Three Revered Historical Civilizations That Embraced Pederasty

Published December 7, 2017
Updated May 23, 2020

Though the subject is highly taboo now, three of the most revered societies in all of human history practiced pederasty for centuries.

Greek Pederasty

Wikimedia CommonsGreek artwork depicting pederasty.

Though nowadays pedophilia is considered illegal, terrible, and vehemently frowned upon in most societies, there was once a time when it was seen as acceptable and even encouraged.

Ancient civilizations such as the Romans, the Greeks, and the Samurai warriors all embraced pedophilia, viewing it as a way to enlighten young children in the ways of love, and teach them how to be a better, more respectful lover later in life.

It can seem jarring, but most of the civilizations that we credit with giving us some of the most valuable tools of today openly embraced some definitely shady pastimes.

Ancient Pederasty: The Samurai


Wikimedia Commons A piece of artwork depicting the Samurai practice of “shudō”

The Samurai referred to the ritualistic practice of taking a young boy as a lover as “Shudō,” or, “The Way of the Young.”

The purpose of the union was to allow young men to form an apprentice-like bond with a warrior and learn from him everything there was to know about becoming a warrior. The Samurai would teach the young boy about martial arts, warrior etiquette, and the code of honor shared amongst the Samurai. The union would often continue past adulthood, and turn into a form of friendship inspired by loyalty.

Until the boy came of age, the bond was sexual in nature. The warriors believed that sexual relations with women weakened the mind, body, and spirit, and thus turned to men instead, seeing the union as sharing each other’s battle spirits.

However, the battle spirits could only be shared for a certain amount of time, as when the boys began to grow facial hair and bulk up, or turn from boys to men, the relationship was considered inappropriate. After that, the boy would continue to serve his older partner in battle, until he could choose a younger male partner of his own, and pass down the teachings he had learned.

The practice of shudō was carried out from medieval times all the way until the 19th century when the concept took on a more taboo nature.

Katie Serena
A former staff writer at All That's Interesting, Katie Serena has also published work in Salon.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
Cite This Article
Serena, Katie. "Three Revered Historical Civilizations That Embraced Pederasty.", December 7, 2017, Accessed April 20, 2024.