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(Abstract, full length text to follow in the fullness of time.)

ur view of male love in Renaissance Italy comes from two sources. The first one, usually positive, is the view opened by art. The use of subjects from Greek mythology who had been associated in ancient times with male love generally indicate a positive view of such relationships. Many of the best known painters and sculptors of those days were members of this secret fraternity, either literally or figuratively. Their collective opus is a message writ in secret code, a praise of relationships which were banned by religious edict.

The other window onto Renaissance male eros is the one of legal records, the negative view of trials and punishments. The corpus of laws regulating sexual behaviour were different from the ones in modern times. Sexual relations between males were punished severely, often with burning at the stake. The crime was sodomy, and the punishment was meant to purify the city so as to prevent biblical curses like the plagues. Together the two views indicate that male love was common enough to be seen as a threat by the political and religious establishment, and that it was veiwed as a boon by the artistic and intellectual set, who consciously tried to ressurect the ethical and esthetic values of Classical Greece.


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