Power and Eroticism in Imperial Rome

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April 2007



The relationships between Roman emperors and their objects of desire, male and female, are well attested. The salacious nature of this evidence means that it is often omitted from mainstream historical inquiry. Yet that is to underestimate the importance of 'gossip' and the act of thinking about an emperor's private life. In this book Dr Vout takes the reader from Rome, and Martial's and Statius' poems about Domitian's favourite eunuch, to Antioch and dialogues in praise of Lucius Verus' mistress, to the widespread visual commemoration and cult of Hadrian's young male lover, Antinous. She explores not the relationships themselves but rather the implications of their description. Such description provides a template with which to examine the relationship between emperor and subject, gods and mortals, East and West, centre and periphery. It thus contributes to the fields of imperial representation, court society and the imperial cult.


1. The erotics of imperium; 2. Romancing the stone: the story of Hadrian and Antinous; 3. Compromising traditions: the case of Nero and Sporus; 4. A match made in heaven: Earinus and the emperor; 5. Mistress as metaphor: a dialogue with Panthea; 6. And so to bed...


Caroline Vout is Lecturer in Classics at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Christ's College, having previously taught at the University of Nottingham. She studied at Newnham College, Cambridge and the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and has been a Rome Scholar at the British School at Rome. She has published widely on aspects of Roman imperial culture and curated the exhibition Antinous: the Face of the Antique at the Henry Moore Institute in summer 2006.


Review of the hardback: '... her lively account shows how residents of the empire gained a sense of collective identity ... by sharing jokes, gossip and fantasy about the emperor's sex life.' Times Literary Supplement Review of the hardback: '... Caroline Vout represents the latest iteration of 1980s-style gender studies which started in classical scholarship with Michel Foucault's History of Sexuality. Reading eclectically across imperial historiography, epigram, satire and sculpture, Vout seeks to explain the role played by the erotic imagination in the maintenance of imperial rule.' Times Literary Supplement Review of the hardback: 'This exemplary work not only transcends the 'chronicles of Roman debauchery' so characteristic of coffee table books and semi-popular works, but paints an enlightened and subtle picture of Roman society at so many different levels of perception and interaction.' Dr Mark Merrony, Minerva Review of the hardback: '... Vout is to be congratulated on making a very readable, accessible and enjoyable book.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review '... represent[s] an increasingly popular alternative emphasis in the study of ancient art. ... sure to do much to shift the parameters of Roman 'art history' even further and to enrich its discussion.' Art History
EAN: 9780521867399
ISBN: 0521867398
Untertitel: Sprache: Englisch.
Erscheinungsdatum: April 2007
Seitenanzahl: 285 Seiten
Format: gebunden
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