By Louis Crompton
How have significant civilizations of the final millennia handled those that have been interested in their very own intercourse? In a story tour de force, Louis Crompton chronicles the lives and achievements of gay women and men along a darker background of persecution, as he compares the Christian West with the cultures of historical Greece and Rome, Arab Spain, imperial China, and pre-Meiji Japan. historic Greek tradition celebrated same-sex love in historical past, literature, and artwork, making excessive claims for its ethical effect. in contrast, Jewish spiritual leaders within the 6th century B.C.E. branded male homosexuality as a capital offense and, later, blamed it for the destruction of the biblical urban of Sodom. while those traditions collided in Christian Rome in the course of the past due empire, the tragic repercussions have been felt all through Europe and the recent global. Louis Crompton strains Church-inspired mutilation, torture, and burning of “sodomites” in sixth-century Byzantium, medieval France, Renaissance Italy, and in Spain less than the Inquisition. yet Protestant experts have been both dedicated to the execution of homosexuals within the Netherlands, Calvin’s Geneva, and Georgian England. the foundation reason used to be non secular superstition, abetted by way of political ambition and sheer greed. but from this cauldron of fears and needs, homoerotic topics surfaced within the paintings of the Renaissance masters―Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Sodoma, Cellini, and Caravaggio―often intertwined with Christian motifs. Homosexuality additionally flourished within the court docket intrigues of Henry III of France, Queen Christina of Sweden, James I and William III of britain, Queen Anne, and Frederick the good. Anti-homosexual atrocities dedicated within the West distinction starkly with the extra tolerant traditions of pre-modern China and Japan, as printed in poetry, fiction, and paintings and within the lives of emperors, shoguns, Buddhist monks, students, and actors. within the samurai culture of Japan, Crompton makes transparent, the get together of same-sex love rivaled that of historic Greece. Sweeping in scope, elegantly crafted, and lavishly illustrated, Homosexuality and Civilization is a gorgeous exploration of a wealthy and poor prior.