Sex Education Links
In Ancient Greek art, there is a lot of phallus or penis worship by men. Men are generally depicted naked, including
soldiers. Married or virtuous women are depicted clothed, even if depicted in the same artwork with their naked
husbands. Prostitutes were generally depicted naked with naked men. Men liked to depict their own penises as
dainty little penises in later Greek art. Early Greek art (5th century BC) tells a different tale. In the artwork
from that timeframe, men gave themselves oversized phalluses. Sometimes they had double penises. They depicted
plants as being penises in the ground. They even depicted animals as having penis features, such as a horse with
an erect penis for a head or birds with erect penises for heads.
The Dionysus cult had a public parade every year in which the men carried the largest penis possible by a team of
men in a parade through the cities. On the ass which Hephaestus rides, the animal has a penis erection. Even in
Aphrodite's temple on Acropolis, the altars were topped with phalluses.
To Ancient Greece, the penis was the main symbol of fertility and they even created dildos constructed from leather
and marketed them. The male idea of female sexuality was that Greek men believed that women envied their penises.
Men created artwork displaying women with dildos. Female homosexuality and female masturbation are rarely depicted
unless seen with a dildo.
Rape was common in Ancient Greece and seen by men as a "right of domination" by Greek men. Zeus, the god, was the
master rapist who raped many women. He raped Leda in the form of a swan. He raped Danae disguised as the rain.
He raped Alkmen disguised as her own husband. Zeus even raped other men, such as Ganymede. To the common man,
they usually staked out water wells and then raped the women when they went to get water. It was also common to
rape prostitutes, slaves, and their own wives.
Hera was the queen of heaven, wife of Zeus, and the protectress of wifehood. But Hera was not actually the mother
of the gods as Zeus somehow had the womb in his penis and gave birth to them.
Aphrodite was the goddess of beauty and love, she gave life, joy, love, beauty, fertility, grace, restoration of
life, immortality, prosperity, and charm. She was the goddess of sexual love. Aphrodite is said to have risen from
the foam of the sea. The metaphor means that she was a foreign goddess, an imported goddess. Some believe that she
was imported from Phoenicia.
Cupid is said to have predated Aphrodite, although the two are commonly depicted together. When Aphrodite arose
from the sea, Cupid met her at the shore. Cupid is represented by a beautiful youth.
Athena was the goddess of battles. She had wisdom and intellect. She protected the arts and the sciences.
By the 5th century, Athena was stripped of her feminity by men. In artwork her genital areas were robed,
breasts covered. Sometimes she was shown wearing a corset of snakes covering her breasts. Other times men
gave her a Medusa-like head with snakes around her head.
Diana was the goddess of girlhood and virginity.
The father of the daughter paid another man to take the daughter off his hands in the form of a dowry.
After that point, the woman became the property of the husband. Athenian women usually married at age
fourteen or fifteen. Spartan women waited until age eighteen. Spartan women, in general, had more
respectability. But the rest of Greek women had low status. Women were not allowed to share in social
entertainment with their husbands. Married women were not allowed to walk the streets alone but had to
be accompanied by a slave or attendant. Women were not allowed to be educated, nor taught to read or
write. It was a common practice for Greek men to lock up their own wife in the home when they left.
Respectable women were not to show any flesh but to keep their bodies covered, even in the art depictions
of married women having sex with their own husbands, the women were clothed while their husband was naked.
A wife's sole responsibilities and duty in life was to bear the legitimate children and labor in the
home. Some married women were able to escape these chores by passing them on to slaves. Women were
expected to give birth to male children and female infantcide was common. In other cases, female babies
were sold to brothel owners or sold into prostitution at birth.
Wives constantly had to compete sexually for their own husbands with prostitutes and slaves in their
own homes. There was a lot of violence against women. Some wives were killed by their husbands. A lot
of women died in childbirth. When the younger women were forced into marriage at an early age, the
younger wives tended to die more frequently (except in Sparta, where marriage age was 18). Young girls
were taught that dying in childbirth was martyrdom.
Prostitution: The Hetaera
Greek men believed that they had refined prostitution into the "hetaera" or a groomed prostitute. Hetaera
were for pleasure, concubines for men's daily bodily care, and the wives were for bearing legitimate
children. Another Greek word for prostitute is "earth striker" or "chamaitype" which suggests that
the prostitutes were not in beds, nor on fine couches, but had sex on the bare earth and dirt. In Pompeii
brothels had beds made of stone. Girl babies were sold to brothel owners.
Men created a lot of artwork depicting sexual relations with prostitutes. Some simply show hetaera
urinating in pots, showing the male preoccupation with golden showers. Men did artwork of anal sex
with hetaera. Doggie-style was the Athenians favorite position in their artwork with the hetaera.
Beastiality was even painted in artwork of men penetrating deer, horses, and cows.
Apparently, many Greek hetaera disliked giving fellatio. It was a common practice to beat prostitutes
if they refused to provide that particular service or refused to lower the price of that service. Anal
rape and forcing a prostitute to give fellatio was also commonly practiced. Even in men's own artwork
of the hetaera, the did depict themselves beating various prostitutes and raping them. It was common to
beat prostitutes with fists, sticks and sandals. Some men did become attached to their prostitutes and
painted them in more favorable and intimate artwork.
Hetaera were usually slaves from the poorest classes. Some Greek men bought brothel prostitutes as
concubines. Peripatetic prostitutes were streetwalkers soliciting Greek men on the streets. Temple or
consecrated prostitutes charged the highest prices. In Corinth, it was said that the temple held over
a thousand consecrated prostitutes as Corinth was a ship city between the Aegean Sea.
Even though male homosexuality was common in Ancient Greece, it was censored in their artwork to an
extent. In literature, it is called "love of a man for a man." In paintings, the homosexual men are
depicted clothed together, except for homosexual prostitutes who are depicted naked.
When homosexual men wrote about their love for other men the most loved boys were usually age 12-14.
Some homosexual men wouldn't even try to have sex with a boy over the age of 17.
For Further Readings on Ancient Greece:
Faraone, Christopher. (1999) Ancient Greek Love Magic. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Flaceliere, Robert. (1962) Love in Ancient Greece. New York: Crow Publishers.
Garrison, Daniel H. (2000) Sexual Culture in Ancient Greece. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
Halperin, David; Winkler, John; Zeitlin, Froma. (eds.) (1990) Before Sexuality: The Construction
of Erotic Experience in Ancient Greece. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Keuls, Eva C. (1985) The Reign of the Phallus. New York: Harper & Row.
Licht, Hans. (1963) Sexual Life in Ancient Greece. New York: Barnes & Noble.
Louys, Pierre. (1933) Aphrodite. New York: The Modern Library.
Robinson, C. E. (1933) Everyday Life in Ancient Greece. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Thornton, Bruce S. (1997) The Myth of Ancient Greek Sexuality. Boulder: Westview Press.
Winkler, John J. (1990) The Constraints of Desire: the Anthropology of Sex and Gender in Ancient
Greece. New York: Routledge.
Ancient Greece Links
Ancient Greek Eroticism
Ancient Greek Links
Aphrodite in Ancient Greek Art
Archaeology of Ancient Greece
Art: Ancient Greece Online Sculpture Catalog - Perseus
Art: Ancient Greece Online Vase Catalog - Perseus
Brothels, Baths and Babes: Prostitution in Byzantine Holy Land
Exploring Ancient World Cultures
From Myth to Eternity: The Olympians
Greek Pseudo Homosexuality
Homosexuality in Ancient Greece
Images of Aphrodite
Love & Sex in Art in Greece
Maecenas: Images of Ancient Greece & Rome
Male Love in Ancient Greece
Medicine in Ancient Greece
Poems of Sappho of Lesbos: 1925 Translation Online
Women & Gender in the Ancient World
Womens' Dress in Ancient Greece
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