Roman Homosexuality: Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity

By Craig A. Williams | Go to book overview
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There is an obvious but significant limitation on our source material: the ideologies of masculinity that we are considering turn out to be the province of men who are usually upper class and always free. Although the graffiti scratched on the walls of Rome and Pompeii and the rude messages incised on sling bullets at Perugia do help correct the bias of the literary sources (in fact, they generally confirm the literary evidence), we are almost entirely denied the ability of hearing the voices of women, lower-class men, slaves, or, indeed, upper-class men who chose to live in ways that countered the prevalent codes (cf. Richlin 1993). But I am seeking to make a virtue of this necessity by aiming to expose the workings of a code of sexual behavior precisely as the dominant ideology.
See Gilmore 1990 for a cross-cultural study of masculinity from an anthropological perspective, and Cornwall and Lindisfarne 1994 and Berger, Wallis, and Watson 1995 for further, more theoretically oriented, discussion. The questions that I ask obviously stem from a quintessentially feminist problematization of gender, but since claiming the label feminist could be interpreted as an act of appropriation, I will simply say that this work owes an enormous debt to its feminist predecessors. See Tong 1989 for a helpful overview of feminist theory, and Rabinowitz and Richlin 1993 for illustrations of a feminist approach to classical scholarship. Like feminist scholarship, the growing tradition in which my study is placed aims to historicize certain oppressive paradigms and thus to challenge them.
What constitutes the "sexual" (and how it might differ from the "erotic") is, of course, a problem; genital stimulation, for example, is not necessarily a decisive criterion.
See, for example, Hallett 1993. In particular, scholars point to the varieties of cul- tural traditions contributing to the fabric of the Roman Empire.


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Roman Homosexuality: Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity


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