Roman Homosexuality: Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity

By Craig A. Williams | Go to book overview

4

Effeminacy and Masculinity

According to the prime directive of masculine sexual behavior, a Roman man who wished to retain his claim to full masculinity must always be thought to play the insertive role in penetrative acts, whether with males or females; if he was thought to have sought the receptive role in such acts he forfeited his claim to masculinity and was liable to being mocked as effeminate (see chapter 5 for further discussion of this protocol and of Roman representations of specific sexual acts and actors). In chapter 3 we saw that the second protocol of masculinity could be coordinated with the first, such that even if a man pursued freeborn persons, traditionally protected by the concept of stuprum, as long as he maintained an active, dominant (and penetrating) stance his own masculinity was not infringed upon. In this chapter, however, we see that masculinity was more complex than such a schematization suggests. Being penetrated was not the only practice that could brand a man as effeminate, and a man who was cast in the role of the insertive partner, whether of males or of females, could still be liable to an accusation of effeminacy. In other words, we see that playing the insertive role in penetrative acts, while being a necessary precondition for full masculinity, was not a sufficient one. Thus the writers and readers of Roman texts could easily imagine a notorious womanizer or adulterer as effeminate, and a Roman orator could curl his lip at a decadent young man who sashayed about more softly than a woman in order to please women.

These uses of the imagery of effeminacy form part of the larger discourses of masculinity which this book in general and this chapter in particular aim to inter

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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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