Friday, July 17, 2020

The Terrible Fate of Intersex Children in Ancient Rome: A List, Julius Obsequens Prod.

Trigger Warning: murder

Julius Obsequens cataloged prodigies of the first and second centuries BCE. These omens ranged from natural occurrences (such as eclipses and temples being struck by lightning) to fanciful things (such as talking animals).

One of the reasons why this work is so important to LGBTQIA+ scholars is its documentation of the treatment of intersex children in Rome. Unfortunately, early Romans viewed the birth of an intersex child as an omen of divine anger and put those children to death. The surprising amount of older children mentioned in this list suggests that some parents were successful in protecting their intersex children from Rome's brutal religious laws. When translating, note the difference of the verb "natus" ("born") and "inventus" ("found"); "found" children were sheltered by their parents. 

·         3. In Umbria semimas duodecim ferme annorum inventus aruspicumque iussu necatus. (A.U.C. 568 / 186 B.C.)

·         22. Lunae androgynus natus praecepto aruspicum in mare deportatus. [A.U.C. 612 / 142 B.C.]
·         27a. In Agro Ferentino androgynus natus et in flumen deiectus. [A.U.C. 621 / 133 B.C.]
·         32. In foro Vessano androgynus natus in mare delatus est. [A.U.C. 632 / 122 B.C.]
·         34. Androgynus in agro Romano annorum octo inventus et in mare deportatus [A.U.C. 635 / 119 B.C.]
·         36. Saturniae androgynus annorum decem inventus et mari demersus.  [A.U.C. 637 / 117 B.C.]
·         47. Item androgynus in mare deportatus. [A.U.C. 656 / 98 B.C.]
·         48. Supplicatum in urbe quod androgynus inventus et in mare deportatus erat.  [A.U.C. 657 / 97 B.C.]
·         50. Androgynus Urbino natus in mare deportatus. [A.U.C. 659 / 95 B.C.]
·         53. Mulier duplici natura inventa...Arretii duo androgyni inventi [A.U.C. 662 / 92 B.C.]

--Julius Obsequens, Ab Urbe Condita DV Prodigiorum Liber

186 BCE: In Umbria a nearly 12-year-old intersex child was found and was executed (by order of the priests)
142 BCE: At Luna, an intersex child was born and thrown into the sea (by order of the priests)
133 BCE: In the city limits of Ferentino, an intersex child was born and thrown into a river
122 BCE: An intersex child was born in downtown Avezzano and was thrown into the sea
119 BCE: An eight-year-old intersex child was found living in Roman city limits and was thrown into the sea.
117 BCE: At Saturnia, a ten-year-old intersex child was found and thrown into the sea
98 BCE: Another intersex child thrown into the sea
97 BCE: Religious Rituals held in Rome because an intersex child was found in the city and thrown into the sea.
95 BCE: An intersex child was born in Urbino and thrown into the sea
92 BCE: An intersex adult woman was found.   At Arretium, two intersex children were found.

Name:  Julius Obsequens
Date:  4th – 5th c. CE
Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans

Little is known about the life of Julius Obsequens. His work, a list of prodigies sorted chronologically, covers the span of the years of 190 BCE to 11 BCE. He relied heavily on Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita for his source material.
Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE