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Ancient Rome and the Construction of Modern Homosexual Identities$
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Jennifer Ingleheart

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199689729

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199689729.001.0001

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Roman Homosexuality in Historical Fiction, from Robert Graves to Steven Saylor

Roman Homosexuality in Historical Fiction, from Robert Graves to Steven Saylor

Chapter:
(p.176) 9 Roman Homosexuality in Historical Fiction, from Robert Graves to Steven Saylor
Source:
Ancient Rome and the Construction of Modern Homosexual Identities
Author(s):

Craig Williams

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199689729.003.0010

This chapter discusses the treatment of Roman homosexuality in English-language historical fiction, exploring its parallels with and divergences from the stories about Roman homosexuality that have been told in scholarly prose. It concentrates on commercially successful fiction, from Robert Graves’s I, Claudius to Steven Saylor, treating issues such as authorial persona, homophobia, and approaches towards historical sources and research. The chapter suggests that fiction can open up areas of discussion of sexuality that are occluded in scholarly studies, such as the sexuality of eunuchs, slaves as the subjects as well as the objects of desire, and fathers’ attitudes towards their sons engaging in same-sex affairs. It analyses how historical fiction that treats Roman homosexuality offers its readers a range of models for desires and acts and both enables and complicates a genealogy of homosexuality, particularly in terms of identity and community.

Keywords:   Roman homosexuality, Robert Graves, Steven Saylor, historical fiction, eunuchs, slaves, identity, homophobia

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