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Treatments of Male Homosexuality in Roman Antiquity
Ancient Roman culture did not embrace homosexuality contrary to the lusty bathhouse scenes that have been conjured up in contemporary society. Certainly there was distinct stigmas attached to the male on male intercourse similar to Christianized views that dominate our contemporary society today. Homosexuality in roman antiquity occurred solely as an expression of dominance and power.
The relationship between two men in a sexual manner had to be certainly classified as the social structure of roman society required strict adherence to the laws and traditions set forth by the politicians and men of money and power. Only in a contemporary sense do the terms homosexual and heterosexual exist, as there isn’t a Latin equivalent translation for definition of an individual’s sexuality. In a simpler sense, all that mattered was that a man of class would penetrate and exert his dominance over his life. Roman culture supported sexuality as an exploration of governance and sub-sequentially social status. Sexuality in roman antiquity then was only forged by one’s sexual behavior. The proactive aggressive male emphasizes the primary authority in a sexual relationship between two people, and a man passively accepting female roles was only accepted if he was subservient to the social status of the aggressor. Since birth right determined social status, if one was born into a family of high reputation and participated as the submissive receiver in male-to-male intercourse, the reprimands would be severe as submitting to a master was characteristically attributed to the male citizens of the lower class which included the slave class.
Where male homosexuality permissed was in specific situations of exerting dominance and power. The expression of dominance and power in a Roman man was attributed to his masculinity; in the sense that a man was expected to be aggressive and the penetrator as is convention...