How do we compare with the ancient Greeks and Romans in our tolerance for sexual practices different from our own? How do the rights of our women compare? For whatever reason, we like to compare ourselves with our intellectual ancestors in the Greco-Roman world and hope to find ourselves coming out favorably. These books -- beyond the traditional Sarah Pomperoy and Eva Keuls -- look at the Greco-Roman world, and in the process, more than casually touch on aspects of ancient sexuality.
Simon Goldhill's book on why the classics matter has fascinating sections on sexuality. The ancient world had standards of beauty that were as unattainable as those we face today. The main difference was that beauty was something sought by men. There are also sections describing the homosexual affairs and practices of the Greeks, and material on the very public role of the erect phallus.
In Trying Neaira, Debra Hamel shows what it was like living as a self-supporting woman in the male world of ancient Greece. Since Neaira was a prostitute, Hamel also looks at the world of ancient prostitution.
Women and the Law in the Roman Empire: A Sourcebook on Marriage, Divorce and Widowhood, by Judith Evans Grubbs, answers a lot of questions about the rights of women in Roman law during the period of the Roman Empire.
A fairly difficult book to get through, Kirk Ormand does nevertheless present a theory of the subordination of women that makes sense. With women undervalued and used as pawns in the exchanges between men, the fact that men had heterosexual relations with the women at all was just an aside to their important real world which Ormand describes as not necessarily homosexual, but homosocial.
Subtitled Athenian Ideas about Citizenship and the Division Between the Sexes, Nicole Loraux' Children of Athena examines the literary background to the ambiguous position of the Athenian female. Loraux delves into the story of Pandora which is used to explain why Athenian women were not considered citizens of Athens.
A lose fit for this category, Andrew Calimach has done the legwork for anyone who wants to know the major stories about the homosexual relations of heroes and other central figures of ancient Greek mythology.