Why did ancient Greeks and Romans think that “men” were inherently superior to “women”? Many people (and entire cultures) think that still today, of course, but for now I ain’t goin’ there. I’m interested in understanding this understanding in the ancient world out of which Christianity grew, on the assumption that modern ideas have been handed down to us over the centuries so that most people simply think their views are “common sense,” which, I suppose, they often are, since they are the sense commonly held.
They often think, as a consequence, that they are therefore “naturally right,” and with that I heartily disagree. A majority opinion is not necessarily right or true. The fact that for most of western history a majority of people thought the world came into existence just some thousands of years ago and would last 6000 years does not mean the view was right. Just that it was widely held. Both what is actually “true” and what is truly “natural” is not established by a show of hands.
In any event, in a recent post I discussed the ancient Athenian practice of pederasty, widespread among the cultural elite in classical times — say 6th-4th c. BCE (see my post here: https://ehrmanblog.org/what-is-sexually-unnatural/). Pederasty involved a sexual relation between an adult man and a prepubescent boy (usually a teenager); the man was the “lover” and the boy was the “beloved.” They partnered up (the man was normally already married) with the beloved granting sexual favors to the lover in exchange for being taught the ways of the city — introduced to its social, cultural, and political life. Both then considered this a kind of ancient equivalent of “friends with benefits” (one received sexual and the other social benefits).
One of the things that has long struck me about the texts (and graphic artwork!) that depict the phenomenon is that it certainly appears that the common-sense among adult men was that adolescent boys were far more