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Romosexuality : Rome, homosexuality, and reception.

Ingleheart, Jennifer (2015) 'Romosexuality : Rome, homosexuality, and reception.', in Ancient Rome and the construction of modern homosexual identities . Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 1-35. Classical presences.


The ancient Romans (and Greeks) had very different ways of conceptualizing and talking about sexual desire and behaviour from those that are familiar in the modern West; most relevantly for the purposes of this volume, they did not universally categorize people according to their sexual conduct using the modern binary of homosexual/ heterosexual, and the application of such terminology (or terms such as lesbian or bisexual) to antiquity is therefore anachronistic and potentially misleading. Nevertheless, throughout this volume, the words ‘homosexuality’ and ‘homosexual’ (as an adjective) are used in reference to desire, love, and sexual encounters in antiquity between persons of the same sex, male and female, whereas ‘heterosexuality’ and ‘heterosexual’ denote such interactions involving persons of opposite sexes; when there is a need to distinguish between male and female homosexuality, ‘male homosexuality’ has been used to refer to incidences of the former, and ‘female homosexuality’ or ‘lesbianism’ for the latter, but in general the term ‘homosexuality’ should be understood as referring to both male and female same-sex love, given its Greek etymology from ὁμο- (< ὁμός = ‘the same’). Such usage is based on pragmatic considerations, obviating the need for awkward and lengthy periphrases, and these words should always be understood in inverted commas when encountered in this volume with reference to the ancient world, without any presumption of identity on the part of the actors involved.

Item Type:Book chapter
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
File format - PDF (Copyright agreement prohibits open access to the full-text)
Publisher Web site:
Date accepted:18 November 2014
Date deposited:09 December 2015
Date of first online publication:08 October 2015
Date first made open access:No date available

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