Controlling Desires: Sexuality in Ancient Greece and Rome

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Overview

Historians of ancient Greece and Rome are sometimes hesitant to engage with the well-documented fact that Greek and Roman men regularly engaged in same-sex sexual relations with younger men. In a similar vein, scholars have constructed elaborate social explanations for Sappho, a 6th-century woman from the island of Lesbos who wrote passionate poetry about her erotic relations with a number of women, in order to avoid her apparent sexual orientation. On the other hand, in recent times the Greeks and Romans have occasionally been idealized as prototypes of modern homosexuality or bisexuality. In this engaging, cross-disciplinary book, Ormand argues that the Greeks and Romans thought of sex and sexuality in ways fundamentally different from our own. Ormand's exploration of Greek and Roman sexual practice allows readers the opportunity to see how attitudes and beliefs about sex—sexuality, in short—functioned in the early civilizations of the West, and how those attitudes reveal the unspoken rules that defined public and private behavior.

Ormand treats Greece and Rome in separate sections, with ample cross-references and comparisons. Within each section, individual chapters focus on different types of texts and visual arts. Just as sexuality is presented differently in our legal cases than it is on television sitcoms, or supermarket tabloids, the reader will naturally find that the Greeks and Romans talk one way about sex, love, and marriage in legal speeches and another way in comedies, satires, and philosophical texts. Ormand's analysis takes into account changes in attitude over time, as well as different modes of presenting a complex and interconnected set of social beliefs and behaviors.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Ormand's wide-ranging analysis, from Homer, Plato, Sappho, and Aristophanes to Plautus, Cicero, Ovid, and Petronius adds an additional level of insight into traditional classical studies."

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College & Research Libraries News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275988807
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/30/2008
  • Series: Praeger Series on the Ancient World Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Table of Contents


Series Foreword Bella Vivante Vivante, Bella
1 Introduction 1
2 Homer, Hesiod, and Greek Lyric Poetry 21
3 Sexual Roles and Sexual Rules in Classical Athens 46
4 Sexuality in Greek Comedy 60
5 Legal and Illegal Sex in Ancient Greece 75
6 Philosophical Sex 91
7 Love and Sex in Hellenistic Poetry 107
8 Rome and Roman Sex 128
9 Roman Comic Sex 146
10 Legal and Illegal Sex in Ancient Rome 164
11 Roman Poetry about Love and Sex 183
12 Excursus: Lesbians in Ovid's Metamorphoses 209
13 Imperial Sex: Nero and Seneca 220
14 Sex in Satire and Invective Poetry 237
15 Epilogue 262 Notes 269 Further Readings 281 Index 287
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