Sexuality in Antiquity


The course examines the nature and representation of sexuality in the Greek and Roman worlds. It employs literary sources including poetry, philosophy, history, and oratory as well as visual representations in pottery, statuary, painting and epigraphy. A major focus is on the ancient world conceptualisation of Eros, of masculinity, and expectations of women from childhood to adulthood. These will be treated under such topic headings as: concepts of sexuality and the nature of Eros; the worlds of the male and female; beauty; marriage, adultery, prostitution; same-sex relations; sex and violence; anxiety, repulsion, taboo.



  • Semester 2 - 2016

Learning Outcomes

1. Identify and discuss the major themes and issues pertaining to the nature and expression of sexuality in the Greek and Roman world.

2. Analyse and evaluate (as well as compare) both ancient and modern interpretations of sexuality in antiquity via critical interpretation of ancient source materials (literary, artistic, and epigraphic).

3. Apply the skills required to conduct meaningful research and analysis, as well as to articulate arguments in both written and verbal forms.


Course content will be drawn from the following range of topics:

1. Concepts of sexuality and the nature of Eros

2. The male world

3. The female world

4. Beauty: competition, athletics, public display

5. Marriage, adultery, prostitution: law and custom

6. Same sex relations

7. Sex and violence

8. Sexual anxiety, repulsion, taboo

Assumed Knowledge

20 units of Ancient History or History or Sociology at 1000 level or above

Assessment Items

In Term Test: One in-class examination

Written Assignment: One short quiz/text analysis exercise

Essay: Major essay

Tutorial / Laboratory Exercises: Tutorial exercise

Contact Hours



Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 1 hour(s) per Fortnight for Full Term