March 25, 2009

Dorothy King on Greek homosexuality

PhDiva Dorothy King has just deleted my comments (and one of her own) on her blog post, in which she states:
I love movies, but I sometimes worry that the general public gets a few odd ideas about the ancients from them.

For example in '300' the Spartans dismiss the Athenians for - and I may be paraphrasing - liking little boys. Actually ... whilst many Athenian men seem to have been bisexual, the Spartans institutionalized it as part of their military training and it played a more important role in their society. Greek 'naughty' vases with inscriptions almost all speak of the love of one man for another, and most of those great macho Greek warriors probably slept with more men than they did women given that access to women was limited.
In my response, I cited ancient sources only, yet PhDiva claims that:
I really can't be bothered to deal with 'all Greeks were heterosexual' propaganda by someone advocating using 300 as a source so have deleted a few comments.
This statement is false on two grounds: (i) I did not use "300" as a source; I contested King's criticism thereof on the basis of ancient sources, (ii) I certainly did not claim that "all Greeks were heterosexual", I contested her idea that the Spartans had institutionalized homosexuality, or that homosexuality was generally accepted by the ancient Greeks.

Here are the sources I cited, and which Ms. King has thought merited deletion. In the first one, I disputed King's presentation of homosexuality in Greek vases.

Martin F. Kilmer, Greek Erotica. London: Duckworth, 1993. Pp. xiv + 286; figs. 206. ISBN 0-7156-1519-X.

Reviewed by Keith DeVries, University Museum, University of Pennsylvania (kdevries@sas.upenn.edu).

[...]

Kilmer's deliberately narrow focus is an aspect of an overall carefulness of definition and rigor of study which produce solid results. A surprise to him was the relatively low number of male homosexual scenes of copulation: 13 to 15, as opposed to 82 heterosexual ones or, put another way, 18% of the total (using the higher figure). He had expected a stronger showing of the homosexual theme, "given the view scholarship has taken over the last century or so" (p. 173). While, as he says, "we must be cautious how we interpret this," his proportion is in line with that of a theme of red-figure vase painting he doesn't take up, the erotic pursuits by deities, which have been collected by Sophia Kaempf-Dimitriadou in her book Die Liebe der Götter in der attischen Kunst des 5. Jahrhunderts v. Chr. (1979). Of her 393 vase paintings, 14% have a male homosexual content, in the form of gods pursuing mortal adolescents. The finding also is in line with Attic comedies and the extant and known tragedies and satyr plays, where male-female sexuality is the norm, but male homoeroticism not unknown, occasionally being in fact at the dramatic center (as in Aeschylus' The Myrmidons, Euripides' Chrysippos, and presumably Sophokles' satyr play The Erastai of Achilles).
In the second, I disputed her claim of institutionalized Spartan homosexuality as part of the education system. Xenophon (5-4th c. BC writer) wrote:

This passage directly contradicts the idea of institutionalized Spartan homosexuality. So the idea about the Spartans abhorring "boy-love" is supported by the ancient sources and is not as "odd" as Ms. King apparently thinks.

King referred (in her own deleted comment) to Aelius [sic], and Plutarch, authors who postdate Xenophon by half a millennium or more. One has to wonder if Xenophon or these authors are more reliable sources about the state of Spartan society in the 5th c. BC, i.e., the setting of the "300". Would one rely on the attitudes of modern Manhattan residents towards homosexuality to infer the attitudes of early American colonists?

However, even these authors contradict her claim of a sexual nature to the mentoring relationship in Sparta. Aelian:
and Plutarch on the ancient Spartan customs:
Affectionate regard for boys of good character was permissible, but embracing them was held to be disgraceful, on the ground that the affection was for the body and not for the mind. Any man against whom complaint was made of any disgraceful embracing was deprived of all civic rights for life.
I further cited Aristotle who explicitly compared Spartans to Celts:
Again, the license of the Lacedaemonian women defeats the intention of the Spartan constitution, and is adverse to the happiness of the state. For, a husband and wife being each a part of every family, the state may be considered as about equally divided into men and women; and, therefore, in those states in which the condition of the women is bad, half the city may be regarded as having no laws. And this is what has actually happened at Sparta; the legislator wanted to make the whole state hardy and temperate, and he has carried out his intention in the case of the men, but he has neglected the women, who live in every sort of intemperance and luxury. The consequence is that in such a state wealth is too highly valued, especially if the citizen fall under the dominion of their wives, after the manner of most warlike races, except the Celts and a few others who openly approve of male loves.
If the Spartans, or indeed any substantial subset of Greeks "openly approved of male loves", then it is strange indeed that Aristotle would use the Celts as an example.

Furthermore, I cited Diodorus Siculus who makes the comparison more explicit:
The men are much keener on their own sex; they lie around on animal skins and enjoy themselves, with a lover on each side. The extraordinary thing is they haven’t the smallest regard for their personal dignity or self-respect; they offer themselves to other men without the least compunction. Furthermore, this isn’t looked down on, or regarded in any way disgraceful…
Diodorus is surprised at this proclivity. Whether or not his account is true, the passage shows that he apparently did not think that male homosexuality was neutral or even positive.

Perhaps Ms. King is better suited to writing fruit cake recipes, than to serious evidence-based discussion of ancient Greece, for which she obviously has no stomach.

PS: Or, perhaps she can write another book on Greek homosexuality, since her last one on the Elgin Marbles wasn't exactly well-received.

30 comments:

Mark said...

Eighteen or 14% of depicted couplings still seems pretty high by modern standards, though.

What of the Athenians? Do you believe that they institutionalized homosexuality as part of their education system? That's what I learned in college, but your knowledge is probably deeper on the subject than mine.

Dienekes said...

Eighteen or 14% of depicted couplings still seems pretty high by modern standards, though.

I don't know how we might measure this; perhaps compare with a figure of the homo- vs. heterosexual porn business today? In any case, the figure is small.

What of the Athenians? Do you believe that they institutionalized homosexuality as part of their education system? That's what I learned in college, but your knowledge is probably deeper on the subject than mine.

The Athenians had laws to protect children and proscribed the death penalty to those who had sex with children. Aeschines' Against Timarchus is a good place to start on the subject. Plato too, whose Symposium is often quoted as celebrating homosexuality, proposes severe measures against it in his Laws.

Judith Weingarten said...

Dienekes,

I do not know if Dorothy King intentionally deleted your comment or not (since she also deleted, you say, one of her own), but your PS is a cheap shot and unworthy of your argument.

She does answer your lost comment in a new comment of her own, above all citing Paul Cartledge. For what it's worth, I think Cartledge is right about Xenophon's bias. He has form.

Dienekes said...

I do not know if Dorothy King intentionally deleted your comment or not (since she also deleted, you say, one of her own), but your PS is a cheap shot and unworthy of your argument.

If there is a way to delete three of my comments (and one of her own) unintentionally, I'd like to know about it.

She does answer your lost comment in a new comment of her own, above all citing Paul Cartledge.

How gracious of her to "answer" me after misrepresenting my argument and removing my comments.

For what it's worth, I think Cartledge is right about Xenophon's bias. He has form.

What sort of bias would prompt Xenophon to misrepresent Spartan attitudes to pederasty?

As I said in my -now deleted- response to King's comment, suppose that Xenophon misrepresented Spartan pederasty because he was a laconizer who wanted to paint an idealized portrait of Spartan society.

First of all, this would prove that pederasty wasn't generally accepted in Xenophon's audience, because why would one distort the facts if pederasty was the norm?

Moreover, if Xenophon knew that pederasty was practiced in Sparta, and he was personally against it, why would he enroll his sons in the agoge? Not exactly what something one expects from someone who feels compelled to hide Spartan pederasty under the carpet.

Judith Weingarten said...

Don't argue with me, Dienekes. Argue with Paul Cartledge (at the url given).

Sorry, I don't speak for Ms King or what she deleted. I merely remarked that it's odd she deleted her own comment at the same time.

Perhaps I should do so as well :-)

Dienekes said...

Don't argue with me, Dienekes.

I am not arguing with you, since you made no argument.

As for Paul Cartledge, I have already stated why (unlike him) I see no reason to doubt the accuracy of Xenophon's account. People can examine the evidence, and judge for themselves.

Antigonos said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dienekes said...

Antigonos said:

Sounds familiar?
Nice feeling, ah?


Well, I didn't act like a troll on her blog like you did on mine...

And, I think I was clear that you are banned from this site.

Antigonos said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dienekes said...

Antigonos, if it wasn't clear already, you are not allowed to post comments on this site.

Antigonos said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dienekes said...

Dude, how many times do I have to tell you that you are not welcome here? Go start your own blog and write whatever you want.

Antigonos said...

Hahaha!

You act like a child bucko!!!
It's bad when someone is erasing your comments for no reason, ah?
Well you did the same to me!
NO, SORRY!
YOU HAD A REASON!
YOUR INCAPABILITY TO FACE ME IN THE INDOEUROPEAN ISSUE!
AND YOUR FEAR THAT I WILL UNCOVER YOUR TRUE THEOCRATIC, CHAUVINIST ETHNOCENTRIC PROFILE!
Hahahaha!
You make me laugh!

Dienekes said...

YOUR INCAPABILITY TO FACE ME IN THE INDOEUROPEAN ISSUE!

You were banned for specific reasons

But if you think you have a strong argument that deserves to be heard, by all means, start your own blog or website and do the hard work of attracting an audience instead of piggybacking on mine.

Antigonos said...

Καταρχάς Διηνεκή ΠΟΤΕ μου δεν θέλησα να κάνω δικό μου σάιτ.
Επιπλέον δεν με ενδιαφέρει να σου διώξω κοινό ούτε βέβαια να προσυλητίσω άτομα σε μένα μιας και δεν έχω σάιτ.
Ο λόγος της κόντρας μας ξεκινάει ΠΟΛΥ ΠΡΙΝ το συγκεκριμένο post.
Σου είπα πάλι στο παρελθόν ότι εδώ και 4 χρόνια που γράφω στο σάιτ σου ΚΑΙ ΜΟΝΟ (γιατί δεν είμαι κανένας μα'ι'ντανός σαν πολλούς απο εδώ μέσα να το παίζω βεντέτα και να ποστάρω σε 400 σάιτ) σε θεωρώ ΥΠΟΔΕΙΓΜΑ σε πολλά θέματα.
Το πρόβλημα είναι ότι εδώ και 1,5 χρόνο χωρίς λόγο ΟΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΝΑ ΠΩ ΜΕ ΒΡΙΖΕΙΣ και μου επιτίθεσαι!
Αυτό συμπίπτει με την πρώτη κόντρα που είχαμε για τους πρωτο-Ι.Ε.
Απο τότε οι αναίτιες επιθέσεις σου με ξάφνιαζαν αλλά και με μείωναν!
Τι να πρωτοθυμηθώ;


Το ότι μου είπες πως η Γενετική δεν είναι το φόρτε μου και ότι το Google δεν είναι...καλός οδηγός για να αποκτήσω γνώσεις;
Το ότι έλεγες αυτά ενώ δεν είχες καν καταλάβει τι έλεγα στο θέμα με την εξάπλωση του Y-DNA I haplogroup και τους Γκραβέττιους;

Το ότι ενώ έχεις αναρτήσει ολόκληρο θέμα με τους Καθηγητές Πανεπιστημίου στις ΗΠΑ και την εργασία τους για την επιροή του Εβρα'ι'κ'ού Λόμπυ εκεί, εμένα μου επιτέθηκες χαρακτηρίζοντας με Αντισημίτη όταν μίλησα για τον ρόλο που παίζουν κάποια ΜΜΕ Εβραικών συμφερόντων στις ΗΠΑ σε ένα άλλο post;

Το ότι μου λες πως υποστηρίζω την θεωρία Κουργκάν για πολιτκούς λόγους και έτσι προσπαθήσεις να με μειώσεις επιχειρηματολογικά;
Μάλιστα λες πως όλοι οι White Nationalists είναι "εντεταλμένοι" οπαδοί της θεωρίας Κουργκάν και αγνοείς
α) το ότι ΔΕΝ ΕΙΝΑΙ το White Nationalism κίνημα ενιαίο. Το Στορμφρόντ που αναφέρεις πολλές φορές, είναι ΧΡΙΣΤΙΑΝΙΚΟ προτεσταντικό και το ίδιο και η ΚΚΚ, τα "Aryan Nations", κ.α.
Δεν έχουν σχέση αυτοί με τον Colin Jordan, τον Roger Pearson, τον David Lane και τον νεο-Εθνικοσοσιαλισμό!
Επομένως γιατί τους βάζεις όλους στο ίδιο καλάθι;
Αλλά και γιατί παίρνει η μπάλα και μένα με αυτούς μαζί;
Έχει σχέση αδερφέ ο βλάκας ο Arthur Kemp με τον Εθνικοσοσιαλισμό;
Κολητός του Stormfront είναι!!
Δεν τον έχει καλέσει ΠΟΤΕ κανένας φορέας Ε/Σ σε συναντήσεις του!
Επομένως γιατί παρουσιάζεις τις θέσεις του ως ευρύτερα White Nationalist αλλά και γιατί συγχέεις ένα ολόκληρο κίνημα διάφορο Ιδεολογικά με τους Εθνικιστές Προτεστάντες;

β) Την θεωρία Κουργκάν ΔΕΝ ΤΗΝ ΣΥΜΠΑΘΟΥΝ πολλοί απο τους W/N ακριβώς για τον λόγο που και πολλοί ΈΛληνες δεν την συμπαθούν!
Επειδή αποκλείει τις πατρίδες τους ως πρωτο-πατρίδα των Ι.Ε.

γ) Εγώ παρέχω στοιχεία για την θεωρία και δεν αερολογώ.
Επομένως γιατί μου λες π.χ. ότι η αιτία που μου επιτέθηκες είναι η χρησιμοποίηση άρθρου της Wikipedia και ότι δεν είπα απο που το πήρα;
ΜΑ ΔΕΝ ΕΙΝΑΙ ΔΙΚΟ ΤΗΣ ΤΟ ΑΡΘΡΟ!
Ανέφερα τις πηγές των γραφομένων μου!
Επομένως;
Εσύ όταν βρίσκεις κάποιο άρθρο αναφέρεις αν το βρήκες μέσω περιοδικού, τηλεόρασης, ίντερνετ, e-mail, κ.τ.λ.;
Όχι βέβαια!



Άλλοτε πάλι μου επιτέθηκες ξανά προσωπικά όταν σου είπα πως το mtDNA του Ταφικού Κύκλου Β των Μυκηνών (όπως και η φυσική ανθρωπολογία) δεν δείχνουν Μεσογειακή καταγωγή!
Τότε ξανά έθιξες την αξιοπιστία μου αναίτια!

Μετά λέω πως πολλοί επιστήμονες παίζουν κυριολεκτικά με το οστά και τους σκελετούς ανθρώπων μόνο και μόνο για να αποκτήσουν φήμη και το αναφέρω αυτό στο post με τις μούμιες του Ταρίμ!
Όταν είπα ότι κατα την γνώμη μου είναι ασέβεια στους νεκρούς να χτίζει κανείς την φήμη του πάνω στα κουφάρια τους, μου απαντάς:
«Αυτό που είναι ασέβεια είναι η άγνοια σου»!!!

Όταν αλλού πάλι έκανα κριτική στον Drews αλλά και στον Renfrew μου επιτέθηκες σκαιώ τω τρόπω λέγοντας πως είμαι προπέτης και φερέικος και ότι οι επιθέσεις μου είναι προ’ι’όν προκατάληψης!!!

ΓΙΑ ΚΑΤΣΕ ΒΡΕ ΣΥΜΠΑΤΡΙΩΤΗ!!!

Εσύ θες δηλαδή να δέχομαι υποτιμήσεις και χαρακτηρισμούς και να μην αντιδράω;

Όταν λέει κάποιος κάτι με το οποίο δεν συμφωνείς, πρέπει εσύ αυτόκλητα να τον χλευάζεις και να του φέρεσαι με ιταμό τρόπο;
Εδώ ακόμα και όταν ΣΕ ΥΠΟΣΤΗΡΙΞΑ πάλι μου επιτέθηκες!
Μιλάω για το post εκείνο που ένας ομοφυλόφιλος σε ένα γκάλοπ που ανάρτησες σου είπε γιατί έχεις μόνο άντρες και γυναίκες να ψηφίζουν και ότι αυτός παρότι...άντρας ένιωθε πολύ...θηλυκό και δεν ήξερε τι να επιλέξει.
Τον ρώτησα τι εννοεί «θηλυκό» και εσύ αντί να με στηρίξεις, μου την είπες κιόλας!!!
Μου είπες «άνοιξε κανένα λεξικό να δεις τι σημαίνει»!!!
ΕΛΕΟΣ!

Μετά λοιπόν πως θες να μην πιστέψω ότι μου επιτίθεσαι για τις Ιδέες μου;

Λες ότι έκανα σαν τρολ στον Greenhil!
Μα τι του είπα;
ΤΙΠΟΤΑ!
Το σχόλιο μου αφορούσε την χρονολόγηση και μόνο της πρωτο-Ι.Ε. με την Μπαγεσιανή μέθοδο!
Αυτό μόνο.
Έπρεπε να με πει κομπασμένο;
Εγώ την μέθοδο έκρινα ΜΟΝΟ όσον αφορά την εφαρμογή της στο θέμα των πρωτο-Ι.Ε.
Γιατί μου επιτέθηκε προσωπικά;
Και μετά σαν να μην έφτανε αυτό με είπες και βλάχο αλλά και ασυνάρτητο εσύ απο πάνω!!!
Γιατί;
Επειδή του είπα ότι φέρεται με την τυπική Αγγλοσαξωνική αλαζονία;
Εδώ σου λέω έχουν ΑΚΟΥΣΤΕΙ ΤΕΡΑΤΑ στο σάιτ σου, το δικό μου αυτό σχόλιο σε πείραξε;

Για δες σχόλια του Dragonhorse, jarjar, Armenian Phalanxe, Clara, Cerdic, και άλλων πολλών να δεις τι λένε!!

Το ξέρεις πολύ καλά πως στο σάιτ σου έχουν βρίσει την Μακεδονία, την Ελλάδα, εσένα, εμένα, ΤΗΝ ΟΙΚΟΓΕΝΕΙΑ ΜΟΥ, ΤΟΥΣ ΓΟΝΕΙΣ ΜΟΥ και άλλους πολλούς αλλά και εσένα σε έχουν προσβάλει ΧΩΡΙΣ ΝΑ ΚΑΝΕΙΣ ΤΙΠΟΤΑ!
Δες π.χ. παρακάτω πως σου μιλάει ο Richard και όμως δεν του λες τίποτα:

http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2008/10/genetic-structure-in-northern-europe.html



Άρα δεν σε πείραξε η στάση μου φίλε μου!
Κάτι άλλο σε πειράζει!
Και νομίζω πως έχει βάση αυτό που σου είπα!
Σε ενοχλεί πως η θεωρία Κουργκάν και οι πρωτο-Ι.Ε. δεν ταιριάζουν στα πρότυπα που έχεις εσύ τα ιδεολογικοθρησκευτικά αλλά και τα πολιτικά!
Δεν γίνεται φίλε μου να κάνεις κριτική μόνο εναντίον του Kemp, του Earlson, κ.τ.λ. ενώ δεν λες τίποτα για τους Νικολούτσι, Μπόεφ, Σέρτζι, Πουλιανό, κ.τ.λ.
Πως γίνεται στην προσπάθεια σου υποτίθεται να στηλιτεύσεις τα κακώς κείμενα στην ανθρωπολογία, στην αρχαιολογία, κ.τ.λ. να κάνεις μόνο κριτική στους Νορδικιστές;
Οι άλλοι δεν έιναι υπόλογοι;
Δεν είναι αντιεπιστημονικοί;
Δεν ΕΣΚΕΜΜΕΝΑ παραπληροφορούν;
Άρα;
Μετά πως κατηγορείς εμένα βρε Διηνεκή για αβανταδόρο και για προκατηλειμένο;
Και πως μιλάς για αντίληψη και ισηγορία μετά;
Απο κει λοιπόν συμπέρανα γιατί είναι εχθρική η στάση σου σε μένα!
Γιατί υποστηρίζω κάτι που δεν κολάει με την εικόνα που έχεις εσύ για τον Ελληνισμό και τους πρωτο-Ι.Ε.


Ακόμα και έτσι όμως δικαιολογείται να μου σβήνεις τα σχόλια;
Δηλαδή ο κόπος μου δεν σου λέει τίποτα;
Με βάζεις στην ίδια μοίρα με τον Charlie Brass και τον Thought!
Γιατί συμπατριώτη;
Επειδή δεν συμφωνώ με σένα στα Ι.Ε. θέματα;
Εδώ έχουν βρίσει ΣΚΑΙΟΤΑΤΑ όπως σου είπα παραπάνω άτομα και εμένα αλλά και εσένα (βλέπε jarjar, Richard, Cerdic, κ.α.) και δεν τους είπες το παραμικρό!
Είναι αιτία το ότι χαρακτήρισα ως αλαζονικό τον Simon να με πεις βλάχο και με σκιαγραφήσεις ως ασυνάρτητο;


Κλείνοντας θέλω να σου πω πως σήμερα δεν σου έγραψα για να σε πικάρω!
Απλά για να δεις πόσο άσχημα είναι να σου σβήνουν δικτατορικά την φωνή μέσω της απόσυρσης των σχολίων ενώ δεν συντρέχει λόγος!
Έτσι ένιωσα και εγώ όπως ένιωσες εσύ με την Dorothy.
Με την διαφορά όμως ότι εσύ δεν συνέτρεξες με τα σχόλια σου το σάιτ της για 4 χρόνια δείχνοντας την εκτίμηση σου σε αυτήν.
Στα Ελληνικά σου έγραψα γιατί δεν θέλω να καταλαβαίνουν οι πολλοί τι λέμε.
Σκέφτηκα να σου στείλω e-mail αλλά με πρόλαβε η σημερινή μέρα.
Δεν θα σε ξαναενοχλήσω αν το θες να γίνει έτσι και σβήσε και αυτό το σχόλιο αν θες.
Όμως θα ήθελα έστω να το διαβάσεις μεθοδικά και να το συλλογιστείς.
Θα ήθελα έστω να ακούσω και την δική σου θέση στις παραπάνω εκτιμήσεις μου.

Jason Malloy said...

I tried to leave a link to your response, but apparently she's one of those kinds of bloggers.

Reading your linked reviews, it's kind of sad. She really isn't kidding about "bluffing her way" as a historian. No wonder she's that insecure about informed debate.

James said...

[i]"The Athenians had laws to protect children and proscribed the death penalty to those who had sex with children. Aeschines' Against Timarchus is a good place to start on the subject. Plato too, whose Symposium is often quoted as celebrating homosexuality, proposes severe measures against it in his Laws."[/i]

The Athenians never had any laws against homosexuality or pederasty. Aeschines' Against Timarchus is about male prostitution and has nothing to do with homosexuality. You obviously have never read Aeschines' speech. As to ancient Greek attitudes towards homosexuality, some Greeks approved of it, even enthusiastically, whereas others disapproved of it. You're selective quotations prove nothing.

Dienekes said...

The Athenians had laws to protect children and proscribed the death penalty to those who had sex with children.

You are of course wrong (but I won't waste too much time, since you offer no actual facts or arguments).

Just a little addendum from the Symposium of Xenophon (8,34). Xenophon was a 5th-4th c. Athenian and clearly contrasts Theban with Athenian attitudes towards pederasty.

ἐκείνοις μὲν γὰρ ταῦτα νόμιμα, ἡμῖν δ᾽ ἐπονείδιστα

As for homosexuality, the general Greek attitude is one of disapproval. This is made evident e.g., by Aristotle citing the "Celts" as openly approving of male loves. If a large portion of Greeks approved of male loves, then why would he invoke the exotic Celts to make his point? Diodorus Siculus too is incredulous that Celtic men slept shamelessly with each other even though they had fine women in their country. Whether or not these stereotypes about Celts were true or not is irrelevant, as, by contrast, they reflect on negative Greek attitudes on the subject.

James said...

cont...

"Diodorus Siculus too is incredulous that Celtic men slept shamelessly with each other even though they had fine women in their country. Whether or not these stereotypes about Celts were true or not is irrelevant, as, by contrast, they reflect on negative Greek attitudes on the subject."

Again, you're selectively quoting sources that only support your false opinions on the subject. Some Greeks approved of homosexuality, whereas others did not. Some ancient Greek writers, such as Pseudo-Lucian, even praised and idealized homosexuality:

Marriage is a boon and a blessing to men when it meets with good fortune, while the love of boys, that pays court to the hallowed dues of friendship, I consider to be the privilege only of philosophy. Therefore all men should marry, but let only the wise be permitted to love boys, for perfect virtue grows least of all among women.

James said...

I don't get it. I keep getting a message after posting. I guess my comment is too long. I'll try again. I hope I'm not double posting:

Well, thanks for responding to my comment. The reason why I didn't go into too much detail was because I didn't think you would respond to my remarks, like so many other bloggers. Anyway, allow me to respond.

"The Athenians had laws to protect children and proscribed the death penalty to those who had sex with children.

You are of course wrong (but I won't waste too much time, since you offer no actual facts or arguments)."

No, you're the one who hasn't any legitimate arguments. The purpose of the aforementioned passage was
to condemn the sexual exploitation of boys, which according to Aeschines, included pandering ("and surely he who hires, outrages"), in an attempt to bar Timarchus from serving in office because of his previous history as a catamite. Otherwise, even Aeschines admitted to being a homosexual pederast, however, unlike Timarchus, he did it for love, rather than money:

The distinction which I draw is this: to be in love with those who are beautiful and chaste is the experience of a kind-hearted and generous soul; but to hire for money and to indulge in licentiousness is the act of a man who is wanton and ill-bred.


"Just a little addendum from the Symposium of Xenophon (8,34). Xenophon was a 5th-4th c. Athenian and clearly contrasts Theban with Athenian attitudes towards pederasty."

This clearly ignores the fact that even Xenophon recognized that there was a diversity of opinion concerning homosexuality in ancient Greece:

The other Greeks either do as the Boeotians do, where man and boy are joined as couples and live together, or like the Eleans, who get to enjoy the charms of boys by making them grateful; there are also those who wholly prevent boy-lovers from conversing with boys. [13] But Lycurgus' views were opposed to all of these: [...] if on the other hand someone seemed to lust after a boy's body, he laid down that this was the most shameful of all things and that in Lacedaemonia boy-lovers should keep their hands off boys [...] [14] It does not however surprise me that certain people do not believe this: in most of the Greek cities, the laws do not oppose mens' desire for boys.

cont...

James said...

Well, thanks for responding to my comment. The reason why I didn't go into too much detail was because I didn't think you would respond to my remarks, like so many other bloggers. Anyway, allow me to respond.

"The Athenians had laws to protect children and proscribed the death penalty to those who had sex with children.

You are of course wrong (but I won't waste too much time, since you offer no actual facts or arguments)."

No, you're the one who hasn't any legitimate arguments. The purpose of the aforementioned passage was
to condemn the sexual exploitation of boys, which according to Aeschines, included pandering ("and surely he who hires, outrages"), in an attempt to bar Timarchus from serving in office because of his previous history as a catamite. Otherwise, even Aeschines admitted to being a homosexual pederast, however, unlike Timarchus, he did it for love, rather than money:

The distinction which I draw is this: to be in love with those who are beautiful and chaste is the experience of a kind-hearted and generous soul; but to hire for money and to indulge in licentiousness is the act of a man who is wanton and ill-bred.

cont...

James said...

"Just a little addendum from the Symposium of Xenophon (8,34). Xenophon was a 5th-4th c. Athenian and clearly contrasts Theban with Athenian attitudes towards pederasty."

This clearly ignores the fact that even Xenophon recognized that there was a diversity of opinion concerning homosexuality in ancient Greece:

The other Greeks either do as the Boeotians do, where man and boy are joined as couples and live together, or like the Eleans, who get to enjoy the charms of boys by making them grateful; there are also those who wholly prevent boy-lovers from conversing with boys. [13] But Lycurgus' views were opposed to all of these: [...] if on the other hand someone seemed to lust after a boy's body, he laid down that this was the most shameful of all things and that in Lacedaemonia boy-lovers should keep their hands off boys [...] [14] It does not however surprise me that certain people do not believe this: in most of the Greek cities, the laws do not oppose mens' desire for boys.

cont...

James said...

"As for homosexuality, the general Greek attitude is one of disapproval."

No, the ancient Greek attitude towards homosexuality was ambiguous, to say the least, with some approving of homosexuality and others disapproving of it.

"This is made evident e.g., by Aristotle citing the "Celts" as openly approving of male loves. If a large portion of Greeks approved of male loves, then why would he invoke the exotic Celts to make his point?"

You really need to stop quoting passages out of context. Aristotle is only speaking of war-like races, which didn't include most other Greeks. Otherwise, he also noted that some Greek city-states openly approved of homosexuality:

Now the Cretan arrangements for the public mess-tables are better than the Spartan [...] 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...

cont...

James said...

cont...

Nowhere does Aristotle ever speak of homosexuality as a vice.

"Diodorus Siculus too is incredulous that Celtic men slept shamelessly with each other even though they had fine women in their country. Whether or not these stereotypes about Celts were true or not is irrelevant, as, by contrast, they reflect on negative Greek attitudes on the subject."

Again, you're selectively quoting sources that only support your false opinions on the subject. Some Greeks approved of homosexuality, whereas others did not. Some ancient Greek writers, such as Pseudo-Lucian, even praised and idealized homosexuality:

Marriage is a boon and a blessing to men when it meets with good fortune, while the love of boys, that pays court to the hallowed dues of friendship, I consider to be the privilege only of philosophy. Therefore all men should marry, but let only the wise be permitted to love boys, for perfect virtue grows least of all among women.

P.S. I hope I didn't double-post too much. I was having some trouble posting earlier.

Dienekes said...

Some Greeks approved of homosexuality, whereas others did not

You are being too general. Some Greeks approved of "chaste eros" between members of the same sex which can be hardly called homosexuality in the modern sense. Some of them saw it as indifferent to be the active participant. None that I know of expressed a view of approval of passive homosexuality.



Some ancient Greek writers, such as Pseudo-Lucian, even praised and idealized homosexuality:

Pseudo-Lucian was a Roman age writer of unknown identity who wrote in Greek. Your notion that he was Greek is not really supported.

The distinction which I draw is this: to be in love with those who are beautiful and chaste is the experience of a kind-hearted and generous soul; but to hire for money and to indulge in licentiousness is the act of a man who is wanton and ill-bred.

Again, you are conflating ancient Greek "eros" with homosexuality. Aeschines is condemning both prostitution (hiring for money) and sex ("licentiousness") in that relationship.

This clearly ignores the fact that even Xenophon recognized that there was a diversity of opinion concerning homosexuality in ancient Greece:

Indeed, and a handful of peoples (Boiotians, Eleans, and Cretans) are usually the ones referred to as approving of the practice.

Aristotle is only speaking of war-like races, which didn't include most other Greeks.

Are you saying that the Spartans were the only warlike Greeks, and Aristotle had to go outside the Greek world to find an example of a warlike race that openly (fanerw=s) esteem (tetimh/kasi) "male loves"?

Again, you're selectively quoting sources that only support your false opinions on the subject.

I'm not "selectively quoting sources". Diodorus Siculus wrote for a Greek and Roman audience and expressed incredulity at what was reported to be a Celtic practice. If it was "ok" to be gay in his audience or to actually prefer sleeping with men than with women, then the Celtic practice would not seem bizarre at all as he makes it out to be.

James said...

"You are being too general."

No, I'm not. I'm merely highlighting the fact that the ancient Greek attitude towards homosexuality was far more complex than a mere attitude of "general disapproval."

"Some Greeks approved of "chaste eros" between members of the same sex which can be hardly called homosexuality in the modern sense."

A "sophron eros" didn't necessarily exclude male-male sexual relations, as you wrongly contend. Numerous well-known pederastic relationships, such as that of Patroclus and Achilles, were explicitly homosexual, yet also regarded as chaste.

"Some of them saw it as indifferent to be the active participant. None that I know of expressed a view of approval of passive homosexuality."

Some of the ancient Greek writers also idealized homosexuality, such as Achilles Tatius. It is true that passive homosexuality was not approved of, but there were many writers who did not necessarily disapprove of passive homosexuality as well, such as Aristotle and pseudo-Aristotle.

"Pseudo-Lucian was a Roman age writer of unknown identity who wrote in Greek. Your notion that he was Greek is not really supported."

Hello? He was a Greek author who wrote in Greek in order to address a Greek-speaking audience. Your objection is beside the point. The existence of other Greek authors who idealized homosexuality, such as Achilles Tatius, indicates that there were many Greeks who approved of pederastic relations.

James said...

"Again, you are conflating ancient Greek "eros" with homosexuality. Aeschines is condemning both prostitution (hiring for money) and sex ("licentiousness") in that relationship."

Wrong, "licentiousness" merely referred to Timarchus' spendthrift lifestyle as a male concubine. The Greek notion of chastity was one of self-restraint, not sexual abstinence.

"Indeed, and a handful of peoples (Boiotians, Eleans, and Cretans) are usually the ones referred to as approving of the practice."

Yet throughout most of ancient Greece, there were no laws against pederasty or male prostitution, except as it related to political office. Again, my point was to merely emphasize that there was a diversity of opinion on the subject, not a climate of general disapproval as you falsely claim.

"Are you saying that the Spartans were the only warlike Greeks, and Aristotle had to go outside the Greek world to find an example of a warlike race that openly (fanerw=s) esteem (tetimh/kasi) "male loves"?"

The Spartans were the most warlike Greeks. But this quotation is beside the point, as nowhere in his writings does Aristotle ever condemn homosexuality; he even admits that homosexuality cannot be considered a vice.

James said...

"I'm not "selectively quoting sources"."

You're only quoting those sources which only support your side of the argument, while ignoring those sources which contradict whatever you have to say.

"Diodorus Siculus wrote for a Greek and Roman audience and expressed incredulity at what was reported to be a Celtic practice. If it was "ok" to be gay in his audience or to actually prefer sleeping with men than with women, then the Celtic practice would not seem bizarre at all as he makes it out to be."

Diodorus was a Roman era Greek who may have embraced the Roman's greater aversion to homosexuality, or was maybe reacting to the Celtic lack of self-restraint in sexual matters.

Listen, I'm not denying that homosexuality may have been problematic for some writers. All I'm saying is that the ancient Greeks expressed a diversity of opinion about homosexuality, some saying it was "ok" and others disagreeing with it. However, there was no consensus on whether being gay was "ok" or not "ok," as you put it. For example, the 4th century Greek Stoic philosopher Zeno said:

"Do not make invidious comparisons between gay and nongay, male and female."

"Penetrate the thighs of a beloved child no more and no less than those of a non-beloved child, and neither those of a female any more or any less than those of a male. Since what is fitting and appropriate for a beloved child is not different, but the same, as for a non-beloved child, and for females no differently than for males."

James said...

Also, Aeschines mentions a number of laws promulgated by Solon, who was a noted pederast who enjoyed having intercourse with boys.

Solis said...

I'm way too late, but I'd like to point out that there's also Demosthenes' Against Androtion, speech 30, in which he says:

"Now it is worth your while, men of Athens, to study too the character of Solon, who framed this law, and to observe what care he took of the constitution in all the laws, how much more zealous indeed he was for the constitution than for the matter on which he was legislating. This may be seen in many ways, but especially from this law, which forbids persons guilty of prostitution to make speeches or to propose measures. For he saw that the majority of you do not avail yourselves of your right to speak, so that the prohibition seemed no great hardship, and he could have laid down many harsher penalties, if his object had been the chastisement of these offenders.

"Numerous well-known pederastic relationships, such as that of Patroclus and Achilles, were explicitly homosexual, yet also regarded as chaste."

What an insult to their memory!

But in his inner tent, an ampler space,
Achilles slept; and in his warm embrace
Fair Diomede of the Lesbian race.
Last, for Patroclus was the couch prepared,
Whose nightly joys the beauteous Iphis shared;
Achilles to his friend consign'd her charms
When Scyros fell before his conquering arms.


The Iliad, Book IX.

Also,

"A surprise to him was the relatively low number of male homosexual scenes of copulation: 13 to 15, as opposed to 82 heterosexual ones or, put another way, 18% of the total (using the higher figure). He had expected a stronger showing of the homosexual theme, "given the view scholarship has taken over the last century or so"
Of her 393 vase paintings, 14% have a male homosexual content, in the form of gods pursuing mortal adolescents."

Which would mean only 55 vase paintings. Over 100,000 vases have been found in ancient Greece, which means that only 0.05% have homosexual content, an incredibly small number for a civilization where homosexuality was apparently common and accepted.