6.29.2010

Who Was King Theodosius?

The first Theodosius (Roman Emperor) outlawed homosexuality in CE 390, punishable by death.
The second Theodosius (Eastern Roman Emperor) in CE 438 codified all existing law into the Theodosian Code, which also expanded proscriptions against homosexuality.
In 342 (Codex Theodosianus, 9, 7, 3,) the first law was enacted in Milan regarding passive homosexuals. Harsher penalties were introduced by Theodosius I in a law addressed to the prefect of Rome in 390, with execution by burning for "those given to the infamy of condemning the male body, transformed into the female, to the toleration of practices reserved for the other sex" (Coll. Legum Mos. et Rom., 5.3). This law was inserted in the Theodosian Code of 438 (9, 7, 6), but substantially modified and with a wider scope. The new compilation condemned to burning all passive homosexuals without distinction. With the Emperor Justinian the legislation was broadened; every kind of homosexuality was repeatedly condemned with the death penalty. Theodosius gave as his reason the desire to rid Rome, "the mother of all virtues," from all contamination. Justinian also added religious reasons. The Theodosian laws, followed by those of Justinian in the Corpus Iuris, represent the heritage which late Roman law was to leave to posterity.( Taken from: L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, 19 March 1997, p.10)

3 comments:

CaroJ said...

So King T. Is not a historical figure as Proust presents him?

RkC said...

Hi, Caro...

That seems to be the case. I couldn't find a 19th or 20th century monarch by that name, only an interesting ancient one. Proust was so deliberate, he did that on purpose.

I was reading an essay entitled "Proust and the Nineteenth Century" by B. G. Rogers (p. 138 in the Proust Centennial volume) and saw this: "Another similarity to Balzac that appears in A la recherche du temps perdu is the deliberate juxtaposition in the works of both authors of characters who are wholly fictional and others who were historical figures of the time. Thus, in the course of Marcel’s initiation into society, we catch glimpses of Princess Mathilde, hear allusions to the Prince of Wales, to the comte de Paris, and among others, to prominent politicians and statesmen of the day. So intricately are real, fictional and semi-fictional characters woven into the texture of the narrative that one is sometimes surprised to discover that a character like the princess de Luxembourg turns out to be wholly fictitious, so indistinguishable is she in ‘tone’ from historical figures like Napoléon I's niece, Princess Mathilde….”

Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack said...

The references to King Theodosius in Sodom And Gomorrah appear to be contemporaneous, however. M. De Vaugoubert is described as an attache at his court.