Sunday, April 22, 2012

Five Things You Didn't Know about Iron Age Greece

What a treat I have for readers today -- M/M author Kayla Jameth, dishing 5 hot facts that you didn't know about the Iron Age Greece. I'm a total geek when it comes to high-brow erotic romance. I had the pleasure of meeting Kayla at the GayRomLit Retreat in New Orleans, and yes, she's just as witty in real life, too.

My story Alexios' Fate takes place in Iron Age Greece. The setting is Thrace, the portion of Greece closest to the ancient Persian Empire, modern day Turkey. Alexios lives during the opening years of the 5th Century BC. He lived in a very different world than we do.

Some of the more interesting differences include:

1. Dildos were common in Greece. They were made of wood or stone. Men frequently gave them as gifts to their wives when they had to be gone for wars or other extended trips. This was viewed as a way to keep her from straying.

2. Pederasty, or the practice of mentoring, was at the core of the Greek homosocial culture. An older aristocrat took a younger man of the same social class under his wing. Most such relationships had a sexual aspect to them; although, the extend of this varied with the social expectations of the polis and the inclination of the partners.

The Greeks did not have a word for homosexual. Men had sex. The gender of their partner did not matter. What did matter was their relative status and penetration. Penetration was for social inferiors (ie women and slaves). Equals were expected to refrain from penetration. Thus intercrural sex was the norm for pederastic relationships.

This was by no means true for lovers; although, the stigma attached to penetration still applied. Men could be lovers, but were still expected to conform to the prevalent cultural expectations of what a man was.

3. The Theban or Sacred Band was made up entirely of men and their male lovers. It was commonly thought that men who were lovers would fight more fiercely in the defense of their home and lovers. For what man could stand to have his lover think him a coward?

4. The Olympian Games were held in honor of Zeus every four years. A PanHellenic truce was declared so all the Greek city-states could compete.

Athletes competed in the nude. One ancient source attributes this to a woman successfully winning the foot race. In an effort to see that women wouldn't be able to impersonate a man and thus compete, all future Olympian Games were held in the nude.

Only uncircumcised/uncut men could compete, as it was considered rude to go uncovered.

5. Beards were considered a sign of virility in ancient Greece. Just look at how much time the men spent on them, preening. They kept their beards carefully trimmed and would oil them and tease them into ringlets for special occasions.



The mature King Lykos has a sexy confidence that turns Alexios' head. Seduced by Lykos, Prince Alexios discovers a world of men he's never known before.

Meanwhile his slave Galen has gotten tired of waiting in the wings. He sets out to woo Alexios and win his heart.

Even Apollo can't leave Alexios alone. The young prince finds himself pursued by a god and in danger of a perilous love.

How will Alexios follow his heart when he unwittingly wins the favor of a god? Can Alexios escape the fate of Apollo's past lovers and have the man he wants?

Alexios' father, still red-faced and with fists clenched, followed him into his room and glared at his slave Galen until the young man left. Demetrios twitched the mantle covering Alexios with contempt, almost as if touching the offending garment sullied his hand.
"Explain to me why my son comes back to me in Lykos' care, wearing another man's mantle? I'm sure the other kings want to know as well!" His voice took on a dangerous quality, "Don't play the wanton and act like you're already his."
Alexios jerked his head up, thrumming with restrained anger. "I am a prince of Dicaea! I belong to no one!"
"See that you keep yourself that way. I intend for you to make a marriage alliance. Whichever of those men becomes your father-in-law will have the mentoring of you." His father stalked to the door before turning. "I expect you to compete with the other youths at the games for your coming-of-age."
Feeling like a prize bull being offered to the highest bidder, Alexios tore the mantle from his body. He stood in no more than he would be wearing when he competed. Alexios realized his father not only wanted him to show his prowess, his father also wanted him on exhibit for the other kings.
"The alliance means so much you don't care if you have to put me on display to get what you want?"
"This alliance is more important than your wounded sensibilities. A betrothal will offer us the support we need to expand. A prince's loyalty is to his father. You will obey me in this!"
In spite of his father, his cock filled as he envisioned being on parade before Lykos and the other men. The fantasy of their eyes watching every move his body made gave rise to a shivery feeling at his core. Would they only have eyes for him or would they compare him to the other oiled bodies competing with him for the laurel? Would the victor also become the prize in some fashion?
The blood left Demetrios' face. "That...that man...excites you, doesn't he? Keep away from Lykos!" his father stuttered with a burgeoning air of alarm.
The dismayed man staggered through the doorway. He shoved past the slave standing in the hall, without thought or seeming awareness of his surroundings. Galen bowed to the king and kept an eye on Alexios' father as he stormed down the corridor.
Alexios still stood in openmouthed shock when Galen reentered the room, trying to fathom what his father's outburst had been all about. Bemused, Alexios wondered why his father wanted to keep him away from Lykos. For a moment, he had thought his father was jealous.
"Never mind him. He's not angry at you."
The air cooled his heated skin as he searched for a tunic to cover his nakedness. Galen reached past him to pick up the garment first. His arm brushed against Alexios' sensitive skin and a shudder ran down Alexios' frame.
Alexios turned and caught the look of surprise on his slave's face. Galen's carefully schooled his features to exhibited polite interest, nothing more.
Alexios gazed at the slave with speculation, contemplating what he knew of the man. Galen saw to all his needs, often before he realized he wanted something. The young man served him with such devotion Alexios had never been forced to rebuke him. In fact, Galen went to greater lengths than necessary, certainly more than duty required. He never wondered about the depth of Galen's dedication before. Why was Galen so diligent?
Taking the chiton from Galen's hands, Alexios replaced the garment on the chest at the foot of his bed. He feasted his eyes on the hale and comely slave. He had intended to slake his lust in one of the slave girls, but his own slave stood before him. Maybe he didn't need to go in search of someone else.
"Do you know what to do with this?" He gestured at his engorged cock.
An enigmatic mix of emotions washed across the young man's face. Distaste, hope, and despair jumbled together to distort the handsome features. Without a word, Galen slid to his knees and his hand stretched out to Alexios' cock.
Available via Breathless Press

About Kayla

A knight and a former princess, Kayla Jameth now spends her time writing m/m romance. A true Renaissance woman, she has done everything from cross stitch like a proper lady to welding with the best of them. An eclectic life has left her with a unique understanding of the world inhabited by men and an appreciation for the difficulties faced by men in m/m relationships. It is her devout wish that her experiences translate into a richer telling of such tales. A minor in classical history left her with a special love of ancient history, especially during the classical period.


  1. Hello Louisa!
    It's great to hang out with you again, especially as you've said such nice things about me.
    I hope you enjoyed the excerpt and the naughty facts about Greece.

  2. I love Greek culture. What fascinating info! I'd heard about the nude Olympics, not the reason, though I guess it doesn't surprise me, LOL. I've seen Alexios' Fate around, now I need to go pick it up :)

  3. I love ancient cultures in general, but I minored in Classical History so the Greco-Roman world is more familiar to me. I'm flattered that you've heard of Alexios. I hope you enjoy it.

  4. I've got my copy waiting on Kindle ... for when I'm a good girl and finish writing my book -- hopefully this week!

  5. History has always fascinated me and I've learned some interesting fact while doing research. Thanks for sharing more.

  6. I'm glad to share.
    It's nice to know that my story rates as a reward!

  7. Yes, thanks for sharing that. I love history but know very little about Bronze Age Greece. I did know the Olympic athletes were nude, but not the reason why! Very interesting post.

  8. Thank you. I'm glad to see so many people interested in history geek juicy tidbits.