Sexuality of Alexander

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Greek girl

Sexuality of Alexander

Post by Greek girl »

Well, I decided to write because I can't stand the fact that some people believe that Alexander was homosexual. The people who have read about the ancient history of Greece they are sure informed that (possibly) a lot of men used to have very close friends - erastes in greek -, beloved. That doesn't mean that there weren't men who had just friendship with other men. Alexander had a very strong friendship with Hphaistion but I do not believe that they were lovers. The Macedonian people didn't respect the gay people - maybe they accepted that there were homosexuals but they ignored them. So it was impossible to follow Alexander while they didn't respect him.
Linda
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Re: Sexuality of Alexander

Post by Linda »

There has been a lot of discussion on this, so I won't say too much about terminology etc But just one question. What about Philip? What do you think about the evidence of his male lovers? And, I don't think I am wrong in saying that erastes and eromenos refers specifically to those who are romantically involved - not just good friends.Also, why can't you stand the thought? It's all part of life's rich tapestry..
gb
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Re: Sexuality of Alexander

Post by gb »

Dear Katerina,You've said it all: *YOU* can't stand it. Don't look for a solution in the past.
Thalestris

Re: Sexuality of Alexander

Post by Thalestris »

Linda,I like that 'tapestry of life' image:-)Thalestris
S

Re: Sexuality of Alexander

Post by S »

Greetings Katerina,The three respondents above have stated the problem well:No matter how much modern culture/religion/personal feelings come into play, it does not and cannot revise history to reflect what some societies/religions/people are comfortable with today. Re-interpreting customs, language, mythology, social mores and nature to reflect private or modern so-called "morality" does not change what was. Please read the ancient texts with a less prejudicial (and therefore more accurate)eye; then read Zimmerman's brief article on this site and Dover's book on greek homosexuality to start you out on a more objective approach.Finally, it would be nice if we could set aside labels like "homosexual" and "heterosexual" when discussing Alexander's sexual behaviours. These labels did not exist at the time; what *mattered* what *how* a man conducted his affairs (which is why Philip's actions bespoke ill of himself) and the active/passive role (which is why Philip was still considered manly despite some of his actions). The sexual continuum existed then as now; rigid labels become pointless and say more about the person applying them than Alexander.

Regards,
Sikander
susa

Re: Sexuality of Alexander

Post by susa »

Hey , people, what about stop arguing 'bout deceased people's sex life and try and have some fun?It's CARNIVAL SEASON!! MARDIS GRAS!! Lots of sun. and blue skyes!Oh, for the ones below the Equator... sorry! ;)Go out and try enjoying yrselves! Don't keep staring at the comp!! Bad for the eyes, you know.
ruthaki
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Re: Sexuality of Alexander

Post by ruthaki »

And besides, it was just 'life' in those times.
Why should any of it really both us? We live in a time of a different morality.
Linda
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Re: Sexuality of Alexander

Post by Linda »

Actually, Katarina's post made me reconsider something I have thought of in the past. This is all just speculation, but it may have been important for Alexander to exhibit an interest in women, precisely because he was the King and leader of men, and if he had only been interested in the same sex, he would have cut himself off from a lot of conversation/activity. It has been one hypothesis (in my head...) that his interest in women was fairly token - mistresses suggested by other people, other interest limited to the odd comment. It was obviously important that he, as the Prince, was interested in women, as proved by Olympias's intervention by getting him a lady-friend. Some of this would have been to prove is virility, gettign children, but Katerina may have a point that someone with no interest in women at all may have separated himself from his men. Maybe. Maybe not. Alexander did like to be in the thick of things. For another kind of personality it may not have been an issue..Idle speculation. :)
S

Re: Sexuality of Alexander

Post by S »

Greetings,Yes, that's true. Alexander was not only naturally inclined towards being "in the thick of things" but a leader/king cannot afford *not* to be there if he/she is going to be worth anything as a leader. I tend to agree with your assessment regarding the marriages, in that they were,if one examines *who* and what ATG gained from them, carefully planned to secure an area, a place or a position. Obvious political marriages (common enough among all aristo then as now) to further Alexander's agenda.It could be said that Alexander seldom entered into intimate relationships with females without an "end plan"... despite romantic wishes to the contrary.And yes, being "one of the guys" was also critical in a warrior culture, which Makedon certainly was. Like all such cultures, men engage in behaviours/talk they might not normally be inclined to do in order to secure position, gain respect and create esprit de corps. Regards,
Sikander
beausefaless
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Re: Sexuality of Alexander

Post by beausefaless »

Would you believe me if I told you Alexander was a butch.
jan
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Re: Sexuality of Alexander

Post by jan »

NO!
jan
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Re: Sexuality of Alexander

Post by jan »

Katerina,Your opinion is as good as any other person's opinion.I agree that the lifelong friendship between Hephaestion and Alexander is much deeper than a sexual relationship could ever produce. It is highly unlikely that the moral, upright, spiritual, and sound Alexander ever engaged in sexual misconduct of any kind. He strived to be a superhuman person, believing himself one of the gods.
S

Re: Sexuality of Alexander

Post by S »

Greetings Jan,I will try to post again; I seem to be having trouble getting messages through..You are again putting your own modern perception of what constitutes 'morality' onto the ancient Makedonians. They were not focused on "heterosexuality as normal" and that concept would have been alien to them; the focus was on how a person conducted an affair and in what manner. Also, morality for men was more an issue of honour, character and conduct, which can be different in a warrior culture than other times.Alexander was not perfect; he made errors- some grievous (elements of Tyre were appalling to even his own men)- he was not above a bit of bullying and grandstanding to achieve his goals- he was also unusual in his time and culture for his kindnesses, his continence, and his stamina and determination. But he was not acting in a vacumn, he had those who had come before to light his path: Cyrus, Achilles, etc. Alexander was well-educated, he knew the "classics" of his own period and his own world's history, and was inspired as much by the rulers and warriors who preceded him as from his own personality.That he honoured the gods was not unusual in his world and time; that he had a dream of ruling a vast empire is also true (though romantic notions of what he envisioned must be carefully constructed- never doubt, had Alexander lived, that he would have crushed anyone/ any group who tried to withdraw or separate from his empire), that he would have enjoyed exploring the known and unknown world is also true, but then he would have failed in his duties as King- so it was a complex world he lived in, and his own restless nature would eventually have won out, one way or another, which would have left his legacy quite different than it is today. Was he moral, upright, spiritual, etc? Yes- but according to his *own* world, not this one. Was he ruthless, arrogant, prideful? Yes- and sometimes he even upset those inhis own warrior culture. Was he man or god? A bit of both, whether symbolically or literally- as are we all- and more than most men and less than he could have been.Regards,
Sikander
jan
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Re: Sexuality of Alexander

Post by jan »

Hello Sikander,I recall reading that Alexander had criticized the overt sexual behaviour of a body of men of one of the cities that he had sacked. It was early in his career shortly after he assumed the reign after his father's demise. I forget whether it is Thebes or Tyre, but it seems as though an inner circle had offended him in their overt display of what he considered to be "inappropriate" behaviour. I also believe that this has probably been discussed already on this board, yet I have forgotten who pointed it out.It occurs to me that Alexander is an elitist and it would appear so in his personal conduct as well as his performance in olympic games. It is said that he would not participate in the games unless with another person who is also a king.I believe that he became sexually involved only with women who were reigning queens or members of a royal family for the same reason. It is not a matter of ascribing today's mores onto yesterday's mores. Ours all stem from a long history as well, in which we have all been indoctrinated through family and friends as these codes of conduct have passed from one generation to another throughout time.I simply consider than in a medical sense of terminology that normal sexual behaviour is male/female for the creative purpose of propagation of the species. It is simple. Abnormal behaviour is any deviation from that norm, including incestual behaviour, pedophilia, etc.etc.etc., and that also includes homosexual behaviour. I could be base and crude but I prefer to keep it to the sensibilities of technical language.
S

Re: Sexuality of Alexander

Post by S »

Greetings Jan,Alexander *did* object to his men raping women, and expressed this dismay, as would any man or woman of honour- though rape of the conquered was "normal" for the times, which set Alexander apart. And of course, slaves had no say whatsoever in what happened to them, and that was considered "normal"- so we need to be careful in trying to apply concepts of "normalcy as 'right'"Procreative sex exists as a biological reality- but both in the human and animal kingdom, sexual acts of all manners *are* normal, and normally found in almost all species, as anyone who has raised, studied or worked with animals can attest. The concept of "normal" sex being male/female with a specific focus on procreative sex as as the only "normal" act is, for the most part, a creation of religion and control of *female* sex to ensure paternity and inheritance.Thankfully, paedophilia has become illegal in many countries, but it is a fact that many young girls were married off to older men- and that is a traditonal aspect of many cultures today- I don't have to agree with it, but it is important to recognize it is "normal" in far too many cultures.Bottom line: modern mores *do* come into play for many people when they try to determine what was "normal" for the ancient world and even for other current cultures. Like anthropology, the most critical- and least likely- element needed is objectivity and disinterested approaches.Regards,
Sikander
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