Homoseksuele relaties in de oudheid

Vaak wordt gesteld dat Paulus in Romeinen 1 excessen beschrijft wat betreft homoseksuele relaties. Paulus zou niet op de hoogte zijn geweest van wat wij nu omschrijven als homoseksuele relaties in liefde en trouw.

Het is dan ook interessant om verwijzingen in de oude literatuur hierover te raadplegen. Hieronder treft u een aantal citaten aan.

Herodotus (484 – 425 v. Chr.)

But the Persians more than all men welcome foreign customs. They wear the Median dress, thinking it more beautiful than their own, and the Egyptian cuirass in war. Their luxurious practices are of all kinds, and all borrowed: the Greeks taught them pederasty. Every Persian marries many lawful wives, and keeps still more concubines. [Histories, 1.135]

Xenophon (- 354 v. Chr.)

“[28]Courage, Critobulus; try to be good, and when you have achieved that, set about catching your gentleman. Maybe, I myself, as an adept in love, can lend you a hand in the pursuit of gentlemen. For when I want to catch anyone it’s surprising how I strain every nerve to have my love returned, my longing reciprocated by him, in my eagerness that he shall want me as much as I want him.
[29]I see that you too will feel this need when you want to form a friendship. So do not hide from me the names of those whom you wish to make your friends; for I am careful to please him who pleases me, and so, I think, I am not without experience in the pursuit of men.” [Memorabilia, 2.6.28-29]

Plato (427 – 347 v. Chr.)

[181b] “popular and does his work at haphazard: this is the Love we see in the meaner sort of men; who, in the first place, love women as well as boys; secondly, where they love, they are set on the body more than the soul; and thirdly, they choose the most witless people they can find, since they look merely to the accomplishment and care not if the manner be noble or no. Hence they find themselves doing everything at haphazard, good or its opposite, without distinction:
[181c] for this Love proceeds from the goddess who is far the younger of the two, and who in her origin partakes of both female and male. But the other Love springs from the Heavenly goddess who, firstly, partakes not of the female but only of the male; and secondly, is the elder, untinged with wantonness: wherefore those who are inspired by this Love betake them to the male, in fondness for what has the robuster nature and a larger share of mind. Even in the passion for boys you may note the way of those who are under the single incitement of this Love:
[181d] they love boys only when they begin to acquire some mind—a growth associated with that of down on their chins. For I conceive that those who begin to love them at this age are prepared to be always with them and share all with them as long as life shall last: they will not take advantage of a boy’s green thoughtlessness to deceive him and make a mock of him by running straight off to another. Against this love of boys a law should have been enacted” [Symposium, 181B-D]

[191e] whence likewise are derived our man-courting women and adulteresses. All the women who are sections of the woman have no great fancy for men: they are inclined rather to women, and of this stock are the she-minions. Men who are sections of the male pursue the masculine, and so long as their boyhood lasts they show themselves to be slices of the male by making friends with men and delighting
[192a]to lie with them and to be clasped in men’s embraces; these are the finest boys and striplings, for they have the most manly nature. Some say they are shameless creatures, but falsely: for their behavior is due not to shamelessness but to daring, manliness, and virility, since they are quick to welcome their like. Sure evidence of this is the fact that on reaching maturity these alone prove in a public career to be men. So when they come to man’s estate
[192b] they are boy-lovers, and have no natural interest in wiving and getting children, but only do these things under stress of custom; they are quite contented to live together unwedded all their days. A man of this sort is at any rate born to be a lover of boys or the willing mate of a man, eagerly greeting his own kind. Well, when one of them—whether he be a boy-lover or a lover of any other sort—
192c]happens on his own particular half, the two of them are wondrously thrilled with affection and intimacy and love, and are hardly to be induced to leave each other’s side for a single moment. These are they who continue together throughout life, though they could not even say what they would have of one another. No one could imagine this to be the mere amorous connection, or that such alone could be the reason why each rejoices in the other’s company with so eager a zest: obviously the soul of each is wishing for something else that it cannot express,
[192e] by night or by day? If that is your craving, I am ready to fuse and weld you together in a single piece, that from being two you may be made one; that so long as you live, the pair of you, being as one, may share a single life; and that when you die you may also in Hades yonder be one instead of two, having shared a single death. Bethink yourselves if this is your heart’s desire, and if you will be quite contented with this lot.’ No one on hearing this, we are sure, would demur to it or would be found wishing for anything else: each would unreservedly deem that he had been offered just what he was yearning for all the time, namely, to be so joined and fused with his beloved that the two might be made one.
“The cause of it all is this, that our original form was as I have described, and we were entire; and the craving and pursuit of that entity that is called Love.
[193c] and say I refer to Pausanias and Agathon; it may be they do belong to the fortunate few, and are both of them males by nature; what I mean is—and this applies to the whole world of men and women—that the way to bring happiness to our race is to give our love its true fulfillment: let every one find his own favorite, and so revert to his primal estate. If this be the best thing of all, the nearest approach to it among all acts open to us now must accordingly be the best to choose; and that is, to find a favorite whose nature is exactly in our mind. [Symposium, 191e-192c, 192e, 193c]

Anthenaeus (2e eeuw v. Chr.)

[601] Altogether, many persons prefer liaisons with males to thosewith females. For they maintain that this practice is zealouslypursued in those cities throughout Hellas which, as compared withothers, are ruled by good laws. The Cretans, for example, as Ihave said and the people of Chalcis in Euboea, have a marvellouspassion for such liaisons. Echemenes, at any rate, says in his History of Crete that it was not Zeus who carried off Ganymede,but Minos. But the Chalcidians just mentioned assert that Ganymedewas carried off by Zeus in their own countrv, and they point outthe place, calling it Harpagion; in it grow excellent myrtle-trees.Even his quarrel with the Athenians was given up by Minos, thoughit had arisen over the murder of his son,a because he loved Theseusand gave him his daughter Phaedra to be his wife, according toZenis (or Zeneus) of Chios in the History of his nativeland. [Deipnosophistae, 601]

Lucretius (ca. 99 – ca. 55 v. Chr.)

So, when a man is pierced by the shafts of Venus, whether they are launched by a lad with womanish limbs of a woman radiating love from here whole body, he strives towards the source of the wound and craves to be united with it and to transmit something of his own substance from body to body.  His speechless yearning is a presentiment of bliss.” [De rerum natura, Book IV, 1054-1056]

Martial (40-104 n. Chr.)

1.24 Decianus, do you see that one there with the wild hair, whose stern arrogance makes you nervous, who is making comments about the champions, the Curii and the Camilli? Don’t believe the appearance: he played the bride [nupsit] yesterday.
12.42 Bearded Callistratus gave himself in marriage to stiff Afer, in the manner in which a virgin usually gives herself in marriage to a male [viro]. The torches shone in front, the bridal veils covered his face, and wedding toasts were not absent, either. A dowry was also named. Does that not seem enough yet for you, Rome? Are you waiting for him to give birth? [Epigrammata, 1.24, 12.42]

Plutarch (45 – 127 n. Chr.)

“To return therefore to our purpose; Love, according toEuripides, with all the rest of the Gods, delights

When mortals here his honored name invoke;2

on the other side, he is no less offended when any affrontor contempt is put upon him, as he is most kind and benign to those that entertain him with proper respect. Forneither does Jupiter surnamed the Hospitable so severelyprosecute injuries done to strangers and suppliants, nor isJupiter Genitalis so rigorous in accomplishing the cursesof parents disobeyed, as Love is to listen to the complaintsof injured lovers; being the scourger and punisher ofproud, ill-natured, and ill-bred people. For, not to mentionEuxynthetus and Leucomantis, at this day in Cyprus calledthe Peeper, ’tis a hundred to one but you have heard of thepunishment inflicted upon Gorgo the Cretan, not much unlike to that of Leucomantis, only that Gorgo was turnedinto a stone as she looked out of a window to see her lovegoing to his grave. With this Gorgo Asander fell in love,a young gentleman virtuous and nobly descended, but reduced from a flourishing estate to extremity of poverty.However, he did not think so meanly of himself but that,being her kinsman, he courted this Gorgo for a wife,though she had many suitors at the same time by reasonof her great fortune; and he so carried this business that,notwithstanding his numerous and wealthy rivals, he hadgained the good-will of all her guardians and nearest relations.

Now as for those things which they say are thecauses that beget love, they are not peculiar to this or theother sex, but common to both. For it cannot be thatthose images that enter into amorous persons and whiskabout from one part to another, by their various formsmoving and tickling the mass of atoms that slide into theseed, can come from young boys, and that the same cannotcome from young women. But as to these noble andsacred remembrances with which the soul is winged, recalling that same divine, real, and Olympic beauty, whatshould hinder but that these may pass from boys and youngmen, and also from virgins and young women, whenevera disposition chaste and good-natured appears united withbloom of youth and grace of body? For, as a handsomeand well-made shoe shows the proportion of the foot (asAriston says), so they that have judgment in these matterscan discern the splendid, upright, and uncorrupted footsteps of a noble and generous soul in beautiful forms andfeatures, and bodies undefiled. For, if a voluptuous person, who when the question was put to him,
To which are your hot passions most inclined,
Or to the male, or to the female kind?

answered thus,

‘Tis the same thing to me
Where’er I beauty see,

was thought to have returned a proper and pertinent answer and one that accorded with his passions, is it possiblethat a noble and generous lover directs his amours not toloveliness and good-nature, but only to the parts that distinguish the sex? For certainly a man that delights inhorses will no less value the mettle and swiftness of Podargus, than of Aetha that was Agamemnon’s mare; andhe that is a good huntsman does not only delight in dogs,but mixes with his cry the bitches of Crete and Laconia;and shall he that is a lover as well as of civil behavior [p. 300]carry himself with an inequality more to one than toanother, and make a distinction, as of garments, betweenthe love of men and women? But some say that beautyis the flower of virtue. Will they then affirm, that thefemale sex never blossoms nor makes any show of tendencyto virtue? It were absurd to think so. Therefore wasAeschylus in the right when he said, that he could nevermistake the fire in the eye of a young woman who hadonce known a man. Now then are those signs and marks oflasciviousness, wantonness, and impudence to be discoveredin the visages of women, and shall there be no light shiningin their faces for the discovery of modesty and chastity?Nay, shall there be many such signs, and those apparent,and shall they not be able to allure and provoke love?Both are contrary to reason, and dissonant from truth.But every one of these things is common to both sexes, aswe have showed.” [Amatorius]

Claudius Ptolemaeus (ca. 100 – 160 n. Chr.)

(167) Mercury, by himself taking the domination of the soul, in an honourable position makes those who are born under him wise, shrewd, thoughtful, learned, inventive, experienced, good calculators, inquirers  p361 into nature, speculative, gifted, emulous, beneficent, prudent, good at conjecture, mathematicians, partakers in mysteries, successful in attaining their ends. In the opposite position he makes them utter rascals, precipitate, forgetful, impetuous, light-minded, fickle, prone to change their minds, foolish rogues, witless, sinful, liars, undiscriminating, unstable, undependable, avaricious, unjust, and, in general, unsteady in judgement and inclined to evil deeds.

(168) While the foregoing is true as stated, nevertheless the condition of the moon itself also makes a certain contribution. For when the moon happens to be at the bendings of its northern and southern limits,it helps, with respect to the character of the soul, in the direction of greater versatility, resourcefulness, and capacity for change; at the nodes, in the direction of greater keenness, activity, and excitability; again, at rising and in the increases of its illumination, towards greater natural endowments, renown, firmness, and frankness; and in the waning of its illumination, or its occultations towards greater sluggishness and dullness, less fixity of purpose, greater cautiousness, and less renown.

The sun also aids, when it is familiar with the planet that governs the temperament of the soul, in an honourable position modifying it in the  direction of justice, success, honour, dignity, and reverence for the gods, but in the contrary and alien position making it humbler, more industrious, less conspicuous, more savage, more obstinate, harsher, with a harder life, and in general less successful.

14. Of Diseases of the Soul.

Since the account of the principal diseases of the soul, in a sense, follows upon that of the soul’s characteristics, it is in general needful to note and observe the positions of Mercury and the moon relative to each other, to the angles, and to the planets whose nature it is to do injury; for if, while they themselves are unrelated to each other, or to the eastern horizon, they are overcome, or surrounded, or held in opposition by unfamiliar stars in injurious aspect, they cause the incidence of various diseases which affect the soul’s character. Their interpretation again is to be calculated from the previously described qualities of the planets which are familiar to the places in the sky.

(169) Indeed, most of the more moderate diseases have, in a way, already been distinguished in what has been said about the character of the soul, and their increase can be discerned from the excess of injurious influences; one might now with propriety call  “diseases” those extremes of character which either fall short of or exceed the mean. Those affections, however, which are utterly disproportionate and as it were pathological, which relate to the whole nature, and which concern both the intelligent part of the soul and its passive part, are, in brief, to be discerned as follows.

(170) In most cases those are epileptic in whose genitures the moon and Mercury are, as we said before, unrelated to each other or to the eastern horizon, while Saturn by day or Mars by night is angular and in the aspect previously described. They are violently insane when, again under the same conditions, Saturn by night and Mars by day rules the position, particularly in Cancer, Virgo, or Pisces. They are afflicted by demons and have water on the brain when the maleficent planets are in this position and control the moon in phase, Saturn when she is at conjunction, mars when she is full, and particularly in Sagittarius and Pisces. When the maleficent planets are by themselves and rule the configuration in the manner stated,  the diseases of the rational part of the soul which we have mentioned as being  caused by them are, to be sure, incurable, but latent and obscure. But if the beneficent planets Jupiter and Venus have some familiarity to them when they are themselves in the western parts and the beneficent planets are angular in the east, they make the diseases curable, but noticeable; if it be Jupiter, curable by medical treatments, a diet, or drugs; if Venus, by oracles and the aid of the gods. When the maleficent planets themselves are angular in the east and the beneficent planets are setting, the diseases which they cause are both incurable, the subject of talk, and conspicuous; in epilepsy they involve the victims in continuous attacks, notoriety, and deadly peril; in madness and seizures, they cause instability, alienation of friends, tearing off clothes, abusive language, and the like; in demonic seizures or water on the brain, possession, confession, torments, and similar manifestations. In detail, of the places that possess the configuration, those of the sun and Mars in causing madness, those of Jupiter and Mercury, epilepsy; those of Venus, divine possession and public confession; and those of Saturn and the moon, gatherings of water and demonic seizures.

(171) The morbid perversion of the active part of the soul in its general nature, therefore, is produced in some such forms as these and is produced by these configurations of the planets. The corresponding perversion of the passive portion, as in the former instance viewed in its extreme cases, is most apparent in excesses and deficiencies in matters of sex, male and female, as compared with what is natural, and in inquiry is apprehended in the same fashion as before, though the sun is taken, together with the moon, instead of Mercury, and the relation to them of Mars, together with Venus, is observed. For when these thus fall under observation, if the luminaries are unattended in masculine signs, males exceed in the natural, and females exceed in the unnatural quality, so as merely to increase the virility and activity of the soul. But if likewise Mars or Venus as well, either one or both of them, is made masculine, the males become addicted to natural sexual intercourse, and are adulterous, insatiate, and ready on every occasion for base and lawless acts of sexual passion, while the females are lustful for unnatural congresses, cast inviting glances of the eye, and are what we call tribades; for they deal with females and perform the functions of males. If Venus alone is constituted in a masculine manner, they do these things secretly and not openly. (172) But if Mars likewise is so constituted, without reserve, so that sometimes they even designate the women with whom they are on such terms as their lawful “wives.”

But on the other hand, when the luminaries in the aforesaid configuration are unattended in feminine signs, the females exceed in the natural, and the males in unnatural practice, with the result that their souls become soft and effeminate. If Venus too is made feminine, the women become depraved, adulterous, and lustful, with the result that they may be dealt with in the natural manner on any occasion and by any one soever, and so that they refuse absolutely no sexual act, though it be base or unlawful. The men, on the contrary, become effeminate and unsound with respect to unnatural congresses and the functions of women, and are dealt with as pathics, though privately and secretly. But if Mars also is constituted in a feminine manner, their shamelessness is outright and frank and they perform the aforesaid acts of either kind, assuming the guise of common bawds who submit to general abuse and to every baseness until they are stamped with the reproach and insult that attend such usages. And the rising and morning positions of both Mars and Venus have contributory effect, to make them more virile and notorious, while setting and evening positions increase femininity and sedateness. (173) Similarly, if Saturn is present, his influence joins with each of the foregoing to produce more licentiousness, impurity, and disgrace, while Jupiter aids in the direction of greater decorum, restraint, and modesty, and Mercury tends to increase notoriety, instability of the emotions, versatility, and foresight.  [Tetrabiblos, 3.14.167-173]

Clement van Alexandria (125 – 215 n. Chr.)

γυναικες ανδριζονται παρα φυσιν γαμουμεναι τε και γαμουσαι γυναικες

vertaling: vrouwen die doen alsof ze man zijn, tegen de natuur in, vrouwen die ten huwelijk worden gegeven en met vrouwen trouwen [Paidagōgos

Lucian van Samosata (125 – 180 n. Chr.)


I have heard a queer thing said about you, Leaina. People say Megilla, the wealthy lady from Lesbos, is in love with you, as if she were a man, and that she–I can’t explain how——but——. I have heard it said that the two of you couple up just like——

LEAINA (Abashed silence)

What’s the matter? You are blushing. Is it true then?

It is true, Clonarion. I am ashamed. It is so strange——

By the great Adrasteia, you must tell me about it! What does that woman require of you? Exactly what do you do when you get into bed together?

LEAINA (Abashed silence)

Now I am sure you don’t love me. If you did, you would not think of hiding such things from me.

I do love you, Clonarion. I love you more than anybody else. But this is such a strange matter. I am so ashamed. That woman is so terribly like a male.

I don’t understand. Do you mean to say she is one of those man-like females of Lesbos who will not suffer in their beds the company of men, but prefer to find pleasure, instead, with other women, as if they themselves were men?

She is somewhat like that.

CLONARION (With enthusiasm)
In that case, Leaina, tell me everything, please! How did she seduce you, in the first place? And how was it that you let Megilla have her way with you? And what came after? Tell me everything, please!

You see, Megilla and Demonassa, the Corinthian, sweating and very hot, pulled off her false hair–I had never suspected her of wearing a wig. And I saw her
head was smooth-shaven as that of a young athlete. I was quite scared to see this. But Megilla spoke up and said to me:
“Tell me, O Leaina, have you ever seen a better looking young man?”
“But I see no young man here, Megilla!” I told her.
“Now, now! Don’t you effeminate me!” she reproved. “You must understand my name is Megillos. Demonassa is my wife.”

Her words seemed so funny to me, Clonarion. I started to giggle. And I said:
“Can it be, Megillos, that you are a man and lived among us under the disguise of a woman, just like Achilles, who stayed among the girls hidden by his purple robe? And is it true that you possess a man’s organs, and that you do to Demonassa what any husband does to his wife?”
“That Leaina,” she replied, “is not entirely so. You will soon see how we shall couple up in a fashion that is much more voluptuous.”
“In that case,” I said, “you are not a hermaphrodite. They, I have been told, have both a man’s and woman’s organs.”
“No,” she said, “I am quite like a man.”
“Ismenodora, the Boietian flute player, has told me about a Theban woman who was changed into a man. A certain good soothsayer by the name of Teiresias——

Did any accident like that happen to you by chance?”
“No, Leaina,” she said. “I was born with a body entirely like that of all women, but I have the tastes and desires of a man.”
“And do those desires of yours suffice you?” I asked, smiling.
“Let me have my own way with you, Leaina, if you don’t believe me,” she answered, “and you will soon see that I have nothing to envy men for. I have something that resembles a man’s estate. Come on, let me do what I want to do and you will soon understand.”
She pleaded so hard that I let her have her way. And you must understand that she made me a gift of a splendid necklace and several tunics of the finest linen. Then I embraced her and held her in my arms, as if she wire a man. And she kissed me all over the body, and she set out to do what she had promised, panting excitedly from the great pleasure and desire that possessed her.

But exactly how did she manage it? What did she do? Tell me, Leaina! Tell me especially that!

Please, don’t ask me for details. These are shameful things. By the Mistress of Heaven, I will never, never, tell you that! [Dialogues of the Courtesans 5]

Juvenal (1e eeuw –  2e eeuw n. Chr.)

Great is the union of effeminates, nor will you find
So detestable an example set by any one of our sex.

Gracchus has given a dowry of four thousand gold pieces
For a horn-player, or one perhaps who plays the straight pipe;
The contract’s witnessed, ‘felicitations!’, a whole crowd
Asked to the feast, the ‘bride’ reclines in the husband’s lap.
O, you princes, is it a censor we need, or a prophet of doom?
Would you find it more terrible, think it more monstrous
Truly, if a woman gave birth to a calf, or a cow to a lamb?
He’s wearing brocade, the long full dress, and the veil,
He who bore the sacred objects tied to the mystic thong,
Sweating under the weight of shields. O, Romulus, Father
Of Rome, why has this evil touched the shepherds of Latium?
Where is it from, this sting that hurts your descendants, Mars?
Can you see a man noted for birth, wealth, wed to another man,
And your spear not beat the ground, your helmet stay firm,
And no complaint to the Father? Away then, forsake the stern
Campus’s acres, you neglect now. ‘I’ve a ceremony to attend
At dawn, tomorrow, down in the vale of Quirinus.’ ‘Why’s that?’
‘Why? Oh, a friend of mine’s marrying a male lover of his:
He’s asked a few guests.’ Live a while, and we’ll see it happen,
They’ll do it openly, want it reported as news in the daily gazette.
Meanwhile there’s one huge fact that torments these brides,
That they can’t give birth, and by that hang on to their husbands.
But it’s better that Nature grants their minds little power over
Their bodies: barren, they die; with her secret medicine chest,
Swollen Lyde’s no use, nor a blow from the agile Luperci.
Yet Gracchus beats even this outrage, in tunic, with trident,
A gladiator, circling the sand, as he flits about the arena:
He’s nobler in birth than the Marcelli, or the Capitolini,
Than the scions of Catulus and Paulus, or the Fabii,
Than all the front-row spectators, including Himself,
The one who staged that show with the nets and tridents.

[Satires, 2.47-48, 119, 125, 129]

Lucian (4e eeuw n. Chr.)

Het werk Amores van Lucian begint met een dialoog tussen Lycinus en Theomnestes. De tweede dialoog bestaat uit een wedstrijd tussen Callicratidas Charicles om een antwoord te vinden op de vraag wat meer wenselijk is: de liefde voor jongens of de liefde voor vrouwen, respectievelijk.

“54. May I for my part find it my lot to love boys in this way. But may the airy talkers and those who raise their philosophic brows temple-high and even higher, beguile the ignorant with the speciousness of their solemn phrases. For Socrates was as devoted to love as anyone and Alcibiades, once he had lain down beneath the same mantle with him, did not rise unassailed. Don’t be surprised at that. For not even the affection of Achilles for Patroclus was limited to having him seated opposite “waiting until Aeacides should cease his song.” No, pleasure was the mediator even of their friendship. At any rate, when Achilles was lamenting the death of Patroclus, his unrestrained feelings made him burst out with the truth and say,

“The converse of our thighs my tears do mourn
With duteous piety ”

Those whom the Greeks call “revellers” I think to be nothing but ostentatious lovers. Perhaps someone will assert this is a shameful thing to say, but, by Aphrodite of Cnidus, it’s the truth.” [Amores, 54C]

Er is dus genoeg bewijs dat in de oude Grieks-Romeinse wereld men op de hoogte was van homoseksuele relaties “in liefde en trouw”. En zelfs van “huwelijken” tussen mannen en vrouwen. Gezien deze citaten is het dan ook niet onwaarschijnlijk dat de apostel Paulus op de hoogte was geweest van homoseksuele relaties, ook die “in liefde en trouw”.