Freud’s turn to Greek myth is very well known. His Oedipus emerges out of a long history of nineteenth-century obsessions with ancient Greece. But Freud’s psychoanalysis of Greek myth was also a response to the nineteenth-century sexological fascination with the sexual decadence of ancient Rome. This talk explores the intriguing story of how the obscene and erotic verse of Roman epigram became an authoritative language for nineteenth-century sexual science, in order to ask, how and why did Freud’s interest in Greek myth emerge out of the obscene sexual Latin of Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s 1886 book Psychopathia Sexualis, the most famous work of sexology in the nineteenth century?
Sex: Antiquity and it Legacy is published by I.B.Tauris (February, 2013).
Dr Daniel Orrells is Lecturer in Ancient Greek Language and Literature at King’s College London. His research examines the presence of classical antiquity in modern cultural, literary and intellectual history. His most recent book Sex: Antiquity and its Legacy offers a fresh, new narrative about the importance of the ancient world for the development of sexology and psychoanalysis.