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The status of pederasty has changed over the course of history, at times considered an ideal and at other times a crime.

In the history of Europe, its most structured cultural manifestation was Athenian pederasty, and became most prominent in the 6th century BC.

in Ancient Greece, pederasty was a relationship and bond, whether sexual or chaste, between an adolescent boy and an adult man outside of his immediate family.

The OED offers: "Homosexual relations between a man and a boy; homosexual anal intercourse, usually with a boy or younger man as the passive partner." Academic and social studies sources propose more expansive definitions of the term.

The Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer Culture defines the term as: "The erotic relationship between an adult male and a youth, generally one between the ages of twelve and seventeen, in which the older partner is attracted to the younger one who returns his affection." The Encyclopedia of Homosexuality suggests "Pederasty is the erotic relationship between an adult male and a boy, generally one between the ages of twelve and seventeen, in which the older partner is attracted to the younger one who returns his affection, whether or not the liaison leads to overt sexual contact." In Athens, the slaves were expressly forbidden from entering into pederastic relations with the free-born boys. Attic red-figure crater, 500–490 BC; Painter of Berlin; Louvre, Paris.

Commit not that which is forbidden you in Our Holy Tablet, and be not of those who rove distractedly in the wilderness of their desires." Within the blanket condemnation of sodomy, pederasty was a particular target.

The 2nd-century preacher Clement of Alexandria used divine pederasty as an indictment of Greek religion and the mythological figures of Herakles, Apollo, Poseidon, Laius, and Zeus: "For your gods did not abstain even from boys.

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