2024 Student Research Conference:
37th Annual Student Research Conference

Hermaphoroditus, Gender, and Sexuality in Ancient Rome: A Journey of Acceptance

Ham E. Whiting
Dr. Heidi Cook, Faculty Mentor

Ancient Romans had complex beliefs about sexuality and gender, influenced by their myths and society. In Roman daily life, androgyny, cross-dressing, and hermaphroditic symbolism were common, especially during coming-of-age ceremonies, weddings, and rituals. The term 'hermaphrodite' originated from the Greek god Hermaphroditus, a child of Hermes and Aphrodite. Depicted with both male and female traits, this deity represented individuals who deviated from the traditional male-female binary. In contemporary terminology, we would classify them as intersex. These individuals challenged the rigid societal roles of ancient Rome. My research focused on a sculpture from the Roman Imperial period known as Hermaphrodite, believed to be a guardian figure for a home. Through analyzing this artwork and other statues and myths, I aim to explore how ancient Romans worshiped and celebrated the divine intersex god Hermaphroditus, fostering an environment of acceptance and support for marginalized individuals who still face prejudice today.


Keywords: Hermaphroditus, Ancient Rome, Androgyny, Cross-dressing, Gender, Art, Art History

Art History
Women's and Gender Studies

Presentation Type: Oral Presentation

Session: 305-2
Location: SUB 3201
Time: 1:00

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