Two quotes stood out to me in my reading today of H.I. Marrou’s A History of Education in Antiquity:
Page 234: Having become a staff officer, the young Roman aristocrat completed his training under some well-known man for whom he had the utmost respect and veneration—so that the atmosphere was very different from that in ancient Greece, where all the heat and light came from homosexuality.
That’s an interesting way to put it! Heat and light?
Page 249: The Romans reacted to Greek gymnastics very much like the “barbarians”: their sense of modesty was shocked by its nudity, and they regarded homosexuality—which centred round the gymnasium—as something that Greek civilization should be ashamed of, not proud of.
But didn’t the Roman Crassus on Spartacus—played by Laurence Olivier—have some sort of homosexual relationship with his slave, the singer of songs, who could do feats of magic, yet failed to make the Romans disappear when he joined up with Spartacus? And, when Paul condemns homosexuality in his letter to the Romans (in Romans 1), was he referring to the homosexuality of the Greeks?
But Stoicism, which was influential in Rome, did frown on homosexuality, considering it contrary to nature. I learned that in a class, in which we read someone who criticized Plato for his homosexual activity.