Greek Love

"One of the most famous speeches in the Symposium is that made by Aristophanes which suggests that at the beginning the human race was made up of three genders. There were double males, double females and a male and a female stuck together. Each had four arms and four legs and moved by cartwheeling. But they became too proud and annoyed the gods who took a blade and severed each of them in two. Aristophanes then tells us that each half has been searching for its twin ever since and defines love as the desire and the pursuit of the whole." (Spencer 1995: 49)

Why Greek Love?

Greek Love came about initially from the quote above which is Aristophanes’ speech in the Symposium where he suggested that the human race was made up of three genders and that due to being too proud they were severed in two and that love is the desire and the pursuit of the whole.

Detail of Ancient Greek Cup with Two Athletes Wrestling by Epictetos

Greek society was well known for its open and liberal view towards homosexuality. The idea of ‘Greece’ as the historical memory of a treasured past has always been ‘romanticised and idealised as a time and a culture when love between males was not only tolerated but actually encouraged, and expressed as the high ideal of same-sex camaraderie’ (Petrilli 2003: 624) and it is well known that Greek love as a cultural impact of Classical Greek homo-eroticism is a part of the history of sexuality. Many cultures have articulated their own discourse about homosexuality, particularly at times when same-sex love was prohibited, through concepts shaped by the classical tradition. The metaphor of “Greek love” becomes most vivid historically in periods when the reception of classical antiquity is an important influence on dominant aesthetic or intellectual movements.

1881 caricature in Punch

This is especially true when we think about the Victorian era and the time of Oscar Wilde who  was very much interested in Ancient Greek culture. When Oscar was at Oxford, the word “Greek” began ‘to creep into Oscar’s vocabulary, invariably to describe youthful male beauty, present and past […] For the time being, at least, Oscar’s Greek feeling towards other young men were spiritual and emotional, more than sexual. But, in the course of his four years at Oxford, the “purity and refinement” of his Greek feelings gave way to a frankly more erotic interest in young men‘ (McKenna 2003: 8).

Jacques-Louis David's "Death of Socrates"
Jacques-Louis David’s “Death of Socrates”

Fundamentally, Greek Love is a blog that focuses on LGBT+ lifestyle and culture.

“There is no Sin, nor any need of cure
For we are Nature’s children, – and she, sure
It is, is wholly pure and sanctified.”
(McKenna 2003: 97)


Petrilli, Susan (2003). Translation, translation. Rodopi.
McKenna, Neil (2003). The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde.

Last updated: 11/11/2016

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