Sapphic Sex and Gender-Bending: Sex and Gender in the Ancient World

Institution: Carleton University
Category: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Language: English

Course Description

Was Sappho gay? Were Gilgamesh & Enkidu really just friends? Could a Roman emperor marry another man? Why not Adam & Steve? And what is with that Egyptian myth about Seth eating lettuce? Although we tend to assume that norms around gender and sexuality have always been the same in all places and times, ancient literature abounds in descriptions of non-binary relationships, cross-dressing, different ways of thinking about what it means to be a man or a woman, and what a “normal” sexual relationship looks like. Jump into some old literature – The Epic of Gilgamesh, Sappho’s poetry, Cassius Dio’s Roman History, and some other fun myths and texts from the ancient Mediterranean world – and let’s explore how gender and sexuality are constructed and understood differently around the world and across time.