What better way to celebrate the New Year than with a new episode of History is Gay? This time, Gretchen and Leigh dive into the brief, controversial, and totally extra reign of Emperor Elagabalus of Rome. Or rather, Empress Elagabalus! Whether it be marrying multiple wives and one husband, revolutionizing the Roman religion, installing women as senators, throwing parties with sex workers, or enjoying the attention of well-endowed men, Elagabalus was as unconventional as they come. And chances are, she may very well have been a trans woman. So grab your jeweled slippers and tiara and enjoy the real housewife of Rome, Elagabalus.
A Closer Look at Elagabalus
Paintings Dedicated to Elagabalus
According to the Augustan History (uses he/him pronouns):
"In a banqueting-room with a reversible ceiling he once buried his guests in violets and other flowers, so that some were actually smothered to death, being unable to crawl out to the top.”
If you want to learn more about Elagabalus, check out our full list of sources and further reading below!
Books and Print Articles:
Queer, There, and Everywhere by Sarah Prager
The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus by John Stuart Hay
The Emperor Elagabalus: Fact or Fiction? by Leonardo de Arrizabalaga y Prado
The Crimes of Elagabalus: The Life and Legacy of Rome's Decadent Boy Emperor By Martijn Icks
Greek and Roman Sexualities: A Sourcebook by Jennifer Larson.
“Marlowe, the 'Mad Priest of the Sun', and Heliogabalus” by Tom Rutter, in Early Theatre Vol. 13, No. 1 (2010).
“Censoring Eliogabalo in Seventeenth-Century Venice” by Mauro Calcagno, in The Journal of Interdisciplinary History Vol. 36, No. 3, Opera and Society: Part I (Winter, 2006).
“Active/Passive, Acts/Passions: Greek and Roman Sexualities” by Ruth Mazo Karras, in The American Historical Review Vol. 105, No. 4 (Oct., 2000).
“History as Carnival, or Method and Madness in the Vita Heliogabali by Gottfried Mader, in Classical Antiquity Vol. 24, No. 1 (April 2005).