Greek Geo

The Greek’s Swansong… Starting by Socrates and the Greek symbol for the ultimate and most beautiful art! “Swansong” is experiencing the last chance for an artist to show the world that he was chosen by the gods…

The Greek’s Swansong…

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The Greek’s Swansong… Starting by Socrates and the Greek symbol for the ultimate and most beautiful art! “Swansong” is experiencing the last chance for an artist to show the world that he was chosen by the gods…

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Two Shepherds

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“Two Shepherds”


Homosexuality In Ancient Times And Current Naked Wrestling





“Naked Wrestling”







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There is a strange parallel between the Ancient Time Art representing homosexuality acts and the various representation of naked wrestling today

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“Two Shepherds”



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Athens, March 2010: Have you ever read the novels ofMary Renault? The ones dealing with gay couples in ancient Greece, beginning with The Last of the Wine(1956) and ending with Funeral Games (1981)? These romances (now out of print, but search for copies onArbery Books) were almost compulsory reading for gay men of a literary bent in the 1960s and 1970s. The idea of a man courting a pubescent youth is not unique to Athens and Sparta – it comes up in mediaeval Japan, the Arab empire, parts of Africa and many other cultures at different times in human history – but it is the Hellenic ideal that most Westerners are familiar with. Indeed, it was so ingrained in our psyche that in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries many gay men referred to “Greek love” in an attempt to legitimise their sexuality.

Scores of popular and scholarly books covered the topic from every angle, but for the first time an exhibition (ending 11 April 2010) in the Greek capital has recognised the importance of sex between men and youths in classical Greece. Eros: from Hesiod’s Theogony to Late

Antiquity at the Museum of Cyladic Art looks at both the idea of the god of sexual desire and at the different ways in which sex was expressed.

In the eighth century BCE the writer Hesiod described the origins of the world and the gods in his Theogony. In that work, Eros was a virile youth who had emerged out of the Chaos that existed as Creation. Neither humans nor gods could avoid Eros’ arrows, which bestowed the ecstasies and agonies of love on all who were hit by them. By the fifth century BCE, however, the god had dwindled to child in the eyes of his worshipers. The son of Aphrodite, goddess of beauty, he played in her arms or attended her toilet. At times, however, he was mischievous and her punishment was to redden his backside with her slipper, bringing tears to his eyes. He still conferred love on his victims, but he had taken on other duties as well, overseeing the fertility of plants, making music and joining the mourners at someone’s death.

In later years, Eros grew older again. By the last century BCE, his fate was closely linked with Psyche, the human soul. These two adolescents could not live without each other but they did not fully understand either their own needs or the needs of their partner. This led to much unhappiness, with artefacts of the time showing how Eros often tortured Psyche and how Psyche would subdue and bind Eros to her will. At the end of their torments, however, the pair learnt to live together peacefully and bring each other happiness – as depicted in the exhibition poster above.

(We should not be surprised by these changes in Eros’ personality. All religions are moulded by the needs of their believers; in Christianity, for example, perceptions of Jesus, the Virgin and God Himself have changed significantly in the last two thousand years.)

The idea of Eros firmly embedded in our minds, the exhibition moves us on to the realities of sexual life in ancient Greece. We can never know exactly who does what with which parts of their anatomy and with whom and how often and for how long (it’s only in the last fifty years that we have begun detailed research into such basic information), but a lot can be deduced from the artefacts and writings that have survived. And from these sources the Musuem has focused on three topics – prostitution, homoeroticism and the bucolic life.

It’s a small exhibition, covering several centuries, which means that it is more general than specific and we should remember that generalisations should always be treated with care. (Life in Athens differed greatly from life in Sparta, for example; likewise the lot of women in Athens improved considerably between 600 and 300 BCE.) Nevertheless, the displays offer interesting insights, reminding us that female prostitution was widespread and took different forms – in whorehouses, on the streets, in the houses of courtesans – that phallic symbols were widespread as sources of humour and that “free” women might be as isolated from public life as are women in some Muslim countries today.

As for homoerotic life in ancient Athens . . . there is no doubt that it flourished – but what allowed it to do so? and what form did that life take?

Start with these facts: respectable women could not enter public life; the male body was considered the epitome of beauty; free, wealthy men of all ages spent hours each day exercising naked in the gymnasium (gymnos = naked). Stir into that mix the predominantly homosexual orientation of some men and the predominantly sexual orientation of many others (I want to have sex and it doesn’t matter who with) and you have a social world in which male relationships are accepted without comment.

Yet these relationships differed considerably from the partnerships that we mostly see today. For a start, there was expected to be a significant age difference between the lovers. The older man (the erastes – the one who loves) was expected to train and educate the younger partner (the eromenos – the one who is loved) in civic and military affairs. Youths were not expected to initiate a relationship, but to show restraint and even resist the older men’s advances. Nor was the sex uninhibited; oral and anal intercourse were frowned upon (it was shameful for a free man of any age to be penetrated) and sex was – theoretically at least – restricted to the two standing face to face with the older man thrusting his penis between
an older and younger man
meeting in winter:
a dish from the Benaki Museum

face with the older man thrusting his penis between the youth’s thighs. Relationships were not lifelong; once beards had appeared, around the age of seventeen or so, the younger partner was considered too old for love. Finally, attraction to young men did not mean that the erastes could avoid women; unmarried and childless men was lost significant social status.

Within these parameters – which to a freeborn Athenian citizen were as natural as slavery, commerce and death – both partners could lead lives as fulfilled or as frustrating as any modern love affair. The heart would leap when love was returned and sink when love was spurned. And like any modern affair, love and lust were frequently commemorated in pictures and words. Urns and other pottery reveal gentle scenes of men offering their intended lover a gift – often a rooster. Alternately, his reaches out to the youth’s genitals, without necessarily touching them, an approach reproduced so often that it appears to have been socially acceptable.

Poetry is equally tender. Thus we have Meleager’s poem: At noon in the middle in the street, Alexis / Summer had all but ripened the fruit / and the summer sun and that boy’s look did the same for me! or a brief note on a shard from one man beseeching his lover to visit him. And we cannot forget Plato’s description of gay men in the Symposium, as one being divided each seeking for its other half, or his poems in the Greek Anthology to his beloved Aster (=”star”) (Sweet boy, star of love and beauty / you stared up alone at the midnight skies / If only I were Heaven / to gaze upon you with a thousand eyes.)

According to this exhibition, the fifth century BC was the golden period for love between men and youths. As more women came into the public sphere, there was more scope for men to interact with them. As a result, the number of poems and artefacts in Greek culture commemorating male love diminishes. By the time of the Roman Empire, young men could still be objects of affection – as they were in some of Catullus’ (Latin) poems, but the status of eromenos was no longer one to which most free-born Greek youths aspired.

Today, although the laws in many countries allow older men to copulate with sixteen year olds, the societies in which we now live in generally look down on the idea of intergenerational sex. That may change, but it is unlikely to do so in our lifetimes. We can only look back and wonder what we, as gay men, have lost and what we have gained in the intervening centuries.

Of course what men were expected to do and what men did were not always the same.
Both words and pictures reveal that men were familiar with anal and oral intercourse
despite the mockery that would ensue if their acts were known
– see this border on a bowl from the Benaki Museum.

Antique: The Swansong Of Freedom / Antiquité : Le chant du cygne de la Liberté.


Here is some video which could help to understand sexuality in Ancien Greece. I will paint the pictures illustrating it in analysing what is said which seems a good (and exciting) way to summarize tolerance and behviour in Greek Antique Times:




J – 12 Greeks Against Monsters/Wild Animals

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J-16 of my new Greek Series

See : :
Odysseus saves his men from the Lotus Eaters


Public DomainOdysseus saves his men from the Lotus Eaters – Credit: wikimedia commons

In Greek mythology, the flowers and fruit of the Lotus plant brought apathy and forgetfulness to those who ate it. In the ancient Greek epic The Odyssey, Odysseus  and his men visit the land of the Lotus Eaters. There, some of his men quickly come under the strange effects of the Lotus plant, and he has to drag them forcibly back to the ships.

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Yes, that’s right – ancient Olympic sportsmen (all men, by the way) ran, wrestled, and fought buck naked. The ancient Greeks had a tradition of doing things nude (they walked around in the buff in the bedroom and at parties called sympsia*, and they exercised without any clothes on) – indeed, the word gymnasium came from the Greek

word gymos, which means “naked.”


See : for more…

Greek Etrusque And Beast Fights



Greek Etrusque And Beast Fights

Between the first Minotaur Legend and the Greek World in 3 Century BC as it appears on the first Greek vases I am astonished by the incredible beauty of the representation of Man Fighting and Feasting Animals and Monsters.


De l’Etrusque Grecque au combats contre les bêtes.


Entre les premiers symptomes de la Légende du Minotaur et les vases étrusque datant du 3e siècle avant JC, je suis émerveillé par la beauté de ce thème récurrent de l’Homme combattant contre l’animal et contre le monstre, sorte de résurgeance de la frayeur des cavernes contre la force indomptables des fauves et autres bêtes furieuses et pourtant vitales pour la survie du groupe.



















































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Gustave Moreau Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra





Heracles slays the Hydra










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Bull Charging Gymnasts




From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Bull-Leaping Fresco from the Great Palace atKnossosCrete

The bull-leaper, an ivory figurine from the palace ofKnossos, Crete. The only complete surviving figure of a larger arrangement of figures. This is the earliest three dimensional representation of the bull leap. It is assumed that thin gold pins were used to suspend the figure over a bull.

Bull-leaping (also taurokathapsia, from Greek ταυροκαθάψια[1]) is a motif of Middle Bronze Age figurative art, notably of Minoan Crete, but also found in Hittite Anatolia, the LevantBactria and the Indus Valley.[2] It is often interpreted as a depiction of a ritual performed in connection with bull worship. This ritual consists of an acrobatic leap over a bull; when the leaper grasps the bull’s horns, the bull will violently jerk his neck upwards giving the leaper the momentum necessary to perform somersaults and other acrobatic tricks or stunts.







Younger (1995) classifies bull-leaping depictions as follows:

  • Type I: the acrobat approaches the bull from the front, grabs the horns, and somersaults backwards
  • Type II: the acrobat approaches the bull from the front, dives over the horns without touching them and pushes himself with his hands from the bull’s back into a backward somersault
  • Type III: the acrobat is depicted in mid-air over the bull’s back, facing the same way as the animal

The Type III depictions are often found in Late Minoan IIIB artwork (14th to 13th centuries BC). Frescoes in Tell el Dab’a (Avaris, Egypt) dating to the18th dynasty (16th to 14th centuries BC) show similar designs besides genuinely Egyptian motifs, for which reason they have usually been ascribed to Minoan-taught Egyptian craftsmen (rather than to Minoan ones directly). They could also have been included as palace decorations because the palace was built for an Aegean princess diplomatically married to a Hyksos pharaoh.[3]

Other examples of bull-leaping scenes have been found in Syria, such as a cylinder seal impression found in level VII at Alalakh (Old Babylonianperiod, 19th or 18th century BC) showing two acrobats performing handstands on the back of a bull, with an ankh sign placed between them, another seal belonging to a servant of Shamshi-Adad I (c. 1800 BC), besides other Syrian examples. Furthermore a vase was discovered in Hüseyindede in 1997, dating to the Hittite Old Kingdom (18th to 15th centuries BC).

[edit]Minoan Crete

The Minoan Bull-leaper sculpture at theBritish Museum.

Bull-leaping is thought to have been a key ritual in the religion of the Minoan civilization in Bronze Age Crete. As in the case of other Mediterranean civilizations, thebull was the subject of veneration and worship. Representation of the Bull at the palace of Knossos is a widespread symbol in the art and decoration of this archaeological site.[4]

The assumption, widely debated by scholars, is that the iconography represents a ritual sport and/or performance in which human athletes literally vaulted over bulls as part of a ceremonial rite.

[edit]Contemporary bull-leaping

The Speed and Daring of Juanito Apiñani in the Ring of Madrid (1815-16). Etching and aquatint by Francisco de Goya.

a “leaper” in 2006

Bull-leaping is still practiced in the south west of France, where it is traditionally known as the Course Landaise (although young cows are used instead of bulls). The town of Mont-de-Marsan in Gascony is renowned for its fine sauteurs or “leapers” and écarteurs (“dodgers”) dressed in brocaded waistcoats. They compete in teams, attempting to use their wide repertoire of skillful evasions and acrobatic leaps to avoid the cow’s charges.

The cow is typically guided by the use of a long rope attached to its horns, so that it runs directly at the performers and is restrained from trampling or goring them should they miss a trick. Although there is little to no risk to the cow in this form of contest, it is a highly dangerous sport for the human participants; a prominent Montois, Jean-Pierre Rachou, was killed in 2001 when he fell on his head after being hit by a cow.

In France the courses Landaises are held from March to October at the occasion of festivals in many cities and villages, among which:

NogaroMont-de-MarsanDaxCastelnau-d’Auzan and many other places. Of course there are also national championships.

A similar but even more dangerous tradition of non-violent bull-leaping is practiced in some parts of Spain. Known as the Recortes, athletes, known as Recortadores, compete at dodging and leaping over bulls without the use of the cape or sword. Some Recortadores use a long pole to literally pole-vault over the charging animal, which is both larger than the type used in the French sport, and unrestrained by any guiding rope or similar safety device.

Another example of related sport is Jallikattu, a Pongal celebration related sporting event in Tamil Nadu, India. In this sport, the participants are trying to leap onto a bull, specifically reaching for the money packets tied to the bull’s horns as a prize. This ancient event has been depicted in rock art dated at least to the 3rd century BC.


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Charging Bull fresco at Knossos (replica)

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Knossos, Charging Bull fresco











Charging bull fresco. Palace of Knossos. Crete. Greece.







World’s First Gymnast?
Throughout Roots, one finds a little figure of a charging bull with a man upside down on the bull’s back. This little symbol was derived from an original fresco shown above in color. It is clear that there are three humans in the fresco; one at either end of the charging bull and the other atop the bull. The left-hand figure seems to be grasping the bull’s horns while the second, on the right, seems to be reaching towards the bull. Also important to note is the lightness of the skin of the “Helper” figures in the fresco and the browner skin of the performer. What’s happening here? Perhaps we will never know for sure but I, along with others, have some ideas about it.


People over the centuries have been fascinated with attempts of various kinds to touch bulls without being gored or trampled. In a recent movie, Wild Hogs (2007), the characters participate in a game called “Bull Slap” i.e. sneak up on the bull, slap him and RUN! Bull fights have carried “Bull Touching” to an extreme, often with dire consequences to the participants. The same is true of “Running the Bulls” in Spain. Rodeo clowns serve as distractions for bulls that have thrown a rider. They protect the riders who may be seriously injured or trampled and perform some risky tricks themselves. Our ancient bull rider/jumper/performer is among the first true gymnasts in my view.


What is a gymnast? One of the best definitions comes from an original Hall of Fame honoree, Frank Cumiskey, “A gymnast is someone who ‘outstunts’ the other guy.” Accordingly, the quest of the gymnast is to establish his or her place in history by attempting and mastering some element or elements that define their daring and challenges others to even greater feats. The International Gymnastics Federation memorializes gymnasts who are first to perform an element in international, open competitions. Koszuta’s conception, shown below, is surely implausible, particularly when one notes that the bull in the original fresco seems to be charging!


Koszuta’s conception of bull play.



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My explanation about the real story behind the fresco requires a few assumptions:
The fresco, if true to life, would separate the two assistants as shown in the diagram below. The ancient artist had limited space on the wall given to him and condensed his conception accordingly.
The assistants colored their skin white in order to be better seen by the bull.
The performer did not color his skin but tried rather to blend in with the environment. He (or she) as some have suggested would have been able to do a cartwheel over some object.

In the chart above (not drawn to scale):
With assistants standing approximately 50 yards apart, the one on left makes noise with bells, shouts etc. to attract the bull’s attention.
When the bull begins to charge, the assistant on the right attracts the bull by making loud noises causing the bull to turn and charge. The idea is to have the bull run in a straight line.
The performer at point D (perpendicular to the path of the bull) waits for an opportunity then, suddenly and silently, runs quickly to the side of the bull and cartwheels over its back. Thompson’s investigations indicate that the jump or cartwheel might be easier with the use of a mound or rock to gain more height at take-off
Thus we have an explanation of bull leaping, or vaulting, that is clearly gymnastic in nature and a logo to honor our ancient roots.


Koszuta, L. E., “Gymnastics Through the Ages.” Indianapolis, IN: USA Gymnastics, March-April, 1986, pp. 10-11+ (The “Hornspring” drawing was used in the article. Artist unknown).

Thompson, James G., “The Bull-Jumping Exhibition at Mallia.” Archaeology News XVI, 1-4, 1985 pp. 1-8.

Theseus and the Minotaur

The Minotaur was a horrible monster that lived in the center of a huge maze on the island of Crete. King Minos loved that old monster. He did like to give his monster a treat now and then. He knew his people would prefer he fed his monster Athenian children rather than … well, after thinking it over, King Minos took the deal.

Nine years passed swiftly. It was just about time for Athens to send seven boys and seven girls to Crete to be eaten by the Minotaur. Everyone in Athens was crying.

Le palais du roi Minos by selligz


Prince Theseus of Athens knew the importance of keeping your word. He knew that a deal was a deal. But, he was also quite sure that it was wrong to send small children to be eaten by a monster just to avoid a battle with King Minos. Prince Theseus told his father (the king) that he was going to Crete as the seventh son of Athens. He was going to kill the Minotaur and end the terror.

“The Minotaur is a terrible monster! What makes you think you can kill it?” cried his father.

“I’ll find a way,” Theseus replied gently. “The gods will help me.”

His father begged him not to go. But the prince took his place as the seventh Athenian boy. Along with six other Athenian boys and seven Athenian girls, Prince Theseus sailed towards Crete.

La civilisation engloutie Minoenne 2/5 by prophecy-come-sometimes

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