A 19th century euphemism for homosexuality. It was "invented" by Oxford and Cambridge Classics professors.

Every text dealing with male homosexuality was labelled as dealing with The Unspeakable Vice of the Greeks, which meant that it was not to be discussed in classes, or in serious scientific discourse (as the universities certainly did not want to encourage such perverse behaviour, and the very discussion of such things was abominable in their eyes).

Naturally, when a professor labelled a text (or a section of a text) as dealing with The Unspeakable Vice of the Greeks (effectively forbidding the reading or discussion of it), this text became the most popular reading material after-class.

This policy of censorship is regarded today as more than a little ridiculous, as it left huge holes in many texts (most notably Plato's Symposium) that were not to be discussed or researched.

“Towards the end of the term they touched upon a yet more delicate subject. They attended the Dean’s translation class, and when one of the men was forging quietly ahead Mr Cornwallis observed in a flat toneless voice: ‘Omit: a reference to the unspeakable vice of the Greeks.’ Durham observed afterwards that he ought to lose his fellowship for such hypocrisy.
Maurice laughed.
’I regard it as a point of pure scholarship. The Greeks, or more of them, were that way inclined and to omit it is to omit the mainstay of Athenian society’…’You’ve read the Symposium?’…’He was free of another subject, and one that he had never mentioned to any living soul. He hadn’t known it could be mentioned, and when Durham did so in the middle of the sunlit court a breath of liberty touched him."

From the semi-autobiographical novel Maurice by E.M. Forster.
Completed : 1914
Published : Posthumously, 1971

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