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Deborah’s article (which if you missed you can read here) reminded me so clearly of a book I read many years ago called ‘The Last of The Wine’. Below is a summary from Wikipedia, which is better than anything I could write from memory:

The Last of the Wine

The Last of the Wine is Mary Renault‘s first novel set in Ancient Greece, the setting that would become her most important arena. The novel was published in 1956 and is the second of her works to feature male homosexuality as a major theme. The book is a convincing portrait of Athens at the close of the Golden Age and the end of the Peloponnesian War with Sparta.

Plot summary

The novel is narrated by Alexias, a noble Athenian youth, who becomes a noted beauty in the city and a champion runner. The novel suggests that young male Athenians were treated almost like modern debutantes and wooed by older men seeking to be their lovers; in fact, in a memorable passage, Alexias’ father, Myron, himself a former beauty and champion athlete, writes to his son before leaving Athens for the Sicilian Expedition. The father imparts to the son the traits he should seek in a lover – qualities like honor, loyalty and courage. However, the father also warns the son not to become involved with women as he is much too young. (See Athenian pederasty.)

As an Ephebe (adolescent male), Alexias falls in love with Lysis, a man in his 20s – a champion pankratiast and a student of Socrates. The novel follows their the relationship through the Peloponnesian War, the surrender of Athens, the establishment of the Thirty Tyrants rule over Athens, the democratic rebellion of Thrasybulus and shortly after. The story ends with first hints of the eventual trial of Socrates for teaching blasphemy and sowing social disorder.

From the beginning of the novel, Socrates figures prominently; both Alexis and Lysis become his students in their youth. Also characterized in the novel are Plato and several figures from his Dialogues who were Socrates’ students, including Xenophon. Another historical figure who figures in the story, albeit mostly off-stage, is Alcibiades, the Athenian general who flees Athens on a charge of sacrilege and functions as a military adviser to Sparta until he is recalled by a resurgent democracy in Athens. Alexis and Lysis serve under Alcibiades’ command until his carelessness leads the fleet to disaster and he once again goes into exile.

In the course of the novel, Lysis falls in love with and marries a woman who sees Alexias favorably and encourages the continuation of her husband’s relationship with him. Not long after this, Athens is defeated by Sparta in the Peloponnesian War. Alexias’ father is murdered under the Spartan-installed tyranny, and he and Lysis go into exile in Thebes joining Thrasybulus when he leads the next democratic revolt. Lysis is killed in the battle between the Long Walls running from the port of Piraeus to Athens (the Battle of Munychia). Shortly after the victory, Alexias takes Lysis’ widow under his protection, marries her and continues his family line. The book ends with the postscript that this story (incomplete and long-forgotten) has been found by Alexias’ grandson (also named Alexias), a commander of Athenian cavalry in the service of Alexander the Great.

Major themes

The Last of the Wine engages the mores and culture of Classical Greece, including symposia (drinking parties), the treatment of women, the importance of athletic, military and philosophical training among young men, marriage customs, and daily life in war and peace.

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At the time I read the book as a historical account of life in Ancient Greece. I was aware that homosexuality in certain contexts was practised then, and in fact at many times in history, a fact which the Bible is the most reliable witness to.  What shocked me then, and why I raise it now is that the book portrays what most of us would consider to be paedophelia, as a societal norm. In those days it was refered to as pederasty. It was a highly regarded practice.

Why do I raise this now? The pervasive influence of evolution on the worldview of many Christians means that many mistakenly believe that humans have evolved past the sexual depravity and infanticide of ancient cultures. However, this decade alone is proving this to be a false belief.

Planned Parenthood assists women daily in sacrificing babies on the altar of free choice. They and other lobby groups are working to reduce the age of consent, and to enable children as young as 12 or 13 to have unrestricted access to abortions, contraception and other medical services without requiring parental consent.

Children in primary school are being taught ‘sex education’ which encourages children to challenge their parents’ values about sexual matters, and to view sex as simply expressing legitimate feelings and meeting needs. Many parents do not even know the curriculum being taught. Gay lobby groups are also attending schools to push their sexual choices and agenda onto young children, with the aim of inducting the next generations into the doctrine of global tolerance…of all beliefs and all forms of sexual expression. 

Personally, if any stranger spoke to my child about sexual matters, I would consider it abuse and report it to the police. Think about it. Strangers can talk to your children about sex and sexuality, without you being present and this is allowed by our government education departments.

Ancient Athens. That is where we are heading. This is the insanity of evil.

Even so, come Lord Jesus!