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But as both societies were intensely patriarchal what was important in sexual relationships was the status of who did the penetrating and their age.
In this world the notion of sex between two grown men was deeply taboo as it was seen to reduce the passive partner to the level of a woman.
Heartbroken, Hadrian had Antinous declared a god, built temples to him all over the empire, named a star after him and built a city in Egypt, Antinopolis, in his honor.
When the Roman Empire became Christian the temples of the cult of Antinous were destroyed – though many of the statues ended up in the Vatican art collections where they were seen by the artist Raphael, who used his likeness when painting angels as his model of male perfection.
And some couples did buck the discrimination that was thrown at them by publicly celebrating their commitment through same-sex marriage.
These include two emperors – Nero and Elagabalus, but we know of many others.
Sex between women wasn’t illegal, but, like the Victorians, the Greeks and Romans simply refused to believe it happened.
Hadrian and Antinous were lovers for five years until Antinous fell from a boat in the Nile and drowned.
Some have suggested he killed himself to avoid shaming the emperor as he grew older.
Both the Greeks and Romans could appeal to religion in their belief that their behavior was moral, though we might have a different view on what is proper today.
For the Greeks, Zeus had his male lover Ganymede, and Plato rated this love as higher than that found in marriage.
The only act considered more taboo was cunnilingus – to the Ancient’s minds as dangerously close to a man being penetrated by a woman as was possible.