Youth, sex and sexual morality in Byzantium

Throughout history, societies have had different ways of regulating the age and circumstances under which sexuality could be exercised and of assessing sexual relationships as “normal” or “abnormal”. Adolescent sexuality and sexual behaviour have been and still are controversial topics of debate among sociologists, psychologists, educators, and historians. Teenagers, as they go through a liminal stage of life between childhood and adulthood, experience the first bloom of sexuality, but have to do so in socially-sanctioned ways. When should teenagers start their sexual lives? Under what circumstances? How should societies regulate sexual behaviours? From sexual education at home to teenage prostitution, from hormone-ridden boys to novice-tempted monks, Byzantine society presents a wide range of practices, behaviours, and opinions about the sexual life of youths. How did Byzantine youths live out their sexuality? The presentation explores this issue by looking at a varied corpus ranging from hagiographies to monastic rules and medical textbooks.

Oana Maria Cojocaru is postdoctoral fellow at The Research Institute of the University of Bucharest, working on a project on adolescence and youth in Medieval Byzantium. In 2016 she was awarded PhD in Intellectual history – Byzantine studies at the University of Oslo (IFIKK), and she is currently preparing a monograph based on her doctoral dissertation which deals with ideas and attitudes to childhood and everyday life experiences of children in Medieval Byzantium (9th to 11th centuries). She has published articles related to children and childhood and is co-editor (with Reidar Aasgaard and Cornelia Horn) of the volume Childhood in History: Perceptions of Children in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds (Routledge 2018). She has also presented at various conferences in Germany, Norway and UK on topics concerning children’s disability, methodological approaches in childhood studies and children’s agency and everyday life experiences.

Published Dec. 4, 2018 11:03 AM - Last modified Dec. 4, 2018 11:03 AM