Boys Will Be Boys (Pro Caelio 28)

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2016


Abigail Hansen explores a passage in which Cicero defends Caelius against charges of immorality by appealing to Roman custom and tradition; her analysis is based on her research into Roman sexual mores.

Streaming Media

Latin Text

Equidem multos et vidi in hac civitate et audivi, non modo qui primoribus labris gustassent genus hoc vitae et extremis, ut dicitur, digitias attigissent sed qui totam adulescentiam voluptatibus dedidissent, emerisse aliquando et se ad frugem bonam, ut dicitur, recepisse gravisque homines atque inlustris fuisse. Datur enim concessu omnium huic aliqui ludus aetati et ipsa natura profundit adulescentiae cupiditates. Quae si ita erumpunt ut nullius vitam labefactent, nullius domum evertant, faciles et tolerablies haberi solent.


Yes, I have seen and heard many in this city who not only sampled or flirted with this kind of life, but spent their whole youth messing around and yet later matured and found their way back to the straight and narrow, becoming good, upstanding citizens. We all allow youthful indiscretion; youth’s very nature lends itself to excess. And if such impulses are expressed without ruining people or families, they’re natural and forgivable.


Austin, R. G., ed. M. Tulli Ciceronis Pro M. Caelio Oratio. 3rd ed. New York; Oxford: Clarendon, 1988.

Keitel, Elizabeth, and Jane Crawford, eds. Cicero: Pro Caelio. Newburyport, MA: Focus, 2010.

Williams, Craig A. Roman Homosexuality: Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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