Surely desire and love have flared between teachers and their adult students since pedagogy began, but most of it has been invisible.
Until recently, Western education at almost every level was a same-sex activity, open mostly to men of the upper classes, so it stands to reason, that most student-teacher affairs have been between men, even if they’ve left few historical records.
Except, that is, at the very beginning, in ancient Greece, where, according to Daniel Mendelsohn, who often writes on classical antiquity, there was a “literary rhetoric,” much like the medieval ideal of courtly love, surrounding the relationship between a boy and an older man.
“It has to do with an archaic custom for the military training of the aristocracy where you send a young recruit with an older guy out into the hills,” he told me.
In February, for example, Harvard announced that it was banning all consensual “romantic or sexual” relationships between faculty members and undergraduates, regardless of whether the student is enrolled in any of the professor’s classes or is even in the same department (although faculty can still date graduate students if they don’t supervise their work).