three pairs of lovers with space

THE EARLIEST PEDERAST BY PARKER ROSSMAN

 

The following is the one of the sections of the seventh chapter of Dr. Parker Rossman’s Sexual Experience Between Men and Boys (originally published in 1976), entitled "The Uses of History", and introduced here.

 

The Earliest Pederast

Despite the helpful inferences of anthropologists, who may draw wrong conclusions about prehistoric folk from the study of aboriginals today, we can only speculate about pederasty among the earliest primitive societies.[1] While females stayed behind to tend fires and care for the children, men and boys must have huddled together at night when on hunting expeditions. Surely there would have been sexual joking and horseplay in such an all-male society. The man who did not have a warm-blooded young companion when it was cold may well have borrowed one from a friend, as men exchange sons at the Oasis of Siwa.[2] In many societies, in the absence of women, clowning youngsters provided the evening’s entertainment around the fire with provocative dancing and singing. All adolescents were adults and in a sense all men were children, ready to enjoy themselves in whatever ways were possible. Youngsters have always been sexually exploited,[3] and evidence from the earliest known cultures shows that captive boys, orphans, and strays from other tribes were fair game to be worked and exploited. The more attractive boys and girls could be sex objects for men without mates, and soon the most attractive captives became slaves to be set aside as servants and entertainers for the pleasure and amusement of the chief men of the tribe.

Prehistoric Times by Pierre Joubert

At the same time there was a great difference between tribes, and far from being sexually uninhibited, many, like aboriginals today, were no doubt highly structured and superstitious. Sex taboos may have developed when, because of its relation to birth, men began to view sex as something sacred; priests laid down rules to avoid making the gods angry, and to prevent tensions between men and families. We may assume that men have always been jealous and protective of offspring of their own tribe, but the young of other tribes were vulnerable. At best, such a captive or slave might have been a pet, a plaything, a toy for sexual amusement, and when older a prostitute or catamite. Many peoples had certain seasons when taboos were suspended, when the entire tribe would be permitted to revel and enjoy sex. Orgies, of course, were religious, and sex play was tolerated at festival times, even when otherwise restricted except among adolescents and the unmarried. So we may conclude that prehistoric peoples discovered pederasty much as unsupervised boys today, without any tutoring from others, frequently discover enjoyable kinds of sex play with each other. Also, it should be remembered that the words child or youngster no doubt meant something quite different in societies where a boy was an adult at puberty.

In a society of warriors, captured youngsters were raised and trained to serve the victors, which may also have facilitated the exploitation of women. While ordinary people may have been much the same throughout history, the rulers of some of the earliest known societies set an example of pleasure-seeking, in which slaves were trained from an early age for singing, dancing, and sexual amusement. In this context, pederasty became something quite different from playful man-boy sex of a tutoring variety, as may have existed in earlier tribal society. In ancient Persia,[4] for example, as in much of Asia at the beginning of history, pederasty became an exploited vice, typical of exploitive sexual cultures. Captive boys were castrated, depilated, perfumed, and abused in a sensuous pederasty which sought exotic pleasures, with erotic sensations different from ordinary coitus. Pederasty became a cultivated taste of heterosexual men who despised gay-homosexuals, for they were not seeking love, but play and diversion.[5]

 

[1] Actually we can do much better, as Dr. Bruce Rind was to show in two ground-breaking papers, the last of which was "Pederasty: An Integration of Empirical, Historical, Sociological, Cross-Cultural, Cross-Species and Evolutionary Evidence and Perspectives" in Censoring Sex Research; The Debate over Male Intergenerational Relations edited by Thomas K. Hubbard & Beert Verstraete, 2013. What Rossman by comparison failed most conspicuously to do was to consider the possible evolutionary functions of pederasty or to draw on the fair amount known about pederasty among other large primates, both of which would have allowed him to make critically important inferences about its practice among prehistoric humans. As a result, his speculative explanations are unconvincingly frivolous.

[2] W. B. Cline, Notes on the People of Siwa, Menasha, Wis.: Geo. Banta, 1936 [Author’s footnote].

[3] Lloyd De Mause, “The Evolution of Childhood,” History of Childhood Quarterly 1, no. 4 (Spring, 1974) [Author’s footnote]. Rossman’s conclusion that “youngsters have always been exploited” is undeniable, but his source is unfortunate, for De Mause is totally blind to the other side of the coin, that youngsters have always been loved too, most conspicuously by their parents, but also by others. In a staggering display of ignorance of pre-20th century literature, De Mause claims, for example, that loving fathers are a uniquely recent phenomenon.

[4] See Mary Renault, The Persian Boy. New York: Pantheon, 1972; D. H. Cory, Homosexuality: A Cross Cultural Approach (New York: Julian Press, 1956) p. 31: “The Persians believed that paiderastia originated in the highlands of Armenia.” [Author’s footnote].
     Rossman’s first source cited here is a novel, not a historical study, albeit an excellent and historically-realistic one. What he is getting at here is Renault’s depiction of the Persian King Darius III’s catamite Bagoas, but Renault herself stressed that nothing is actually known about their relationship beyond Curtius Rufus’s statement that Bagoas “had been loved by Darius”. Bagoas was indeed a eunuch, but no historical source exists to support Rossman’s claim that, among the Persians (or any other ancient people), boys were “depilated, perfumed, and abused in a sensuous pederasty which sought exotic pleasures, with erotic sensations different from ordinary coitus.” It is believable of course, but the only source is Rossman’s imagination.
     The statement of his second source is worthless, as any truthful memory of the place of origin of pederasty would have to have been down passed from the ancient Persians, and knowledge or theory of where they might have thought they got it from is restricted to Herodotos’s claim (The Histories I 135) that “the Greeks taught them pederasty”. As bad, Rossman is contradicting himself, since, on his next page, he has Cory claiming that the Persians believed “pederasty had begun in Crete” instead.

[5] See D. H. Cory, Homosexuality: A Cross Cultural Approach (New York: Julian Press, 1956), and on early Hindu society, B. Walker, The Hindu World: An Encyclopedia (New York: Praeger, 1968), Vol. II, p. 199. [Author’s footnote].

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