ENGL213 Homosexual History Essay

Submitted By Joseph-Goulet
Words: 2148
Pages: 9

The Social Ideas of Ancient Homosexuality and Pederasty

The Social Ideas of Ancient Homosexuality and Pederasty
Joseph L. Goulet
University of Alaska at Fairbanks

Joseph Goulet

ENGL 213

1 of 9

The Social Ideas of Ancient Homosexuality and Pederasty
Abstract
The intent of this article is to highlight homosexual and pederastic practices from separate areas of the world to include: Arabia, China, Greece and Rome. Analysis of these areas will compare and contrast the ideas of the mostly male to male actions in regard to each other and themselves.
It shall also take a glimpse into how each role, either dominant or submissive, had been viewed.
Keywords: ancient, Arabia, China, gay, Greece, history, homosexuality, society

Joseph Goulet

ENGL 213

2 of 9

The Social Ideas of Ancient Homosexuality and Pederasty
The act and lifestyle of homosexuality has a deep, rich, and storied history. From the well known evidences of Greco-Roman pederasty [anal intercourse in general, usually between a man and an adolescent boy] to the less well known Chinese practices of catamitism [a catamite being a boy who has a sexual relationship with a man], and more extreme Arabic standards, homosexuality has been both a divisive issue, as well as a means to bring a society together. The question must be begged as to what the views had been in times of old had been in any area of geographical context.
To help understand what is meant by the term homosexual, the origins of the current word and definition must be established, as well as a look into past terminologies which had been used to form the same meaning within history. This will help form a commonality between the ages past and the current, modern era. According to Thomas Rogers, in an article under the entitlement The Invention of the Homosexual, “‘Heterosexual’ was actually coined in a letter at the same time as the word ‘homosexual,’ [in the mid-19th century], by an Autro Hungarian journalist named Karoly Maria Kertbeny.” (Rogers, 2012). Also, referenced within the article, it is said that Kertbeny coined these words due to a Prussian legislation that made same sex erotic behavior illegal, regardless of the act.
From ancient Greece, as per John Clarke in the article Representations of the Cinaedus in
Roman Art, “Cinaedus is one of the most common words used by Romans to denote an adult male who liked to be penetrated by other males.” (Clarke, 2008). China, on the other hand utilized the word xiaoshuo.
Arguably, ancient Greece and Rome offers the most plentiful amount of instances in which homoerotic acts have been documented. Stories and painting have been found riddled

Joseph Goulet

ENGL 213

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The Social Ideas of Ancient Homosexuality and Pederasty around excavation sites, making the evidence a grand testament to how the culture viewed pederasty and homosexual encounters. On one hand it wasn’t necessarily considered to be looked highly upon, as a grown individual, to have grown same sex companions, yet on the other hand, engaging in pederasty, which is the act of having a young boy as a sexual “slave”, was often seen as symbolic of holding a higher status. “Modern scholars have tended to accept without question of doubt the assertions of ancient pederasts that their activities were beneficial to boys, that they were educating boys in the habits and ways of manhood and of citizenship.” (Bloch, 2001). This shows a very clear tendency of the Greeks and Romans to view a pederastic relationship through the idea that such couplings are of benefit.
The ancient Greeks, as well as those inhabitants of Thebes and Sparta, trained in facilities called a gymnasium, which is derived from the word gymnós, meaning “naked”. Sparring and other athletics were practiced in the nude, which served to bolster an appreciation for the male physique. This held true with the original olympic games as well, in which statues have been found of men wrestling or throwing discus while being completely naked.…