Was Ancient Greek Education a Rape institution?


Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
Acibiades was from one of Athenes most prominent clan
his lifestyle was pyrotechnic , he was Socrates lover and pupil
beside his many male lovers he had plenty of women conquest , none less than a queen of Sparta
who proudly and publicly bore him a child
as part of the traditional coming of age ceremony
as the master of ceremony , he brought the 50 youths of the year to his palace and 50 beautiful prostitutes entered ,
making the delighted boys into men
those 50 hencefore were totally devoted to him .

there was no rape , that would have been very bad form , young boys are notoriously indiscriminate in their affections and desperate to be seen as "one of us"
from what I could read , it was more a rite of passing of age than a life long inclination
Oct 2018
Adelaide south Australia
"I'm not sure I see how or why it was ever necessary (or beneficial) for a 13ish-year-old boy to be groomed to perform sexual favors for a 30ish-year-old man who had a great deal of psychological influence "

Logical fallacy: argument from ignorance; What you understand or do not understand is irrelevant to discussion. .

As has been explained more than once. Ancient Greek morality was very different from our own in may ways. Homosexual love was seen as the ideal. The relationship between an adolescent boy and older man was seen as a great good. The man was the boys mentor. Yes it was a sexual relationship. That was simply seen as a natural part of the relationship, which usually lasted several years.

I recommend a read of the quoted passage below

Pederasty is an ancient Greek form of interaction in which members of the same sex would partake in the pleasures of an intellectual and/or sexual relationship as part of a socially acceptable ancient custom (Hubbard: 4-7). The question of whether the ideal pederastic relationship was the most common form of pederasty in Greece, or whether the reality of ancient same-sex desire involved relationships between males of the same age, is one that has been contested between scholars for many years.
The ideal pederastic relationship in ancient Greece involved an erastes (an older male, usually in his mid- to late-20s) and an eromenos (a younger male who has passed puberty, usually no older than 18) (Dover, I.4.: 16). This age difference between the erastes and the eromenos was of the utmost importance to the scheme of the ideal pederastic relationship. The power dynamics involved in such a relationship, with the erastes always in control, ensured that the erastes kept his dignity as a fully-functioning member of Greek society, while the eromenos grew up under the tutelage of such a man and as such could become a great citizen when he reached adulthood. Both people in an ideal pederastic relationship would have practiced great sophrosyne, or taking no indulgence to excess (Dover, II.C.5.: 97). The erastes shows restraint in his “pursuit” rather than his “capture” of the young boy, and the eromenos would similarly show restraint by not immediately giving into the older man’s sexual desires.
Ideal pederastic couples were ones whose relationship directly benefitted their Greek society.

Examining Greek Pederastic Relationships


Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
Something to bear in mind; the age of consent today in even developed, enlightened first world countries is often not far off from the "13 yr old" being discussed above. The age of consent in Italy and Germany is effectively 14. In some parts of Japan it's 13. In much of the developed world it's 16. So while I don't personally approve, what we're really discussing here is different ideas about the age at which you could consent to these things. It's not surprising the age of consent was lower 2500 years ago, because you did a lot of things earlier then (like have to become head of a family, or be enrolled in the army, or kill your first man, etc). It was lower for women too, who were engaged at young ages.
May 2015
villa of Lucullus
I'm not particularly impressed by this argument that morals have changed over time and thus actions in the ancient world should be interpreted differently.

The genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda happened relatively recently and probably would have horrified many people in the ancient world. I doubt they would have gained the impression of a more civilized humane world.
Nov 2018
Russian Federation
This is something I have come across recently and I don't think this should necessarily be controversial. I am starting to think that Ancient Greek schools and Palaestras existed in such a way as to rape and take advantage of vulnerable Greek children and men.

Around the time of the 3rd Century BC, it was common for Greeks in aristocratic households to start their schooling at the age of 7 in academic institutions. From then on it was common for them to be flogged by teachers all the whilst receiving an education and being taught literacy.

Many Greeks children or teens would then go on to be taught at Palestras where they would learn to exercise and wrestle. At these places, it is well known that they fought naked. And from this, young children were arguably placed in a situation where they were exposed and left vulnerable to harm by their peers. From this, we see a clear power dynamic, firstly young children have fear and control exerted over them and they are then being thrust into a situation where they are left exposed and vulnerable.

And if this wasn't enough these very same institutions contain artwork and mosaics glorifying pederasty both casually and approvingly depicting it. To me, this sends a very clear cut message, not only was this practice accepted but it was normalized as to become an experience someone would face under this system.

This comes in addition to the philosophers like Plutarch praising this practice. In fact, Plato's dialogue, Symposium both discusses and praises pedophilia. During this extract, Pasanius praises it as the ideal relationship. And it is even suggested that so-called "virtuous" and "wise" men are deserving of receiving it.

There is only one quote from this scene that gives a slight indication that this practice may be immoral. This is when Pasanius says "and secondly there is dishonor in being overcome by the love of money, or of wealth, or of political power, whether a man is frightened into surrender by the loss of them." Maybe this quote indicates that it was well understood how a young Greek can be taken advantage of and just how much they can be humiliated.

But with all these factors in mind, we, therefore, have to ask ourselves did these so-called "educational institutions" function in such a way as to purposefully inflict trauma, abuse, and cruelty of young Greeks?
now i understand why nomadic invasions were good for Europe. according to ancient laws perverts should be executed
Oct 2018
Adelaide south Australia
"I'm not particularly impressed by this argument that morals have changed over time and thus actions in the ancient world should be interpreted differently."

The correct response to that is "'so what?" What you or anyone else thinks of the argument is irrelevant. The claim is demonstrably true. Happy to provide some examples, going back to ancient Rome, Ancient India, to the permissive court of Charles 11 of England.

In China, around 600 bce Master Kong developed a humanistic system of behaviour based on the family. It still practiced in China today, much to the annoyance of the PRC government.

Morality is invented for the society which invents it. Morality, especially sexual morality is subject to regular change as the needs of society change.

Most cultures seem to share the same moral core values; Do not lie, cheat , steal or commit murder. Rules/customs of sexual morality are the most fluid and most subject to change

Eg in my country: Homosexual acts between consenting adults legalised here in 1970's. Before that gays could be sent to prison

The age of consent in my state is 17. In the next state east ,Victoria, it is 16. Until recently, the age of consent in the Northern Territory was 14. Until around 1920, the age of consent in Australia, Uk ,and US ,and many other countries.the age of consent was as it had been for centuries; 12 years of age. It remains 12 in the so-called state of the Vatican.
May 2015
villa of Lucullus
Just because something took place or was common doesn't mean that all of society or even the majority was accepting of what happened.

Following his victory Sulla carried out mass killings of the opposition. That doesn't mean that Roman society at the time felt the action was appropriate. Augustus, Antony, and Lepidus carried out prescriptions following the creation of the second triumvirate. Once again Roman society seems to have strongly disapproved.
May 2015
villa of Lucullus
You could also easily use that argument in defense of Catholic priests who raped young boys. For a long period of time they raped with impunity and all their crimes were covered up by their church. Given they were never made to account for actions or suffered any consequences they probably felt they were doing nothing wrong.


Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
"I'm not particularly impressed by this argument that morals have changed over time and thus actions in the ancient world should be interpreted differently."
I agree. Yes, we all know that there are variations in morality (morality is a set of rules of thumb used to regulate the behaviour of a society) over time, but there are common threads through most societies, the general thrust of which is that individuals should behave in a way that doesn't harm others in society.

Take slavery, which of course was very common in the ancient world, so it might be thought that the Romans regarded slavery as, under their morality, good. But the jurist Ulpian wrote "As far as the ius civile is concerned, slaves are not regarded as persons. This, however, is not true under natual law, because, as far as natural law is concerned, all men are equal". I take it from this that they did not regard slavery as universally good, but the slave-owners obviously benefitted from holding slaves so continued doing that. A few rich Christians freed all of their (hundreds of) slaves.

An example of where Roman morals were different was in the attitude toward animals, which could be used as humans see fit totally without regard to any harm that they might suffer.
Last edited: