Heliogabalus, the transvestite Roman emperor who castrated his lovers

Heliogabalus painted his eyes, shaved his body hair, used cosmetics to enhance his appearance, and wore wigs.

He was “a beast (…) of unnatural lusts”, wrote the biographer Elio Lampridio about Heliogábalo (or Elagabalo), Roman emperor who ruled from 218 to 222. This strange character is well remembered for his extravagant sexual acts and controversial political decisions that they led him to his downfall.

He was attracted to men with large testicles, which is why he sent his emissaries to find men with these qualities for him. While he had sexual encounters with them, he liked to put on wigs or prostitute himself, according to the politician and military man Cassius Dion.

That is why some historians consider Heliogábalo as the first transvestite in history.

Cassius Dio related that Elagabalus painted his eyes, shaved his body hair, used cosmetics to enhance his appearance, and donned wigs, before prostitution in the taverns and brothels of Rome.

It is said that they reserved a room in the palace for their orgiastic gatherings.

One of his palace orgies was the scene of an involuntary massacre, when so many flower petals were showered on the banquet guests that scores of people suffocated to death while reclining on their divans.

Limitless sexuality
In addition, Heliogábalo came to practice orgies that included the act of castration.

Various historical sources state that he may have officially married up to six wives in a four-year period, as well as having countless sexual partners.

Her many lovers included Heriocles, a slave who gained great prestige in chariot racing, and Aurelio Zotico, a Greek athlete from Smyrna.

The emperor decided to marry both of them and act as a wife, although the Senate ended up not accepting it.

Heliogabalus was the nickname of Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, original name Varius Avitus Bassianus, (probably born 203, Emesa, Syria; died March 11, 222, Rome).

A rock as its protective god and other strange behaviors
Another detail for which this emperor is remembered is the devotion he professed to a conical-shaped black rock, which is believed to be a meteorite, and which he had installed on the Palatine.

He even arranged a strange marriage in which he married his god to a statue of the goddess Pallas.

The rock was placed on a golden chariot studded with jewels, which was drawn by four white horses, which were given free rein to make it appear as if the rock was driving the chariot.

Heliogabalus, all the while, was staggering before the chariot in his priestly garb, a scene that was minted into coins to preserve the moment.

After becoming emperor, Heliogabalus did not show much interest in his rule; rather he kept his attention on the practice of sacrifices and ritual dances.

On one occasion, she had a huge self-portrait of her dancing an exotic dance in gaudy clothing and a jeweled tiara sent to Rome.

He ordered that it be exhibited in the Senate. The emperor also liked to organize extravagant banquets.

Once he organized a dinner at which he served 600 ostrich heads.

At other times, he served dishes like peacock tongues, camel heels, and flamingo brains. Apparently, he fed his pets exclusively goose liver.

The sunset of Heliogabalus
Our character liked to greatly favor women.

An example of this was when he institutionalized a Senate for women, which was located on the Quirinal Hill, the place where the meetings of midwives were held.

These types of decisions brought great discontent to the emperor among the people and his political opponents.

Finally, at only 18 years of age, Heliogábalo was assassinated and replaced by his cousin, Alejandro Severo, on March 11, 222.

It is known that the young emperor was beheaded and dragged through the streets of Rome.

Later his body was thrown into the Tiber by the Praetorians. Next to him was his mother, Julia Soemias, who suffered the same fate.