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Sexuality in Greek and Roman Culture, 2nd Edition

ISBN: 978-1-4443-4986-3
464 pages
August 2013, ©2014, Wiley-Blackwell
Sexuality in Greek and Roman Culture, 2nd Edition (1444349864) cover image


This agenda-setting text has been fully revised in its second edition, with coverage extended into the Christian era. It remains the most comprehensive and engaging introduction to the sexual cultures of ancient Greece and Rome.

  • Covers a wide range of subjects, including Greek pederasty and the symposium, ancient prostitution, representations of women in Greece and Rome, and the public regulation of sexual behavior
  • Expanded coverage extends to the advent of Christianity, includes added illustrations, and offers student-friendly pedagogical features
  • Text boxes supply intriguing information about tangential topics
  • Gives a thorough overview of current literature while encouraging further reading and discussion
  • Conveys the complexity of ancient attitudes towards sexuality and gender and the modern debates they have engendered
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Maps xii

Preface to the First Edition xiv

Preface to the Second Edition xvii

Acknowledgments xxi

Abbreviations xxiii

Chronological Charts xxxv


Introduction: Why Ancient Sexuality? Issues and Approaches 1

Thinking about Sexuality 4

Sex Changes 6

Checking the Right Box 11

The Language and Ethos of Boy-love 17

Foul Mouths 27

Conclusion 32

Discussion Prompts 34

Further Reading 35

1 The Homeric Age: Epic Sexuality 37

The Golden Goddess 39

Dynamics of Desire 46

The Baneful Race of Women 49

Love under Siege 53

The Beguilement of Zeus 57

Alternatives to Penelope 60

Achilles in the Closet? 68

Conclusion 70

Discussion Prompts 74

Further Reading 74

2 The Archaic Age: Symposium and Initiation 76

When the Cups Are Placed 78

Fields of Erotic Dreams 82

Singing as a Man . . . 99

. . . and Singing as a Woman 95

Boys into Men 62

Girls into Women 113

Conclusion 122

Discussion Prompts 126

Further Reading 127

3 Late Archaic Athens: More than Meets the Eye 128

Out of Etruria 130

Lines of Sight 134

Flirtation at the Gym 136

Party Girls 143

In the Boudoir 153

Bride of Quietness 157

Conclusion 159

Discussion Prompts 161

Further Reading 162

4 Classical Athens: The Politics of Sex 166

More Equal than Others 169

Pederasty and Class 175

Interview with the Kinaidos 187

In the Grandest Families 198

Criminal Proceedings 206

His and Hers [or His] 209

Conclusion 218

Discussion Prompts 221

Further Reading 222

5 The Early Hellenistic Period: Turning Inwards 224

Court Intrigues 230

Medicine and the Sexes 235

From Croton to Crete 241

Safe Sex 247

Athenian Idol 255

Conclusion 263

Discussion Prompts 268

Further Reading 269

6 The Later Hellenistic Period: The Feminine Mystique 271

Disrobing Aphrodite 272

Hellenes in Egypt 277

Love among the Pyramids 283

To Colchis and Back 293

Desiring Women – and their Detractors 296

Conclusion 303

Discussion Prompts 308

Further Reading 309

7 Early Rome: A Tale of Three Cultures 311

The Pecking Order 314

Imported Vices 318

Bringing Women under Control 322

Butchery for Fun 333

Conclusion 338

Discussion Prompts 341

Further Reading 342

8 Republican and Augustan Rome: The Soft Embrace of Venus 344

Only Joking 347

Young Men (?) in Love 353

Mother of All Empires 362

Domestic Visibility 376

Going Too Far 378

Conclusion 382

Discussion Prompts 387

Further Reading 388

9 Elites in the Empire: Self and Others 390

Risky Business 394

Boys Named Sue 400

Them 403

Roads to Romance 410

‘Greek Love’ under Rome 415

Roads to Nowhere 420

Conclusion 429

Discussion Prompts 433

Further Reading 434

10 The Imperial Populace: Toward Salvation? 436

The 99% 441

Gravestones and Walls 445

In the Eye of the Beholder 453

“O Isis und Osiris…” 460

Christian Continence 471

Things Fall Apart 475

Conclusion 480

Discussion Prompts 485

Further Reading 486

Afterword: The Use of Antiquity 488

Glossary of Terms 527


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Author Information

Marilyn B. Skinner is Professor of Classics Emerita at the University of Arizona. Her research has focused on notions of gender and sexuality in the ancient world. She is the author of Clodia Metelli: The Tribune’s Sister (2011), and co-editor of Narrating Desire: Eros, Sex, and Gender in the Ancient Novel (with M. P. F. Pinheiro and F. I. Zeitlin, 2012), and The New Sappho on Old Age: Textual and Philosophical Issues (with E. Greene, 2009).

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“My upper-level students enjoyed Skinner's frank and engaging style, and appreciated her ability to navigate through contentious theoretical issues with discretion and clarity. The new features of the second edition further increase the value of what is by far the best survey of the subject available.”
Anthony Corbeill, University of Kansas

“This book delivers but also exceeds what I'd hoped for in the second edition.  In addition to an updated text and bibliography positioning the book in relation to scholarly developments, Skinner has added textboxes to stimulate class debate, and end-of-chapter ‘discussion prompts’ to encourage students’ reflection upon our relationship with/estrangement from ancient sexuality.”
Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton

“Skinner’s revised and expanded second edition increases the chief pleasure of her first—to see a true scholar at work, formidably informed. Her scope of erudition embraces all manner of ancient testimony, from Greek romances to gravestones.”
Micaela Janan, Duke University

“Thoroughly revised and with new sections and illustrations in each chapter, this book remains a landmark study of a complex yet fascinating subject. Written by a global authority in the field, it delivers rigorous, up-to-date scholarship in a style appealing to the non-specialist reader.”
Konstantinos P. Nikoloutsos, Saint Joseph's University 

“A breathtaking synthesis of cutting edge research, this superb second edition of Skinner's magisterial overview of ancient sexuality combines sophistication with accessibility and remains an indispensable resource for students, teachers, and scholars.”
Yurie Hong, Gustavus Adolphus College

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