Hebrews Versus Hellenes on Homosexuality

The ancient Hebrews were opposed to gay relationships, but not the Hellenes who saw loving relationships — particularly between older men and younger ones — as a form of sponsorship:


There are echoes of this in characterizations of Plato/Socrates.

I find no Google source which gives a good explanation of the conflict between Greek and Hebrew values. However, I recall my Old Testament teacher in divinity school maintaining that the Hebrews were afraid that young Jews might get involved with the Greek temple prostitutes.

Needless to say the Hebrew tradition has dominated the major Western religions — Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. However, there was a time when Oxbridge dons were not allowed to marry and British higher education — as well as gender divided British public schools — tended to follow the Hellenic model. I recall my fellow students at Uppingham being impressed that I had a girl friend. One told me that our headmaster had cautioned students about gay behavior which was offensive to Americans. Some senior students were permitted to choose younger ones to do chores for them. These latter were called “fags” from which, I assume, this term derived. The prettiest of the young ones were usually most in demand.

There was some sadism involved as well, as young students accused of some wrongdoing were not infrequently aroused from sleep in the dormitories and ordered to bend over their beds so that they could be beaten by the seniors — I was known as “old soft slipper,” as I did not approve of hurting kids. For lesser offenses a slipper was used, while a cane was the weapon for more egregious ones.

The lists of noted gays and the evolution of attitudes towards homosexuality over the millennia is quite impressive:


“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent [blind copies]

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