Same-sex marriage in Ancient Rome:
Nero, Julius Caesar or Hadrian, which of these Roman emperors has married another man?
In ancient times the words homosexuality or heterosexuality were not conceived as nowadays. In fact, these concepts were unknown and the sexual identification was based mainly on the role played during the sexual act.
It is believed that the Roman Emperor who has been protagonist of the first same-sex marriage was Nero. According to Epitome LXII, 12-13 and several other contemporary authors, Nero got married with a solemn ritual (“in modum sollemnium coniugiorum” according to Tacitus). Husbands were first Pythagoras and later Sporo, who had been castrated because looked too much like Nero’s recently died wife Poppea. Same-sex marriage between Nero and Sporo was celebrated in public and for the occasion he wore women’s clothes.
Pliny the Elder (Plinio il Vecchio) tells how Nero lived with both men, and how the Greeks used to wish him legitimate children with both of them.
Dio says that Sporo, after Nero escaped from Rome because was considered an enemy from the Senate, committed a desperate suicide.
Did you know that….Julius Caesar
Several narrators such as Plutarch and Suetonius said that Julius Caesar had a homoerotic relationship with King Nicomedes IV of Bithynia.
Not a coincidence that the Consul Bibulo used to call him “The Queen of Bithynia“. And Cicero, talking to Caesar about Nicomedes in the Senate, said “Forget these topics, please, because everyone knows what he has given to you and what you gave him. “
Suetonius said that for these reasons Caesars’s own troops used to make fun of him. In fact during his triumph the troops singed this song: “…Caesar subdued the Gauls, but Nicomedes subdued him…”
Did you know that….Hadrian
Hadrian had one of the most romantic gay relationships of the ancient Rome. Antinous was his hunting companion, they use to share trips, experiences, and more. In fact, the love Hadrian felt for the young Antinous was so big that, after Antinous died drowned in the Nile river, he made him a divinity and founded a cult under his name, erecting monuments in his honor.
Today it is possible to visit the wonderful Villa Adriana in Tivoli, near Rome. A Roman villa that Hadrian has built in memory of his beloved. Here is located an interesting building, the Canopus, inspired by a branch of the Nile River, where it is located the town of Canopus. The Canopus was built in memory of Hadrian’s visit to Egypt during which he met his beloved Antinous.