Which ancient Greek philosophers were homosexual

Homosexuality in Ancient Greece: But they weren't allowed to take money ...


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From Gerhard Prause

It is noticeable that a German translation of the scientific study by the Englishman Kenneth J. Dover on homosexuality in ancient Greece appeared only after half a decade, which then received hardly any attention and only a few buyers. The topic made headlines at the time, after the suspicion of homosexual behavior alone led to the dismissal of a four-star general and thus provoked what was probably the most embarrassing scandal in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany. The rising emotions suddenly revealed the level of uncertainty, prejudice and taboos that still make access to this complex difficult.

And this applies not only to the present, but also to antiquity, also in research, especially in Germany, who to this day find it particularly difficult to reconcile the erotic relationships of Greek men and boys with Winckelmann's moral glorification of Greece by "noble." Simplicity and quiet greatness ", yes to admit it at all. It is true that it was a German classical philologist, Erich Bethe, who already three quarters of a century ago denounced the "moral tone" as the "mortal enemy of science" in his essay on Dorian boyfriends, which had adversely affected research into this phenomenon. But almost nothing has changed since then.

"In no other subject seems to me so disturbed the ability of scientists to discern differences and to draw conclusions," writes Dover, given the widespread but misconception that homosexual relationships were a "Doric sin" in ancient Greece, which in Athens only "indulged a tiny minority" and who "before the law ... and generally regarded as shameful". He also declares that the view that homosexuality or pederasty was forbidden in most Greek cities is just as wrong. "Love of Greek culture and the inability or unwillingness to recognize behavioral differences, to which great importance was attached in this culture, as such," has led to such misjudgments. Kenneth J. Dover, born in 1920, President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and President of the from 1978 to 1980 British Academy, comes to different, more differentiated results in his investigation after he has opened up and carefully evaluated all available sources for this topic, which has so far been neglected in research;

Kenneth J. Dover: "Homosexuality in Ancient Greece"; from English by Susan Worcester; Verlag C. H. Beck, Munich 1983; 244 pp., 48 DM.

The sources (from the 8th to the 2nd century BC) are depictions in vase painting (in which the subject was apparently very popular), corresponding scenes in the works of archaic and classical poets, descriptions or opinions in history books, philosophical writings and in comedies (such as in the dialogues of Plato and in the plays of Aristophanes), furthermore vase inscriptions and graffiti, but above all court speeches.

The broadest space in Dover's book takes up a trial against Timarchus, an Athenian, from the year 346 BC. In Athens. The real reason for this trial arose from Philip II's war of conquest against the Greeks. It was about the terms of peace that Philip had agreed in the early summer of 346 with an embassy from Athens, which also included the famous rhetors and politicians Aeschines and Demosthenes. The Athenians were so disagreed with the conditions that they wanted to bring their envoys, especially Aeschines, to justice for treason. The driving force behind this was Demosthenes, who had distanced himself from the other delegation members after his return from Macedonia. The main accuser should be the aforementioned Timarchus.