The ancient Greeks were never at a loss for words when it came to love and lust — and an exhibition that opened in Athens today laying bare the practice of sex in classical times through an unprecedented collection of eye-popping art partly explains why. Eros, the god of love and the great loosener of limbs, was many things: irresistible, tender, beautiful, excruciating, maddening, merciless and bittersweet. There was no position, no touch, no predilection too outre to pay homage to him. From the affectionate embrace to group sex, love came in many forms. Standing before a giant marble phallus that once graced the facade of an ancient Greek home, he added: "It had what I call balance.
8 Sexual Curiosities From Ancient Greece (PHOTOS)
Sex In Ancient Greece: All The Juicy Details About What It Was Like
In classical antiquity , writers such as Herodotus ,  Plato ,  Xenophon ,  Athenaeus  and many others explored aspects of homosexuality in Greece. The most widespread and socially significant form of same-sex sexual relations in ancient Greece was between adult men and pubescent or adolescent boys, known as pederasty marriages in Ancient Greece between men and women were also age structured, with men in their thirties commonly taking wives in their early teens. It is unclear how such relations between women were regarded in the general society, but examples do exist as far back as the time of Sappho. The ancient Greeks did not conceive of sexual orientation as a social identifier as modern Western societies have done. Greek society did not distinguish sexual desire or behavior by the gender of the participants, but rather by the role that each participant played in the sex act, that of active penetrator or passive penetrated. The most common form of same-sex relationships between males in Greece was paiderastia pederasty , meaning "boy love".
Laid bare: the sex life of the ancient Greeks in all its physical glory
Pederasty in ancient Greece was a socially acknowledged romantic relationship between an adult male the erastes and a younger male the eromenos usually in his teens. Some scholars locate its origin in initiation ritual , particularly rites of passage on Crete , where it was associated with entrance into military life and the religion of Zeus. Scholars have debated the role or extent of pederasty, which is likely to have varied according to local custom and individual inclination. He is aware of his attractiveness, but self-absorbed in his relationship with those who desire him. He will smile sweetly at the admiring lover; he will show appreciation for the other's friendship, advice, and assistance.
In the beginning was sex. To the ancient Greek mythologisers, sexuality, love and sex were inextricably connected with the creation of the earth, the heavens and the underworld. Simultaneously, Zeus, the top god, wasted no time in asserting his dominance over the other gods both male and female. His cavalier attitude towards female sexuality, as manifested in serial rape and seduction Zeus raped Leda, daughter of the Aetolian king Thestius, in the guise of a swan; raped Danae, a princess of Argos, disguised as the rain, and raped Ganymede, a male mortal set a precedent for centuries of mortal male domination and female subservience. The depiction of Hera [wife of Zeus and queen of the ancient Greek gods] as a distracting, duplicitous and deceptive woman opened the door for centuries of male insecurity about women, and misogyny.