Halperin's subject is the erotics of male culture in ancient Greece. Arguing that the modern concept of "homosexuality" is an inadequate tool for the interpretation of these features of sexual life in antiquity, Halperin offers an alternative account that accords greater prominence to the indigenous terms in which sexual experiences were constituted in the ancient Mediterranean world. Wittily and provocatively written, Halperin's meticulously drawn windows onto ancient sexuality give us a new meaning to the concept of "Greek love."
About the Author
David M. Halperin is Professor of Literature at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Halperin¿s book highlights the absurdity of social constructionism. If homosexuals first appeared in the English speaking world when the word was first attested in 1892, then they must by that logic have appeared in the German speaking world in 1869, when Kertbeny coined the German equivalent. We homos also must have not yet appeared among speakers of such languages that do not yet have the term ¿ even if some of those speakers know English. This exaggerated form of social constructionism ignores the habitual, exclusive sodomite known to medieval and early modern Europeans, as well as to the Greeks and Romans whose authors often satirized such queens in terms all too familiar today. Halperin should give up on history and theory and go to work studying cowboys, now that he has relocated from the Hub to Australia and then to the mid-west ¿ not far from the Wild West. His expertise seems to extend from Gilgamesh and Enkidu to the Lone Ranger and Tonto! John Addington Symonds, who was as familiar or more familiar than anyone else with German scholarship about inversion, must have known about the German neologism in 1869 long before 1892. In Halperin¿s twisted, tainted logic did he therefore become a homo avant le mot anglais? The same must also apply to gay if indeed ¿gay¿ in that sense was another neologism, as many claim.