5 Historical Examples Of Why “One Man, One Woman” Has Never Been The Only Option

Published February 2, 2016
Updated October 14, 2019

Elites in Ancient Greece and Rome

Homosexual Societies Warren Cup

The famous Warren Cup, named after its British collector, is a 1st century Roman drinking cup. This, its least explicit side, shows two men engaged in sexual intercourse. Source: Wikipedia

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.

Teresa Cantero
Teresa is a freelance journalist and former Fulbright scholar now based in Spain. She has an M.S. in Global Affairs from New York University and a Bachelors in Journalism from the Universidad de Navarra.