While I hesitate to offer a "conclusion" to a study that aims to open up further discussion, it may be helpful for precisely that reason to look back over the reconstructions of Roman discourses on masculinity that I have offered and to point to the kinds of questions raised by my study. In particular, since this book has for the most part necessarily dealt with representations and conceptual paradigms more than with the actual behaviors of Roman men, it may be useful to offer a positive model—tentative as it must be—for the range of sexual practices that an adult freeborn man living in Rome between roughly 200 B.C. and A.D. 200, and belonging to the leisured classes toward which our sources are biased, could admit to having engaged in without damaging his image as a "real man."
Above all, these men were not encouraged to make any meaningful distinctions between homosexual and heterosexual practices as such. What was most important for a man's reputation was that he be thought to play the insertive and not the receptive role in penetrative acts. If he played the insertive role, he might do so with either male or female partners, or both, as he pleased; the sex of his partner had no bearing on his own status as a man. This view of what it means to be a man with regard to sexual practices has characterized many cultural traditions over the course of human history, but for a Roman man there was a further consideration : Were his sexual partners slaves or free? Freeborn Romans of both sexes (apart from his wife) were officially considered off-limits, and any sexual relations
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Publication information: Book title: Roman Homosexuality: Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity. Contributors: Craig A. Williams - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1999. Page number: 225.
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