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as æ.) The word first appeared in the English language during the Renaissance, as pæderastie (e.g.
Plutarch, however, counters Herodotus by pointing out that the Persians had been castrating boys long before being exposed to the mores of the Greeks.
Geoffrey Gorer and others distinguish pederasty from pedophilia, which he defined as a separate, fourth type that he described as "grossly pathological in all societies of which we have record." According to Gorer, the main characteristic of homosexual pederasty is the age difference (either of generation or age-group) between the partners.
In his study of native cultures pederasty appears typically as a passing stage in which the adolescent is the beloved of an older male, remains as such until he reaches a certain developmental threshold, after which he in turn takes on an adolescent beloved of his own.
Within the Baha'i faith, pederasty is the only mention of any type of homosexuality by Bahá'u'lláh.
"We shrink, for very shame, from treating of the subject of boys....
Commit not that which is forbidden you in Our Holy Tablet, and be not of those who rove distractedly in the wilderness of their desires." Within the blanket condemnation of sodomy, pederasty was a particular target.
The 2nd-century preacher Clement of Alexandria used divine pederasty as an indictment of Greek religion and the mythological figures of Herakles, Apollo, Poseidon, Laius, and Zeus: "For your gods did not abstain even from boys.
Jeremy Bentham used the term in this broader sense in an essay dating from the 18th century.
The commonly accepted reference definitions of pederasty refer to a sexual relationship, or to copulation, between older and younger males.
In French, however, "pédérastie" has been used as a synonym for homosexuality between adult males (see Histoire du mot pédérastie).
Historically, pederasty has existed as a variety of customs and practices within different cultures.
Beside its use in the classical sense, the term has also been used as a synonym for anal sex, irrespective of the nature of the partner.