in Homosexuality in Greece and Rome

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780520223813
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936508 | DOI:

Show Summary Details


The term “homosexuality” is adopted as a convenient shorthand linking together a range of different phenomena involving same-gender love and/or sexual activity. The field of Gay Studies has been divided between essentialists and social constructionists. Close examination of a range of ancient texts suggests that some forms of sexual preference were considered a distinguishing characteristic of individuals. Many texts even see such preferences as inborn qualities and thus “essential” aspects of human identity. The varieties of same-gender attraction are discussed. The Romans themselves did not see slave-oriented pederasty in terms of power dynamics so much as an opportunity for slaves to improve their status. The origin and chronological development of homosexual practices in Greece and Rome are also described. The presence of a grapevine in the background punctuates the influence of wine in releasing men to fulfill their animal natures (represented by the satyrs' horse-tails and pointed ears).

Keywords: homosexuality; Greece; Rome; human identity; same-gender love; sexual activity

Chapter.  9775 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.