Pederasty is an ancient Greek form of interaction in which members of the same s$x would partake in the pleasures of an intellectual and/or s$xual relationship as part of a socially acceptable ancient custom.
The question of whether the ideal pederastic relationship was the most common form of pederasty in Greece, or whether the reality of ancient same-s$x desire involved relationships between males of the same age, is one that has been contested between scholars for many years.
The ideal pederastic relationship in ancient Greece involved an erastes (an older male, usually in his mid- to late-20s) and an eromenos (a younger male who has passed puberty, usually no older than 18).
This age difference between the erastes and the eromenos was of the utmost importance to the scheme of the ideal pederastic relationship.
The secret of Greek homosexuality has only ever been a secret to those who neglected to inquire. The Greeks themselves were hardly coy about it.
Their descendants under the Roman empire were amazed to read what their ancestors had written centuries earlier, drooling in public over the thighs of boys, or putting words into the mouth of Achilles in a tragic drama, as he remembered the “kisses thick and fast” he had enjoyed with his beloved Patroclus.
The Romans certainly noticed what they called the “Greek custom”, which they blamed on too much exercising with not enough clothes on.
Christians mocked a people who worshipped gods who kidnapped handsome boys like Ganymede, or who, like Dionysus, promised a man his body in exchange for information about how to get into the underworld.
Nor was it forgotten in the Middle Ages, when Greek Ganymede became a codeword for sodomitical vice. We hear of laws that punished men who “mixed with” or even “chatted” with boys.
There has long been debate about the true nature of this Greek custom – what the Greeks called eros, a “passionate life-churning love”, or philia, “fond intimacy”. Was it essentially sublime or sodomitical?
A source of anxiety or a cause for celebration? Sometimes the Greeks seemed to approve of it wholeheartedly, even to suggest that it was the highest and noblest form of love. And other times they seemed to condemn it. Sometimes the ideal seems to be a spiritual, passionate but unconsummated “Platonic” love.