November 19, 2004
Not that there's anything wrong with that...
Can a person who's been dead for 23 centuries sue for defamation?
ATHENS (Reuters) - A group of Greek lawyers are threatening to sue Warner Bros. film studios and Oliver Stone, director of the widely anticipated film "Alexander," for suggesting Alexander the Great was bisexual.
The lawyers have already sent an extrajudicial note to the studio and director demanding they include a reference in the title credits saying his movie is a fictional tale and not based on official documents of the life of the Macedonian ruler.
"We are not saying that we are against gays but we are saying that the production company should make it clear to the audience that this film is pure fiction and not a true depiction of the life of Alexander," Yannis Varnakos, who spearheads the campaign by 25 lawyers, told Reuters on Friday.
In a related development, the same lawyers filed suit against publishers Penguin, Oxford, Princeton University Press, and others because their translations suggest homosexual inclinations among Socrates' colleagues at the Symposium.
Posted by Ideofact at November 19, 2004 01:32 PM
IIRC the 19th century French writer Villiers de l'Isle-Adam (author of stories such as "Contes Cruels", influenced by Edgar Allan Poe, and the early sci-fi novel "L'Eve Future"), who was immensely poor but tremendously proud of his aristocratic roots, spent what little money he had suing a historian who had insulted one of his ancestors, a knight who lived in the 15th century.
I thought scholars were pretty much in agreement that Alexander was bisexual. It would make sense when we think of the culture he was from. I would hate to see such a suit be successful. No historical fiction claims to be 100% factual. Any attempt to do so would make a film exceedingly dry since the director wouldn't be able to fill in the gaps of the story.
There's a long series of legal precedent for characterizing statements that an individual is a homosexual - whether supported by facts or not - as "libel per se". See, for example, http://www.cas.okstate.edu/jb/faculty/senat/jb3163/onlinecollege.html (search "per se"). In recent years, some American courts have abandoned this precedent.
This suit should not succeed under any modern law of defamation. The right of reputation ceases with the death of the personan whether the claim is meritorious or frivolous.
PROOF THAT ALEXANDER THE GREAT WAS NOT GAY
FROM ORIGINAL GREEK SOURCES
“When Philoxenos, the leader of the seashore, wrote to Alexander that there was a young man in Ionia whose beauty has yet to be seen and asked him in a letter if he (Alexander) would like him (the young man) to be sent over, he (Alexander) responded in a strict and disgusted manner: “You are the most hideous and malign of all men, have you ever seen me involved in such dirty work that you found the urge to flatter me with such hedonistic business?” (From Plutarch’s On the Luck and Virtue of Alexander A, 12)
“But as for the other captive women, seeing that they were surpassingly stately and beautiful, he merely said jestingly that Persian women were torments to the eyes. And displaying in rivalry with their fair looks the beauty of his own sobriety and self-control, he passed them by as though they were lifeless images for display.” (From Plutarch’s Parallel Lives: Alexander, 21)
“When Philoxenus, the commander of his forces on the sea-board, wrote that there was with him a certain Theodorus, of Tarentum, who had two young men of surpassing beauty to sell, and enquired whether Alexander would buy them, Alexander was incensed, and cried out many times to his friends, asking them what shameful thing Philoxenus had ever seen in him that he should spend his time in making such disgraceful proposals.” (From Plutarch’s Parallel Lives: Alexander, 22, 1)
In light of the evidence above, CONSIDER the following questions and DRAW your own conclusions:
If Alexander was a homosexual, would he have reacted in this manner to Philoxenos’ proposals?
If Alexander was a homosexual, would he have ruthlessly and disgustingly dismissed Philoxenus?
If Alexander was a homosexual, would he have “drooled” over Persian women who were “torments to the eyes”?
A NEW BOOK WHICH DEMOLISHE STHE MYTH THAT HOMOSEXUALITY WAS ACCEPTED BY ANCIENT GREEKS
Debunking the Myth of Homosexuality in Ancient Greece BY ADONIS GEORGIADES
Proof that Homosexuality was UNNATURAL by Ancient Greeks from Original Ancient Greek Sources:
“And whether one makes the observation in earnest or in jest, one certainly should not fail to observe that when male unites with female for procreation the pleasure experienced is held to be due to nature, but it is AGAINST nature when male mates with male or female with female, and that those first guilty of such enormities were impelled by their slavery to pleasure.” Plato Laws 1.636c
“If we were to follow in nature's steps and enact that law which held good before the days of Laius, declaring that it is right to refrain from indulging in the same kind of intercourse with men and boys as with women, and adducing as evidence thereof the nature of wild beasts, and pointing out how male does not touch male for this purpose, since it is unnatural,--in all this we would probably be using an argument neither convincing nor in any way consonant with your States.” Plato Laws 8.836c
“I maintain that our regulation on this head must go forward and proclaim that our citizens must not be worse than fowls and many other animals which are produced in large broods, and which live chaste and celibate lives without sexual intercourse until they arrive at the age for breeding; and when they reach this age they pair off, as instinct moves them, male with female and female with male;” Plato Laws 8.840d
“We might forcibly effect one of two things in this matter of sex-relations,--either that no one should venture to touch any of the noble and freeborn save his own wedded wife, nor sow any unholy and bastard seed in fornication, nor any unnatural and barren seed in sodomy,--or else we should entirely abolish love for males” Plato Laws 8.841d
“When Zeus created humans and their other soul properties, he ingrained them in every human being. However, he left SHAME out. Since he didn’t know where to insert it, he commanded that it (shame) be inserted in the anus. Shame, however, complained about this and was very upset. Since shame was profusely complaining, shame said: “I will only agree to be inserted this way (i.e., in the anus) and whoever is inserted after me, I will come out.” From this day on, may every sexually inclined person who chooses this method be SHAMEFUL!” Aesop’s Fables, Zeus and Aeschyne (Shame)
With all due respect, I don't think we can take Plato's Laws as being particularly suggestive of what was going on in Greece. Plato was writing laws for an ideal community, not the one he found; in this, the Laws are a bit similar to the Republic; one wouldn't argue that ancient Greece had no poets because in the Republic we're told they are to be exiled.
Regarding the (in my view) far sillier question of whether or not Alexander was homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual, to be honest about the only question that would interest me less is whether the actor playing Alexander was homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual.
What I quoted are just SAMPLES of a vast and thorough investigation on the manner with which Ancient Greeks viewed Homosexuality. There are a vast amount of other quotes which could not feasibly be included in a blog (and do pertain the actual lifestyle of Ancient Greece). If you consult the newly published book by Adonis Georgiades (Debunking the Myth of Homosexuality in Ancient Greece) and read the review at:
you will see the truth for yourself. Mr. Georgiades has read the entire Ancient Greek and Latin corpus and quotes directly from the original and then translates for those who can't read Greek nor Latin. An open-minded person would not limit him/herself to what he/she was taught, but he/she would seek to find the truth for themselves. Get a copy of Georgiades book, read it, and then come back, and we can discuss it:)
I'll take a look at it, although I'd also suggest taking a look at Victor Davis Hanson's review of the film that originally appeared in the print edition of National Review, in which he describes the place of homosexual relationships in ancient Greece:
Our closest modern American notion relative to the sex practices of either ancient sophisticates or ancient randy soldiers might be characterized not as omnivorous pedophilia per se, but as a subset of pederasty: the sexual attraction toward young boys of older men, often otherwise "heterosexual," who seem both indifferent to men their own age and yet not interested in being a passive actor in sexual congress with youths. In present-day society we hear of all this — from the lurid accounts of bachelor Western clergy to married Pashtun tribesmen in the Hindu Kush, who often seek out sexual apprentices among poorer boys, orphans, or those eager to emulate martial bravery.
Whether such homoerotic desire is an expression of innate homosexual tendencies in either participant or more a reflection of the many heterosexual obstacles within tribal societies — involving the sanctity of female virginity, the relative scarcity of educated and empowered women, or life in a mostly male society — is not quite clear either in the present or the past. But what is unmistakable is that in the ancient Mediterranean occasional sex with feminine-looking men or adolescents did not earn the reproach of "acting queer" as it still does in the modern world. In most cases, acts per se did not equate to either a lifestyle or an orientation. Thus it makes little sense to speculate whether figures as diverse as Plato and Philip II were akin to our notion of "gays."