Keywords: Pederasy

Pederasty - encyclopedia entry


The term pederasty embraces a wide range of erotic practices between adult males and adolescent boys. Pederastic relations can have widely dissimilar manifestations –  they can be spiritual or materialistic, lawful or transgressive, loving or commercial, compassionate or abusive –  and have been documented from prehistory to modern times.

Rendered as "age-structured homosexuality" it is, along with gender-structured relations and egalitarian relations, regarded as one of the three main subdivisions of homosexuality proposed by anthropologists.

One common feature of societies featuring age-structured homosexuality is that they also featured age-structured heterosexuality. Invariably, the cultural practice of an older man being the dominant partner of a younger boy mirrors the practice of an older man being the dominant husband of a younger woman.

Historical synopsis

In antiquity, pederasty as an educational institution for the inculcation of moral and cultural values, as well as a sexual diversion, was practiced from the Archaic period onwards in Ancient Greece. As idealized by the Greeks, pederasty was a relationship and bond–whether sexual or chaste–between an adolescent boy and an adult man outside of his immediate family. While most Greek men engaged in relations with both women and boys, exceptions to the rule were known, some avoiding relations with women and others rejecting relations with boys. In Rome relations with boys took a more informal and less civic, often illicit path.

Analogous relations were documented among other ancient peoples, such as the ThraciansOvid, Metamorphoses, 10.67-85 , the Celts and various Germanic peoples such the Heruli and the Taifali.Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum, XXXI 9.5 According to Plutarch, the ancient Persians, too, had long practiced it (though according to Herodotus they learned pederasty from the GreeksHerodotus, Histories, I.135).

Opposition to the carnal aspects of pederasty existed concurrently with the practice, both within and outside of the cultures in which it was found. Among the Greeks, a few cities prohibited pederasty, and in others, such as Sparta, some claimed that only the chaste form was permitted. Likewise, Plato's writings devalue and finally condemn sexual intercourse with the boys one loved, while glorifying the self-disciplined lover who abstained from consummating the relationship.

The Judaeo-Christian faiths also condemned sodomy (while defining that term variously), a theme later promulgated by Islam and, later still, by the Baha'i Faith. Pederasty in particular was a target. The second century preacher Clement of Alexandria used pederasty as an indictment of Greek religion: "For your gods did not abstain even from boys. One loved Hylas, another Hyacinthus, another Pelops, another Chrysippus, another Ganymedes. These are the gods your wives are to worship!" Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks 2.28P The early Christian emperors quashed pederasty, together with the other manifestations of Greco-Roman religion and culture, as part of the imposition of Christianity as a state religion. Early legal codes prescribed harsh penalties for violators. The law code of Visigoth king Chindasuinth called for both partners to be "emasculated without delay, and be delivered up to the bishop of the diocese where the deed was committed to be placed in solitary confinement in a prison." [1] At Rome, the punishment was burning at the stake.

More recently, pederasty was widespread in Moorish Spain Arié, Rachel. España musulmana (Siglos VIII-XV) in Historia de España, ed. Manuel Tuñón de Lara, III. Barcelona: Labor, 1984., and Tuscany and northern Italy during the RenaissanceMichael Rocke, Forbidden Friendships: Homosexuality and male Culture in Renaissance Florence, Oxford, 1996 Guido Ruggiero, ''The Boundaries of Eros: Sex Crime and Sexuality in Renaissance Venice, Oxford, 1985. The Baha'i faith also forbids pederasty. Indeed, it is the only mention of any type of homosexuality by Baha'u'llah. "We shrink, for very shame, from treating of the subject of boys. Fear ye the Merciful, O peoples of the world! Commit not that which is forbidden you in Our Holy Tablet, and be not of those who rove distractedly in the wilderness of their desires."Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 58

Elsewhere, it was practiced in pre-Modern Japan until the Meiji restoration T. Watanabe & J. Iwata, The Love of the Samurai: A Thousand Years of Japanese Homosexuality, London: GMP Publishers, 1987, in Mughal India until the British colonization, amongst the Aztecs and Maya prior to the Spanish conquest of Mexico and in China and Central Asia until the early 20th century. In the Islamic world spiritual pederasty was incorporated into many mystic Sufi teachings. The tradition of pederasty persists to the present day in certain areas of Afghanistan, the Middle East, North Africa, and Melanesia.

Sexual expression between adults and adolescents is not well studied and since the 1990s has been often confused with pedophilia. Such relationships raise issues of morality and functionality, agency for the youth, and parental authority. They may also raise issues of legality in those cases where the minor is below the age of consent. Though they have been deemed beneficial by, for example, ancient philosophers, Japanese samurai and modern writers such as Oscar Wilde, today, many disapprove of them and claim that they have a negative effect on the psychological development of the youth. A study contradicting both positions, authored by Bruce Rind and others, was published by the American Psychological Association in 1998. See Historical pederastic relationships and Pederasty in the modern world''

Etymology and usage

"Pederasty" derives from the combination of pais () (Greek for 'boy') with erastÄ"s () (Greek for 'lover'; cf. eros). Late Latin pæderasta was borrowed in the sixteenth century directly from Plato's classical Greek in The Symposium. The word first appears in the English language in the Renaissance, as pæderastie (e.g.: in Samuel Purchas' Pilgrimage.), in the sense of sexual relations between men and boys.In modern academic parlance, "pederasty" is used as a generic term to describe the cultural phenomenon of erotic relationships between men and adolescent boys, wherever encountered. However, dictionary definitions of the practice range from moralistic ones based on the Christian discourse on homosexuality (Oxford Compact Edition, 1971, gives, "Unnatural connexion with a boy; sodomy") to ones focused on the mechanics of a sexual act (Merriam-Webster (on-line edition) gives, "Pederast: one that practices anal intercourse especially with a boy"). Definitions such as these have been criticized as "a homophobic hijacking of a word originally introduced as a polite, learned term, an alternative to ugly words like 'bugger' and 'Sodomite'"

The modern popular restriction of that definition to the sexual component of such relationships is also due on one hand to the primacy of sexological discourse in contemporary western culture, and on the other to the demise of pederasty as a social institution. Thus in its contemporary sense, pederasty figures as a sub-category of what some sexologists term ephebophilia, the attraction of an adult towards adolescents, regardless of sex. Nonetheless this medicalization of desire is not widely accepted, and these categories do not figure in any international catalogue of mental dysfunctions.

Social class factors

Pederastic relationships in a number of different societies were identified with the upper classes, or with class difference between the partners. This class difference at times was seen as facilitating the relationship by providing upward mobility when the man was from the upper class and the boy from a poor family. In other cases it became a symbol of the power of love to transcend class distinctions, as in pre-modern Japan where the fact that high-born lovers entered into devoted relationships with boys from the lower classes was held up to admiration.

In ancient Sparta pederasty was practiced by the aristocracy as an educational device. In Athens the slaves were expressly forbidden from entering into pederastic relations with the free-born boys. In medieval Islamic civilization, pederastic relations "were so readily accepted in upper-class circles that there was often little or no effort to conceal their existence."Marshall Hodgson, The Venture of Islam, Chicago and London, 1974; 2:146

The Ancient World


Ganymede rolling a hoop and bearing aloft a cockerel - a love gift from Zeus (in pursuit, on obverse of vase).
Attic red-figure crater, 500-490 BCE; Painter of Berlin; Louvre, Paris)

The Greeks

Main articles: Pederasty in Ancient Greece and Philosophy of Greek pederasty

The ancient Greeks, in the context of the pederastic city-states, were the first to describe, study, systematize, and establish pederasty as an institution. The topic of pederasty was the subject of extensive analysis. Some of the principal dilemmas discussed were:

*Is pederasty right or wrong?*Which form should pederasty take, chaste or sexual?*What kind of sexual acts are legitimate? *Is pederasty superior to the love for women?Plato was an early critic of sexual intercourse in pederastic relationships, proposing that men's love of boys avoid all sexual expression and instead progress from admiration of the lover's specific virtues to love of virtue itself in abstract form.Pederastic relationships were dyadic mentorships. These mentorships were sanctioned by the state, and consecrated by the religious establishment. See Mythology of same-sex love. The pederastic relationship also had to be approved by the boy's father. Boys entered into such relationships in their teens, around the same age that Greek girls were given in marriage. The mentor was expected to teach the young man or to see to his education, and to give him certain appropriate ceremonial gifts. Often such relationships took place in a military context. See Homosexuality in the militaries of ancient Greece.Pederasty was the idealized form of an age-structured homoeroticism that, like all social institutions, had other, less idyllic, manifestations, such as prostitution or the use of one’s slave boys.


At the palaestra
Youth, holding a net shopping bag filled with walnuts, a love gift, draws close to a man who reaches out to fondle him; Attic red-figure plate 530-430 BCE; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

The physical dimension ranged from fully chaste to sexual intercourse. Pederastic art usually shows the man standing, grasping the boy's chin with one hand and reaching to fondle his genitals with the other. Recent research has unearthed art in which there was, in fact, reciprocation of desire.Pederastic relationships were known throughout most of ancient Greece. The state was said to benefit from the fact that the friendship functioned as a restraint on the youth. In Sparta, for example, if he committed a crime it was not he but his lover who was punished. The army was potentiated by the practice, as the lovers fought side by side, with each vying to shine before the other.Pederastic couples were also said to be feared by tyrants, because the bond between the friends was stronger than that of obedience to a tyrannical ruler. Plutarch gives as examples the Athenians Harmodius and Aristogeiton. Others, such as Aristotle, claimed that some states encouraged pederasty as a means of population control, by directing love and sexual desire into non-procreative channels, a feature of pederasty later employed by other cultures, such as the Siwan, and perhaps the Melanesian.

The Romans


Zeus abducting Ganymede
Roman mosaic

In Roman times, pederasty largely lost its status as a ritual part of education — a process already begun by the increasingly sophisticated and cosmopolitan Greeks — and was instead seen as an activity primarily driven by one's sexual desires and competing with desire for women. The social acceptance of pederastic relations waxed and waned during the centuries. Conservative thinkers condemned it — along with other forms of indulgence. Tacitus attacks the Greek customs of "gymnasia et otia et turpes amores" (palaestrae, idleness, and shameful loves). Tacitus, Annales, 14.20 The emperors, however, indulged in male love — most of it of a pederastic nature — almost to a man. As Edward Gibbon mentions, of the first fifteen emperors, "Claudius was the only one whose taste in love was entirely correct" — the implication being that he was the only one not to take men or boys as lovers. Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, footnote on p. 76, vol. 1Other writers spent no effort censuring pederasty per se, but praised or blamed its various aspects. Martial appears to have favored it, going as far as to essentialize not the sexual use of the catamite but his nature as a boy: upon being discovered by his wife "inside a boy" and offered the "same thing" by her, he retorts with a list of mythological personages who, despite being married, took young male lovers, and concludes by rejecting her offer since "a woman merely has two vaginas." Martial, Epigrams, XI.43 Among the Romans, pederasty reached its last zenith during the time of hellenophile emperor Hadrian. A man whose passion for boys paralleled that of his predecessor, Trajan, he fell in love with Antinous, a young teenage Greek, and had his eromenos deified upon the latter's premature death.


The rise of Christianity led to the suppression of the practice of pederasty by the Byzantine emperors, as it was one of the mainstays of a classical pagan culture which the church fathers saw as in conflict with Biblical teaching. Such teaching includes references to the Old Testament, in which Leviticus decreed the pain of death for a number of sexual improprieties including carnal relations between men, as well as the New Testament teachings of Paul. Even speech about pederasty was suppressed: "Conversation about deeds of wickedness is appropriately termed filthy [shameful] speaking, as talk about adultery and pederasty and the like," and was to be "put to silence."Clement of Alexandria, The Paedagogos, II.6

Other venues

Pederasty in ancient times was not the exclusive domain of the Greeks and Romans. Athenaeus in the Deipnosophists states that the Celts also partook and despite the beauty of their women, preferred the love of boys. Some would regularly bed down on their animal skins with a lover on each side. Other writers also attest to Celtic pederasty. (Aristotle, Politics, II 6.6. Athen. XIII 603a., Strabo (iv. 199), and Diodorus Siculus (v. 32)). Some moderns have interpreted Athenaeus as meaning that the Celts had a boy on each side, but that interpretation is questioned by Hubbard, who reads it as meaning that they had a boy one side and a woman on the other. (Hubbard, 2003; p.79)Persian pederasty and its origins was debated even in ancient times. Herodotus claimed they had learned it from the Greeks: "...and [the Persians'] luxurious practices are of all kinds, and all borrowed: the Greeks taught them pederasty." Herodotus, Histories, I.135, tr. A.D. Godley However, Plutarch asserts that the Persians used eunuch boys "the Greek way" long before contact between the cultures. Plutarch, De Malig. Herod. xiii.ll In either case, Plato claimed they saw fit to forbid it to the inhabitants of the lands they occupied, since "It does not suit the rulers that their subjects should think noble thoughts, nor that they should form the strong friendships and attachments which these activities, and in particular love, tend to produce."Plato, Symposium, 182c, trans. Tom Griffith

Post-classical and modern forms

The record of pederastic practices, whether as a continuation of the Mediterranean traditions or as independent native traditions, as in China and Japan, expands greatly, due to the better preservation of more recent literary and historical materials. Before the 20th century, relationships with a more or less pederastic element were the usual pattern of male same-sex love.

Western Europe


Amor Vincit Omnia (Love Conquers All)
Caravaggio, 1602 - 1603; Oil on canvas; Staatliche Museen, Berlin
Painted for a patron who veiled the work, revealing it only to selected viewers. Love, embodied by a wanton boy, triumphs over all human endeavors: war, science, music, government.

Pederastic eros has been the source of a number of social, artistic and literary achievements of the West. The Renaissance, with its rediscovery of the ancient world, was a fertile time for such relations. Among the luminaries of the time who had romantic liaisons with youths were Théophile de Viau, Marsilio Ficino, Benvenuto Cellini, Caravaggio, and Michelangelo. A philosophic defense — possibly tongue-in-cheek — of the practice was mounted by Antonio Rocco, in his infamous L'Alcibiade, fanciullo a scola (Alcibiades the Schoolboy) a reasoned polemic in which a schoolmaster gradually overcomes his handsome pupil's objections to carnal relations. At the same time, the Catholic Church, working through the Inquisition courts as well as through the civil judiciary, used every means at its disposal to fight what it considered to be the "corruption of sodomy". Men were fined or jailed; boys were flogged. The harshest punishments, such as burning at the stake, were usually reserved for crimes committed against the very young, or by violence.Renaissance Florence in particular was famous for its high incidence of pederasty. So widespread was pederasty that in 1432 the city established "Gli Ufficiali di Notte" (The Officers of the Night) to root out the practice of sodomy. From that year until 1502, the number of men charged with sodomy numbered greater than 17,000, of which 3,000 were convicted. The prevalence of pederasty in Renaissance Florence is perhaps best conveyed by the fact that the Germans adopted the word Florenzer, when they were talking about a pederast. The Italians however noticed the tastes of their visitors. As a result, the Neapolitans when speaking of pederasty, called it Il vizio inglese, "the English vice". (R. F. Burton, Terminal Essay) The English, not to be outdone, blamed the "corruption" on the French and the Italians: Jonathan Swift, in his satire, A Tale of a Tub, posits a great academy consisting of "first, a large pederastic school, with French and Italian masters."In England, Marlowe's poetry defied religious proscriptions, flaunting love for beautiful boys and celebrating their androgynous beauty. Shakespeare's poetry, like his drama, takes a more complex view of character and desire. Concurrent with their bisexual erotics, they assert a normative heterosexual morality, as a "fair youth" is urged to give up sexual adventure, marry, and father children.Many candidates have been suggested for the identity of the "onlie begetter" to whom Shakespeare's sonnets are dedicated. Oscar Wilde advanced the theory that the youth was an actor taking female roles in Shakespeare's plays.Pederastic love was also featured in the work of artists such as Johann Sebastian Bach in the air of Phoebus-Apollo dedicated to young Hyacinth, in his secular cantata BWV 201, Geschwinde, ihr wirbelnden Winde (Der Streit zwischen Phoebus und Pan) [The contest between Phoebus and Pan]. Many artistic representations of pederasty reflected an unfavorable light upon it. In that category are works by artists like Rembrandt, whose Rape of Ganymede satirizes the love of boys, turning the youth into a squalling toddler urinating in fright, and the lover into a bird of prey.


Rape of Ganymede
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, 1635; Oil on canvas; Gemäldegalerie, Dresden

In the 19th century, the gradual re-discovery of the sites of antiquity in Italy and Greece fueled a new interest in these old civilizations, particularly in Britain and Germany. Accordingly, pederastic relationships again became en vogue in the life and work of artists, for example in poetry (Lord Byron, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Walt Whitman, Paul Verlaine), literature (Oscar Wilde, Jules Verne), paintings (Henry Scott Tuke), and photography (Wilhelm von Gloeden). The most conspicuous group of pederastic writers in 19th-century England were the Uranian poets.Some northern European writers to ascribed pederastic tendencies to populations in southern latitudes. Richard Francis Burton evolved his theory of the Sotadic zone, and area bounded roughly by N. Lat. 43° N. Lat. 30°, stretching from the western shores of the Mediterranean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Likewise, Wilhelm Kroll, writing in the Pauly-Wissowa encyclopaedia in 1906, asserted that "The roots of pederasty are found first of all in the existence of a contrary sexual feeling that is probably more frequent in southern regions than in countries with moderate climates."The end of the 19th century, marked by Oscar Wilde's trial and his defense of pederasty, saw increasing conflict over the issue of social acceptance of pederasty. A number of other pederastic scandals erupted around this time, such as the one involving the German industrialist Friedrich Alfred Krupp, which drove him to suicide. In the same vein, in a work that was to influence the evolution of communism's attitude towards same-sex love, the German political philosopher Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx's collaborator, denounced the ancient Greeks for "the abominable practice of sodomy" and for degrading "their gods and themselves with the myth of Ganymede". (Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State)This strife also involved the Young Wandervogel movement, an organization similar to the Boy Scouts, but emphasizing a more romantic view of nature. Young Wandervogel was itself spawned by the Wandervogel movement, which took flight in 1896, the same year that the journal Der Eigene went to press. It was published by a twenty-two year old German, Adolf Brand (1874-1945), and it advocated classical pederasty as a cure for the moral flabbiness of German youth. Influenced by the ideas of Gustav Wyneken, the Wandervogel movement was quite open about its homoerotic tendencies, although this kind of affection was supposed to be expressed in a mostly nonsexual way. The founding of Young Wandervogel happened largely as a reaction to the public scandal about these erotic tendencies, which were said to alienate young men from women.



The Way of the Academicians
From Hua Ying Chin Chen (Variegated Positions of the Flower Battle) China, Ming dynasty (1368–1644)

In tenth-century China courting male couples consisted of the older ch'i hsiung (契兄) and the younger ch'i ti. (契弟) (The terms mean, literally, sworn elder brother and younger brother. It is very common in the Chinese culture to conceptualize many kinds of alliances as fictive kinship relationships.) Boy marriages, which lasted for a set period after which the younger partner would find a wife (often with the help of the older one) appear to have been part of the culture in the province of Fujian in pre-modern times. The marriages were said to have been celebrated by the two families in traditional fashion, including the ritual "nine cups of tea". The popularity of these pederastic relationships in Fujian, where they even had a patron god, Hu Tianbao, gave rise to one of the euphemistic expressions for same-sex love in China, "the southern custom". Men's sexual interest in youths was also reflected in prostitution, with young male sex workers fetching higher prices than their female counterparts as recently as the beginning of the twentieth century.


Main article: Shudo


Tryst between a man and a youth
Miyagawa Isshô, ca. 1750; Panel from a series of ten on a shunga-style painted hand scroll (kakemono-e); sumi, color and gofun on silk. Private collection.]

In Japan, the practice of shudo, the "Way of the Young" paralleled closely the course of European pederasty. It was prevalent in the religious community and samurai society from the medieval period on, and eventually grew to permeate all of society. It fell out of favor around the end of the 19th century, concurrently with the growing European influence.Its legendary founder is Kukai, also known as Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon school of Buddhism, who is said to have brought the teachings of male love over from China, together with the teachings of the Buddha. Monks often entered into love relationships with beautiful youths known as "chigo", which were recorded in literary works known as "chigo monogatari".Early European visitors were struck by the openness and ubiquity of such relationships. The Portuguese Jesuit Alessandro Valegnani, in 1591 observed that "the youths and their partners, not seeing the matter as grave, do not hide it. Indeed they find honor in it and speak of it openly. To wit, not only does the doctrine of the bonzes not view it as evil, but they themselves engage in this custom, seeing it as completely natural and even virtuous."


One of the earliest mentions of male attraction to boys is that of Gongmin of Goryeo (r. 1351–1374), the 31st king of the Goryeo dynasty, who was famous for his predilection for falling in love with young boys. After the death of his wife in 1365 he is reputed to have spent his time in the practice of Buddhism and relations with boys, establishing an organization for their recruitment. [2] Paul Michaut, a French physician writing in 1893, described Korea as a country where "[p]ederasty is general, it is part of the mores; it is practiced publicly, in the street, without the least reprobation." He associated its prevalence with that of syphilis which was likewise general: "[T]he non-contaminated subjects are the exception." (Proschan, Frank "Syphilis, Opiomania, and Pederasty": Colonial Constructions of Vietnamese (and French) Social Diseases" Journal of the History of Sexuality — Volume 11, Number 4, October 2002, pp. 610–636)


In the Melanesia, many native cultures employed boy insemination rites integral to coming-of-age rituals lasting from mid- to late childhood, as documented in the writings of Gilbert Herdt. In Papua-New Guinea and nearby islands, some native tribes (about 20% at the end of the twentieth century, a proportion that is decreasing as contacts with foreigners cause western mores to become prevalent) consider sperm to be the essence of masculinity and a source of strength, and a substance that does not form spontaneously but must be introduced. As a result, a mentor, chosen by the father and ideally the mother's young adult brother, has the duty of planting it in the body of their prepubescent son as part of extended initiation rites.The mentor also has the duty of educating the boy and seeing to his proper entry into manhood. They sleep and work together until the boy is mature. Men who have had their first or second child are expected to relinquish the mentoring function to younger adults. Casual encounters between boys and men are also accepted, but the boy must be the recipient, to avoid damaging his growth. Thus the Melanesian male would go through a sexual cycle beginning with homosexuality, passing through bisexuality and ending with heterosexuality.

The Islamic world


Bacchá dancing boy in Samarkand
Traditionally, dancers and sex workers in Central Asia. (photo ca. 1905 - 1915)

See main article: Pederasty in the Islamic worldFor a period starting in the 800's and ending in the mid 1800's, pederastic relationships, poetry, art and spirituality were a prominent and pervasive feature of Islamic culture from Moorish Spain to Northern India. The forms of this pederasty ranged from the chaste and spiritual adoration of beautiful youths at one extreme, to the violent and forcible use of unwilling boys at other. While sodomy was considered a major sin, other aspects of same-sex relations were not, though they were problematized to various degrees at various times and places.

Its seeming co-relation with the rise of Islam has been commented on by modern historians, who suggest that the protective attitude of Islam towards women, which removed them from public life, as well as the tendency of Islamic law to accommodate within the domain of "private behavior" activities that would take place regardless, as long as they do not interfere with public order.Walter Andrews and Mehmet Kalpakli, The Age of Beloveds: Love and the Beloved in EarlyModern Ottoman and European Culture and Society, Durham and London, 2005

Literature and art reflected the fascination with love in general and beautiful boys in particular. The lover was conceived as martyr and hero. His desire, known as ishq, was glorified as mad, unreasonable, ecstatic, impossible to satisfy and leading even to death. An Arab proverb claims that "Ishq is a fire that burns down everything but the object of desire".Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, Conventions of Love, Love of Conventions: Urdu Love Poetry in the Eighteenth Century, unpublished paper, 2001The Mughal period saw strong pederastic influences in government, arts and literature. Poetry in ghazal form was a favorite means of such expression, produced by poets such as Mir Taqi Mir.In central Asia the practice is reputed to have long been widespread, and remains a part of the culture. Though no longer widely practiced, boy marriages nevertheless still occur. In the aftermath of the US-Afghan war, western mainstream media have reported derisively on patterns of adult/adolescent male relationships, documented in Kandahar in Afghanistan. These reports however have been characterized as "privileging a political spin over more precise and informative writing", and as suffering from ethnocentric bias (Stephanie Skier, in queer.). Besides relationships following the pederastic model, cases of sexual brutality by men against youths — in this instance as one aspect of the military use of children — have also been documented. In the northern, Turkic-speaking areas, one manifestation of the pederastic tradition were the entertainers known as bacchá (a Turkik Uzbeki term etymologically related to the Persian bachcheh, "boy" or "child", sometimes with the connotation of "catamite").The construction of same-sex love in the Middle East has been influenced by its history and geography. Hellenistic elements can be recognized in the use of the wine boy as a symbol of homoerotic passion. Islam has been another force shaping the ways in which same-sex love is understood and practiced in the Middle East. The valorization of youthful male beauty is found in the Qur'an itself: "And there shall wait on them [the Muslim men] young boys of their own, as fair as virgin pearls." (Qur'an 52:24; 56:17; 76:19). Islamic jurisprudence generally considers that attraction towards beautiful youths is normal and natural. In order for any sexual act to be a punishable offense four witnesses were required.


Youth conversing with suitors
Miniature illustration from the Haft Awrang of Jami, in the story A Father Advises his Son About Love. Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

The manifestations of pederastic attraction vary. At one extreme they are indeed of a chaste nature, incorporated into Islamic mysticism. (see Sufism) Conservative Islamic theologians condemned the custom of contemplating the beauty of young boys. Their suspicions may have been justified, as some dervishes boasted of enjoying far more than "glances", or even kisses. Despite opposition from the clerics, the practice has survived in Islamic countries until only recent years, according to Murray and Roscoe. See References section belowIn post-Islamic Persia, where, as Louis Crompton claims, "boy love flourished spectacularly", art and literature also made frequent use of the pederastic topos. These celebrate the love of the wine boy, as do the paintings and drawings of artists such as Reza Abbasi (15651635). Western travelers reported that at Abbas' court (some time between 1627 and 1629) they saw evidence of homoerotic practices. Male houses of prostitution amrad khaneh, "houses of the beardless", were legally recognized and paid taxes.Janet Afary & Kevin Anderson, Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism, (University of Chicago Press, 2005In the Ottoman empire, same-sex relations between men and youths were often of a mercantile nature. The sex workers involved were either entertainers such as the köçeks or masseurs in the hammams known as tellak. The sexual doings of the Turks came under frequent criticism by their Christian neighbors. There were exceptions as well. Osman Agha of Temeşvar who fell captive to the Austrians in 1688 wrote in his memoirs that one night an Austrian boy approached him for sex, telling him "for I know all Turks are pederasts".Temeşvarlı Osman Ağa, Gâvurların Esiri, Istanbul, 1971 The European conception of "all Turks are pederasts" possibly rooted in the often military nature of contacts with Ottoman Turks. Although zamparas (men drawn to women) outnumbered kulamparas (men drawn to boys) in society, Turkish military culture (especially Janissary culture) had pederasty as a principal aspect . Young Christian soldiers who were imprisoned by Turks were often raped and Janissary regiments (named orta) would frequently engage in skirmishes for rights over a young and beautiful novice (civelek). In 1770s, Âşık Sadık the poet wrote, in an address to the Sultan: Lût kavmi döğüşür, put kavmi bozar. Askerin lûtîdir, bil Padişahım ("The people of Lot fight, the people of idolatry spoil. Know, my Sultan, that your soldiers are sodomites").Hulki Aktunç, Erotologya, Istanbul, 2000 Studies of Ottoman criminal law, which is based on the Sharia, reveal that persistent sodomy with non-consenting boys was a serious offense and those convicted faced capital punishment.See also Homosexuality and Islam, Köçek, Tellak and Hammam

North America

"Of the Koniagas of Kodiak Island and the Thinkleets we read, 'The most repugnant of all their practices is that of male concubinage. A Kodiak mother will select her handsomest and most promising boy, and dress and rear him as a girl, teaching him only domestic duties, keeping him at women's work, associating him with women and girls, in order to render his effeminacy complete. Arriving at the age of ten or fifteen years, he is married to some wealthy man who regards such a companion as a great acquisition. These male concubines are called Achnutschik or Schopans' (the authorities quoted being Holmberg, Langsdorff, Billing, Choris, Lisiansky and Marchand). The same is the case in Nutka Sound and the Aleutian Islands, where 'male concubinage obtains throughout, but not to the same extent as amongst the Koniagas.' The objects of 'unnatural' affection have their beards carefully plucked out as soon as the face-hair begins to grow, and their chins are tattooed like those of the women. In California the first missionaries found the same practice, the youths being called Joya." (Bancroft, i. 415 and authorities Palon, Crespi, Boscana, Motras, Torquemada, Duflot and Fages). (R. F. Burton, Terminal Essay)

Central America


Underworld rite
Mayan man and youth. Reproduction of Mayan wall painting, Grutas de Naj Tunich, El Petén, Guatemala.

Bernal Diaz del Castillo, in his The Conquest of New Spain, reported that the Mexicapeoples regularly practiced pederastic relationships, and male adolescent [[sacred prostitution|sacredprostitutes]] would congregate in temples. The conquistadores, like most Europeans of the 16th century, were horrified by the widespread acceptance of sex between men and youths in Aztec society, and used it as one justification for the extirpation of native society, religion and culture, and the taking of the lands and wealth; of all customs of the Nahuatl-speaking peoples, only human sacrifice produced a greater disapproval amongst the Spaniards in Mexico. The custom died out with the collapse of the Aztec civilization.Though early Mayans are thought to have been strongly antagonistic to same-sex relationships, later Mayan states employed pederastic practices. Their introduction was ascribed to the god Chin. One aspect was that of the father procuring a younger lover for his son. Juan de Torquemada mentions that if the (younger) boy was seduced by a stranger, the penalty was equivalent to that for adultery. Bernal Diaz reported statues of male pairs making love in the temples at Cape Catoche, Yucatan.


See main article, Albanian pederastyAs late as the mid-1800s, Albanian young men between 16 and 24 seduced boys from about 12 to 17.J.G. von Hahn, Albanische Studien, 1854, p.166 In the literature, the lover is called ashik and the beloved, dyllber.[3] A Geg married at the age of 24 or 25, and then he usually, but not always, gave up boy-love.

Modern constructs

Main article: Pederasty in the modern world

The literary pederastic tradition was continued by writers such as André Gide, Thomas Mann, Henry de Montherlant, Eric Satie, Benjamin Britten, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Fernando Vallejo, William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg.After the middle of the century, the underage pederastic element of the gay liberation movement was repudiated by the movement as a whole, largely as a result of the growing voice of women in the community. This has been criticized by Camille Paglia and others as counterproductive and conducive to a ghettoization of homosexuality. In the decades since embracing an egalitarian model of relationships, the western gay-rights movement has made rapid progress toward marriage equality, legal protection, and other goals. Instead of using Greek pederasty as a model, it is those rarer instances of homosexuality which are more egalitarian (such as between Alexander the Great and his friend Hephaestion) that gay love looked to for an understanding of present-day relationships.Presently, no society is openly making use of liminal same-sex love — relations with young people on the threshold of becoming adults — to further social goals, despite their lawful status in countries granting erotic emancipation to adolescents in their mid-teens. Even when legal, some in the west perceive such relationships in the light of feminist and postmodern theory as an abuse of power when the older partner is in a position of educational, religious, economic, or other form of institutional authority over the younger partner.Currently, in the news media the term tends to be incorrectly used as a synonym for pedophilia, even though the latter designates the sexual attraction of adults to prepubescent boys or girls. This confusion may arise from the fact that a single organization, NAMBLA, is the most prominent public advocate for both groups, making the practical distinction between pederast and pedophile activism difficult to define, whatever their theoretical differences.

Historical pederastic relationships


Whitman & Duckett

Main article: Historical pederastic couples

Over the course of history there have been a number of recorded erotic mentoring relationships between older men and adolescent boys. All of these followed at least some aspects of classical pederasty. In some of these cases both members eventually became well known historical figures, in others only one of the two achieved that distinction.

Proverbs and sayings

  • Afghanistan*The cunt's value knows the Afghan, the rear's worth knows the Kabuli. (Kadr-i-kus Aughan danad, kadr-i-kunra Kabuli.) An allusion to the pederastic practices in Afghanistan. Richard Francis Burton, The Book of the Thousand Night and a Night, "Terminal Essay"
  • American*How do you separate the men from the boys? With a crowbar. Modern folklore Often used as a jocular slur through attribution to a particular group or locality (the Navy, the US Army, etc.). [4], [5]
  • Ancient Greece*A lover is the best friend a boy will ever have. Plato, Phaedrus, 231 *You can carry a bull, if you carried the calf. Also in Ancient Rome, as Taurum tollet, qui vitulum sustulerit. Said to excuse men's relations with "boys" who were no longer adolescents.Petronius, The Satyricon, III.67
  • Brazil*Men, to be men, first have to give. (Homem, para ser homem, tem que dar primeiro.) Modern folklore. Said by older youths to younger boys, to persuade them to make love. Murray, S.O., Latin American Male Homosexualities. Albuquerque; pp. 241-255
  • China*A beautiful lad can ruin an older head, a beautiful woman can tangle a tongue. Xun Xi, in Intrigues of the Warring States Bret Hinsch, Passions of the Cut Sleeve, University of California Press, 1990; p.31
  • Egypt*For a boy, they will kill. For a woman, never. Siwan proverb. Gregersen and Maugham, Sexual Practices: The Story of Human Sexuality, New York, 1983; p.203*In his father's home a boy's chastity is safe, but let him become a dervish and the buggers will queue up behind him. An attack upon the Sufi practice of gazing upon beautiful boys. Yusuf Al-Shirbini's 17th c. Kitab Hazz Al-Quhuf Khaled El-Rouayheb, Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World, 1500-1800 Chicago, 2005; p.37
  • France Here a Jesuit does lie. When passing, clench your cheeks and fly! (Ci-gît un Jésuite, Passant, serre les fesses et passe vite!) A mock epitaph, ironic comment on the pederastic habits of the Catholic priesthood. Richard Francis Burton, The Book of the Thousand Night and a Night, "Terminal Essay"
  • Italy If you crave joys, tumble some boys. Florentine proverb, ca. 1480. After Sabadino degli Arienti in Le Porretane.Michael Rocke, Forbidden friendships: Homosexuality and Male Culture in Renaissance Florence, Oxford, 1996; p.87
  • Middle East With wine and boys around, the monks have no need of the Devil to tempt them. Early Christian saying.Abbott, E., A History of Celibacy, New York, 2000; p.101
  • *Morocco*For a boy to memorize the Qur'an, the imam has to mount him. A saying from North Africa.Richard Francis Burton
  • Pakistan Women for breeding, boys for pleasure, but melons for sheer delight. Pathan proverb, also reported in similar forms from the Arab countries, Iran and North Africa.Sir Richard Burton, Kama Sutra: the Hindu art of lovemaking, intro.


Main article: Pederastic filmography

Beginning with the 1960's, the barriers against exploring this practice began to come down, and a series of films, often of a more or less autobigraphical nature, began to document the stories of relationships between men and boys. For a list of such movies, please see the main article.

See also



GeneralHomosexuality and Civilization, by Louis Crompton; Belknap, Harvard, 2003. ISBN 067401197X

*Growing Up Sexually: A World Atlas

*Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Vol. 2: Sexual Inversion, by Havelock Ellis

* Pederasty among primitives: institutionalized initiation and cultic prostitution, by G. Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg;

Ancient GreeceGreek Homosexuality, by Kenneth J. Dover; New York; Vintage Books, 1978. ISBN 0394742249

Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece by William A. Percy; University of Illinois Press, 1996. ISBN 0252022092

Die Griechische Knabenliebe [Greek Pederasty], by Herald Patzer; Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1982. In: Sitzungsberichte der Wissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, Vol. 19 No. 1.

Homosexuality in Greek Myth, by Bernard Sergent; Beacon Press, 1986. ISBN 0807057002

Homosexualité et initiation chez les peuples indo-européens, by Bernard Sergent, Payot & Rivages, 1996, ISBN 2228890529

Lovers' Legends: The Gay Greek Myths, by Andrew Calimach; Haiduk Press, 2001. ISBN 0971468605

Lovers' Legends Unbound, by Andrew Calimach et al.; Haiduk Press, 2004. ISBN 0971468613

* Hubbard, Thomas K. Homosexuality in Greece and Rome. University of California Press, 2003. [6] ISBN 0520234308;


* Bremmer, J. "An Enigmatic Indo-European Rite: Pederasty." Arethusa 13: 279-98, 1980

* "Creating the Sensual Child: Paterian Aesthetics, Pederasty, and Oscar Wilde's Fairy Tales" by Naomi Wood in Marvels & Tales, Volume 16, Number 2, 2002, pp. 156-170

* Rigoletto, Sergio. "Questioning Power Hierarchies: Michael Davidson and Literary Pederasty in Italy". ;


The Love of the Samurai. A Thousand Years of Japanese Homosexuality, by T. Watanabe & J. Iwata; London: GMP Publishers, 1987. ISBN 0854491155

Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan, by Gary Leupp; Berkeley, University of California Press, 1995. ISBN 0520209001

* Cartographies of desire: male-sexuality in Japanese discourse, 1600-1950, by Gregory Pflugfelder, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. ISBN 0520209095

* Japanese pederasty and homosexuality, by K.A. Adams, in the Journal of Psychohistory, 2002 Summer;30(1):54-66;The New World

The Politicization of Pederasty Among the Colonial Yucatecan Maya, by John C. Fout in the Journal of the History of Sexuality, Vol. 8, 1997;

Muslim Lands

* Abu 'Abdur-Rahman as-Sulami. Early Sufi Women, Dhikr an-niswa al-muta'abbidat as-sufiyyat. Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 1999, pp. 78-79

* Philip F. Kennedy. The Wine Song in Classical Arabic Poetry: Abu Nuwas and the Literary Tradition. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997. ISBN 0198263929

* Khaled El-Rouayheb. The Love of Boys in Arabic Poetry of the Early Ottoman Period, 1500 - 1800. Middle Eastern Literatures; January 2005, vol.8, no.1.

* Lacey, E.A. (Trans.) The Delight of Hearts: Or, What You Will Not Find in Any Book. Gay Sunshine Press, 1988.

* Emilio Garcia Gomez. (Ed.) In Praise of Boys: Moorish Poems from Al-Andalus Translated from the Spanish by Erskine Lane. Gay Sunshine Press, 1975.

* Mukhtar, M. H. Tarbiyat-e-Aulad aur Islam [The Upbringing of Children in Islam]. dar-ut-Tasneef, Jamiat ul-Uloom Il-Islamiyyah allama Banuri Town Karachi. English translation by Rafiq Abdur Rahman. Transl. esp. Chapter 11: Responsibility for Sexual Education.

* Murray, Stephen O., and Will Roscoe, et al. Islamic Homosexualities: Culture, History, and Literature. New York: New York University Press, 1997. ISBN 0814774687

* Ritter, Hellmut. Das Meer der Seele, 1955 (English translation The Ocean of the Soul, 2003), Chapters 24–26.

* Peter Lambourn Wilson. Contemplation of the Unbearded - The Rubaiyyat of Awhadoddin Kermani. Paidika, Vol.3, No.4 (1995).

* Yoginder Sikand. A Martyr for Love - Hazrat Sayed Sarmad, a Sufi gay mystic. Perversions, Vol.1, No.4. Spring 1995.

* Maarten Schild. The Irresistible Beauty of Boys - Middle Eastern attitudes about boy-love. Paidika, Vol.1, No.3.

* Roth, Norman. "The Care and Feeding of Gazelles" - medieval Hebrew and Arabic Love Poetry. Poetics of Love in the Middle Ages, 1989.

* Roth, Norman. Fawn of My Delights - boy-love in Hebrew and Arabic Verse. Sex in the Middle Ages. 1991.

* Roth, Norman. Boy-love in Medieval Arabic Verse." Paidika Vol.3, No.3, 1994.

* Williamson, Casey R.. Where did that boy go? - the missing boy-beloved in post-colonial Persian literature.

* Wright, J., and Everett Rowson. Homoeroticism in Classical Arabic Literature. 1998.

* 'Homosexuality' & other articles in the Encyclopædia Iranica''

External links

*Intergenerational and Egalitarian Models*The World History of Male Love