Homosexuality in Ancient Greece

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Ralph SettonENG 2100
Muscles, Testosterone, Physique, OH MY! Homosexuality and its Roots in Ancient Greece
When one imagines an Ancient Greek warrior, one envisions a manly, brave, honorable brute. We wouldn’t necessarily assume that there would be homosexual tendencies within a society defined by virility, bravery, and honor. Yet there is undeniable proof that Ancient Greek warriors did in fact believe in, endorse, and partake in homosexual relationships. Although we would expect there to be some form of discretion and prudence when bringing up such a sensitive topic in connection to a society revolving around manliness and man’s superiority, readers are taken aback when discovering that the topic of homosexuality was in fact spoken about openly and freely.

Being that there was no concept of the difference between heterosexuality and homosexuality in Ancient Greece, there was no internal conflict regarding morality when it came to engaging in sexual relations with another man. Though that may be true, attitudes toward homosexuality differed by region. For example “in Thebes homosexuality was supported, while in Ionia it was deemed immoral and even illegal.” (Pickett, SEP, 2011) In Plato’s Symposium, Phaedrus says, “... he would prefer to die many deaths: while as for leaving the one he loves in a lurch, or not succoring him in peril, no man is such a craven that the influence of Love cannot inspire him with a courage that makes him equal to the bravest born.” (Plato, Benardete, 2001) Through this statement, we see the implication that the sexual connection between men in the Greek army helped improve bravery and morale on the battlefield.

Perhaps the most surprising fact is that sex between freemen, who were not bound to slavery, was looked down upon, because sex in the Ancient Greek society was seen as an act practiced with one party being superior and one being inferior. Sex between freemen was a problem because there was no difference in their...
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