Elites in Ancient Greece and Rome
Studying the classics—especially Plato’s Symposium—will teach us many things. Among them, that the road to adulthood in Ancient Greece included the interaction between a male mentor and a male youth, which was occasionally sexual. What we might consider today as pedophilia was seen then as “boy-love,” or the relationship between a grown adult and a pubescent boy who would not be considered an adult until he was able to grow a full beard.
But there were also same-sex romantic relationships in ancient Greece and Rome between adults. In the 4th century B.C., for example, a Greek troop formed exclusively by male lovers—known as the Sacred Band of Thebes—was considered to be the top-of-the-class of the Theban army. Ancient documents tell us that the Sacred Band was formed by 150 male couples because their mutual love and dedication to one another forced them to fight fiercely.