Thursday, 13 May 2010
The Girls of Sparta
Plutarch records Philip II of Macedonia saying that forms of homosexual love are only found among the most warlike races, including the Spartans. It would hardly be surprising in the Spartan case, considering males had to live together for prolonged periods without female company. But, as always, it is best to treat such generalisations with a degree of caution. Xenophon, one of the best sources on ancient Sparta, specifically denies the existence of widespread homosexuality; and Aristotle noted that the power of women in Sparta was typical of militaristic societies without a strong emphasis on male homosexuality. In addition to this, the first recorded heterosexual love poem was written by a Spartan, expressing his admiration for Spartan girls. And what girls they were!