Feminisation & Shame in Ancient Greece (Pride Month Entry 2)

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In ancient Greece, shame did not consist in merely engaging in same-sex love and sexuality. It lied in being feminised. It was the fact of being made a woman that was perceived to bring dishonour. Roisman’s (2011) « Ancient Greece from Homer to Alexander: The Evidence « comments on this link between feminisation and shame . He speaks about how artists preferred to depict intimacy between men without feminising either of the partners. He also explores how the rituals of same-sex intimacy – gift giving for example – were adapted to avoid suggesting that one of the partners were feminine.Younger men who were going to be free men and citizens needed to be courted and mentored without making them lose the sense of masculinity.

This provides a possibly troubling long term perspective on what exactly ‘shame’ and ‘honor’ meant (still mean?). Shame was rooted in a misogynistic take on women: The idea that any semblance of femininity in men was (is?) shameful.

Source

Roisman J. 2011.  Ancient Greece from Homer to Alexander: The Evidence. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley and Sons

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