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Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press (June 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252067401
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252067402
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,130,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
In the course of a few centuries the foundations of Western civilization were laid in Ancient Greece. Philosophy, democracy, architecture, sculpture, science, literature. Male love was very much a part of Greek culture -- and William Percy boldly argues that pedagogical eros, the relationship between adolescent youths and their older mentors, helped to create and sustain the "Greek miracle". This is a very thorough and scholarly book. It fully belongs in the company of the other great works on the topic: John Addington Symonds, A Problem in Greek Ethics (1883); Hans Licht (pseud. of Paul Brandt), Sexual Life in Ancient Greece (English edition 1932); and K. J. Dover, Greek Homosexuality (1978).
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Richard Harrold on March 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am by no means a Greek historian or scholar, but I find thisbook to be exceptionally well documented, and even in those areaswhere the author admits the hard evidence is scant, he carefully lays out his hypothesis to support his conclusions. The book provides a fascinating insight into how previous historians downplayed or ignored the evidence of wide-spread pederasty and male-male relations during the Archaic period, particularly when references to the phenomenon were quite clear in Aristotle's and Socrates' works. The author also clearly differentiates "pederasty" (sex between postpubescent youth and adult males) from "pedophilia" (sex between prepubescent boys and adult males), noting the evidence showing that pedophilia was not a condoned behavior in Archaic Greece. This work is an excellent place to begin for anyone who wishes to trace how previous civilizations not only tolerated, but in some instances even encouraged, male-male relationships until the purveyors of the Judeo-Christian model vigorously proselytized their beliefs and shunned the behavior out of the mainstream. Whether a reader believes homosexuality is a moral aberration is irrelevant. If the reader can cast aside his or her preconceptions, this becomes a truly fascinating work.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Emile Lucien on November 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As the late Irish writer, scholar and philosopher, Iris Murdoch, observed, early Greek history `is a game with very few pieces, where the skill of the player lies in complicating the rules'. It is the nature of this `game' which underlies William Armstrong Percy's detailed examination of the origin and spread of pederasty in ancient Greece. Sparse and fragmentary evidence together with the consequent difficulties of interpretation pose particular problems for the objective historian: speculative play is inevitable, and to some extent, the juggling of sources as a means of furthering the author's historical predilections.
It is nonetheless an impressive study in which the technicalities do not obscure - for the less informed reader - the enjoyment of a closely argued and richly diversified discussion. Percy's espousal of the theory of a seventh century Cretan origin of institutionalized pederasty subsequently spread by the Spartans to Greece, is persuasive rather than compelling. As is clearly acknowledged in the Introduction, the Archaic period provides virtually no evidence: reliance is placed on later writers such as Plutarch, Lucian and Athenaeus. Historical texts survive in many versions about which scholars disagree more often than not: `almost every detail of early Greek history, especially of Greek sexuality is open to doubt and indeed is hotly debated'. Repeated references to Aristotle's observation about the curbing of overpopulation by encouraging male sexual relations does little to advance the argument.
Percy is an enthusiast for his subject, though in no sense an apologist.
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