The Greeks and Greek Love: A Bold New Exploration of the Ancient World

James Davidson, Author . Random $40 (789p) ISBN 978-0-375-50516-4

Ithis marvelously entertaining and erudite follow-up to Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens , Davidson has written the definitive study of the varieties of same-sex love in ancient Greece. Abjuring recent theory-laden views of ancient Greek sexuality, and in particular homosexuality, Davidson examines the great variety of loves practiced across all ages and classes in such locales as Sparta, Crete and Macedonia. He draws deeply on etymology, philology, archeology, poetry and philosophy, observing, for instance, that the various Greek words for love—from agape (fondness) to pothos (longing) and eros (driving love)—define an amatory universe in which a variety of feelings and sexual practices characterize relationships between individuals. Thus, love manifests itself differently depending on whether “the lovers are Spartan women, gods and heroes, comrades-in-arms or master and slave.” There is the sweet and playful eros of the lyric poets, the patriotic eros of Pericles' funeral speech, and the letters of Alexander that reject offers to send him the most beautiful boys in the world. Davidson's study is brilliant social history and a first-rate history of classical Greece. B&w illus. (May 26)

Reviewed on: 03/30/2009
Release date: 05/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
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