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Pederasty (from Greek paiderastia, love of boys) is used for

  1. the ancient Greek aristocratic custom of loving mentoring relationships between men and teen-age boys, sexualized or chaste;
  2. similar customs in other places and times by way of generalisation ;
  3. male Homosexuality in general (and occasionally anal intercourse with either sex). This usage dominates in the 15th–20th centuries. It replaced the older term Sodomy to avoid its religious connotations.

Korephilia is sometimes used to describe a lesbian equivalent of pederasty.


For examples, see Research: Nonwestern Intergenerational Relationships and Research: Intergenerational Relationships in History.

The original form of pederasty was a culturally sanctioned relationship in Ancient Greece in which a mentor and a pupil would be bonded into a relationship of mutual love in which the erotic attraction of the boy was an important factor. The custom was commonplace in most Greek cities of the time, when intergenerational man/boy relationships were employed to benefit the community. The relationships were valued for giving rise to strong friendships which were thought valuable to democracies in particular. They were also highly valued for the educational benefits to the youth, and also for their positive effect on the problem of overpopulation, which was keenly felt in many cities at that time. The custom was reflected in several popular myths and legends, most notably that of Zeus and Ganymede.

The theory and practice of pederasty was carried on even into Roman times until Christianity prevailed and even then was common place for centuries in varying forms.

An important note is that one did not need to have been primarily pedophilic in orientation to practice pederasty. Since man/boy relationships were a cultural mainstay, they were practiced by the majority of upper class adult males in Ancient Greece. Throughout history, pederasty was an accepted sexual norm in times and places as diverse as Ancient Celts,[1] Imperial Russia,[2] Medieval Korea,[3] North American natives such as the Koniagas and Thinkleets tribes of Kodiak Island,[4] and the South American Mayans.[5] Newgon has detailed pages on Pederasty in Islam and Japan, linked below.


Another important thing to regard is the labels of homosexual vs. heterosexual did not apply to practices in pre-modern times. Some cultures today still shed different light as to their opinions regarding male/male sexual relations. In particular, one article cites the sexual relations of adolescent boys in Swaziland. The practice is seen as "becoming a man". In recent years, western labels and ideals have been bleeding into the culture, causing conflict and resulting in declined male/male sexual practice.

"Some boys passed into manhood and got married but now and then they still need some man's wood to remain pure men," says Mr Bhokondvo Nkosi, a Maths teacher of Emagogeni high school. "The difference before the western influence is that it was ok to practice this type's of sexuality and now most African parents are considering it as 'homosexuality' as it is labelled and therefore it is regarded as a silly influence from the civilised countries and as a western disease." (From the article Amantanyula by Ishi)

Not until the Victorian era did the label of becoming purely "homosexual" or "heterosexual" come into foundation.

See also

External Links

Despite the importation of mandatory "this is sexual abuse" disclaimers, Wikipedia actually has some very good articles on Pederasty, and we would encourage you to read them. For comparison, see this archive of Wikipedia's "Pederasty" article in 2004.


  1. Naucrati's Athenaeum in the Deipnosophistsai (XIII, 603a) states that the Celtic people, despite the extreme beauty of their women, far prefer boys: some regularly slept on their animal skins with an adolescent lover to their right and another on their left side, although some interpret it instead as “they had a handsome boy on one side and a woman on the other” (Hubbard, 2003, p. 79). Other authors also attest to Celtic pederasty, including Aristotle (Politics, II 6.6), Strabo (IV, 4, 6) and Diodorus Siculus (V, 32). The Sibylline Oracles say that only the Jews were free from such an impurity: "The Jews are aware of the sacred marriage bond, they do not engage in unholy relations with their sons, as do the Phoenicians, the Egyptians and the Romans, the Greeks, the Persians and the Galatians, who transgress the holy law of the immortal God"
  2. Mediaeval Russia was known for its benevolent tolerance of homosexuality and its widespread spread within society, and pederasty was also very common: the beardless young man was seen as a viable alternative to women and cutting his beard was intended for men as an explicit request to enter into a relationship. [...] Banyas, traditional bathhouses-saunas, in particular, were the favourite places where men went to have sex with teenage boys, especially those who worked inside them as attendants. Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20150203020828/http://english.gay.ru/life/history/queermoscow/1600-1861TraditionalMasculinitiesAndLoveBetweenMen.html
  3. Paul Michaut, a French doctor, wrote in 1893 that the Korea he has just arrived is a country where "pederasty is generalised, it is part of the customs. It is practised publicly, on the street, without the slightest reprobation" Source: Proschan, Frank "Syphilis, Opiomania, and Pederasty": Colonial Constructions of Vietnamese (and French) Social Diseases, in Journal of the History of Sexuality — Volume 11, Number 4, October 2002, pp. 610–636. One of the first known mentions of male attraction towards boys concerns King Gongmin (1330-1374) who became famous for the ease with which he fell in love with young males: after the death of his wife in 1365 he spent the remaining years of his life practising Buddhism with fervour and in love-sentimental relationships with children. - Source.
  4. In a Western report concerning the Koniagas and Thinkleets tribes of Kodiak Island we read that “the most repulsive of all their practises is that of male concubinage. The mother will select the most beautiful and temperamentally arranged among her children and begin to dress and raise him as a girl, teaching him only domestic duties and keeping him constantly in the company of women alone, in order to make his effeminacy complete." Then he continues: "at the age of puberty, between the ages of 10 and 15 he will be married to a rich man, who will hold his new partner in high regard and as an honourable achievement. These male concubines are called Achnutschik or Schopans. The same happens in the Aleutian Islands where male concubines always have a carefully shaved beard and the face is tattooed/putted-on-make-up like that of women. In California the first missionaries who arrived there found the same practice and the interested teenagers are called Joya here" Source: (Bancroft, i. 415 and authorities Palon, Crespi, Boscana, Motras, Torquemada, Duflot and Fages). (Richard F. Burton, Terminal Essay).
  5. For traditional Mayan culture, the introduction of pederasty is attributed to the god Chin; it was not so uncommon for a man to try to get a younger male lover of his son when he grew up left his father's house. The European Dominican friar Juan de Torquemada states, in his inquisitorial provisions that "if the youngest boy has been seduced by a stranger, the penalty to be imposed must be equivalent to that for adultery"; while the conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo claims to have seen inside the temples of Cape Catoche in Yucatán statues depicting young male couples engaged in conspicuous sexual acts". - Source: Pete Sigal, "The Politicization of Pederasty among the Colonial Yucatecan Maya" in Journal of the History of Sexuality, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Jul., 1997), pp. 1-24. Journal link. Sci-hub link.