Ancient Greece is often claimed to be the fountainhead of Western civilization. But would we really recognize ourselves in the ancient Greeks, if we could get a good look at them? Examining love, sex, and gender in the ancient Greek world, David Halperin assembles a fascinating array of evidence in order to document the existence, in ancient Greece, of a radically unfamiliar set of attitudes and behaviours, institutions and social practices. Halperin provides detailed discussions of paederasty, male prostitution, heroic comradeship, and the use of woman' as a symbolic means of communication between men in classical Athens. Arguing that the modern concept of homosexuality' is an inadequate tool for the interpretation of these features of sexual life in antiquity, Halperin offers an alternative account that accords greater prominence to the indigenous terms in which sexual experiences were constituted in the ancient Mediterranean world.
"the single most important contribution to the interpretation of gay history in nearly a decade."
"the most significant study of Greek homosexuality since the pioneering work of K.J. Dover...This rich and stimulating book has something to offer to the general reader of Homer and Plato as well as to the specialized theorist of human sexuality. Halperin's research is very much on the cutting edge of classical studies and is sure to be an influence in the field for years to come.."
"all very fine essays, characterized by meticulous scholarship and a great deal of fresh insight."
-"Journal of the History of Sexuality
"Carries out, with careful scholarly arguments and a judicious, wide-ranging use of evidence, the project Foucault mapped out in the second volume of his "History of Sexuality . . . Clear and incisive, these essays are probably the best available introduction for the general reader to the issues raised by Foucault's work."
-Martha Nussbaum, "TLS
"[Halperin] is a brilliant polemicist . . . it is hard to imagine a more eloquent and well-informed presentation of his point of view. And the passion and dash of his prose serve to remind us that what is in question is not only theory but the beliefs and behaviors of real human beings."
-Mark Golden, "Classical Views