Famous homosexual ancient Greeks and Romans

Aug 2014
944
United States of America
#33
There doesn't really seem to be a category of homosexuality to the Greeks & Romans. Nor heterosexuality either for that matter. I don't think they thought of that as an orientation or preference.

That being said, Greeks & Romans engaged in plenty of same-sex relationships of different kinds.
 
Mar 2012
2,288
#34
I know homosexuality was tolerated among pre-Christian Greco-Roman cultures and I want to know the famous individuals who were crypto or open gay/Lesbian in ancient Rome/Greece.

I can recall this names

1. Achilles and Patroclus
2. Alexander and Hephaestion
3. Theban band
4. Sappho
5. Julius Ceaser
6. Cicero
7. Hadrian and Antinous Pius
8. Virgil

How many people can you name?
Again, homosexuality was NEVER, at any point, and acceptable societal value in Rome as it was in most of Greece, minus Sparta and a few other city states. Homosexuality was explicitly illegal, and the penalty in the legions was death. The reason people sometimes make this mistake is that all of Rome's villains are described as homosexuals and it was a common way to slander an enemy.

Cicero, for his part, never condemned an enemy without accusing him of homosexuality, and, whereas there may be something to Ceasar's bi-sexuality, a lot of what we know about it is attributable to Cicero's slanders about surrendering his virginity on a bed of luxury in Bithynia.

Hadrian had male lovers, but it was considered hugely problematic to the people. The source on that is the Augustine Scribe.

No source says that Alexander and Hephaestion were lovers, although I have found a Roman source that "accuses" him of homosexuality with Boagas (though, in an interesting sidenote, in an era where we increasingly look at transgender men as some form of woman, this might not be considered homosexuality today).

Achilles and Patrolocus were not homosexuals. Anyone who as actually read the Iliad knows that the driving part of the story is Achilles love for a woman. Nor is homosexuality mentioned.

To add to your list, all of the bad emperors were accused: Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, Commodus, Heliogalbus...I think Vittelius.

Trajan was "accused" by Dio of pederasty, though he was considered a good emperor and Dio said that "at least he harmed no one."

Xenophon was definitely bi-sexual.

Plato seems to have been a repressed homosexual or bi-sexual. He looked upon the desire as "normal" but condemned the action all the same.

Also many of them who mentioned in your link seems that they took it out from nowhere. I read Xenophons whole Anabasis and I dont see some homosexual contact, outside of relations with prostitutes and women they took in their way back I miss homosexual writing direction about him but also the other soldier and commanders , generals. When they express their wounder to somebody or for something it wasback than not nessecary a sexual contact expression or similar. I doubt also for many others on that list.
Some of his essays have some very explicit pro-homosexual content, such as Agesilaus and Hiero the tyrant.

Of the first Twelve Caesars, at least according to Suetonis, all of them engaged in some form of homosexual act at some point in their lives with the sole exception of Claudius. Apparently he was actually considered odd for liking only women.

Suetonis is very revealing about how the Romans may have viewed sexuality, with the underlying belief that man is bisexual, and has the freedom to love either way. Or, as in the case of the Emperors, to do as they pleased to whomever they chose. Nero famously loved both woman and man, even making one into a woman when he thought that he looked like a former wife of his.

Later histories suggest that Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and Antonious Pius all may have have had relations with each other at some point in their lives as well. It's after the 15th Emperor or so (Pius) that we start getting Emperors that were likely heterosexual, increasingly so as Christianity and its Pauline morals took hold of Roman society.
Been awhile since I read Suetonius but I seem to remember that Augustus was so in love with Syrian virgin girls that his own wife would bribe him by bringing them to him to defile.

There doesn't really seem to be a category of homosexuality to the Greeks & Romans. Nor heterosexuality either for that matter. I don't think they thought of that as an orientation or preference.

That being said, Greeks & Romans engaged in plenty of same-sex relationships of different kinds.
They absolutely did have such categories, and even insults, such as Kainaidos. Each society had very strict rules about it--even in Athens where a man could get away with it, and the desire might be considered "normal," a man was expected to be quiet about it.
 
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Mar 2017
793
Colorado
#35
How do you know Julius Caesar was homosexual?
Last I recall that was only a rumour started by the Senate to discredit him. That Caesar had given sexual favours to the King of Bythinia so that he would support the Romans, specifically the Roman general Marcus Minucius Thermus, against Mithridates VI. Of course nothing supports this claim as it was just the rants of the more conservative factions in Rome against Caesar.
My "recollection" is that this rumor is based on Caesar staying "too long" with the king. That's it. There are no other details of the interaction I am aware of.

A chant from the military was recorded about this episode: "Caesar is every woman's man, and every man's woman." This is interpreted as the military's humorous response to the Senate.

What *IS* well documented is Caesar's womanizing. Plutarch makes a point of saying Cleopatra wasn't his first queen. I don't think "bi-sexual" applies since there is no other episode. I don't even know what "bi-curious" means or if it applies.

Both the Greeks and Romans had senior male, younger male liaisons ... as a power, guidance thing. The younger always being the "receiver", if you will. ... but the marriages weren't a "cover" for homosexuality. It was the other way around. They were heterosexuals with wives, families, infidelity ... with the young male liaisons as an acceptable .... errr ... "male bonding" alternative. The power part of the relationship reveals why it's an insult to Caesar: he would be subordinate to the king.

Alexander could have married Roxanne as a political move only, or it could have been a heterosexual relationship .... with a male relationship as a separate liaison. Nothing unusual either way for the time.

It's difficult to reach back 3300 years and judge relationships by modern standards. Particularly in the US with the LGBT...... classifications, the label "homosexual" is difficult to apply unless someone says "that's what I am." Sex, of course, was mechanically the same in ancient times: what it actually meant and how it was perceived is something we can only guess at.

Would Alexander and Hephaestion (or any other male) be considered homosexual today? In the LGBT.... world? .......... Maybe?
Were they considered homosexual in the 4th century BCE? Probably not. I would guess that THEIR definition was more important than ours.

Check out this thread on Alexander's sexuality:
Alexander the Great & Hephaestion
 
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Aug 2014
944
United States of America
#36
Aineias Taktikos said:
There doesn't really seem to be a category of homosexuality to the Greeks & Romans. Nor heterosexuality either for that matter. I don't think they thought of that as an orientation or preference.

That being said, Greeks & Romans engaged in plenty of same-sex relationships of different kinds.

They absolutely did have such categories, and even insults, such as Kainaidos. Each society had very strict rules about it--even in Athens where a man could get away with it, and the desire might be considered "normal," a man was expected to be quiet about it.
That runs completely counter to all scholarship about Greek & Roman sexuality in the past half century. But okay.
 
Mar 2012
2,288
#37
That runs completely counter to all scholarship about Greek & Roman sexuality in the past half century. But okay.
What it doesn't run counter to is the ancient sources. It is best to actually read them rather than depend of "scholarship," which is often poor and sometimes has agenda attached.

I am not sure how you can believe that there was no "category" of homosexuality in Rome and Greece, when it was explicitly illegal in Rome and Sparta. As stated, the penalty in the legions was death. The source is Polybius.

When Cicero accused Cataline of homosexuality as both a passive and active homosexual, what words was he using if there was no "category."

When Augustus said that the homosexuality of Marcus Antonius had worn him out, how did he say that?

When Tiberius formally charged his nephew with "homosexual indecency," as according to Tacitus in the annals of imperial Rome, how would he have done that if there was no "category." Or maybe the "scholars" you believe in missed that.

Perhaps these "scholars" missed the long passage in THE GOLDEN ASS when the main character, trapped in the form of a donkey, is forced to watch sex acts by a homosexual cult and goes crazy trying to tell the townspeople. Nope, I guess we can't infer a "category" there.

Not sure how I learned words such as "kainaidos" and "catamite," since there apparently was no "category."

And on, and on. Don't trust second hand scholarship. Read the real sources.
 
Jan 2015
3,293
Australia
#38
The evidence of Caesar's bisexuality is basically non-existent past some slurs from politicians which don't pass the smell test. Nobody from Rome was in Bithynia at the time, and by my calculations the King of Bithynia was so old I'd have been amazed if he could still even perform the sexual act. On the other hand we know of kids he had, legitimate and illegitimate, and long term Mistresses.
 
Sep 2016
451
Georgia
#39
No source says that Alexander and Hephaestion were lovers, although I have found a Roman source that "accuses" him of homosexuality with Boagas (though, in an interesting sidenote, in an era where we increasingly look at transgender men as some form of woman, this might not be considered homosexuality today).

Achilles and Patrolocus were not homosexuals. Anyone who as actually read the Iliad knows that the driving part of the story is Achilles love for a woman. Nor is homosexuality mentioned.
It is Curtius Rufus work, where you find information on Bagoas and Alexander loving him. However, Plutarch also mentions Bagoas and that Alexander kissed him in lips during one of parties.

Achilles wasn't driven by love of the woman in Iliad. He got upset at Agamemnon, because he took his spoil of war. It was blow to Achilles ego and status. That's why he than wanted Greeks to lose against Trojans. It's in movie ,, Troy '' he loves Briseis. But in Iliad, it's clear that he viewed such incident as act of disrespect by Agamemnon and got angry. Not because he loved her.

Also, while in Iliad there isn't clear homosexuality between Patroclus and Achilles, in later works on Trojan war they were very often depicted as a couple and being in love.

Because of that, some scholars believe that Alexander and Hephaestion had an affair. Since in our sources, there is bit where both of them go to visit Achilles grave and Alexander proclaims Hephaestion to be his Partoclus.

However, Alexander had relationship with Barsine and Roxanne. Barsine even gave birth to his child Heracles, who later on was killed during Diadochi wars. Roxanne gave birth to Alexander IV. Diodorus also mentions in his writing, that Alexander inherited huge harem from Darius and had different woman every night.
 
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Aug 2014
944
United States of America
#40
What it doesn't run counter to is the ancient sources. It is best to actually read them rather than depend of "scholarship," which is often poor and sometimes has agenda attached.

I am not sure how you can believe that there was no "category" of homosexuality in Rome and Greece, when it was explicitly illegal in Rome and Sparta. As stated, the penalty in the legions was death. The source is Polybius.

When Cicero accused Cataline of homosexuality as both a passive and active homosexual, what words was he using if there was no "category."

When Augustus said that the homosexuality of Marcus Antonius had worn him out, how did he say that?

When Tiberius formally charged his nephew with "homosexual indecency," as according to Tacitus in the annals of imperial Rome, how would he have done that if there was no "category." Or maybe the "scholars" you believe in missed that.

Perhaps these "scholars" missed the long passage in THE GOLDEN ASS when the main character, trapped in the form of a donkey, is forced to watch sex acts by a homosexual cult and goes crazy trying to tell the townspeople. Nope, I guess we can't infer a "category" there.

Not sure how I learned words such as "kainaidos" and "catamite," since there apparently was no "category."

And on, and on. Don't trust second hand scholarship. Read the real sources.
If you want to read the real sources, I recommend that you actually read the Latin or Greek. There is no word kainaidos in any lexicon that I know of. "Catamite" and "homosexual indecency" are English words, not Latin.
 

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