The Dark Side of Aphrodite: The Getty’s New Aphrodite Show Features Collection of Famous Pederast

Starting today, the Getty Villa is hosting a remarkable exhibit of ancient art, the first ever dedicated to the goddess of love and carnal desire.

“Aphrodite and the Gods of Love” features 150 antiquities centered around Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. The show was organized by the Boston Museum of Fine Art, where it has been on display since October. It features nine stunning loans from Italy — a byproduct of collaboration deals struck in the wake of revelations that the Boston MFA, the Getty and other American museums had been purchasing looted antiquities.

But there is a darker side to this exhibit, one that until now has avoided mention.

Roughly half of the objects in the show come from the collection of Edward Perry Warren (1860-1928,) a Boston collector who the show’s organizer, MFA antiquities curator Christine Kondoleon, describes as “philanthropic gentleman scholar.”

Omitted from that account is the fact that Warren was also a renowned advocate of pederasty — sexual relationships between men and boys. Indeed, this was the source of his passion for collecting erotic ancient art — Warren hoped to revive the ancient tradition of sex between men and boys.

More than 4,000 pieces of art from his collection are now in the Boston MFA’s collection. They include sexually explicit objects that are rarely on display, including the sculpture of Priapos, the child of Aphrodite and Dionysos, displaying his genitals. Warren is also the source of the Warren Cup at the British Museum, which depicts scenes of may-boy love. (Some suggest the cup is a modern forgery, created to fulfill Warren’s desire for homoerotic antiquities.)

Warren’s defense of man-boy love culminated in his three-volume opus, “A Defense of Uranian Love.” It is considered “the premier paederastic apologia in the language,” and was republished in 2009. Here’s how it’s described on Amazon.com:

Edward Perry Warren’s three-volume A Defence of Uranian Love, written under his pseudonym Arthur Lyon Raile and privately printed in 1928-1930…is the clearest elucidation of the motives that lay behind his acquisition of Graeco-Roman antiquities for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and other prominent collections. Warren’s acquisition practices converted those antiquities into a “paederastic evangel,” as he himself declares, and his Defence is intimately woven into this lifelong, evangelistic mission.

“My verses and my prose,” writes Warren, “advocate a morality, but it is not the current morality in certain matters.” This is understatement at its most playful, for Warren’s Defence is a detailed map to a Utopia where “Grecian grandeur” is restored, and the “Christian sublime,” all but banished; where masculine virtues topple the feminine that have mistakenly led to democracy, sexual purity, and feminism; where aristocracy, nobleness, and male supremacy establish a civilisation in which Nietzsche would have found himself at home; and where paederasty, in the form familiar to the ancient Spartans, could and needs must flourish. For, according to Warren, “Love” (in this case, Boy-love) “can revive the old Hellenic day.” It is this revival – this veritable “Renaissance of Paederasty”-that Warren’s elaborate apologia aims to begin, by reminding Western culture of what it has lost or only forgotten: a sacral Boy-love and its accompanying traditions.

Mark Miner, who translated the Greek and Latin passages in the re-released volume and brought it to our attention, explains: “Although the MFA is very grateful for Warren’s generosity, his sexuality remains unmentionable, even though his magnum opus, A Defense of Uranian Love, has now (2009) been reprinted.  Warren, to put  it simply, was quite open about being a boy-lover, and his motivations for collecting Classical art and leaving it to Boston were paederastic. Paederastic on the highest cultural level, to be sure, but undeniably paederastic.”

“Warren had a specific plan for fostering the development of classical (hard, masculine, pagan) values on American soil by deploying as much art and literature as he could lay his hands on,” Miner told us. “That plan has lain dormant for more than 100 years– ‘an acorn in the the forest’ — but is beginning to bear fruit now. I am VERY curious to see if the publicity now being generated for the MFA & Warren results in any greater understanding of his ‘paederastic evangel,’ or if a Boston silence will continue to prevail, even when Warren’s favorite objects are exposed to the West Coast’s sea-breezes.”

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9 responses to “The Dark Side of Aphrodite: The Getty’s New Aphrodite Show Features Collection of Famous Pederast

  1. His was certainly one of the odder stories taught during my undergraduate Greek Art class in Boston. The focus of our discussion at the time were the MFA’s past attempts to hide the sexual nature of his collection at the. We were told, for example, that the name vase of the Pan Painter was historically displayed with the Death of Aktaion facing out and Pan against the wall because, well, Pan is a bit too excited by the prospect of a young shepherd: http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/mixing-bowl-bell-krater-153654

    “ithyphallic” was a vocabulary word that week!

    Of course that could be the musings of a prof who was in a fight with the museum, but it always stuck in my head as an interesting example of how museums have made controversial collections “work”, be the controversy looting-related or, well, this!

  2. Virginia Curry, FBI Special Retired, M.A

    It’s unfortunate that you’ve actually devoted more sensationalist attention to Warren’s pederasty than to the actual Getty exhibit. In doing so, you’ve now brought Warren’s book to the attention of every card carrying NAMBLA member out there! (If they were not already aware of his writings). I wouldn’t exactly call that a public service. To his credit, Warren was also responsible for rescuing two of the most beautiful and unique Etruscan heterosexual couples sarcophagi in existence from Vulci which are presently under study at the MFA.

    • Virginia, our role is not to review art shows, it is to shine a light on parts of the art world that are hidden. Warren’s role as an advocate of pederasty guided his collecting, and is not mentioned by either of the museums showing his work, nor any of the reviews of the show by various art critics. As recent events have shown, the sexual abuse of children is best fought by shining a bright light on it, not by perpetuating secrecy.

  3. I don’t think it is right for you to accuse the British Museum of having a forgery on display without quoting any kind of evidence to back up those scandalous claims, all you say is “some suggest”, and who exactly is “some”? Following your guidelines now I am going to say that some suggest you are making everything up for money and let’s see how you like it.

    The British Museum are not exactly amateurs, I am sure they will have carried out the necessary tests to make sure the Warren Cup is a real relic. My impression is that you are trying to deny ancient history because it does not adapt to your closed mindset. You can’t escape history by denying it, I am glad someone made an exhibit of this kind, good on the Getty.

    • Sharon, if you follow the link we provided for the Warren Cup you’ll see the questions about its authenticity were raised by M.T. Marabini Moevs in the Bolletino d’Arte in 2008.

      • i cannot find the authenticity reference above when i visit the link you provided.

        i think it is worth noting that pederasts are interested in boys and adolescents who range in age from 12 to 20. Age of consent is a factor in some of these cases. i am NOT advocating for Nambla here. just noting that the age range includes criminal and consensual acts. it would be rather a shame if we started to ban historical, literary and artistic works – or keep them hidden – due to queasiness over their sexual content.

  4. I was going to make a special trip to see this show, however in the light of the details of this article, I will NOT GO! – You are correct in revealing the source of the collection as well as his motives!! Thank You for your honesty!

  5. What exactly does the advocacy of pederasty of some collector who has been dead for nearly a century have to do with looting? It seems like some grudge against the Getty.

  6. Pingback: questioning the Getty’s acquisition techniques… | girls.guys.greeks.

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