New Features and Related Artifacts



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New Features and Related Artifacts


That sexuality played a decisive role in pederasty and does not stem from the lustful imagination of a few scholars is clear to every unprejudiced observer when he sees the archaic vase paintings on which a man, an erastes, gropes the genital organs of a youth, an eromenos. This gesture, which in early Greek art also appears in heterosexual eroticism becomes more concrete in later, red-figured vase depictions. . . . (Reinsberg [1989], 189)

Within a generation after 600 practically all other Greeks had followed Crete and Sparta in institutionalizing pederasty. Tradition credited the introduction of the practice to "sages," that is, counter-parts of the Cretan "musicians" who had invented the new pederastic system. Of the so-called Seven Sages, all, except the legendary "Lycurgus," lived in the seventh and sixth century.i I follow tradition in this matter, recognizing fully that these sages, like the legendary "Lycurgus," may in truth have been committees of lawgivers or citizens whose laws and reforms were later ascribed to a particular "person." However we choose to speak about the agency for the institution-alization of pederasty in the varied Greek poleis, I appreciate that some readers may question the possibility that one sage or even a few lawgivers could have imposed upon the populace of any city the far-reaching social changes we have been discussing.

In defense of that proposition,

Of note also is the relationship between pederasty and certain tyrants, that is, individuals whose ability to dictate standards cannot be questioned. A number of those tyrants were themselves distinctly fond of boys and collected around themselves courts heavily populated with pederasts and beautiful pages. Although little is known about the earliest tyrants, by the time of Polycrates, Hipparchus, and Hiero, we can identify not only the artists and poets they supported but also some of the comely youths so admired at their courts.

The ensuing chapters in Part III will chart the spread of pederasty region by region. There the accent must fall upon those figures, notably writers, whose surviving works record the intense outpouring of sentiments associated with pederastic relationships. But the new mode established by the "sages" involved along with the mentor-pupil bond of erastes and eromenos new ways to prepare the boy's strength of body (the gymnasium) and mind (the symposium). To understand something of these all-important institutions is to grasp much that is essential to the world of erastes and eromenos.
Sources
The Late Archaic poets provide our primary literary sources for their age. They all appear to have been pederastic, or, at the very least, closely associated with the symposion. Their numbers include the nine lyric poets canonized by the Alexandrians. The earliest of the nine, Alcman, Sappho, and Alcaeus, represented local values rather than pan-Hellenic traditions. Of the middle poets (chronologically speaking), Stesichorus was, like the earliest three, perhaps not even historical. Ibycus and Anacreon, however, associated with tyrants of the day and must be considered true historical personages. The final members of the canon, Pindar, Simonides, and Bacchylides, lived into the classical age.

Of the works of these poets and their contemporaries, few survive. The Theognidean corpus (1,388 lines) is the longest by far to come down to us in manuscript. Even it is not complete and much included in it may have actually been written by predecessors or by imitators who lived as late as Hellenistic times. Pindar of Thebes (518-438) has left a corpus of sufficient length to fill a slim modern volume. Ibycus of Rhegium, Anacreon of Teos, and Simonides of Ceos, are known to us through far fewer lines.

Scholiasts on other peoples' works give us some data. Literary critics from Aristotle to Cicero, Seneca, and Quintilian as well as Christian Fathers, especially Clement of Alexandria provide more information. Byzantine lexicographers such as Hesychius, Stephanus, Photius, the compilers of the Suda, and Eustathius of Thessalonica also help. The biographies of both poets and philosophers, all of which are late, are highly anecdotal and clearly contain deductions about the authors from their works rather than from actual facts. Like today's tabloids, Diogenes Laertius', Iamblichus', Eunapius' and others' Lives are full of gossip to sell.ii No one is more useful, however, than the much neglected Athenaeus, whose discursive dialogues contain many gems drawn from early works.

History was developed only after the age ended by Herodotus of Halicarnassus, the successor of Hecataeus, who formulated the principles of geography at Miletus. Although Herodotus digressed but briefly into the Archaic period and his successor Thucydides attempted to summarize that age in a few passages, their information is invaluable for the spread of pederasty and its concomitant institutions. At various times locals, most famously Herodotus' contemporary Hellanicus of Lesbos traced the history of cities back to their foundation. Strabo, Diodorus Siculus, and Plutarch relied heavily upon Ephorus, who often used those logographers and other early sources with discrimination. Pausanias, Aelian, and even certain Byzantine compilers often reported accurately ancient traditions and lost authors. Inscriptions and papyri (including a manual for wrestling), as well as statues and drawings, greatly increase our knowledge of athletics.iii

Innumerable vases provide revealing scenes from gymnasia and symposia. Like the homosexual graffiti at Thera, explicit pederastic art also first appeared in the late seventh century.iv Dover mentioned the oldest pictorial evidence of Cretan homosexuality, a late seventh-cen-tury bronze plaque. It depicts the return from the hunt of a parastates (eromenos), whose sexual organs show under his tunic. Armed with a bow and carrying a goat, he seizes the forearm of his philetor.v Soon thereafter a flood of art and poetry celebrated a new life-style, so different from that of the epics.
Gymnasia
Athletics rendered the Greek boy more desirable as an eromenos. It was not merely the beauty and flexibility of his body that they improved but his endurance and sophrosyne (self-control). If, as theory supposed, many Archaic Greeks loved their boys for their good character and virtue -- in the original sense of manliness -- nothing could more clearly demonstrate this than athletic success. The discipline and endurance that prepared a boy for athletics also prepared him for war, the most essential duty of a citizen. Thus gymnasia could inspire love as truly as flirtation at the symposia. A late epigram says it more succinctly, if less eloquently than Pindar's odes: "When Menecharmus, Anticles' son, won the boxing match, I crowned him with ten soft fillets, and thrice I kissed him all dabbled with blood as he was, but the blood was sweeter to me than myrrh" (Greek Anthology, Anonymous, XII, 123).

Gymnasia were originally no more than open spaces on the outskirts of cities, preferably near a source of water for bathing. Pederastic scenes as shown on the black-figured vases of the mid-sixth century were still set in such outdoor locales, whereas scenes on the later red-figured vases from c. 520 were frequently set in or near enclosed and even slightly built-up gymnasia.vi Often located near temples, they might themselves contain statues of patron deities and heroes. These statues indicated that the gods took an interest in athletics; they also emphasized important links between the gymnasia and pederasty.

The statues which predominated in gymnasia were not of the handsome youth Apollo but of the boy Eros, the young Hermes, and the mature Heracles. They seem to have personified the three stages of physical development: Eros, the prepubescent end of boyhood, Hermes, the ephebic stage, and Heracles, the fully developed adult ready for marriage. Eros further represented friendship and concord, Hermes eloquence, and Heracles physical strength (Athenaeus, XIII, 561d).

As Plutarch testified, Eros inspired military victory.vii On the eve of battle, Spartans and Cretans sacrificed to him. The Sacred Band of youths at Thebes was dedicated to him. At Samos a "Festival of Liberty" (Eleutheria) honored Eros as the god who bound men and youths in the struggle for freedom and honor. For all these reasons, Eros' presence in the gymnasium was entirely appropriate. But Plutarch also said that inspired by the god, a man was "'ready' for his friend 'to go through fire'" (my italics), and Eros fulfilled the additional function of inspiring love between males. To quote Flacelière: "Eros presided in the first place over the passionate attachment of a man for a boy and Aphrodite to the sexual relations for a man with a woman."viii The pederastic tyrant Pisistratus erected a statue of him and built an altar to him at the Academy, Athens' premier gymnasium; Athenians worshipped him as their liberator, in memory of the tyrannicide lovers Harmodius and Aristogiton.

The name of Heracles, the most popular of Greek heroes, means "Hera's glory." According to one legend, he founded the Olympic Games. He supposedly fathered so many offspring during his travels that nobles from almost every polis claimed descent from him. In addition to all his heterosexual activities, Heracles had some celebrated affairs with boys, most prominently Hylas and Iolaus. Cynics and Stoics underscored his virtues in the service of humanity, that is, the very hardiness, austerity, and bravery that the palaestras hoped to instil in boys.ix

Already in the sixth century Athens had three gymnasia. Eventually seven existed there. A number of other cities had more than one even before the rise of the great Hellenistic metropolises. The only Athenian gymnasia known by name are ascribed to the sixth century by tradition: the Academy, Lyceion, and Cynosarges. The location of the Academy is certain, that of the other two somewhat less so. Aristophanes alluded to races run below the sacred olive trees in the Academy (Clouds, 1005-1008), and Plutarch recorded that Cimon provided the Academy with a well-watered grove, running tracks, and shaded walks ("Cimon," 13, 8).

In the sixth century gymnasia and palaestras proliferated,x but literary sources become numerous only in the fifth. The gymnasium and palaestra could be public or private, as pseudo-Xenophon related: "Some of the wealthy [in Athens] have private gymnasia, baths, and dressing rooms, but the public constructs for its own use many palaestras, dressing rooms, and baths" (Resp. Ath. 2, 10).xi In the Lysis Plato described a newly erected palaestra. Socrates asked his young friend Hippothales "What place is this and how do you pass your time here?" Hippothales responded: "It's a palaestra and we pass our time there in discussion." The answer reveals the development of the palaestra into a school and locus of instruction in philosophy.

Gymnastic training was designed in large part to perfect the hoplite and was probably long limited to that class. Philostratus' remark about the great gymnasts of the past, "They made war training for sport and sport training for war" (Perì gymnastikes, 9.11.43) underlines the usefulness of gymnastic training as a preparation for war.xii We never hear of a Greek city even under the Roman Empire that did not have at least one gymnasium. The closing of gymnasia by several tyrants in the sixth century may imply that they had already assumed a political function. At the very least, the action underscores the importance of the institution in the poleis ruled by those tyrants.

That courting, sex play, and even sexual acts occurred in and near palaestras and gymnasia is clearly attested. The inscriptions from Thera were probably scrawled near a gymnasium on the outskirts of the town. Athens reputedly forbad adults from entering the boys' palaestras. Trainers had to be over forty. The scenes from palaestras or gymnasia depicted on red-figured vases often show foreplay or horse play; still others portray actual sex.

The "undressing room" (apodyterion) which Socrates and his circle so loved to frequent was not merely a locker room. Many had benches where one could relax and talk comfortably. The athletes rubbed themselves there with oil and then used the strigil to scrape if off after they finished. Here all awaited the special twelve-year-old beauty that each palaestra seemed to spawn. This was the cruising area par excellence of the athletic complex.xiii Aristophanes mentioned "hanging around palaistrai trying to seduce boys" (Peace, 762f) and a character of his foresees meeting a beautiful boy who has "left the gymnasium, after a bath" (Birds, 139-142). Compare also this opening scene from Plato's Charmides: "I marvelled at his stature and beauty, and I felt everyone else in the room was in love with him; they were thrown into such amazement and confusion when he came in, and there were many other erastai following after him too" (154c).

Despite such evidence, Poliakoff, like most of his predecessors, managed to devote an entire book to Greek athletics without mentioning pederasty or any other form of homosexuality. Now that so much has come to light about homosexuals in modern American athletics, the absence seems more pronounced than it might have been before the 1980s. Books on symposia have less frequently avoided the topic of pederasty, perhaps because Plato's dialogues made it more difficult for them to do so. Even Becker's Charicles included an excursus, albeit homophobic, on pederasty (omitted without a word from the English translation). But both institutions were as important to institution-alized pederasty as they were to Greek culture in general.

Nudity in Athletics

Everyone agrees that nudity in gymnastics, even when performed before a male public, began among the literate rather than the pre-literate Greeks. Although the Homeric heroes contended mightily against one another at the games for Patroclus, they neither frequented gymnasia nor exercised nude. Rather, the very word gymnasia implies that the spread of the phenomenon probably reflected the extensive adoption of athletic nudity. Absent from the epic language, gymnasia, first attested in Pindar, signifies "exercises in the nude"; and gymnasion, "the place of nudity." The verb gymnazomai "to exercise in the nude," appears in Herodotus and Theognis.xiv Significantly gymnasion replaced the older term dromos "track" that survived in Crete.

Tradition assigned the habit to Orsippus (or Orhippus) of Megara who dropped his loincloth -- whether by accident or design is not clear -- while running in an early Olympiad, most commonly the fifteenth in 720.xv "Until recently," Thucydides wrote, "even at the Olympic games the athletes wore loincloths." He then went on to stress that in his eyes athletic nudity was progressive, civilized rather than savage behavior. Noting that the barbarians, especially in Asia, still wore girdles while boxing and wrestling, he mused that "one might show many other points in which the old Greek ways are like the barbarian customs of today" (I, 6). If the tyrants' closing of gymnasia shows the growing role of this facet of Greek culture in their political life, Thucydides' observation about nude athletics signals an even deeper interaction between certain new practices and the Greeks' perception of themselves, an interaction quite comparable to Plato's equation (cited at the outset of this study) between barbarians and a denigration of pederasty, nude sports, and philosophy.

The sources assure us that athletes and other males were sexually aroused by nakedness. Visiting the palaestra of Taureas, Socrates saw inside Charmides' clothes. Overcome at that moment by a sort of "bestial appetite," he said that he could no longer control himself (Charmides 155c-d). In Clouds, Better Argument goes into detail on the techniques used by gymnasiarchs to reduce sexual arousal:

And at the gymnastic teacher's, the boys had to sit with one thigh forward, so as not to show anything tortuous to those outside. And when a boy got up again he had to brush the sand over and be careful not to leave an imprint of his youth for his lovers. And no boy then would anoint himself with oil below the navel, so that the dew and down bloomed on his genitals as quinces. (972-978)

Although these passages have their place in this study -- adding their own weight to the inescapably sexual reality within institution-alized pederasty --, we would be wrong to think of nudity only in such terms. It dominated Greek art and, as Licht noted, fostered a remarkable reassessment of the human body. To the Hellenes, "far from being ashamed of these organs, the Greeks rather regarded them with pious awe and treated them with an almost religious reverence as the mystical instruments of propagation, as the symbols of nature, life-producing and fruitful."xvi The art historian Furtwängler even went so far as to insist that "Greek art is unthinkable without Greek gymnastics. . . . In the whole of Egyptian plastic art one seeks in vain for a display of strength, tension and energy,"xvii the very qualities that the training Greek men obtained in gymnasia sought to encourage. No little wonder that Greek sculpture reflected in its way the same new-found interest in the disciplined male body. Indeed, art historians preceded other scholars in recognizing that the crucial frontier between periods in Greek culture appears in the second half of the seventh century. By 620 a new synthesis of foreign and local influences resulted in a trend away from abstraction toward realism and the natural portrayal of the human body. Nothing illustrates this fact better than the nude male statues called kouroi.

It cannot be determined exactly when the Greeks first sculpted kouroi or where. No life-sized Greek kouroi exist prior to the one dated 610 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.xviii Perhaps under Egyptian influence, which often came to Greece via Crete, sculptors began with belted figures. Early kouroi certainly resemble their Egyptian prototypes, stiff, with clenched fists held down at their side. If the first statues did wear belts, they were soon abandoned, and it is not impossible that even the earliest kouroi were totally nude. Egyptian artists at least occasionally depicted fully nude figures.

Formerly called "Apollos," kouroi were once thought to represent the deity. In truth, we do not know the uses of these figures. Some appear to have been grave markers; others, idols. Maybe most were just idealized youths. Because we do not have the name of a single model or sculptor of one, we cannot establish that any depict eromenoi. However, that possibility cannot be dismissed. The inscription on one kouros indicates that he was taken away by Apollo for his beauty.

Like so many aspects of the Archaic Age, the kouroi remain a mystery. But however imprecise our knowledge may be of the interrelationship of the kouroi, nude sports, the gymnasia, and institutionalized pederasty, it is only reasonable to hypothesize that each lent lustre and meaning to the others. At the very least, this convergence of the physical and the artistic, of the political and the aesthetic allows us to feel even more confident that by speaking positively about pederasty and its accomplishments, we do not betray the world that encompassed it.
Symposia and Schools
As tradition associated the establishment of pederasty with the Seven Sages, so the Seven Sages were in turn associated with the symposium "which was later considered to be their meeting-place."xix Whatever truth there may be to this story, it remains that the symposium was almost as central to Greek pederasty as the gymnasium.xx

Bremmer and other recent writers argued that symposia evolved during the seventh century as successors of "the common meal of the archaic warrior clubs . . . [of] Doric Sparta and Crete."xxi However, they felt the influence of luxurious Near Eastern customs as well, notably with respect to the addition of couches, borrowed perhaps even before the institutionalization of pederasty from Anatolians or other "orientals."xxii We cannot suppose that in general it was women who decided to eat alone, although legends tell of this in Cyrene and in Ionia. The native wives of the Greek colonizers of Miletus supposedly declined to dine with the men who had killed their fathers and brothers when capturing the site (Herodotus, I, 146). Herodotus also observed that the women of Cyrene refused to dine with their men because

"the women think it wrong to eat the flesh of the cow, honoring in this Isis, the Egyptian goddess, whom they worship both with fasts and festivals. The Barcaean women abstain, not from cow's flesh only, but also from the flesh of swine" (IV, 186).

The men's dining rooms in the Archaic Age seem to have usually had seven couches: two along each wall with one missing to allow entry. In classical times the number was sometimes expanded to three benches along each wall with one missing, making a total of eleven. Thus, they seem usually to have accommodated fourteen or twenty-two men, instead of the fifteen in the Spartan syssitia. Normally of stone or wood, the couches had pads and pillows for the guests.

Admission to these clubs was voted only after careful consideration, and it was often confined to relatives or eromenoi of existing members, as later evidence from Athens confirms. There seems to have been no fixed rule as to the age at which a boy could be admitted to a symposium. The guiding principle was whether or not he was old enough to drink heavily. In the Laws, Plato said, "we shall absolutely prohibit the taste of wine to boys under eighteen" (II, 666a). But his ideas were not followed and do not reflect common practice. In Xenophon's Symposium, the sixteen-year-old Autolycus "nestled close against" his father Lycon (III, 13).xxiii Excluding adolescents would have prevented the symposia from educating the boys, clearly one of its functions.xxiv

After pouring libations to the gods, the guests began to drink wine diluted with various amounts of water. Sipping wine with his boy while exchanging love poetry or ribald songs, a gentleman might flirt with him and even kiss and embrace him. Going farther with one another in public was considered improper although slaves of both sexes who served the guests were often pinched and pummeled during the symposia. Physical sexual acts were not unknown but must have occurred almost exclusively when the guests were in their cups. Ladies, shut away in the gynaeceum (women's quarters), could never attend these parties in the men's chamber that each greater house possessed. One of the more popular games was cottabos (wine-throwing), in which, reclining on their left elbows on the couches, the guests threw the last drops of wine from the calices into a basin set in the middle of the room or sank saucers floating in the basin with the thrown wine.

Some sang songs (scolia) to the lyre, often in praise of an eromenos who might be present. Indeed, except for the choral odes, designed for public occasions, and certain martial elegies, perhaps composed to be sung by soldiers on campaigns, all elegies, iambs, and lyrics may have been intended for symposia.xxv After games played during drinking bouts, hetairai, flute players, and other entertainers, of either or both sexes, entered.

Sixty-two scolia, written in the manner of the Anacreontea, survive. Research has shown that none of them can be earlier than the late Hellenistic Age and that they were composed as late as the sixth century A.D..xxvi Thus, for a full millennium symposia provided elite boys with a sort of school for intellectual pursuits as well as for manners and morals. Nevertheless, by the sixth century in some poleis there appeared formal schools for boys. The relationship between the schools and symposia and between schools and gymnasia is problematic, though no one claims that schools came before either gymnasia or symposia. They may, however, have begun soon after the institutionalization of pederasty.

The earliest evidence of a school for boys is for 496, when one collapsed in Chios, crushing 119 pupils (Herodotus, VI, 27, 492; Pausanias, VI, 9, 6). Aristocratic conservatives from Theognis to Pindar (c. 518-438), who believed that blood mattered more than training in the molding of human nature, scorned schoolmasters -- a clear indication that they were flourishing long before Aristophanes described schoolboys thronging the streets on their way to and from their classes (Clouds, 961-979).

Although, of course, the very rich could afford tutors for their children, most of them may early on have opted for the savings of a private school. Even if aristocrats perhaps preferred teaching their children at home, the hoplites were unable to afford such a luxury. We must therefore suppose that schools began when the hoplites felt that their children needed them. This may have occurred around 600, when so many other great changes were transforming Greek life. Whether invented for the aristocracy or not, schools, like gymnasia, came to serve the hoplite class, whereas symposia, at least those held in special men's dining rooms, remained a greater luxury. They were not restricted to the aristocracy to be sure, but they were available only to those who could afford them or to those who could get themselves invited.


Erotic Vases

The erotic vases alone would prove that the Archaic Greeks routinely practiced pederasty without shame or inhibitions, as Dover demonstrated.xxvii Originally, however, Greek vases did not depict pederastic scenes. At about the same time that, according to many, the Greeks borrowed the alphabet from the Phoenicians (c. 725), they also imported and began to imitate Near Eastern figured vases which soon crowded out the Late geometric ones. Circa 650 Corinthian potters, often exporting to the Western colonies, dominated Greek ceramics. They continued the trend away from the Late geometric style, which downplayed living objects, and portrayed more realistically human and animal figures as well as griffins, sphinxes and the like. With the introduction of black-figured vases c. 570 vase scenes began to portray pederasty.xxviii

Although almost all of these erotic vases were manufactured in Athens, they became popular throughout Hellas. Like sculpture, they emphasized the sexual attractiveness of young males when either nude or undressing, sometimes even including inscriptions that indicated that the youth was beautiful (kalos). At Athens, after 570, black-figured vases and, after 530, red-figured vases (where the background is painted black) also portrayed "courting scenes," often with erections and intercrural sex, as well as caresses or gifts for the eromenoi. Vase paintings, tho usands of which survive, are thus one of our principal sources for Archaic Greek pederasty and indeed for Greek sexuality in general. A small portion of them portray heterosexual activity.

The Athenian black-figured vases with courtship scenes were not systematically studied during the nineteenth century. Indeed, at that time many had not yet been unearthed. As early as 1927, John Beazley was able to identify, often by name and date, the most important Athenian vase painters. His work is still being updated.xxix He classified the pederastic vases, of which he identified over one hundred examples, into three groups. In the alpha group, the erastes, standing with bent knees, reaches with one hand for the chin and with the other for the genitals of the eromenos standing opposite him. In the beta group, the erastes presents the eromenos with a gift of a small animal or some other trivial present (so as not to seem to be buying the beloved's favor). In the gamma group, the standing lovers are entwined, with the erastes apparently intending to climax by rubbing his phallus between the thighs of his eromenos who remains flaccid, apparently submitting out of affection, but without reciprocal excitement. I would add a delta group, in which the erastes is seated with an erection approached by his eromenos who sometimes is climbing up on his lap as if to prepare for anal intercourse, quite in the manner that on other vases some women were shown mounting seated erect males for vaginal sex.

Curiously, there is never oral-genital contact between erastes and eromenos, and anal penetration is much less frequent than in heterosexual scenes.

Dover, De Vries, and Koch-Harnack have shown that earlier authorities underestimated the extent of the pederastic vase paintings. Older scholars did not, for example, understand that many scenes of gift giving (or what they described as wrestling) between a man and a boy or youth were in fact courting scenes.xxx From the pictures alone one could not know that gift giving was necessarily a prelude to pederasty, but in conjunction with the literature, that fact becomes irrefutable.

Jiri Frel used Beazley's collection, plus a few other exemplars, to assign twelve pederastic courtship scenes to the period 575-550 (mostly after 560), fifty to 550-525, fifty-seven to 525-500, and nine after 500, with a very few in the 470s. After 510 they diminished in favor of heterosexual scenes.xxxi The eromanoi, fully grown but unbearded on the black-figured vases became younger and smaller, and even the erastai often became younger on the red-figured ones. Knud Friis Johansen noted that after 520 a beardless erastes often courted a very young, barely pubescent eromenos. Often, but not always, both were partly draped on the red figured vases in contrast to the older black-figured depictions which always had a bearded erastes and often a fully grown, mature, but still always beardless eromenos.xxxii

In the 1930s other scholars besides Beazley studied the erotic vases. David M. Robinson and Edward J. Fluck (1937) published a list of kalos names appearing on vases. They showed that the adolescents adored and idolized by Athenian society were not mere "pin-ups."

Rather, many of them appeared later in the annals of Athenian history as statesmen, generals, and admirals. To be a kalos was thus perhaps a first and important stage in what was a lifelong career in politics and public life. We have always known that in theory pederasty was part of the process of selection and advancement of worthy boys by a prominent lover and patron. The work by Robinson and Fluck assures us that the Socratic ideal attested in the Symposium was realized in practice. While poets like Ibycus and Anacreon celebrated only the erotic side of boy-love, the testimony of the vases proves that the youth was chosen and promoted not merely for his physical beauty, but for his moral and intellectual qualities also.

To be sure, pederasty did not go unchallenged. Greek tyrants in the sixth century appear to have been the first to criticize pederasty. But their opposition was a purely political one: they feared tyrannicidal pederastic couples and plots originating among groups of lovers in symposia or gymnasia. The Persian overlords of Ionian tyrants seem to have encouraged them to repress pederasty out of a similar concern over possible revolt, which pederasty was supposed to incite.

Their concern was well justified. The lovers Harmodius and Aristogiton murdered the brother of Hippias, tyrant of Athens (Athenaeus, XIII, 561). Phalaris, the tyrant of Agrigentum, first condemned and then not only released but praised his would-be tyrannicides when he saw how brave they were (Aelian, Varia Historia, II, 11; Athenaeus, XIII, 602b). None of the writings of those tyrants who criticized boy-love during the sixth century survive but Athenaeus is explicit regarding their distrust of pederastic bonding:

Because of these love affairs, then, tyrants, to whom such friendships are inimical, tried to abolish entirely relations between males, extirpating them everywhere. Some even went so far as to set fire to the wrestling-schools, regarding them as bulwarks in opposition to their own citadels, and so demolished them; this was done by Polycrates, the tyrant of Samos. (XIII, 602a-b, d)

When we leave the perspective of the tyrants, we discover that if the erastes was young enough and the eromenos properly coy and discreet and there was no payment, no Archaic figure seems to have censured their love-making. Oral sex, it is true, seems to have been condemned from the beginning, as it was to the end. Vase paintings show only female prostitutes performing it. Fellation was, however, more frequently practiced than was once believed. Jocelyn's brilliant article proved that Greeks even had a word for it: a form of the verb laikazein ("to lick").xxxiii

Such then are some of the broad features of Archaic pederasty. However, after the various societies, regions, and ethne of Hellas embraced the practice, they adapted it to suit their particular temperaments and interests. Aeolia, Ionia, and Magna Graecia, for example, each institutionalized different types of pederasty. Thus, it is to a closer study of those variations on the institution that we turn next.




i No one, except Ephorus, excluded the pederastic physicist Thales of Miletus. In place of the obscure Cleobulus of Lindus on Rhodes and Myson of Chen (a village in Oeta or elsewhere in Laconia, though some make him a Cretan; in any case he was from a region where pederasty was institutionalized), Meandrius included the son of Gorgiadas, Leophantus of Lebidus (or Ephesus), and Epimenides the Cretan, who, I believe, helped Solon introduce pederasty to Athens. Plato included Myson but left out Periander of Corinth, the first known critic of pederasty because it threatened his tyranny (Protagoras, 343). Ephorus replaced Myson with Solon's friend Anacharsis of Scythia (the region famed for shamanism). Some added Pythagoras. Dicaearchus firmly gave Thales, Solon, Bias, and Pittacus tyrant of Mytilene in the lifetime of Sappho and Alcaeus, all of whom were explicitly associated with pederasts and pederasty except the obscure Bias of Priene, an Ionic colony in Anatolia which was so devastated during the seventh and sixth centuries by Cimmerians, Lydians, and Persians that we know little about it. He then added six others: Aristodemus, tyrant of Cumae, dubbed "the Effeminate" in spite of his brilliant military achievements, the obscure Pamphylus, Chilon (the Spartan ephor, obviously familiar with pederasty, not the Centaur), Cleobulus, Anacharsis, and Periander, son of Cypselus of Corinth. Others even mentioned Acusilaus of Argos, son of Cobas or Scabras. In On the Sages, Hermippus of Smyrna (third century B.C.) counted seventeen: Solon, Thales, Pittacus, Bias, Chilon, Myson, Cleobulus, Periander, Anacharsis, Acusilaus, Epimenides, Leophantus of Lebedus (or Ephesus), Pherecydes of Scyros (the teacher of Pythagoras), Aristodemus, Pythagoras himself, Lasos of Hermione, who was at the court of the pederastic Hipparchus of Athens, and Anaxagoras of Clazomenae. In his List of Philosophers, Hippobotus (late third century B.C.) enumerated Orpheus, the reputed founder of pederasty in all Greece, Linus, according to Pausanias a son of Apollo (1. 43. 7-8), Solon, Periander, Anacharsis, Cleobulus, Myson, Thales, Bias, Pittacus, Epicharmus, and Pythagoras (Diogenes Laertius, "Thales," I, 40-42). In his Dinner of the Seven Wise Men, a symposium, Plutarch eccentrically had Periander arrange the meeting of fourteen including Thrasybulus, tyrant of Miletus c. 600, during the lifetime of Thales, Alexidemus, Diocles, Ardalus, Aesop, Neiloxenus, Cleodorus the physician, Mnesiphilus, an Athenian, Eumetis, Chersias, Solon's Cretan friend Epimenides, and Gorgus, Periander's brother. In a more traditional manner, Demetrius of Phalerum (Stobaeus, 3, 1, 172) said that the seven consisted of Cleobulus, Solon, Chilon (perhaps substituted for Lycurgus so that Sparta would be represented), Thales, Pittacus, Bias, and Periander. Myson commonly replaced Periander in such a list. Diogenes Laertius included the pederastic Epimenides of Phaestus but none of them included his teacher Onomacritus from Gortyn.

ii Lefkowitz (1981) viii-ix.

iii Poliakoff (1987).

iv Robertson (1975) I, 96.

v Sergent (1986) 98 and Dover (1978) 204.

vi Sergent (1986) 73.

vii "Consider also how Love (Eros) excels in warlike feats, and is by no means idle, as Euripides called him, nor a carpet knight, nor 'sleeping on soft maidens' cheeks.' For a man inspired by love needs not Ares to help him when he goes out as a warrior against the enemy, but at the bidding of his own god is 'ready' for his friend 'to go through fire and water and whirlwinds'" (Eroticus).

viii Buffière (1980) 331; Seyffert (1908) 225-226.

ix Oxford Classical Dictionary (1970) 498-499; Licht (1932) 230-231.

x Surviving evidence shows no sharp dividing line in the Greek mind between gymnasion and palaestra. Gymnasion seems the more general term; palaestra, the word for a place dedicated to wrestling. See Krause (1841), 1, 107ff.

xi Glass in Raschke (1988) 160-167.

xii Poliakoff (1987) 97.

xiii Ibid. 13. See also Dover (1978) 54-55.

xiv Chantraine (1968) 1, 241-242.

xv Eustathius (commentary on Iliad XXIII, 1. 683) placed the event in the fourteenth Olympiad, as did Eusebius (Chronicle ed. Schoene, I, 195). In contradiction, Dionysius of Halicarnassus (VII, 72, 3-4) set it in the fifteenth, claiming that it was not Orsippus who innovated nudity by accident or design, but Acanthus the Lacedaemonian. Didymus and the Etymologicum Magnum dated Orsippus to the thirty-second Olympiad. The sundry Olympic datings for Orsippus are all far too early for the taste of Plato and Thucydides, who claimed that athletic nudity was an innovation closer to their own time. The authors cited seem to have indulged in loose chronological speculation, and the evidence for Orsippus himself as for other supposed early victors in the games is probably not to be taken more seriously than other Just-So stories with which the Greeks embellished and explained their early history. Never again, the stories went, would a male Greek athlete be clothed; henceforth he would compete in a nudity disdained by the barbarians, but gloried in by the Hellenes themselves. Gardiner suggested, on the basis of a vase from the late sixth century in which the athletes wore a white loincloth, that an attempt may have been made to reintroduce the loincloth at that time (1930), 191. Gardiner was himself very uncertain on this point, raising it simply as a question, and there is no real evidence for the reintroduction of the loincloth. Rather McDonnell has recently determined that all such athletes with codpieces from the late sixth century were depicted on vases marked for export to Etruria (1991), 186-188.

xvi Licht (1932) 88-89.

xvii Furtwängler (1905) 4.

xviii Richter (1970).



xix Rössler (1990) 233.

xx The analysis of symposia has proceeded irregularly. Perhaps the most important early contributions were Casaubon's in 1600 and Burckhardt's in volume four of his Greek Culture. In 1902 Schurtz produced an important analysis of male bonding, including the importance of hetairai to it. Then study languished until recently. The Sympotica (ed. Murray, 1990) to which twenty-three international authors from a number of countries contributed is a tour de force, summing up scholarship on the subject and also breaking new ground. Together the authors cited approximately 1,000 secondary works! Articles average thirty entries and at the end there is an eighteen-page selective general bibliography. The erudition is formidable, covering archeology, art history, literary criticism, philology, and economic history. It tends to support the theory that symposia took on their classical form in late seventh-century Ionia. This work downplayed the role of pederasty. Only one of its twenty-three articles dealt it. Bremmer imagined that symposia deteriorated with the old aristocracy as democracy took over Athens in the fifth century.

xxi Bremmer (1990).

xxii "It is perhaps more likely that Eastern habits of reclining at feasts, as well as any funerary connotations, were transmitted via Anatolia and East Greece rather than directly to mainland Greece, despite the fact that our earliest Greek representations are Corinthian and Attic" (Boardman [1990] 129).

xxiii Tecusan (1990) 247.

xxiv Vanhouette (1954) 26.

xxv See Rossi (1983) 44.

xxvi West (1990) 272.

xxvii Dover (1978) passim. See also Robertson (1992).

xxviii Jeffery (1990) 74, citing Roebuck (1940) 225, fig. 43, tells of a vase dated c. 550 bearing the signature "Paideros," a word attested more than a century later in Teleclides, fr. 49, with the meaning of "pederast." The signature "Paidikos" (perhaps another nickname with the same connotation) is also attested. See Haspels (1936) 102.

xxix See Beazley Addenda (1989).

xxx In addition to such mislabeling of erotic scenes, curators and art historians have made a number of other errors. Some believed that the Anacreontic vases produced from c. 520 to c. 500 portray bearded transvestites. In reality they portray an elaborate new style of dress in which men wore long chitons and carried parasols.

xxxi Frel (1963) 61-62. It is a puzzle why the erotic vases ceased to be produced c. 470, whereas pederasty continued. The iconoclastic conjecture advanced by Vickers (1990) that the painted vases were imitations of the silver dishes used at elegant symposia and intended for the less wealthy does not convince me. I would propose here that the ceramic dishes went out of style more or less everywhere after the Athenians began to use silver plates as a result of the output of the mines at Laurium and because of the booty and profits in trade that they received after defeating the Persians in 480. If the later silver dishes of the type that Alcibiades is supposed to have stolen from the symposium of one of his erastei have not survived, in counterdistinction to their earlier ceramic prototypes, I believe it is because the silver dishes were over time melted down as such precious objects tended to be.

xxxii Friis Johansen (1942) 131.

xxxiii Jocelyn (1980).


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