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GaiaCaesari524

Caesar the bisexual

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Not that I really care, but it's hard for me to believe that Caesar - who so enjoyed being on top in everything else in his life - would play the passive partner for anyone.

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Not that I really care, but it's hard for me to believe that Caesar - who so enjoyed being on top in everything else in his life - would play the passive partner for anyone.
Neither do I; in any case, better classical linguistic abilities than mine would be required to define if the language employed by Suetonius above necessarily implied a passive homosexual role from Caesar ...

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I'm in general agreement with Ursus, at least once Caesar "came of age". As a young ambitious patrician surrounded by the opulence of an eastern monarchy, I wouldn't be that surprised if a tryst or several took place.

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Just been reading about that in Adrian Goldsworthy's biography.

It gives the impression that sexual orientation was actualy very important and the accusation of homosexuality especially the implication of his being the passive role, were flung at him a number of times in debates.

he says

"It was a scandal that would dog Caesar throughout his life. The Roman aristocracy admired most aspects of Greek culture, but it never openly accepted the celebration of homosexuality that had been espoused by the nobility of some Greek cities."

 

"The dislike of homosexuality appears to have been fairly widespread in most social classes..."

 

He goes on to say that it was a capital offence in the army and one soldier was rewarded for killing an officer who had made sexual advances to him.

 

Caesar fervently denied the accusation. Although this does not seem to have convinced some.

 

"Later in Caesar's career, as he acquired more and more political enemies, the affair with Nicomedes offered them plentiful ammunition to use against him. The story was widely repeated throughout his life..."

 

Goldsworthy states that it is now impossible to say whether or not it is actually true.

 

Certainly he seems to have gone a bit overboard with the heterosexual activity subsequently! Perhaps trying to banish the accusation by an overt display of manliness.

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It's important to realise how macho and chauvanistic Roman society was. I don't doubt for a moment they had those among them who sought alternative lifestyles, you get that in any society, but the issue of manhood is very important for Romans. The accusation of effeminancy or sexual diversity is often used in a demeaning and directly spiteful manner.

 

The problem is that we look at this issue from a slightly more enlightened attitude in the modern day, or at least most of us do, and thus we miss the reasons that Roman celebrities are described as having unusual tastes. Now I'm not saying that any particular Roman did not indulge as the writers suggest they did, because I only have their word for it and as dubious the accusation might actually be, there's often nothing to contradict these accusations. That's precisely why they were made in the first place.

 

We should also realise that many of these accusations may not be intended to insult or ruin a reputation (public image was hugely important for important Romans), but made on the basis on hearsay and gossip. An observer misinterpreted a joke or gesture, perhaps being unaware of what the situation signified, and quite possibly the tale quickly inflated as gossip often does. From something relatively innocent but misunderstood, a story becomes common currency.

 

In order to underline that, we ought to take a moment to look at the way the common classes relate to the world. For them, with limited education and difficulties in expressing themselves, graffiti is almost always sexual in nature. The sort of thing scribed on Roman walls isn't fundamentally different from the sort of thing we see in our own day, except perhaps I notice a more distinct frustration emerging in modern times, and less public advertising.

 

This is because the individuals involved are driven by these instincts. As social animals, who gets to mate is an important issue, at least subliminally. Women are attracted to confidence, wealth, and success, thus the common man generally struggles in that respect and lets off steam with the depressing and unnecessary record of their emotional and intellectual state. Was it so different for the Romans? Apparently not. Certainly sex was more readily available but at the same time the virility expected of a Roman raised the bar of their expectation in that regard.

 

So was Caesar bisexual? I don't know. I share the doubts expressed above, but I'll have to keep an open mind on the issue because I don't have any reliable source to balance that accusation. I suppose that means the accusation has stuck to Caesar. Perhaps, but isn't that the entire point of 'thrown mud'?

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It gives the impression that sexual orientation was actualy very important and the accusation of homosexuality especially the implication of his being the passive role, were flung at him a number of times in debates.

 

The Romans weren't as comfortable with male-male relations as Greek society. But it happened. As long as they took the dominant role, upper class Roman males could have sex with their servants. If they took the passive role, then they were considered womanly, undeserving of their status. This is the charge that was leveled at Caesar.

 

Another taboo for the upper class male seems to have been fellatio. The mouth was seen as the source of eloquence in public life for an upper class male. Performing the act of fellatio sullied the mouth.

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Nice little quote from HBO Rome:

 

Atia to the young Octavian: "Mark Antony buggers boys like you for a morning snack!"

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Caesar had to live down the nickname 'Queen of Bithynia' after his alleged antics with Nicomedes. He also pointed out that history recorded some powerful queens (of the Female Royal variety)- Semiaramis of Babylon being one example.

 

As has been commented above, who did what to whom was almost as important as gender in Roman perceptions of sex, and being on the receiving end was generally considered unmanly. Caesar might have had a youthful fling, but after that he appears to have focussed on the ladies, and the more aristocratic the better. The notches on his bedpost included at least two queens (FRv).

 

Going back to tagline on the original post - 'aut Caesar aut nihil' indeed. Sempronia tertia might have agreed.

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