by Georges Devereux


This study deals exclusively with the homosexuality of non-perverted Greeks. Unlike perversion, such homosexuality did not presuppose an underlying perverted fantasy, was not a stable pattern, did not represent a compulsion and was not used for the purpose of diminishing the intensity of sexual experiences. It represented a culturally encouraged prolongation of polyvalent pubertal sexuality. The latter is experienced as spontaneous and strange, produces a selfcentered eroticism, and implies the capacity to respond sexually to a large variety of stimuli and affective states. The prestige to be gained from such love affairs tended to increase the homosexual, " love "-objects, appeal to the point of seeming to presuppose a genuine commitment to homosexuality .

Owing perhaps to inadequate fathering, the erastes often seemed to be a father surrogate. Homosexual activities may also have been believed to transmit magical (" moral ") qualities to the beloved youth (eromenos).

Yet, though it was the foeus of much social interest, homosexuality did not belong to the functional mainstream of Greek culture: it was, like chariot racing only a prestigious " luxury ".

" Sliding " was an important aspect of Greek sexuality in general. One could "slide" from one type of sexually arousing person or object to another type capable of furnishing gratification. Aroused by Meleagros' handsome shade, Herakles decided to marry the young hero's surviving sister, who resembled him. "Sliding" could also occur in the sphere of the emotion: tenderness could lead to incest, aggression to erotic desires, etc. Greek mythology mentions many types of sexual relations, including even relations with the shades of the dead and with inanimate objects.

The " Greek Miracle " resulted essentially from the social encouragement of a generally adolescent stance. Greek society was, moreover, able to utilize for social ends each free person's unique makeup: the manner in which he differed from others. Thus, the most miraculous aspect of the Greek Miracle is its total intelligibility.


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