5

I have been told that this was ilegal under the law that

No man shall submit to another

However, this does not sound to me like it is banning homosexuals, perhaps banning one from being a submissive but that would be all.

Is there any evidence that this activity was any rarer in Sparta than any other Greek state?

  • 6
    IMO you need to clarify your source. Submit can mean entirely different things in different contexts. A sexual context is perhaps rather an exception than the rule. – Drux Feb 6 '13 at 15:12
  • 1
    There were also slaves... – DVK Feb 6 '13 at 16:22
  • 5
    It might be helpful to find the actual ancient Greek word used there, rather than trying to parse it out of an English translation. – T.E.D. Feb 7 '13 at 8:07
  • Yeah, sorry I am struggling. I was told it was one of Lycurgus's laws. However, I cannot find a reference to it anywhere on line .... – Stefan Feb 7 '13 at 10:14
  • 2
    If this is the case it's rather funny considering their defeat by the theban sacred band – Jeroen K Dec 14 '13 at 22:34
2

While much has been written on the topic of homosexuality, both in Sparta and in other Greek city states, the evidence is often second-hand, open to interpretation and / or quite possibly a reflection of an (ancient) author's bias. There is also much controversy among modern scholars (see Wikipedia for a summary and some examples).

Xenophon makes quite a number of references to homosexuality in Greece, contrasting a Spartan man's appreciation for a boy's character with other Greeks' greater tendency to physical relationships. Further, Xenophon says that the Spartan (semi-mythical) law-giver Lykourgos did not approve of physical homosexual relationships but does not cite any law. D.M.MacDowell, in 'Spartan Law' concludes that

there was no law banning homosexual acts with boys in Sparta. Nevertheless, we can accept that moral relationships between boys and lovers was of greater significance and interest than physical ones,....

After also examining the evidence from Plutarch, MacDowell says that this seems more anecdotal than evidence of any laws, adding

the preferable conclusion is that the Spartans had no law on the subject of homosexual relationships

As men were expected to marry and have children who would grow up to become either (for men) soldiers of the state or (for women) mothers of more soldiers, it seems unlikely that homosexuality was encouraged to extent that it with the Theban sacred band. What was encouraged was close relationships between soldiers for military reasons, but this almost certainly went beyond comradeship at times.

Paul Cartledge states that the Spartans

... did not officially encourage, let alone institutionalize, for military purposes homosexual realtionships between two men of adult fighting age.

Nonetheless, according to Cartledge

The Spartans had a reputation among other Greeks, no doubt exaggerated, for being addicted to buggery.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.