Sex and Sensuality in the Ancient World - Sissa, Giulia; Staunton, George - Yale University Press

Social Science

Sex and Sensuality in the Ancient World

  • Giulia Sissa; Translated by George Staunton
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In this fascinating book Giulia Sissa looks at sensuality and sexual desire in the Greek, Roman, and early Christian worlds, demonstrating how modern concepts of sexuality have emerged from the practices and theories of ancient times. Countering the assumptions of many other scholars, Sissa emphasizes the centrality of heterosexual desire and passion in the classical period, arguing that the importance of homosexuality has been overemphasized.

Drawing widely on contemporary literature and philosophy, Sissa examines each culture in turn, arriving at a variety of fresh insights. She draws a distinction between pleasure and desire in the ancient world, for example, and she analyes the different ways in which men and women were seen to experience erotic feeling, looking closely at portrayals of such transgressive women as Medea, Clytemnestra, and Jocasta. Incisive and often provocative, this is a striking new analysis of sexual attitudes in the classical and post-classical world.

Giulia Sissa is professor of classics at UCLA. Her other books include Greek Virginity, The Daily Life of the Greek Gods (with Marcel Detienne), Le Plaisir et le Mal: Philosophie de la drogue, and L'Ame Est un Corps de Femme. She divides her time among Los Angeles, Paris, and Venice.