Sign and Symbolism in Western Civilization: Religion, Sexuality and Empire

Author: Antonio L Rappa (Singapore University of Social Sciences)
Speaker: Antonio L Rappa
Topic: Semiotics and semiology
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2019 General Session


There are many signs and symbols that lead scientists, archeologists and artists to believe that heterosexuality is predominantly practiced in most societies. Conversely, homosexuality is perceived to be marginal, immoral, sinful, abnormal, depraved, and dysfunctional. The signs and symbols of Western civilization tell us much about the ways in which both phenomena occurred. Homoeroticism and homosexuality are certainly not accidents. Homoeroticism and sexuality are driven, purposeful and directed. What are the signs of its arrival in the West? For this we turn to the symbols used in Mediterranean cultures. The Mediterranean Sea region is the cradle of Greek culture and the basis of Western civilization.

This book examines how the signs and symbols of ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman and English culture, tradition, philosophy, literary theory and political theory impacted the development of religion and sexuality. What archeological evidence exists to support the development of Western civilization based on the ancient Greek model? The ancient Greeks had many gods who indulged in the same pleasures as men.

It was through curiousity and a lust that the ancients and their predecessors such as the Egyptian, Minoan, and Mycenaean civilizations that created the crucible for the rise of Western civilization and sexuality. The political history of the Mediterranean informs us that the Athenian Alliance, the Hellenes, or the Delian League were only a regional hegemonic power. The real superpower of the day was Persia. Persian influence is evidence in the architecture, diet, social hierarchy, military tactics and naval warfare of the period. While the Persians are important, they are not central to the development of European civilization and deserve separate treatment in terms of their own idiom.

Keywords: Sexuality, Eroticism, Greece, Persia