A.3. What could Marcus Aurelius feel for Fronto?

  • Christian Laes Free University of Brussels, University of Antwerp, University of Tampere
Keywords: Roman literature, Marcus Aurelius, Fronto, sexuality


Were Marcus Aurelius and Fronto in love? Does the correspondence between master Fronto and prince Marcus Aurelius prove that their relationship was a fully sexual one? Were both lovers playing dangerous games? This article explores the various possibilities in a relationship which may at first sight seem like a relationship of sexual passion. Contrary to the Amy Richlin thesis, I will contend that it is not justified to interpret the letters as a correspondence between a gay master and his beloved pupil. Taking a closer look at both the literary and the socio-cultural context, one comes to understand what we can and what we cannot know about language games and bodily games of sex in antiquity.


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