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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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Putting the Roman Back into Romance

Putting the Roman Back into Romance

The Subversive Case of the Anonymous Teleny

Chapter:
(p.144) 7 Putting the Roman Back into Romance
Source:
Ancient Rome and the Construction of Modern Homosexual Identities
Author(s):

Jennifer Ingleheart

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199689729.003.0008

This chapter constitutes a close reading of classical elements in the pornographic novel Teleny and argues that, by employing Roman rather than Greek models of devoted erotic partnership as a parallel for the relationship between the novel’s contemporary male lovers and by sexualizing ‘Greek love’, the novel subverts more mainstream ideas about ancient sexuality. The chapter discusses Oscar Wilde’s putative authorship of the novel, describes the broader use of the Classics in Victorian pornography, and analyses the novel’s use of Hadrian and Antinoüs in terms of its exploitation of both Greek and Roman paradigms. The chapter explores the subversive engagement of Teleny with Roman discourse about marriage, as well as the discourse of Roman sexuality and in particular, Rome’s interest in Priapus, and the concept and vocabulary of irrumatio. The chapter’s conclusion traces the later reverberations of Teleny’s reception of Roman homosexuality in Alan Hollinghurst’s The Swimming Pool Library.

Keywords:   Teleny, Victorian pornography, Oscar Wilde, Roman homosexuality, Alan Hollinghurst, Hadrian, Antinoüs, marriage, Priapus, irrumatio

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