Roman Homosexuality: Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity

By Craig A. Williams | Go to book overview

3

The Concept of Stuprum

The second of the protocols described at the beginning of chapter 1 is structured around the distinction between slave and free: according to this rule, a man's slaves were considered acceptable sexual objects, but freeborn Romans other than his wife were not. Thus, as we saw in chapter 2, Roman sexual ideologies discouraged pederastic relationships along the Greek model—publicly acknowledged romantic and sexual relationships between citizen men and freeborn youth—and Roman writers were able to distance pederasty as a Greek custom, but we also saw they did so far less frequently than one might have expected. The conceptual mechanisms giving rise to the condemnation of such relationships are explored in this chapter.

Roman writers often use the term stuprum to describe the offense consisting in the violation of the sexual integrity of freeborn Romans of either sex: pederasty was therefore a subset of stuprum and for that reason liable to condemnation. 1 Thus Cicero denounces Catiline's affairs with some of his young male followers as "disgraceful," and thus Quintilian wishes that Afranius, writer oftogatae or comedies set in Rome, had not "defiled his plots with shameful love affairs with boys." 2 Here a basic point needs once again to be stressed: pederastic relationships were capable of being condemned in this way not because of their homosexual nature but because of the status of the younger partner. We will see that pederastic relationships seem to have been no more objectionable to Roman traditionalists than were relationships with freebom girls or indeed with other men's wives. In fact, I will argue later in this

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Roman Homosexuality: Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Roman Homosexuality - Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents *
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - Roman Traditions Slaves, Prostitutes, and Wives 15
  • 2 - Greece and Rome 62
  • 3 - The Concept of Stuprum 96
  • 4 - Effeminacy and Masculinity 125
  • 5 - Sexual Roles and Identities 160
  • Conclusions 225
  • Appendix 1 - The Rhetoric of Nature and Same-Sex Practices 231
  • Appendix 2 - Marriage Between Males 245
  • Appendix 3 - A Note on the Sources 253
  • Notes 259
  • Works Cited 367
  • Index of Passages Cited 376
  • General Index 391
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