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Representing the cinaedus in Roman Visual Culture

John R. Clarke

The University of Texas at Austin

Alongside depictions of proper, pederastic representations of man-boy lovemaking, it is possible to identify nonstandard images of adult men being sexually penetrated. Given the status of infamia accorded the cinaedus, it is noteworthy that these images fall into two categories: those meant to be seen only by like-minded individuals and those meant for a broad public. In the first category are representations in expensive media (silver, gemstones); in the second, less-refined wall paintings and ceramics available to a broad range of viewers. If the images in costly media demonstrate that wealthy individuals, in their private art, could ignore the rules governing proper man-boy intercourse, the cinaedus who appears in the decorative schemes of baths and taverns takes on a variety of meanings. Although he is always an object of humor, in some contexts he also possesses apotropaic power because of his indefinable, liminal sexual status. 

Session/Panel Title

Searching for the Cinaedus in Classical Antiquity

Session/Paper Number

48.4

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