Originally Posted by Stronza
I looked inside the book The Power of Art, Fashion and Culture by Nikola B. I seem unable to decide how to interpret the section on Greeks/pederasty/homosexuality, etc. Is this merely a history of reality, i.e., how the Greeks (supposedly) thought and behaved? Or is it making excuses for them because they were white?
That section is there for a couple of reasons. The story revolves around the efforts of the Propaganda Minister Thornton Nash to make the people of Solutria more refined. One of the ways he does this is by promoting nude swimming and gym class for children in elementary and middle school. I don't know how many of the younger people know this, but, when I was a kid, swimming class was conducted entirely in the nude, and it was considered completely wholesome.
In the story, the purpose of nude swimming and gym class is to promote positive body images, so that children will not grow up believing their bodies to be dirty. This, in turn, will increase their level of refinement. So there is a discussin on the history of nude atheletics. The ancient Greeks had nude atheletics, but it was for a different reason. The reason was to promote bonding among young men. In fact, the word "gymnasium" in Greek means "nude place," because men exercised in the nude. In modern times, nude swimming class was introduced because the use of bathing suits was clogging up the pool fliters.
The second reason that pederasty is discussed is that the the subject of homosexuality is discussed, along with its possible causes and how to prevent or mitigate it. So the characters discuss pederasty in that context, to see how it relates to modern homosexuaity. It's a complex subject, and the short section in the book on it probably doesn't do it justice. In sort, pederasty was different from homosexuality, and ancient homosexuality was a corruption of pederasty, which had a beign purpose.
One of the major reasons for the campaign to promote refinement in the novel is because the people of Solutria are being subject to a propaganda campaign by a mixed-race country to emmigrate there and race-mix, and the propaganda includes crude sexual images. The refinement campaign is an attempt to make the people immune to that.
If you would like to discuss ancient pederasty further, go ahead and post a thread about it, and we can discuss it at length. It i a very complex subject that is only touched on in this novel.