In the nineteenth century, Europe looked back to Ancient Greece in search of its own identity. Europe celebrated itself by looking back to the achievements of the Greeks. Athens in the fifth century BCE was viewed as a miracle of Enlightenment. At the end of the nineteenth century, certain radical intellectuals in Europe argued that Greece also provided a critique of modern, Victorian sexual mores. In particular, ancient Greece looked like a haven for same-sex sexuality in contradistinction to nineteenth-century society. This paper examines, however, how the nineteenth-century construction of Greek love was framed by orientalizing ideas about race and empire. This paper argues that this orientalist framework should make us pause before using ancient Greece as an example for queer politics.
I studied Classics at undergraduate and postgraduate levels at the University of Cambridge. I taught at the University of Warwick for eleven years, including two years as a Humboldt Fellow at the Humboldt University in Berlin. I joined King’s College London in 2015. My research focuses on the history of the interpretation of classical literature. More specifically, I examine the literary, scholarly and cultural receptions of Greek and Latin literature from the Renaissance to the beginning of the twentieth century. I am the author of three monographs: Classical Culture and Modern Masculinity (2011); Sex: Antiquity and its Legacy (2015) and Visualizing Antiquity in the Eighteenth Century (forthcoming).