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by Archaeology Newsroom

From his introduction to the “Symposium”

In this introduction the love for boys in ancient Greece is related in excellent prose. Here the author’s knowledge of ancient customs, philosophy and psychology are very much in evidence. The love of youths in ancient Greece, he writes, was a means of encouraging valor in battle. In cities such as Athens which was not a military state, the love for boys became a means towards training the young. It is exactly this educational nature that distinguishes this sort of relationship from homosexual relationships of other times or places. The author of the introduction notes that much more was expected of the youth in ancient Athens than would be conceivable today. Higher education was not taught in schools before the 4th century so a young man would have to seek education in the society he moved in. The older man would pass on his knowledge and experience of life to the younger one. A father would not be suited to this work since in ancient Greece families were not supposed to teach their children and what’s more a father would be too involved in his son to impart knowledge to him. As “the Greeks have so subtly pointed out” a father should tactfully withdraw from a youth’s life.