city-state. Aeschines won his case, and Timarchus was sentenced to atimia (disenfranchisement and civic disempowerment). Aeschines acknowledges his own dalliances with beautiful boys, the erotic poems he dedicated to these youths, and the scrapes he has gotten into as a result of his affairs, but emphasizes that none of these were mediated by money. A financial motive thus was viewed as threatening a man's status as free.
By contrast, as expressed in Pausanias' speech in Plato's Symposium, pederastic love was said to be favorable to democracy and feared by tyrants, because the bond between the erastes and eromenos was stronger than that of obedience to a despotic ruler. Athenaeus states that "Hieronymus the Aristotelian says that love with boys was fashionable because several tyrannies had been overturned by young men in their prime, joined together as comrades in mutual sympathy." He gives as examples of such pederastic couples the Athenians Harmodius and Aristogeiton, who were credited (perhaps symbolically) with the overthrow of the tyrant Hippias and the establishment of the democracy, and also Chariton and Melanippus. Others, such as Aristotle, claimed that the Cretan lawgivers encouraged pederasty as a means of population control, by directing love and sexual desire into non-procreative channels:
and the lawgiver has devised many wise measures to secure the benefit of moderation at table, and the segregation of the women in order that they may not bear many children, for which purpose he instituted association with the male sex.
For I know not any greater blessing to a young man who is beginning in life than a virtuous lover, or to a lover than a beloved youth. For the principle, I say, neither kindred, nor honor, nor wealth, nor any motive is able to implant so well as love. Of what am I speaking? Of the sense of honor and dishonor, without which neither states nor individuals ever do any good or great work… And if there were only some way of contriving that a state or an army should be made up of lovers and their loves, they would be the very best governors of their own city, abstaining from all dishonor and emulating one another in honor; and it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that when fighting at each other’s side, although a mere handful, they would overcome the world.
The Athenian stranger in Plato's Laws blames pederasty for promoting civil strife and driving many to their wits' end, and recommends the prohibition of sexual intercourse with youths, laying out a path whereby this may be accomplished.
In myth and religion
There is some pleasure in loving a boy (paidophilein), since once in fact even the son of Cronus (that is, Zeus), king of immortals, fell in love with Ganymede, seized him, carried him off to Olympus, and made him divine, keeping the lovely bloom of boyhood (paideia). So, don't be astonished, Simonides, that I too have been revealed as captivated by love for a handsome boy.
Greek myths provide more than fifty examples of young men who were the lovers of gods. Pederastic love affairs are ascribed to Zeus, Poseidon, Apollo, Orpheus, Heracles, Dionysus, Hermes, and Pan. All the Olympian gods except Ares had these relationships, which are adduced by scholars to show that the specific customs of paiderastia originated in initiatory rituals.
Dover, however, believed that these myths are only literary versions expressing or explaining the "overt" homosexuality of Greek archaic culture, the distinctiveness of which he contrasted to attitudes in other ancient societies such as Egypt and Israel.
Greek vase painting is a major source for scholars seeking to understand attitudes and practices associated with paiderastia. Hundreds of pederastic scenes are depicted on Attic black-figure vases. In the early 20th century, John Beazley classified pederastic vases into three types:
- The erastês and erômenos stand facing each other; the erastês, knees bent, reaches with one hand for the beloved's chin and with the other for his genitals.
- The erastês presents the erômenos with a small gift, sometimes an animal.
- The standing lovers engage in intercrural sex.
Certain gifts traditionally given by the eromenos become symbols that contribute to interpreting a given scene as pederastic. Animal gifts — most commonly hares and roosters, but also deer and felines — point toward hunting as an aristocratic pastime and as a metaphor for sexual pursuit.
The explicit nature of some images has led in particular to discussions of whether the eromenos took active pleasure in the sex act. The youthful beloved is never pictured with an erection; his penis "remains flaccid even in circumstances to which one would expect the penis of any healthy adolescent to respond willy-nilly." Fondling the youth's genitals was one of the most common images of pederastic courtship on vases, a gesture indicated also in Aristophanes' comedy Birds (line 142). Some vases do show the younger partner as sexually responsive, prompting one scholar to wonder, "What can the point of this act have been unless lovers in fact derived some pleasure from feeling and watching the boy's developing organ wake up and respond to their manual stimulation?"
Chronological study of the vase paintings also reveals a changing aesthetic in the depiction of the erômenos. In the 6th century BC, he is a young beardless man with long hair, of adult height and physique, usually nude. As the 5th century begins, he has become smaller and slighter, "barely pubescent," and often draped as a girl would be. No inferences about social customs should be based on this element of the courtship scene alone.
There are many pederastic references among the works of the Megaran poet Theognis addressed to Cyrnus (Greek Kyrnos). Some portions of the Theognidean corpus are probably not by the individual from Megara, but rather represent "several generations of wisdom poetry." The poems are "social, political, or ethical precepts transmitted to Cyrnus as part of his formation into an adult Megarian aristocrat in Theognis' own image."
The relationship between Theognis and Kyrnos eludes categorization. Although it was assumed in antiquity that Kyrnos was the poet's eromenos, the poems that are most explicitly erotic are not addressed to him; the poetry on "the joys and sorrows" of pederasty seem more apt for sharing with a fellow erastes, perhaps in the setting of the symposium: "the relationship, in any case, is left vague." In general, Theognis (and the tradition that appears under his name) treats the pederastic relationship as heavily pedagogical.
The poetic traditions of Ionia and Aeolia featured poets such as Anacreon, Mimnermus and Alcaeus, who composed many of the sympotic skolia that were to become later part of the mainland tradition. Ibycus came from Rhegium in the Greek west and entertained the court of Polycrates in Samos with pederastic verses. By contrast with Theognis, these poets portray a version of pederasty that is non-pedagogical, focused exclusively on love and seduction. Theocritus, a Hellenistic poet, describes a kissing contest for youths that took place at the tomb of a certain Diocles, renowned for friendship; he notes that invoking Ganymede was proper to the occasion.
Vase paintings and references to the eromenos's thighs in poetry indicate that when the pederastic couple engaged in sex acts, the preferred form was intercrural. To preserve his dignity and honor, the erômenos limits the man who desires him to penetration between closed thighs.
Anal sex may be depicted, but far more rarely. The evidence is not explicit and is open to interpretation. Some vase paintings, which Percy considers a fourth type of pederastic scene in addition to Beazley's three, show the erastês seated with an erection and the erômenos either approaching or climbing into his lap. The composition of these scenes is the same as that for depictions of women mounting men who are seated and aroused for intercourse. As a cultural norm considered apart from personal preference, anal penetration was most often seen as dishonorable to the one penetrated, or shameful, because of "its potential appearance of being turned into a woman" and because it was feared that it may distract the erômenos from playing the active, penetrative role later in life. A fable attributed to Aesop tells how Aeschyne (Shame) consented to enter the human body from behind only as long as Eros did not follow the same path, and would fly away at once if he did. No shame was associated with intercrural penetration or any other act that did not involve anal penetration. Oral sex is likewise not depicted, or is indicated only indirectly; anal or oral penetration seems to have been reserved for prostitutes or slaves.
Dover maintained that the erômenos was ideally not supposed to feel "unmanly" desire for the erastês. Nussbaum argues that the depiction of the erômenos as deriving no sexual pleasure from sex with the erastês "may well be a cultural norm that conceals a more complicated reality", as the erômenos is known to have frequently felt intense affection for his erastês and there is evidence that he experienced sexual arousal with him as well. In Plato's Phaedrus, it is related that, with time, the erômenos develops a "passionate longing" for his erastês and a "reciprocal love" (anteros) for him that is a replica of the erastês' love. The eromenos is also said to have a desire "similar to the erastes', albeit weaker, to see, to touch, to kiss and to lie with him".
The Greek East
Unlike the Dorians, where a lover would usually have only one eromenos, in the east a man might have several eromenoi over the course of his life. From the poems of Alcaeus we learn that the lover would customarily invite his eromenos to dine with him.
Sparta, during its Dorian polis time, is thought to be the first city to practice athletic nudity, and one of the first to formalize pederasty. The nature of this relationship is in dispute among ancient sources. Xenophon in his Constitution of the Lacedaimonians says that Spartan customs were unsuited to pederasty: a man might aim for idealized friendship with a boy but a sexual relationship was considered "an abomination" tantamount to incest. Aelian's Historical Miscellany talks about the responsibilities of an older Spartan citizen to younger inexperienced male lovers.
Megara cultivated good relations with Sparta, and may have been culturally attracted to emulate Spartan practices in the 7th century, when pederasty is postulated to have first been formalized in Dorian cities. One of the first cities after Sparta to be associated with the custom of athletic nudity, Megara was home to the runner Orsippus who was famed as the first to run the footrace naked at the Olympic Games and "first of all Greeks to be crowned victor naked." In one poem, the Megaran poet Theognis saw athletic nudity as a prelude to pederasty: "Happy is the lover who works out naked / And then goes home to sleep all day with a beautiful boy."
In Athens, as elsewhere, pederastia appears to have been a characteristic of the aristocracy. Attic pottery is a major source for modern scholars attempting to understand the institution of pederasty. The age of youth depicted has been estimated variously from 12 to 18. A number of Athenian laws addressed the pederastic relationship.
In Thebes, the main polis in Boeotia, renowned for its practice of pederasty, the tradition was enshrined in the founding myth of the city. In this instance the story was meant to teach by counterexample: it depicts Laius, one of the mythical ancestors of the Thebans, in the role of a lover who betrays the father and rapes the son. Another Boeotian pederastic myth is the story of Narcissus.
According to Plutarch, Theban pederasty was instituted as an educational device for boys in order to "soften, while they were young, their natural fierceness, and to "temper the manners and characters of the youth". According to a tradition, The Sacred Band of Thebes comprised pederastic couples.
Boeotian pottery, in contrast to that of Athens, does not exhibit the three types of pederastic scenes identified by Beazley. The limited survival and cataloguing of pottery that can be proven to have been made in Boeotia diminishes the value of this evidence in distinguishing a specifically local tradition of paiderastia.
The ethical views held in ancient societies, such as Athens, Thebes, Crete, Sparta, Elis and others, on the practice of pederasty have been explored by scholars only since the end of the 19th century. One of the first to do so was John Addington Symonds, who wrote his seminal work A Problem in Greek Ethics in 1873, but after a private edition of 10 copies (1883) only in 1901 could the work really be published, in revised form. Edward Carpenter expanded the scope of the study, with his 1914 work, Intermediate Types among Primitive Folk. The text examines homoerotic practices of all types, not only pederastic ones, and ranges over cultures spanning the whole globe. In Germany the work was continued by classicist Paul Brandt writing under the pseudonym Hans Licht, who published his Sexual Life in Ancient Greece in 1932.
Mainstream Ancient Greek studies however had historically omitted references of the widespread practice of homosexuality. E. M. Forster's 1914 novel Maurice makes reference to modern European ambivalence toward this aspect of ancient Greek culture in a scene where a Cambridge professor, leading a group of students in translating an ancient Greek text says, "Omit the reference to the unspeakable vice of the Greeks." Later in the 1940s H. Mitchell wrote: This aspect of Greek morals is an extraordinary one, into which, for the sake of our equanimity, it is unprofitable to pry too closely". It would not be until 1978 and K. J. Dover's book Greek Homosexuality, that the topic would be widely and frankly discussed.
Dover's work triggered a number of debates which still continue. Historian of the 20th century Michel Foucault declared that pederasty was "problematized" in Greek culture, that it was "the object of a special — and especially intense — moral preoccupation", which was "subjected to an interplay of positive and negative interplays so complex as to make the ethics that governed it difficult to decipher", focusing on concern with the chastity/moderation of the erōmenos (the term used for the "beloved" youth). A modern line of thought leading from Dover to Foucault to Halperin holds that the erōmenos did not reciprocate the love and desire of the erastes, and that the relationship was factored on a sexual domination of the younger by the older, a politics of penetration held to be true of all adult male Athenians' relations with their social inferiors — boys, women and slaves — a theory propounded also by Eva Keuls. From this perspective, the relationships are characterized and factored on a power differential between the participants, and as essentially asymmetrical.
Other scholars point to artwork on vases, poetry and philosophical works such as the Platonic discussion of anteros, "love returned," all of which show tenderness and desire and love on the part of the eromenos matching and responding to that of the erastes. Critics of Dover and his followers also point out that they ignore all material which argued against their "overly theoretical" interpretation of a human and emotional relationship and counter that "Clearly, a mutual, consensual bond was formed," and that it is "a modern fairy tale that the younger eromenos was never aroused."
Halperin's position has been criticized as a "persistently negative and judgmental rhetoric implying exploitation and domination as the fundamental characteristics of pre-modern sexual models" and challenged as a polemic of "mainstream assimilationist gay apologists" and an attempt to "demonize and purge from the movement" all non-orthodox male sexualities, especially that involving adults and adolescents.
- Age disparity in sexual relationships
- Greek love
- Homosexuality in ancient Greece
- LGBT themes in mythology
- Platonic love
- Sacred Band of Thebes
- The Sacred Band of Stepsons, fiction
- The 7 functions that a free Athenian citizen who had prostituted himself was prohibited from performing:
- Becoming one of the nine archons - because the myrtle wreath was worn as sign of the sacred character of that office
- Carrying out a priestly function - because a prostitute was not considered 'clean in body'
- Acting as an advocate in the state's interest
- Holding any office whatsoever at any time, in Attica or abroad, whether filled by lot or by election
- Serving as a herald
- Serving as an ambassador
- Addressing the senate or assembly.
- Kenneth J. Dover (1989). Greek Homosexuality. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 118. ISBN 0674362616.
- C.D.C. Reeve, Plato on Love: Lysis, Symposium, Phaedrus, Alcibiades with Selections from Republic and Laws (Hackett, 2006), p. xxi online; Martti Nissinen, Homoeroticism in the Biblical World: A Historical Perspective, translated by Kirsi Stjerna (Augsburg Fortress, 1998, 2004), p. 57 online; Nigel Blake et al., Education in an Age of Nihilism (Routledge, 2000), p. 183 online.
- Nissinen, Homoeroticism in the Biblical World, p. 57; William Armstrong Percy III, "Reconsiderations about Greek Homosexualities," in Same–Sex Desire and Love in Greco-Roman Antiquity and in the Classical Tradition of the West (Binghamton: Haworth, 2005), p. 17. Sexual variety, not excluding paiderastia, was characteristic of the Hellenistic era; see Peter Green, "Sex and Classical Literature," in Classical Bearings: Interpreting Ancient Culture and History (University of California Press, 1989, 1998), p. 146 online.
- Dawson, Cities of the Gods, p. 193. See also George Boys-Stones, "Eros in Government: Zeno and the Virtuous City," Classical Quarterly 48 (1998), 168–174: "there is a certain kind of sexual relationship which was considered by many Greeks to be very important for the cohesion of the city: sexual relations between men and youths. Such relationships were taken to play such an important role in fostering cohesion where it mattered — among the male population — that Lycurgus even gave them official recognition in his constitution for Sparta" (p. 169).
- Robert B. Koehl, "The Chieftain Cup and a Minoan Rite of Passage," Journal of Hellenic Studies 106 (1986) 99–110, with a survey of the relevant scholarship including that of Arthur Evans (p. 100) and others such as H. Jeanmaire and R.F. Willetts (pp. 104–105); Deborah Kamen, "The Life Cycle in Archaic Greece," in The Cambridge Companion to Archaic Greece (Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 91–92. Kenneth Dover, a pioneer in the study of Greek homosexuality, rejects the initiation theory of origin; see "Greek Homosexuality and Initiation," in Que(e)rying Religion: A Critical Anthology (Continuum, 1997), pp. 19–38. For Dover, it seems, the argument that Greek paiderastia as a social custom was related to rites of passage constitutes a denial of homosexuality as natural or innate; this may be to overstate or misrepresent what the initiatory theorists have said. The initiatory theory claims to account not for the existence of ancient Greek homosexuality in general but rather for that of formal paiderastia.
- Thomas Hubbard, "Pindar's Tenth Olympian and Athlete-Trainer Pederasty," in Same–Sex Desire and Love in Greco-Roman Antiquity, pp. 143 and 163 (note 37), with cautions about the term "homosocial" from Percy, p. 49, note 5.
- Percy, "Reconsiderations about Greek Homosexualities," p. 17 online et passim.
- For examples, see Kenneth Dover, Greek Homosexuality (Harvard University Press, 1978, 1989), p. 165, note 18, where the eschatological value of paiderastia for the soul in Plato is noted. For a more cynical view of the custom, see the comedies of Aristophanes, e.g. Wealth 149-59. Paul Gilabert Barberà, "John Addington Symonds. A Problem in Greek Ethics. Plutarch's Eroticus Quoted Only in Some Footnotes? Why?" in The Statesman in Plutarch's Works (Brill, 2004), p. 303 online; and the pioneering view of Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex (Philadelphia: F.A. Davis, 1921, 3rd ed.), vol. 2, p. 12 online. For Stoic "utopian" views of paiderastia, see Doyne Dawson, Cities of the Gods: Communist Utopias in Greek Thought (Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 192 online.
- See Andrew Lear, 'Was pederasty problematized? A diachronic view' in Sex in Antiquity: exploring gender and sexuality in the ancient world, eds. Mark Masterson, Nancy Rabinowitz, and James Robson (Routledge, 2014).
- Michael Lambert, "Athens," in Gay Histories and Cultures: An Encyclopedia (Taylor & Francis, 2000), p. 122.
- See Osborne following. Gloria Ferrari, however, notes that there were conventions of age pertaining to sexual activity, and if a man violated these by seducing a boy who was too young to consent to becoming an eromenos, the predator might be subject to prosecution under the law of hubris; Figures of Speech: Men and Maidens in Ancient Greece (University of Chicago Press, 2002), pp. 139–140.
- Robin Osborne, Greek History (Routledge, 2004), pp. 12 online and 21.
- Etymologies in American Heritage Dictionary, Random House Dictionary, and Online Etymology Dictionary
- Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1940 9th ed., with 1968 supplement in 1985 reprinting), p. 1286.
- The pair of terms are used both within and outside the field of classical studies. For surveys and reference works within the study of ancient culture and history, see for instance The World of Athens: An Introduction to Classical Athenian Culture, a publication of the Joint Association of Classical Teachers (Cambridge University Press, 1984, 2003), pp. 149–150 online; John Grimes Younger, Sex in the Ancient World from A to Z pp. 91–92 online. Outside classical studies, see for instance Michael Burger, The Shaping of Western Civilization: From Antiquity to the Enlightenment (University of Toronto Press, 2008), pp. 50–51 online; Richard C. Friedman and Jennifer I. Downey, Sexual Orientation and Psychoanalysis: Sexual Science and Clinical Practice (Columbia University Press, 2002), pp. 168–169 online; Michael R. Kauth, True Nature: A Theory of Sexual Attraction (Springer, 2000), p. 87 online; Roberto Haran, Lacan's Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis (2004), p. 165ff. online.
- Kenneth Dover, Greek Homosexuality (Harvard University Press, 1978, 1989), p. 16.
- Herbert Weir Smyth, "Formation of Substantives," sections 838–839, Greek Grammar (Harvard University Press, 1920, 1984), pp. 229–230. The insertion of the sigma between verb stem and suffix is euphonic (§836).
- Liddell and Scott, Greek-English Lexicon, p. 1286.
- William Armstrong Percy III, Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece (University of Illinois Press, 1996), p. 1 online.
- Martha Nussbaum, "Platonic Love and Colorado Law: The Relevance of Ancient Greek Norms to Modern Sexual Controversies," Sex and Social Justice (Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 309: "because the popular thought of our day tends to focus on the scare image of a 'dirty old man' hanging around outside the school waiting to molest young boys, it is important to mention, as well, that the erastês might not be very far in age from the erômenos."
- Dover, Greek Homosexuality, p. 16.
- Marguerite Johnson and Terry Ryan, Sexuality in Greek and Roman Society and Literature: A Sourcebook (Routledge, 2005), p. 4 online.
- It is uncertain whether the pais Kleis is Sappho's actual daughter, or whether the word is affectionate. Anne L. Klinck, "'Sleeping in the Bosom of a Tender Companion': Homoerotic Attachments in Sappho," in Same-sex Desire and Love in Greco-Roman Antiquity and in the Classical Tradition of the West (Haworth Press, 2005), p. 202 online; Jane McIntosh Snyder, The Woman and the Lyre (Southern Illinois University Press, 1989), p. 3 online. The word pais can also be used of a bride; see Johnson and Ryan, Sexuality in Greek and Roman Society, p. 80, note 4.
- "We can conclude that the erômenos is generally old enough for mature military and political action": Nussbaum, "Platonic Love and Colorado Law," p. 309 online.
- See especially Mark Golden, endnote to "Slavery and Homosexuality at Athens: Age Differences between erastai and eromenoi," in Homosexuality in the Ancient World (Taylor & Francis, 1992) pp. 175–176 online; also Johnson and Ryan, Sexuality in Greek and Roman Society and Culture, p. 3; Barry S. Strauss, Fathers and Sons in Athens: Ideology and Society in the Era of the Peloponnesian War (Routledge, 1993), p. 30 online; Martha Nussbaum, "Eros and the Wise: The Stoic Response to a Cultural Dilemma," Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 13 (1995, 2001), p. 230 online. Nuances of age also discussed by Ferrari, Figures of Speech, pp. 131–132 online.
- Dover, Greek Homosexuality, pp. 16 and 85; Ferrari, Figures of Speech, p. 135.
- Percy, Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece, p. 61, considers the kouroi to be examples of pederastic art. "The particular attributes that kouroi display match those of such 'beloveds' in the visual and literary sources from the late archaic to the classical age": Deborah Tam Steiner, Images in Mind: Statues in Archaic and Classical Greek Literature and Thought (Princeton University Press, 2001), p. 215 online. The presence of facial and pubic hair on some kouroi disassociates them with the erômenos if the latter is taken only as a boy who has not entered adolescence; thus Jeffrey M. Hurwit, "The Human Figure in Early Greek Sculpture and Vase-Painting," in The Cambridge Companion to Archaic Greece (Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 275 online.
- Martha Nussbaum, The Fragility of Goodness: (Cambridge University Press, 1986, 2001), p. 188 online.
- Dover, "Greek Homosexuality and Initiation," pp. 19–20, notes the usage of "the same words for homosexual as for heterosexual emotion … and the same for its physical consummation" from the archaic period on.
- Dover, pp. 205-7
- The main source for this rite of initiation is Strabo 10.483–484, quoting Ephoros; the summary given here is the construction of Robert B. Koehl, "The Chieftain Cup and a Minoan Rite of Passage," Journal of Hellenic Studies 106 (1986), pp. 105–107.
- John Pollini, "The Warren Cup: Homoerotic Love and Symposial Rhetoric in Silver," Art Bulletin 81.1 (1999) 21–52.
- Blake et al., Education in an Age of Nihilism, p. 183.
- Gregory Nagy, "Early Greek Views of Poets and Poetry," in The Cambridge History of Literary Criticis: Classical Criticism (Cambridge University Press, 1989, 1997), p. 40 online.
- Johnston, Sarah Iles. Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004. pg. 446; see also Cocca, Carolyn. Adolescent Sexuality: A Historical Handbook and Guide. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2006. pg. 4
- The term here rendered as "ideal" is καλοκἀγαθίᾳ, translated as "a perfect man, a man as he should be" in Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford, 1968; p.397)
- Xenophon, Symposium; VIII.11
- Victoria Wohl, Love among the Ruins: The Erotics of Democracy in Classical Athens p.5 referring to Aeschines, (Tim.134)
- A Henri Irénée Marrou, George Lamb, History of Education in Antiquity p.27
- Andrew Calimach, Lovers' Legends: The Gay Greek Myths
- Greek Homosexuality. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. 1978. pp. 20–21. ISBN 0674362616.
- Martha C. Nussbaum (1994). "Platonic Love and Colorado Law: The Relevance of Ancient Greek Norms to Modern Sexual Controversies". Virginia Law Review. Virginia Law Review. 80 (7): 1546. JSTOR 1073514.
Indeed, Dover, like David Halperin, produces and stresses the evidence that visiting both male and female prostitutes was considered perfectly acceptable for a male citizen, and male prostitution is treated as a perfectly routine matter in texts of many kinds.
- "Aeschines, Against Timarchus". Perseus Digital Library. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
- Aeschines, Against Timarchus 1.19-20
- Kenneth Dover (1978). Greek Homosexuality. United States: Harvard University Press. p. 20. ISBN 0674362616.
- Kenneth J. Dover (1989). Greek Homosexuality. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 29. ISBN 0674362616.
Since foreigners visiting or residing at Athens had no right in any case to hold office or address the assembly, they were free to prostitute themselves as much as they pleased, without incurring any penalty or any disability greater than that which their status as non-citizens already imposed on them. The second implication is that if an Athenian citizen made no secret of his prostitution, did not present himself for the allocation of offices by lot, declared his unfitness if through someone's inadvertence he was elected to office, and abstained from embarking on any of the procedures forbidden to him by the law, he was safe from prosecution and punishment.
- Kenneth J. Dover (1978). Greek Homosexuality. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 19. ISBN 0674362616.
- Aeschines, Against Timarchus 1.51-52
- Clifford Hindley, "Debate: Law, Society and Homosexuality in Classical Athens" in Past and Present, 133 (1991), p. 167n4.
- Plato Symposium 182c.
- Athenaeus, Deipnosophists, 602
- Aristotle, Politics 2.1272a 22–24
- Plato, Phaedrus in the Symposium
- Plato, Laws, 636d and 835e
- Theognidean corpus 1345–50, as cited by Kamen, "The Life Cycle in Archaic Greece," p. 91. Although the speaker is identified here conventionally as Theognis, certain portions of the work attributed to him may not be by the Megaran poet.
- Sergent, Homosexuality and Greek Myth, passim
- Pequigney, Joseph. "Classical Mythology". glbtq.com. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
- Dover, "Greek Homosexuality and Initiation,"passim, especially pp. 19–20, 22–23.
- For a recent collation of evidence from vase-painting and an introduction to its interpretation, see Andrew Lear, and Eva Cantarella, Images of Ancient Greek Pederasty: Boys Were Their Gods (Routledge, 2008). ISBN 978-0-415-22367-6.
- Deborah Kamen, "The Life Cycle in Archaic Greece," in The Cambridge Companion to Archaic Greece (Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 91 online.
- Beazley as summarized by Percy, Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece, p. 119.
- Judith M. Barringer, The Hunt in Ancient Greece (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001), pp. 70–72 online.
- Nussbaum, The Fragility of Goodness, p. 188; see also Dover, Greek Homosexuality, p. 96; Percy, Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece, p. 119.
- Thomas Hubbard, review of David Halperin's How to Do the History of Homosexuality (2002), Bryn Mawr Classical Review 22 September 2003 online.
- Ferrari, Figures of Speech, p. 140; Percy, Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece, pp. 119–120.
- Thomas K. Hubbard, Homosexuality in Greece and Rome: a sourcebook of basic documents in translation, University of California, 2003; p.23
- Theognis, 2.1353–56.
- Robert Lamberton, Hesiod (Yale University Press, 1988), p. 26 online.
- On the contrast between the Theognidean and Anacreontic visions of pederasty, see Andrew Lear 'Ancient Pederasty: an introduction' in A Companion to Greek and Roman Sexualities, ed. Thomas K. Hubbard (Wiley Blackwell, 2014), pp. 104-5
- Theocritus, Idyll XII.
- J.D. Beazley, "Some Attic Vases in the Cyprus Museum", Proceedings of the British Academy 33 (1947); p.199; Dover, Greek Homosexuality, pp. 94-96.
- For examples, see Johnson and Ryan, Sexuality in Greek and Roman Society, p. 116, note 4, quoting a fragment from Solon: "a man falls in love with a youth in the full-flower of boy-love / possessed of desire-enhancing thighs and a honey-sweet mouth"; Nussbaum, Sex and Social Justice, p. 450, note 48, quoting a fragment of the lost Myrmidons of Aeschylus in which Achilles mourns the dead Patroclus, their "many kisses," and the "god-fearing converse with your thighs."
- Percy, Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece, p. 119; Nussbaum, Sex and Social Justice, pp. 268, 307, 335; Ferrari, Figures of Speech, p. 145.
- Ferrari, Figures of Speech, p. 145.
- Percy, Pederasty and Pedagogy in Ancient Greece, p. 119.
- Nussbaum, Sex and Social Justice, pp. 268, 335; Ferrari, Figures of Speech, p. 145.
- Nussbaum, Martha C. (1994). "Platonic Love and Colorado Law: The Relevance of Ancient Greek Norms to Modern Sexual Controversies". Virginia Law Review. 80 (7): 1547, 1550. JSTOR 1073514.
* Where relations between two male citizens are concerned, we again find no general condemnation, but instead a complex system of caveats or reservations. We must begin by noting that these relations, even when they involve people close to one another in age, always involve an asymmetry of roles: the erastes or "lover" is the older partner, who actively pursues and courts the younger, drawn by the sight of youthful male beauty. The eraste's is expected to be keenly interested in sexual contact; this interest, and the active, penetrative conduct that follows from it, is taken to be perfectly normal and natural. The younger partner, the eromenos or "beloved," is likely to be pleased at being the object of admiration and interested in benefits such as friendship, education, and political advancement that a relationship with an erastes may bestow. The relationship may in this sense involve a real reciprocity of benefits and mutual affection based on it. But the cultural norm dictates that the eromenos is not to have a keen sexual interest in being penetrated, nor to develop habits of enjoying that sort of penetration; for that would be, in effect, to be turned into a woman, and one could expect that this would make him unfit to play, later in life, an active manly role. * The important point to stress, in any case, is that the shame potentially at issue was not about the fact of same-sex copulation, but about the "womanish" position of passivity and its potential appearance of being turned into a woman. No such shame, it would seem, attached even potentially to conduct that did not involve anal penetration, thus not to conduct involving intercrural intercourse, apparently the most common mode of male-male copulation
- Aesop, "Zeus and Shame" (Perry 109, Chambry 118, Gibbs 528), in Fables.
- Nussbaum, Martha C. (1994). "Platonic Love and Colorado Law: The Relevance of Ancient Greek Norms to Modern Sexual Controversies". Virginia Law Review. 80 (7): 1550. JSTOR 1073514.
No such shame, it would seem, attached even potentially to conduct that did not involve anal penetration, thus not to conduct involving intercrural intercourse, apparently the most common mode of male-male copulation
- Johnson and Ryan, Sexuality in Greek and Roman Society and Literature, p. 3, based on Attic red-figure pottery; Percy, Pederasty and Pedagogy in Ancient Greece, p. 119.
- Dover, Greek Homosexuality
- Martha C. Nussbaum (1994). "Platonic Love and Colorado Law: The Relevance of Ancient Greek Norms to Modern Sexual Controversies". Virginia Law Review. Virginia Law Review. 80 (7): 1554–1555. JSTOR 1073514.
We must now also address the issue of mutuality, which Finnis misuses to make the erastes-eromenos relationship look inherently exploitative. It is true that the eromenos is depicted typically as deriving no sexual pleasure from the conduct, although this may well be a cultural norm that conceals a more complicated reality. Dover aptly compares the situation of the eromenos to that of a young woman in Britain in the 1930s (Dover, Greek Homosexuality, supra note 48, at 88). He might have extended the comparison to take in this point: just as a proper Victorian woman was publicly expected not to enjoy sex, but frequently did in private, so too it is possible that the eromenos derived more pleasure than is publicly depicted. In his postscript to the second edition, Dover grants that there is some literary evidence that the erastes stimulated the penis of the eromenos, and that one vase shows an eromenos with an erection. What is more important is that it is perfectly clear that a successful relationship of this sort produced many advantages for the younger man- education, political advancement, friendship and that he frequently felt intense affection for the erastes as a result.
- Martha C. Nussbaum (1994). "Platonic Love and Colorado Law: The Relevance of Ancient Greek Norms to Modern Sexual Controversies". Virginia Law Review. Virginia Law Review. 80 (7): 1572–1573. JSTOR 1073514.
Nor is passionate arousal a mere stage in the soul's progress: it gives rise to an enduring relationship in which physical infatuation is deepened by conversation and the pursuit of shared spiritual goals and in which the "mad" lover's state gives rise to generous and stable friendship, rather than to the dangers of which "Lysias" warns. Most remarkable of all, it also gives rise to a reciprocation of sexual desire on the part of the younger man who, taking note of the unparalleled generosity of his lover, finds himself suffused with a stream of desire from "the source of that stream that Zeus, in love with Ganymede, called 'passionate longing.'" The younger man conceives a longing and desire for his erastes, "having a 'reciprocal-love' [anteros] that is a replica of the other's love." But he calls it, and thinks that it is, philia rather than eros. He has desire similar to the other's, albeit weaker, to see, to touch, to kiss, to lie with him. Recall that Greek homosexuality involves reciprocity conventionally of a sort, for the eromenos receives kindliness and education in return for his beauty. Here the language indicates the culturally unusual nature of the proposal, for the young man lacks a word for his own desire. Plato, thus, constructs a more thoroughgoing understanding of reciprocity, extending to the body's longing for beauty. The relationship is envisaged as a long-lasting one, in which the erastes and eromenos "associate with touching in the gymnasia and in other places of association." What is at issue is a complicated etymological play on the word himeros, or "passionate longing." Himeros has been etymologized as deriving from "particles" (mere') that "flow" (rhein) from the beloved to the lover. The dialogue is suffused with this sort of word play, much of it erotic. See id.; cf. Plato, Cratylus 419e (using similarly expressive and erotic language). Such reciprocity was not unknown before this-Socrates describes the experience as one that is likely to follow upon the young man's perception of his lover's generosity-but what is clear is that the cultural vocabulary lacks a description for it.
- Percy, William A. Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece, pp146-150
- Thomas F. Scanlon, "The Dispersion of Pederasty and the Athletic Revolution in Sixth-Century BC Greece," in Same-Sex Desire and Love in Greco-Roman Antiquity and in the Classical Tradition of the West, pp. 64-70.
- Xenophon, Constitution of the Lacedaemonians, 2.13 : "The customs instituted by Lycurgus were opposed to all of these. If someone, being himself an honest man, admired a boy's soul and tried to make of him an ideal friend without reproach and to associate with him, he approved, and believed in the excellence of this kind of training. But if it was clear that the attraction lay in the boy's outward beauty, he banned the connexion as an abomination; and thus he caused lovers to abstain from boys no less than parents abstain from sexual intercourse with their children and brothers and sisters with each other." online.
- Claudius Aelianus Various History, 3.10 : "I could cite many fine features on the ephors of Sparta : I chose a few, I'll report . If a young Spartan , beautiful and well made, preferred a rich friend to a poor righteous man , the ephors condemned him to a fine; no doubt, that he might be punished by his love for wealth by the loss of part of his. They punished the same every citizen honest man, who was attached by friendship to none of the young people that we knew to be well born : they thought that an honest man would have made his friend, and perhaps some others, in people like him. Indeed, the kindness of those who love, if indeed deserves to be respected, is a powerful stimulus to excite the beloved's virtue. A Spartan law even ordered to pardon a young man, for his youth and inexperience, the mistakes he committed, and to punish in its place the citizen who loved him, to teach him to be the supervisor and judge of the actions of his friend."
- N.G.L. Hammond, A history of Greece to 322 BC, 1989; p.150
- W. Sweet, Sport and Recreation in Ancient Greece, 1987; p.125
- Pausanias, 1.44.1
- Theognis, 2.1335–36.
- Rommel Mendès-Leite et al. Gay Studies from the French Cultures p.157; Percy, "Reconsiderations about Greek Homosexualities," pp. 30-31.
- Percy, "Reconsiderations about Greek Homosexualities," p. 54.
- Plutarch, Life of Pelopidas.
- David Leitao, 'The legend of the Theban Band', in M. Craven Nussbaum and J. Sihvola The Sleep of Reason: Erotic Experience and Sexual Ethics in Ancient Greece and Rome, Chicago University Press (2002), pages 140-50
- Charles Hupperts, "Boeotian Swine: Homosexuality in Boeotia" in Same-Sex Desire and Love in Greco-Roman Antiquity, p. 190 online.
- A Problem in Greek Ethics Index
- Intermediate Types among Primitive Folk Index
- Mark Masterson; Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz; James Robson (5 December 2014). Sex in Antiquity: Exploring Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World (revised ed.). Routledge. p. 115. ISBN 9781317602774. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- Eva Keuls, The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens, 1985
- James Davidson, The Greeks and Greek Love, Orion, 2006
- Robert B. Koehl, "Ephoros and Ritualized Homosexuality in Bronze Age Crete;" in Queer Representations: Reading Livers, Reading Cultures; Martin Duberman, ed. New York University, 1997
- Hein van Dolen, Greek homosexuality,
- Thomas K. Hubbard, "Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2003.09.22" of David M. Halperin's How to Do the History of Homosexuality
- Dover, Kenneth J. Greek Homosexuality. Duckworth 1978.
- Dover, Kenneth J. "Greek Homosexuality and Initiation." In Que(e)rying Religion: A Critical Anthology. Continuum, 1997, pp. 19–38.
- Ellis, Havelock. Studies in the Psychology of Sex, vol. 2: Sexual Inversion. Project Gutenberg text
- Ferrari, Gloria. FIgures of Speech: Men and Maidens in Ancient Greece. University of Chicago Press, 2002.
- Hubbard, Thomas K. Homosexuality in Greece and Rome. University of California Press, 2003.
- Johnson, Marguerite, and Ryan, Terry. Sexuality in Greek and Roman Society and Literature: A Sourcebook. Routledge, 2005.
- Lear, Andrew, and Eva Cantarella. Images of Ancient Greek Pederasty: Boys Were Their Gods. Routledge, 2008. ISBN 978-0-415-22367-6.
- Lear, Andrew. 'Ancient Pederasty: an introduction' in A Companion to Greek and Roman Sexualities, editor Thomas K. Hubbard (Blackwell, 2014), pp. 102–27.
- Nussbaum, Martha. Sex and Social Justice. Oxford University Press, 1999.
- Percy, William A. Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece. University of Illinois Press, 1996.
- Plato. Charmides. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica.
- Same–Sex Desire and Love in Greco-Roman Antiquity and in the Classical Tradition of the West. Binghamton: Haworth, 2005.
- Sergent, Bernard. Homosexuality in Greek Myth. Beacon Press, 1986.
- Media related to Pederasty in ancient Greece at Wikimedia Commons