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CLA 219.L09.25 - Sex and Gender

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University of Toronto St. George
Regina Höschele

CLA 219 – Woman in Antiquity R. Höschele 09/25/12 SEX AND THE GENDER IN THA NCIENTW ORLD Phallus / Male Sex and Gender - Priapus, god of fertility – always represented with a large phallus o Protective god - Apotropaic (“warding off evil”) function attributed to the phallus - Symbol of potency, fruitfulness - Fresco of Priapus in House of Vettii (Pompeii?) o Pompeii gave us access to the daily life of the Roman people - The phallus (images, representations) is not shameful to them - Image of Mercury (with huge phallus) done at the entrance of a bakery o Abundant produce - Statue of Priapus, originally used as a fountain - Inscriptional hymn to Priapus – praying for fertility - Carmina Priapeia – collection of apotropaic poems that speaks of a punishment that involves all kinds of penetration (if one wanders into protected territory, e.g., garden) “The biggest advantage of my dick is that no woman can be wide enough for me.” --- from the Carmina Priapeia - Earlier literary translations used to leave obscene terms in Latin to restrict access to full details to educated males o Used to keep women ignorant - Roman tintinnabula – seen in gardens (wind chimes)  phallic, apotropaic - Pan, bucolic god, god of shepherds and the Wild o Inspires panic o Statue of Pan and she-goat in an uncompromising position (Pompeii) - Greek Comedy is raunchy, perverse – full of obscene jokes o Actors often wear big fake phalluses o Vase paintings depicting Comedic scenes ~ suggestive - Comedy linked to Dionysus who has a phallic association o God of fertility, of wine, as well as god of theatre - Herms o Man’s bust on top of pillar with a huge phallus o Associated with Hermes o Often erected on boundaries (lit., Hipparchus) and crossroads – apotropaic o Often depicts heads of philosophers, politicians o Can be connected by crossbeams to form a fence o 414 BC, Peloponnesian War, Sicilian expedition  Eve of expedition, herms mutilated  Bad omen – Hermes, god of travel  Hermokopidae scandal – people were interrogated, banished and killed because of this - Phallus = good, fertile associations - Ithyphallic = with erect phallus - Female (vagina) = suspicious, mysterious, bad associations Female Sex and Gender - Sexuality is not a natural given  different contexts o Conditioned by society (conventions defined) - Institutionalized way of thinking – discourse o Our way of talking and thinking involve discourses defined by conventions “Sexuality must not be thought of as a kind of natural given, which power tries to hold in check, or as an obscure domain which knowledge tries gradually to uncover. It is the name that can be given to a historical construct.” --- Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality - Ancient sexual discourse = discourse of power – adult active male opposed to the passive, inactive (younger) partner (either a female or a boy) - Penetrator – active male in politics, military, and head of household – dominator - Penetrated – passive partner, female or boy – dominated - Masculinity – can be defined by the ability to withstand desire, reject temptation, have self-control o Women are vulnerable, lustful, undomesticated - Scenes of pederastic seduction o Pederasty = love for boys (teenage male) o Erastes – lover o Eromenes – beloved - Can only desire a boy until he grows his first beard o Beard a sign of adulthood - Homosexuality is a modern concept and pertains to 2 adult males o Bad according to ancient Greeks, because the passive partner is voluntarily not fulfilling his purpose as an active (male) member of society - Kinaedos – passive homosexual - Lesbians are a threat – female wanting to act like a man ~ really frowned upon - The erastes doesn’t usually have a wife when they are in a pederastic relationship o They marry quite late (30s) - Pederasty = sexual initiation, educating function o Private relationship – not acted out in the open (i.e., no PDAs) o Social practice, erastes are social tutors – teach eromenos about the world o NOT pedophilia - Collection of epigrams (small poems, evolved from votive and funerary inscriptions) - Strato, epigram about boys, theme of pederasty o Palatine Anthology - Martial, epigrams about pederasty (Epigrams) o Defense against jealous wife’s criticisms - Ancient novels, plot about boy and girl who set out, got separa
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