When exploring the ancient Greek ideas surrounding homosexuality one is bound to come across numerous accounts of male same-sex relations. However, very little is known about female same-sex relations or even female sexuality in general. The only well-known source of lesbianism from ancient Greece appears initially to be Sappho. Only within the last half-century has there been strong interest in female and queer sexuality historically. It is known lesbianism and queer relations happened during ancient Greece, yet their documentation or their acknowledgment during this time is extremely limited. Consequently, Lesbianism in ancient Greek society was misunderstood and largely unaccounted for.
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. 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. But our reactions are inevitably shaped by the society we live in.
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In classical antiquity , writers such as Herodotus ,  Plato ,  Xenophon ,  Athenaeus  and many others explored aspects of homosexuality in Greece. The most widespread and socially significant form of same-sex sexual relations in ancient Greece was between adult men and pubescent or adolescent boys, known as pederasty marriages in Ancient Greece between men and women were also age structured, with men in their thirties commonly taking wives in their early teens. It is unclear how such relations between women were regarded in the general society, but examples do exist as far back as the time of Sappho. The ancient Greeks did not conceive of sexual orientation as a social identifier as modern Western societies have done.
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.