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Sex and punishment : four thousand years of judging desire

Author: Eric Berkowitz
Publisher: Berkeley, CA : Counterpoint : Distributed by Publishers Group West, ©2012.
Edition/Format:   Book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
The 'raging' frenzy of the sex drive, to use Plato's phrase, has always defied control. However, that is not to say that every civilization has not tried, using its most powerful weapon: the Law. At any given point in history some forms of sex were condoned while others were punished mercilessly. Jump back or forward a century or two or cross a border and the harmless fun of one society becomes the gravest crime  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Eric Berkowitz
ISBN: 9781582437965 1582437963 1619021552 9781619021556
OCLC Number: 754723395
Description: 456 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Contents: Channeling the urge : the first sex laws --
Honor among (mostly) men : cases from ancient Greece --
Imperial bedrooms : sex and the state in ancient Rome --
The Middle Ages : a crowd condemned --
Groping toward modernity : the early modern period, 1500-1700 --
The new world of sexual opportunity --
The eighteenth century : revelation and revolution --
The nineteenth century : human nature on trial.
Responsibility: Eric Berkowitz.

Abstract:

The 'raging' frenzy of the sex drive, to use Plato's phrase, has always defied control. However, that is not to say that every civilization has not tried, using its most powerful weapon: the Law. At any given point in history some forms of sex were condoned while others were punished mercilessly. Jump back or forward a century or two or cross a border and the harmless fun of one society becomes the gravest crime in another. This work tells the story of the struggle to regulate the most powerful engine of human behavior. The author, a lawyer, uses flesh and blood cases to evoke the entire sweep of Western sex law, from the savage impalement of an ancient Mesopotamian adulteress to the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde in 1895 for 'gross indecency.' The subjects of the book include royal mistresses, gay charioteers, medieval transvestites, misbehaving government officials, lonely goat-lovers, priests, prostitutes, and London rent boys. Each had forbidden sex, and each was judged, though justice, as the author shows, rarely has much to do with it. Here the author goes behind closed doors to reveal the essential history of human desire.

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