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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that Second Sophistic texts express the erotic in terms of the past: retrosexuality. Starting from the all-male bilingual dinner party at Gellius 19.9, the discussion traces the eroticization of women, boys, eunuchs, cinaedi, and sophists, conditioned by slavery. Chastity armors women writers of the period, historians revel in past unchastity among Imperial women, and letter-writers pose with female icons; fiction invents women’s depravity and serves a policing function alongside medical and philosophical texts. Pederastic poetry valorizes itself through a Platonic or Stoic pedigree, abetted by the slave trade; allusive language veils the letters between Marcus Aurelius and his teacher Cornelius Fronto; explicit language enlivens the epigrams of Martial and Strato. If Domitian’s law illegalized castration of child sex slaves, still Statius and Martial praised Domitian’s boy eunuch Earinus. Cinaedi flourished as popular entertainers in the 100s ce, attested even by Justin Martyr. Philostratus’s sophists embrace a butch aesthetic.

Keywords: bilingualism, Gellius, women, eunuchs, cinaedi, sophists, pederasty, Marcus Aurelius, Fronto, Justin Martyr

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