What Was the Age of Consent in Ancient Greece?

In Ancient Greece, the concept of age of consent was vastly different from what we know today. The age at which someone was considered capable of consenting to sexual activities varied depending on the region and time period. Let’s take a look at some of the historical evidence and cultural practices to understand this complex topic.

The Legal Age of Consent in Ancient Greece

There is no single answer to what the legal age of consent was in Ancient Greece as it varied from city-state to city-state. However, most commonly accepted ages were between 12 and 14 for girls and 16 for boys.

In Athens, the legal age of consent for marriage was 12 for girls and 18 for boys. Interestingly, there were no laws governing homosexuality or same-sex relationships.

Cultural Practices

Despite these legal ages, many Greek men engaged in sexual relationships with younger boys or girls who had not yet reached puberty. This practice was known as pederasty and was considered a normal part of Greek culture. The older men were expected to mentor and educate the younger ones in exchange for sexual favors.

However, it’s important to note that not all Greeks engaged in pederasty or approved of it. In fact, some philosophers like Plato condemned the practice as immoral.

Slaves and Women

It’s worth mentioning that slaves and women had little say in their sexual activities regardless of their age. They were seen as property rather than individuals with agency over their bodies.


The concept of age of consent in Ancient Greece may seem perplexing to us now, but it’s essential to understand that it existed within a specific cultural context where social norms around sexuality were vastly different from today. While we cannot condone or justify harmful practices like pederasty, it’s crucial to approach history with an open mind and seek to understand rather than judge.