η Σαπφώ, η Λέσβος και ο σεξοτουρισμός στην αρχαιότητα

Poet Sappho, the Isle of Lesbos, and sex tourism in the ancient world

Τhe sexual proclivities of ancient Greece is almost as mythologized as their legendary heroes. In fact, the entire Greek pantheon of gods is renowned for its hedonistic sexual antics and exploits. But are we letting exciting myth cloud reality? The truth and ancient history of the Island of Lesbos, long associated with lesbianism, may be very different than most assume.  In a new BBC documentary and article, the island is said to have been the location of a busy sex trade – for men!

In Greek myth there are tales of Zeus transforming himself into swans and bulls and rays of golden light to impregnate women. Tiresias, the Theban who’d been both a man and a woman, was blinded by Hera for saying women enjoy sex more than men, causing Hera to lose a bet with Zeus (Zeus gave Tiresias the powers of a seer and an extra-long life to compensate). (Hera in a rage also changed one of Zeus’ paramoors Io into a cow and had a gadfly chase her around the world; Zeus eventually rescued her.) And what about poor Dionysus? Did those crazy Maenad women of his really tear him apart every single year in a frenzy? Chaste Artemis in the pool bathing with her maidens went wild with rage when Actaeon saw her nude, turned him into a deer, and his own hounds hunted him down and killed him. And let us not forget Apollo and Pan and others chasing around young nymphs who were so unwilling that they changed themselves into trees and reeds to escape the unpredictable results of being with a god.

By reputation ancient Greeks embraced homosexuality, both male and female, but one particular place famous for lesbian trysts, Lesbos, was actually an island where women known for their beauty served a sex trade of men on vacation. In a surprising turn, Lesbos was reportedly the ancient sex tourism capital of the Aegean—for men. Now comes a new BBC documentary that says Lesbos was the ancient equivalent of modern-day Magaluf, a city on Spain’s Mallorca Island notorious for sex tourism, heavy drinking and debauchery.

Presumably the women of Lesbos who weren’t involved in the sex trade, i.e. non-prostitutes, didn’t gang up to rob drunken tourists from the ancient world as has been happening in Magaluf in recent years, according to this article about another BBC documentary.

The Greek Reporter says that the women of Lesbos could not be resisted—but not because of brute force and superior numbers ganging up on hapless inebriates—but because they were so beautiful.
“Lesbos had a very particular reputation for producing very beautiful women. They really were supposed to be the sexiest people in the entire Greek world,” Edith Hall of King’s College in London says in the show, which will air May 4 on BBC Four. “In the Ancient Greek world, the word lesbian actually meant a woman performing an intimate sex act on a man.”

The most famous person who ever lived on Lesbos was the poet Sappho, a woman who celebrated the island’s beautiful women. Very little is known about this artist who lived circa 630 B.C , but her poetry captivates readers 2,000 years after it was written. She is often defined as a lyrist as her writings were intended to be performed accompanied by the lyre. Further, she was an innovator, as she was one of the first poets to write in the first person, making the experience personal and individual. Her works have now become synonymous with female love.

The BBC sent a team to investigate the island of Lesbos’ sexual history and this enigmatic woman.

Most of Sappho’s poetry is lost, but some remains, including this poem, translated by Mary Barnard:

I have not heard a word from her

Frankly I wish I were dead

When she left, she wept

a great deal; she said to me, «This parting must be

endured, Sappho. I go unwillingly.»

I said, «Go, and be happy

but remember (you know

well) whom you leave shackled by love

«If you forget me, think

of our gifts to Aphrodite

and all the loveliness that we shared

«all the violet tiaras,

braided rosebuds, dill and

crocus twined around your young neck

«myrrh poured on your head

and on soft mats girls with

all that they most wished for beside them

«while no voices chanted

choruses without ours,

no woodlot bloomed in spring without song…»

Further research into the historic cultural realities and practices of sexuality may change how we perceive the ancient world, but all windows into the past must be opened to get a truer look at the past.

μέσω Poet Sappho, the Isle of Lesbos, and sex tourism in the ancient world | Ancient Origins.

About brexians

Demetrios Georgalas (A Surviving Globalization Consultant) was born in 1961 in Bern and grew up in Athens. In1985, graduated from Surrey University with a Tourism Management BSc (Hons). In 1998, graduated from LMTB under Freie Universitat Berlin, with a Diploma Lasers in Medicine. His professional career was started in the private sector and at the same time he created his first consulting company D+G Consultants Inc. Worked for major multinationals in Greece and abroad (FMCGs / Pharmaceuticals / Tourism). Demetrios Georgalas, having established also Travelling 2 Greece a destination management company, while with the D+G Consultants working in the areas of BTL and special marketing projects. He is activated except from Greece in the Balkans and in Turkey, consulting his clientele with new innovative proposals. Apart from his enterprising activities, he dabbles at blogging, travelling and cooking while he is married and has two children. In conclusion Demetrios Georgalas is an Athenian, Greek, Agnostic, Traveller, & Liberal he likes sci-fi, photography, blogging, travelling and cooking and if you like fascism or any kind of dogma, keep out! Δημήτρης Κ. Γεωργαλάς Γεννήθηκε στην Αθήνα το 1961, σπούδασε Τουριστική Διαχείριση στο Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο και κατέχει μεταπτυχιακό τίτλο στην Βιοτεχνολογία. Έχει εργαστεί σε μεγάλα τουριστικά γραφεία του εσωτερικού, και σε πολυεθνικές σε Ελλάδα και Εξωτερικό, στο χώρο των φαρμάκων, των ιατρικών μηχανημάτων και των FMCG’s. Από το 2001 είναι ελεύθερος επαγγελματίας, με δραστηριότητα στην διαχείριση προορισμού, τον θεματικό τουρισμό και τις ειδικές ενέργειες marketing. Είναι παντρεμένος και πατέρας δυο παιδιών, διδάσκει ειδικά θέματα εξωτερικού εμπορίου και κοινωνικής δικτύωσης, σε επιχειρήσεις και οργανισμούς. Ασχολείται ενεργά με το διαδίκτυο από το 1993 με άμεση εμπλοκή στα κοινωνικά δίκτυα και στο «ιστολογείν». Φανατικός ταξιδευτής, ερασιτέχνης φωτογράφος, μαχόμενος αγνωστικός και φιλελεύθερος. Όραμά του μια Ευρωπαϊκή Ελλάδα. https://brexians.wordpress.com
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