The Jewish Impact on Civilization

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Ancient Attitudes

wp03t54a.jpg (285034 bytes)Sporting events had young men running, wrestling, and throwing spears ... without wearing a shred of clothing. The players were completely and totally naked. How a person looked -- every bit of his body -- was incredibly important. The emphasis on the physical and the lack of modesty wasn’t confined to sporting events. In the bathhouses, men sat and socialized in the nude. To the Greeks, the beautiful was holy. Modesty was not a practiced concept.

 

The entire notion of sexuality was very different in antiquity.  With the exception of prohibitions against incest or sleeping with parents or siblings (which most societies seem to have prohibited), everything else was fair game. There was no phenomenon of correct or incorrect sexual behavior; everything was considered totally acceptable. The only issue was whether you were the active or passive partner. The passive partner could be a man, a boy, a woman, a girl, an animal, or even an inanimate object. The demarcation of homosexuality and heterosexuality were non-existent for most of the history of human sexuality.

In the modern world, religion is generally viewed as the moral guard against sexual promiscuity. This was not so 2,000 years ago. In antiquity, sexuality permeated virtually every religion. Almost all the creation stories in all polytheistic religions begin with the gods engaging in some sort of sexual activity in order to create the world. Temple prostitutes, temple orgies, and fertility rites were regular features of almost all religions. Sex was everywhere.

 

PLATO’S SYMPOSIUM

Pederasty, a sexual relationship between an adult man and a boy, was quite common in antiquity. In classical Greek civilization, pederasty was viewed as something positive and beautiful, the highest form of love. It was also considered a fundamental part of the education and socialization of a boy.

Let’s look at a quote from Plato’s Symposium. Keep in mind that he’s talking about the relationship between a grown man and an older boy: wp03t56a.jpg (129246 bytes)

"I, for my part, am at a loss to say what a greater blessing a man can have at earliest youth than an honorable lover.... If we can somehow contrive to have a city or an army composed of lovers and their favorites, they could not be better citizens of their country.... No man is such a craven that love's own influence can not inspire him with valor that makes him equal to the bravest born."
Thorkil Vanggaard. Phallos-A Symbol and its History in the Male World. (London: Jonathan Cape, 1969.), 40.

"Valor?" The Greeks viewed men who chased women as effeminate. A real man wooed older boys -- this was macho. (You also see this in Japanese Samurai culture.) In militaristic Sparta, the Greek city-state where children spent their whole lives training to be soldiers, they created units of soldiers comprised of older men together with their younger boy-lovers. And they fought incredibly well because no one wanted to die ingloriously in front of his lover.

How do you think all this boy-chasing affected the attitude of Greek men toward women?

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Ancient outlooks on these Values:

Value of Life

World Peace

Justice and Equality

Education

Family

   Ancient
   Attitudes

   Women in
   Classic
   Greece

Social Responsibility

 

Conclusion
from Antiquity




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