Before the Labels

Before the labels panel as displayed in the Pride in Our Past exhibition 2012

One of a number of statues commissioned by Mussolini which harks back, via Michaelangelo’s David, to the heroic classical Roman era.
Photographed by Cornelius Van Rijckevorsel at Foro Italico, Rome. August 2009.

Homosexuality is not a new phenomenon. Same sex relationships are as old as humanity and have impacted on the way people have lived their lives throughout history.
In civilisations such as Ancient Rome, homosexuality was not named or regarded as a lifestyle. The social standing of someone’s partner was more important than his or her gender. Sex between men was more concerned with notions of power than with intimacy.
Latin did not include words that directly translated into “heterosexual” or “homosexual”. As a result, people could not be labelled into categories, groups or subcultures related to their sexual choices.

Warren Cup on show in Plymouth

The Warren Cup on show at the Pride in Our Past exhibition.
Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery 2012

The Warren Cup

A silver stemmed drinking-cup originally with two vertical handles (now lost) comprising decorated outer casing (now split in one place) enclosing, in order to facilitate both drinking and cleaning, the drinking vessel. The handles and foot were cast separately. The decorative scenes on the outer casing were raised by hammering and elaborated with chased and engraved details, some enhanced by gilding (now lost).
The decoration consists of two scenes of male homosexual love-making, set in interiors elaborated with textile hangings. On the obverse the older, active lover (erastes) is bearded and wears a wreath, while the younger, passive partner (eromenos) is a beardless youth. On the reverse the erastes is a beardless youth, crowned with a wreath, and the eromenos is a boy. The boy at the door with short hair, who is observing the scene, is a probably a slave.

The Warren cup was loaned to Plymouth City Museum for the Pride in Our Past Exhibition from the British Museum in London.

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