James Robson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under Creative Commons licence. A new exhibition at the British Museum promises to lift the lid on what beauty meant for the ancient Greeks. But while we gaze at the serene marble statues on display — straining male torsos and soft female flesh — are we seeing what the ancients saw? The feelings that beautiful faces and bodies rouse in us no doubt seem both personal and instinctive — just as they presumably did for the ancient Greeks who first made and enjoyed these artworks.
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The Truth About Sex in Ancient Greece
29 Pieces Of Erotic Art That Prove People Have Always Loved Sex
The sexual habits of people in Ancient Greece — from prostitution to pillow talk — are explored in a new book written by Paul Chrystal. Exploring the many layers of sex and sexuality in various Greek societies — from the Minoan civilisation through to Sparta and Hellenistic Greece — In Bed with the Ancient Greeks examines homosexuality, pederasty, mythological sex and sex in Greek philosophy and religion. In the beginning was sex. To the ancient Greek mythologisers, sexuality, love and sex were inextricably connected with the creation of the earth, the heavens and the underworld. Simultaneously, Zeus, the top god, wasted no time in asserting his dominance over the other gods both male and female. His cavalier attitude towards female sexuality, as manifested in serial rape and seduction Zeus raped Leda, daughter of the Aetolian king Thestius, in the guise of a swan; raped Danae, a princess of Argos, disguised as the rain, and raped Ganymede, a male mortal set a precedent for centuries of mortal male domination and female subservience.
Ancient Greek Eroticism - An Introduction
According to Aristophanes, human beings used to have four arms, four legs, and two sets of genitals, either two male sets, or two female, or one of each. But Zeus split everyone in two, forcing them to wander around on just two legs looking for their other half, with their sexual orientation determined by the genitals of that alter ego they yearned for. Sex hasn't changed much; we are still on that same quest, and many of the sexual attitudes from two and a half thousand years ago are still around today - but there are also some radical differences. Many Greek philosophers were lukewarm on the subject of sex.
The ancient Greeks were never at a loss for words when it came to love and lust — and an exhibition that opened in Athens today laying bare the practice of sex in classical times through an unprecedented collection of eye-popping art partly explains why. Eros, the god of love and the great loosener of limbs, was many things: irresistible, tender, beautiful, excruciating, maddening, merciless and bittersweet. There was no position, no touch, no predilection too outre to pay homage to him.