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Homosexuality in ancient cultures - Case Study Example

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Throughout the course of recorded civilisation, Homosexuality has always had a certain "taboo" or forbiddance attached to it. Even today, in our supposedly enlightened world to engage in a Homosexual act is punishable by death in as many as nine countries…
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Homosexuality in ancient cultures
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Homosexuality in ancient cultures

Download file to see previous pages... Duels and accounts of epic gladiatorial contests craft a large proportion of the modern day perception of this epoch. The exercise of these macho tendencies seems immediately at odds with Homosexual practice, and it is indeed intriguing to question the prevalence and attitudes' toward Homosexuality in said societies.
Before continuing, it should be noted that it is simply impossible to assess, with respect to the question, each "culture" simultaneously: differences between Spartan, Roman and Greek societies would not allow for a detailed, thorough study if categorised together. Instead this essay will attempt to deal with each separately, before bringing its findings together in a broad conclusion. While it may appear a simplistic approach to adopt it is, quite simply, the best manner in which to approach the question.
Spartan society was in many ways driven by military ambition. Textbooks refer to the Spartans in such terms as: "an armed camp," "brutal," "culturally stagnant," "economically stagnant," "politically stagnant"[1]. From the age of six, Spartan boys were taken from their mothers to train to be a soldier. It was common throughout this transitory period for the youths to engage in homosexual relations with older men, in fact it was regarded as an important part of their education. Indeed, the Spartan military actively pursued the placing of Homosexual lovers together in combat: while in Thebes, the general Epaminondas commanded a regiment composed of 150 pairs of lovers. This 'Band of Lovers' became a formidable fighting force, with lover defending lover until death.

1: Whitby, 63.

Few members of Spartan society frowned upon this practice. Conversely, once the youth reached full adulthood opinions toward this practice shifted greatly. This was mainly because it placed one of the participants in a position of submission: which Spartans regarded as being completely unacceptable for a man holding full citizenship.

The best ancient source on Sparta, Xenophon, refutes the already suggestion about widespread pederasty. [2] There is no Spartan/Laconian art that depicts explicitly homosexual motifs-as there is from Athens. The notion that Spartan men tended to wed relatively young, by Greek standards anyway, insinuates that they simply had much less time for the pederasty that characterized the coming to manhood in the rest of Greece. The state considered men who did not wed a public disgrace, and a citizen who did not marry and procreate was not afforded the luxuries that a Father would be. Sparta was known for the extent to which women were so well integrated into society: this goes against the very essence of a homosexually prevalent society.

Based on the evidence, it is clear that Homosexuality-in the form of pederasty-- was at the very least, tolerated by the Spartans. Rather than full Homosexual affairs between grown men, much more common were "grooming" relationships between Adults and adolescents, seen as an intrinsic aspect of military training and development. Such as the ancient world is, many accounts become skewed or simply "lost in translation", and thus the account of Xenophon should not be regarded as providing a definite answer. Pederasty or the practice thereof, was undoubtedly a facet of Spartan life. The Historical accounts of Epaminondas at Thebes support this, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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