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Book claims to debunk current beliefs on ancient Greek sexuality

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posted on May, 4 2005 @ 09:08 AM
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Now, this article is kinda old (1999), so there's a chance that someone made a thread on this already. I haven't read the book at all, but the response to it seems to suggest that many people thought it was a good read.

According to the article, the author, Nikos Vrissimtzis, wrote this book after extensive study of Greek artifacts and texts. He claims that the Greeks weren't pro-homosexual, pedophilia, or masturbation. He goes on to say that the reason we currently believe otherwise is misinterpretation and biased interpretation by Christians.

Now, I would have to say that some of their own artifacts suggest otherwise, but you could also say that no one really knows what the artwork means, which is true. The author seems to believe that this was meant to discredit the ancient Greeks in a way; with the current views on gays today, I can see a point here.

Does anyone agree/disagree with this author's assessments?




posted on May, 4 2005 @ 09:31 AM
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good topic truthseekr

i think that anything the ancient christians didn't understand they ridiculed. i have a tough time thinking that the entire ancient civilization of greece was pro homo,pedo. its just crazy.

i think that the ancient christians were scandalized with the level of nudity in the art work and they just took it from there.

but that's my opinion.

just as most things even now..............if its not understood then it is wrong.

angie



posted on May, 4 2005 @ 09:50 AM
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You make some good points, amb.

I'm not exactly sure who, but some people were really shocked when they came across Greek ruins. The Greeks thought that men were the fertile beings, so they put phallus replicas all over the place. It's no surprise that these people thought they were gay; when you have no clue about the culture, what else do you think when you see wangs everywhere?


At the same time, though, you shouldn't automatically assume things like this without looking into it first. I heard somewhere that people were lumping Pompeii in with Sodom and Gomorrah. Come on, now, that ain't right, is it? Even if Sodom and Gomorrah were full of gay folks, does that mean that they should be destroyed for being queer? - Pun intended



posted on May, 4 2005 @ 09:53 AM
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There's some truth to what he says... HOWEVER, he's making some terribly sweeping generalizations and applying them to all the Greek speaking people. It presents the Greeks with an image that (through Christianity) they are more comfortable with than with the image of a partying, sexually free society where homosexuality was freely allowed.

On the issue of homosexuality -- it was regularly practiced in Greece and in particular in the city-state of Sparta, home of the most feared military on the planet. An older man would take a teenaged boy of about 14 as his lover and they would become partners. The man would train the boy to be a warrior and would supply him with armor and weapons. The boy was his concubine, and they remained faithful partners until the boy reached a certain age -- the age of marriage.
Then the man would select a bride for his boy-lover.

Marriage was arranged, and it was a pretty loveless situation done strictly for economic reasons. Women were considered simply vehicles for sexual satisfaction. They were expected to stay home, bear children, and manage the household (if they could. Not infrequently the couple was part of a multigenerational household.)

Although they were society's outcasts, prostitutes and concubines and dancers had it better than "honest women."

The age of marriage for girls was as young as 14... which WOULD be considered pedophila in our society.

www2.hu-berlin.de...

The gender of your sexual partner among the ancients wasn't much of an issue. HOWEVER, sex for the ancients WAS a matter of status (were you a "top" or a "bottom" in today's parlance.) It was scandalous for a freeman or a man of high status to "bottom"... and same-sex pairings between males of equal status could be complicated (this link has more on the relationship between boys and men in Greece):
setis.library.usyd.edu.au...

Interestingly enough, this attitude continues in some parts of the world today (Brail, for instance. It's not whether your lover is male or female... it's whether you're the dominant partner or not.)

Anyway, I can blurble about this for awhile... one of my fellow Anth grad students is gay and is doing GLBT studies for his degree. He usually shares papers with us at the journal club and occasionally refers to them in class, so I've learned quite a bit about this in the past year or two.


(pub Med abstract about evolution of homosexuality... don't worry... it's actually understandable and the conclusions are presented: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov... )


[edit on 4-5-2005 by Byrd]



posted on May, 4 2005 @ 11:40 AM
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Thanks for the info, Byrd.

This guy probably has some good points, no doubt, but again, there is evidence that the Greeks didn't discriminate when it came to sex. It's weird, they were open sexually, but at the same time they had their social taboos.

I have read that it took a brave man to, uh, go down on a woman; I believe this, looking at the role women played in their society. The idea was that it put the man in a submissive position compared to the woman. This goes along with what you said, Byrd. With the Romans, I've read that adultery without compensation for the woman was agaisnt the law, but it was ok if you paid hookers.

Pretty wild.



posted on May, 6 2005 @ 03:33 PM
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The nations of which you speak and other nations of earlier times ..even the Romans which came later ..all these nations had religious beliefs which were of pagan origins. It is well known that in pagan nations ...fertility and sexuality were open and also seasonal..following the sun and moon cycles and cycles of fertility ..even in the planting of crops.and the holidays surrounding this.
Without alot of digging for certain texts..and historys..this would not be known by most peoples today as it will not be taught for what it is..in most public school educations. Totally glossed over.
These fertility customs and rituals survive in somewhat modified form in to days mystery religions.
My point is that sex and sexuality ..in certain customs were open ...glorified...the prefered expression of ones humanity. Not hidden or reigned in as is done in Chrisitan cultures. The worship of the human form was open...admitted..glorified..with all its attendent baggage.
It is well known ..albet quietly ...that certain arts and sports attract a noticable number of people of certain persuasions...this is not coincidence.
Only a ignorant and uneducated public can miss this connection ..going way back in history.
Amazing to me to what extents some will go to hide certain aspects of history.

Thanks,
Orangetom



posted on May, 6 2005 @ 08:30 PM
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Orangetom -- It might be worthwhile for you to go and edit your subject line -- I know it put me on the defensive when I read your post and it wasn't directed at me. Not a great way to introduce a post that could have some valuable points in it.


Also Byrd -- thanks for all the information -- I always look forward to your posts and links.



posted on May, 6 2005 @ 08:32 PM
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Originally posted by truthseeka
With the Romans, I've read that adultery without compensation for the woman was agaisnt the law, but it was ok if you paid hookers.
Pretty wild.


oh my god hahahaha
Today in my Latin III Class we were translating some book [Satrycon or something] and we stopped after 20 minutes and did nothing so one of my friends was looking across some of my teachers books in the back and he picked out this book and tossed it to me... it was titled: "Prostitution, Sexuality, and Law in Ancient Rome" Its so funny that i would come across this today.

Yea on the topic of Greek Sexuality, i believe that they didnt discriminate as a few people have previously said, due to the huge amounts of homosexual artwork that has been found. Good Topic



posted on May, 6 2005 @ 08:46 PM
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One of the things that was mentioned in the initial post, but hasn't been mentioned since is masturbation. For a class I had to read Lysistrata, a play by Aristophanes. If you read the play, which is translated from the orginal Greek, there are refrences to a woman's favorite dildo. Of the 4 extant Greek plays I've read, 3 have had overtly sexual content. The Ancient Greeks, according to their literture, did partake in activities that many people consider taboo today. To say that the Christians had anything to do with the light in which Ancient Greece is seen in this respect is a real generalization.



posted on May, 6 2005 @ 09:27 PM
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The Least Reliable Source


Originally posted by truthseekaDoes anyone agree/disagree with this author's assessments?

Here's something you can dismiss out of hand: a past life memory. Yeah, about worthless, I know, but this is ATS, so let's humor me.

First, the disclaimers: This is based on what I think may be past-life memories of mine as a soldier in Alexander's army as a guy named “Lukas of Andromea”.

Disclaimer: I don't know if any of this is true, only that I have memories of it as reliable as any from this life (which ain't much). YMMV, assume it's b.s., etc.

Now, on with it...

Boy Soldier

I “joined” the Macedonian/Greek army as a boy, I don't know what year, but I think it was before Alexander shipped out for his grand conquest. I remember training in Greece, my homeland ( I think it was Greece -- I didn't know it as such, only my home town of Andromea, wherever that was).

I started basically acting as a gopher as a young teenager. My jobs where whatever the warriors needed done, which usually meant carrying stuff like armor, food, driving animals, odd jobs or whatever.

A huge pack of boys swarmed around and assisted the army, trying to get a shot at being accepted as warriors. I was part of that pack for a while. It was a hard life.

If you wanted to get picked, you needed to be tough. Crybabies went home to mother. Real warriors toughed it out and were eventually apprenticed to real soldiers.

A lot of people don't know it, but the boys of opposing armies used to fight each other too. They were active combatants, and killed each other just as dead as the older warriors did.

Boys were the infrastructure of armies in those days, though they get no credit for it now.

Sex And The Army

So what about sex? Everyone, and all the time. A good time was had by all.

Women were not involved, and were considered sources of disease by the warriors. Other men (especially from the same unit) and boys were generally considered safe -- unless they indulged in the company of women, then they were shunned.

After a lot of hard work as a boy in the “rat pack”, I was accepted as a soldier, and, over the course of about ten years, eventually made a rank I think of as “captain”. I had anywhere from around 40-100 men under my command, depending on all sorts of variables, and about half again as many boys who followed us around.

When my company was defeated, I had 102 men under my command, and roughly 40 boys helping us. All of them died. I saw them all die.

Young Lions

I was the commander of the “Lions”, a light spear company typically deployed as reserves. Our job was to punish anyone stupid enough to break through the ranks of “choppers” (heavily armored sword and shieldsmen).

We were very good at that, because it was usually heavy infantry who broke through, and we could run rings around them -- while simultaneously sticking spears in their exposed throats. No one ever seemed to armor throats effectively, hence our propensity to thrust spears there.

We were spearmen, and most of us didn't carry swords, though I usually did, as the “guy with the plume”. But I was a spearman, and I knew all the tricks.

He-Man Women-Hater's Club

Anyway, long story short, if my memories are correct, there was no shortage of sex in Alexander's army -- just not involving women as a rule.

My company was a solid “he-man women-hater's club”. No girls allowed.

So how often did the guys have sex? Every damn night, and like freakin' spider monkeys.

In the evenings after a day of battle, when some of us had died and we were covered with the stink of soured blood and body odor, it really got rowdy.

Am I gay or a pedophile in this life? No. And ironically, Lukas didn't see himself as that way either.

The mentality was that while a warrior, you kept only the company of men and boys. That was the warrior's way.

Once you retired and took your pay-out, then it was time to find a wife and settle down. But not before.

Sorry if this dubious account bugs anyone, but that's the way I remember it.

In my memory, it wasn't scandalous or perverted at all. It was the way it had always been.

It was the way of the warrior.



posted on May, 7 2005 @ 12:47 PM
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OK, so I hope people are beginning to understand the dynamic at work in Greek society

For status, you could only hang out with men. Now, if you wanted status among men, you had to share their belief systems. They couldn't promote someone to Captain, and find the Captain does not find himself 'below' the General...

It was a way to keep men 'in their place', by telling them to feel a certain way about women. These views of women as unclean, etc. were only re-inforced by the way women were treated in that society, the only ones who could do as they wanted were the ones who slept with men for money.

Under this view, every women would sleep with men for money, if given the opportunity.

Also, being forced to 'catch' at a young age, I am sure that instills a desire to climb the ranks, as quick as possible, it makes you think of the world as existing only between a superior and inferior, at all times, and the only 'success' in life is getting another man to 'bottom', or play 'Catcher/Pitcher'.


But why did they have their society set up so that the men at the top could have any boys they wanted? Surely it was not to cover up occult practices...



posted on May, 7 2005 @ 05:32 PM
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"But why did they have their society set up so that the men at the top could have any boys they wanted? Surely it was not to cover up occult practices... "

No it was not to cover up occult practices..back then. It was however a method used to bring new members, acceptable memebers into the fold.
Remember the time period you are describing. Paganism was the norm..accepted...the prefered religion. Though in many variations ...paganism..most varieties carry common threads..the most notable is open sexuality...of every kind. All of these and their practices today fall under pagan/occult ...not something taught today..on the history channel for what it is..or was.

Remember also ..that there was a definite marking or delineation of time..with the advent of the Christian era. No longer was it considered normal or glorious to use sexuality in this manner. We mark the passage of time in the AD/BC method..to show a difference in time. However ...today they are attempting to obscure this line by using the method BCE..so as to hide the distinction as if it never happened.
What is not known by the bulk of peoples ..is that many of these nations were engaged in this openly ..in manners and rituals that would make Hugh Hefner and Bob Guiccene...look like kindergarten kids.

This ancient method and rationale is still here today and used to bring members in to the fold. Control..It is just something hidden ..concealed...occult....esoteric..not for public consumption..for good reason.

Just me...yes I understand your point...as to some my posting and method of posting gives offense.
I have posted some of these views on this and similar topics on the board on Ancient and lost civilizations ..the topic area was "7000 year olde pornographic relic found"
I just happen to know some of the history and the concept that there is a conscious attempt to bring this system back into play if one looks around ..it is all over...and attempting to make a comeback. It is obvious.

Thanks,
Orangetom



posted on May, 8 2005 @ 11:29 AM
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Originally posted by Byrd


On the issue of homosexuality -- it was regularly practiced in Greece and in particular in the city-state of Sparta, home of the most feared military on the planet. An older man would take a teenaged boy of about 14 as his lover and they would become partners. The man would train the boy to be a warrior and would supply him with armor and weapons. The boy was his concubine, and they remained faithful partners until the boy reached a certain age -- the age of marriage.
Then the man would select a bride for his boy-lover.


I am not sure here, but I have read the male relationships in Sparta were not sexual. Indeed the older man was a "protector" and "friend".In fact the sex between teenager and male could be punished by death. Again I'm not sure about this I think I read it in Xenphon.



Marriage was arranged, and it was a pretty loveless situation done strictly for economic reasons. Women were considered simply vehicles for sexual satisfaction. They were expected to stay home, bear children, and manage the household (if they could).
Although they were society's outcasts, prostitutes and concubines and dancers had it better than "honest women."

This is generalization and not true in all states. Actually this model was practicized especially in Athens, so now most people think its' so. For example Spartan, Thesalian, Arcadian, Corinthian, Cretan and Macedonian womans had much more personal freedom - especially Spartan womans could choose their husband, and the married even lover (if the man agreed).
It is ironic that the Greece woman has the lowest status in most demokratic states - especially in Athens and other Ionean city-states.




The age of marriage for girls was as young as 14... which WOULD be considered pedophila in our society.


True, but this was the case in all ancient societies, not just Greece.


BTW I think our image of greek society is heavily influenced by Athenian cultural superiority during that times. Most historicans and philospohers were
Athenians (especially during clasical era) so the image of greek society must be considered as Athenian point of view.


[edit on 8-5-2005 by longbow]



posted on May, 8 2005 @ 12:02 PM
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Originally posted by longbow
I am not sure here, but I have read the male relationships in Sparta were not sexual. Indeed the older man was a "protector" and "friend".In fact the sex between teenager and male could be punished by death. Again I'm not sure about this I think I read it in Xenphon or Plutarchos.

Not always, true, and some were undoubtedy platonic. But, remember, the culture promoted this (for a similar example, look up the Sambians or the Etoro (modern primitive cultures) and their homoerotic insemination practices -- a cultural practice that ALL boys have to learn and go through):
www.press.uchicago.edu...

(if you use scholar.google.com... you can find the field notes and research articles on this and other cultures that have similar practices. WARNING-WARNING-WARNING This is not reading material for those who have strong negative feelings about homosexuality. Some of the papers (like this one) will go further into how women are treated in such societies - routledge-ny.crcpress.com... The material WILL offend anyone who's offended by homosexuality.)



This is generalization and not true in all states. Actually this model was practicized especially in Athens, so now most people think its' so. For example Spartan, Thesalian, Arcadian, Corinthian, Cretan and Macedonian womans had much more personal freedom - especially Spartan womans could choose their husband, and the married even lover (if the man agreed).

Again, in some cases (particularly among the peasants) but certainly not in the majority of cases. While they could choose their husbands, the fact is that most of them were raised in situations where they did not meet many people -- so parents picking husbands for them made sense.

This is quite common in ancient societies.



BTW I think our image of greek society is heavily influenced by Athenian cultural superiority during that times. Most historicans and philospohers were Athenians (especially during clasical era) so the image of greek society must be considered as Athenian point of view.

An interesting and frequently true viewpoint. We have the archaeological evidence and graffiti and so forth, but our remaining documents do tend to bias us toward the records we have from the classics.

Excellent points, but I think that you'll find there's a huge amount of supporting evidence for the homosexual bonding between warriors and boys as a cultural thing.


[edit on 8-5-2005 by Byrd]




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