Male-Male Sex in Polybius

From a discussion of military discipline:

ξυλοκοπεῖται δὲ καὶ πᾶς ὁ κλέψας τι τῶν ἐκ τοῦ στρατοπέδου, καὶ μὴν ὁ μαρτυρήσας ψευδῆ παραπλησίως, κἄντις τῶν ἐν ἀκμῇ παραχρησάμενος εὑρεθῇ τῷ σώματι, πρὸς δὲ τούτοις ὁ τρὶς περὶ τῆς αὐτῆς αἰτίας ζημιωθείς. 6.37.9

The punishment of the fustuariumis assigned also to any one committing theft in the camp, or bearing false witness: as also to any one who in full manhood is detected in shameful immorality: or to any one who has been thrice punished for the same offence. (Shuckburgh trans.)

The bastinado is also inflicted on those who steal anything from the camp; on those who give false evidence; on young men who have abused their persons; and finally on anyone who has been punished thrice for the same fault. (Paton trans.)

Walbank commentary:

παραχρησάμενος . . . τῷ σώματι: cf. xiii. 4. 5. The offence of stuprum cum masculo (Digest, xlviii. 5. 9 pr.) was punishable under early republican law, as Val. Max. vi. 1. 10 implies (for an example see Val. Max. vi. 1. 7). But in the former passage (Val. Max. vi. 1. 10) the accused alleges in defence that his partner was one who ‘palam atque aperte corpore quaestum factitasset’, which suggests that such a person, like a registered meretrix, was not guilty of any legal offence. In the army, however, male prostitution was clearly an intolerable breach of military discipline and so a capital offence. Presumably the active partner was liable to the same penalty. Cf. Mommsen, Strafrecht, 703–4.

I doubt Walbank is correct to assume equal justice for both partners in the sex act. The cross reference is to part of the slandering of Philip V’s associate Heracleides of Tarentum:

πρῶτον μὲν γὰρ ἀναφανδὸν τῷ σώματι παρεκέχρητο κατὰ τὴν πρώτην ἡλικίαν,

For he, to begin with, in his early years he had openly prostituted his person, (Paton)

His boyhood had been stained by notorious immorality; (Shuckburgh)

We can also bring into the lens the characteristics that herald the transition from Aristocracy to Oligarchy 6.8.4:

But here again when children inherited this position of authority from their fathers, having no experience of misfortune and none at all of civil equality and liberty of speech, and having been brought up from the cradle amid the evidences of the power and high position of their fathers, they abandoned themselves some to greed of gain and unscrupulous money-making, others to indulgence in wine and the convivial excess which accompanies it, and others again to the violation of women and the rape of boys; and thus converting the aristocracy into an oligarchy aroused in the people feelings similar to those of which I just spoke, and in consequence met with the same disastrous end as the tyrant. (Paton trans.)

οἱ δ᾽ ἐπὶ τὰς τῶν γυναικῶν ὕβρεις καὶ παίδων ἁρπαγάς,






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s