17 September 2019

Captions and Metamorphosis

In the Ashmolean Museum, before its expensive and unneccesary makeover a decade ago, there was a bit of an old Greek figurative pot, captioned "Man courting boy". The scene in fact was that for which the late Professor Sir Kenneth Dover coined his sweetly twee expression "Intercrural intercourse".

After the makeover, this became "Paedophile and victim". Many of us complained about such culturally anachronistic language; either we got a brush-off or not even the courtesy of a reply. Then Mr Orator Jenkyns, at the 2010 Encaenia, had the entire (attendant) University rolling in the aisles (aisles in the Sheldonian Theatre? Let that pass ...) after he made a joke about it in his Creweian Oration. I only wish I'd jotted the joke down at the time. If anybody ... ... Might that Creweian have been published in the Gazette?

Later in 2010, I cast another eye at the now celebrated pot. The caption had again changed: it now read "Man and Boy making love. The nature of Greek homosexuality is the subject of current academic debate".

Clearly, a 'holding' operation!

Recently, I had a new look at the captioning concerned. It now reads: "Sexual acts between an older man and a boy were considered part of a youth's formative education".

Hrrrmff. I'm not sure how universal this was. My instinct is that it may have been an affectation among the upper (symposiast) classes.

I'm not sure that such things were really much more than an affectation, even in the case of Oscar!


KaeseEs said...

On another note, Father, it seems that the Pope is desperately trying to close Pandora's box wrt. the Germans taking him at his word about a "synodal" church. Predictable but still sad.

Stephen v.B. said...

Dear Fr Hunwicke,

That particular Creweian Oration was indeed published - as usual - in a Supplement to the Gazette, and can be found here:


Tony V said...

Uhh...they call that 'love'?
So occasionally someone digs up some (extreme) ancient pornography. That hardly makes it normative.

Dale Crakes said...

It seems to me that the pro-normalization of homosexual activity is winning the day at the museum. Fr notice the current language of the caption in the service of normalizing this activity. It was an every day thing in jolly old Greece or an approved right of passage.

Michael Leahy said...

Though anachronistic, and not absolutely technically accurate, "Paedophile and victim" had the right tone.

Unknown said...

"Man sexually assaults boy victim" would do.

PM said...

At the risk of going off at a tangent, I was interested to notice on my last visit to the Louvre a few years ago that the state museum of officially secularist France still dated its exhibits 'avant JC' and 'apres JC' (apologies for the missing accent). None of the politically correct CE and BCE that has infected the Anglophone world. I hope the Louvre hasn't changed since then.