Athenian Pederasty - Practice

Practice

In Athens the practice of pederasty was more freely constructed than the more formal Cretan and Spartan types. Men courted boys at the gymnasia or the palaestrae, at symposia, at the baths and on the streets of the city. Fathers wanting to protect their sons from unwanted advances provided them with a slave guard, titled "pedagogos," to escort the boy in his travels.

The courtship often was fiery, involving street fights with other suitors, sleeping on the threshold of the beloved as a show of sincerity, and composing and reciting love poems. In encountering the boy, the suitor would attempt to seduce him by reaching up with one hand to turn his face to look him straight in the eye, and with the other reach down to stimulate him sexually, a variant of the standard pleading form in which one would grasp the knees of the person with one hand and turn his face with the other. This ritual has been named by historians the "up and down gesture" and is routinely encountered in depictions on vases.

The erotic and sexual aspect of the relationship, usually consisting of embracing, fondling and intercrural sex, ended when the youth reached adulthood, and evolved into a lifelong friendship (philia).

Read more about this topic:  Athenian Pederasty

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