Roman Homosexuality: Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity

By Craig A. Williams | Go to book overview

APPENDIX 1

The Rhetoric of Nature and
Same-Sex Practices

An assumption generally shared by those who wrote and read the texts surveyed in this book is that men's desires could normally and normatively be directed at either male or female objects, or both. If this configuration was held to be normal and normative, we might expect that it would also be represented as natural, and it is thus worthwhile to consider the role played by the discourse of nature in ancient representations of sexual behavior. The question is both huge and complex, 1 but one thing is clear: the ancient rhetoric of nature as it relates to sexual practices displays significant differences from more recent discourses. John Boswell, for example, observes that while "what is supposed to have been the major contribution of Stoicism to Christian sexual morality—the idea that the sole 'natural' (and hence moral) use of sexuality was procreation—was in fact a common belief of many philosophies of the day," at the same time "the term 'unnatural' was applied to everything from postnatal child support to legal contracts between friends." 2 Thus, as John Winkler writes, the contrast between nature and culture, when deployed in ancient writings, simply "did not possess the same valence that it does today." 3 Moreover, nearly all of the texts that offer opinions on whether or not specific sexual practices are in accordance with nature are works of philosophy; the question does not seem to have seriously engaged the writers of texts that more directly spoke to and reflected popular moral conceptions (e.g., graffiti, comedies, epigram, love poetry, oratory). 4 In short, as Amy Richlin warns us, the ques

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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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