Male Homosexuality under the Julio-Claudian Dynasty

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William Mills Vanstone
Homosexuality , Julio-Claudian Dynasty , Roman History
This paper explores the nature of Roman attitudes, both elite and non-elite, regarding male homosexuality under the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Through examining Roman laws, art, and literature from the period, these attitudes will be revealed and understood to the extent in which one can understand a past society through its history and artifacts. When exploring attitudes through art, special attention is paid to the Warren Cup, an intriguing artifact of uncertain provenance whose authenticity has been debated vigorously by contemporary scholars. The nature of Roman attitudes towards homosexuality is highly related to Roman social hierarchy and where one fell within that hierarchy. Depending on one’s status and the status of their partner, desires for emotional or sexual connections with members of the same sex and gender could be viewed as either perfectly normal and legitimate, or unusual and unmanly.
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