Sunday, May 2, 2021

Best Friends with an Intersex Scholar: Favorinus & Herodes Atticus, (Philostratus, VS I.8.4)


This passage is important for multiple conflicting reasons: it shows that it was possible for an intersex Roman to live a life of normalcy, even become a famous scholar, in the time of the late Roman empire; it highlights the depths of healthy, lifelong friendships that could exist between Roman men without stigma; and it shows the juxtaposition between loving friendship that Roman citizens shared and the brutality that their slaves had to endure. 

Familiaris admodum Herodi sophistae fuit, qui magistri ac parentis loco eum habuit, ad eumque scripsit, "quando te videbo et quando os tuum osculabor?" Quare moriens Herodem fecit heredem et librorum, quotquot possidebat, et aedium, quas Romae habebat, et [servi] Autolecythi.

 Ἐπιτηδειότατος μὲν οὖν Ἡρώδῃ τῷ σοφιστῇ ἐγένετο διδάσκαλόν τε ἡγουμένῳ καὶ πατέρα καὶ πρὸς αὐτὸν γράφοντι ‘πότε σε ἴδω καὶ πότε σου περιλείξω τὸ στόμα;’ ὅθεν καὶ τελευτῶν κληρονόμον Ἡρώδην ἀπέφηνε τῶν τε βιβλίων, ὁπόσα ἐκέκτητο, καὶ τῆς ἐπὶ τῇ Ῥώμῃ οἰκίας καὶ τοῦ Αὐτοληκύθου. 

--Philostratus, Vitae Sophistarum, I.8.4; translated into Latin by Antonius Westermann (1850)

Favorinus was very close with the sophist Herodes Atticus, who considered him a father-figure and mentor. He wrote to Herodes, “When will I see you and kiss your lips?” When he died, Favorinus made Herodes his heir and provided him all of the books in his possession, his home in Rome, as well as the slave Autolecythus.*

*The remainder of the passage explains that the slave Autolecythus was exploited for sexual purposes.



Name:  Lucius Flavius Philostratus

Date:  170 – 250 CE

Works: Lives of the Sophists



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



 Philostratus was a Greek scholar who lived during the late 2nd and early 3rd century CE. He was a member of the imperial Roman social circle; one of his works, the Life of Apollonius of Tyana, he dedicates to the Roman empress Julia Domna.

 Age of Conflict

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


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