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marlutterianae  asked:

History question. Why was the Greek society so cool with homosexuality, and why many sources picture their view of it as degeneracy and excess? Many religions before christ where more open minded about bisexuality and homosexuality than what we give them credit for, from what I've learned. Was that a crucial par of their culture?

Oh great question, I love talking about Greek cultural differences.  Views towards homosexuality and bisexuality vary wildly from culture to culture, in the ancient world you had very homophobic societies like the Ancient Jews and very gay societies like the Greeks and pretty much everything inbetween.  

    So the first thing to understand about the Greeks is that they didn’t have the terms homosexual or bisexual or hetrosexual, to them same sex relationships were just an act, not an identity (though obviously there were homosexual people and bisexual people at the time).  In fact, the idea of Greek culture was more bisexuality than homosexuality, the idealized man is one who has kids with his wife, but the closest thing to true love is with his boyfriend.   Actually this is important, because in Ancient Greece (and bear in mind, i’m generalizing the Hellenes were very diverse) homosexual behavior was linked very strongly with the intense msygiony of Ancient Greece, everybody was extremely sexist back in the day but in the Ancient world the Greeks took the cake for being hostile towards women.  A lot of Greek thought revolved around women as being ‘Half formed” men and as something to find icky and hostile, they were viewed as stupid, vain, corrupting, selfish, shallow, cruel, and above all lacking Logos, or reason.  Greek philosophy is very anti emotion and very pro logic (a distinction that I think is pretty stupid but what ever) and they tended to personify reason in a Greek Man and Emotion in women or Persians.  Greek Mythology and Philosophy is littered with this intense dislike of women and even compare to contemporary societies like the Egyptians, Persians or Scythian, the Greeks were really icked out by women.  Which is a big factor in their fetishization of same sex love, the idea is that while you needed to have sex with women for the kids and the legacy, you couldn’t truly relate to them because you know what THEY are like, so to find a true relationship you needed another man, who of course had the proper brain thinky skills to really relate to other men (this is absolute bull).  The Greeks also linked homosexual behavior to marital virtue, today gayness is often seen as camp, effeminate, and weak, but the Greeks held the exact opposite view (They also thought small penis were better btw).  Greeks were a warrior culture and tied relationships between men very strongly to their value as warriors.  Spartan having sex with each other showed how macho they were, they didn’t need “women”.  A very common greek insult is that a dude “Loved women” because that made you more effeminate in their eyes.  The Persian Great King Xerxes is depicted as a massive ladies man and in the Greek eyes that made him “GIRLY” and proved how feminine and weak these Persian were.  The Greeks by contrast, depicted themselves as strong and tough and macho in large part because they were sleeping with other dudes, cause that means you require even less contact with women in your life.  You also have a lot of manditory homosexuality in the army, Sparta is rumored to have required it because it supposedly increased the fighting strength, and Thebes had a unite called the “Sacred band” which was 150 gay couples serving as the elite troops, the idea being is that you’d fight better if your boyfriend was next to you in the ranks.   

    So the ideal Greek man, the Platonic Man if you would (Pun) has a wife, but is in a sort of relationship with another man, while regularly screwing his slaves. You can’t have a real relationship with women (because they aren’t people supposedly) and so you’d date men.  IN fact if you didn’t sleep with men, you’d likely be seen as kind of a pansy.  

   Oh and lets also talk about Pederasty.  Not all Greek societies necessarily did this, but at least some of them (Athens, likely Sparta) had a system where young boys (between 13-15) were apprenticed to an older man who would train them in various skills, fighting, rhetoric, law etc.  And he would have sex with them.  The idea is when you were young, your dad would send you to a friend of his so he could molest you while training you for a few years, and then when you got older, you could have your own teenagers to molest.  It was….a really fucked up system but the Greeks viewed it as perfectly normal, and thought it was a good learning experience for everyone involved.  

    Now homosexuality/bisexuality in the ancient world weren’t terms back then, but what they were really interested in was who was the bottom and who was the top.  A younger man was expected to be the bottom, and there wasn’t any shame in that, but once you got older and were sleeping with far younger boys of your own, you’d be expected to be the top.  Somebody who was a catcher would be viewed as more feminine and the greeks really didn’t like that sort of thing. A lot of Ancient Greek figures had a lot of drama filled romances with other men or boys, such as Phillip II of Macedonia, father of Alexander the Great (who likely was also sleeping with some of his friends).   

   While the Greeks were the most open about this, a lot of other cultures practiced in but were more mixed.  The Romans rhetorically were very anti gay but practiced it a great deal, a lot of Roman Emperors were homosexual or bisexual.  However only Hadrian was quite openly in a relationship with another man, and it caused quite a scandal in Rome at the time, but Hadrian didn’t care because Hadrian doesn’t give a shit what anybody thinks (This backfired when it came to the Jews)

On the Christianity thing, it isn’t actually that homophobic compared to a lot of other societies at the time, remember ancient Judaism finds homosexuality really creepy (a lot of Semetic cultures in the region were much more conservative about same sex relationship) but Christianity is really really anti sex generally.  

Actually on ancient Jewish homophobia, one of the important parts of the Old Testament and Leviticus in particular, is that the Jewish elite is very afraid of losing their culture to near by societies, including the Greeks.  Jewish resistance to Hellenization was very strong, and was a major factor in both the creation of Christianity and the eventual Second Diaspora.

    So this leads to a certain form of awkwardness where the West is all like “Greece is the foundation of western civilization, look how cool Greece is” but is also wanting to be like “Oh and also gay stuff, we don’t like that”.  So you have this weird double think where people are trying to claim the legacy of ancient Greece but are awkwardly turning a blind eye to the fact that the Greeks were really into same sex relationships.  I mean the PUA community and Roosh V have the whole “Neomasculinity” movement about the greatness of ancient Greece except…yeah no.  Or like how 300 is so homoerotic but doesn’t actually address how gay the Spartans were, Xerxes wouldn’t be effeminate for being gay in the Greek eyes, he’d be effiminate for being straight.  A lot of our “ugg effeminate men” tropes partly come from Greeks…talking about straight people.  

   BTW, we don’t really know what the Greeks thought of Lesbian/Bisexual relationships, what few records we have are mixed.  They generally were really hostile to female sexuality but we do have Sappho of Lebos, but most of the records around that were lost.  

  What I do find really interesting is that this hyper masculine warrior culture with lots of man love is that Feudal Japan did very similar stuff, evidently it is a hyper macho warrior thing.  

   Also bear in mind that until Alexander, the Greeks were nothing resembling unified, and we don’t have equal records of all the Greek states, so this might not apply to all Hellenes equally, and it also might vary due to time period, its always a bit hard to tell with this wort of thing 

Things My Roommate Says Sentence Starters (Part 3)

“Hello, salt. Cleanse me.”
"’Whisper?’ That’s a stripper name!”
“He’s one of those mushy guys with too many emotions.”
“I’m always up for lots of intense, in-charge ladies talking to me.”
“What is going on upstairs? What sins have they committed?”
“Sometimes I spawn so many chickens at once that my phone slows down.”
“Get the blowdryer! The Gods have blessed me this day!”
“Pumpkin bathbombs? I don’t…want to smell like a pumpkin.”
“You don’t want to attract white girls in Uggs?”
“And that’s why men are so easy to just…just murder!“
“She asked me if I was gay or straight. I told her I was ‘stressed’.”
"We should watch that show about Satan.”
“Are we …like…in Jumaji right now?”
“Well, now I need cotton candy.”