Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Some Common Misconceptions about Pederasty in Ancient Greece

Pederasty, or the ancient practice of mentoring, was a social institute similar to modern day networking with religious and military implications that originated in Crete. This practice had nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the men involved. The mentor and his youth were more likely to be straight than homosexual, but since this was a social practice every male citizen (BTW that is redundant) participated regardless of orientation.

Sexual interactions between the older erastes (mentor) and eromenos (youth/future citizen) occurred in Crete and Athens primarily, although it varied from city-state to city-state. The only acceptable form of sexual activity between the two men was intercrural in nature. The term erastes means lover, eromenos means beloved.

What is intercrural? Intercrural refers to the older man placing his penis between the youth's thighs. This is literal and not an euphemism. Sexual activity was regulated by the class distinctions between the individuals. Penetration was for women and slaves, not men. And most definitely not social equals or even future citizens. In fact, penetration of a free man was considered to be a form of hubris, the ultimate sin.

The beardless youth was courted by one or more prospective mentors. The young man (mid-teens) was expected to chose the most noble man. However once he became a man, and developed a beard and body hair, he was expected to marry and produce heirs. The mentor was to remain supportive of his protege.

Even in Athens, the city-state were pederasty was most strongly tied to sexual behavior, the relationship was only intended to last for a few years. Sometimes a youth became a kept boy, but he did so at the risk of losing his citizenship and all the associated rights, especially the right to vote.

The Spartans practiced pederasty strictly for its religious and military aspects. The mentor was given the place of foster father. At least since the time of their greatest lawgiver Lycurgus, any sexual relations between the men required they either commit suicide or go into exile to redeem the affront to Sparta's honor (Aelian).

The Sacred Band of Thebes (378-338 BC) was made up of 150 pairs of male lovers. The rational being that "a band cemented by friendship grounded upon love, is never to be broken, and invincible; since all, ashamed to be base in the sight of their beloved (eromenos), willingly rush into danger for the relief of one another." Three hundred warriors were chosen and then grouped into pairs with an older man (erastes - lover) sworn to a younger man (eromenos - beloved). This group of warriors so impressed Philip of Macedonia, that even after their final defeat he said, "Perish any man who suspects that these men either did or suffered any thing that was base."

As you can see, the practice of pederasty varied significantly in the ancient world and making broad generalizations about it is impossible.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Don't Throw Stones at Glass Shoes

Naughty Nursery Rhymes Rule #1
Don't throw stones at glass shoes. - Cinder

Cinder is the main character in From the Ashes.

From the Ashes is a Cinderfella (m/m version of Cinderella) roughly set in 16th century France.

Roughly? you ask. It's a fairy tale, all of which are roughly set in a previous era. What does this mean? It means that magic and a fairy godmother exist in my story, but probably not in real 16th century France.

Unfortunately if you were looking for a story about a 16th century laundress, you will have to look elsewhere.

If you were looking for a cute, heartwarming m/m fairy tale, look no farther.

Dancing couples parted effortlessly around them as the elegant man escorted him to the center of the floor. Cinder's cumbersome skirts swayed and swept the floor, threatening to entangle his feet past any hope of grace.
Fighting down panic, Cinder frantically searched his memories for how to waltz. He could do this. He had to do this. He couldn't risk discovery. He quailed at the punishment meted out to servants impersonating nobility. If anyone guessed, he would be beaten or worse.
Fumbling as he tried to remember which hand went where, Cinder placed his right hand on a broad velvet-covered shoulder. Strong, warm fingers enfolded his other hand and gave a reassuring squeeze. The man seemed to sense his unease. The awkward way he held himself, all tense and tight, had to be unmistakable.
Cinder corrected himself several times as he either stepped off with the wrong foot or tried to lead. How was he supposed to do this without harming either one of them? Why couldn't it have been a pavane?
The blasted slippers were so slick that Cinder had to hang on to the other man more than he wanted to just to remain on his feet. He had the distinct impression that the noble got the wrong idea from that.
The man caught his eye and smiled, somewhat more predatorily than Cinder was entirely comfortable with. What was going through the aristocrat's mind? Cinder began to feel like one of the small cakes the footmen carried on silver trays.
Did he want this man to gaze on him in that fashion? Cinder blushed and turned his face awkwardly away. He needed to concentrate on the dance. He didn't have the luxury of sharing soulful glances and chattering like a magpie.
He needed to find some way to extricate himself before he made a mistake and gave himself away. He didn’t normally have to worry so much because everyone already knew he was a girl and would ignore anything he did. But this man saw him with fresh eyes unhampered by the fiction of Cinderella. He would recognize any misstep.

The longer they were together, the more his risk increased. If he could escape quickly enough, the other man might never realize the deception. The noble might not care about an awkward woman he shared one dance with, but as the lie grew ever bigger, the duped man’s anger, if Cinder were discovered, would too.

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

What's New with Apollo's Men

I know it's been a while since I said anything about how the series Apollo's Men is progressing. First it was because I couldn't get Blogger to work. Then it was because I was writing and writing and writing...

Now that I've got Blogger working and have made some substantial progress, it's time for an update.

Alexios' Fate was the first story in the series. Some readers felt it contained unresolved issues because let's face it, it's a series so I couldn't fix everything in book 1.

I immediately set about writing book 2 (it's untitled) to begin resolving one of the biggest issues as far the readers were concerned. I was about 1/2 way through with the MS when I received a call for an anthology of historical short stories (Lust in Time). So what did I do?

I wrote a short story entitled 496 BC. It is Alexios' Fate 1.5 and told from Galen's POV. He deserved to tell his side of the story. And boy did he!

Then of course, I went back to work on book 2. I even had the vague outline for book 3, A Spartan Love. About 2/3 through the MS (Are you sensing a theme here?), I realized that A Spartan Love takes place before and a bit concurrently with book 2. So I started on A Spartan Love.

But there was still one unfilled spot in that anthology. A short story about how Theron and Andreas from A Spartan Love first got together formed. No matter what I did, I couldn't keep Taming Theron under the 7K word limit. I chopped all over the place, but it felt like it had taken a hatchet to it. Finally, I gave up and made it into a novel.

Now (Finally!) I'm working on A Spartan Love. I'm about 1/2 through with this MS. But don't worry, I won't be switching gears. Because of how Taming Theron ends, I have to have A Spartan Love ready to release soon after Taming Theron. I don't plan on subbing them separately.

Then I'll get back to that poor unnamed MS. So I actually have three books written or nearly written and getting close to being subbed.

I also have a vague outline for an untitled book 5. Then I have a couple of contemporaries I really want to work on.

Apollo's Men:
Alexios' Fate
496 BC
Taming Theron
A Spartan Love
Untitled book 4
Untitled book 5