I first learned that the fundamental orifice can be utilised for things other than the excretion of various matter consumed, by my classmates, who assured me that my compatriots were renown for inventing such practices. In fact, apart from the obligatory Greek expletives that form a compulsory part of all Melbourne schoolchildren's vocabulary, at my school, everyone also seemed to know the words "από πίσω," and would readily utter these, especially when victorious at sport. I hasten to add that I attended a boy's school, and this may account for some of my fellow student's unhealthy fascination with such matters.
The predilection for buggery allegedly possessed by my compatriots was puzzling. Though, granted, it was common knowledge that the Greek people had invented EVERYTHING and thus by logical inference could well have also invented anal sex, this was something we had not been taught at Greek school. Quite the contrary and in sotto voce inferences, our history teacher let it be understood that in fact it was our Ottoman neighbours who introduced or rather inflicted upon the hapless youths of our people, the peccatum illud horribile, inter christianos non nominandum, as St Thomas Aquinas would put it. While not denying its prevalence during the Ottoman Era, it should be noted that the Ottoman Sultan was, for hundreds of years, the Caliph, or successor to Muhammad. Liwat, or the sin of Lot's people, was at that time, as now, officially prohibited by most Islamic sects. There are parts of the Quran which talk about smiting on Sodom and Gomorrah, and this is thought to be a reference to unnatural sex, and so there are hadith and Islamic laws which prohibit it. For example, Khuzaymah Ibn Thaabit reports Muhammad as saying: "Allah is not too shy to tell you the truth: Do not have sex with your wives in the anus," and Abu Hurayrah records the same prophet as saying: “The one who has intercourse with his wife in her back passage has disavowed himself of that which was revealed to Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).” If it is true then, that we deserve to lend our ethnonym to such expressions as "Greek style" or "Greek love," then it is not to the Ottomans that we should ascribe blame. Alone of the Abrahamic religions, it is Judaism that seems to be the most permissive in this regard. While Leviticus states: "Do not lie with a man the lyings of a woman; it is abhorrent," causing rabbinical scholars to interpret this as a prohibition of homosexual sex, the Mishnah Torah traditionally permits it in the heterosexual context, though in a manner that raises issues with regard to gender equality: "A man’s wife is permitted to him. Therefore a man may do whatever he wishes with his wife. He may have intercourse with her at any time he wishes and kiss her on whatever limb of her body he wants. He may have natural or unnatural sex, as long as he does not bring forth seed in vain."
Interestingly enough, the word buggery arises out of the religious conflicts of Byzantium. It was coined as an insult used to describe the rumoured same-sex sexual practices of the heretics from a sect originating in Bulgaria, where its followers were called bogomils; when they spread out of the country they were called buggres (ie. Bulgars).
However, it is to ancient Greece that we must turn, if we are to indeed to teasingly trace the origins of anal sex. Though it invariably existed, homosexual anal sex was far from a universally accepted practice in Ancient Greece. On the contrary, it was the target of jokes in surviving comedies; Aristophanes mockingly alludes to the practice, claiming that "Most citizens are europroktoi (wide-arsed) now." While pedagogic pederasty was an essential element in the education of male youths, these relationships, at least in Athens and Sparta, were expected to steer clear of penetrative sex of any kind. There are very few works of pottery or other art that display anal sex between older men and boys, let alone with adult men. Most such works depict fondling or intercrural sex, which was not condemned for violating and feminizing the boys. Other sources make it clear that the practice was criticized as shameful, and seen as a form of hubris.
In later Roman age Greek poetry, anal sex became a common topos, represented as taking place with "eligible" youths: those who had attained the proper age but had not yet become adults. Seducing children into the practice was considered very shameful for the adult, and having such relations with a male who was no longer adolescent was considered more shameful for the young male than for the one mounting him. However, Greek courtesans, or hetaerae are said to have frequently practiced heterosexual anal intercourse as a means of preventing pregnancy. The acceptability of anal sex thus varied with the time-period and the location, as Ancient Greece spanned a long time and stretched over three continents and two major seas. It is the amount of documentary evidence and the literary attention devoted to anal sex that appears to have caused others to attribute anal sex to us, despite it being a universal phenomenon. Though, for a male citizen to take the passive or receptive role in anal intercourse was a matter of condemnation in Rome, free men however, frequently took the active role with a young slave, known as a catamite. Despite this, and although Roman men often availed themselves of their own slaves or others in this way, the Romans thought of anal sex as something specifically "Greek," quite possibly because most of their slaves were Greek. If we received bad press, the fault must ultimately lie with the Romans.
Why the need for this lengthy foray into such a trivial act? Simply because the simplest of acts can be utilised for deep, dark and nefarious purposes. The recent request by a Melbourne barrister representing the alleged rapist of a victim Greek descent, to disqualify all members of the jury also of Greek descent on the grounds that he had heard that "Greeks like anal sex," is instructive, because it reveals how thousands of years of prejudice can manifest themselves within a multicultural society. Further it is truly astonishing that in a society that prides itself on its politically correct re-orientation, citizens can be excluded from performing such civic duties as jury duty based upon their race and gross generalisations about their sexual proclivities. This speaks volumes for the dire need for urgent reform within an archaic and cumbersome legal system. If we adopt the interpretation offered in Vassilacopoulos and Nicolacopoulou's ever relevant study: "From Foreigner to Citizen: Greek Migrants and Social Change in White Australia 1897-2000," we would note that such a racist exclusion is symptomatic of the ontopathology of the predominant ruling group in this country, in seeking to legitimise its conquest and rule over Australia at the expense of its original inhabitants, by acting as arbiter over other nationalities it has chosen to include but not assimilate within its constructed society. In that sociopathic world, generalisations can still be made about ethnic groups, just as they were made in the early twentieth century, when ethnic minorities, the Greek one among them, were considered suspect and were subject to internment or at best, surveillance and censorship. Further, in that world, rights can still be abrogated on the basis of perceived racial characteristics.
What is more revealing however, is our own reaction to the racial slur. For indeed it cuts deep, not only because it is racist but because of the nature of the allegation itself. To make the generalisation that all Greeks love eating souvlaki is racist and stupid but not particular offensive. However, the reference to anal sex is deeply felt as offensive because it touches upon the Judeo-Christian gloss upon the prejudice inherent in most of us, that the said practice is somehow inherently wicked or sinful and that it alludes to sexual activities between males - somehow diminishing our own perception of our masculinity - as a people. Playground examples are instructive. I can remember countless occasions both at high school and at university, where my Greek classmates and I had launched into lengthy diatribes extolling the accomplishments of the ancient Greeks only to be stopped dead in our tracks by the following quip: "Yeah, but you guys take it from behind." This, possibly more than anything else offers a rationale as to why this slur upon a universal practice is applied particularly to us. No other nation is as manifestly proud of its achievements as we are. Further, these achievements, reinterpreted, form a large part of the basis of modern, liberal Anglo-Saxon culture. This in turn, conflicts with Anglo-Saxon myths of racial superiority. There is a tacit need to subvert the aspirations of those who would assert an equal or superior status. Thus, the accusation that we as a people indulge in and enjoy this practice cuts to the quick, because it is an accusation that is designed to denigrate not only our outward characteristics but our very nature, the implication being that we enjoy the act because we are unnatural - as a way of showing that we are naturally inferior by inclination. It is an irrational, homophobic put-down. Had the barrister in question objected to the inclusion of gay jurors on the assumption that all gays like anal sex and are thus in no fit state to judge a rape case, there would have been an uproar.
In our case there is not such an outcry for two reasons: the first is because as arbiters of race relations in this country, the dominant racial group, (and the ancillary institutions it puts in place,) as sovereign, assumes for itself the right to define 'subject' ethnicities and their characteristics. Secondly, as a "subservient" community, to adopt the terminology of Vassilacopoulos and Nicolacopoulou, we are loathe (and possibly incapable, owing to the fragmented nature of our community,) to display our displeasure at the offhand application of racial slurs and bigoted, outmoded references to sexual proclivities, in any effective fashion, lest we be deemed to be "subversive." As a result of this lack of advocacy on our behalf, we lie passively, awaiting the next distasteful intrusion.
The κωλόπαιδο of a barrister and his ilk should reassess the import of their actions before we tell them where to stick it. As for us, perhaps it is time we quit contemplating our fundamental orifice, divest ourselves of our anal retentiveness and consider ways in which to address the challenges of this quirky but nonetheless difficult, new epoch.