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Classical Era

This tag is used to indicate the eras dominated by Greek and Roman civilization. In regions where those cultures had no influence, consider it to indicate roughly 1000 BCE to the early centuries of the Common Era. If a more specific date in the Common Era is known, that will be used.

LHMP entry

The chapter opens by noting the severe gender imbalance in both sources and attention in the Chinese history of homosexuality. The author cites male-centered and phallocentric attitudes toward sex that led to the invisibility of female homosexual relations. The chapter covers 2000 years of history and so is necessarily uneven. The primary focus is on male homoeroticism in the late Imperial era.

This chapter is entirely male in focus. It includes both positive and negative depictions of male homoerotic relationships, and the social function of such commentary.

The classical corpus of “pastoral lament” is small (two Greek, two Latin) and the genre doesn’t really come into being until the later 15th century, at which point the genre has shifted from its classical origins. This “lament for a lost companion” in its 15th century form primarily mourns female figures, and early works lack a clear relationship of the poetic voice and its subject. The poems are not clearly personal reactions.

This chapter begins with the problem of using concepts or terms, like “gay” or “homosexual” to describe ancient Greek practices and ideologies. The Greek system was organized around sexual roles, not genders. There is uncertainty regarding just how same-sex eroticism functions in Plato’s writings. Eros did not serve only a literal function, but stood in for the pursuit of truth in the abstract. But the Dialogues also served as instruction for young, aristocratic men in the proper way to act within the Greek sexual system. The focus of this chapter is entirely on relations between men.

This chapter begins with a discussion of what is known about Sappho, her poetry, and her reputation among her contemporaries in ancient Greece. The tragically fragmentary nature of the written legacy of her work is traced, including the nine volume collection lost in the 9th century and the recovery of fragments of her work from papyrus sources in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

This article is a conference proceeding rather than written for publication, therefore it has a somewhat more informal flavor than usual. It takes a methodological approach to questions of how to interpret images of two women in classical Greek art that would be interpreted as involving courtship motifs if the figures were two men or a man and a woman.

This article is a narrowly-focused study of single, once-married women in Coptic Egypt, concerning their difficulties due to that state and the support networks available to them. It draws on non-literary evidence primarily from the 6th to 8th century from the area around Thebes. The evidence includes letters and incidental legal documents and focuses on local conditions at a village level.

This is a relatively general article, reiterating the themes of how social changes under Christianity created a context in which not marrying (or not re-marrying) could be considered a viable life choice, whether it involved a retreat into an ascetic community or continued presence in the secular world. Singlehood itself was not the goal, but rather an acceptable mode in which one could devote oneself to religious causes and activities.

This article focuses primarily on women who chose a single/celibate life for religious reasons in the late 4th and early 5th century. In earlier Roman society, while modesty and chastity were desired virtues for the young, unmarried woman, it was for the purpose of entering marriage as a virgin, not as an end in itself. However shifts in social expectations due to Christianity created the idea of choosing singlehood as a deliberate strategy for religious purposes.

This paper explores different modes of singlehood through the lives of three elite men. There is a brief discussion of single women mentioned in the epistles of one of the three: Libanius, a 4th century professor of rhetoric in Antioch. The women in question are widowed mothers of his students, most of whom did not remarry and who experienced certain struggles as a result, as well as their status having consequences for the students in question. But there are few details and Libanius’s concern is primarily for how their status affected their sons.


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