Romans were unwilling to allow hermaphrodites to exist. Upon birth, a hermaphrodite was to be surrendered to the political and religious authorities of who then decided on how to handle such an individual (Corbeill 159). This trend arose as the Roman Republic emerged and went against the traditional practice. During Roman antiquity, Romans often executed any abnormal beings, including hermaphrodites, characterizing such beings as monsters, a threat to societal stability, and a symbol of evilness on the natural (mortal) planet (Dreger 32-33). Brisson reaffirms such a notion when he writes:
in ancient Greece and Rome up until the Republic, beings possessing both sexes seem to have been pitilessly eliminated as monsters, that is to say, as foreboding signs sent to human beings by the gods to manifest their anger or announce the destruction of the human race. (Brisson 2)
As previously stated, often hermaphrodites were simply “disposed of without hesitation.” In an attempt to increase population, Cicero forbade child execution (Corbeill 1...
... middle of paper ...
...wfound belief that neither the natural world, nor it inhabitants’ rights to decide on an individual’s destiny, especially in the case of a hermaphrodite (Corbeill 160). In Rome, the hermaphrodite portrayed many abnormal, counter-binary characteristics, and Romans would not settle until they could appropriately define such an individual (Corbeill 169). Often, historical practices scapegoated hermaphrodites, blaming them for societal dilemmas and apprehensiveness because of their ambiguousness and lack of cultural alignment with the binary (Adroutsos). This was due to their ambiguousness. Yet, prevailing ideology in Rome was that religious deities had the ultimate and final decision regarding one’s destiny and Romans could not simply murder their outsiders. Religious beliefs superseded historical practices, ultimately leading hermaphrodites to be spared from execution.
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