Homosexuality and Civilization

Homosexuality and Civilization

By: Louis Crompton (author)Paperback

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How have major civilizations of the last two millennia treated people who were attracted to their own sex? In a narrative tour de force, Louis Crompton chronicles the lives and achievements of homosexual men and women alongside a darker history of persecution, as he compares the Christian West with the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, Arab Spain, imperial China, and pre-Meiji Japan. Ancient Greek culture celebrated same-sex love in history, literature, and art, making high claims for its moral influence. By contrast, Jewish religious leaders in the sixth century B.C.E. branded male homosexuality as a capital offense and, later, blamed it for the destruction of the biblical city of Sodom. When these two traditions collided in Christian Rome during the late empire, the tragic repercussions were felt throughout Europe and the New World. Louis Crompton traces Church-inspired mutilation, torture, and burning of "sodomites" in sixth-century Byzantium, medieval France, Renaissance Italy, and in Spain under the Inquisition. But Protestant authorities were equally committed to the execution of homosexuals in the Netherlands, Calvin's Geneva, and Georgian England. The root cause was religious superstition, abetted by political ambition and sheer greed. Yet from this cauldron of fears and desires, homoerotic themes surfaced in the art of the Renaissance masters-Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Sodoma, Cellini, and Caravaggio-often intertwined with Christian motifs. Homosexuality also flourished in the court intrigues of Henry III of France, Queen Christina of Sweden, James I and William III of England, Queen Anne, and Frederick the Great. Anti-homosexual atrocities committed in the West contrast starkly with the more tolerant traditions of pre-modern China and Japan, as revealed in poetry, fiction, and art and in the lives of emperors, shoguns, Buddhist priests, scholars, and actors. In the samurai tradition of Japan, Crompton makes clear, the celebration of same-sex love rivaled that of ancient Greece. Sweeping in scope, elegantly crafted, and lavishly illustrated, Homosexuality and Civilization is a stunning exploration of a rich and terrible past.

About Author

Louis Crompton was Professor of English, Emeritus, at the University of Nebraska.


Preface 1. Early Greece: 776-480 BCE A Millennium of Greek Love Homer's Iliad Crete, Sparta, Chalcis Athletics and the Cult of Beauty Sappho Alcaeus, Ibycus, Anacreon Theognis of Megara Athens' Rulers The Tyrannicides 2. Judea: 900 BCE-600 CE The Judgment of Leviticus The Threat to Population Sodom's Gold Who Were the Kedeshim? Philo of Alexandria The Talmud 3. Classical Greece: 480-323 BCE Pindar's Odes Greek Tragedy Phidias The Comedies of Aristophanes Plato's Symposium The Phaedrus and the Laws Xenophon Aristotle's Dicta Zeno and the Stoics Aeschines' Against Timarchus The Sacred Band of Thebes Philip and Alexander 4. Rome and Greece: 200 BCE-138 CE Sexuality and Empire Cicero and Roman Politics Greek Love in the Aeneid Meleager and Callimachus Catullus and Tibullus Theocritus and "Corydon" Horace Ovid's Myths Lesbianism Petronius' Satyricon Suetonius and the Emperors Statius, Martial, Juvenal Hadrian and Antinous 5. Christians and Pagans: 1-565 CE The Gospels Intertestamental Judaism and Paul "Moses" and the Early Church Greek Love in Late Antiquity Plutarch's Dialogue on Love The Lucianic Dialogue Two Romances and an Epic Roman Law before Constantine The Edicts of 342 and 390 Sodom Transformed Saint John Chrysostom The Persecutions of Justinian 6. Darkness Descends: 476-1049 The Fall of Rome Visigothic Spain Church Councils and Penitentials The Carolingian Panic Love in Arab Spain The Growth of Canon Law The Book of Gomorrah 7. The Medieval World: 1050-1321 The Fortunes of Ganymede Scandal in High Places The Theological Assault The Inquisition and Its Allies The Fate of the Templars Secular Laws: The Sowing The Harvest Begins Poets for the Prosecution Dante's Admirable Sinners 8. Imperial China: 500 BCE-1840 A Peach, a Fish, and a Sleeve The Han Emperors Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism Poets and Lovers From Tang to Song Ming China: The West Reacts Feng Menglong's Anatomy of Love Fiction and Drama The Qing Dynasty The Peking Stage 9. Italy in the Renaissance: 1321-1609 A New Ethos and an Old Repression in the Italian City States Death in Venice Florence: The Price of Love Donatello, Botticelli, Leonardo Michelangelo: Love, Art, and Guilt Sodoma and Cellini Rome and Caravaggio 10. Spain and the Inquisition: 1506-1700 The Spanish Inquisition Subcultures in Valencia and Madrid The Inquisition in Portugal Spain and the New World 11. France from Calvin to Louis XIV: 1517-1715 Outings, Protestant and Catholic Calvinism and Repression Henry III and the "Mignons" The Poets' Revolt 9. Queen Christina Louis XIII, "The Just" Monsieur and Madame Six Generals Les Lesbiennes 12. England from the Reformation to William III: 1533-1702 Silence and Denial Monasteries and the Law Elizabethan Literature Christopher Marlowe The Tragedy of Edward II Shakespeare's Sonnets James VI and I Francis Bacon Puritanism and the Restoration Between Women William III in England 13. Pre-Meiji Japan: 800-1868 Europe Discovers Japan The Buddhist Priesthood Samurai and Shoguns No Drama and Kabuki A Debate and an Anthology Saikaku's Great Mirror Tokugawa Finale 14. Patterns of Persecution: 1700-1730 Policing Paris "Reforming" Britain Souls in Exile Witch Hunt in the Netherlands 15. Sapphic Lovers: 1700-1793 Law and Religion Romance and Innuendo A Nun and an Actress An Ill-Fated Queen 16. The Enlightenment: 1730-1810 Montesquieu and Beccaria Frederick the Great The Vagaries of Voltaire Diderot and Sade Toward Reform Bentham vs. Blackstone Conclusion Notes Bibliography Acknowledgments Illustration Credits Index

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780674022331
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 648
  • ID: 9780674022331
  • ISBN10: 0674022335

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