So ... dear Roberto still eats oysters, but has sworn off escargot?
That the head of such a prestigious scholarly institution would say something like this can only indicate that he got where he is as a result of his association with one of the most corrupt prime ministers in recent Italian history (and that's saying something!).
This guy is clearly pursuing a private agenda (read: bigotry) on the basis of erroneous understandings of both Roman history and the nature of homosexuality.
Rome fell because of the greed and corruption of its ruling elite, and homosexuality had nothing to do with it. That this guy wants to blame it on homosexuality says more about him than it does about ancient Rome. What it says, of course, is that he isn't a very honest or scholarly historian.
And, of course, it takes the typically unscrupulous Murdoch rag like the Daily Mail to give this guy a forum for his patently obnoxious historical revisionism.
Justinian may have thought that, but the reality is that earthquakes are caused by geologic forces, not "buggery." And it is also well understood by historians that it was the greed and avarice of the ruling class that caused the failure of the Roman economy, ultimately bringing down the empire, in precisely the same manner that the greed and avarice of the ruling class is currently bringing down the American empire.
Even though Pat Buchanan, David Wildmon, John McCain, Sarah Palin and their ilk may think that it is "buggery" that is causing it.
Which demonstrates that they don't know more about how the world works than Justinian did. Some things just never seem to change.
Homosexuality was present throughout the course of the Roman empire, beginning, middle, and end. Great roman emperors had sexuality that was at least other-than pure straight, although definitions of straight and gay may not have been the same then as now. From WIkipedia, ": Edward Gibbon famously observed that "of the first fifteen emperors Claudius was the only one whose taste in love was entirely correct"
The term homosexuality is anachronistic for the ancient world, since there is no single word in either Latin or ancient Greek with the same meaning as the modern concept of homosexuality, nor was there any sense that a man was defined by his gender choices in love-making; "in the ancient world so few people cared to categorize their contemporaries on the basis of the gender to which they were erotically attracted that no dichotomy to express this distinction was in common use", James Boswell has noted.
I doubt that any one concept or behavior was responsible for the fall of Rome, but rather like all cultures, an all creatures, there is a time to die and Rome had outlived it's life span. I am not a historian however. Wikipedia writeup here. It appears that comdemnation of homosexuality was present in the decline of the Roman empire, so maybe it's not homosexuality but the rise of people who condemn it, that we need to worry about.
I always thought that CHristianity was responsible for the fall of Rome, or at least a symptom of its decline. After all, there was no christianity at the start of Rome, and it was a Christian empire at its end.
Oh, now that's a truly priceless image - a bunch of limp-wristed queens wearing horned helmets, swishing their swords through medieval Britain and sacking the monasteries of Ireland and Scotland, sniffing the underwear as they go. "Got any more where that came from, big boy?"
That's an image straight out of a Monty Python movie! I honestly can't figure how these Christians come up with some of this stuff!
It was Greek AND Roman. In fact, it was common throughout the ancient world. Among the ancient Spartans, it was the standard training practice for the army that a new recruit would become the... ahem... "apprentice" to an older soldier who would, more often than not, have his "way" with him as part of the training. Among the Athenians, it wasn't required, but was a common practice, and that practice continued into Roman times among the Roman legions. The original language of the story of Jesus healing the "Centurion's servant" did not use that language - it translated accurately as "favorite boy." Meaning... well, you know what. It was translators, embarrassed that Jesus would heal a queer, on behalf of another queer, who changed the wording. Homosexual behavior never bore much of a stigma until St. Augustine, with his prudery as a reaction to his own previous nihilism, started preaching a rather austere asceticism. See my essay on the history of homophobia at http://www.bidstrup.com/phobiahistory.htm
The hyperChristian Africans are surprised to learn that prior to the arrival of the bearers of the cross, Africans didn't have any problem with gay people at all, and in fact, many cultures celebrated it. There is one famous panel in an Egyptian tomb showing a gay couple getting it on, and several others showing two men or two women embracing. Needless to say, the Egyptians don't show those to the tourists. See "Boy Wives and Female Husbands: A Survey Of African Homosexualities" by Roscoe and Murray.
In the Americas, very few native American tribes had any problem with it either, and among most, it was celebrated, even positively venerated. See "Spirit And The Flesh: Sexual Diversity In American Indian Culture," by Walter Williams.
Culturally institutionalized homophobia is, unfortunately, largely a Christian invention. Prior to Augustine, nobody thought much about it, not even the Christians, and among them, it didn't make much headway until the 12th Century. And that is why there are usually no words in ancient languages to describe homosexuality as a sexual orientation. It was just a part of every day human diversity, and was no big deal.
Then the missionaries showed up. And everything changed.
Thanks for the historical background. History is one onf my hobbies but some of this was new to me.