By Louis Crompton
How have significant civilizations of the final millennia handled those who 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 historical Greece and Rome, Arab Spain, imperial China, and pre-Meiji Japan. historic Greek tradition celebrated same-sex love in background, literature, and artwork, making excessive claims for its ethical impression. in contrast, 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. whilst those traditions collided in Christian Rome throughout the past due empire, the tragic repercussions have been felt all through Europe and the hot global. Louis Crompton strains Church-inspired mutilation, torture, and burning of "sodomites" in sixth-century Byzantium, medieval France, Renaissance Italy, and in Spain lower than the Inquisition. yet Protestant professionals have been both dedicated to the execution of homosexuals within the Netherlands, Calvin's Geneva, and Georgian England. the basis reason was once spiritual superstition, abetted by way of political ambition and sheer greed. but from this cauldron of fears and needs, homoerotic subject matters 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 court docket 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 printed 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 occasion of same-sex love rivaled that of old Greece. Sweeping in scope, elegantly crafted, and lavishly illustrated, Homosexuality and Civilization is a gorgeous exploration of a wealthy and bad earlier. (20031130)
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Sappho’s contemporaries did not seem to share this deprecating view. Indeed, one can hardly imagine a writer expressing herself with such direct candor if she thought her poems would bring her obloquy. For two thousand years after her death, social conventions (not to speak of religious sentiment) in the Western tradition made it impossible for women openly to avow passionate love for each other. But Sappho speaks conﬁdently, almost arrogantly, of the fame that will be hers, with no hint that she desires to épater les bourgeois.
It is generally thought to have been completed before 850 bce, though J. A. 7 The destruction of Sodom forms part of the Abraham saga, which, if we try to place it in historical context, would have to be dated about 2000 bce. But how old the Sodom narrative is in its present form, or what details may have characterized earlier versions, we do not know. The catastrophe that engulfs Sodom appears to embody the folk memory of some volcanic disaster, though no such event is known to have taken place near the Dead Sea in historical times.
To understand the change we must leave the clarity and ample records of the classical world to examine a society in which the facts bearing on the subject are deﬁnitive but few and the social environment obscure. 31 c h a p t e r t w o JUDEA 900 BCE–600 CE ✦ The Judgment of Leviticus ✦ It is an irony of history that the two cultures which have done most to shape Western civilization should have adopted antithetical views on homosexuality at almost the same time. In the sixth century before Christ, Greece produced the homoerotic poetry of Solon, Theognis, Ibycus, and Anacreon; and at its close in 514, Athens witnessed the martyrdom of the tyrannicides, who became emblems of heroic male love.