Posted by: aediculaantinoi | April 11, 2011

What caused the “fall” of Rome? TEH GAYZ!!!

Great gratitude to Sannion for alerting me to this particular matter…

A complete and utter fool named Roberto De Mattei, an official in the Italian government and Catholic “knight,” has recently stated that the fall of Rome was caused by the “contagion” of homosexuality, which arrived in Roman culture after the defeat of Carthage in the Punic Wars. Not surprisingly, his views have been severely critiqued by the Italian government at this stage, and there is a movement underway to get him ousted from his position–and rightly so.

Ignoring the blatant homophobia, bigoted ignorance, and general stupidity of a remark like this, let’s just think about this for a few moments…

Many cultures in the ancient Mediterranean world did not have any sort of problem with male homoeroticism. The Dorians were one such people, as were the Cretans; the Greeks in general later had an honored (though not unproblematic, nor equivalent to modern sensibilities) place for homoeroticism in their educational programs and training for citizenship and military affairs. The various Celtic peoples had, and continued to have, similar views. I can’t image that the Romans, who had contact with all of these peoples (and others) would not have had some influence from their views before the conclusion of the Punic Wars, in addition to having the natural occurrence of predominant and occasional homoerotic sexualities amongst its people as a regular and expectable variation. While I don’t know off the top of my head at present what the earliest evidence for Roman homoeroticism is, I’m pretty sure it’s been there from the beginning…

This idea that the Carthaginians did this more (or better?) than anyone else in the Mediterranean at the time seems ridiculous to me. The Phoenicians who founded Carthage were spread across North Africa and the Middle East, and were renowned traders and sailors. The Syro-Phoenician heritage extended to many people into the Roman period, including Septimius Severus, mentioned earlier, and his descendant Elagabulus, who–though he was perhaps the most renowned effeminate emperor there ever was in Rome’s history–was quite unusual in any number of other ways. Hadrian, many modern historians argue (against the realities of things like bisexuality, whether understood historically or descriptively), was “gay” (like Thorsten Opper), and yet he was one of the most militarily and politically talented Emperors there ever was…several centuries after this supposed Carthaginian “infection.” This notion that homoeroticism automatically entails a lack of masculinity (or something) which seems to underlie this notion is utterly laughable as well…

And, I can’t help but wonder if, given the recent incidence of the Megalensia, that perhaps this foolish pseudo-historian isn’t being influenced in the wrong direction, and is getting some of his facts backwards. Sure, I’m certain there were Carthaginian “queers” at that time as well, but is it perhaps not them “infecting” the populace after their conquest, but instead the “solution” to their continued warfare sought through the oracles and affirmed in the tracing of Rome’s heritage to Asia Minor, which resulted in the arrival of Magna Mater and her galli into Rome, that would have contributed to a climate of acceptance for “effeminacy” in which the “contagion” could spread more easily? I mean, really…!?! (I know, don’t give him ammo…but, if one gives an idiot enough ammunition, he’ll eventually shoot himself in the foot.)

But, these ideas are very typical of homophobes–gays can’t reproduce (oh, really?), so instead they must “recruit,” or in this case, “infect.”

Bullshit.

Who gives gayness to gay people? If it’s inborn, their straight parents, most likely! Who else would it be?

In any case, yet another name to add to the litany of idiots in the Spell Against Homophobia, I suppose. Perform it against this fool, my Italian friends (and anyone else who wishes to do so)!


Responses

  1. It’s not a new idea. The view that the Roman Empire collapsed due to the “sin” of homosexuality is often attributed to Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-83), and has been cited ever since whenever pundits start worrying about sexual perversion and the “state of the nation” – particularly from the 1890s onwards. The notion of Homosexuality (or, in the eighteenth century -”vice” or “sodomy”0 as a synechdote for the ills of a nation or culture has remained popular ever since. McCarthy, for example, in the 1950s, said that “the great Roman Empire came to an end when the ruling class became morally perverted and degenerate” I first came across this view in Nik Douglas & Penny Slinger’s book “Sexual Secrets” – “Similarly the decline of the Roman Empire is often viewed in connection with the abundance of homosexuality and the extraordinary extent of male prostitution”

  2. Edward Gibbon was a brilliant historian, but he deserves a sound thrashing for inventing the idea of “the decline and fall of Rome”. Governments rise and fall all the time, and this rise and fall is quite often of no particular importance in the long run except to the politicians involved. The most remarkable thing about the Roman Empire, given its vast territory and multicultural underpinnings, is that it lasted more than a single generation. But when the Empire lost its western territories something else also happened. It is this “something else” that has an ominous importance, not the collapse and reinvention of the Roman government. Civilization itself teetered on the edge of collapse in the West. The Dark Ages were not universal by any means, but ghastly conditions came to dominate much of Western Europe: the population plummeted, vast sections of countryside were desolate and abandoned, cities shrank within themselves or disappeared, literacy vanished from the general population, trade and commerce withered, people forgot how to maintain sewer systems and how to make waterproof concrete, the standard of living for most people declined to an almost prehistoric level. There is a long list of woe. This did not happen in the Eastern territories of the Empire. The Eastern Empire converted to Christianiy, reached accomodation with the invading barbarians, and continued to have babies (if perhaps not as many as before!), to read and write, to maintain roads and water supplies, to engage in trade, commerce, and the high arts. Why the difference? When the Eastern Empire finally lost its territories to the Arabs and the Turks and converted to Islam, there were enormous cultural changes but civilization continued.

    Actually, sexual activity (or the lack thereof) might have something to do with it. It is easy to imagine a connection between the proliferation of monasteries and convents in late antiquity and the declining population.

    Western Christianity seems to have been more intolerant and inimical than Eastern Christianity.

    The replacement of the Romanized aristocracy of the West by the ignorant barbarian invaders as a ruling class is an important factor to consider. Yes, I know, it is fashionable today to heroize the barbarians as “noble and free” but in real life people such as the Goths, the Huns, the Franks, etc really were uncouth hairy savages. They knew how to kill but not how to create. In my opinion.

  3. It’s interesting how much this rhetoric of contagion and infection echoes the rhetoric of earlier 20th century fascist and Nazi writers in their blaming of the influence of the ‘semitic’ civilizations of the Mediterranean basin (of which, of course, the Carthaginians wold be an example) for a purported decline of the allegedly ‘Aryan’ Romans and Dorians. _The Myth of the Twentieth Century_ by Alfred Rosenberg (a book we read way back in the Intellectual History of the 20th Century course at UCLA) is full of this language of infection and contagion. Rosenberg was a major Nazi Party theorist. He thought Rome was thoroughly corrupted and rotted out at an early date by racial mixing, and felt that it actually was beyond redemption and therefore revivified by the conquering Germanic tribes like the Lombards who reestablished rule by ‘pure Aryans’.

    There’s a long history of similar language being used against both Jews and Homosexuals/sodomites. I have no idea if de Mattei is consciously reaching for these connective threads but there is a long and unfortunate legacy of this kind of talk.

  4. This “rhetoric of contagion and infection” is particularly obvious in Eighteenth Century anxieties over the popularity of “the Grand Tour” – where the vice of sodomy becomes very much viewed as a foreign import from France & Italy – for example, Charles Churchill’s (1764) The Times

    ITALIA, nurse of ev’ry softer art,
    Who, feigning to refine, unmans the heart,
    Who lays the realms of Sense and Virtue waste,
    Who marrs whilst she pretends to mend our taste

  5. [...] the entire series portrayed as such, apart from his two lovers. (Which is interesting considering the recent post I made on the (stupid) theory that Rome was “infected” with homosexualit…) His lover in Spartacus: Blood and Sand is a young African slave who assists around the ludus [...]

  6. Sadly, Roberto De Mattei comes off as a genius compared to Victoria Jackson who took a break from her “Obama is a Communist” chant to spew some truly vile, hate-filled rhetoric about the recent gay kiss on Glee:

    I actually feel dumber just listening to that. I figure she’d make a nice addition to your Spell against Homophobia.

    • Uhh…

      In fairness, she could be a Nobel laureate literature person, but with her voice you’d just assume she was sixth-grade educated…

      But still. Yeah. Wow…


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