Grass monkey, that funky monkey, GRASS MONKEY! asks:

So, the Greek God Apollo, he is definitely bi right?

Well, there’s a bunch of caveats I have to rattle off whenever someone asks a question like this, ‘cause in ancient Greek culture there’s no such thing as “bi” or “gay” – and there’s definitely no such thing as “straight.”  The categories simply don’t exist; there are no words for them in the ancient Greek language.  Personally, I think we have reason to believe that the whole concept of being exclusively attracted to only one gender would have seemed a bit alien to the ancient Greeks.  It’s just… kind of normal for adult men – men who are married to women and happily participating in a strictly patriarchal and, weirdly, kind of heteronormative social structure – to also be attracted to younger men and teenage boys, and indeed to have sex with them.  What’s more, this is totally fine, because in general Greek marriage customs only require that a married woman should not have sex with any men other than her husband (and Sparta had exceptions to even that rule; I also kind of suspect that extramarital lesbian relationships might have been common as well, but that’s a lot harder to track, because almost all our written sources come from male perspectives and they just have an extremely rudimentary understanding of female sexuality).  Marriage is a very functional, utilitarian, transactional thing; you get married in order to produce legitimate male heirs who will inherit your property and your place in the social fabric of your city.  That’s a duty that you have not just to your family but to your entire community, because it ensures continuity of land ownership, and land is where the community lives and produces food.  The point I’m trying to make is that male/male romantic or sexual relationships are doing different things from male/female ones, in a way that wouldn’t have left much room for a modern conception of same-sex relationships, where we want to be seen as equal and equivalent to straight people.

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