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Friday, August 4, 2017

A trans soldier in the ancient Roman army?

In a rather obscure fable thought to be written in early imperial Rome by one of the Emperor Augustus’ freed slaves, Phaedrus. In this tale, a barbarian is threatening the troops of the military leader, Pompey the Great. All are afraid to challenge this fierce opponent until a “cinaedus” steps forward to volunteer for combat.
Although foreign to us moderns, the cinaedus was a familiar figure to ancient Greeks and Romans, whose identity raised concerns about gender.
The cinaedus was frequently mentioned in classical sources due to his brazen effeminacy, untoward sexual behavior (most often a “shocking” desire to be anally penetrated by other men), and the ambiguous status of his genitalia.

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