Why Was Pederasty Common in Ancient Greece?

Pederasty is an ancient Greek practice that involved sexual relationships between adult men and adolescent boys. This practice was widely accepted in ancient Greece, and even celebrated in some instances. But why was pederasty so common in ancient Greece?

The Historical Context

To understand the prevalence of pederasty in ancient Greece, it’s important to consider the historical context. Ancient Greek society was highly patriarchal, with men holding most positions of power and influence. Women were often kept sequestered in the home and had limited rights.

In this context, relationships between men were seen as more equal and desirable than relationships between men and women. This was especially true for older men who sought out relationships with younger boys.

The Ideal of Mentorship

One of the key reasons why pederasty was so common in ancient Greece was because it was seen as a form of mentorship. Older men would take younger boys under their wing, teaching them about philosophy, politics, and other areas of knowledge.

This mentorship relationship often included sexual activity between the two parties. It was believed that through this physical relationship, the older man could impart wisdom and knowledge to the younger boy.

Cultural Acceptance

Pederasty was also widely accepted in ancient Greek culture. It wasn’t seen as taboo or shameful like it is today. In fact, there are many examples of pederastic relationships being celebrated in art and literature from the time.

For example, the story of Ganymede, a beautiful young boy who was taken to Mount Olympus by Zeus to serve as his cupbearer, is a well-known example of pederastic love in Greek mythology.


In conclusion, there were several factors that contributed to the prevalence of pederasty in ancient Greece. The patriarchal nature of society made relationships between men more desirable than those between men and women. The ideal of mentorship also played a role, as older men sought to impart knowledge and wisdom to younger boys through physical relationships.

Finally, cultural acceptance was a major factor in the prevalence of pederasty in ancient Greece. While it’s important to acknowledge that pederasty is not acceptable or legal in modern society, we must also understand the historical context that made it so common in ancient Greece.