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Sexual Morality in Ancient Rome


  • Date Published: February 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521109000

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About the Authors
  • Traditionally, scholars have approached Roman sexuality using categories of sexual ethics drawn from contemporary, Western society. In this 2006 book Dr Langlands seeks to move away from these towards a deeper understanding of the issues that mattered to the Romans themselves, and the ways in which they negotiated them, by focusing on the untranslatable concept of pudicitia (broadly meaning 'sexual virtue'). She offers a series of nuanced close readings of texts from a wide spectrum of Latin literature, including history, oratory, love poetry and Valerius Maximus' work Memorable Deeds and Sayings. Pudicitia emerges as a controversial and unsettled topic, at the heart of Roman debates about the difference between men and women, the relation between mind and body, and the ethics of power and status differentiation within Roman culture. The book develops strategies for approaching the study of an ancient culture through sensitive critical readings of its literary productions.

    • Offers an important new approach to Roman sexuality and sexual ethics through a full and wide-ranging study of the concept of pudicitia
    • Makes extensive use for the first time of Valerius Maximus' large collection of exemplary historical narratives about sexual morality in the Memorable Deeds and Sayings
    • Accessible to a wide readership, including those interested in the history of sexual ethics more generally, with all Latin translated and explained
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'For historians, therefore, the study of ethics is now the study of a basic building block of the Greek and Roman world, and Langlands … [has] made a major contribution to the field. It has a sophisticated sense of how, as Langlands puts it, ethics locate individuals in a network of relationships, regulating their interaction in ways which may complement, problematize or undermine coexisting structures.' The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521109000
    • length: 408 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.6kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Sexual virtue on display: the cults of pudicitia and honours for women
    2. Traditional narratives and Livy's Roman history
    3. Valerius Maximus: the complexities of past as paradigm
    4. Subversive genres: testing the limits of pudicitia
    5. Declamation: what part of 'no' do you understand?
    6. Sexual virtue on display II: oratory and the speeches of Cicero
    7. Imperial narrative, imperial interventions.

  • Author

    Rebecca Langlands, University of Exeter
    Rebecca Langlands is Lecturer in Classics at the University of Exeter.

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