Exoletus is a Latin term, the perfect passive participle of the verb exolescere, which means "to wear out with age." In ancient Rome the word referred to a certain class of homosexual men or male prostitutes, although its precise meaning is unclear to historians. In his essay on sexual morality, ''Offenses Against One's Self'', nineteenth-century British philosopher Jeremy Bentham provided the following definition of the term:
There was a particular name for those who had past the short period beyond which no man hoped to be an object of desire to his own sex. They were called exoleti. No male therefore who was passed this short period of life could expect to find in this way any reciprocity of affection; he must be as odious to the boy from the beginning as in a short time the boy would be to him. The objects of this kind of sensuality would therefore come only in the place of common prostitutes; they could never even to a person of this depraved taste answer the purposes of a virtuous woman.Jeremy Bentham, Offences Against One's Self
However, the word is sometimes also applied to adolescents, "puberes exoleti," as in the Scriptores Historiae Augustae 188.8.131.52. In an essay on Roman erotic art, John Pollini has argued that the term referred not to age but to prostitutes who had become physically "worn out" by frequent anal penetration.The Warren Cup: homoerotic love and symposial rhetoric in silver | Art Bulletin, The | Find Articles at BNET.com In the article "Some Myths and Anomalies in the Study of Roman Sexuality" in the Journal of Homosexuality, James L. Butrica argued that the term did not refer to prostitutes at all.The Haworth Press Online Catalog: Article Abstract
The word is found in Seneca's Epistulae 95.24 ("transeo puerorum infelicium greges, quos post transacta convivia aliae cubiculi contumeliae expectant. transeo agmina exoletorum per nationes coloresque discripta, ut eadem omnibus levitas si")and in Cicero's Philippicae: "qui semper secum scorta, semper exoletus, semper lucas duceret."
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