Citations Pertaining to Homosexuality from Greek & Other Sources

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From GrecoReport.com 2004

Citations Pertaining to Homosexuality from Greek & Other Sources

It was decided that this compilation of citations pertaining to the subject of homosexuality and pederasty will, of necessity, have to be an ongoing "work in progress." The sources are many, and it will require a great deal of time to produce anything resembling a comprehensive survey of this much misunderstood and mischievously maligned subject.

"There is a love that makes men virtuous / And chaste, an envied gift. Such love I crave."

Euripides

Aeschines

Aeschines was born ca. 390 B.C. His father was Atrometus, his mother was Glaucothea. He was the second of three sons, and was performing his service as an Athenian cadet when the battle of Leuctra plunged Hellas into the Theban wars which were to last almost a decade. His bravery in the field was so distinguished that he received a wreath of honor and was appointed one of two messengers to carry the news to Athens. By age 42, he was a man of influence in political affairs, and, because of his unquestioned patriotism and skills as an orator, was chosen as a member of a ten-man delegation to treat with Phillip of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great) who was threatening all of Hellas. The famous orator Demosthenes was also a part of that group. The astute Phillip was, it seems, too shrewd for Aeschines, who returned to Athens convinced that "peace in our time" was possible with the Macedonian king; as a result, he soon found himself under suspicion of having been bribed by Phillip. His principal accuser was Demosthenes, who was joined in an action against Aeschines by Timarchus, a prominent politician of the anti-Macedonian faction. The Contra Timarchus (Katá Timárkou) speech is Aeschines' defense against the unwarranted charges against him. He was acquitted, but Demosthenes became his implacable enemy.

Aeschines based his defense on the law which denied any participation in public affairs by homosexuals and pederasts. According to the law of "same-sex companionship" (grafí etairísios), any citizen could bring charges against a person suspected or known to be a sodomite or a pederast. Aeschines will attempt to prove that Timarchus did not have the civil right to bring charges against him because his "lifestyle"-- that of a "passive" homosexual [i.e., a kínaidos, the most repulsive and destructive form of homosexuality, according to the Greeks] -- legally rendered him a non-person according to Athenian law.

Aeschines' speech represents the fullest account we have of the laws of Athens regarding homosexuality and pederasty. The excerpts which follow are from Aeschines' Contra Timarchus.

Aeschines tells the clerk of the court to read various laws pertaining to pederasty and homosexuality to the jury so as to provide them with the background information they'll need in order to render judgment. He begins with a law protecting young boys from being corrupted in school, because "when a boy's natural disposition is subjected at the very outset to vicious training, the product of such wrong nurture will be ... a citizen like this man, Timarchus":

Law

The teachers of the boys shall open the school-rooms not earlier than sunrise,

and they shall close them before sunset. No person who is older than the boys

shall be permitted to enter the room while they are there, unless he be a son of

the teacher, a brother, or a daughter's husband. If any one enter in violation of

this prohibition, he shall be punished with death. The superintendents of the

gymnasia shall under no conditions allow any one who has reached the age of

manhood to enter the contests of Hermes together with the boys. A gymnasiarch

who does permit this and fails to keep such a person out of the gymnasium, shall

be liable to the penalties prescribed for the seduction of free-born youth. Every

choregus who is appointed by the people shall be more than forty years of age.(12.)

Aeschines then instructs the clerk to read the law pertaining to the "outrage" of a child.

Law

If any Athenian shall outrage a free-born child, the parent or guardian of the

child shall prosecute him before the Thesmothetae, and shall demand a

specific penalty. If the court condemn the accused to death, he shall be

delivered to the constables and be put to death the same day. If he be con-

demned to pay a fine, and be unable to pay the fine immediately, he must

pay within eleven days after the trial, and he shall remain in prison until payment

is made. The same action shall hold against those who abuse the persons of

slaves. (16.)

He explains the fact that even slaves are protected under Athenian law because "in a democracy that man is unfit for citizenship who outrages any person whatsoever." He then asks the clerk to read that part of the law having to do with youths "who recklessly sin against their own bodies." The laws are most concerned with morality, he explains, because "that state will be best administered in which orderly conduct is most common":

Law

If any Athenian shall have prostituted his person, he shall not be permitted to

become one of the nine archons, nor to discharge the office of priest, nor to

act as an advocate for the state, nor shall he hold any office whatsoever, at home

or abroad, whether filled by lot or by election; he shall not be sent as a herald;

he shall not take part in debate, nor be present at the public sacrifices; when the

citizens are wearing garlands, he shall wear none; and he shall not enter within the

limits of the place that has been purified for the assembling of the people. If any

man who has been convicted of prostitution act contrary to these prohibitions, he

shall be put to death. (21.)

Aeschines then refers to the section in the law titled "Scrutiny of Public Men." He addresses the jury directly on this part of the law which sets forth the requisite behavior of those who would hold public office: "[F]or the man who in his youth was led by shameful indulgence to surrender honorable ambition, that man [say the lawgivers] ought not in later life to be possessed of the privileges of citizenship."

(It is interesting to think about the sorry specimens who hold or have held office in the U.S. and Greece, and who would have been automatically excluded from contaminating a public trust had we similar restrictions today. "Slick Willie" for instance, would never have been allowed to hold even the position of a "night soil collector" in Athens. As far as "Dubbya" or "Georgaki" Papandreou are concerned, it is beyond the ability of this writer to imagine such an inarticulate halfwit as Bush rising beyond the position of an insignificant public official -- something like being in charge of seeing to it that there were sufficient buckets available for the collection of "night soil -- in some remote region of Greece. As for "Georgaki," he too would most likely have wound up as the ancient Greek equivalent of a hair dresser. As for a creature like the reprehensible representative from Massachusetts, Barney Frank, he would have been put to death and his living quarters fumigated and purified by the priests.)

When reading about the kind of behavior demanded of their politicians by the ancient Greeks (a sample of which follows), think about how such demands would have impacted on the morally bankrupt and intellectually challenged misfits we've had battening down upon us in recent decades.

Scrutiny of Public Men

If any one attempts to speak before the people who beats his father or mother,

or fails to support them or to provide a home for them. ... [s]uch a man is forbidden

to speak. ... Because if such a man is mean toward those whom he ought to honor

as the gods, how, pray, ... will such a man treat the members of another household,

and how will he treat the whole city? ... Or the man who has failed to perform all

the military service demanded of him, or who has thrown away his shield (rípsaspis), ...

[because] if you are such a coward that you are unable to defend [your city], you

must not claim the right to advise her either. ... Or the man who has squandered his

patrimony or other inheritance. ... For ... the man who has mismanaged his own

household will handle the affairs of the city in a like manner; [for] to the lawgiver it

did not seem possible that the same man could be a rascal in private life, and in

public life a good and useful citizen. ... Or the man ... who has debauched or

prostituted himself. ... For the man who has made traffic of the shame of his own

body, ... would be ready to sell the common interests of the city also. (28 -31.)

Aeschines then summoned the jury to remember their [Athenian] ancestors, who were "stern ... toward all shameful conduct," and considered the purity of their children and fellow citizens to be "precious." He goes on to give an example regarding the way the Lacedaemonians [Spartans] felt about such matters. He justifies his praising the Spartans by quoting an old Athenian saying which teaches that it is "well to imitate virtue even in a foreigner." [kalón d' estí daí tás xenikás mimeísthai.]

When a certain man had spoken in the assembly of the Lacedaemonians, a man

of shameful life but an exceedingly able speaker, and when, we are told, the

Lacedaemonians were on the point of voting according to his advice, a man came

forward from the Council of Elders. ... and vehemently rebuked the Lacedaemonians

and denounced them in words like these: That the homes of Sparta would not long

remain unravaged if the people followed such advisers in their assemblies.

Aeschines then asks the jurors to consider whether or not such a dissolute and "low-lived" degenerate as Timarchus -- "a creature with the body of a man defiled with the sins of a woman. ... [a] man who in despite of nature has sinned against his own body" -- would ever have been allowed to take part in the public affairs of the Lacedaemonians; implying, of course, that neither should he be allowed to inject his poison into the political lifeblood of Athens. If the jurors were to make the mistake of not finding Timarchus guilty, he continues, "what then, pray , are you going to answer ... when your sons ask you whether you voted for conviction or acquittal? When you acknowledge that you set Timarchus free, will you not at the same time be overturning our whole system of training the youth? ... For you must not imagine, fellow citizens, that the impulse to wrong doing is from the gods; nay, rather it is from the wickedness of men. ... Therefore, fellow citizens, remove from among us such natures, for so shall you turn the aspirations of the young toward virtue."

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Flaceliere, Robert.

On pages 49 -50 of his authoritative and well documented book Love in Ancient Greece (trans. by James Cleugh. Frederick Muller Ltd., London; 1962), Flaceliere writes: "[I]t appears extremely likely that homosexuality of any kind was confined to the prosperous and aristocratic levels of ancient society. The masses of peasants and artisans were probably scarcely affected by habits of this kind, which seem to have been associated with a sort of snobbery. The available texts deal mainly with the leisured nobility of Athens. But they may give the impression that pederasty was practiced by the entire nation. The subject, however, of the comedy by Aristophanes entitled Lysistrata suggests that homosexuality was hardly rampant among the people at large. It would be an error to think so. ... There was nothing particularly 'Greek' about homosexual feeling. The nation in antiquity was by no means alone in providing illustrations of inversion (see note below), which has been practiced at almost all times and in almost all countries. ... In the pre-Christian era, the case of Sodom is well known. Nor were the Persians, the Etruscans, the Celts or the Romans ignorant of homosexuality. But its existence among these peoples was kept more or less secret on account of the discredit which attached to it. But in Greece, though pederasty was forbidden by law in most cities, it had become so fashionable [among the artists and aristocrats] that no one troubled to conceal it."

On page 140 he writes: "The permanent popularity of courtesans [hetairai] in ancient Greece is surely the best proof that homosexuals were either not consistently so or not particularly numerous. except in one class of society and over quite a limited period." (Emphasis added.) We have already suggested that inversion was never very prevalent

Note: Inversion: "Assumption of the sexual role of the opposite sex; homosexuality." The American College Dictionary. Random House, New York; 1966.

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Julianus, Flavius Claudius

Julian ("the Apostate") was born in 332 A.D. He was the son of Julius Constantius, the half-brother of Constantine. He was brought up in a remote fortress in Cappadocia and given a pious Christian education. But Julian acquired from his tutor, the eunuch Mardonius, a passion for the classics and for the old gods. In 351, while studying at Ephesus, he came under the influence of the well-known and respected pagan philosopher Maximus. After Ephesus, he went on to Athens to complete his education. Julian openly declared his paganism as soon as he became emperor. He then went on to proclaim open toleration for all religions, restored the confiscated lands of the pagan temples, and had those which had been destroyed rebuilt. One of his rare anti-Christian measures was to forbid Christian professors to teach the classics. His eastern borders were continually being harassed by the Persians, and, in 363, he marched at the head of his army to confront them. During one of the ensuing battles he was mortally wounded.

Julian's religious beliefs were the Neoplatonist monotheism expounded by his friend Sallustius, author of the Neoplatonic piety known as De deis et mundo. Julian was a brave military leader and a scholar of the first rank who was superbly educated in Greek paideia. On the subject in question, he writes:

Then never think, my friend, that you are free while your belly rules you and the part

below the belly, since you will then have masters who can either furnish you with the

means of pleasure or deprive you of them. (Oration VI, 196 - c.)

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Plato

Plato was born ca. 429 and died ca. 347 B.C. He was the son of Ariston and Perictione, both of whom were Athenians of distinguished lineage. His philosophy and writings show the enormous influence Socrates had upon him, both by his life and by his unjust death. In his youth he considered a political career, but the sorry spectacle he witnessed, whether the "conservative" or the "democratic" party was in power, convinced him that the only real hope would be when philosophers became rulers or rulers became philosophers. He traveled extensively after Socrates was put to death by the "democratic" mob, finally settling down near the grove of Academus, about a mile outside the walls of Athens. Here, in 385 B.C., Plato opened the "Academy" of Athens: the first university in Europe, if not the world. The school remained in continuous operation for over 900 years. It was finally closed by order of the Byzantine emperor, Justinian, in 529 A.D. This makes it the oldest university in the world, pre-dating the University of Constantinople by 800 years or so, and the Universities of Paris and Oxford by about 1500 years.

His comments regarding homosexuality leave absolutely no doubt as to what Plato (whose been justifiably described as the most intelligent man who ever lived) thought about this perversion. As we read his thoughts on this subject, one gets the impression that he would most certainly agree with the Christian view that "we must love the sinner, though we hate the sin."

And whether one makes the observation in earnest or in jest, one certainly should not

fail to observe that when male unites with female for procreation the pleasure experienced

is held to be due to nature, but contrary to nature when male mates with male or female

with female, and that those first guilty of such enormities were impelled by their slavery

to pleasure. (Laws, I. 636-c.)

Come then, suppose we grant that this practice [homosexuality] is now legalized, and

that it is noble and in no way ignoble, how far would it promote virtue? Will it engender

in the soul of him who is seduced a courageous character, or in the soul of the seducer

the quality of temperance? Nobody would ever believe this; on the contrary, as all men

will blame the cowardice of the man who always yields to pleasures and is never able

to hold out against them, will they not likewise reproach that man who plays the woman's

part with the resemblance he bears to his model? Is there any man, then, who will ordain

by law a practice like that? not one, I should say, if he has a notion of what true law is.

(Laws, VIII. 836 d - e.)

This law ... is the cause of countless blessings. For, in the first place, it follows the

dictates of nature, and it serves to keep men from sexual rage and frenzy and all kinds

of fornication, and from all excess in meats and drinks, and it ensures in husbands

fondness for their own wives. (Laws, VIII. 839 a - b.)

I maintain ... that our citizens must not be worse than fowls and many other animals

which are produced in large broods, and which live chaste and celibate lives without

sexual intercourse until they arrive at the age for breeding; and when they reach this

age they pair off, as instinct moves them, male with female and female with male; and

thereafter they live in a way that is holy and just, remaining constant to their first

contracts of love: surely our citizens should at least be better than these animals.

(Laws, VIII. 840 d - e.)

Again, in Plato's Laws, in a scene laid in Crete, and on a walk from Cnosus to the grotto of Zeus on Mount Ida on a long midsummer's day, the conversation related here between three old men took place. Of the three, one is an Athenian (Stranger), one (Clinias) a Cretan, and one (Megillus) a Spartan. The protagonist is the Athenian (Stanger), and nearly all the talking is done by him. ... "The choice of their nationality, however, is significant, since the main body of the laws framed for the Model City [in their dialogue] is derived from the codes actually in force in Athens, Sparta, and Crete" (p. viii in the introduction. Emphasis added).

The three elderly men are discussing the ways that which is "honorable and shameful" shall be established. And [the ways] those who are "of depraved character, whom we describe as 'self-inferior,'... shall be hemmed in by three kinds of force and compelled to refrain from law-breaking."

Clinias: "What kinds?"

Athenian Stranger: "That of godly fear, and that of love of honor, and that which is desirous of fair forms of soul, not of fair bodies. The things I now mention are, perhaps, like the visionary ideals in a story; yet in fair truth, if only they were realized, they would prove a great blessing in every State. Possibly, should God so grant, we might forcibly effect one of two things in this matter of sex-relations, -- either that no one should venture to touch any of the noble and freeborn save his own wedded wife, nor sow any unholy and bastard seed in fornication, nor any unnatural and barren seed in sodomy, -- or else we should entirely abolish love for males, and in regard to that for women, if we enact a law that any man who has intercourse with any women save those who have been brought to his house under the sanction of Heaven and holy marriage, whether purchased or otherwise acquired, if detected in such intercourse by any man or woman, shall be disqualified from any civic commendation, as being really an alien, -- probably such a law would be approved as right. So let this law -- Whether we ought to call it one law or two -- be laid down concerning sexual commerce and love affairs in general, as regards right and wrong conduct in our mutual intercourse due to these desires."

Megillus: "For my own part, Stranger, I should warmly welcome this law" (VIII. 841 c - e).

Plato talks about how homosexuals must worry about being found out:

[If] you are afraid of public opinion, and fear that if people find out your love affair

you will be disgraced. (Phaedrus, 231 e.)

Plato seems to have had a puritanical streak, because, in his Epistle Seven (326 b - d), he writes rather testily that:

[If] one's existence is spent in gorging food twice a day and never sleeping alone

at night, and all the practices which accompany this mode of living [, then] ... not a

single man of all who live beneath the heavens could ever become wise ... nor would

he ever be likely to become temperate; and the same may truly be said of all other

forms of virtue. And no State would ever remain stable under laws of any kind, if its

citizens, while supposing that they ought to spend everywhere to excess, yet believed

that they ought to cease from all exertion except feastings and drinkings and the

vigorous pursuit of their amours. Of necessity these States never cease changing into

tyrannies, oligarchies, and democracies, and the men who hold power in them cannot

endure so much as the mention of the name of a just government with equal laws.

Note: Plato's warning about a State where self-indulgence is the norm sinking inexorably into a tyranny, oligarchy or democracy is pertinent because, in the ancient Greek world, these were considered the worst possible forms of government. Tyranny is rule by one man, oligarchy is rule by a privileged elite, and democracy is rule by the mob which is easily swayed by demagogues. The best forms of government are monarchy, aristocracy, and constitutional republic (cf. The Statesman, 291 d ff, & 302 b ff. ed.).

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Plutarch

Plutarch of Chaeronea was born ca. 50 A.D. and died ca. 120 A.D. He was the son of Autobulus, and grandson of Lamprias, who along with other members of his family, figure often in his work. His was a well established family in Chaeronea, and most of Plutarch's life was spent in his home town, though he did visit Egypt and Italy, and lectured for a time at Rome. His wide circle of friends included many influential men in the political arena, as well as many Greek men of letters. For the last thirty years of his life he was a priest at Delphi. He was extremely devout and pious, and a profound student of human nature and history. Up until very recently, a man was not considered educated unless he could read Plutarch, Thucydides, and Homer (at the very minimum) in the original. Plutarch, especially, was always to be found on the "great books" list of educators who really cared about turning out well rounded students who would, by reading Plutarch and the Greeks in general, be well-equipped to face any challenge in their lives, and to enjoy a high quality of life as well. Plutarch achieved no small influence within governing circles in his lifetime, and was especially instrumental in promoting the concept of a partnership between Greece, the educator, and Rome, the great power, and of the compatibility of the two patriotisms.

About Alexander the Great, Plutarch has this to say:

[W]hen ... the governor of the coast-lands of Asia Minor wrote to Alexander that

there was in Ionia a youth, the like of whom for bloom and beauty did not exist, and

inquired in his letter whether he should send the boy on to him, Alexander wrote

bitterly in reply, "Vilest of men, what deed of this sort have you ever been privy to

in my past that now you would flatter me with the offer of such pleasures?" (On The

Fortune of Alexander, 333 a - b.)

About the Spartans, Plutarch wrote:

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. (Ancient Customs of the Spartans, 7. 237 - c.)

That the law against pederasty was violated on occasion there can be no doubt, but there is also no doubt that it was illegal. For instance, Plutarch writes:

[Pederasty] needs a fair pretext for approaching the young and beautiful, so it pretends

friendship and virtue. It covers itself with the sand of the wrestling-floor, it takes cold

baths, it plays the highbrow and publicly proclaims that it is a philosopher and disciplined

on the outside -- because of the law. (Dialogue on Love, 752 - a. Emphasis added.)

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Thornton, Bruce S.

In the preface (p. xiii) of his book titled Eros: The Myth of Ancient Greek Sexuality, Dr. Thornton, a professor of Classics at California State University, Fresno, states in no uncertain terms that the Greeks "were horrified and disgusted by the idea of a male being anally penetrated by another male, and called such behavior 'against nature.' "

On page 99, he cites Plato's dialogue Georgias [491e -92a & 494e] to make a great point. He is talking about Socrates' conversation with Callicles, whose hedonistic philosophy Socrates disagrees with. To counter Callicles' argument that a man should give full reign to his passions, and not worry about convention, Socrates exclaims: "[What about] the life of passive homosexuals (kinaidon), isn't it awful and shameful and wretched? Or will you have the audacity to say that they are happy, if they have enough of the things they need?" To which a shocked Callicles replies: "Aren't you ashamed ... at leading the discussion to such a topic?" (Emphasis added.).

The point Dr. Thornton makes is that here is the sophist, Callicles, who represents the "avant-garde" of cosmopolitan thought in the world of ancient Greece, who is "shocked" that Socrates would bring up such a disgusting subject as male homosexuality during a philosophical discussion. Dr. Thornton asks (sarcastically): "Aren't these men Greeks, those enthusiasts of pederasty, the liberated icons of 'Greek Love?' "

On page 100, Dr. Thornton writes:

Very little, if any, evidence from ancient Greece survives that shows adult males

(or females) as "couples" involved in an ongoing, reciprocal sexual and emotional

relationship in which sex with women (or men) is moot and the age difference is

no more significant than it is in heterosexual relationships.

On page 102, Dr. Thornton refers to the myth of "Chrysippus, the son of Pelops -- hence uncle to Agamemnon and Menelaus -- whom Laius, father of Oedipus, kidnapped and raped. Chrysippus then killed himself because of 'shame' (aischunes), and Hera -- goddess of marriage -- sent the Sphinx to Thebes as punishment. Another punishment for this act was the death of Laius at his son Oedipus's hands."

The question raised by this myth (which was the subject of a lost play by Euripides titled Chrysippus), is why would the young Chrysippus kill himself if man/boy love were an accepted practice? Why would the goddess Hera send the Sphinx to Laius' hometown, Thebes, as punishment for what its king did, if what he did were not considered an abomination? An abomination which was also the root cause of the curse of the house of Oedipus which would come down upon the entire family in such a tragic way in the future. Also, if this was an accepted practice among the Greeks, why would Euripides write a whole play about it? All good questions, which lead to only one conclusion: Although such practices did occur, they were abhorred and severely punished by the Greeks when they were discovered!

On page 163, Dr. Thornton talks about a scene from Xenophon"s Symposium -- this being the name of the drinking and eating parties for the refined and educated men of Athens, where philosophical questions were raised and discussed. Dr. Thornton refers to the part where

After the philosophical conversation, two actors come into the room and reenact

the marriage of Ariadne and the god Dionysus, who fell in love with the Cretan

maiden after she had been abandoned by Theseus on the island of Naxos during

their flight from Crete. The actors do such a good job of passionately kissing and

declaring their love for one another that the men at the dinner party are sexually

aroused, with the result that "the unmarried men swore that they would marry, while

the married men mounted their horses and rode home to their wives, so they could

find pleasure with them." (Xen. Symp.9.7.)

The point being, of course, that here we have a gathering of the literati of Athens; the poets, philosophers, and artists, who would be expected to be at the forefront of sexual experimentation and innovation. Yet, instead of these men satisfying their lust by sodomizing one another, the unmarried ones vow to marry, and the married ones rush home to make love to their wives. Somehow, this just doesn't jibe with the image the concoctors of creative history have managed to imprint upon the minds of present-day youth. Unfortunately for them, however, Xenophon, who had no reason to write anything other than that which would have struck his readers as being a natural reaction to the stimulus these men had experienced, was telling the unvarnished truth.

On page 268, in what is a concise summation of the entire argument of his book, Dr. Thornton compares the naive and destructive modern-day sexual idiocies encapsulated in Dr. Ruth Westheimer's statement that "... a child knowing about his or her body will be able to deal with the pressure to have sex," with one by "a much more acute psychologist, Euripides, when he has his Phaedra say, 'We know the good and recognize it, but we cannot bring it to pass' [Hipp. 380-81]. When the flames of Eros rage in the blood, knowledge, like Prospero's oaths, is just 'straw for the fire.' "

Which means, dear reader, that the Greeks, like all human beings, were subjected to temptations that its society, in seeking to protect and perpetuate itself, deemed to be unnatural and illegal. The fact that there were Greeks who yielded can in no way be interpreted as meaning that the practices which gave rise to these temptations were in accord with the norms and customs of the society that banned them. Yet, there are those who make this illogical argument for what we can only assume to be ulterior motives.

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U. S. Supreme Court

The U. S. Supreme Court ruled in Bowers vs. Hardwick (1986) that the "freedom" to commit sodomy does not exist under the Constitution, even if done in the privacy of one's own home. Justice Burger stated in his opinion: "Homosexual sodomy was a capital crime under Roman law.. During the English Reformation, the first English statute criminalizing sodomy was passed Blackstone described 'the infamous crime against nature' as an offense of 'deeper malignity' than rape, an heinous act, 'the very mention of which is a disgrace to human nature,' and 'a crime not fit to be named.' "

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Xenophon

Xenophon was the son of Gryllus of the Athenian deme Erchia, and his wife Philesia. He lived from ca. 428 to ca. 354 B.C. He approached maturity at around the time of the oligarchic revolution at Athens, and may have taken part in the costly sea battle of Arginusae, which a nearly totally exhausted Athens won against Sparta, but which was the cause of many unhappy political events.. He accepted an invitation by Proxenus to join him in an expedition to Asia Minor in the service of Cyrus who was trying to gain the Persian throne. After the failure of the expedition Xenophon was elected general, and it was then, after many hardships and difficulties, that he successfully led the Greek army of mercenaries out of Asia and back to Hellas. This "coming up" out of Asia is told to us in his famous work titled "The Anabasis." After campaigning in Thrace and again in Asia minor, he was exiled from Athens in the year 399. This was the year of Socrates' death, and anyone who was known to have been close to the great man was bound to have political problems. He subsequently went to Sparta, and for services rendered to the Spartan king Agesilaus was granted an estate near Olympia, at Scillus. In 371 Elis claimed Scillus, and Xenophon and his wife and two sons went to live in Corinth. In ca. 368 his exile was rescinded, and in ca. 366 he returned to Athens where he lived until his death. As an aristocrat, a friend of Socrates, and a member of the Socratic circle of intellectuals, he probably found things quite difficult after the restoration of "democracy," and so he left Athens at around 401

On the subject in question, he writes:

Nevertheless, although he [Socrates] was free from vice, if he saw and approved

of base conduct in [others], he would be open to censure. Well, when he found that Critias

loved Euthydemus and wanted to lead him astray, he tried to restrain him by saying that

it was mean and unbecoming in a gentleman to sue like a beggar to the object of his

affection, whose good opinion he coveted, stooping to ask a favor that it was wrong to

grant. As Critias paid no heed whatever to this protest, Socrates, it is said, exclaimed

in the presence of Euthydemus and many others, "Critias seems to have the feelings of

a pig: he can no more keep away from Euthydemus than pigs can help rubbing themselves

against stones." (Memorabilia, I. ii. 29 -30.)

The legendary Lacedaemonian king and lawgiver, Lycurgus, was very consistent in the rules he laid down for the proper personal conduct of the Spartans. When it came to the relationship between an Erastís (adult mentor) and his Eroménos (the young man in his charge), Xenophon tells us that the Spartan Constitution Lycurgus instituted made it very clear that:

If someone, being himself an honest man, admired a boy's soul and tried to make of

him an ideal friend without reproach and to associate with him, he [Lycurgus] approved,

and believed in the excellence of this kind of training. But if it was clear that the attraction

lay in the boy's outward beauty, he banned the connection as an abomination; and thus

he caused mentors to abstain from boys no less than parents abstain from sexual intercourse

with their children and brothers and sisters with each other. (Lacedaemonian Constitution,

II. 13.)

Much has been made by the Hellene-hating homophiles about Zeus's "abduction" of the boy Ganymede to be his cupbearer on Mount Olympus. Missing the point completely, they invariably portray the abduction as "the indecency of Zeus" (ék Diós archómestha). Keeping in mind that Zeus is without a doubt the most heterosexual of gods, the abduction only makes sense when, as Xenophon explains,

[I]n the case of Ganymede, it was not his person but his spiritual character that influenced

Zeus to carry him up to Olympus. ... [as in] Homer [who] pictures us Achilles looking

upon Patroclus not as the object of his passion but as a comrade, and in this spirit signally

avenging his death. So we have songs telling also how Orestes, Pylades, Theseus, Peirithous,

and many other illustrious demi-gods wrought glorious deeds of valor side by side, not

because they shared a common bed but because of mutual admiration and respect.

(Symposium, VIII. 30 - 32.)