Annual John Addington Symonds Celebration

In October 2017, Dr Jen Grove gave the Fourth John Addington Symonds Celebration lecture for the Institute of Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition, University of Bristol, organised in collaboration with OutStoriesBristol. Jen spoke on ‘EP Warren’s Classical erotica: LGBT+ activism and objects from the past’.


Edward Perry Warren (1860-1928) is best known for giving his name to the “Warren Cup”, an ancient Roman goblet with explicit scenes of men having sex together (now in the British Museum). The classical antiquities Warren collected at the beginning of the twentieth century include many of those we now turn to for visual evidence of homosexual acts in the ancient world.

Drawing on original archive work, this talk will explore how Warren used such artefacts from ancient Greece and Rome to campaign for the acceptance of same-sex relationships in the modern world. Warren was particularly influenced by John Addington Symonds and his Greek-inspired idea of a comradely type of love between highly virile men.

This talk will also explore some of the problems of looking to Warren, the objects he collected, and the type of ancient relationship he was inspired by – between older and younger partners – for LGBT+ activism and education today.