The decision confirms the museum’s responsibility to continually question expected facts.
North Hertfordshire Museum is not necessarily a well-known institution. Located in a picturesque town hall in the north of England, the galleries lie in the shadow of Britain’s great cultural sites.
But this small history museum has put itself firmly on the map after reclassifying a 3rd century Roman emperor as a transgender woman.
The Roman Emperor Elagabalus (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus) ruled in Rome between 203 and 222. The museum will now refer to them using “she/her” pronouns, in keeping with the company’s policy of only using pronouns that the person in question may have used in its exhibitions. Itself’. (For the purposes of this article, I’ll do the same.)
Of course, there is no definitive way to know what Elagabalus was referring to in everyday life. But the Hertfordshire Museum was strengthened in its decision by the writings of Cassius Dio, who recorded the history of Rome.
Dio wrote that Elagabalus was called “wife, lady, and queen” and told his mistress: “Do not call me Lord, for I am a lady.” There is even evidence that Elagabalus had female reproductive organs made for her.
While the Emperor’s new pronouns may come as a shock to many, this is not the first time Elagabalus has been a prominent figure in the LGBTQ+ community.
Hertfordshire Museum has a coin of the Roman leader, which is often displayed alongside other LGBTQ+ items in its collection. The museum also works closely with Stonewall to ensure these exhibitions are as up-to-date as possible.
The debate over Elagabalus’ gender identity has long been ongoing in the academic world and continues to divide expert opinions.
“There are many examples in Romanian literature of times when feminine language or words were used to criticize or weaken a political figure,” the doctor said. Shushma Malik, Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge.
Elagabalus was no stranger to criticism during her reign. The Empress gained a reputation as a promiscuous and sexually deviant leader during her reign, making her a highly controversial figure throughout the empire.
However, consultant Keith Hoskins said that texts such as Dio’s provided evidence that “against Jebel certainly preferred the pronoun ‘they’, and so that is something we take into account when we talk about them in modern times, we think.” A common practice elsewhere.”
Unsurprisingly, news of Elagabalus’s trans identity has been met with mixed reactions online, with many questioning the validity of the museum’s decision.
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