Pederasty in ancient Greece  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



Greek erotica

Greek pederasty, as idealised by the Greeks from archaic times onward, was a relationship and bond between an adolescent boy and an adult man outside of his immediate family. It was seen by the Greeks as an essential element in their culture from the time of Homer onwards. However, marriages in Ancient Greece between men and women were also age structured, with men in their 30s commonly taking wives in their early teens.

The term derives from the combination of pais (Greek for 'boy') with erastēs (Greek for 'lover'; cf. eros). The Greeks considered it normal for any man to be drawn to the beauty of a boy—just as much if not more than to that of a woman. What they disagreed upon was whether and how to express that desire.

Pederasty is closely associated with the customs of athletic and artistic nudity in the gymnasia, delayed marriage for gentlemen, symposia and seclusion of women. It was also integral to Greek military training, and at times a factor in the deployment of troops.

In myth and religion

The myth of Ganymede's abduction by Zeus was invoked as a precedent for the pederastic relationship, as Theognis asserts to a friend:

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, Hercules, 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.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Pederasty in ancient Greece" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools