Cover image for Roman homosexuality : ideologies of masculinity in classical antiquity
Roman homosexuality : ideologies of masculinity in classical antiquity
Williams, Craig A. (Craig Arthur), 1965-
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xii, 395 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
General Note:
Revision of thesis.
Introduction -- Roman traditions: slaves, prostitutes, and wives -- Greece and Rome -- The concept of stuprum -- Effeminacy and masculinity -- Sexual roles and identities.

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HQ76.2.R6 W56 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This book provides a thoroughly documented discussion of ancient Roman ideologies of masculinity and sexuality with a focus on ancient representations of sexual experience between males. It gathers a wide range of evidence from the second century B.C. to the second century A.D.--above all from such literary texts as courtroom speeches, love poetry, philosophy, epigram, and history, but also graffiti and other inscriptions as well as artistic artifacts--and uses that evidence to reconstruct the contexts within which Roman texts were created and had their meaning. The book takes as its starting point the thesis that in order to understand the Roman material, we must make the effort to set aside any preconceptions we might have regarding sexuality, masculinity, and effeminacy.

Williams' book argues in detail that for the writers and readers of Roman texts, the important distinctions were drawn not between homosexual and heterosexual, but between free and slave, dominant and subordinate, masculin and effeminate as conceived in specifically Roman terms. Other important questions addressed by this book include the differences between Roman and Greek practices and ideologies; the influence exerted by distinctively Roman ideals of austerity; the ways in which deviations from the norms of masculine sexual practice were negotiated both in the arena of public discourse and in real men's lives; the relationship between the rhetoric of "nature" and representations of sexual practices; and the extent to which same-sex marriages were publicly accepted.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Both Kenneth Dover's Greek Homosexuality (CH, Jan'79) and Michel Foucault's The History of Sexuality (v.1, CH, Feb'79; v.2, CH, Apr'86; v.3, CH, Oct'87) have had their influence on Williams, as has Amy Richlin's The Garden of Priapus (CH, Mar'84) and Eva Cantarella's Bisexuality in the Ancient World (CH, Mar'93). Williams, however, advances far beyond these works with an exhaustive and persuasive analysis of the evidence for Roman sexual protocols and social attitudes. Homosexuality was not an important issue for the Romans; appropriate gender behavior--a man must be the penetrator--was. Williams's discussion of stuprum (the criminalized sexual act), of sexual roles and identities, of masculinity and effeminacy, will make this an essential resource for gender studies and for Roman social history. Williams is weaker in evaluating the consequences of the charge of being the sexually penetrated partner. Was there a loss of status or power? Neither Caesar nor Antony seems much damaged by such charges (for comparison: a speech impediment rendered Claudius a political nullity). It is characteristic of Williams's thoroughness, however, that such questions can now arise. This is an important and ground-breaking study. All levels. C. M. C. Green; University of Iowa

Table of Contents

Abbreviationsp. xi
Introductionp. 3
Homosexuality, Heterosexuality, and Bisexualityp. 4
Representation and Realityp. 9
The Question of Diachronic Changep. 11
Past and Presentp. 13
The Script of Masculinityp. 14
1 Roman Traditions: Slaves, Prostitutes, and Wivesp. 15
The Protocols of Masculine Behaviorp. 17
Boys and Girlsp. 19
Dirty Jokesp. 28
Slaves, Male and Femalep. 30
Slaves in Plautusp. 34
Slaves and Luxuryp. 37
Prostitutes, Male and Femalep. 38
Men and Their Wivesp. 47
Jupiter and Ganymedep. 56
Hadrian and Antinousp. 60
2 Greece and Romep. 62
"Greek" Love: Pederasty and the Gymnasiump. 63
How "Greek" Was Pederasty?p. 64
The Appeal of Youthp. 72
Mature Males as Sexual Objectsp. 77
Exoletip. 83
The Example of Priapus: The Bigger the Betterp. 86
Visual Evidencep. 91
3 The Concept of Stuprump. 96
The Language of Stuprum and Pudicitiap. 97
Homosexual versus Heterosexual Stuprump. 101
Stuprum and Reputationp. 103
Wartime Rape and Prostitutionp. 104
Wives and Childrenp. 107
Stuprum and Masculinityp. 109
Pederasty and Adulteryp. 113
Adultery and Pederasty in the Aeneidp. 115
The Law on Stuprump. 119
4 Effeminacy and Masculinityp. 125
Signifiers of Effeminacy: Softness and Excessive Groomingp. 127
Virtus and Impertum: Masculinity and Dominionp. 132
Masculine Dominion over Foreigners and Womenp. 135
Masculinity and Self-Controlp. 138
Masculinity, Effeminacy, and Sexual Practicesp. 142
Other Voicesp. 153
5 Sexual Roles and Identitiesp. 160
Differences from Greek Traditionsp. 161
Viri: Real Menp. 163
Labels and Categories for "Men"p. 166
Labels for the Penetrated Man: Impudicus, Pathicus, and Cinaedusp. 172
Stereotypes of the Cinaedus: Effeminacy and "Disease"p. 179
The Double Standardp. 181
Boys versus Cinaedip. 183
Appearances and Reputationp. 188
The Lawp. 193
Alternative Strategiesp. 195
Fellatores and Cunnilingi: The Problem of Oral Sexp. 197
Crossing Boundariesp. 203
The Cinaedus: Passive Homosexual or Gender Deviant?p. 209
Cinaedi Desiring Menp. 215
The Question of "Subculture"p. 218
Conclusionsp. 225
Appendix 1 The Rhetoric of Nature and Same-Sex Practicesp. 231
Animal Behaviorp. 232
Contra Naturamp. 234
Appendix 2 Marriage between Malesp. 245
Appendix 3 A Note on the Sourcesp. 253
Notesp. 259
Works Citedp. 367
Index of Passages Citedp. 376
General Indexp. 391