Sexuality means the concern with or interest in sexual activity according to the Oxford Dictionary. The meaning of sexuality changes from time to time, from land to land, and from people to people. Social historians hold different points of view about sexuality relating to what the common people are thinking especially on the relationship between sexuality and mythology. The majority think that it is impossible to have a sexual history. However, the social historians state that sexual behaviour and its significance had changed time to time from their research, and therefore, they believed that sexuality has history. Sex relationship can be found among the Greek Gods in the Greek Myths. The Greek myths are an excellent example of the predominance of sexuality on human creativity. Since the Greek Gods have sexual relationships, there will be some similarities and differences between the sexuality nowadays according to the status of both sexes, sexual desire, and sex behaviour.
The sexual desire in ancient Greece and nowadays are quite similar. In Greek myths, Zeus is a sexually-active person, "It has been estimated that, besides his legal wife Hera, Zeus had over 100 women." (Reinhold,80) Poseidon is also sexually obtrusive. For instance, Poseidon loved Demeter. When Demeter transformed herself into a mare, Poseidon changed himself into a stallion and chased after Demeter. Today, the boys always fond of dating many girls who they love. "From the male's point of view there simply aren't enough females to go around with and so a male must compete for sexual success with other sex-seeking males" (Hutchison,202) They will have sex quite a lot in a short time. In 20th century, the youngsters are very open-minded to sex and love relationships. When they like or fall in love with anybody, they will go on a date with their targets. According to research, 35 percent of teenagers have had sex in 1976. But in 1985, the total was 58 percent of teenagers who have had sex. This trend is increasing further. In a statistics of Next Change Magazine, teenagers have an idea that having sex is an extremely natural phenomena when one has a girlfriend or boyfriend. Many boys are eager to have both sex with girls which is the same as what Zeus and Poseidon did in the Greek Myths. Many girls are also eager to have both sex with boys which just like Aphrodite. She had sex not only with her husband, Hephaestus, but also her lovers. By the way, some of the Greek gods will not really indulge in sex, for instance, Hades and Hermes. Some people still care about their virginity in this present time. However, some of the eagerness of sex will result to rape. The rate of rape is increasing because it is quite often to see it from the daily newspaper. In Greek Myths, Hades once kidnapped Persephone to the underworld and wanted her to live with him. It is a kind of rape because Persephone is not willing to be with Hades "Hades seized her forcibly, and took her to his palace under the earth. Demeter heard her cry of terror, but the rape of Persephone ..." (Reinhold, 88) Ares attempts to rape Athena too but he fails to do so.
Bisexuality was also practised in Ancient Greece. Apollo is very attractive because of well-built and good-looking. He fell in love with many boys and not only women. One of the boys was called Hyacinth. Zeus fell in love with a handsome Trojan boy called Ganymedes. Zeus brought him to Olympus too. From these examples, the Greek gods did not care their sex partners form. Their only concern is to see if they love their targets or not. Bisexuality is also common based on the statistics in the Next Change Magazine. "Some men think that women are a tool of giving birth while men are their real love partners and sexual intercourse happens. What they really want is the care from others. They love the other man's beauty. Those men are either lack love from their wives or they love another men as a good friend, but their wives will be the long-term sex partners." (Next, 35) It reflects that both men in Ancient Greece and this modern world enjoy the so-called "target" idea. They love to have sex with women to gain good feelings or to reproduce. But they will not hesitate to date or fall in love with another male if they find that man is either physically beautiful or mentally beautiful (love-care) or both.
Incest was frequently practised in Ancient Greece. Zeus married with his own sister, Hera, and had sex with her. They had many offspring. In this modern world, incest also happens. According to research, "as many as 100 million young girls may be raped by adult men-usually their fathers- often day after day, week after week, year in, year out." (Women, 65) The statistics also indicates that one in four families are incestuous among the US, Australia, Egypt, Israel and India. In the vast majority of cases, about 80 to 90 percent of these girls are being sexually used by their male relatives, usually their father.
The world would not only have similarities, the differences should not be omitted.
The role of men and women are an absolute difference between the Greek myths and the present time. The way that men and women are treated is different. The male gods could have sex with a lot of women even when they had a wife already. For example, Zeus indulged in having sex with women even though his only legal wife was Hera. When a goddess, who had a husband, and had sex with another male, then she would be punished . Once
Hephaestus knew the clandestine meetings of his wife with Ares, constructed a skilfully woven net which he hung invisibly over the pair's bed. Here it fell upon them in their lovemaking and entrapped them. Hephaestus then summoned all the other gods to see and laugh at the helpless pair. (Reinhold,100) In addition, it was not allowed for women to be lesbians. Lesbians were punished harshly. Also, the Greek myths had an idea of "the earth is female, mother earth, and the sky is male" As a sex historian says "The base of many [sexual] assumption often appears in the creation myths." (Highwater, 8) It shows "attitudes arise out of various mythologies and are then socialised in Custom" (Highwater, 8) Men should be at the top and women should be at the bottom when they have sexual intercourse. Men dominant over the women in sex.
In modern societies, women play an important part in sex. Women break free from the repression, fear and anxiety following the sexual revolution. Some of the women in America tried to break free from the male-dominant society by discussing their feeling about sex with other woman. Education leads them know more about sex. There are handbooks teaching women masturbation technique because "masturbation, in fact, could increase the power of women. Women could arouse and satisfy themselves, males would no longer be required, or, if allowed to participate, would no longer be in charge." (Hutchison, 41) It shows that women can now be "self-served" and the necessary of the man to exist can be neglected. Now, women have the right to choose and not subserient to what the men said. It is because there is an alternative for woman to fulfil their sexual desire which is masturbation. They can achieve sex by themselves and may get a better feelings. They can now enjoy it and it is not sex is for men to enjoy" (Women, 61) "Marketing surveys and a variety approaches convinced publishers that women were also eager for sexually arousing materials" (Hutchison, 48) It further implies that sex is not only for the men but also for the women. Woman are starting to refuse to force their bodies into the fantasy- forms of male-defined sex ... are searching instead for that rare man who is willing to forsake the the divisive power of pornographic sex for the confusing, frightening, vulnerable intimacy of eroticism. (Women, 68) After the second sexual revolution, female could refuse the men's sexual needs. Som of the women turned to each other during the second sexual revolution to explore lesbian sex. Women were not punished. Sodomy is not uncommon in Greek myths. The Greek Gods would have intercourse with animals in the form of an animal, "Zeus approaches Leda as a swan, Persephone as a snake: pasiphae falls in love with a bull and has intercourse with it, and the fruit of this passion was the Minotaur." (Licht, 504) In this world, sodomy sometimes occur but people will not indulge in it.
Homosexuality is quite different between the Ancient Greece and 20th century. In Ancient Greece, the Gods love men owing to the boy's beauty. "Zeus ... the handsome young Trojan Ganymedes, with whom he had fallen in love" (Reinhold, 81) There is a line by Athenaeus, "Boys are beautiful, For as long time as they look like women." In Western point of view, "think of sexuality in terms of binary opposites: male and female, heterosexual and homosexual, marital sex and pre- or extramarital sex. And in every case, one of these pairs is privileged, is seen as the normal" (Highwater, 15) Quite often, the gay people think that women are insecure to love because women are becoming more and more independent. Moreover, an old man could have a lot of boys but a boy can't have a lot of boys or old men. Nowadays, gay people are mostly found not having a great age-gap. The disallowance of a boy to have a lot of boys or old men is not common or even exist.
There are similarities and differences in sexual attitude, sexual behaviour and sexual desire between the Ancient Greece and this modern societies. The attitude and behaviour of homosexuality and some of the Greek's sexual behaviour, for instance, sodomy, will be different from what it is nowadays. The Greek Gods very concern only about the beauty while people will not only concern about the beauty. In Ancient Greece, sex was necessary to men and there was less concern about the satisfaction of women in sex. Women was unfairly treated. In this modern world, women will fight for their rights and they are more independent. They can masturbate to achieve their own sexual climax without the need of men. The laws protect women because the laws always achieve the goal of "fairness". No men can dominate over women. The sexual desire of men to women is still very strong nowadays which is the same as what it was in Ancient Greece. They love having sexual intercourse. They only concern about their targets. From the trend of sexual needs nowadays, the idea of having sex will become more and more open. The importance of women's roles in society will eventually increase.
Highwater, Jamake. Myth and Sexuality. USA: Meridan, 1990.
Reinhold, Meyer. Past And Present. Canada: Makkert, 1972.
Hutchison, Michael. Anatomy of Sex and Power. New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1990
Licht, Hans. Sexual Life in Ancient Greece. New York: Dorset Press, 1993.
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------. Next Change Magazine. Hong Kong: 1996