Roman Homosexuality: Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity (Ideologies of Desire) Hardcover – 1 Dec 1998
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
A landmark work of scholarship and should prove accessible to scholars of all disciplines (American Historical Review)
Williams presents a wealth of material that will intrigue the contemporary reader with its strangeness (American Historical Review)
Extraordinary clarity and persuasiveness ... this book may do more for the understanding of classical sexuality than any since Kenneth Dover's Greek Homosexuality of twenty years ago (W. V. Harris, Times Literary Supplement)
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
William's book is liberally sprinkled with extracts from conservative poetry and plays which express mock outrage at licentiousness and addictive sexual behavior. In Seneca "Naturales Quaestiones" the character Hostius Quadra confesses that
"I simultaneously submit both to a man and to a woman. Yet I also play the man's role to someone else's disgrace, using, that redundant part of mine. My entire body is engaged in stupra (1.16)
Williams without exception considers the playwrights sexual prudery as being typical of all Romans tastes which is a dangerous assumption because reading actual Romans graffiti in which ordinary Romans brag about the numerous men and women they have slept with implies that the Romans could not be classified as sexually up tight. Their puns, jokes and pranks suggest a high voltage spiritual but bawdy people who considered every sexual act a blessing from the gods. You would hardly know this from Williams dry historical accounts, weighed down inappropriately as they are with references to contemporary French and American philosophers and social theorists. Their inclusion only makes the reading of his book more laborious. However quotes from actual Romans give fleeting insight into their culture and everyday lives. Such as a prayer to the Roman phallic god Priapus from Julius Agathemerus which asks that the following wishes be fulfilled.
"Grant me a flowering youth: grant that I may please good boys and girls with my naughty penis, and that with frequent fun and games I may chase away the worries that harm the soul, and that I may not fear old age too much" (Cil 14, 3565,2-7)
Who could not identify with this lament so universal is its longing to starve of the loneliness of old age? The most striking thing about Roman culture is that unlike the Greeks the Romans had no terms for gender specific sexuality. There were no homosexuals or heterosexuals only sexuality in Rome and it was craved constantly. ON this matter Williams selects extracts from Roman playwrights and poets that were openly critical of promiscuous men and women, who they termed lewd and greedy. However laws restraining adulterous conduct tended to fall on deaf ears. The average Roman parent when seeking a personal tutor for their beautiful son had to take into consideration the risk of his being seduced by his teacher. The parents themselves had access to both male and female slaves and freeborn lovers some of whom were notorious lesbians, concubines and male prostitutes.
In fact the Romans would provide male and female lovers to bribe jurors to ensure a legal case produced a favorable outcome, if they could afford it. The Romans though lusty did not approve of pedophilia and past laws banning what they classified as Amicitiae mos Graecorum or the " Greek practices". Where an adolescent would come under the wing of an older man. The vast majority of Roman men would be classified today as bi-sexual though exclusive homosexuality existed as well. There was no social criticism because some men married other men, but castrati and effeminacy was disliked. This is because the Romans were a warrior society so they did not approve of extreme femininity in men which was associated with the promiscuity of womanizers and male prostitutes. Excessive attention to personal appearance was considered effeminate or feminine behavior not appropriate to a warrior. Who had to be ready to brandish the sword at a moments notice. But in reality it was a free for all and some people flaunted their camp-ness regardless. However the Romans disliked slobs. They expected high standards of personal hygiene from both their men and woman, no nose hair, no dirty armpits, no shapeless haircuts, no frumpy tunics and no sloppy shoes. The Romans admired beauty both male and female as much as they did sex. And celebrated their awe struck wonder of love in their text an example of which can be found in "Satyricon' by the Roman author Petronius
"Ye gods and goddesses, what a night that was! How soft the bed! We clung together hot, and on this side and that we exchanged our wandering souls by our lips"
Sadly juicy extracts such as these are few and far between because their lost within pages of Williams dull pontifications. A better book would be one that simply presented page after page of original Roman comments on their sex lives. accompanied by hundreds of fabulous illustrations.
Look for similar items by category
- Books > Gay & Lesbian > History
- Books > Gay & Lesbian > Political & Social Issues
- Books > Health, Family & Lifestyle > Psychology & Psychiatry > Specific Topics > Sexual Behaviour
- Books > History > Ancient History & Civilisation > Rome
- Books > History > Europe
- Books > Poetry, Drama & Criticism > History & Criticism > Literary Theory & Movements
- Books > Society, Politics & Philosophy > Social Sciences > Sociology