Books: Ancient History Valentine's Edition

Most of us are still stuck indoors due to the pandemic, so our Valentine's Day options will be very limited this year. Books, however, never go out of style and are still relatively easy to get your hands on if you're in a pinch for something to read or gift. Whether you have an ancient history buff sweetheart, or you're alone and celebrating/crying with a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, and Netflix, here are a few books on love and sex in the ancient world just for the occasion.

Ancient Sex

Author: Kirk Ormand
Publisher: Ohio State University Press (2015)
ISBN: 978-0814252116
Price: £20.95

Getting right down to it, the first book, Ancient Sex: New Essays focuses on sexuality, gender, class, and sexual identity in ancient Greece and Rome, taking up where Foucault left off in his History of Sexuality and challenging some of the ways academics have approached the topic since. This book is a collection of essays by various scholars that looks at the ways ancient culture – specifically in art and literature – discuss sex. This is not 'light reading', so it would suit someone who is looking for something a little more cerebral to read on Valentine's Day.

Sex and Gender in Ancient Egypt: Don Your Wig for a Joyful Hour

Author: Carolyn Graves-Brown (Ed)
Publisher: Classical Press of Wales (2008)
Price: £58

Looking for something on romance and sex in ancient Egypt? Head-over-heels for an Egyptologist? Then you might be interested in picking up Sex and Gender in Ancient Egypt: Don Your Wig for a Joyful Hour. This is another collection by established scholars that offers new research on sex and gender in Dynastic Egypt. It is a little pricier, but it is illustrated. This edition looks at sexuality through philology, iconography, art, and material culture. This book is suitable for your more academically inclined loved ones.

The Sex Lives of Saints: An Erotics of Ancient Hagiography - Divinations: Rereading Late Ancient Religion

Author: Virginia Burrus
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press (2007)
ISBN: 9780812220209
Price: £ 19.99

Saints had sex lives?! Weren't early Christians ascetics who renounced sex to live austere lives devoted to worship? Well,  The Sex Lives of Saints offers another side to their stories. By closely examining hagiographic texts, it argues that early Christian saints' lives were not anti-erotic but offered a transgressive "counter-eroticism" that worked against the traditional marital, procreative ethic of sexuality espoused in Christian doctrine. This book examines texts dating to the fourth and fifth centuries, such as Jerome's Lives of Paul, Malchus, Hilarion, and Paula; Gregory of Nyssa's Life of Macrina; Augustine's portrait of Monica; and Sulpicius Severus's Life of Martin.

The Cambridge Companion to Latin Love Elegy

Author: Thea S. Thorsen
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (2013)
ISBN: 978-0521129374
Price: £ 19.11

Last on our list, we have something for those of you who like poetry, in the Cambridge Companion to Latin Love Elegy. This is a collection devoted to this important poetic genre of the 'golden age' of Roman literature. It features celebrated elegists such as Catullus, Propertius, Tibullus, Sulpicia, Ovid and Cornelius Gallus to name but a few. This collection provides a concise introduction to Latin love poetry and its history to readers of all shades, from serious scholars to armchair poets.

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