Plato without the Pederasty
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Published in: March-April 2012 issue.


Classical Culture and Modern MasculinityClassical Culture and Modern Masculinity
by Daniel Orrells
Oxford University Press.  301 pages, $125.



THIS INFORMATIVE STUDY explores the research and writings of 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century German and British scholars on the classical Greek student-teacher relationship. Classical Culture and Mod- ern Masculinity, by Daniel Orrells, shows how ambivalent these scholars were when viewing the customs of the ancient world. On the one hand, Socrates and his pupils seemed very similar to the teachers and students at German and British universities, especially at Oxford and Cambridge, with their one-on-one tutorial systems. On the other hand, the issue of pederasty, which played an important role in the education of young Greek men, seemed alien and troubling to modern scholars, even those who may have been homosexually inclined themselves. While modern educators wished to connect their efforts to the work of the ancient Greeks, which they saw as exemplary and worthy of emulation in many respects, they struggled to come to terms with an institution for which they lacked even a vocabulary to discuss.

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