Homosexuality in ancient Greece

The evidence of homosexuality in ancient Greece are numerous. The same-sex love in ancient Greece is often cited as a model of tolerance towards homosexuality in general. However, a detailed analysis of the sources provides a more nuanced picture.

The boys love was clearly socially accepted and sometimes even encouraged. Homosexual relationships between partners of the same position and the same age appear to have been classified within the under Athenian influence Greek polis world as not desirable, but at least tolerated.


The source material for male homosexuality is relatively rich - in contrast to the female, which comes closer in a few poetic texts as well as on the situation in Sparta into view. There are numerous literary works that deal with the topic. There are records and pictorial representations of homosexual love.

The literary sources can again be distinguished into five types. From the late archaic and early classical period, there are numerous poems on the subject; in the Attic comedies, the issue is addressed; Plato treats it; the speech of Aeschines Against Timarchos is an important document, and finally there are numerous Hellenistic poetry.

The sources are geographically unevenly distributed. From the classical period they all come from Athens, from the pre-classical and Hellenistic period from all over the Greek world.

In the visual arts, especially Greek vase paintings are mentioned.