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Pederasty or paederasty (US /'p?d?rsti/ or UK /'pi?d?

rsti/) is a (usually erotic)

homosexual relationship between an adult male and a pubescent or adolescent male
. The word pederasty derives from Greek (paiderastia) "love of boys",[1] a compo
und derived from pa?? (pais) "child, boy" and ??ast?? (erastes) "lover". In Fren
ch, however, "pdrastie" has been used as a synonym for homosexuality between adult
males (see Histoire du mot pdrastie).
Historically, pederasty has existed as a variety of customs and practices within
different cultures. The status of pederasty has changed over the course of hist
ory, at times considered an ideal and at other times a crime. In the history of
Europe, its most structured cultural manifestation was Athenian pederasty, and b
ecame most prominent in the 6th century BC. Greek pederasty's various forms were
the subject of philosophic debates in which the purely carnal type was unfavora
bly compared with erotic friendships and moderate forms, known as Sophrosyne.[2]
The legal status of pederasty in most countries is determined by whether or not
the boy has reached the local age of consent, and as to whether such contact is
considered abusive to the child.
Contents [hide]
Age range
Historical synopsis
Etymology and usage
Social class factors
The ancient world
The Greeks
The Romans
Other venues
Post-classical and modern forms
The Middle East and Central Asia
North America
Central America
6.6.1 The Renaissance
6.6.2 England
6.6.3 Reaction and retrenchment
In Literature
The Aeneid
Modern expressions
Child abuse issues
Academic controversy
See also
Further reading
External links
Anthropologists propose three subdivisions of homosexuality as age-structured, e
galitarian and gender-structured.[3][4] Pederasty is the archetypal example of m
ale age-structured homosexuality.[3] Geoffrey Gorer and others distinguish peder
asty from pedophilia, which he defined as a separate, fourth type that he descri
bed as "grossly pathological in all societies of which we have record." Accordin
g to Gorer, the main characteristic of homosexual pederasty is the age differenc
e (either of generation or age-group) between the partners. In his study of nati
ve cultures pederasty appears typically as a passing stage in which the adolesce
nt is the beloved of an older male, remains as such until he reaches a certain d
evelopmental threshold, after which he in turn takes on an adolescent beloved of
his own. This model is judged by Gorer as socially viable, i.e. not likely to g

ive rise to psychological discomfort or neuroses for all or most males. He adds
that in many societies, pederasty has been the main subject of the arts and the
main source of tender and elevated emotions.[5]
Pederastic practices have been utilized for the purpose of coming-of-age rituals
, the acquisition of virility and manly virtue, education, and development of mi
litary skill and ethics. These were often paralleled by the commercial use of bo
ys for sexual gratification, going as far as enslavement and castration. The eva
nescent beauty of adolescent boys has been a topos in poetry and art, from Class
ical times to the Middle East, the Near East and Central Asia, imperial China, p
re-modern Japan, the European Renaissance and into modern times.[citation needed
Age range[edit]
Some modern observers restrict the age of the younger partner to "generally betw
een twelve and seventeen",[6] though historically the spread was somewhat greate
r. The younger partner must, in some sense, not be fully mature; this could incl
ude young men in their late teens or early twenties.[7]
While relationships in ancient Greece involved boys from 12 to about 17 or 18,[8
] in Renaissance Italy they typically involved boys between 14 and 19,[9] and in
Japan the younger member ranged in age from 11 to about 19 [10]
Historical synopsis[edit]
Man and youth. Cretan ex-voto from Hermes and Aphrodite shrine at Kato Syme; Bro
nze, c. 670 650 BC
In antiquity, pederasty was seen as an educational institution for the inculcati
on of moral and cultural values in some cultures,[11] as well as a form of sexua
l expression. Its practice dates from the Archaic period onwards in Ancient Gree
ce, though Cretan ritual objects reflecting an already formalized practice date
to the late Minoan civilization, around 1650 BC.[12] According to Plato,[13] in
ancient Greece, pederasty was a relationship and bond
whether sexual or chaste
etween an adolescent boy and an adult man outside of his immediate family. While
most Greek men engaged in relations with both women and boys,[14] exceptions to
the rule were known, some avoiding relations with women, and others rejecting r
elations with boys. In Rome, relations with boys took a more informal and less c
ivic path, men either taking advantage of dominant social status to extract sexu
al favors from their social inferiors, or carrying on illicit relationships with
freeborn boys.[15]
Analogous relations were documented among other ancient peoples, such as the Thr
acians,[16] and the Celts. According to Plutarch, the ancient Persians, too, had
long practiced it, an opinion seconded by Sextus Empiricus who asserted that th
e laws of the Persians "recommended" the practice.[17] Herodotus, however, asser
ts they learned copulation with boys (pa?s? ?s???ta?) from the Greeks,[18] by the
use of that term reducing their practice to what John Addington Symonds describ
es as the "vicious form" of pederasty,[19] as opposed to the more restrained and
cultured one valued by the Greeks. Plutarch, however, counters Herodotus by poi
nting out that the Persians had been castrating boys long before being exposed t
o the mores of the Greeks.[20]
Opposition to the carnal aspects of pederasty existed concurrently with the prac
tice, both within and outside of the cultures in which it was found. Among the G
reeks, a few cities prohibited it, and in others, such as Sparta, only the chast
e form of pederasty was permitted, according to Xenophon[21] and others. Likewis
e, Plato's writings devalue and finally condemn sexual intercourse with the boys
one loved, while valuing the self-disciplined lover who abstained from consumma
ting the relationship.[22]