Was pedophilia common in Greece and Rome

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by Buckaroo Banzai, Apr 28, 2006.

  1. Buckaroo Banzai Mentat Registered Senior Member

    Was pedophilia common in Greece and Rome?

    I´m pretty much ignorant on the historical investigation of this particular subject, but I´ve been reading in a forum that pedophilia was socially acceptable and fairly common at that times and places. Also there are implicit suggestions that the "pedophilia-is-crime" is a totally socially constructed meme, and I´m very skeptical about this claim.

    Also, somewhat skeptical about the other claim, about pedophilia being common and accepted. I think that most researches have shown that humans are a biological species, and despite of our brain making us the more behaviurally flexible species, it´s yet possible to trace a basic biological set of behaviors that applies to the whole species, in all cultures and times, with a few cultural influences, and much more rarely cultural oddities, aberrations. About pedophilia in particular, there are suggestive evidence that it´s a neurological disturb.

    With that in mind, I think in two main alternatives:

    1- the historical research that says that pedophilia was widely common was wrong, and may be due to tendentious sources and subsequent inertia. Could be that a few eminent people or groups of people in these places and times were in fact pedophilies and they painted their own indulgent or even favorable view of pedophilia - which was not shared with the rest of the society - and then it was generalized as because of being the main sources of hystorical research.

    I do not think this is unlikely, even more recent historical issues are often wrong, such as the opinions of Louis Pasteurs and his merits. He is largely held as a scientific example, while some people, basing in more data that recently became disposable, that he commited frauds and plagiarisms, and also, contrasting immensely with is commonly said, he believeed in spontaneous generation, even of parasitic worms. He just did not believed - by personal prejudices - that those particular instances being studies by his opponents were capable of spontaneously generate life. Pasteur is widelly regarded as the final debunker of spontaneous generation, when in fact it was more accepted in France, and the opinion was only accepted in other countries after the works of John Tyndall and Ferdinand Cohn.

    (but Pasteur is not really the topic, just an example of how hystorical research may be subject of errors based on restriction of data.)

    2 - the historical research that says that pedophilia was widely common was right, but it would have to do with the influence of eminent pedophilies over society, rather than a "cultural creationism", where cultures and behaviours are created "ex nihilo", without any biological constraint.

    In both alternatives I´m not questioning the idea that pedophilia acception and disaproval could not be a pure cultural phenomenon, I know that. As this is the history forum, I´m just asking if any these two alternatives are likely, concerning the historical knowledge in general, if there are divergent opinions on the subject held by a few historians, and the basis of divergence, also if there are other examples of a sort of "memetic founder effect" in cultures.

    The biological issues, would be more properly discussed in the biology and genetics forum.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2006
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  3. Buddha1 Registered Senior Member

    Rubbish, sex with children was never acceptable in ancient Greece. It can't be unnatural though. What you don't find morally acceptable doesn't become unnatural.

    And you cannot reinvent history and animal nature according to your moral whims and fancies.

    If you look at it, if it weren't for our groundless morality sex with children, like sex with adults is just a natural activity --- and it could be harmful only if it causes physical/ emotional harm and is non-consental.

    It is baseless to assume that adults who have sex with children will necessarily harm them, or that children do not look for sex with unwilling adults. Our disaproval of what is called 'peadophilia' is purely social. Although I don't think many people would go for it naturally.

    Like I said, there are no evidences that in Greece men had sex with pre-pubescent boys. Not that I'm aware of. They were married to other men when they reached about 14 years of age.
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  5. Theoryofrelativity Banned Banned

    adults having sex with children does harm them buddha, physically children are not designed for penetration. their internal parts are considerably damaged.

    Meanwhile, please enlighten me as to which animal species (other than human) rapes the children of its social group?
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  7. Buckaroo Banzai Mentat Registered Senior Member

    I really don´t know, it was just what I´ve heard of

    It has nothing to do with my personal morals or ideas.

    Clarifying the terms a bit: pedophilia is natural. However, it seems to be a mental disease. Diseases are natural, anomalous conditions also are many times, unless artificially imposed somehow. They´re not "normal", however, these are anomalous conditions, i.e., these deviate from the physiological, anatomical, or behavioral averages of the species.

    On moerality, is not moral because it´s natural, neither is natural because it´s moral. Also are not moral or imoral by being normal or anomalous. Left-handedness, is not modal, technically, that´s a anomaly, but is not imoral.

    Diseases or anomalous conditions per se are not "imoral", you cannot blame morally someone by catching a flu or by being myope.

    However, if someone is myope, knows that, and drives his or her car without the proper glasses, if by doing that he impairs his or her driving abilities creating risk onto other´s safety, that´s imoral.

    I think that pedophilia is similar, is widely known to be at least a crime, considered imoral by various reasons, and then if someone feels to be pedophile he or she would be in the moral obligation of seeking help. If this person does not do that, but rather goes and have sex with babies or susceptible children, that´s a crime.

    As far as I´m aware of, you´re the one with fringe points of view here, first with this thing that sex is primarily homosexual (or whichever term you prefer) (and I suppose that sexual dimorphisms and selection are just illusions or interesting coincidences then). Now that about pedophilia as a anomalous mental condition being a social construct.

    Well, it will be hard for you to agree with me on this, since the (mainstream, not fringe) scientifical explanation goes against your ideas about sexuality.

    Mainstream science accepts that humans and other animals have a more or less specific age sexual maturity, and sex usually happen after (or nearly) the achievement of sexual maturity, because sexual drive is usually triggered by sexual displays of secondary sexual characters that develop nearly this sexual maturity.

    But as I´ve said, this implies that sexual dimorphisms are not just meaningless coincidences, evolved randomly, such as, a man is much more likely to be sexually attracted to grown-up women body shapes than to the barely differentiated [from boys´]body shape of sexually immature girls. Likewise with women, wich will more likely be attracted with more manly than boyish phisical traits.

    Denying that, it´s to be a sexual blank slater, to say that sexual appointment is totally cultural, to not say that it lacks explanation, goes against logic of all that is known about evolution. I do not say that it has none socio-cultural influence, I do believe that there´s a lot, but since sex has evolved, sexual selection, which at its most basic level is selecting mates of the opposite sex, is advantageous in terms of fitness.

    Does not mean that there will not be any homossexuality (honestly, I do not care how you prefer to call it at this point, it´s just easier to use this word that has no implicit offense or anything), partial or total. It can exist, be it by selective neutrality (ie, it arised randomly, but does not totally compromises fitness, so it remains there), by being somewhat adaptative (a sort of "K" reproductive strategy, something like one eighth in the way of ant-like eusociality or something, like group selection or kin selection, similar to the things I think you defend but in a much less extreme way), or by being totally a developmental deviation - no imorality implied, it could be seen as a "deviation" more or less like accents or appetite for certain foods (and aversion to others) are developed... the "deviation" just means that it somehow turned out to be diferent than usually is by "bio-cultural" inertia (this hypothesis assumes that humans or many animals in general would be potentially bisexual, maybe with variable intrinsic potentiality, but heterosexual behavior is more likely to be triggered usually because it would often result in more fitness... a bit about Baldwin efffect, I guess). Maybe all of that in the same species, maybe a few of these in one species, and none in others, I think that there´s not necessarely a single universal explanation (differently from heterosexuality). By "bio-cultural" I mean a culture that is partially shaped by biological constraints, rather than being totally apart from biology and able to "drift" freely. E.g. would be, corsets are designed to emphasise female physical attributes, and, although there´s no "genes for inventing corsets", that tends to happen because we have brains that are capable of inventing that, and we´re driven to invent this rather than some cloth that emphasizes the elbow or the knee, because the latter one simply is not as naturally interesting as the earlier.

    Accepting that, another point of sexual selection besides selecting members of the opposite sex, would be selecting fertile individuals, and babies and children are not, and thus this behaviour is anomalous, it is a defectiveness in the ability of feeling the normal arousal for individuals in the reproductive age.

    I also think that rape is anormal, in a similar way, as the normal sexual behaviour have not only the stage of arousal by secondary sexual characters, but also seems to require mutual willingness in our species, at the same time that sex in a situation of fight is, I believe, normally "anti-arousing", not only politically correct. But apparently for rapists that´s part of the arousal.

    As I´ve said, not many people going for that makes it abnormality. It has no much importance that children might want to have sex in the issue of being pedophiliy or not; the point is that individuals are not usually sexualy attracted by individuals not sexually developed.

    On the morality, if pedophilia is consensual, I do not think that it yet makes it moral, because children are very susceptible, and likely to want things that are not the best for them (like eating only candy all day long if permitted). Also, the body of children, specially babies, is not suited for most sexual activities. However, I´ve recently heard that in some tribes, parents often do "oral sex" for their female babies (or so I´ve heard, about females, don´t know about males), in order to make the babies calm down, but sexual aroulsal is absent in the adult, so it´s yet "normal" in the sexual sense, only culturally weird, very weird.

    That makes the thing a bit different, I was thinking about younger boys.

    Yet that I do not think that it is exactly moral (but I admit that is also not so clean cut imoral, although is pragmatic to estabilish something over that as crime), it would make more sense, biologically, at this age.


    PS.: Not that I´m against all the possible ramifications of the topic, but I´ll just recapitulate that I´m mainly curious about the evidence about homosexuality and nearly pedophilia being so popular at that times and places.

    (yeah, I know google, but I was trying here first because I think that googling about the subject would result more in disgusting topics rather than in what I really want to know... and as this is a forum related with archaeology/history/humanities, someone could know.... )
  8. Hapsburg Hellenistic polytheist Valued Senior Member

  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Contemporary U.S. law, based on a Puritan system of morality, has redefined "pedophilia" to include sex with any person who is under the age of consent, which is 18 in most jurisdictions. This makes an 18-year-old with a 17-year-old boyfriend/girlfriend a pedophile in the eyes of the law, and such cases have been prosecuted enough times to be really scary.

    Adults who have sex with young teenagers may have collossally bad judgment and may be guilty of taking advantage of impressionable young people, and therefore may be in need of deterrence or punishment, but they should not be called pedophiles. They may also just be mistaken. Adults make themselves up to look like adolescents and vice versa, a lot of honest mistakes are made.

    Pedophilia is supposed to mean sex with prepubescents, which is evil, sick, and likely to cause emotional and/or physical injury. These guys are just wired wrong and need to be locked away until/unless somebody finds a way to cure them. (Okay, there are a few female pedophiles but I'll bet 99.9 percent of them are male.)

    I have never seen any assertion that the Greeks engaged in pedophilia, if the proper definition of the word is used. The age of consent throughout history has often been much lower than it is today. If some of those boyfriends were 13, it was probably considered their decision to make at the time.
  10. brita Registered Member

    I am actually taking an Art history class and yes during the greek and roman times intimate contact between and elder and young boy was common. The correct term is "Greek Pederasty" and its definition is an intimate relationship and bond between an adolescent boy and an adult man outside of his immediate family, and was constructed as a moral and educational institution.
  11. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    I have heard of Greek men frequenting boy hostels but the age of the boys has evaded my notice. Not sure if they were adolescents or preteens. But yes, "buggery" as they call it was very common, not only in Greece, but also across the Asian subcontinent.
  12. MS13 Registered Member

    i think paedophilia may not have been common but probably much more common than it is now, and also much more acceptable. these days it seems to have gone underground, but i am pretty sure that paedophilia was accepted throughout the world, from japan, to china, india, saudi arabia, papua new guinea america, and back. as recently as the 1800s, female kids as young as 13 would be married off to 23+ adult men in the united states. even as recent as 100yrs ago, americans did not live as long, so they would have had to had an early start. americans back then also enjoyed having alot of kids, another reason for getting an early start. i think that you were very likely to see this kind of young girl, and old man pairing in the more religious circles of america, but then again, that is americas foundation (extremely religious).
  13. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

    A couple of thoughts here....

    On the question of how other primates may act on this topic, the Bonobo chimpanzees have a very promiscuous lifestyle that involves all of the members of the troupe from tiny babies to antique grandparents. Sex of all kinds is used generously as a 'social lubricant' for pretty much any reason at all....and sometimes just for fun, it appears. We are very closely related to the Bonobo, some researchers believe that we have evolved our sexual practices to a certain extent for similar reasons.

    On the question of whether earlier cultures tolerated or encouraged what we now call 'pedophilia', you should consider reading Petronius' Satiricon, the book that Fellini based his movie on, written by Petronius during Nero's rule in Rome.

    As an adult survivor of extreme repeated childhood abuse from a female abuser, I gotta tell you that you may well lose that bet.

    When I was a kid, nobody talked about child or spousal abuse. Nowadays we speak openly of such things, but we still have quite a way to go with this issue. It was not so long ago that we also failed to acknowledge that women killed people just like men do. Ms. Wurmis opened a few eyes before she got the electric chair for being a serial killer.

    When I was a PKA kickboxing judge, I was enlightened as to how violent a woman could be when I watched and scored ladies as they beat the crap out of each other in the ring just like the men. This was before a lady accidentally knocked me out with a kick to the head while sparring.

    My bet is that there is much more equality between the sexes on this issue - as with other issues - than we are ready to admit yet.
  14. superstring01 Moderator

    Pedophilia was more common in Ancient Greece and Rome (at least, more openly so) than it is today. The "penetratee" was usually of lower caste. In the case of Sparta--as per what I've read, specifically and most recently: Persian Fire--pederasty was institutionalized for boys and acceptable for girls as long as there was no vaginal penetration.

    The absolute belief that "adult sex with pubescent teenagers damages them" is moronic. It has been done for eons up until very recently. What it DOES do is potentially take advantage of those with typically less developed judgment than the rest of society. Sex with pre-pubescent teenagers is another story and I have to believe that it is damaging in many ways.

    In the case of Greece and Rome, you're dealing with societies with very different sexual mores than we do today. In each society, there were generally regarded as three primary classes (castes): Nobility, commoners and slaves. For a Patrician in Rome to have anal sex with his boy slave, or to pay for sex with a Plebian boy, was no issue so long as the nobleman was the one doing the penetration.

    In the case of Sparta the actual act of penetrating boys in the Agoge is debated, but there was institutionalized pederasty. This was seen as a way of making them submissive to the authority of the institution and the adult warrior they were partnered with. For the most part, it worked. This kind of abuse, even in modern day, has been shown to twist the minds of the abused to the point where they generally "attach" themselves to their abuser.

  15. John99 Banned Banned

    Your link says it is highly debated.

    I think it even spelled the word wrong.
  16. superstring01 Moderator

    That's why I said the actual fucking of boys is debated. But, EVERYTHING I've read, including "Persian Fire" written by a well known historian points out the fact that, more than likely, it did happen. It's the extent to which boys were used as sex toys that is unknown.

    Moreover, Spartans owned slaves. Do you honestly believe that young slaves weren't used for sex by horny masters?


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