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The age-range when boys entered into such relationships was consonant with that of Greek girls given in marriage, often to adult husbands many years their senior.
Boys, however, usually had to be courted and were free to choose their mate, while marriages for girls were arranged for economic and political advantage at the discretion of father and suitor.
Socrates remarks in the dialogue Phaedrus that sexual pederasty is driven by the appetital part of the soul, but can be balanced by self-control and reason.
He likens wanton lust for a boy to allowing a disobedient horse to control a chariot, but remarks that sexual desire for a boy if combined with a love for their other qualities is acceptable.
but subsequent scholars have tried to present a more varied picture of the behaviors and values associated with paiderastia.
Although ancient Greek writers use erastês and erômenos in a pederastic context, the words are not technical terms for social roles, and can refer to the "lover" and "beloved" in other hetero- and homosexual couples.
Aeschines acknowledges his own dalliances with beautiful boys, the erotic poems he dedicated to these youths, and the scrapes he has gotten into as a result of his affairs, but emphasizes that none of these were mediated by money.
The erastes-eromenos relationship played a role in the Classical Greek social and educational system, had its own complex social-sexual etiquette and was an important social institution among the upper classes.
In general, pederasty as described in the Greek literary sources is an institution reserved for free citizens, perhaps to be regarded as a dyadic mentorship: "pederasty was widely accepted in Greece as part of a male's coming-of-age, even if its function is still widely debated." In Crete, in order for the suitor to carry out the ritual abduction, the father had to approve him as worthy of the honor.
The initiate was called a parastatheis, "he who stands beside", perhaps because, like Ganymede the cup-bearer of Zeus, he stood at the side of the philetor during meals in the andreion and served him from the cup that had been ceremonially presented.
In this interpretation, the formal custom reflects myth and ritual.
– philetor, "lover") selected a youth, enlisted the chosen one's friends to help him, and carried off the object of his affections to his andreion, a sort of men's club or meeting hall.