(BLSB) - On the Pederastic Customs of Ancient Sparta

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Three Spartan boys practising archery (1812) by Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg. Oil on canvas, 81 × 63.8 cm (Copenhagen, Denmark: Hirschsprung Collection).


From Homosexuality in Greece and Rome: A Sourcebook of Basic Documents, edited by Thomas K. Hubbard (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).

2.12 Plutarch, Lycurgus 17.1

This work also discusses Spartan customs attributed to the lawgiver Lycurgus.

And when the boys reached this age [twelve], lovers from among the distinguished young men began to associate with them. The older men also turned their attention to them, making more frequent visits to their places of exercise and being present when the boys sparred and joked with one another. And they did this not as an afterthought, but because they truly believed that they were all in some way the fathers, teachers, and governors of all of the boys. As a result, there was no time or place that lacked someone to admonish and correct a boy who did wrong.


2.13. Plutarch, Lycurgus 18.4

Lovers shared in the reputation of their boyfriends, whether good or bad. And it is said that once, when a boy uttered a dishonorable sound in battle, his lover was fined by the magistrates. Love was so esteemed among them that girls also became the erotic objects of noble women. But rivalries were not permitted: rather men who had fallen in love with the same boys made it an opportunity to forge a friendship amongst themselves, and they continued to work together to make their beloved the best he could be.


Growing Strength (1904) by Sascha Schneider. Oil on canvas, 200 × 138 cm (Dreieich, Germany: Private collection).

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