Hermaphroditus

She-males have always fascinated people. Here is the Sleeping Hermaphroditus, obviously feminine:

File:Hermaphroditus Louvre face.jpg

And here is the other side:

File:Borghese Hermaphroditus Louvre Ma231 n4.jpg

This is a Roman copy of a Greek bronze from the 2d century BCE. From Pliny’s Natural History: Beyond those Nasamones, and their neighbours confining them (the Machlyes) there bee found ordinarily Hermaphrodites, called Androgyni, of a double nature, and resembling both sexes, male and female, who have carnall knowledge one of another interchangeably by turns, as Caliphanes doth report. Aristotle saith moreover, that on the right side of their breast they have a little teat or nipple like a man, but on the left side they have a full pap or dug like a woman.

Copies of the statue were made or acquired by Cardinal Scipione Borghese and Philip IV of Spain, and for the Palace of Versailles: nothing queer about these people. Perish the thought.

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3Oh, those wacky Ancient Romans! Caligula paid no attention to traditional or current fashions in his dress; ignoring male conventions and even the human decencies. Often he made public appearances in a cloak covered with embroidery and encrusted with precious stones, a long-sleeved tunic and bracelets; or in silk (which men were forbidden by law to wear) or even in a woman’s robe; and came shod sometimes with slippers, sometimes with buskins, sometimes with military boots, sometimes with women’s shoes. Occasionally he affected a golden beard and carried Jupiter’s thunderbolt, Neptune’s trident, or Mercury’s serpent-twined staff. He even dressed up as Venus. I have already commented on Elagabala.

Algernon Charles Swinburne:

Love, is it love or sleep or shadow or light
That lies between thine eyelids and thine eyes?
Like a flower laid upon a flower it lies,
Or like the night’s dew laid upon the night.
Love stands upon thy left hand and thy right,
Yet by no sunset and by no moonrise
Shall make thee man and ease a woman’s sighs,
Or make thee woman for a man’s delight.
To what strange end hath some strange god made fair
The double blossom of two fruitless flowers?
Hid love in all the folds of all thy hair,
Fed thee on summers, watered thee with showers,
Given all the gold that all the seasons wear
To thee that art a thing of barren hours?

Yea, love, I see; it is not love but fear.
Nay, sweet, it is not fear but love, I know;
Or wherefore should thy body’s blossom blow
So sweetly, or thine eyelids leave so clear
Thy gracious eyes that never made a tear—
Though for their love our tears like blood should flow,
Though love and life and death should come and go,
So dreadful, so desirable, so dear?
Yea, sweet, I know; I saw in what swift wise
Beneath the woman’s and the water’s kiss
Thy moist limbs melted into Salmacis,
And the large light turned tender in thine eyes,
And all thy boy’s breath softened into sighs;
But Love being blind, how should he know of this?

Mary Beard, from whom I get all this, comments that with no stable succession and constant plotting and murder, history cannot be certain of any of these rumours, written by the victors to damn rather than to describe.