September 7, 2017 to September 19, 2017 All Day
The ancient Greeks are important to all of us because they are the inventors of so much in our culture—democracy, philosophy, theater and art. Yet they are even more important to gay people—because they practiced same-sex love and associated it with positive values such as education, loyalty and courage. Discover your roots on this eye-opening tour of Greek culture and its gay side, from Achilles to Athens to Alexander.
We start in Athens, the cultural center of the Greek world both then and now. Expert archaeologist guides will show us the famous temples of the Acropolis, but also lesser-known sights, such as the Agora, the center of ancient Athenian daily life. And of course we’ll visit the world-famous National Archaeological Museum, with its amazing collection of ancient art.
Our focus in all these places will always be the rich evidence for same-sex love in ancient Athens—such as the story of Harmodius and Aristogeiton, the male couple who assassinated a tyrant’s brother in 513 BC and whom the Athenians worshiped as the founders of their democracy. And we’ll delve into more modern territory as well, learning about such figures as Lord Byron, the bisexual English poet and rake whose death galvanized the movement for Greek independence in the early 19th century.
From Athens we depart for the Peloponnese, the dramatic, rocky peninsula that forms the southern half of Greece. Our first destination is Nauplio—possibly Greece’s most charming city and our base for exploring Nemea, where we see direct evidence for the gay side of ancient Greek athletics; Epidauros, with its superb ancient theater; and Mycenae, city of the Homeric epics, whose story of Achilles and Patroclus, the greatest heroes in Greek culture, is a touchstone of gay history.
Next we go south to Sparta—the place where “Greek love” was born, along with nude athletics—and on to the lovely walled city of Monemvasia for a stay that will include a chance to swim in the crystalline waters of Elaphonisos Island (weather permitting). We then cross the Peloponnese to Olympia, the site of the Greek world’s greatest athletic festival and the inspiration for the modern Olympics. Here we explore the vital role of athletics in ancient Greek society and its connection to same-sex love, enjoying such highlights as the famous statue of Zeus carrying his boyfriend Ganymede.
After a night in Olympia, we return to the mainland and head to Delphi to visit the shrine of the ancient world’s most important oracle. This leg will include the monument to the Sacred Band, the most feared regiment in Classical Greece and a source of gay pride; a detailed visit to the ruins of the temple complex; a guided tour of the museum, where we learn about the cult of Antinous, the male favorite of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who was deified after his early death; and a lesson in traditional Greek cooking.
From Delphi we head to the north. After a day in Meteora among the amazing monasteries perched high on stone pillars, we head to Thessaloniki, the great city of northern Greece. Here we concentrate on ancient Macedonia, particularly Phillip II, the conqueror of Greece, and his son Alexander, conqueror of the world. We visit the remains of their royal city, Pella, and the great royal tombs at Vergina—with their incredible gold grave goods—as well as the site of the school of Alexander’s teacher Aristotle. Surprising to most of us today, both Phillip and Alexander had important gay sides, and these were central to their public images. But this just goes to remind us of the central role of male-male love in this greatest of world cultures and the association the ancient Greeks saw between it and courage.
We end our tour of gay Greece with one last splendid Greek dinner, with a tasting of excellent northern Greek wines—though some may wish to continue their exploration of the ancient Mediterranean and its gay side on our Gay Italy tour, which starts just a short flight away in Rome on September 20.
To learn more, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (646)560-3205.