The Sodomite and The Lesbian
Posted: 23 April 2010 10:04 AM   [ Ignore ]
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An interesting piece I came across on the net which, the critique on social constructionism notwithstanding, has some fascinating nuggets within it.

I excerpt:

In the Latin language the word ‘sodomite’, sodomita, existed earlier than the word ‘sodomy’, sodomia. In linguistic terms the concept of the homosexual person preceded the concept of the homosexual act. The ecclesiastical phrases peccatum sodomitae or crimen sodomitae are usually translated as the sin or crime ‘of sodomy’, but it is more accurate to translate them as the sin or crime ‘of the Sodomites’: i.e. the sin or crime of a specific set of persons. Long before the term ‘sodomy’ became the word of choice, there were a large number of Latin-based words which relate to a generalized conception of homosexuality rather than to specific acts: for example, Saint Jerome employs the forms Sodoman, in Sodomis, Sodomorum, Sodomæ, Sodomitæ (Hallam 1993). Florio in an English-Italian dictionary of 1598 cites the following:

Sodomia, the naturall sin of Sodomie.
Sodomita, a sodomite, a buggrer.
Sodomitare, to commit the sinne of Sodomie,
Sodomitarie, sodomiticall tricks.
Sodomitico, sodomiticall

Sir Richard Burton in his famous essay on the Sotadic Zone cites several indigenous Hindu words for the active homosexual role in the 1840s, including Gánd-márá, anus-beater, and Gándú, anuser. The Albanian active homosexual or pederast is called the büthar, butt man. In Latin the pullus, chicken, was chased by the pullarius, kidnapper of boys, literally ‘poulterer’, the modern equivalent being ‘chicken hawk’. The ancient Greeks had other specialized, active, terms, such as philephebos, fond of young men, and philoboupais, fond of hunky young men, literally ‘bull-boys’. Although the majority of modern slang terms imply a receptive/effeminate sex/gender role, there nevertheless are many words for men taking the active role, e.g. arse-bandit, shitten prick (Irish), backgammoner, hock (Australian rhyming slang for cock). In French the word of choice for homosexual, pédérast, denotes the active partner. The English pederast is also the active partner, though today the term more narrowly means lover of boys. In French slang pédé, queer, can be either active or receptive. The bugger is the active partner; like sodomite, also active, it has a racial/geographical origin, derived from French bougre (and the sin of bougrerie), from the medieval Latin bulgarus in reference to the Albigensian/Cathar heresy of southern France in the early thirteenth century which is supposed to have been similar to the Bogomils in Bulgaria. The same word is the origin of the Spanish bujarrón, the Italian buggerone, and the German puseran(t), a word which survives in Eastern Europe. When Allen Ginsberg visited Prague in 1965 the Communist police called him a buzerant.

I’m not sure of the reliability of some of the claims. This, for instance:

Contrary to those who rely entirely on the OED, Emma Donoghue has established beyond doubt that throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the word ‘lesbian’ was used in the very same sense as today, and that lesbians were viewed as a distinct sexual and social group.

That’s way earlier than OED’s first cite for the sense. And the absence of cites makes it impossible to verify such terms as ingler (not in OED).

In England the ingle, a word documented from 1532 in a translation of Rabelais, occurring more frequently from the 1590s, was a catamite, or kept boy, from Latin inguen, groin. The ‘ingle’ formed part of a pair, for the keeper of such a boy was also given a separate term, the ingler, recorded from 1598.

Ingle is in the big dic and I see that it’s a variant of the utterly delightful ningle, often used in 17th century drama.

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Posted: 23 April 2010 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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That’s way earlier than OED’s first cite for the sense.

I believe that was the author’s point.  However, I too found the essay longer on confident rhetoric than on trustworthy sourcing.  Apparently we are meant to take much of what he says on faith.

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Posted: 23 April 2010 02:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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In the Latin language the word ‘sodomite’, sodomita, existed earlier than the word ‘sodomy’, sodomia. In linguistic terms the concept of the homosexual person preceded the concept of the homosexual act

.

Mmh: not necessarily. The article referenced here gives no clues to the qualifications of the author for pontificating as he does. Medieval historians specialising in the study of medieval sexual attitudes (e.g.  Vern Bullough and James Brundage - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Handbook-Medieval-Sexuality-Vern-Bullough/dp/0815336624) are generally agreed that in the Middle Ages “the sin of Sodom” was construed to mean all forms of “irregular” sexual activity, including adultery, fornication, etc. (A hermit once exhorted Richard the Lionheart to “remember the destruction of Sodom and abstain from illicit acts”. In the 20th century many writers have taken this quotation as proof that Richard was gay; however, to his contemporaries, who consistently described Richard as a brutally predatory heterosexual, the phrase carried no such connotation.)

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Posted: 23 April 2010 04:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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aldiboronti - 23 April 2010 10:04 AM

Ingle is in the big dic

No matter how unlikely, shouldn’t that be the other way round?

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Posted: 23 April 2010 06:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day and a ball of fire by night.

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Posted: 24 April 2010 06:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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in the Middle Ages “the sin of Sodom” was construed to mean all forms of “irregular” sexual activity, including adultery, fornication, etc.

And this, other than the inclusion of “adultery,” is the current legal definition in the US as well. Sodomy does not, as the essayist claims, always refer to a specific sexual act. Anything other than vaginal intercourse can fall into the domain of sodomy.

But he appears to be right in the antedating of lesbian and tribade. William King’s 1736 The Toast does include those words (unfortunately, Google Books only provides a snippet view, but it’s enough to establish sufficient context). I couldn’t find the earlier claims of sapphic or sapphism (lots of references to poetic meter, but none to sex), but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they do in fact exist.

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