Greek love: Wikis

  

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Greek Love
Heracles, Iolaus and Eros - Cista Ficoroni foot.jpg
Heracles (r.), Eros (c.) and Iolaus (l.). Foot of the so-called “Cista Ficoroni”, Etruscan bronze casting ritual vessel, 4th c. BCE. Villa Giulia Rome.
The concept of "Greek love" is an idealised philosophy of Greek male sexuality beginning with the Romans, and rediscovered after the fall of the Byzantine Empire.
Homosexuality in ancient Greece
Pederasty in ancient Greece
Plutarch, Plato, Socrates Greek Philosophy
Renaissance
Marsilio Ficino Neoplatonism
Neoclassicism
Byron Hellenism (neoclassicism)
Greek love is a term which originates in the mid 18th and 19th Century Germany at a time of Hellenistic revival during the literary period known as "Neo Classicism".

Greek love is a relatively modern English term[nb 1][1] synonymous with other similar phrases. The ambiguity of an ancient Greek model of "friendship" can imply a male bonding between equals or a spiritual, educational and/or sexual union of males of varying age.[2] Quotation marks are generally placed on either or both words, i.e., "Greek" love, Greek "love" or "Greek love".

The term "griechische Liebe" (Greek love) is documented as coexisting in German writings between 1750 and 1850 with such terms as "socratische Liebe" (Socratic Love) and "platonische Liebe" (Platonic love), which were designated for male-male attractions.[3]

Apart from its perceived historical connotation, no such term is found in any surviving text from any ancient source. While there are terms, such as Mos Graeciae (Greek custom) and Mos Graecorum (the Greek Way), they were never deployed in reference to pederasty, but for a variety of Greek practices.[1]

Contents

Background and historic reference

The term "Greek love" has been used interchangeably with other similar phrases, such as "Platonic love" and "Socratic Love", ( derived from Marsilio Ficino's term "amor platonicus" from his translations of the Symposium ). The meaning of the individual terms has drifted over time.

Richard A. Posner, author of "Sex and Reason" dissects the subject, discussing men who prefer sex with other men, over women, and men who preferred sex with women, but were quick to substitute a man or (preferably) a boy when women were not available;

"The first group dominates the homosexual subculture of today; the last group dominated "Greek Love" ( which should really be called Athenian Love because we know little about the sexual customs of the other city states). Provided we are aware of this difference, we shall not get into trouble if we call Greek love homosexual."[4]

The three terms are associated with educational, civic and philosophical ideals as well as the sexual implications.[5] Relationships often transcended the physical or the erotic, the adult being invested with responsibility for the moral and spiritual welfare of the boy: abuse, exploitation and actual sexual penetration of the younger partner was not acceptable as the youth was expected to mature into a respected and honored Greek citizen. Such was the attitude of the time that submitting to the act would be distasteful and dishonorable, while such fate did not necessarily befall the abuser.[6]

During the Renaissance, artists such as Leonardo Davinci and Michelangelo discovered Plato and used his philosophy as artistic muse for inspiration for their greatest works. The new paganism, liberated their senses and mind. Greek love was an ideal love in its essence, after the platonic pattern.[7] Michelangelo presented himself to the public as a Platonic lover of men in 16th century Italy. His art combined and alternated between catholic orthodoxy and pagan enthusiasm in many of his works. The sculpted likeness of a local saint, Proculus and his first great masterpiece, Bacchus illustrate this. Michelangelo's next two pieces, Pieta and The David, pay respect to his faith and Eros.[8] In later revivals these works were drawn on as further inspiration. The 18th century artists of the time of Wincklemen, would, at times produce art, representing ancient society and Greek love in their Neoclassical work.[9] Artist, Jaques-Louis David's "Death of Socrates", is meant to be a Greek painting, imbued with an appreciation of "Greek love". Socrates is a tribute and documentation of leisured, disinterested, masculine fellowship.[10]

Influence on literature

The term "Greek love" has come to signify the original English use of "Platonic love", that of a male-male sexual attraction made respectable by referring to antiquity. Greece became a reference point by homosexual men of a specific class and education.[11] The first use of that phrase dates back to 1636 with "Platonic Lovers" by Sir William Davenant.[12] The latter phrase was derived from the writings of Marsilio Ficino who coined the terms amor Socraticus. There is no linguistic link to the Greek language.

Portrait of Marsilio Ficino, by Leonardo da Vinci

The subject of Eros, and the traditions of male contact were repeated in many of the Roman sculptures described by Johann Winckelmann in a three volume set of books.[13] Homosexual activity in ancient civilizations is common. Many civilizations offer few sexual options in a rigid class system. Greek men stayed within their own class, if not within their own gender. Marriage was expected but offered little more than relations to produce offspring, as the two genders were separated in public and traditionally did not even take meals together. Women were secluded in Ancient Greece. The natural step was to turn to who was available and accepting.[14] Ancient sexuality was not approached as a gender specific attraction. Homosexuality, is also a modern term. It has only been in use for just 130 years.[15] The concept of strict sexual separation of the genders is also a relatively new idea. Not until strict church doctrine taught this ideology did it become a moral issue. Up until that time there simply was little to no standard against it.

A true homosexual subculture did not exist in ancient Greece.[16] Male same-sex relationships of the kind portrayed by the "Greek love" ideal were increasingly disallowed within the Judaeo-Christian traditions of Western society, though there was more tolerance within Asian cultures until recent times.[17] The earliest reference to the modern ideology is from that of Marsilio Ficino after the fall of the Byzantine Empire. In his comments of Plato's work in 1469, Ficino describes "amor socraticus", however it must be said that Ficino, influenced by the church doctrine attempted to water down its meaning and concept and concluded that the male love was allegorical.[18] In his commentary to the Symposium, Ficino carefully separates the act of sodomy, which he condemned, and lauded Socratic love as the highest form of friendship. He believed that men could use each other's beauty and friendship to discover the greatest good, that is, God. Ficino Christianised the theory of love presented by Socrates.[19]

Notes

  1. ^ The word "Modern" is defined as relative to ancient history. Not to be confused with "Contemporary", which means "in use today".

References

  1. ^ a b Williams, Craig Arthur (June 10, 1999). Roman homosexuality. Oxford University Press, USA. pp. 72. ISBN 9780195113006.  
  2. ^ Taddeo, Julie Anne (July 18, 2002). Lytton Strachey and the search for modern sexual identity. Routledge; 1 edition. pp. 21. ISBN 978-1560233596.  
  3. ^ Gustafson, Susan E. (June 2002). Men desiring men. Wayne State University Press. pp. [1]. ISBN 978-0814330296.  
  4. ^ Posner, Richard (January 1, 1992). Sex and reason. Harvard University Press. pp. 30. ISBN 978-0674802803.  
  5. ^ Kuzniar, Alice A. (July 1, 1996). Outing Goethe & his age. Stanford University Press. pp. 7. ISBN 978-0804726153.  
  6. ^ Simon, Rita James (May 25, 2001). A comparative perspective on major social problems. Lexington Books. pp. 4–5. ISBN 978-0739102480.  
  7. ^ Taylor, Rachel Annand (March 15, 2007). Leonardo the Florentine - A Study in Personality. Kiefer Press. pp. 483. ISBN 978-1406729276.  
  8. ^ Crompton, Louis (October 31, 2006). Homosexuality and civilization. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. pp. 270. ISBN 978-0674022331.  
  9. ^ Aldrich, Robert (November 15, 1993). The seduction of the Mediterranean. Routledge; 1 edition. pp. 136. ISBN 978-0415093125.  
  10. ^ Crow, Thomas E. (June 20, 2006). Emulation. Yale University Press; Revised edition. pp. 99. ISBN 978-0300117394.  
  11. ^ Petrilli, Susan (November 14, 2003). Translation, translation. Rodopi. pp. 623. ISBN 978-9042009479.  
  12. ^ The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911). The Encyclopaedia Britannica Eleventh edition. Encyclopaedia Britannica. pp. 825. ISBN 978-1593392925.  
  13. ^ Verstraete, Provencal, Beert C., Vernon (February 13, 2006). Same-Sex Desire and Love in Greco-Roman Antiquity and in the Classical Tradition of the West. Routledge; 1 edition. pp. 15. ISBN 978-1560236047.  
  14. ^ Posner, Richard A. (January 1, 1992). Sex and reason. Harvard University Press. pp. 146-149. ISBN 978-0674802803.  
  15. ^ Tamagne, Florence (August 2004). History Of Homosexuality In Europe, 1919-1939. Algora Publishing. pp. 6. ISBN 978-0875863566.  
  16. ^ Rushing, William A. (June 27, 1995). The AIDS epidemic. Westview Press. pp. 19-20. ISBN 978-0813320458.  
  17. ^ Crompton, Louis: Homosexuality and Civilization, First Harvard University Press paperback edition, 2006 pp.([213], 411 & passim)ISBN 978-0674022331
  18. ^ Fone, Byrne R. S. (May 15, 1998). The Columbia anthology of gay literature. Columbia University Press. pp. 131. ISBN 978-0231096706.  
  19. ^ Aldrich, Robert (November 15, 1993). The seduction of the Mediterranean. Routledge; 1 edition. pp. 38. ISBN 978-0415093125.  

Bibliography

  • Crompton, Louis (1998). Byron and Greek Love. London: GMP. ISBN 9780854492633.  
  • Crompton, Louis (2003). Homosexuality & Civilization. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674022331.  
  • Fone, Byrne (1998). The Columbia Anthology of Gay Literature. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231096706.  
  • Gustafson, Susan (2002). Men Desiring Men. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 9780814330296.  
  • Haggerty, George (1999). Men in Love. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231110433.  
  • Kuzniar, Alice (1996). Outing Goethe & His Age. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804726153.  
  • Maccarthy, Fiona (2004). Byron: Life and Legend. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 9780374529307.  
  • Posner, Richard (1992). Sex and Reason. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674802803.  
  • Symonds, John (2007). A Problem in Greek Ethics: Paiderastia. City: Forgotten Books. ISBN 9781605063898.  
  • Taddeo, Julie Anne (2002). Lytton Strachey and the Search for Modern Sexual Identity: the Last Eminent Victorian. New York: Routledge. ISBN 9781560233596.  
  • Tamagne, Florence (2004). History of Homosexuality in Europe, 1919-1939. New York: Algora Publishing. ISBN 9780875863566.  
  • Williams, Craig (1999). Roman Homosexuality. Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195113006.  

Further reading

  • Davidson, James (2007). The Greeks and Greek Love: A Radical Reappraisal of Homosexuality in Ancient Greece. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375505164.  

See also


Not to be confused with Philhellenism, or Greek words for love

Greek love is a relatively modern English term[nb 1][1] synonymous with other similar phrases. The ambiguity of an ancient Greek model of "friendship" can imply a male bonding between equals or a spiritual, educational and/or sexual union of males of varying age.[2] Quotation marks are generally placed on either or both words, i.e., "Greek" love, Greek "love" or "Greek love".

The term "griechische Liebe" (Greek love) is documented as coexisting in German writings between 1750 and 1850 with such terms as "socratische Liebe" (Socratic Love) and "platonische Liebe" (Platonic love), which were designated for male-male attractions.[3]

Apart from its perceived historical connotation, no such term is found in any surviving text from any ancient source. While there are terms, such as Mos Graeciae (Greek custom) and Mos Graecorum (the Greek Way), they were never deployed in reference to pederasty, but for a variety of Greek practices.[1]

Contents

Background and historic reference

The term "Greek love" has been used interchangeably with other similar phrases, such as "Platonic love" and "Socratic Love", (derived from Marsilio Ficino's term "amor platonicus" from his translations of the Symposium). The meaning of the individual terms has drifted over time.

Richard A. Posner, author of "Sex and Reason" dissects the subject, discussing men who prefer sex with other men, over women, and men who preferred sex with women, but were quick to substitute a man or (preferably) a boy when women were not available;

"The first group dominates the homosexual subculture of today; the last group dominated "Greek Love" ( which should really be called Athenian Love because we know little about the sexual customs of the other city states). Provided we are aware of this difference, we shall not get into trouble if we call Greek love homosexual."[4]

The three terms are associated with educational, civic and philosophical ideals as well as the sexual implications.[5] Relationships often transcended the physical or the erotic, the adult being invested with responsibility for the moral and spiritual welfare of the boy: abuse, exploitation and actual sexual penetration of the younger partner was not acceptable as the youth was expected to mature into a respected and honored Greek citizen. Such was the attitude of the time that submitting to the act would be distasteful and dishonorable, while such fate did not necessarily befall the abuser.[6]

During the Renaissance, artists such as Leonardo Davinci and Michelangelo discovered Plato and used his philosophy as artistic muse for inspiration for their greatest works. The new paganism, liberated their senses and mind. Greek love was an ideal love in its essence, after the platonic pattern.[7] Michelangelo presented himself to the public as a Platonic lover of men in 16th century Italy. His art combined and alternated between catholic orthodoxy and pagan enthusiasm in many of his works. The sculpted likeness of a local saint, Proculus and his first great masterpiece, Bacchus illustrate this. Michelangelo's next two pieces, Pieta and The David, pay respect to his faith and Eros.[8] In later revivals these works were drawn on as further inspiration. The 18th century artists of the time of Wincklemen, would, at times produce art, representing ancient society and Greek love in their Neoclassical work.[9] Artist, Jaques-Louis David's "Death of Socrates", is meant to be a Greek painting, imbued with an appreciation of "Greek love". Socrates is a tribute and documentation of leisured, disinterested, masculine fellowship.[10]

Influence on literature

The term "Greek love" has come to signify the original English use of "Platonic love", that of a male-male sexual attraction made respectable by referring to antiquity. Greece became a reference point by homosexual men of a specific class and education.[11] The first use of that phrase dates back to 1636 with "Platonic Lovers" by Sir William Davenant.[12] The latter phrase was derived from the writings of Marsilio Ficino who coined the terms amor Socraticus. There is no linguistic link to the Greek language.

File:Marsilio Ficino,von Leonardo da Vinci .jpg
Portrait of Marsilio Ficino, by Leonardo da Vinci

The subject of Eros, and the traditions of male contact were repeated in many of the Roman sculptures described by Johann Winckelmann in a three volume set of books.[13] Homosexual activity in ancient civilizations is common. Many civilizations offer few sexual options in a rigid class system. Greek men stayed within their own class, if not within their own gender. Marriage was expected but offered little more than relations to produce offspring, as the two genders were separated in public and traditionally did not even take meals together. Women were secluded in Ancient Greece. The natural step was to turn to who was available and accepting.[14] Ancient sexuality was not approached as a gender specific attraction. Homosexuality, is also a modern term. It has only been in use for just 130 years.[15] The concept of strict sexual separation of the genders is also a relatively new idea. Not until strict church doctrine taught this ideology did it become a moral issue. Up until that time there simply was little to no standard against it.

A true homosexual subculture did not exist in ancient Greece.[16] Male same-sex relationships of the kind portrayed by the "Greek love" ideal were increasingly disallowed within the Judaeo-Christian traditions of Western society, though there was more tolerance within Asian cultures until recent times.[17] The earliest reference to the modern ideology is from that of Marsilio Ficino after the fall of the Byzantine Empire. In his comments of Plato's work in 1469, Ficino describes "amor socraticus", however it must be said that Ficino, influenced by the church doctrine attempted to water down its meaning and concept and concluded that the male love was allegorical.[18] In his commentary to the Symposium, Ficino carefully separates the act of sodomy, which he condemned, and lauded Socratic love as the highest form of friendship. He believed that men could use each other's beauty and friendship to discover the greatest good, that is, God. Ficino Christianised the theory of love presented by Socrates.[19]

Notes

  1. ^ The word "Modern" is defined as relative to ancient history. Not to be confused with "Contemporary", which means "in use today".

References

  1. ^ a b Williams, Craig Arthur (June 10, 1999). Roman homosexuality. Oxford University Press, USA. pp. 72. ISBN 9780195113006. 
  2. ^ Taddeo, Julie Anne (July 18, 2002). Lytton Strachey and the search for modern sexual identity. Routledge; 1 edition. pp. 21. ISBN 978-1560233596. 
  3. ^ Gustafson, Susan E. (June 2002). Men desiring men. Wayne State University Press. pp. [1]. ISBN 978-0814330296. 
  4. ^ Posner, Richard (January 1, 1992). Sex and reason. Harvard University Press. pp. 30. ISBN 978-0674802803. 
  5. ^ Kuzniar, Alice A. (July 1, 1996). Outing Goethe & his age. Stanford University Press. pp. 7. ISBN 978-0804726153. 
  6. ^ Simon, Rita James (May 25, 2001). A comparative perspective on major social problems. Lexington Books. pp. 4–5. ISBN 978-0739102480. 
  7. ^ Taylor, Rachel Annand (March 15, 2007). Leonardo the Florentine - A Study in Personality. Kiefer Press. pp. 483. ISBN 978-1406729276. 
  8. ^ Crompton, Louis (October 31, 2006). Homosexuality and civilization. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. pp. 270. ISBN 978-0674022331. 
  9. ^ Aldrich, Robert (November 15, 1993). The seduction of the Mediterranean. Routledge; 1 edition. pp. 136. ISBN 978-0415093125. 
  10. ^ Crow, Thomas E. (June 20, 2006). Emulation. Yale University Press; Revised edition. pp. 99. ISBN 978-0300117394. 
  11. ^ Petrilli, Susan (November 14, 2003). Translation, translation. Rodopi. pp. 623. ISBN 978-9042009479. 
  12. ^ The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911). The Encyclopaedia Britannica Eleventh edition. Encyclopaedia Britannica. pp. 825. ISBN 978-1593392925. 
  13. ^ Verstraete, Provencal, Beert C., Vernon (February 13, 2006). Same-Sex Desire and Love in Greco-Roman Antiquity and in the Classical Tradition of the West. Routledge; 1 edition. pp. 15. ISBN 978-1560236047. 
  14. ^ Posner, Richard A. (January 1, 1992). Sex and reason. Harvard University Press. pp. 146-149. ISBN 978-0674802803. 
  15. ^ Tamagne, Florence (August 2004). History Of Homosexuality In Europe, 1919-1939. Algora Publishing. pp. 6. ISBN 978-0875863566. 
  16. ^ Rushing, William A. (June 27, 1995). The AIDS epidemic. Westview Press. pp. 19-20. ISBN 978-0813320458. 
  17. ^ Crompton, Louis: Homosexuality and Civilization, First Harvard University Press paperback edition, 2006 pp.([213], 411 & passim)ISBN 978-0674022331
  18. ^ Fone, Byrne R. S. (May 15, 1998). The Columbia anthology of gay literature. Columbia University Press. pp. 131. ISBN 978-0231096706. 
  19. ^ Aldrich, Robert (November 15, 1993). The seduction of the Mediterranean. Routledge; 1 edition. pp. 38. ISBN 978-0415093125. 

Bibliography

  • Crompton, Louis (2003). Homosexuality & Civilization. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674022331. 
  • Fone, Byrne (1998). The Columbia Anthology of Gay Literature. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231096706. 
  • Gustafson, Susan (2002). Men Desiring Men. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 9780814330296. 
  • Haggerty, George (1999). Men in Love. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231110433. 
  • Kuzniar, Alice (1996). Outing Goethe & His Age. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804726153. 
  • Maccarthy, Fiona (2004). Byron: Life and Legend. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 9780374529307. 
  • Posner, Richard (1992). Sex and Reason. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674802803. 
  • Symonds, John (2007). A Problem in Greek Ethics: Paiderastia. City: Forgotten Books. ISBN 9781605063898. 
  • Taddeo, Julie Anne (2002). Lytton Strachey and the Search for Modern Sexual Identity: the Last Eminent Victorian. New York: Routledge. ISBN 9781560233596. 
  • Tamagne, Florence (2004). History of Homosexuality in Europe, 1919-1939. New York: Algora Publishing. ISBN 9780875863566. 
  • Williams, Craig (1999). Roman Homosexuality. Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195113006. 

Further reading

  • Davidson, James (2007). The Greeks and Greek Love: A Radical Reappraisal of Homosexuality in Ancient Greece. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375505164. 

See also








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