Challenges, Taboos, and Sacred Cows: How to Have Honest Discussions with Undergraduates about Men in the Ancient World

TammyJo Eckhart
Indiana University

A workshop from the Feminism & Classics IV conference, 2004

A few years ago I taught an undergraduate course that was unique because it focused on the question of masculinity and male sexuality in ancient Greece. The experience was an eye-opener for me as a teacher. I had an opportunity to discuss the course the following year at a 2001 CAAS (Classical Association of the Atlantic States) meeting. The questions and feedback I received there led me to be with you today. Today I want to very briefly lay out the basics of the course and the challenges I faced as I discussed taboos and sacred cows. Then I want to share with you some of the evidence that I gave my students so that we can look at it and try to understand why students responded as they did and how we as teachers can better mediate between this evidence and the modern view our students will have.1

The idea of my course, “Greek Men: Gender & Sexuality,” grew out of a more general course I took a few years earlier with Professor Helene Foley at Barnard College. That course looked at women, as most courses on gender and sexuality do, but it also looked at men. Personally I wanted to know more about the men, so I began researching, discovering that masculinity was new ground, not just in classical studies or ancient history, but also throughout scholarship and curricula. While I do enjoy research and study, I am a teacher at heart, so it was perhaps natural that I wanted to share what I was discovering with students. The first challenge that I had to overcome was getting the course proposal accepted; the second was getting my students to accept that we would be talking primarily about masculinity.2

Some of the questions we will look at today may seem general and you may wonder, what does this point have to do with men as opposed to women? Certain issues, such as finding appropriate translations and learning to be comfortable with what you are teaching, do apply to a wide range of subject matters. However, I encountered these problems very strongly in this course about men and the difficulties I and my students had to overcome were greater than I had witnessed in women’s history and general gender and sexuality courses.3

Many of the challenges I faced are probably fairly obvious to most of us in this room today. Only one of my students had taken any classical studies courses, and none had had ancient history; half of them had taken gender studies courses, so at least there were some common theoretical terms. In the fall of 2000 the amount of scholarship on masculinity in antiquity was limited both in terms of the number of articles and in terms of the educational background needed to understand the arguments and evidence.4 Of course, there were the multiple biases each student brought to class, formed from his or her own experiences and history. Some of these challenges might have been addressed by having prerequisites but that would have greatly limited the enrollment potential for the course. Other challenges were frankly out of my control because I cannot, nor would I want to, screen students for particular attitudes toward gender and sexuality.

I could control the course layout and content in the hopes of meeting challenges I could foresee. I organized that course in what I hoped was a logical fashion so that students could wrestle with the ideas a little bit at a time. We examined 13 subjects, ranging from medical and philosophical ideas about the male body, to marriage, to erotic images of masculinity, and finally to the question of dress and gender.5 Within each subject I used as wide a range of evidence as I could, as well as modern scholarship about the same subject or pieces of evidence. I have since revised the course and continue to do so as masculinity in the ancient world is further studied.

In many ways the organization worked well. We were able to advance from the ideals of what it meant to be a man to experiences of being a man in ancient Greece. In lectures we talked about what the ancient evidence would show us and students seemed to grasp the written materials well, though they struggled with modern theories and discussions. When I realized that the students were struggling, I spent time on what various scholars believed and studied. When we write on the issues of gender and sexuality, we expect our readers to have read everything we have and to be familiar with a range of theories. This course taught me to break things down or to be more selective of what modern studies I have students tackle.

Taboos are those things that are forbidden in a culture. Is talking about men and masculinity forbidden? It could be said that, in everyday life as well as in academia, we do very little except talk about men, or at least about those areas where men may be the primary movers and shakers. Yet as I taught the course I felt that I was indeed stepping into taboo territory. Several of the subjects I tackled, especially pederastic relationships, are certainly taboo in American culture today.

I also made the decision to use language that was as explicit as my students and I were comfortable using, in the hopes of not only making ancient Greece more accessible but also encouraging students to process the information themselves, while indicating that the language they were probably used to using and thinking in would be acceptable in the course. Language has a huge impact on our world and how we perceive it. I did not want to make students uncomfortable unnecessarily nor to make the course seem pornographic so I made some conscious decisions about translations and words I myself use. We’ll look more closely at this translation issue later in the workshop. For myself I decided that I was more comfortable using proper clinical terms for body parts – breasts, penis, vagina, etc – and for sexual activities in a general context – intercourse, sex, fellatio, etc. If students had difficulty understanding the terms, I could adapt a bit (none of them did, by the way). There were, however, words I would not use which I’m not even going to repeat here.

I speculated that my comfort with discussing the topics would influence how comfortable students were. Reflecting on the course it seems to have worked well. Of the initial fifteen students on the first day, we quickly ended up with ten students who were increasingly comfortable with discussing the evidence and expressing their own opinions. Of the five that dropped, administration informed me it had nothing to do with language and everything to do with the fact that the course was looking at men. This is issue is really addressed better in the earlier CAAS paper on this course which I hope all of you will have a chance to look at online.

Finally, I realized while I taught that I was also forcing my students to slaughter or at least poke at a few of their sacred cows. Think of sacred cows as those beliefs that our minds cling to and use as building blocks for our understanding of the world. By and large, the vast majority of college offerings about gender and sexuality focus on women and femininity. Creating a course that focuses on men, getting such a course approved, and getting students to take it all challenge the status quo of gender studies on most campuses in the United States. Gender studies, women’s studies, or whatever the program may be called, is still focused on women, as it was when it was founded. Even submitting the course for approval raised a few eyebrows and I found myself defending the very idea over and over again.

For my students another sacred cow was how they believed males and females were and how they interacted with their world and each other. For example, in the minds of many of my students it was an accepted fact that men were really only interested in sex, getting as much of it as often as they could. This was a belief that would be called into question from the very beginning of the course when we looked at the ideal men constructed in medical and philosophical texts. My students also believed that men were by their sex a privileged group that got to do whatever they wanted to whomever they wanted. It came as a surprise that men’s lives, indeed their very status as citizens, were organized and monitored by society to any degree. By the end, based on what my students wrote and spoke about, I believe they started to see the complexity of gender and sexuality regardless of the subject group.

All of this has been a glimpse into the challenges, taboos, and sacred cows my students and I faced in the course itself. The evidence I saw and heard indicated that some of the difficulties my students and I had were created in their own minds and through their own experiences; others were created by my not realizing how differently from me they’d see things. I learned very quickly that one way to address this division between my mind and theirs was by adopting the language they commonly used. This meant using slang and sometimes vulgarities, though I personally still limited my own language by refusing to use certain words. By using their language, I feel, I validated their experiences and perceptions and also increased my chances of successfully exploring the issue and helping them cross the divide between the present time and the ancient world.

I also set aside debriefing time at the end of each class. Usually we just discussed any lingering questions but occasionally students had to have time to vent personal frustrations about the information they were processing. The very idea of setting aside some time grew out of the history classroom standard of having a question period for each meeting. By paying close attention to my students’ physical and verbal cues I think I further validated their feelings and encouraged them to keep working on the material. Again comments from students in their evaluations and their conversations with me suggest this was the case. No one who finished the course hated it or felt it was a waste of their time and everyone mentioned how much they valued these debriefing opportunities because the material was unfamiliar and at times difficult to accept, let alone understand.

This is what I wish to turn to now in this workshop: what my students read and saw, how they reacted, how I reacted, and your own feedback. I want this to be our time to engage actively in critiques of ourselves as teachers about antiquity, but at the same time to encourage ourselves to try to see this information as undergraduates would.

To foster these goals, I will put before you some selections from the readings and some slides that I used during the course. Try to look at them through the eyes of an undergraduate whose interests are not necessarily in the ancient world and whose experience in such courses is limited to basic introductory history or classical studies. If you would, jot down your gut-level reactions to what we read; try to move out of the analytical mode in which most of us examine this evidence. Do not censor the words, ideas, and feelings that come to mind; trust me, your students are unlikely to censor theirs, especially if you want to encourage them to be active in their learning.

Then I want us to back up and look at the evidence again. How can we address these reactions? What type of language can and should we use? What is most comfortable for you as a teacher? I hope that this experience will be enlightening for all of us.

So, if everyone would indulge me, please close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and get into the mindset of the undergraduates you’ve had in your own teaching experience. As an undergraduate, maybe you’ve had a classics or introduction to ancient history course, perhaps an introduction to gender or women’s studies, but this is only your second or third year of college.

Taboo #1: Relationships between men and boys in ancient Greece

Pederastic relationships between men and boys were the one topic that was most difficult for my students to deal with. There are obvious reasons for that, given our own culture’s legal and ethical codes. Yet these relationships are mentioned in almost every type of evidence we have from ancient Greece. If we are to discuss men’s lives and how ancient societies function, it seems to me that we must address this sort of relationship. Again I started with the ideals of philosophy and legal texts before moving into the world of poetry and visual representations, where subjects were still idealized but also vilified. As a side note, the course also looked at relationships between men and women or girls as we might say. However, students just accepted those texts and images without much negative comment or reaction suggesting strongly that in this case, yes, the subject change to just men was a challenge, broke a taboo, and attacked the sacred cow of appropriateness.

Read and look at these two examples as you think an undergraduate would. I suspect that most of us have used these same texts and images and received feedback from students; if so, just jot down what you’ve heard before; if not, what do you think might be going on in students’ minds?

Poetic Examples:

Consider the ages of the characters in the poems. I did indeed inform my students of the approximate socially acceptable ages for both erastês and erômenos, but what do you read into these lines if you look through the eyes of an undergraduate?

Poem #1:

Boy, as long as your cheek is smooth, I’ll never
stop praising you, not even if I have to die.
For you to give still is fine, for me there’s no shame in asking
since I’m in love. At your knees… I beg,
respect me, boy, give pleasures, if you’re ever
to have the gift of Kypris with her wreath of violets,
when it’s you who’s wanting and approach another. May the goddess
grant that you get exactly the same response.

Theognis 2.1327-1334. Translated by Peter Bing & Rip Cohen, Games of Venus (1993): 100.

Poem #2:

and of the hair that
shaded your delicate neck.

But now your hair is cropped.
It fell into rude hands
and tumbled into the black dust
in a heap


patiently abiding the slash of the knife. But I am worn away
with distress. For what can one do…

Anacreon PMG 347. Translated by Peter Bing & Rip Cohen, Games of Venus (1993): 88-89.

The workshop participants asked a lot of good questions as “undergraduates.” Some of these were basic, such as who Kypris is, while others were more analytical, such as the role of hair on the face and head in sexual attractiveness. Because I’d paired the poems, the assumption was made that this was a man talking to a boy; some expressed a disgusted reaction to the male-male orientation, but the question of age was danced around. This reflected very much the interaction I’d had with students when I taught the class in 2000.

In the workshop, as I did in class, I asked questions about references to age in the poems. Primarily participants referenced coming-of-age rituals or what I had previously mentioned was the age of the boy and the man. Aside from the discomfort of the homosexual nature of the relationship, the participants showed a primarily analytical attitude toward the poetry.

Visual Examples:6

The analytical nature of the class changed when visual images were used in the course. These made the age differences explicit, and I spent over half an hour listening to students who were very upset by the images.7 After this debriefing and a few other conversations one-on-one, I realized what my students had been doing when they read articles, listened to me lecture, and even when they read the poetry. Whenever we looked at man-boy love, they’d imagine in their minds an 18-year-old boy and a man in his twenties, maybe early thirties. Are these 18-year-old boys in these images? Can the students maintain this mental shield when confronted with these images?

Only one of these pictures is explicit to some degree but both show naked males, clearly much younger, with older males. In the course itself, student body language changed dramatically. They started to fold their arms across their chests and pull their legs closer to the desk; they looked down or away from the screen often. My students, normally very talkative especially during slides we’d seen before on other subjects, some quite explicit in terms of sex, didn’t say a word. Workshop participants expressed disgust using language we’ve heard from students either in class or out of it. The over whelming comments were “sick,” “gross,” or “that’s wrong.” Every participant could tell that there was a clear age difference here between men and boys. Some tried to reason out that the boys were young men but that seemed a bit contrived.

In both these cases we as teachers and scholars were having difficulty connecting to the difficulties students were having with the same materials. At the time of the workshop, I was so busy that I didn’t consider why this was the case. Perhaps it’s an age difference issue? No, several participants were only a few years older than my students, as I was when I taught it. I think it’s a matter of discipline and experience. We are trained to analyze our evidence in certain ways; students, as much as we might try, will not have that same level of training simply because they have not been practicing it for as long and in as focused a fashion as we have. Given the nature of the conference, I’m also assuming that most participants in the workshop had a good solid background in both gender theory and looking at the ancient world. Even if we do not specialize in the visual arts or in poetry, we likely have some familiarity with them. We can be more objective because we are not seeing things for the first time.

Challenges and Sacred Cows #1: Working around euphemisms

Euphemisms are a way of addressing a subject without making someone uncomfortable and without sounding clinical. When I teach, I try to work backwards by asking myself about the ultimate goal I have for the class, then attempt to figure out how to get my students and myself to that goal. For me, my constant goal as a history teacher is to be realistic and honest about the past. There are obvious limits to what we can know about ancient Greece simply because of the quantity and quality of surviving evidence. Beyond that, I have noticed that the choice of materials and how we present them can have a great effect on what students understand.

The poetry could be used to explore this further, but instead I want to give you a different example of the materials I used; I want us to look at some drama and make our minds work a bit differently. There are a multitude of different translations of Greek plays available, but I’ve chosen three that were easy to use when I taught this course. How do we decide which to use in a class? For the course I’ve been talking about today, I wanted something that added to our ability to discuss gender and sexuality, something that reassured my students that it was an acceptable subject for scholarly investigation. The most common problem isn’t finding an accurate translation but finding one that does not bury the Greek behind euphemisms so obscure that I have to spend more time discussing what the text says than discussing what it can show us about the ancient world.

We will look at a passage from Aristophanes’ Thesmophoriazusae which revolves around the dramatist Euripides’ imaginary fears that the women of the city of Athens may hate him for how he portrays them. In the passage, he and a cousin are asking a poet, known for his more passive roles in homosexual relationships, to help them sneak into the festival so they can figure out the women’s plans. The entire play is an interesting one when you are discussing gender and sexuality but this passage represents some of the profound differences a translation can make to students.

I want us to compare a few different translations of the same passage and think about the pros and cons of using each. Think about how students may react, how you would react, and what your goals are in discussing gender and sexuality. I think that each translation is acceptable in terms of readability, but I think the message is different because of the words the translator has chosen. After each translation I tried to ask two questions. First, what is going on in the text, and secondly, what does this tell us about Classical Athenian attitudes?

Translation #1:

Agathon: Expect me not to bear your burdens; that were foolishness indeed. Each man must bear his sorrows for himself. And troubles, when they come, must needs be met by manful acts, and not by shifty tricks.

Mnesilochus: Aye, true for you, your wicked ways are shown by sinful acts, and not by words alone.

Euripides: But tell me really why you fear to go.

Agathon: They’d serve me worse than you.

Euripides: How so?

Agathon: How so? I’m too much like a woman, and they’d think that I was come to poach on their preserves.

Mnesilochus: Well, I must say that’s not a bad excuse.

Thesm. 196-206, translated by B.B. Rogers, in Moses Hadas’ The Complete Plays of Aristophanes (1988)

It was difficult for the participants as “undergraduates” to say what was happening in this passage. There was something about men and women, and men being women, but it wasn’t clear why this Agathon character was worried about it. There was also something about a person, a man, doing his own work, solving his own problems or being stoic about them. In other words, even understanding what is happening was difficult, which made analysis near to impossible. So students can get something from this translation but, in a class on gender and sexuality, not very much.

Translation #2:

Agathon: Then never you think I am going to expose myself in your stead; it would be madness. It's up to you to submit to the fate that overtakes you; one must not try to trick misfortune, but resign oneself to it with good grace.

Mnesilochus: You fairy! That's why your arse is so accessible to lovers.

Euripides: But what prevents your going there?

Agathon: I should run more risk than you would.

Euripides: Why?

Agathon: Why? I should look as if I were wanting to trespass on secret nightly pleasures of the women and to rape their Aphrodite.

Mnesilochus: Wanting to rape indeed! You mean wanting to be raped. Ah! great gods! a fine excuse truly!

Thesm. 196-206, translated by Eugene O’Neill, Jr., found on the Perseus website (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0042).

This passage clarified some things, and we were able to move beyond what was happening to analyzing it. There is a charge of homosexuality, which appears to be a bad thing. But what was the section about raping Aphrodite? And can you want to be raped? It seems that the final guy, that M-guy (yes students struggle with names all the time) still thinks Agathon should go, which isn’t what the first passage suggested. So this translation adds a sexual component, but is the tone of that sexuality the one I would agree with from reading it in Greek? Stepping outside of the role-playing for a moment, most of the participants agreed that the word “rape” here was very problematic, based on their own readings of this play.

Translation #3:

Agathon: Then don’t expect us to bear your troubles. We’d be quite mad to do so. It’s your business; bear it yourself as your private affair. It is right to endure one’s misfortunes, not with clever scheming but with willing submission!

Inlaw: Just as you, you young faggot, got your dilated arsehole not by words but by willing submission!

Euripides: What is it that you’re afraid of about going along there?

Agathon: I’d be even worse torn apart than you.

Euripides: How come?

Agathon: How come? Because they think I steal women’s knockturnal business, and rob them of the females’ natural rights.

Inlaw: “Steal” indeed! Get fucked, that’s what you mean? But I must say it’s a fair enough excuse!

Thesm. 196-206, translated by Alan H. Sommerstein (2001).

Whether it was a matter of build-up or translation, the third time through the passage seemed to help everyone in “class” answer that first question about what was happening. Likewise the analysis then was more in-depth. Agathon was indeed homosexual, and the other two men look down upon him for it, but they still need his help. In fact, because he is clever with words, the play on “knockturnal” raised one question — they understand why he won’t go. The passage then is seen as very complex and ties together several topics from the course.

This third translation is the one I decided to use in my course because I felt that it was not only a good translation but that it also touched upon several issues we were looking at in the course. But more importantly I think it fairly describes the tension that I read in the passage between protecting honor and the role sex and gender has in the determination of honor.

Ultimately our choice of translation may depend on other mundane factors such as the price of the work. Yes, the translation I chose was more expensive than an online source or a Penguin classics text. Some colleges and universities may also limit which texts can be used in a class. Finally there may simply be the climate of the university. I wouldn’t offer this course at all at a religiously conservative college, for example, because it would be unlikely to fit into the atmosphere of the campus, where the challenges, taboos, and sacred cows are slightly different. With a really large number of students, I’d probably focus on broader issues and look at basics over analysis. If it took me half an hour plus to debrief ten students after the visual images, image how long it would have taken in a class of fifty students. Also I’ve noticed that in smaller groups there seems to be a higher participation rate, and given the nature of the materials we’ve looked at, I think being comfortable on that level was helpful when we got to the visuals and to the more explicit language.

Conclusion:

I want to thank all of you for coming to this workshop and offering your experiences and knowledge for everyone. You’ve asked a lot of insightful and interesting questions that I’ll think about before I design another course. You all are wonderful “students,” by the way. I hope this workshop has helped all of us be better teachers.

Syllabus:

Unfortunately I did not bring enough copies of the syllabus for all workshop participants so in this report I wanted to include it.

Course Title: Sexuality in Ancient Greece

Course Level: L220

Collins Course Fall 2000

Meeting times & Place: Tuesdays & Thursdays 3:25-4:40PM, Room

Instructor: TammyJo Eckhart

Office Hours:

Tuesdays: 2-3PM in the Collins lounge

Thursdays: dinner in Collins after class

Other hours to be arranged as the semester progresses.

Email: teckhart@indiana.edu

Mailbox: Ballantine Hall, History Department Graduate Student Lounge, it has my last name on it

Phone to leave message: 339-7032 (call only between Noon and 7PM weekdays)

Pre-requisites: None

I. Course Description:

Using ancient readings in translation, visual images, and modern scholarship, we will explore the roles, responsibilities and difficulties in being a man in the ancient Greek world. Special emphasis will be placed on Athens, since it is the source of most of our information. Topics covered will include: the body, marriage, fatherhood, homosexuality, citizenship, and the law. To this end there we will use written materials, visual images (in the form of slides and in the written materials), in-class discussion, and even in-class reading of some of the plays (no one will be forced to read out loud). There will be explicit images and language used throughout the class so students need to be fairly comfortable discussing and thinking about sexuality.

II. Course Objectives:

To familiarize students with ancient materials, to expand their definition of history beyond politics and wars, and to encourage them to examine the role of society upon the individual's gender identification and sexuality.

III. Course Work and Student Evaluation:

Daily Readings: Students are expected to have read the assignments prior to the meeting they are listed for so that good discussion will occur.

Grading: On a points basis where each assignment is worth 100 points. Note that each assignment while small individual is necessary to earn a high grade.

100-97 = A+

96-94 = A

93-90 = A-

89-87 = B+

86-84 = B

83-80 = B-

79-77 = C+

76-74 = C

73-70 = C-

69-67 = D+

66-64 = D

63-60 = D-

59 and below = F

Quizzes: 3 short answer quizzes based on the assigned readings and in-class discussion -- I will put important terms on the board which each student will be held responsibility for on the quizzes, the final exam, and in your assigned writing. Each quiz is worth 10% of the final grade.

Late or Missed Quizzes may be taken before the scheduled quiz date if a student knows that quiz will be missed; late quizzes will only be allowed if the absence is clarified by a proved excuse (medical note, funeral/wedding program); for religious observances you need to make up the work in advance; every non-excused quiz absence will earn a grade of 0

Final Exam: worth 20% of the final grade; the question for this final exam will be handed out the second day of classes so that student can prepare the entire semester

Article Review: 1 short (400 – 600 words) article review worth 10% which summarizes the argument in your own words and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the article; articles reviewed must be approved by the instructor at least three weeks before it is due; due last meeting before Thanksgiving Recess; choose one article, which we will not be reading for the course, that deals with Greece from those on the reserve list marked with *

Projects: 2 short projects or papers (5-7pages each) investigating deeper into a topic discussed in the class; topic for the first project must come from weeks 1-7 and the topic for the second project or paper must come from weeks 8-15; each project is worth 20% of the final grade; projects may range from visual to written but must be pre-approved by the instructor at least three weeks prior to the deadline of the assignment

Late Assignments: All assignments are due at the beginning of class on the date listed in the syllabus and may only be turned in during class time; any late assignment will be penalized 5 points (that is half a grade) for each class period it is late! Note that an assignment left in my mailbox will be counted as late since I have no way of knowing when exactly it was turned in, so bring them to class.

Rough Drafts of Assignments: If a student wants the instructor to read and critique a rough draft of any of the assignments, the rough draft needs to be handed in two weeks prior to the due date. It will be returned in one week, giving you time to do a new draft. Rough Drafts are optional.

Quality of Writing: You are expected to write in a logical and clear manner. If I have difficulty understanding your argument you will be asked to do a rewrite and penalized 2 points just as though it were late. Further points will be deducted if the rewrite is not handed back in the next class meeting.

Cheating or Plagiarism: Any cheating or plagiarism will result in an F for the entire course.

  1. Books and Readings: All reading assignments not in the course packet nor in books at the IMU bookstore, should be on reserve in the Collins Library or the Main Library.

NOTE: the translation of "Thesmophoriazusae” was not available. You must make a photocopy of this so we can read it as a class. Only the play, though not the translator’s notes or commentary. Please only the Sommerstein translation which is on reserve.

Ancient sources may be found in the Loeb Classical Library in the Reference Room on the Graduate side of the main library.

List of books on reserve:

Foucault The History of Sexuality: The Use of Pleasure (HQ12 .F6813 1978, Vol II)

*Halperin, Winkler & Zeitlin Before Sexuality (HQ13 .B44 1990)

MacDowell The Law in Classical Athens (KLG .M32)

Cohen Law, Sexuality, and Society (HQ32 .C64 1991)

Keuls The Reign of the Phallus (HQ1134 .K48 1985)

Dover Greek Homosexuality (HQ76.3 .G8 D63 1978)

Halperin One Hundred Years of Homosexuality (HQ76.2 .G8 H35 1990)

Games of Venus (PA3624 .E75 G36 1991)

Women's Life in Greece & Rome (

Foxhall & Salmon Thinking Men (PA3009 .T47 1998){there are several articles in your CP from this book that we won’t read which you can chose for your review}

Recommended that you photo copy all these reserve and reference materials as soon as you can; it is not acceptable to not have read the material so make sure you get the readings as soon as possible.

Required: Required books are available at the IMU bookstore only. The course packet (CP) is a must purchase while the others are strongly recommended unless you want to compete at reserves the entire semester.

  1. Syllabus:

Week 1: Introduction to the course

August 29: Course requirements set out, general discussion of gender and sexuality

August 31: Basic outline of Greek history in class; Read introduction to Thinking Men by Lin Foxhall CP

Week 2: The Male Body I: Medical and Philosophical Views

September 5: Read these pages (226-229, 230-232, 243-246) or sections (339, 341, 351) of Women's Life in Greece & Rome by M.R. Lefkowitz and M.B. Fant

September 7: Read Foucault's The Use of Pleasure part II, entitled "Dietetics"

Week 3: The Male Body II: Comic and Cultural Ideals

September 12: Read Richard Hawley's "The male body as spectacle in Attic drama" CP; to be read in class Aristophanes' "The Clouds" to use to discuss Hawley's ideas

September 14: Read Francois Lissarague's "The Sexual Life of Satyrs" in Halperin's Before Sexuality pp 53-81 and Robin Osborne's "Sculptured men of Athens: masculinity and power in the field of vision" CP; N.B. Crowther's "Male Beauty Contests in Greece" CP

Week 4: Marriage and the Greek Man

September 19: Read Plutarch's "Advice to the Bride and Groom" and P. Walcot's "Romantic Love and True Love: Greek Attitudes to Marriage" CP

September 21: 1st Quiz today; Read Douglas M. MacDowell's The Law in Classical Athens chapter VI "The Family" pp 84-90

Week 5: Fatherhood I: The Oikos, legal and cultural expectations

September 26: Read Xenophon's "Oeconomicus" sections 7-10; read MacDowell pp 91-95

September 28: Read David Cohen's "Public and private in classical Athens" Law, sexuality, and society. chapter 4 pp 70-97; rough drafts of 1st project or paper due today if you wish

Week 6: Fatherhood II: Dramatic representations

October 3: Read Euripides' "Hippolytus"

October 5: Re-read Aristophanes'' "The Clouds" focusing on the father-son relationship

Week 7: Symposia and the Use of Prostitutes

October 10: Read Xenophon's "Symposium/Banquet" ; and Nicholas R.E. Fisher's "Greek Associations, Symposia, and Clubs" CP

October 12: 1st Project due today; Read Eva Keuls' The Reign of the Phallus chapters 6-7

Week 8: Heterosexuality Versus Homosexuality

October 17: Read Plutarch's "Dialogue on Love" and Pseudo-Lucian's "Affairs of the Heart"

October 19: 2nd Quiz today; Read K.J. Dover's "Nature and Society" in Greek Homosexuality pp 60-81

Week 9: Homosexuality part I: Overview

October 24: Read Kenneth Dover's "Nature and Society" Greek Homosexuality pp 81-109 and David M. Halperin's "Homosexuality: a Cultural Construct" in One Hundred Years of Homosexuality pp 41-53.

October 26: Read Pierre Vidal-Naquet's "The Black Hunter and the Origins of the Athenian Ephebeia" CP

Week 10: Homosexuality part II: Philosophical Ideals

October 31: Read Plato's "Symposium", Plato's "Phaedrus" to 257b7, and Demosthenes' "Erotic Essay"; Happy Halloween!

November 2: Read David Halperin's "Plato and Erotic Reciprocity" CP, S. Sara Monoson's "Citizen as Erastes: Erotic Imagery and the Idea of Reciprocity in the Periclean Funeral Oration" CP

Week 11: Homosexuality part III: Erotica

November 7: Read excerpts from these poets (Archilochus, Libycus, Anacreon, Theognis, Hipponax) in Bing and Cohen's Games of Venus;

November 9: Read H.A. Shapiro's "Courtship Scenes in Attic Vase-Painting" CP; Rough Drafts of Book Review due today if you wish

Week 12-13: Citizenship and Maleness

November 14: Read MacDowell "Outlawry and Disfranchisement ('atimia') pp 73-75, MacDowell "Sexual Offences" pp 124-126, and David Cohen's "Law, social control, and homosexuality in classical Athens" in Law, sexuality, and society. chapter 7 pp 171-202

November 16: Read Aeschines' "Against Timarchus" and David Halperin's "The Democratic Body: Prostitution and Citizenship in Classical Athens" in One Hundred Years of Homosexuality pp 88-112;

November 21: 3rd Quiz today; Book Review due today; continue last week's discussions; hand in rough drafts of 2nd project or paper if you wish

November 23: No class, Thanksgiving Recess; Have a good Holiday!

Week 14: Legal Issues of Rape and Adultery

November 28: Read Lysias' "Against Eratosthenes"; David Cohen's "Consent and Sexual Relations in Classical Athens" CP; Alan H. Sommerstein's "Rape and young manhood in Athenian comedy" CP; review MacDowell "Sexual Offences" pp 124-126;

November 30: Read John J. Winkler's "Laying Down the Law: The Oversight of Men's Sexual Behavior in Classical Athens" in Before Sexuality pp 171-209, and K. Kapparis' "Humiliating the Adulterer: the Law and the Practice in Classical Athens" CP

Week 15: Crossdressing and Gender Roles in Ancient Greece

December 5: Read Aristophanes'' "Thesmophoriazusae" both at home and in class

December 7: 2nd Project due today; No late projects will be accepted; Review for the final exam

Final Exam: Tuesday, December 12, here in our classroom, 5-7PM!


Your graded quizzes and papers will be left in your Collins mailboxes for you to pick up ASAP. Any non-Collins student, please give me your campus address and it will be sent to your mailbox.

1 I have attempted to maintain the atmosphere of the workshop itself in this report. However I cannot quote specific words or participants after months so this should be read as my internalization of what we discussed. Approximately twenty educators participated and they really put themselves into the tasks.

2 These particular issues were addressed at the 2001 fall meeting of CAAS. An online version of that paper may be found at: http://ablemedia.com/ctcweb/consortium/ekhart1.html

3 At the workshop we had to be focused to get everything done in the allowed time. Since then I have considered this issue again. Have we as teachers and students become too familiar with questions about women’s lives? Do we not react as strongly because we expect what we see and read?

4 Even five years later I find that discussion and publication about men in antiquity is still rare, with Roman men getting more attention than Greek men. Of undergraduate audiences, the vast majority remains less than ideal.

5 A syllabus is at the end of this report.

6 Finding visual images for this report was difficult. I have a slide collection but getting slides changed into a form that would be acceptable for this format required some leg work and money on my campus. In terms of finding visuals illustrating pederasty in ancient Greece, investigations on the internet also proved difficult. Representations of male-female sexual relationships were very easy to find. Is this another example of the taboo nature of the subject in our world?

7 Please note that these are not the exact images I used in the workshop. Mine were on slides and because I am not a professor on tenure track and was not teaching a course on campus where the images were being currently used, it would have required some money to get them digitized. Instead I’ve found a few others, which I did use in the course itself, that will give readers a similar idea of what students and workshop participants were looking at.