By Louis Crompton
How have significant civilizations of the final millennia taken care of those that have been drawn to their very own intercourse? In a story travel de strength, Louis Crompton chronicles the lives and achievements of gay women and men along a darker background of persecution, as he compares the Christian West with the cultures of historic Greece and Rome, Arab Spain, imperial China, and pre-Meiji Japan. historical Greek tradition celebrated same-sex love in historical past, literature, and artwork, making excessive claims for its ethical impression. against this, Jewish spiritual leaders within the 6th century B.C.E. branded male homosexuality as a capital offense and, later, blamed it for the destruction of the biblical urban of Sodom. while those traditions collided in Christian Rome in the course of the overdue empire, the tragic repercussions have been felt all through Europe and the recent international. Louis Crompton lines Church-inspired mutilation, torture, and burning of "sodomites" in sixth-century Byzantium, medieval France, Renaissance Italy, and in Spain less than the Inquisition. yet Protestant experts have been both devoted to the execution of homosexuals within the Netherlands, Calvin's Geneva, and Georgian England. the basis reason was once non secular superstition, abetted by means of political ambition and sheer greed. but from this cauldron of fears and needs, homoerotic topics surfaced within the paintings of the Renaissance masters--Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Sodoma, Cellini, and Caravaggio--often intertwined with Christian motifs. Homosexuality additionally flourished within the courtroom intrigues of Henry III of France, Queen Christina of Sweden, James I and William III of britain, Queen Anne, and Frederick the nice. Anti-homosexual atrocities dedicated within the West distinction starkly with the extra tolerant traditions of pre-modern China and Japan, as published in poetry, fiction, and artwork and within the lives of emperors, shoguns, Buddhist monks, students, and actors. within the samurai culture of Japan, Crompton makes transparent, the party of same-sex love rivaled that of historic Greece. Sweeping in scope, elegantly crafted, and lavishly illustrated, Homosexuality and Civilization is a gorgeous exploration of a wealthy and negative earlier. (20031130)
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Extra info for Homosexuality and Civilization
54 But all did not go smoothly in this affair, and the sudden turn in feeling at the end of this eulogy is also Shakespearean: I give you this, for what? to be reviled,— To be betrayed and lied to, like a child. The poems of Book II alternate between admonition, complaints (you are ﬁckle and ungrateful), pleas (don’t torture me, someday you’ll want a boy to favor you), and a small ration of praise (you are lovable and handsome). ”55 But others are anguished. At one moment boys are commended as more loyal than women, at another derided as faithless and cruel.
E a r ly g r e e c e land or a rabbit or a cockerel. 29 On another vase, a boy raises his head to receive a kiss from a handsomely coifed youth, presumably of the aristocratic warrior caste. 32 One striking design shows a seated naked man, with a powerful physique and an erection, titillating the genitals of an athlete who stands between his thighs and throws his arm around his neck. In most cases the artist portrays an older and a younger male. Suitors are not always bearded adults, however.
15 But how, then, does the dramatic detail of the threatened rape of the angels ﬁt into this view of Sodom’s guilt as social oppression? 16 Such assaults are seen not as illicit pleasure but as a violent means of warding off intruders—just as Roman gardens sported phallic statues of the god Priapus inscribed with threats of rape to ward off thieves and trespassers. The book of Ezekiel, which made Sodom a city heartless toward the needy, is generally dated about 590 bce. But not until the writings of Philo is homosexuality unequivocally represented as intrinsic to Sodom’s lifestyle and its preeminent sin—the view adopted by the fathers of the early church.