Phallic-shaped lamps, love letters engraved in clay and erotic symbols on lucky charms dating from 7 BC to 4 AD are just a fraction of what visitors will see at an exhibition dedicated to the Greek and later Roman god of love. The exhibition surveys the changing perceptions of Eros known as Cupid to the Romans from the eighth century BC when he was viewed as an influential god to the Roman period when he became less potent and a mere companion to Venus. Exhibition organizers say visitors should check the modern world's sense of decency at the door when entering, because the ancients had very few qualms about erotic art.
Greece is watching the unfolding crisis in Italy with growing nervousness. Events in Rome are eliciting a sense of deja vu in Athens, the capital long on the frontline of the eurozone crisis. And nerves are being rattled.
Group of Aphrodite, Pan and Eros. About BC. Photo courtesy of Tilemahos Efthimiadis.
But aid workers and officials say there is often nowhere to turn, with victims trapped in camps with their abusers too frightened to go to police or authorities, who frequently lack interpreters and specialists. The absence of arrests can lead asylum seekers to take violent retribution. Later, the girl described how she was sexually abused.
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By playing in Greek movies, approaching strange women in bars or enjoying their coffee with friends, Greek men have become throughout the years something like urban legends, while much has been written by women struggling to understand them. Then take a look at the young Greek male you will find playing backgammon at a cafeteria in Athens. The hairy chest combined with jewelry and the traditional golden chain have been replaced by trendy Greek men, who pay attention to even the smallest detail and follow every new fashion trend.
You hear it constantly. Spitting for the Greek culture is a way of detracting any form of evil presence, taking the jinx off something and basically not tempting fate. Spitting feels like second nature to us.
Sexuality, sex, and love remain central to Greek identity even today and are prevalent themes in Greek advertisements, music, and even language. It may not be surprising, then, to learn that many of the dirtiest expressions in Greek have a heavy focus on sex, even when they have nothing at all to do with it! Freud would likely say that Greeks, and perhaps the Greek culture as a whole, have found themselves stuck in the early phases of psychosexual development — oral, anal, and phallic. Not sure what I mean?