Beert Verstraete's work on homosexuality and slavery in Rome provided a valuable clue to that culture, but John Boswell's reading of early Christian attitudes appeared open to question.
Boswell's thesis, briefly stated, was that the Christian church did not develop markedly hostile views of same-sex relations until the twelfth century. But a candid examination of the evidence soon indicated that, from the very birth of Christianity, a hatred existed fully comparable to the hatred directed at pagans and Jews in the first millennium and at heretics, Jews, and witches in the first seven centuries of the second. Certainly, the resulting deaths were in this case fewer, but the rhetorical con-.
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Homosexuality and Civilization By Louis Crompton. No cover image.
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Read preview. Excerpt The idea for this book was spurred by the fate of a pioneering course on homosexuality I helped organize as long ago as Read preview Overview. Merlino Harrington Park Press, David A. See our disclaimer. Sweeping in scope, elegantly crafted, and lavishly illustrated, this volume is a stunning exploration of a rich and terrible past.
How have major civilizations of the last two millennia treated people who were attracted to their own sex? In a narrative tour de force, Louis Crompton chronicles the lives and achievements of homosexual men and women alongside a darker history of persecution, as he compares the Christian West with the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, Arab Spain, imperial China, and pre-Meiji Japan. Ancient Greek culture celebrated same-sex love in history, literature, and art, making high claims for its moral influence. By contrast, Jewish religious leaders in the sixth century B.
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When these two traditions collided in Christian Rome during the late empire, the tragic repercussions were felt throughout Europe and the New World. Louis Crompton traces Church-inspired mutilation, torture, and burning of "sodomites" in sixth-century Byzantium, medieval France, Renaissance Italy, and in Spain under the Inquisition. But Protestant authorities were equally committed to the execution of homosexuals in the Netherlands, Calvin's Geneva, and Georgian England.
The root cause was religious superstition, abetted by political ambition and sheer greed.
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Yet from this cauldron of fears and desires, homoerotic themes surfaced in the art of the Renaissance masters--Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Sodoma, Cellini, and Caravaggio--often intertwined with Christian motifs. Anti-homosexual atrocities committed in the West contrast starkly with the more tolerant traditions of pre-modern China and Japan, as revealed in poetry, fiction, and art and in the lives of emperors, shoguns, Buddhist priests, scholars, and actors.
Review: Homosexuality and Civilisation | Strangers | Books | The Guardian
In the samurai tradition of Japan, Crompton makes clear, the celebration of same-sex love rivaled that of ancient Greece. Sweeping in scope, elegantly crafted, and lavishly illustrated, Homosexuality and Civilization is a stunning exploration of a rich and terrible past.
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