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Controlling Desires: Sexuality in Ancient Greece and Rome

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“Comprehensive, reader-friendly, richly detailed, forthright, subtle, and very clear, Controlling Desires is the only handbook on ancient sexuality that works persistently to offset modern readers’ assumptions about sex and sexuality, to challenge the notion that sexuality is natural and universal, and to bring out the differences between ancient and modern discourses of sex—or, even, between ancient and modern experiences of desire. As such, it is a very helpful resource for students working on the history of sexuality in classical antiquity, because it shows how such a history might be possible and what is actually historical about sexuality.”

—David M. Halperin, University of Michigan, author of One Hundred Years of Homosexuality, Saint Foucault, and How to Do the History of Homosexuality

Since its first publication in 2009, Controlling Desires has been widely lauded as an accessible introduction to sexual practices, attitudes, and beliefs in the classical world. Treating Greece and Rome in separate sections, with ample cross-references and comparisons, Kirk Ormand presents a wide array of evidence from literary texts and visual arts, including two new chapters on Greek vase painting and Roman artifacts and wall paintings.

Author: Ormand Kirk
Pages: 423
ISBN: 9781477311455
Cover: Paperback
Edition Number: 2
Release Year: 2018




1. Introduction

2. Homer, Hesiod, and Greek Lyric Poetry

3. Sexual Roles and Sexual Rules in Classical Athens

4. Sexuality in Greek Comedy

5. Legal and Illegal Sex in Ancient Greece

6. Philosophical Sex

7. Greek Pots and Greek Sex

8. Love and Sex in Hellenistic Poetry

9. Rome and Roman Sex

10. Roman Comic Sex

11. Legal and Illegal Sex in Ancient Rome

12. Roman Poetry about Love and Sex

13. Excursus: Lesbians in Ovid’s Metamorphoses

14. Roman Sex on the Walls and in Gardens: Artifacts and Images

15. Imperial Sex: Nero and Seneca

16. Sex in Satire and Invective Poetry

17. Epilogue

Appendix 1. Timeline of Greek History and Culture

Appendix 2. Timeline of Roman History and Culture


Further Readings


Ormand is a professor of classics at Oberlin College. His books include Exchange and the Maiden: Marriage in Sophoclean Tragedy and Ancient Sex: New Essays.

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