Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pilot project of bibliography

GREECE AND ROME Bibliography (pilot project)

Two years ago I conducted an excercise to see what the homosexual bibliography of the last 20s years would look like. I concluded that some 2500 items would be needed, beyond my capacity to compile now, perhaps anyone's.

The annotated items listed below are a supplement to the specialized list of twenty years ago that appeared in Wayne R. Dynes, Homosexuality: A Research Guide (items 459-570). Consult that volume for the annotations of the previous deposit of publications.

In the following paragraph, I note only the most essential items from that earlier bibliography:

Erich Bethe, "Die dorische Knabenliebe: ihre Ethik und ihre Idee," Rheinisches Museum, 62 (1907), 438-75; Félix Buffière, Eros adolescent: la pédérastie dans la Grèce antique, Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1980; Sir Kenneth Dover, Greek Homosexuality, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978; Otto Kiefer, Sexual Life in Ancient Rome. New York: Dutton, 1935; Hans Licht, Sexual Life in Ancient Greece, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1932; L. R. de Pogey-Castries, Histoire de l’amour grec dans l’antiquité, Paris: Stendhal, 1930; Bernard Sergent, Homosexuality in Greek Myth, Boston: Beacon Press, 1986.

Reviews of many books can be found at the website of the Bryn Mawr Classical Review.

Here are the new citations.

Adams, J. N. The Latin Sexual Vocabulary. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982.
A series of precise, but somewhat dry philological studies focusing on the male genitals (especially mentula), the female genitals (especially cunnus), and the buttocks (culus). There are shorter notes on sexual acts, defecation, and urination. As the author focuses mainly on acts and not actors, he scants words for such character types as catamitus and pathicus. There is little discussion of prostitution. More generally, one reader expressed disappointment at the lack of titillation.

Bain, David. "Six Greek Verbs of Sexual Congress." Classical Quarterly, 41 (1991): 51-77.
This pithy article seems to have been extracted from a larger project covering ancient Greek erotic terms, which the author left incomplete at the time of his death. Bain also published a piece on “Apotropaic Farting.”

Barton, Tamsyn S. Power and Knowledge: Astrology, Physiognomics, and Medicine under the Roman Empire. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994.
Drawing on contemporary approaches in social theory and the philosophy of science, Barton argues that the ancient sciences of astrology, medical prognosis, and physiognomy (the art of discerning character or destiny from a person's physique) are best understood in terms of rhetoric.
Brisson, Luc. Sexual Ambivalence: Androgyny and Hermaphroditism in Graeco-Roman Antiquity. Trans. from the French by Janet Lloyd. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.
Examines the extant written Greco-Roman material on human beings, divinities, animals, and other creatures who were said to have been both female and male. Included are instances of either simultaneous dual sexuality, as in androgyny and in hermaphroditism, or successive dual sexuality, as in the case of Tiresias. In addition to such familiar sources as the myths of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus as told in Ovid's Metamorphoses and Aristophanes' myth of the origins of the sexes and sexuality in Plato's Symposium, Brisson also discusses cosmogonic mythology in Hesiodic poetry, the Orphic Rhapsodies, Gnosticism, the Hermetic Corpus, and the so-called Chaldean Oracles.

Brooten, Bernadette J. Love between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.
This pathbreaking book ranks as the first thorough examination of evidence for female homoeroticism in the ancient Roman world. With great tenacity and insight, Brooten deploys a range of evidence, including medical and astrological texts. Her analysis of Romans 1:26-27 is of fundamental importance. She documents stable, long-term relationships between women and establishes that condemnations of female homoerotic practices were based on widespread awareness of love between women.

Cantarella, Eva. Bisexuality in the Ancient World. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. (Trans. by C. Ó. Cuilleánáin from Secondo natura: la bisessualità nel mondo antico, Rome: Riuniti, 1987).
Sympathetic overview of ancient homoeroticism viewed as an aspect of bisexuality. Deftly done, but unoriginal.

Clarke, John R. Looking at Lovemaking. Constructions of Sexuality in Roman Art 100 B.C.- A.D. 250. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1998.
In this lavishly illustrated volume Clarke, an art historian, convincingly argues that visual evidence presents aspects of sexuality that texts do not. Less persuasive is his claim that with the visual material he is able to reach down from the Roman elite (which produced the literature) to the masses, in order to reveal a distinctively plebeian sexuality. Since most of the images come from luxury objects, we remain in the world of representations for the upper stratum of imperial Rome. Nonetheless, the visual material enables those who the book to judge for themselves.

Cohen, David. Law. Sexuality, and Society: The Enforcement of Morals in Classical Athens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
This ambitious study attempts a comparative examination of the social and legal context of adultery, homosexuality, impiety, and the public-private dichotomy in Athenian society. Cohen argues that this historical investigation can enrich our general appreciation of the relation of social and legal norms, and the roles they play in regulating complex social practices such as those associated with sexuality, morals, and the family.

Courouve, Claude. Tableau synoptique de références à l'amour masculin: auteurs grecs et latins. Paris: Courouve, 1986.
A comprehensive listing of primary texts in Greek and Latin referring to male homosexuality in the ancient world.

Dalla, Danilo. "Ubi Venus mutatur": omosessualità e diritto nel mondo romano. Milan: Giuffré, 1987.
Treats Roman attitudes towards male homosexuality and the vexed question of the Lex Scantinia from Republican times. The main value of the book lies in its analysis of the antihomosexual legislation introduced into the body of Roman law by the Christian emperors beginning in the fourth century CE and concluding with the work of Justinian.

Davidson, James N. Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens. New York: HarperCollins, 1997.
Written with an engaging verve, this book is an intricate weave drawing on a wide variety of sources. The writer discusses the significance of Greek appetites, focusing on fish and sex, and attitudes towards them. Applying this unexpected approach brings out features that were central to social, philosophical, and political life in classical Athens. See also his subsequent major (though contestable) book, The Greeks and Greek Love.

DeJean, Joan. Fictions of Sappho, 1546-1937. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989.
Viewing the poet Sappho as an artifact of translation and interpretation, a figment whose features have changed with shifting social mores and aesthetics, DeJean limns a history of the sexual politics of literary reception. She focuses largely though not exclusively on the French tradition, where the Sapphic presence has been especially pervasive.

Dynes, Wayne R., and Stephen Donaldson, eds. Homosexuality and the Ancient World New York: Garland, 1992.
Reprints 28 significant papers, preceded by an interpretive essay by the editors surveying the field at the time of publication

Edwards, Catharine. The Politics of Immorality in Ancient Rome. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
The problem this book addresses is not how immoral the ancient Romans were but why the literature they produced is so preoccupied with immorality. The modern stereotype of immoral Rome mirrors ancient accounts, which are largely critical rather than celebratory. Why then did the Romans “beat up on themselves” in this way? In the author’s view, Roman moralizing discourse reflects anxieties about gender, social status and political power. Individual chapters focus on adultery, effeminacy, the immorality of the Roman theater, luxurious buildings and the dangers of pleasure.

Faraone, Christopher A. Ancient Greek Love Magic. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.
The ancient Greeks commonly resorted to magic spells to attract and keep lovers--as numerous allusions in Greek literature and recently discovered "voodoo dolls," magical papyri, gemstones, and curse tablets attest. Faraone’s analysis yields a number of insights about the construction of gender in antiquity (e.g., the "femininity" of socially inferior males and the "maleness" of autonomous prostitutes).

Fisher, N.R.E. Hybris: A Study in the Values of Honour and Shame in Ancient Greece. Warminster, England: Aris & Phillips, 1992.
This 526-pp. book attempts an exhaustive study of hubris/hybris, a key concept in ancient Greek society and thought.

Garrison, Daniel H. Sexual Culture in Ancient Greece. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001
A kind of college-textbook overview, this book discusses attitudes regarding marriage, the rights of women, homosexuality, and the role of eroticism in art, religion, ethics, and literature. The writer holds that Greek sexual culture was guilt-free, graphically frank, and unencumbered by taboos that became entrenched in the Middle Ages.

Hallett, Judith P., and Marilyn B. Skinner, eds. Roman Sexualities. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997.
This collection of essays offers a feminist critique of public discourse, including literature, history, law, medicine, and political oratory. Most of the writers subscribe to the model of hierarchy of power in Roman sexual relations, where noblemen acted as the penetrators, and women, boys, and slaves the penetrated. In some cases, however, the authors show how these roles could be inverted--in ways that reveal citizens' anxieties during the days of the early Empire, when traditional power structures seemed threatened.

Halperin, David M. One Hundred Years of Homosexuality. New York: Routledge, 1990.
Discounting evidence from Plato and other ancient sources, Halperin insists that the ancient Greeks had no inkling of our concept of the dichotomy between heterosexual and homosexual relations. He believes that our ancient forebears were exclusively concerned with the contrast between penetrator and penetratee. Halperin’s methodology derives from the now-dated Social Construction trend of the 1980s, which restricts the concept of homosexuality to the last century or so—hence the book’s title.

Halperin, David M., John J. Winkler, and Froma I. Zeitlin, eds. Before Sexuality: The Construction of Erotic Experience in the Ancient Greek World. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990.
Collection of papers by scholars who incline towards the Social Construction view of ancient sexuality.

Hubbard, Thomas K., ed. Homosexuality in Greece and Rome: A Sourcebook of Basic Documents. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.
This comprehensive sourcebook presents the most important primary texts on homosexuality in ancient Greece and Rome translated into modern, explicit English and collected together for the first time. The author, a noted authority in the field, has organized the material by period and by genre, allowing readers to consider chronological developments in both Greece and Rome. A short introduction contextualizes each text by date and, where necessary, indicates its place within a larger work. This landmark volume takes its place as the first port of call in the study of same-sex relations in ancient Greece and Rome.

Kampen, Natalie Boymel, ed. Sexuality in Ancient Art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Bringing together essays by historians of the art of Egypt and the Ancient Near East, Greece, the Etruscans, and Rome, this collection deploys a variety of methods and theoretical frames to explore the visual representation of the sexual body, sexual activity and desire, and the role of sexuality in the formation of personality and social institutions.

Kilmer, Martin F. Greek Erotica on Attic Red-Figure Vases. London: Duckworth, 1993.
The author marshals a wide variety of material from vase paintings of the fifth and fourth centuries BCE on heterosexual and homosexual sex, as well as genital display, masturbation, and scenes of fantasy.

Koch Harnack, Gundel. Knabenliebe und Tiergeschenke: Ihre Bedeutung im
päderastischen Erziehungssystem Athens. Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 1983.
Analysis of scenes in vase paintings showing gifts (rabbits, roosters, foxes, etc.) presented by the older wooer to the desired boy, with some cross-cultural reflections.

Krenkel, Werner. "Masturbation in der Antike." "Pueri meritorii." "Fellatio und Irrumatio." "Tonguing." and “Tribaden." Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Wilhelm-Pieck-Universität Rostock 28 (1979): 159-89; 29 (1980): 77-88; 30 (1981): 37-54; 38 (1989): 45-58.
This useful series by an East German scholar assembles texts on masturbation, male prostitution, oral sex, and lesbianism. The author also seeks to profile differences between conceptualization and actual practice.

Obermayer, Hans Peter. Martial und der Diskurs über männliche ‘Homosexualität’ in der Literatur der frühen Kaiserzeit. Tübingen: Günter Narr, 1998 (Classica monacensia, 18).
This philological study offers most thorough analysis of male homosexuality in the works of the poet Martial that has been published to date.

Pastre, Geneviève. Athènes et "le péril Saphique": homosexualité féminine en Grèce ancienne, 2nd ed. Paris: Editions Geneviève Pastre, 1987.
Noting that most studies of same-sex relations in ancient Greece concern men, Pastre reviews the original documents in an effort to redress the balance.

Percy, William Armstrong. Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece. Urbana
and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996.
This impressive study argues in favor of a seventh-century Cretan origin of institutionalized pederasty that the Spartans subsequently spread to Greece. The author makes resourceful use of the somewhat sparse sources, including such writers as Aristotle, Plutarch, Lucian, and Athenaeus. As he acknowledges, “almost every detail of early Greek history, especially of Greek sexuality is open to doubt and indeed is hotly debated.” A crucial aspect of Percy’s thesis is the link he posits between pederastic custom and the rise of Hellas and the “Greek Miracle.” He rightly stresses that “the Greeks we most admire almost always practiced pederasty, at least before marriage.” The roster of practitioners is substantial, embracing poets, statesmen, soldiers, and philosophers.

Reinsberg, Carola. Ehe, Hetärentum und Knabenliebe im antiken Griechenland. Munich: C. H. Beck, 1989.
This attractively produced book deals with marriage, hetaerae, and pederasty, mainly in ancient Athens.

Richlin, Amy. "Not Before Homosexuality: The Materiality of the cinaedus and the Roman Law against Love between Men." Journal of the History of Sexuality 3 (1993): 523-73.
An exploration of thorny issues in which agreement remains elusive.

Richlin, Amy, ed. Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Applying feminist theory, the authors reveal some striking similarities between our culture and that of the ancient world, challenging Foucauldian assumptions about the nature of sexuality. Covering such varied topics as vase painting, tragic and comic drama from fifth-century Athens, Hellenistic philosophy and sex manuals, Roman history, poetry, wall-painting, representations of gladiatorial combat, and romance novels, the contributors approach sexuality from both sides of the feminist pornography debate.

Scanlon, Thomas F. Eros and Greek Athletics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
In the view of Donald G. Kyle: “A leading expert on ancient sport, Scanlon moves athletics from the periphery to the center of our understanding of Greek life. What used to be denied--the erotic power of athletics in Greek culture and society--is now explained. Brimming with insights, this sophisticated, balanced, and compelling examination of the integral role of athletics in Greek culture and society should be read by all classicists and sport historians. Insightful, sophisticated, and persuasive, Scanlon's work makes a major contribution to our understanding of the social and cultural significance of Greek athletics."

Sergent, Bernard. L'Homosexualité initiatique dans l'Europe ancienne. Paris: Payot, 1986.
This speculative work by a follower of Georges Dumézil seeks to extend his earlier approach to the origins of Greek homosexuality to the broader Indo-European sphere. Interesting, but inconclusive.

Siems, Andreas Karsten, ed. Sexualität und Erotik in der Antike. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1988.
Reprints scholarly articles originally published 1907-88. .

Skinner, Marilyn B. Sexuality in Greek and Roman Culture. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.
Illustrated survey designed for a general audience. Drawing on literary, artistic, and archaeological evidence, as well as on scholarly sources, it 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. The book also touches on the theoretical battles that have been fought over ancient sexuality, particularly with regard to what ancient societies believed about sex and sexual orientation.

Snyder, Jane McIntosh. Lesbian Desire in the Lyrics of Sappho. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.
For the Greekless reader, Snyder offers an explication of Sappho's work and its literary environment, as well as the ways she has been read, adopted, and co-opted over the centuries.

Stewart, Andrew. Art, Desire, and the Body in Ancient Greece. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, new ed., 1998.
Stewart forthrightly confronts the problem of the Greeks’ strange preoccupation with nakedness, showing how artworks inflect our understanding of the subject. The discussion of pederasty is brief, but telling.

Thornton, Bruce S. Eros: The Myth of Ancient Greek Sexuality. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1997.
Seeking to counter the recent excesses of postmodernism in the field, the writer’s traditionalist approach trenches on misogyny and homophobia. Use with caution.

Verstraete, Beert C., and Vernon Provençal, eds. Same-Sex Desire and Love in Greco-Roman Antiquity and in the Classical Tradition of the West. Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press, 2006,
Sixteen scholarly papers, many offering new perspectives.

Williams, Craig A. Roman Homosexuality. Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
This solid work gathers a wide range of evidence from the second century BCE to the second century CE--above all from such literary texts as courtroom speeches, love poetry, philosophy, epigram, and history, but also from graffiti and other inscriptions as well as artistic artifacts. Williams argues that for the writers and readers of Roman texts, the important distinctions were drawn not between homosexual and heterosexual, but between free and slave, dominant and subordinate, masculine and effeminate as conceived in specifically Roman terms. Some find this approach overstated. Others note that the writer illuminates Roman attitudes and discourse, but offers too little on actual behavior.

Williamson, Margaret. Sappho's Immortal Daughters. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995.
Assuming no specialist knowledge in the reader, this appealing book seeks to recapture the authentic Sapphic voice, rescuing the poet from the mythologizations and distortions that have affected her reputation since antiquity. See also Williamson’s complementary anthology, The Sappho Companion (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002).

Winkler, John J. The Constraints of Desire: The Anthropology of Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece. London: Routledge, 1989.
Focusing particularly on the status of women, this was a pioneering book in the Social Construction approach to ancient Greek sexuality and gender. Today, the approach is somewhat dated.


Holy fellatio

The New York Times for Friday, Aug. 26, 2005 contains a disturbing report. “A circumcision ritual practiced by some Orthodox Jews alarmed [New York] City health officials, who say it may have led to three cases of herpes—one of them fatal—in infants. The practice is known as oral suction, or in Hebrew, metzitzah b'peh: after removing the foreskin of the penis, the practitioner, or mohel, sucks the blood from the wound to clean it.”

Here are some further details. According to one authority, "[t]he method to be adopted is laid down thus: 'One excises the foreskin, (that is) the entire skin covering the glans, so that the corona is laid bare. Afterwards, one tears with the finger-nail the soft membrane underneath the skin, turning it to the sides until the flesh of the glans appears. Thereafter, one sucks the membrane until the blood is extracted from the (more) remote places, so that no danger (to the infant) may ensue; and any circumciser who does not carry out the sucking procedure is to be removed (from his office).”

Why is the penis sucked? Some physicians contend that it serves to stop bleeding. Not only is there little evidence for this theory, but it was also a largely ineffective method. Furthermore, even in antiquity, surgeons had better methods to stop bleeding, such as pressure, instruments, and medication.

After centuries in which the metzitah b’peh was standard practice, a reform of the rite, involving the application of the lips of the mohel to a glass straw rather than directly to the penis, was first recommended in the Haskalah era (late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries), by Moses Schreiber, but it was implemented only by a segment of the modern Orthodox movement. Yet many Judaic authorities both medical and rabbinic, continue to uphold the traditional practice of performing fellatio on the infant male. As Henry C Romberg asserts: "[t]he traditional practice of metzitzah b'peh, which has its roots in the earliest history of the Jewish people and has survived unchanged to the present time, should be viewed with great respect. It is spoken of very positively in the Jewish literature on circumcision both as an essential part of the ritual and as a health measure which prevents infection and promotes healing."

In fact, dozens of ultra-Orthodox rabbis signed a full-page Hebrew advertisement that ran in the February 25, 2005 issue of Yated Ne'eman, defending the practice. Rabbi Gerald Chirnomas from Boonton, N.J., a prominent mohel in the Greater New York region, asserted that the practice of orally suctioning blood was the norm for centuries .... Rabbi Avi Shafran, director of public affairs for Agudath Israel ... said that ... it is a religious tradition of many generations ... Another rabbinic organization, the Central Rabbinical Council, and at least two Orthodox newspapers, Yated Ne'eman (in a statement issued by Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz in the February 18, 2005 edition) also defends metzitzah b'peh.

After the New York Times story transpired, some Jewish organizations hastened with assurances that the practice is rare and not typical of Jewish circumcision rituals. Many of the mohels, it seems, now extract the blood with a tube. However, on March 1, 2005 the Rabbinical Council of America stated: “Bris Milah (ritual circumcision of Jewish males, performed on the 8th day after birth unless there are health contraindications) is a fundamental cornerstone of Jewish life and Biblical law. An important element of every Bris Milah is Metzitzah be'Peh, the extracting of blood from the wound and/or surrounding tissue using the mouth as the source of suction. This practice has been prevalent in all Jewish communities worldwide for thousands of years.”

Yet the Council then goes on to assert: “ Based upon a careful study of the available Halachic and scientific literature, as well as a review of sanctioned practice by numerous reliable Torah authorities past and present, it is the position of the RCA that the requirement of Metzitzah is fulfilled completely and unambiguously by the use of oral suctioning through a tube, as practiced by many Mohalim in our communities. Therefore, according to this viewpoint, the use of such a tube is not only permissible, but is preferred (instead of direct oral contact) to eliminate any unintentional communication of infectious diseases. This protects both the Mohel and the newly circumcised child.” This view is simply a concession to modern, secular views, and not in accordance with traditional Jewish practice.

Since time immemorial oral suction has been the norm. The Mishnah in Masechet Shabbat (133a) records the practice of metzitzah as an essential aspect of the circumcision process, and states that metzitzah must be performed at the end of the circumcision. “They [the mohalim] may perform on the Sabbath all things needful for circumcision: excision, tearing, sucking [the wound] and putting thereon a bandage and cummin.” (H. Dabney trans., p. 116).

In addition, the Gemara explains (ibid, 133b) that refraining from performing metzitzah endangers the baby. The commentators elaborate that metzitzah is performed in order to hasten the healing of the wound.

Modern commentators claim that that metzitzah functions as a medical procedure and not a religious one. Of course is not a medical procedure, but one that endangers the health of the infant, as we have seen.

There are also legal considerations. In an era when there is great concern about sexual molestation of children, many may wonder how an adult can legally put his mouth on a child's genitals. However, the courts often allow exemptions to general laws for religious practices--especially when they are espoused by Orthodox Jewry.