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Aithida & Therylos
(2nd - 3rd cent. AD) Greece

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Sex partners


The shrine of Eileithyia in Messini, the Peloponnese, sheds new light on homosexual and religious practices in ancient and modern world. Excavators under the supervision of Prof Petros Themelis unearthed a 1,95 m. long inscription from the base of a temple, which was dated to the 2nd-3rd century AD.

The inscription reads "Therylos enik' Aithida" (Therylos had a relation with Aithida) proving the intercourse of the two men. Prof. Themelis explains that "homosexual activities in shrines, public places and religious festivities were not a rare practice [...] especially in the Cyclades, e.g. Thera of the archaic period. This is not the case though from the Hellenistic age onwards."

Excavations all over Messini, according to Prof Themelis, have proven that worship of dark chthonic forces, as that of the Eileithyia temple on mountain Ithomi, was maintained and performed in the area. Prof. Themelis suggests that "these practices were testing young trainees by initiating their belief to dark deities".

As the unique inscription at Eileithyia showed, paganism and worship of dark deities continued to prove devotion to God during the early Christian period. Such activities performed in a Christian temple, although by definition self-contradictory, prove the strength of tradition and the power of religion.


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