I'm heyheymse, I was recently answering a question on oral sex throughout history and my answer was put up in /r/bestof. People suggested I do an AMA, so here I am!

A little about me: I'm American, but my degree is from the University of St. Andrews in St. Andrews, Scotland. I currently live in Louisiana and I'm the program manager of a nonprofit that does after school music education in elementary schools. Prior to that I was a middle school English teacher. So I never get the chance to talk about my degree subject, and this has been really fun for me!

Here's me with my dissertation, an examination of Roman sexual morality/immorality through the epigrams of Martial, the hilarious and delightfully filthy Roman poet of the late 1st century, on the day I handed it in.

Here's me today so you know this is actually me.

If you need any other proof, let me know! And as I offered in the /r/AskHistorians post, if you'd like to read my dissertation, PM me. If I haven't answered your PM yet, please have patience - I have kind of been inundated with requests, which is hugely flattering but it also takes a while.

Me rogate quidvis, omnes!

Comments: 1295 • Responses: 53  • Date: 

beer_bukkake836 karma

You are a sexy historian which is not surprising because historians always have a date.

Sorry, bad joke that I couldn't resist. You are very cute though.

My question: What was their attitude towards cum? Life-giving, dirty, somewhere in between?

heyheymse986 karma

HEYOOO. I definitely like that joke. And thanks for the compliment!

Semen was thought of by Ancient Greek doctors as the life-essence of men. There weren't a lot of advancements in medicine during the Roman times in terms of improvement over what the Greeks had done, so the Roman attitudes toward semen was similar. There wasn't a lot of discussion of it as, like, an aspect of sex that was commonly fetishized, at least not that I've seen (though that doesn't indicate that it didn't happen!)

I freely admit that this is not something I have a load of knowledge about, so if anyone else has a better answer, then shoot. Just don't be a jerk about it.

specious476 karma

Sooo... you're asking someone to shoot their load?

heyheymse1033 karma

Why, I'm shocked you found any innuendo in that statement. I was requesting that anyone who had a stroke of enlightenment on the issue come and inform us about it.

tejones420 karma


heyheymse938 karma

Again, I really don't know where you're getting all of this double entendre. All I was saying was that if you have some knowledge handy that you can blow our minds with, it'd be nice to see men talking about it in this thread instead of holding it in.

heyheymse718 karma

I'm just really sad nobody's continued my pun thread. I feel a little let down by reddit, here.

JollyOldBogan835 karma

They've gone soft on you. It's a shame.

heyheymse425 karma


krasneylev63 karma

subtle ;)

heyheymse109 karma

Subtle is my middle name!

emanresu1341 karma

I am a conventionally masculine gay man and very, very often wonder what my life would be like had I lived in antiquity. I think I would've had a pretty good time, save for the plague and hundreds of times higher rate of homicide, natch.

1.)If you are familiar with what happens at a modern bathhouse in the western world, how much of that also was happening in the darker corners of the baths of ancient Rome, for instance?

2.)I often read that in ancient Greece having a small penis was considered the ideal, and men with large dicks were mocked as "animalistic". However, this seems like such a strange aberration both throughout time and place (it's difficult for me to think of another example of a society which doesn't idealize having a large penis, or at least mock having a small one), that I wonder if it was merely an ideal to be professed publicly as a result of some intellectual mores of the time, and in fact they secretly liked 'em large too.

Anyway, thanks for indulging my puerile curiosities! :D

heyheymse479 karma

If you were a well-born Roman citizen, you probably would have cleaned up. (As for the plague - at least in the times I was dealing with, well-born Romans lived pretty long. So unless you were slumming it with the poors, you would have been good on that front.)

1) I am familiar! (I'm bi myself, and I have a couple of close gay friends who have discussed these things with me.) At public bathhouses, I think it may have happened a little bit, but there's not much evidence for it as something that happened frequently. (Of course, lack of evidence is not evidence of nothing!) Private bathhouses, on the other hand... well, it depended on who owned them. The emperor Hadrian, who built one of the most gorgeous villas in the ancient world that I highly recommend you go visit at Tivoli, south of Rome, had a fucking gorgeous Bithynian boyfriend called Antinous who he brought with him everywhere and tried to get made into a god when he died suddenly, tragically young. Antinous is one of the most sculpted faces in the ancient world, both because Hadrian loved him a lot and also because he's really, really, really, really pretty. I'm pretty sure there was a lot of shenanigans happening in their private bathhouse. (Hadrian actually built a little private island with a drawbridge in his villa, and I've read stories about how they used to go there and draw up the bridge and just be there together. This is possibly just made up, but I like it as a story.)

2) I've heard that as well, but the Greeks aren't really my focus area. (My first instinct upon hearing that for the first time was to say, "Yeah, the Greeks would think that." I really am not into the Greeks, can you tell?) I don't think it was something that the Romans were too worried about, though. And there was definitely talk about men with large penises in various gossipy poems where it was mentioned as something that someone would specifically seek out.

Puerile curiosities are what I live for, friend.

joeltrane810 karma

I'm bi myself

Allll biiii myself...

heyheymse419 karma

Thanks so much for putting that in my head forever and ever.

emanresu1192 karma

Wow, cool, thank you so much for the detailed response. And yes, I can totally see why Hadrian would've wanted to wreck that.

One more quick thing: what are your thoughts about the Warren cup? I remember the first time I saw pictures of it several years ago I was like "wow! awesome! so hot!", and then I saw pictures of the other side where basically a child rape is depicted and was like "...oh my...that's....oh dear". So, I guess they didn't really have a concept of how much such a thing could damage a person back then? Or, perhaps they didn't care in the same way that consideration for rape of women was nonexistent unless the woman who was raped was of high status in society? Or, maybe, and possibly most disturbing, the lack of scandal and outrage surrounding "consensual" underage sex (ie. statutory rape) itself resulted in less psychological harm to the person experiencing it?

Anyway, I guess I just found it kind of an unsettling artifact and I wonder what your thoughts on it are.

For readers unfamiliar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Cup

heyheymse293 karma

The Warren Cup is my single favorite item in the British Museum. If it makes you feel better about finding it hot, part of why it's such an interesting piece is that the people depicted on it are actually relatively close in age. The things that would mark out Boy vs. Man in Roman art are pretty definitive. The Warren Cup isn't generally thought to show child rape at all - the only person on the Cup who is coded as a Boy rather than a Man (or a young man) is the voyeur.

As for Roman consideration for rape - if you were a Roman citizen, even if you were a woman, rape was a huge crime. If you were a slave and someone raped you, the punishment had to be paid to your owner, but there was still punishment there unless it was your owner who raped you.

What we would consider statutory rape was a thing more in the Greek world than the Roman world. And I'd agree with your assessment about the acceptance of it as a good and normal thing (at least with the erastes/eromenos relationship of the Greeks) leading to less psychological damage.

EasyMrB65 karma

I'm bi myself

Sorry, but this question pops immediately to my mind: Did your research have any influence on your sexuality, or did you identify as bisexual before you got in to the topic?

heyheymse153 karma

That's a really great question. I definitely had some idea that I was also interested in girls before I started my research, but I don't know that I really felt okay identifying as bi until well after I was finished with college. I called myself straightish until had my first real sex with a girl, and then I felt like I could really call myself bi. Maybe that's silly? I would consider myself a Kinsey 2 - not perfectly bi, but enough to identify as such. So I'm not sure that my researched was guided at all by my sexuality - I just found it interesting.

iorgfeflkd319 karma

This isn't about sexuality, but do you think it's possible that the Roman emperor Galienus may have been a time-travelled version of Hitler?

heyheymse259 karma

Laughing so hard right now.

Shocking175 karma

you throw innuendo into every sentence you type, don't you?

heyheymse13 karma

That one was actually unintentional, if you can believe it.

Veeks235 karma

Could you give me a LI5 explanation of roman sexuality?

heyheymse836 karma

I don't know how comfortable I'd be explaining Roman sexuality to a five year old, but I'll give it a shot!

Roman mommies and Roman daddies had very different rules people expected them to follow about who got to touch their bodies and how. Roman daddies were allowed to touch anyone's bodies that they wanted to, especially if those Roman daddies were rich and powerful. Roman mommies were supposed to only be touched, and only then by their husbands. This led to Romans considering some very different things to be naughty than we do today. But, just like people have a hard time following rules about what is and isn't okay to do, so did the Romans. And then poets like Martial and Horace and Ovid wrote lots of awesome poems about people who broke those rules and what happened to them.

How'd I do?

vanuhitman375 karma

Very well done. Now explain it like I'm a sex crazed teenage boy.

heyheymse755 karma

Hold on, let me get my sexy librarian costume...


slide_potentiometer176 karma

So you aren't wearing your sexy librarian costume in that dissertation picture?

heyheymse229 karma

No, that's just how I was dressed.

Veeks91 karma

Very well, thanks! Could you just clarify if/how gender plays into:

Roman daddies were allowed to touch anyone's bodies that they wanted to, especially if those Roman daddies were rich and powerful.

heyheymse241 karma

For sure! It didn't, really. As long as the man was the "active" partner, he was completely within the bounds of pudicitia, the Roman idea of sexual morality that's kind of analogous to chastity, to fuck whatever gender he cared to fuck in whichever orifice he cared to fuck them. When it came to things like anal sex with a female, it was up to the female to be the gatekeeper in that regard - women were really only supposed to have vaginal sex - but it wouldn't reflect badly on the man if it happened, because he was doing what he was supposed to do (i.e. being the "active" partner.)

jbick8997 karma

So how does this relate to homosexuality? Male "catchers" were shamed, but "pitchers" were not? And female homosexuality was taboo altogether?

heyheymse270 karma

It doesn't really relate to modern homosexuality. A Roman who fucked mostly men wouldn't have thought of himself as a homosexual because the concept didn't exist - his sexuality was about what he did with the people he was with rather than the gender of the people he was fucking/being fucked by.

Female homosexuality was something that occurred, and people knew about, but because most of our sources were men it's hard to know how the women themselves thought about it. In poems like Martial 1.90 (mentioned downthread) where Bassa is being rebuked for being adulterous with her female friends despite having a husband, Martial paints her as a woman who uses her monstrously large clitoris to penetrate other women. The problem here is twofold: her adultery, which is not within the bounds of pudicitia for a Roman matron, and her being the active partner, which is not appropriate for any Roman woman.

Aspel88 karma

So what about when Roman men were being the passive partner? Obviously there were boys and men who liked it in the ass. I mean, Hadrian's little fuckbuddy, for instance. How would people have treated him? He was a Roman man who liked a good buggering.

And what about women who were dominant in bed? Did Romans have BDSM parlors?

heyheymse221 karma

There were, but they were referred to as pathici and cinaedi and looked upon with contempt. If you haven't read kinggimped's freaking awesome post from last year about Roman manliness and "homosexuality" then you should, because he answers this part of your question with all the same poems I'd pull but with, like, 80% more awesome writing.

As for Hadrian's boyfriend, he was well-known throughout the empire and people would have crossed him at their own peril. He may have been breaking Roman conventions of pudicitia, but he was breaking those conventions with the Emperor of Rome.

EasyMrB28 karma


Since the linked comment is 6 months old I can't reply with a question to it, but maybe you can answer it for me. From one of his favorite translations:


mentula tam magna est quantus tibi, Papyle, nasus,

ut possis, quotiens arrigis, olfacere.

Papylus, your dick is so big and your nose is so long, that when you get an erection, you can smell it.

Earlier someone talked about Greeks maybe possibly thinking huge penises were not the ideal, but that small ones were. Does the above poem relate to that notion in any way (I realize it was Roman, so I'm pretty much confused why it's a supposed burn...or maybe it's a compliment?)

heyheymse23 karma

I don't think it's supposed to be a compliment, but I think it's as much about the nose as it is about the penis. Anything freakish about one's appearance was fair game for Martial.

I think with the Romans it's not so much that small penises were idealized, as with the Greeks, but that they weren't the subject of a socially acceptable fetish, like they are with modern American society.

But I could be misinterpreting, and would welcome someone else's input in this subject!

aminotaurdevoid61 karma


heyheymse199 karma

I think it has more to do with the laws within the Old Testament than anything else, given that most of Jesus's early disciples were themselves Jews who would have followed the rules in Leviticus.

I have ~feelings~ about the extent to which early Christians were actually persecuted, but that's a rant for another evening.

rawr_dinosaurs67 karma

What do you mean by 'feelings'? ie they were persecuted much less than they are made out to have been?

heyheymse323 karma

Basically, yes. There's very little evidence that there was any kind of even a half-assed persecution, let alone the systematic, coordinated persecution that (non-contemporaneous!) Christian sources claim.

I don't want to say that they're liars liars togas on fire... but I will strongly imply it.

YouJellyFish72 karma

Correct me if I'm wrong, but here's what I know (and I use the term loosely) about Roman persecution of Christians:

  • The Romans technically made Christianity illegal
  • Christians were told that dying as a martyr meant instant passage to Heaven
  • The Romans didn't seek out Christians and really just gave a formally-required slap on the wrist to those they stumbled across
  • Christians began purposefully seeking out Roman guards to flaunt their religion
  • Romans were forced to take action against these purposeful martyrs
  • Rumors spread about prosecution of the Christians
  • The cycle repeats

heyheymse91 karma

Basically this - at first Christianity was considered a sect of Judaism, which had a semi-protected status, but the Christians were all, "Oh, how dare you lump us in, we're special snowflakes" and the Romans did the same thing they did with other new cults - assessed whether loyalty to the religion meant breaking away from loyalty to the empire, which was shown through worship of the imperial cult. The Christians who would not light incense for the emperor's health, basically, were the ones who were prosecuted.

The problem with that is that we don't know how many Christians were actually seeking out martyrdom and how many were just like, bugger this all for a lark, I'm gonna get me some incense. And even with the ones who Christian sources say sought out martyrdom, none of the Christian sources come from anyone who was living at the time they claim the martyrdom happened.

It's all just suuuuuuuuper fishy.

bondmaxbondrock171 karma

Was there any kind of birth control back then? Or did they just get used to having a kid every 9 months?

heyheymse374 karma

There was definitely birth control! There are plants that have been used as birth control as well as abortion-inducers (abortifacients) for pretty much all of recorded history. Silphium, a now extinct plant that was a major trade item of the city of Cyrene, was one of the most well-known. The plant we know as Queen Anne's Lace, also known as wild carrot, is another.

Additionally there are records of women using things like sea sponges as diaphragms. People have asked about condoms - there's no evidence that condoms were in use during Roman times, but as always, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Twyll112 karma

I read somewhere that the reason Silphium went extinct is because the Romans used all of it up. Is that true?

heyheymse201 karma

What we know is: it's extinct. We don't really even know what genus it was from. There's a lot of different explanations - overfarming, animal grazing on the only land where it grew - but we'll never know until we know for sure what plant it was. And that will probably never happen. Sadface.

lfortunata165 karma

Kill-fuck-marry: Hadrian, Trajan, Marcus Aurelius?

heyheymse248 karma

Oh, man. Fuck Hadrian (three way with Antinous?), marry Trajan, kill the boring mofo Marcus Aurelius.

lfortunata36 karma

Nice! So I take it Antinous is your #1 dream boat emperor?

heyheymse97 karma

Well, he wasn't an emperor, but he was a dreamboat. Hadrian is my favorite emperor, actually, but he was not interested in women, so I wouldn't be down for marrying him. I loved Vespasian a whole lot, but he was a total troll.

Gaget154 karma

Have you ever received any sort of flak for being a woman who is intellectually interested in sexuality and who isn't afraid to freely discuss it?

P.S. You're pretty cute for a historian.

heyheymse336 karma

I think any woman who talks frankly about sex and sexuality gets some pushback at some point, especially from people who think that me discussing what I was studying was a come-on. I was really worried about doing my dissertation, actually, because my department at uni was heavy on the Greek-interested professors, with very few who had any interest in Rome. Really, only two people could have advised me, and one of them was known around the department as rather a lech. A hilarious, awesome guy, and totally enjoyable as a lecturer and tutor, but strayed over the "creepy" line way too often. Thankfully the man who ended up as my advisor, probably the smartest person I've ever had a conversation with, was a wonderful combination of unflappable in the face of my discussions of fellatio and anal sex, and old school Englishman proper. So it all worked out.

Thank you! Historians are the cutest. It's just how things are.

malickmobeen154 karma

Why did you choose Roman Sexuality?

heyheymse316 karma

My focus at the higher levels of my degree was always going to be Rome, but as I looked more and more at the various aspects of Roman history, I found that sex and gender was what interested me the most. Sexuality in particular has a very short history as an academically acceptable subject, so I felt like even as a newcomer to academia I could really do some research that wasn't just me rehashing someone else's work.

static_music34147 karma

How many awkward moments have you encountered when you tell a person about your degree? I imagine it garners some funny looks. And for a real question, do you think parts of this subject should be expanded on in education?

heyheymse322 karma

I generally just say I studied ancient history, and then wait for them to be drinking something when I drop the "my specialty was sexuality" thing on them. In all seriousness, it's led to difficulties putting my CV together, because on the one hand I really want to be accurate, but on the other I work with children. So I have to be judicious about how much I tell.

There's so much on this subject that has only recently begun to be okay for historians to study. I was lucky enough to be at the same university that Sir Kenneth Dover was chancellor of - prior to his seminal (pun kind of intended) Greek Homosexuality in '78 the sexuality of the Ancient World was not really considered academically appropriate. So when someone decides that this is something they're interested in studying, they're building on only about thirty years worth of academic work. That's nothing to a Classicist.

To really examine what things truly meant instead of just assuming based on modern sensibilities, it's going to take a lot more people willing to talk frankly about sex and willing to put aside their anachronistic views to look at what people at the time thought. When I was researching Martial, I had a bitch of a time finding academic analyses of his work and his life that did that - I found that a lot of work even within the 2000s just completely imposes the modern view of sexuality onto the Roman world, and it just doesn't work. Cantarella's Bisexuality in the Ancient World, an otherwise great text, was hugely guilty of this, in my opinion.

TL;DR: the history of sexuality really should be expanded on, particularly within ancient history.

Adept128113 karma

How pissed were your parents when they found out that you were studying Roman Sexuality?

heyheymse436 karma

I don't have any contact with my father. My mom always encouraged me to study what I was most interested in, and when I told her what I was doing she thought it was hilarious. My mom and I had the best relationship, though. She died halfway through my final year at uni, and working on the dissertation was one of the only things that kept me sane.

TheTravellingMan96 karma

I've heard Romans loved sexually explicit graffiti, is this true and if it is any good ones spring to mind?

heyheymse127 karma

My favorites were always the political graffiti, but I'm drawing a complete blank on it right now. I'm gonna try to find some examples and get back to you, but I make no promises.

JooksKIDD90 karma

Were there really large orgies where everyone had sex with each other at the same time?

heyheymse155 karma

Probably at some point sometime this happened, but it wasn't recorded for posterity and it wasn't a common occurrence. Even the story of Messalina and her fuck-off with a prostitute is probably just Pliny spreading rumors. It's still a great story, though, even if it's not entirely true!

I hope this answer wasn't too disappointing for you.

seeyanever85 karma

As someone planning on doing Classical Studies, thanks for doing this!

My question is; who was the most sexed up emperor? I know a lot of them did crazy shit, but one of them must have had a shitload of orgies, or something.

heyheymse180 karma

Well, I mean, Caligula was bat crap crazy and probably was sleeping with his sister. According to some sources Nero married a dude.

But in terms of who was probably having the most sex? Gotta be Antoninus Pius. He seemed to actually really really really love his wife Faustina, who was gorgeous and kind and basically awesome, and they had four kids together. I'm sure they were always at it.

SirDerpingtonIII57 karma

What do you use to cite your facts about Roman sexuality? I just find it a tad hard to believe some aspects of history when I take into account what we base it on. Considering we werent living in those times and on occasion you'll find contradictory data in books and wall art, etc.

I'm genuinely curious; how do you know for sure what you studied is the truth?

heyheymse134 karma

Well, a lot of it is drawing from a variety of sources to make educated guesses on attitudes. We're definitely past reading something in one source and believing it's the stone cold truth - there's too much that's clearly made up to believe it all. But at the same time, when you see the same themes again and again, it becomes more likely that an attitude wasn't just one man's feelings and was more about the society that man was writing in.

That's part of the fun of history, though - unless you were there, you can never really know what the truth was, and even if you were there, your experiences might have a different truth than someone else who was also there. Historiography is the field that's concerned with how history gets written and how we can come to conclusions about objective fact. It's always been interesting to me - but for me, I like the uncertainty. It feels more aligned with my worldview than fields where one unassailable truth can be pointed to as The Answer.

Anvilx51 karma

Tell me about roman sexuality. Is there anything that seems really wild from a modern perspective?

heyheymse158 karma

The thing that made me sadface when I found it out was the cunnilingus being taboo thing. Poor Roman matrons!

The Roman male idea of how two women would have had sex is also pretty funny. They couldn't really conceive of how anyone could have sex without penetration, so it's all things like giant dildo collections and women with freakishly large clitorises that function like pseudo-penises. And then when they run out of ideas, they write poems like Martial's 1.90, regarding Bassa and her crowd of women friends, which ends:

Commenta es dignum Thebano aenigmate monstrum, hic ubi uir non est, ut sit adulterium.

"You came up with a problem worthy of the Theban riddle: where there is no man, there is still adultery."

Seriously, though, gigantic clitorises. What the hell, Roman men. I guess that's what happens when you don't have access to lesbian porn on the Internet.

Anvilx37 karma

Sounds pretty bad for the women, but on a similar note wasn't oral sex pretty taboo until much more recently. (This is probably outside the scope of your study).

heyheymse52 karma

The /r/AskHistorians thread that my original answer was on was all about the history of oral sex, and there were some great answers on the economics of selling oral sex throughout history that answer this question pretty well.

doublenik5550 karma

What are some documents or different sources where you learn about Roman Sexuality?

heyheymse77 karma

The book I've been pointing people to, even though it's pretty freaking expensive (though it's somewhat reasonable if you buy it used) is Skinner and Hallett's Roman Sexualities, which is a series of essays edited by Skinner and Hallett that deal with various aspects of Roman sexuality. It's a great overview, and their bibliographies will help lead you to source material that you can then look over and see if you agree with the conclusions the historians in the book drew.

paz200947 karma

you mentioned earlier that heterosexuality and homosexuality are modern terms, how were genders defined back then? any interesting facts in the topic? thanks!!

heyheymse147 karma

Gender isn't a modern term - though there are societies in which gender isn't considered to be a binary state, which does make it even more sad that our society treats Trans/Genderqueer/Intersex folk with such contempt. (Stay strong, friends!)

For the Romans, it was mostly male/female. Hermaphrodites (stemming from the myth of Hermaphroditus, the sondaughter of Hermes and Aphrodite) were considered more a medical curiosity. There were men who dressed as women, and women who acted as men, but they were looked at as strange. There's a great Martial poem about one of these women, Philaenis, who he says is just a woman trying to act like a man who will never actually have any concept of what it is to be manly. (Martial 7.67)

Punch_A_Lunch45 karma

When has knowledge of Roman Sexuality ever come in handy? (Job wise, not gigidytime-wise.)

heyheymse177 karma

Well, it's been handy, job-wise... wink, nudge, etc.

Knowledge of roman sexuality has made me no money whatsoever as of right now. Knowledge of how to effectively formulate a research question, find and assess sources for that question, and present the research in a coherent, comprehensive, concise way has been pretty much the only thing that's kept me in work in this economy. And I wouldn't have any of that to the extent that I do if it weren't for my ancient history degree. In that regard, it's been pretty handy.

Firedyke8942 karma

I have to admit most of my knowledge of ancient history comes from 7th grade and the TV show Sparticus. They portrayed lesbianism in a way that makes me think it was mostly just to make everyone who watched the show hot and bothered. You touched on male homos can you please touch the ladies ;)

heyheymse128 karma

Girl, I am always happy to touch on the ladies.

Innuendo aside, there's lots of evidence that the Sapphic arts were alive and well in ancient Rome. Sadly most of what we know is all from male sources - the only Latin love elegist who was female wasn't a lady lover, so there's no Roman version of Sappho. But in both Roman comedy and Roman poetry men talk about the women they meet who aren't into them at all. The funny thing is, as I've said, they have these really weird ideas of what women do together. Men couldn't conceive that there were things that women did that didn't have any kind of substitute penis, so there were stories of massive dildo collections and monstrously large clitorises that a lesbian, or tribas, would use to penetrate her partner. (This is where the word tribadism comes from. Which you should definitely look up on Wikipedia, even if you know what it is. You're welcome.)

Did I touch enough for you?

KhaosMaiestas41 karma

Classicist here. Couple of questions, just for grins and shits:

I know you say you're not into the Greeks, but I ask this of all classicists I meet: who was the eromenos, Akhilleus or Patroklos?

What were the sodomy laws, if any, under the Republic and later Principate (before Justinian)? I find information on the subject a little lacking. There was, of course, a difference in the outward moralizing of those Catonian senators and public figures as opposed to how they conducted themselves in private (Martial IX;27), but did those conservatives actually put anything on the "books"?

I can't find anything concluded from "official" research, but does "pedico, pedicare, pedicavi, pedicatus" have the Greek word "pais, paidos m." as its root? Literally, "to boy someone, make someone your boy/bitch/sub". It sounds plausible to me, as the Romans liked to take their naughty words from Greek (the "zona" in Catullus IIB springs to mind).

heyheymse59 karma

No way that Achilles wasn't the erastes. Ditto with Alexander/Hephaestion.

I'm not sure about sodomy laws - IIRC as long as the sodomizing was consensual, it was, as they say around here, all Gucci. There were definitely strong consequences for rape and adultery, but I can't remember anything in the Augustan reforms on sodomy. And if anyone would have put it in place, it would have been Augustus.

I have absolutely no idea, but it sounds plausible. I know that pathicus comes from a Greek insult - a lot of the words Romans used to insult someone's sexuality were Greek in origin, possibly because the Romans thought the Greeks were all pathici. Roman contempt for the Greeks is definitely something that amuses me to no end.

lemonade_brezhnev24 karma

Can you explain a bit more about how the Romans thought of the Greeks? How come they hate the Greeks so much if they appropriated so much of Greek culture?

I'm trying to think of other examples in history where one civilization invaded another and embraced the loser's culture instead of the other way around.

heyheymse116 karma

I like to think of it (hugely oversimplified as an analogy, but I roll with it) as kind of like the way the Americans relate to the English. It's definitely a love-hate relationship, but even as Americans talk about aspects of being English with contempt we also hold them up as more cultured and classy than we are.

nuxetcrux38 karma

Did you cover any of Catullus' poetry in your dissertation? Anything particularly noteworthy, if so?

heyheymse71 karma

I didn't really talk about Catullus in my dissertation, which was focused on Martial and using his epigrams to examine sex and deviance in late 1st Century Rome. Catullus was a little early for that. I love me some Catullus, though! He's such a drama queen. He's definitely on my Top 10 Historical Figures I'd Like To Get A Drink With.

catvllvs117 karma

Drama Queen!

o saeclum insapiens et infacetum!

heyheymse76 karma

Please let this be an actual novelty account. It'd be up there with the Cicero one in terms of awesomeness.

mavsfan004123 karma

Did you enjoy St. Andrews? Two of my friends are going there next year, and I'm considering submitting an application.

heyheymse61 karma

OH SO MUCH. I miss it on a daily basis. I had pretty much the ideal university experience - I loved the independence I had in directing my studies, I loved the friends I made, and I loved developing the cast iron liver that allows me to drink everyone here under the table. (Whisky tasting society for the win!)

mavsfan004112 karma

Thanks :) Did you head into there knowing you wanted to study history or did it just come up eventually?

heyheymse28 karma

I had originally wanted to study Classics (Greek and Latin as one degree) but then I discovered that (a) I really hate Greek and (b) the history part of Latin is actually the stuff I was most interested in. It wasn't a hard transition to make!

thefullhalf22 karma

How do you think Roman (and probably to a more extent Greek) sexuality influenced writings in the Bible. It would seem to me that considering the Bible was created in what was essentially a Roman colony that it was heavily influenced by an everything Roman/Greek is bad type of mentality, which may relate to the anti-homosexuality teachings in the Bible?

heyheymse78 karma

Within the Old Testament, I don't think Greco-Roman ideas of sexuality had any influence at all, given the likely dates that the books of the Old Testament were written. Within the new testament, the Greco-Roman ideas of sexuality (I can't say "homosexuality" or "heterosexuality" which would be neologisms and not applicable to the Roman spectrum of sexuality) may possibly have resulted in a push-back from people like Paul, who saw the ruling classes as immoral. Their sexual behavior may have been just one more thing that allowed him to confirm his own moral superiority over them. But this is pretty speculative - I only took one church history class at uni, and I always kind of hated Paul. But there isn't much discussion of homosexuality in the New Testament of the bible, and that's really the only thing that the Romans could have influenced.

RollTide12121 karma

Favorite Roman god/goddess and why?

heyheymse56 karma

Mercury! God of thieves and travelers. He's my favorite forever and ever.

i_knows12 karma

What about the Caligula film? How much of that is historically accurate, and how much is laughable 70s porno?

heyheymse21 karma

Would you believe I've never seen the Caligula film? I can't speak to it at all, sorry. It's going on my to do list, though!

DannyBoi1Derz11 karma

This was so much better than Dave Coulier's...

heyheymse38 karma

I'm totally putting "Better Than Dave Coulier" on my CV.

the_chandler9 karma

I have a BA in History. My Question for you, another historian...Where can I find a job that would allow me to eat multiple times a day AND pay rent? If that's not asking too much. I'd love suggestions.

heyheymse31 karma

Not in academia, that's for damn sure. Try teaching if you like kids. If you don't... uh, do you have any other skills besides historianing?

SunriseThunderboy9 karma

I have a degree in American History and another degree in English. For a living I work for a design firm.

How did you get a job in the history biz?

heyheymse40 karma

I don't have a job in the history biz! I'm working in the nonprofit sector, despite my degree. I've found that a history degree, at least the way it was taught at my uni, is really great for forcing organization and critical thinking skills that transfer to pretty much anything. Which is good, because there's not a lot of work out there as a historian, from what I have seen. My friends who have stayed in academia are finding things really, really difficult.

SunriseThunderboy10 karma

That was my understanding too, which was that history as a major is about teaching. Drag, in a complete fashion, stuff is happening again from top to tail.

OK, gotta ask you, as a smarty-pants, what do you see about to happen again that those that don't know history are missing? You first.

heyheymse62 karma

It's either becoming a teacher or becoming a writer, and sadly it's a lot easier to become a teacher. (It shouldn't be - teaching well is really hard.)

The whole "defining marriage" thing is something that makes me cringe as both a historian and a bi woman. The "definition" of marriage has changed so much over the course of human history that it's a pretty asinine thing to try to deny someone a basic human right just because the history YOU want to focus on says they shouldn't have it. The rest of history says you're a dumbass. Let's focus on that part of history, shall we?