Roman Empire Views on Homosexuality Assignment

Roman Empire Views on Homosexuality Assignment Words: 1310

A popular topic of discussion, when referring to historic Roman culture, is the topic of sexuality. Even more specific is the subject of Roman attitudes toward homosexuality. During the time period of 753 B. C. To 476 A. D. The Roman Empire was arguably one of the most powerful and advanced empires of its age. With such a powerful empire of citizens that were fixated on their pride and, for the males, masculinity, one must wonder what their thoughts on homosexuality were.

Also, when discussing the Romans and homosexuality you must take into consideration hat males were infatuated with themselves, including their physical appearance all the way down to the way that they operated physically and psychologically. Sexuality was not a taboo in the Roman Empire. It is something that was prevalent and most partook in. It was never a Roman law that one could not have a sexual relationship or partake in sexual endeavors with someone of the same gender as them. Homosexuality was a practice that many were familiar with within the Roman Empire.

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Some did it to show masculinity, others did it out of curiosity and others as a ay to show a sense of superiority over an inferior being. A male’s masculinity was very important to him. To have your masculinity questioned or doubted was a sign of disrespect. If another male ever brought a man’s masculinity into question, there was a tradition’ that the man that was called out would often do. The male who was called out would force himself onto the accusers son and have sex with him in order to prove that he was masculine and defend that notion (Williams 1999).

This goes to show how nonchalant sexual acts were within he Roman Empire, yet they held so much impact in defining who was a man and displayed masculinity and who did not. Looking back on Roman literature and history, this was a widely practiced action if you were questioned about your masculinity. Other acts of homosexuality were practiced between slave masters and their slaves. This was often used as a way for the slave master to show superiority over their male slaves.

Just as the aforementioned account of homosexuality was prevalent, this one was Just as widely practiced if not more. Through historical documents we are made ware of the abuse and harsh circumstances that slaves of the Roman Empire were forced to endure. The above accounts of homosexuality have a few things in common. One common theme is that they both involve proving something to someone else; proving your masculinity to someone who accused you of not being masculine, and proving to or showing the male slave that you are superior to them.

The other common ground snared Detente ten two solutions Is ten Tact Tanat ten person won was playing ten role of the man was not looked down upon, whereas the person who was on the achieving end of the sexual endeavors was either being punished or ridiculed. So in the public eye homosexuality was not frowned upon in the Roman Empire, however if you were a male and were forced into it or chose on your own will to receive sexual favors from another male than the public scorned you. For example, it is documented through poetry that Julius Caesar once had sexual endeavors with the Bathing King when he was younger.

Caesar played the passive role within the relationship between the two and he was ridiculed for this action for quite some time (Williams 1999). These two situations seem to be an accurate generalization of Roman culture as a whole in regards to their attitudes toward homosexuality. What I have drawn from Roman culture is that homosexuality is accepted or at least overlooked if it is Just a behavior. On the other hand, homosexuality as an identity is what the Romans had trouble accepting. It was very common for these homosexual activities to take place while the male had a wife.

This introduces the topic of bisexuality and the inquiries that ask if homosexuality was still overlooked if the male did not have a wife as well hat was his primary source for sexual activity. In the Roman Empire, the men that were open to having sexual acts done to them by other males were looked at differently, as previously mentioned. They were looked at differently in the sense that they were categorized as feminine, and with this idea in mind, the Roman men saw these feminine men as woman in a sense so they saw it fit or acceptable to have sex with these types of men.

They were, in a way, creating naturalization to the homosexual activities that they were partaking in to make it into meeting that defined your masculinity for the positive. The following is an excerpt from the text Roman Homosexuality by (Williams 1999): “… Tendency to associate the receptive role with women, boys, and slaves and to construe adult men who display a desire to be penetrated as effeminate anomalies… Fully gendered men might be perfectly content to express desire for the men they ridicule… The above quote from Roman Homosexuality shows the reasoning behind the desire to engage in homosexual activity by males that are normally attracted to females and/or have wives already. They view the men that they have sexual activities with as feminine enough to be a female in their eyes. There are some historic poems from Roman authors that could be used to argue against the fact that homosexuality was overlooked within the Roman Empire.

A poem, known as Metamorphose, by the author Ovid depicts a scene where a woman is intrigued by and has sexual feelings for another woman. Ovid explains that the woman questions why the Gods would make it possible for her to have these feelings. This is in a sense hinting at the fact that she knows she is not supposed to resent an argument in response to the above counter argument of Ovoid’s poem you must look at the fact that these poems and plays were written by men and in a majority of cases for men.

The women were often seen as objects of the males and in most cases they were treated significantly unequal in comparison to men. So often authors would be sure to portray that into their works to satisfy is majority male audience (Williams 1999). There are significant amounts of evidence that shows homosexuality as being widely practiced and accepted in early Roman culture. These accounts of homosexuality ray in their reason from being a way to show or prove ones masculinity, to showing that you were superior to someone such as a slave.

Either way, the homosexuality only appeared to be acceptable or overlooked if you were the aggressor during sexual activity with someone of the same gender (McGinnis 2003). On the other hand, those who were passive during homosexual activities and intercourse were ridiculed and labeled feminine. My personal opinion on the topic of Roman attitudes toward homosexuality is that I believe were accepting of homosexuality if it was merely a behavior or action, and not n the sense of an identity. I also feel that they did not truly know what homosexuality was.

What I mean by this is that in present day we see homosexuality as an actual class or type of people, whereas in the Roman Empire it was used as a describer of those who were sexually active with both men and women; we call that bisexuality in today’s society but it seems as if the Romans did not have a clear distinction or definition of the two.

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