Amy Richlin – Jerome’s Captive Slave Woman and the Latin Canon
The Thomas Spencer Jerome Lecture Series is among the most prestigious international platforms for the presentation of new work on Roman history and culture. The Jerome Lectures are delivered at both the American Academy in Rome and the University of Michigan. Amy Richlin, Distinguished Research Professor of Classics at the University of California, Los Angeles, will give the lectures in the series’s forty-ninth year.
One of the great mysteries of the history of sexuality is how the Greco-Roman sex/gender system disappeared. This series of three Thomas Spencer Jerome Lectures, titled Dirty Words: The Selective Survival of Latin Erotica, from St. Jerome to Mr. Jerome, will trace the story of that shift, showing how pederasty vanished from discourse at the beginning of a heterocentric Europe, yet continued underground through the mid-twentieth century. Lectures will discuss not only what was read by scholars and writers but what was taught in schools, where Latin literature was the curriculum through the mid-nineteenth century. The title Dirty Words embodies the problem of the moral control of the circulation of knowledge.
Jerome’s Captive Slave Woman and the Latin Canon
November 14 – 6:00pm
American Academy in Rome
Largo di Porta S. Pancrazio, 1
Billy Johnson of Eton: Classics, the Closet, and the Schools
November 16 – 6:00pm
Finnish Institute in Rome
Villa Lante al Gianicolo
Passeggiata del Gianicolo, 10
Uranian Love Goes Underground
November 21 – 6:00pm
American Academy in Rome
Via Angelo Masina, 5
The first lecture, titled “Jerome’s Captive Slave Woman and the Latin Canon,” will be held at the Academy’s Villa Aurelia. One of the main reasons why classical Latin survived, including pederastic poetry, is that Church fathers like Saint Jerome could not bear to abandon the curriculum they were trained in. During the Middle Ages, however, Jerome’s reading list meant different things to the monks who copied texts and to those who set Church policy on sexual behavior. Skepticism about Jerome himself is reflected in a prank caricature depicting him wearing a woman’s dress. Now pederasty was a sin, although the heaviest blame fell, surprisingly, on the youngest boys in cathedral schools and monasteries. Although the 1100s saw the rise of several monkish poets who wrote pederastic poetry, later manuscript illustrations reflected a late-medieval backlash against sodomy. Yet Italian Renaissance teachers sometimes edited even the most obscene texts as a project with their students, and sculptors began to specularize the young male nude in sculpture.
Amy Richlin is Distinguished Research Professor of Classics at UCLA. She works on Roman society and culture, especially women’s history, Roman comedy and satire, and the history of sexuality. Her most recent book, Slave Theater in the Roman Republic: Plautus and Popular Comedy (2017), won the Goodwin Award from the Society for Classical Studies. Richlin’s Jerome Lectures spring from her career-long fascination with the simultaneous radical difference and deep continuities between ancient and modern sex/gender systems.
The lecture will be held in English.
This event, to be presented in person at the Academy, is free and open to the public.