I closed part 3 with this: And all this time you thought it was only “repressed” Christians that weren’t enlightened enough to see the supposed harmlessness of homosexuality.
In Eros—The Myth of Ancient Greek Sexuality, Bruce Thornton references Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, where Aristotle admits that some disgusting practices, “diseased things,” are pleasurable, including “sex between males.” Thornton adds, “The latter, [Aristotle] notes, often results from childhood sexual abuse.” Of course we know this to be true today. (Click here to read about the causes of homosexuality, and here to read about The Born Gay Hoax.)
Anyone familiar with the workings of Illinois Republican politics will feel a sense of déjà vu when reading the following few passages. For those not familiar with this history, in a nutshell it dates from former governor Jim Thompson’s time through U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s tenure and on into today with U.S. Senator Mark Kirk and Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford, two of the highest elected officials in the state. (I’ll let you Google those names if you need still more information about why I name them here.) In the Aristophanes’ comedy Wasps we discover—
—a constant motif of Aristophanic comedy—the linkage of political corruption to the passive homosexual, both signs of the breakdown of public values and the subsequent unleashing of unbounded appetite.
Also in Wasps:
Aristophanes used Philocleon to portray the intellectual corruption of the radical Sophists, with their extolling of nature and unrestrained desires and their dismissal of the arbitrary conventions of society.
And all this time I thought it was just those “sexually repressed puritanical Christians” who objected to the dismissal of society’s conventions. Evidently hundreds of years before Jesus showed up and Paul wrote his letters another society faced this same struggle.
Back to Illinois—but now think the city of Chicago, its mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago media, and the Chick-fil-A controversy during the summer of 2012. In Aristophanes’ play Clouds, the following points are made:
Giving in to indiscriminate sexual appetite leads to passive homosexuality or seducing other men’s wives, both seen as crimes of ‘outrage’ violating the cultural order. [One character in the play] shrugs, So what? The whole city is filled with men with ‘wide assholes—the politicians, the tragic poets, the orators; even members of the whole audience have ‘wide assholes’ because they are controlled by a sexual appetite so powerful it compels them to be sodomized or to seduce other men’s wives.
Thornton also writes:
For Aristophanes, the dissolution of the political, social, and cultural order of Athens is driven by the forces of irrational appetites, the lust for money and power whose best image is sexual lust, particularly the ‘unnatural’ sterile ‘itch’ of the pathic to be sodomized. The destructiveness of eros we have been tracing so far finds its worst manifestation in passive homosexuality, a chaotic force attacking those civilized orders that allow humans to exist as humans and not slip back into bestial savagery.
If you wonder why the Athenian empire fell, the above paragraph gives a pretty good clue. In another of his books “The Wages of Appeasement,” Bruce Thornton writes of the decline of political virtues in ancient Greece which led to its fall to Philip II of Macedonia in the fourth century B.C. and the end of democracy in Greece. Democracy wasn’t reestablished in Greece until the twentieth century. “To be free,” he explains, “citizens had to have characters worthy of freedom.”
Instead, Thornton writes, there was a “complete civic degradation of Athens.” By the time Philip arrived, the decay was well advanced and Greece was “already rotted and unhealthy…” When those of us who express concerns about the state of American culture and its tossing out of traditional morality—this is what we’re talking about.
Up next, the final part: updates for your book of epithets.
(Updated version. First published August 2012)