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Today I found a book about ancient Greece that seems to be aimed at elementary-school age children.  It's quite good, and I learned more from it than I care to admit.  When you read children's educational books as an adult, it humbles you to learn how much you don't know.  Did you know they had cosmetic oil jars shaped like human feet?  I didn't.

But I also know some things they did not put into the book.  It describes the hetairai as women who became "companions" to wealthy men.  It surprised me to see a reference to the hetairai in a children's book at all.  That's like putting a section on courtesans in a children's book about the Renaissance.  Imagine:  "What did you learn about in school today, honey?"



Also, boys in ancient Sparta had older men as "companions" who helped teach them "the skills to be a warrior".  Insert your own joke about spear-handling lessons here.  It brings back memories of the "age-appropriate" history lessons I had in school.  Now that I think about it, I remember reading about Alexander the Great and his "companion" Hephaistion.  Such a spirit of companionship in ancient Greece!  Too bad they leave out all the good parts of history until college.

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Just to clarify: I do not think age-appropriate history lessons are a bad thing, quite the contrary. My father is a historian, and I grew up listening to his stories from Ancient Greece, military history, colonial history, you name it. It all fired my young imagination. I only find the G-rated version of Ancient Greece amusing as an adult, knowing what I do now.
And yes, a man teaching a boy how to use a spear is a good thing too, but it should not include sex between the man and boy, as it did in ancient Sparta.

In ancient history they were more open with this children about sex and not just because of pedophilia. I think it's better to be open with them about it, I do not understand how uptight people are about sex in American culture but not violence.

It's in the details.

The history you learn in school is the big picture - government, family structure, society, religion - but the details never seem to come up - like perfume bottles shaped like feet.  The Romans had little oil lamps shaped like heads and birds and other animals.

My favorites - ancient Romans were famous for a condiment they put on almost everything.  It was a fish sauce made from fermented seafood.  They had the cheap shit made from trash fish and guts and anything else that came up in their nets that probably tasted like hell, and then the gourmet stuff made strictly from the clean meats/fillets of certain types of fish and shellfish.  THEN for the specialty market, they made a kosher kind, guaranteed to have only fish in it for the local Jewish folk.  LOL

In another book I read, one writer tells how women in ancient Rome used to trim their pubic hair into shapes.  And how did he know this?  From Pompeii. Some of the women victims, from whose bodies casts were made, were detailed enough to reveal this.

You don't learn about stuff like this in school.

It would be like 2000 years from now, someone learning about our society.  What do you think they would focus on? Our technology? How we communicated with each other?  Our transportation? Our trade...or how some funky ashtrays are shaped like skulls?  Probably the former items, the latter just being a curious footnote.


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