Saturday, October 29, 2005

Mediterranean customs?

Quotes from an article by William A. Percey III:

"Although we cannot prove a causal connection, democracy followed shortly after the institutionalization of pederasty in a number of Greek cities.

"Many if not most Greek theorists hailed pederastic couples as founders, restorers, or protectors of libery (such as the heroic pederastic Athenian tyrannicides Harmodius and Aristogeiton).

"They even associeted pederasty with eunomia ('good government').

"As a 2nd-century A.D. litterator pointed out: 'For they [Greek scholars] maintain that this practice is zealously pursued in those cities throughout Gellas which, as compared with others, are ruled by good laws.' [Atheneus, XIII 601c.]

"Mythographers, religious writers had by then justified the new way of life by ascribing pederasty to their heros and gods. Even Zeus came to have his Ganymede.

"Commercial success and immigration, especially of Ionians fleeing the Persians, made Athens the school of Hellas, the intellectual center of Greece. Athens became the greatest Hellenic metropolis in 480 B.C. by defeating the Persians at Salamis.

"By then, almost every upper-class Greek boy outside Sparta and Crete (both of which strictly limited intellectual instruction) had a devoted tutor, whom he in turn loved, to inspire him mentally as well as morally.

"As the great Victorian student of Greek pederasty, John Addington Symonds, declared:
What the Greeks called paiderastia, or boy-love, was a phenomenon of one of the most brilliant periods of human culture, in one of the most highly organized and nobly active nations. It is the feature by which Greek social life is most sharply distinguished from that of any other people approaching the Hellenes in moral or mental distinction."


Extracts from an article by Matthew D. Johnson at

In fifth-century B. C. E. Athens, for example, sex between males that was socially sanctioned was conceived as a pedagogical relation between a man and a boy of approximately equal class status, if not age...

Sex between males in fifteenth-century Florence, for example, was stratified along lines of class as well as age, with unwed bourgeois men seeking out the favors of boys who prostituted themselves on city streets for clothes and other niceties...

Religious reformers railed from the pulpit against the crime of sodomy, so ubiquitous in Florence that an estimated two-thirds of the male population had engaged in it...

In the comedies of Aristophanes and in Roman satire, for example, effeminate men who desire to be sexually penetrated by men (and thus usurp the role of boys) are roundly ridiculed and denigrated; Amy Richlin has described these figures, characterized by the Greek kinaidos or the Latin mollis, as the proper historical antecedents to the modern homosexual...

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