Sexual Fluidity In Ancient Greece Essay

2366 words - 10 pages

Introduction
The Red Figure and Black Figure pottery styles were prevalent in Ancient Greece staring around 600 BC. Black figure was a style that preceded red-figure pottery in which the artist left the background of the pot the color of the clay and the figures were painted with slip as well as incised into the pot so that after a 3 part firing process the figures would come out black and the pot as red. Red figure pottery followed this style in which the artist painted the background of the pot in slip and detailed the figures in diluted slip, leaving the majority of figure bodies the color of the clay and so the figures were red and the background was black.
Red Figure and Black Figure Pottery, especially kraters, have many depictions of men chasing other men and phallic symbolism which seem to point towards open homosexuality in Greece. These images may be seen as a prevalent taboo and a steer towards male dominance in Greece. These depictions along with gods and humans openly engaging in these homosexual love affairs on a piece of pottery that is displayed as a center piece lend evidence to suggest that Greece was a society of Open Sexuality.

Male Homoeroticism
There has been an establishment of two different approaches to homosexuality in Greece: historical approach and synchronistic approach. The historical approach involves searching for the root to pederasty in ancient civilizations to reconstruct a timeline on the topic, whereas synchronistic, which will be in this paper, concentrates on pederasty in 5th and 4th century Athens in terms of it being a part of the social life of Greece . By using the synchronistic we can narrow the scope of homosexuality in Greece to focus on homosexuality as a part of social life and everyday life and to look at the importance and concentration of homosexuality in this specific time period.
Pederasty and homosexuality is a popular social aspect in Greek mythology. Greek mythology is a window into the values and norms in the society of Ancient Greek. It is through this window that a general understanding can be found on the social structure of Greece in terms of sexual activity and relationships. There are many myths about Greek heroes, commoners and even gods engaging in these activities. A well-preserved Greek myth is the Myth of Ganymede. Ganymede was a young man, the son of Tros, who was a well-known for his participation in Greek games and his handsomeness. As the myth goes Zeus saw Ganymede, from his throne in Olympus, in the field of Mount Ida, is entranced by his thighs and either sent an eagle or transformed into an eagle himself. The eagle swooped down and grabbed Ganymede with his talons and took him back to Olympus to be Zeus’ lover and cup-bearer. This story was popular in art forms including the Red- Figure krater painted by the Berlin Painter c.490-480BC. Zeus was not the only god of Greek mythology who sought out young male lovers. Poseidon pursued Pelops, Hercules pursued Mylas...

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