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Table of Contents > 2.10 Xenophon, Constitution of the Lacedaemonians

2.10: Xenophon, Constitution of the Lacedaemonians 2.12-14

This treatise discusses Spartan customs, some of which are traced back to the legendary lawgiver Lycurgus, who is variously dated from 900-775 BCE. Many of the customs attributed to him were probably of much later origin.

[12] It seems to me that something must also be said about the love of boys; for this too has a bearing on education. The other Greeks either do as the Boeotians do, where man and boy are joined as couples and live together, or like the Eleans, who get to enjoy the charms of boys by making them grateful; there are also those who wholly prevent boy-lovers from conversing with boys. [13] But Lycurgus' views were opposed to all of these: if a man who was decent and upright admired the soul of a boy and tried to spend time with him and to make him his friend without bringing blame on him, he approved this and called it the noblest form of education; if on the other hand someone seemed to lust after a boy's body, he laid down that this was the most shameful of all things and that in Lacedaemonia29 boy-lovers should keep their hands off boys just as parents do not lay hands on their own children or brothers on their own brothers. [14] It does not however surprise me that certain people do not believe this: in most of the Greek cities, the laws do not oppose mens' desire for boys. Thus the Laconian education system, as well as that of the other Greeks, has been explained. Which of them produces men who are more trustworthy and more modest and more self-controlled when it is necessary, anyone who is interested may judge for himself.
This website makes available to the public the first two chapters of Homosexuality in Greece and Rome: A Sourcebook of Basic Documents, edited by Thomas K. Hubbard and published by University of California Press in April 2003. The index also lists the rest of the sourcebook's contents; the book may be ordered at www.ucpress.edu, list price $34.95 paperback. In addition, a file of close to 200 pertinent artistic images is assembled, including those published in the sourcebook and many others. Acknowledgement is made to University of California Press for permission to reproduce this material, as well as to the various museums that have granted permission to use their photographic images. Comments may be directed to Prof. Hubbard at tkh@mail.utexas.edu.