Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Historical Fiction...?

So, I’m contemplating writing an historical novel. Don’t ask me why, it’s just something I do every once in awhile. I have to admit that while I love history, reading books about it has always been difficult. They tend to be so dry and full of minute details that the enjoyment factor is dampened to the point of boredom.

Bueller? Bueller?

Then I read Men of Bronze by Scott Oden, and I thought “Wow! This is the kind of ‘history book’ I could get into.” Though a work of fiction, the settings and events are based on real history. And Scott is well-versed in said history, and has a way with words that brings it all to life so well. So, I started thinking about what I could write about. My favorite historical era is Ancient Greece (followed closely by the Viking Era). So, with Ancient Greece in mind, I began searching for subjects and events that may not have been fully explored through fiction. After a few ideas, I think I have settled on an idea I like: Spartan Agoge.

If you saw 300 you know what that is. It’s the time in a Spartan boy’s life where he is taken from his family at age 7, and placed into a military camp, where he spends the next 22 years learning what it is to be a Spartan citizen. A little Google Fu will net you the details of what that entails. But there is one aspect that I am a little hung up on. Pederasty is described as “the traditional intimate and pedagogic friendship between a man and a boy”. First, let me say, I am not “homophobic” at all (in fact, I think that term is pretty lame). That being said, I’m not all that comfortable with describing any kind of sexual relation between males, especially between a man and an adolescent boy. I understand that while according to the rules and morals of modern society, that’s not acceptable, in Ancient Greece it was quite normal, and it carried none of the negative, or even socio-political, connotations that it does now. Still, there are some ancient scholars who contend that Spartans didn’t partake in the more “invasive” forms of pederasty. So, I think if I take this project on, I’ll probably follow that line of thinking. And I will probably downplay the actual details of the subject, keeping the events more focused on the physical and military training, as well as the academic education of Spartan men.

Of course, this may be just one more project to add to my ever-growing pile of incomplete writing projects. Then again, someone may have already done this. That's happened to me before.

Yeah, I’m a bad boy. Making excuses already.


Anonymous said...

Actually from what I read (since I was not familiar with the term), there were some who basically took on a younger boy in a mentor-type relationship, without the sexual aspect at all, but rather the sense of love, respect and honor that comes from a relationship where your life literally depends upon someone else in battle. Sometimes this was because the older mentor had already found the love of his life. :)

Tom said...

Yeah, that was the sense I got from what little research I have done. Actually, at Scott Oden's suggestion, I have found a subject for my story in the real life Spartan King, Agesilaus. His reign is widely considered the beginning of the decline of Sparta.