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Homosexuality in Greece and RomeA Sourcebook of Basic Documents$
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Thomas Hubbard

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780520223813

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520223813.001.0001

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(p.xviii) (p.1) Introduction
Homosexuality in Greece and Rome


University of California Press

The term “homosexuality” is adopted as a convenient shorthand linking together a range of different phenomena involving same-gender love and/or sexual activity. The field of Gay Studies has been divided between essentialists and social constructionists. Close examination of a range of ancient texts suggests that some forms of sexual preference were considered a distinguishing characteristic of individuals. Many texts even see such preferences as inborn qualities and thus “essential” aspects of human identity. The varieties of same-gender attraction are discussed. The Romans themselves did not see slave-oriented pederasty in terms of power dynamics so much as an opportunity for slaves to improve their status. The origin and chronological development of homosexual practices in Greece and Rome are also described. The presence of a grapevine in the background punctuates the influence of wine in releasing men to fulfill their animal natures (represented by the satyrs' horse-tails and pointed ears).

Keywords:   homosexuality, Greece, Rome, human identity, same-gender love, sexual activity

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