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Featured article Elagabalus is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
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Please fix the valdalism at the top of the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:15, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Tried, but can't. The title has something like a "double"... Besides, there was a lot of vandalism in the article ("Elagay'ballus", "Heliogay'ballus")... Fixed that. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:31, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

older entries[edit]

A quick googling show Heliogabalus 3,520 hits vs. Elagabalus 5,670 hits. I am thinking about moving this page there unless someone objects. M123 17:45, 18 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Transsexuality and pronouns[edit]

It seems to me it would be more appropriate to use female pronouns for Elagabalus throughout this article. --Eequor 10:23, 3 Jun 2004 (UTC)

It is not speculation to say Elagabalus was transsexual. Prior to my editing, the article included the following:

including the claim that he had an artificial vagina cut into his body

This is corroborated in each of the pages I linked. Such a desire very clearly identifies Elagabalus as transsexual. --Eequor 15:40, 3 Jun 2004 (UTC)

One would do well to read The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus, written in 1911 by J. Stuart Hay. The author discredits previous works as unfairly biased and states a desire to "right a wrong". This book provides further corroboration for the claims of Elagabalus' behavior:

  • Of course it would have been curious to see him in that wonderful palace, clothed like a Persian queen, insisting that he should be addressed as Imperatrix, and quite living up to the title. It would not only have been interesting, it would have given one an insight into how much Rome saw and how much she could stand.
  • But it was not his voluptuousness that the world objected to; it was the abnormal condition of his mind; because in the body of the man resided the soul with all the natural passions of a woman. He was what the world knew as a Psycho- sexual Hermaphrodite.
  • Certainly Hierocles had no just cause for fear; Elagabalus' affection was too feminine, too deep-rooted, to do more than tease the man from whose hands, like many another woman in history, he was more than willing to take ill-usage and stripes, if only they were signs of jealousy or proofs of affection.
  • It may be that, as Lampridius says, his effeminacy disgusted the virile Roman world.
  • In this epitome of the qualities demanded of men we see the true grounds on which the world has instinctively condemned Elagabalus, though probably without quite knowing why they did so. It is because they have been told that he possessed the virtues, along with the mind, of the woman, and a voluptuous woman at that, and had nothing of what the world expects to find in the male animal.

--Eequor 17:08, 3 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Careful when applying 20th century concepts to historical persons[edit]

Well, this question is always very, very tricky. Undoubtably, gender variant people have existed throughout the ages, [1] (Eequor already cited it) gives an overview, as does Leslie Feinberg's Transgender Warriors. However, there are two things one always has to keep in mind when talking about history: One, not all sources are neutral. That is especially true when successors talk about the "debauchery" of their predecessors. Two, some categories did not exist at the time a particular person did live. That is equally true of homosexual, gay and lesbian, and transgender, transsexual, transvestite and all other terms describing gender variant people or behaviour. Therefore, applying these categories or descriptions to historical persons has to be done with the utmost care. In fact, most of the time it will be completely impossible - who can, with any certainty, say that a person behaved in a gender variant way because they were trans*, and not intersex, or merely in a way gay or lesbian that was expressed in a gender-variant way? The latter was at many times, after all, quite the norm. Additionally, such behaviour might have reasons completely unrelated to any of these reasons. So much for the general problem, now to the specific person in question:

I am not saying that what Eequor cites does not look very much as if Elagabalus was transgendered, and possibly transsexual. However, this is speculation, which I would consider NPOV and at least unproven as long as it is not being said by a historian who has reviewed the sources critically; and preferably by one who wrote after words like transgender and transsexual were coined, and the concepts described. Benjamin is certainly not a historian, and the second source given [2] is not exactly a strictly scientific historian one, as much as appreciate its existence. Same goes for Leslie Feinberg.

Therefore, I think that we cannot say, without violating the rules of NPOV and accuracy, that Elagabalus was transgendered and/or transsexual. What we can say without violating these rules though is something like "In various sources, Elagabalus' behaviour has been described in a way that today would undoubtably be described as transgender or gender variant, probably transsexual." It is also not usually done to use the "other" pronouns when describing historical people who show gender variant behaviour, with very few exceptions, non of which seem to applie here, and I think it would only confuse readers. Therefore, I think inserting the sentence above (or something similar) would be the best solution, until we have more critically reviewed data; and, for the change of pronouns, a change of habits in writing. -- AlexR 23:26, 3 Jun 2004 (UTC)

If what has been ascribed as his behaviour is anywhere near true, then he was just nuts, not transsexual. Maybe pseudotranssexual, but never a transsexual woman. It's not 'a woman's natural passion' to go around whoring herself out of boredom. Mind you, there have always been people that were nuts throughout history. The difference here is the word nuts was already around. (talk) 02:54, 14 June 2010 (UTC)

I believe it would in the end be more accurate to say that she would have preferred female pronouns than we just calling her a guy. I mean in one of the references of this article we use Elagabalus can be quoted as saying 'Don't call me lord, I am a lady.' She outright says, call me a woman. Hyena-Princess (talk) 17:52, 8 July 2017 (UTC)

  • Actually Hyena-Princess, he doesn't or more accurately we can't prove that he has. Elagabalus never wrote about himself. Somebody (Herodian I believe) claims that Elagabalus said that. I don't trust any of the 2000 year old sources when they talk about Elagabalus. It's for this reason that claims about things he said cannot be used to prove that he was or felt that he was "a woman". We don't know what Elagabalus has actually said, only what other people claim he has said. Dio and Herodian did not hold high opinions of Elagabalus, nor did anybody else at the time, so anything we claim to know about Elagablus has to be taken with a pitcher of salt. Mr rnddude (talk) 21:56, 8 July 2017 (UTC)
  • I'd refer you to my comments below on the matter of applying modern concepts to ancient figures which Mr rnddude has pretty much summed up. I believe the hard push for having Elagabalus' gender acknowledged as female is more politically motivated than anything. It's less rooted in reason and more an effort to vindicate their own views on gender identity ("their" referring to people claiming Elagabalus was really a she). If anyone has been to a campus recently, you can see that radicalized students are now becoming part of the scholarly community and this, I think, is having a direct effect on the validity of modern sources claiming Elagabalus identified as a woman. Keep in mind that gender identity is not something that can be measured, but is instead based on many assumptions:
  1. It assumes that ancient sources are accurate in their report that Elagabalus claimed to be a lady;
  2. It assumes that even if he did make such claims that he didn't merely mean he was a "lady" in the sense that he was the woman in homosexual relationships, but actually that he had identified as an entirely different gender;
  3. It assumes that ancient people believed that there was a distinct gender identity separate from that of your biological one;
  4. It assumes that gender identity was a concept that Elagabalus and other ancient Romans even understood;
  5. It assumes that even if he understood the concept of gender identity, that it was separate from biological gender, and that he did identify as a woman, that he would have actually been a woman (a concept that many still consider controversial); and
  6. It assumes that modern sources making such claims are even reliable.
I do think the battle of gender identity will rage for Elagabalus and he will eventually be considered a she by the increasingly transgender scholarly community (which is a conflict of interest from biased sources in my opinion). As they become treated more and more like an oppressed member of society they will use refutations such as "that's transphobic" to win arguments that can't otherwise be won by reason. I apologize for ranting, but those are my thoughts on the matter. SpartaN (talk) 23:56, 8 July 2017 (UTC)
However, due to a high number of individuals who had written about their involvement with her, and stating that she was feminine, that she called herself a lady, that she wished for a vagina; there are more accounts from others where she stated wishes to be a woman than not. All accounts of her being stated as male were just stating other things, they weren't talking about her wishes to be female. Hyena-Princess (talk) 04:05, 9 July 2017 (UTC)
This wasn't the first instance in history, or even Rome for that matter, of what could considered akin to what are modern day transgender people Hyena-Princess (talk) 04:32, 9 July 2017 (UTC)
I agree with what Mr rnddude says above, and also please see WP:RS "Wikipedia articles should be based mainly on reliable secondary sources, i.e., a document or recording that relates or discusses information originally presented elsewhere." Wikipedia does not lead,we follow sources, especially scholarly sources. If there are scholarly sources that refer to Elagabalus as "she" we could do the same but we cannot decide here that "Elagabalus wanted to be referred to as "she", so that is what we should do", that is interpreting WP:PRIMARY primary sources for ourselves and would be WP:OR original research, which is not allowed on wikipedia.Smeat75 (talk) 04:54, 9 July 2017 (UTC)
As I've said before, the basis of the argument that Elagabalus was a woman is on the accounts of people who didn't like him at all. Dio, as someone mentions was in Asia and Africa at the time so anything he says is based entirely on hearsay, and Herodian were disposed negatively towards him as I will demonstrate below. This means that our evidence for Elagabalus' womanhood should be viewed skeptically. An equally rational argument could be made that the attestation to Elagabalus' womanhood by Herodian and Dio was their personal attempt to further insult a man they didn't like by stripping him of his manhood. A discussion of the transgender question within the walls of the article is fine, but, switching the man's gender based on statements supposedly made by him is a terrible idea. Short of an inscription by Elagabalus himself, or him being reincarted, we will never know his feelings or disposition towards gender. I mean, just on Herodian's end take some time to consider the statements that Herodian makes about Elagabalus;
  • Immediately he plunged into his mad activities, performing for his native god the fantastic rites in which he had been trained from childhood.
  • She was afraid that his appearance, obviously foreign and wholly barbaric, would offend those who saw him; they were not used to such garb and considered his ornaments suitable only for women.
  • He would listen only to those who were like him and flattered his faults.
  • So that he might seem to be doing something manly...
  • Not content with making a mockery of human marriage...
  • He had no desire to sin in secret, but appeared in public with eyes painted and cheeks rouged; these cosmetics marred a face naturally handsome. - The closest that Herodian ever gets to complimenting Elagabalus is saying that he had a handsome face.
  • The madness of Heliogabalus increased to such a degree that he appointed all the actors from the stage and the public theaters to the most important posts in the empire, selecting as his praetorian prefect a man who had from childhood danced publicly in the Roman theater.
  • With everything that formerly had been held sacred being done in a frenzy of arrogance and madness, all the Romans, especially the praetorians, were angered and disgusted.
  • They were annoyed when they saw the emperor, his face painted more elaborately than that of any modest woman, dancing in luxurious robes and effeminately adorned with gold necklaces.
  • As a result, they were more favorably disposed toward Alexander, for they expected great things of a lad so properly and modestly reared.
I mean it's obvious from just these few lines that Herodian thought that Elagabalus was a complete nutter and a generally shit Emperor. Why, a claim to be transgender would only bolster his argument that Elagabalus was unfit to rule Rome, in Herodian and Dio's eyes. This isn't a rare opinion either, up above, Herodian declares that "all the Romans" were disgusted by Elagabalus, and down below, you can read the culminating act that ended Elagabalus' life.
  • Heliogabalus ... ordered the arrest and punishment of the guards who had cheered Alexander openly and enthusiastically ... The praetorians were enraged by this order ... also, for hating Heliogabalus, they wished now to rid themselves of so disgraceful an emperor ... they killed Heliogabalus and his mother Soeamias ... together will all his attendants ... and who seemed to be his ... companions in evil.
In summary, the basis for the claim could easily come from the intent to defame or demonize Elagabalus. For this reason alone we must treat, especially the more fantastical elements, the statements of Herodian and Dio with skepticism. If you have a modern source that I can take a look at and gauge that source specifically then I will, but, I can't do anything now, but, defer you to our policy on unreliable sources and state that the sources used to make the claim are unreliable for this purpose. Not only are they biased, but, they are not known to have a reputation for accuracy or fact-checking. At best we can make the observation that Dio and Herodian said this, but, to be blunt the section we have dealing with this, Elagabalus#Sex/gender controversy, is a terrible mishmash of Dio's and Herodian's comments poorly integrated and with reliable secondary sources scarcely interspersed. The whole section is quite terrible. I will, however, note that it's actually Dio who makes the claim to Elagabalus' womanhood and then ask; How would Dio have known? As I recall he was in Asia and Africa for the duration of Elagabalus' rule. Mr rnddude (talk) 13:02, 11 July 2017 (UTC)

Consensus on this exact topic was reached last year on this page. The consensus was not to change the pronouns and to rely on historical record rather than presentism. Icarus of old (talk) 14:53, 9 July 2017 (UTC)

History loss[edit]

I had actually edited this page twice. A database error occurred during my second update; the record of the first edit seems to have been destroyed. --Eequor 11:25, 3 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Should I have spelled out the implications of that? This page should not be edited at all until the developers have a chance to look at whatever is going on. Doing anything may cause further damage. --Eequor 15:30, 3 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Hmmm... If that's true, perhaps no one should make any edits to Wikipedia ;-) Seriously, though, I don't think we need to worry about "damage" or "records being destroyed" in this case. All software has bugs, and sometimes your edit never makes it into the database for some reason. I wouldn't be overly concerned. Thanks, BCorr|Брайен 02:42, 4 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Locking the wiki wouldn't be that bad an idea, really. History being overwritten is a very serious bug. Consider the damage that could be done if somebody found a reliable way to cause database errors. A capable vandal could make changes that would be impossible to revert. --Eequor 04:43, 4 Jun 2004 (UTC)


Referromg tp Elagabalus as "she" is absolutely ridiculous. Modern concepts of transgenderism ought not to be applied to the ancient world in the first place, and as Alex points out, it's very possible that the stuff said about Elagabalus is nothing more than calumny by his enemies. john k 02:45, 4 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Transgenderism is hardly a recent phenomenon. [3] It hasn't changed significantly over thousands of years, either. The same ideas that hold today held during the reign of Elagabalus. --Eequor 03:19, 4 Jun 2004 (UTC)
As for calumny, one should look to the biases of the historians and inconsistencies between accounts. Fabrications are more likely to vary in the telling and even contradict each other. What is consistent throughout the works cited thus far?
  • Elagabalus desired (and possibly succeeded) to have her anatomical gender changed. Even the earlier Wikipedia article mentioned this!
  • Elagabalus was fairly effeminate, often (or always) wearing women's attire.
  • Elagabalus took the role of wife to a slave named Hierocles.
  • Elagabalus insisted upon being called empress (or imperatrix).
  • Elagabalus was very active sexually.
Note in particular that both NPOV Harry Benjamin and positively biased J. Stuart Hay agree on these. This is not calumny. --Eequor 03:45, 4 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I suppose that's one view. I would strongly suspect that you'd be hard pressed to say that this is a generally accepted view. I don't know that much about scholarship on this issue. Certainly much of the scholarship on homosexuality focuses on the extent to which "homosexuality" as a category under which people are categorized (though not, of course, homosexual activities) has been constructed in relatively recent times. I would be highly surprised if the scholarship on transgenderism is not ultimately similar. john k 03:23, 4 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Leah Q: I understand that research on trangender behaviour is an interesting topic. I read the links and i found them interesting and useful, that is why the external link was not removed. The people who wrote the research are the paradigm of speculators (thats their job as researchers in this field) and you are speculating . Wondering if Elagabalus preferring to be treated as a she or a he is the mother of all speculations. This kind of information does not belong in an encyclopaedia, it belongs to Scientific Journals on Psychology, Gender Studies, History and so on and so forth. Muriel G 13:23, 4 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I think it would be OK to have a brief mention of the theory at the end of this article; many of our articles report recent theories and research results, even ones that are kind of far out (I did a bit of this in Conflict of the Orders for instance). But we need to put a lot of caveats around it, because much of the lurid stuff comes from the Augustan History, which may itself be entirely fabricated. People who are not specialists in ancient history see a nicely printed book and may not realize that all we have is the words themselves; there is usually no independent authority or source material to vouch for their accuracy, and therefore no way to distinguish fact from fancy. Much of the job of classical scholars is just to dream up ways to extract another solid fact or two out of the mass of verbiage. Stan 19:59, 4 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I do not know off-hand the specifics of the Syrio-Phonecian worship of El-Gabal, but this might explain many of Elagabalus' sexual escapades if the tradition of worship included cultic prostitution. Astarte had male prostitutes as well as female. These seem to have played a passive role. What Elegabalus may have meant by specifically calling his male spouse (they were married by public rites) his "husband" may have been to specify himself as the receptive partner. I am mentioning it here in case anyone is researching along these lines already. I won't add it to the article without substatiation. At this time, it is merely an unverified educated guess. (talk) 23:24, 11 July 2009 (UTC)


I redirected the page Elegabalus to this article, and put the old content at Talk:Elagabalus/Elegabalus. It seems all the content in that article is sufficiently covered here, but someone who knows better might like to check. Zeimusu | Talk page 04:03, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

The article is a cut and paste of an academic paper that has some rather good source material. Unfortunately, while the paper's author gives permission for the paper to be redistributed, his stated terms are not compabitable with Wikipedia's. As a result I have deleted the original page's history and the temp page. -JCarriker 07:55, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Some sections seem to have been vandalised[edit]

"He also took a Vestal Virgin as one of a succession of wives and openly boasted that his sexual interest in men was more than just a casual pastime, as it had been for previous emperors. That means he was a total faggot"

I have deleted this section. The fact that he took a vestal virgin has been mentioned further on in the article

Good idea. Also, if he married, he could not have been a total faggot. (talk) 06:50, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

Thanks – just want to add a humble request for signing your comments – ~~~~, you know... Said: Rursus 11:40, 12 June 2007 (UTC)


Second para in ingress:

Elagabalus developed a reputation among his contemporaries for eccentricity, decadence, and zealotry which was likely exaggerated by his successors. [citation needed] This propaganda was passed on and, as such, he was one of the most reviled Roman emperors to early Christian historians and later became a hero to the Decadent movement of the late 19th century. [citation needed]

The text is OK, and the content probably true, but "This propaganda" seems like a typical Kremlologically inspired analysis, which is a 20th century method in history analysis – a citation would be suitable to strengthen this otherwise speculative statement. Same about inspiring the late 19th century Decadent Movement. Said: Rursus 11:40, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

Some problems with the article[edit]

  1. . I'm submitting this to WP:FAR since it does not meet current FAC standards, including a complete lack of citations.
  2. . I believe disambiguation is needed at the page Elagabalus between Elagabalus (Roman Empereror) and Elagabalus (Roman deity), and it sems odd especially that the Empreror is the main article at Elagabalus since his name is derivative of the pre-existing sun-god. At the very least I would expect a "This page is about Elagabalus the Roman Emperor, for the sun God of the same name see Elagabalus (Roman deity)" tag along the top of the page.
  3. . Although no a criticism of this article as such the second article on the sun God Elagabalus is in very poor shape and underwritten, it makes no mention for example of the later adoption of Elagabalus as the official Roman super-deity by (?) Aurelian (I think), certainly by one of the later emperors anyway. Generally, I think wikipedia assigns to much importance to the term "Elagabalus" as describing a Roman emperor and too little to the same term regarding the sun god that pre-existed the emperor in question, and also went on after him to become the official chief deity of the Roman empire.
  4. . While I'm not sure on official wikipedia policy, surely the article current sat at Elagabalus should be sat at Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, to which Elagabalus redirects, rather than vice versa? I notice the same problem exists with Caligula - I would have thought that an article would be under the person's full name rather than assumed names or nicknames???

Many thanks - PocklingtonDan (talk) 06:04, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

Well the point is I think that Caligula is almost universally known by that name, not as Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus. Few people (on average, I mean) even know that he was named Gaius to begin with. So it makes sense to put his article under 'Caligula'. Encyclopedia Britannica for example also does this. Same applies to Elagabalus. I doubt many people connect the name Elagabalus to the sun God anymore. The emperor's notoriety in history has long since overshadowed this origin. But you are right that at least a disambiguation makes sense. In the mean time, I've done some work to improve this article, including:
  • Providing citations/references. This is almost done by now. Especially the religious controversy, gender controversy and historiography need further editing. Note that some of the links to the translation of Cassius Dio's Roman History are currently 'broken' in the sense that they do not yet lead to the referenced subsection. This has something to do with wrong name tags which I will probably fix tomorrow. Another minor issue I've had is that I sometimes did not know whether to prefer Dio over Herodian or the other way around. I've chosen Herodian mostly because he is 'allegedly' more objective, but where Dio was more detailed I used him.
  • Replacing some of the existing images with better (at least in my opinion) alternatives.
  • Sorting the cultural references section, although I still think it could use some trimming or maybe a move to a separate page.
Regards. --Steerpike 01:25, 6 August 2007 (UTC)
I'm done with most of the citation work now. I've fixed all links to Dio's Roman History, so they should point to the correct subsection of the text now. There are however still several claims which need some attribution:
  • The etymology of the name El-Gabal and the origins of the sun worship.
  • The fact that the Third Legion (Legio III Gallica) was disbanded after Elagabalus' succession. This seems to be commonly reported but I find no mention of the fact in any of the ancient sources. Somewhere else perhaps?
  • Two points in historiography. This section looks more like original research right now.
This last point is particulary important I think to bring the article back to featured quality. Ancient sources are valuable for biographical information, but a discussion of modern sources would shed some much needed light on the current views on Elagabalus. Regards. --Steerpike 15:05, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

The emperor's name[edit]

Is there any evidence that he was ever really referred to as Elagabalus, either by himself or by his contemporaries? His actual legal Roman names are discussed here; if I'm remembering correctly, Cassius Dio (who lived during his reign) generally calls him "the false Antoninus."

Elagabalus is the name almost universally used for him in modern English scholarship, so I'm not disputing that the article name should be changed; but if that wasn't actually the common name used during his lifetime, the article should make that clear. --Jfruh (talk) 05:32, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Two of the coins shown bear the name IMP.ANTONINVS.PIVS.AVG. Assuming these coins belong here (which they quite probably do) the "PIVS" part should at least be mentioned in the emperor's short CV. Collideascope (talk) 20:22, 29 July 2013 (UTC)


It's several hours now since this was semi-protected. Is it not time to try unprotecting? I don't think that the subject of the article is so controversial that it would attract anything beyond the usual FA drive-by vandalism.-- (talk) 06:22, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

I agree. Today's Featured Article is not supposed to be protected! (talk) 09:31, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Inconsistency over his age at the time of his death[edit]

The infobox in the article states that Elagabalus died at the age of 19, yet the section detailing his fall from grace stipulates that he died aged 18. Which is correct? Thanks --Hadseys 10:45, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

It looks like his exact birthdate isn't known. If he was born before March 11, 203, he was 19. If he was born later in the year (statistically most likely), he was still 18. The infobox generates his age at death automatically. (talk) 11:37, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
  • How can it there isnt a precise date given for his brith, only his death? --Hadseys 12:41, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
Roman historians were far more likely to record the exact day the Emperor was assassinated than the day some obscure senator's son was born. They didn't have birth certificates or baptismal records in those days. (talk) 13:22, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
  • My point being though if you only know the date of death and not birth, you cant calculate correctly his age at death
Oh. It probably just assumes January 1 if no date is given. (talk) 16:25, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
  • ok but this needs to be cleared up because FA's shouldnt contradict each other

"As such"[edit]

"As such" means "because he was that". You could say, "Elegabalus was eccentric. [or "... was a goofball."] As such, he was reviled." You might even be able to say, "He was reputedly eccentric. As such..." although that's doubtful. But it doesn't make sense to say, "He had a possibly exaggerated reputation for eccentricity. As such, he was reviled." There's no noun or adjective that he was for "such" to refer to. Also, the possibility of exaggeration confuses things further. —JerryFriedman (Talk) 18:55, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Minor edit in "Fall from power"[edit]

In the clause "When Julia Maesa perceived that popular support for the emperor was quickly wavering", "quickly wavering" doesn't make sense. Instead, I propose just "wavering", though "quickly waning" might be better, and I'll go ahead and make the edit if no one objects. I wouldn't normally make such a fuss over a minor edit, but this page has seen some fighting. Scutigera (talk) 22:50, 11 March 2010 (UTC)

Why is this buried?[edit]

This article is packed full of interesting and sensational information about Elagabalus but why is the 'Historiography' section (which essentially says "very little of this information is based on reliable sources and quite a bit of it is unlikely to be true") buried in such a small section, so near the bottom? I think the article should be edited and rewritten so that people don't just read the exciting bits and accept them as fact.EttaLove (talk) 20:14, 13 June 2010 (UTC) I whole heartedly agree with the above post. But, I would doubt if any of the sources can be proved to be reliable. If they can, then how? (talk) 03:39, 3 October 2013 (UTC)Ronald L. Hughes


Is the similarity of Elagabalus' religion to that of Akhenaten purely coincidence? (I know there's a millennium and a half gap in time) Likewise, is the similarity of veneration for the meteorite related to pre-Islamic veneration of the Black Stone and similar red and white stones from the pagan era? (For that matter, does anyone know where Elagabalus' stone went? Could it be the same one as one of these others?) Wnt (talk) 04:33, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

This is not an appropriate venue for discussion of these subjects, but if you do find reliable sources making such links do bring them here. Dougweller (talk) 06:16, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
I have read that Elagabalus (El Gabal) was from Arab descent. The possibility that the Arab tribes before the rise of Islam were maybe given to worship meteorites also crossed my mind. I cannot however remember to have read this somewhere before. (talk) 14:32, 25 November 2012 (UTC)

Elagabalus's Circumcision[edit]

According to "Revelations of Elagabalus", E. did not have himself circumcised or even circumcise himself; and it explains, convincingly, why Dio's account is muddled and therefore misinterpreted. Emesenus (talk) 19:29, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

See WP:SPS - we can't use self-published stuff. Dougweller (talk) 19:51, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

So Elagabalus was just gay?[edit]

One would think that Elagabalus' bad reputation (and downfall) was merely related to his sexual/religious practices and the conservative mentality of the Romans. The few mentions of his actual crimes (murders, desecrations, rapes..) are few and far between, when the accounts of his cruelty (or at least, most of them) are consistent in easily-available historic sources... Elagabalus' tyranny is certainly not a matter of "gender issues". I propose that someone -I might do it myself if no-one else comes up, it's not too hard- create a separate sub-section about his crimes -as opposed to his sexual and religious practices-, with proper citation from the historic sources, or that at least mentions the accounts thereof. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:27, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

The Romans thought about sexuality quite differently than we do in modern times. It was expected that an adult man would be attracted to both women and boys, but considered shameful and grossly inappropriate for a man to play a submissive "female" role. If an emperor kept a catamite, the moralists might complain that he was "overly given to pleasure seeking." But he would not be considered a freak the way Elagabalus was. Elagabalus wanted a sex change operation, although such a thing was not possible at the time. So we may consider him a transsexual who lived before this concept existed. Kauffner (talk) 08:23, 2 July 2011 (UTC)

Nor yet is it possible now. E.'s proposal to cut himself an artificial vagina was no different in principle to what is done now, the surgery is just a little more detailed. All people are doing is using radical surgery to kid themselves; they still have the same XY or XX chromosome and they are still just mutilated men(or women). So there is no need to change the article. (talk) 09:00, 3 January 2014 (UTC)

In response to the above, how embarrassing. Please at least skim and educate yourself about mythical "XX" and "XY" chromosomes. It's fake outdated science designed to support a social structure that has never occurred naturally in human birth. Ever. Calling trans people "mutilated men (or women)" is hate speech and I am shocked to see wiki editors not calling you out for it. (talk) 04:57, 11 November 2014 (UTC)

Kaufner, it certainly was not "expected" of men to be attracted to both women and boys. It was merely considered acceptable behaviour. As for the rest of this thread, Elagabalus was probably "bisexual" - to use a modern term - considering he probably would not have gone through the trouble of marrying a vestal virgin unless he genuinely wanted to.--Tataryn77 (talk) 05:55, 11 November 2014 (UTC)


There is absolutely no evidence that E. was born in Emesa. (Herodian, for one, implies Rome.) Birthplace: "Uncertain". There is also no evidence that E. spent his youth in Emesa rather than Rome or thereabouts. There is absolutely no evidence that he was not the natural son of Caracalla, so "falsely" should be removed. There's a contradiction in "Avitus adopted the name of his god" and that he "was called Elagabalus only after his death". "Ela Gabal" does not necessarily mean "The God of the Mountain". As Gibbon and others noted, it could mean "The God [literally, in Aramaic, "Mighty One"] of Creation," or "The Mighty One of Gabal" (i.e., Gebal or Byblos, the chief city of Phoenicia and of the god "El"). Emesenus (talk) 21:14, 26 November 2011 (UTC)

Raised his horse to office of Consul?[edit]

I have been reading through Israel Smith Clare's "Illustrated Universal History, a Clear and Concise History of All Nations, With a Full History of The United States to the Close of the First 100 Years of our National Independence. To Which is Added a History of Recent Important Events, Including the Turco-Russian War, the Administration of President Hayes, Etc." (The title is lengthy, I know) published in 1879 by J. C. McCurdy & Co. In the section on Heliogabalus (218-222 ad), it mentions his successfully raising his horse to the office of consul. Is this worth mentioning on this page and on the Roman Consul page under Caligula's failed attempt? Can anyone cross-reference this? Tongpu87 (talk) 10:01, 17 December 2011 (UTC)

Must be a mistake. There is a complete list of consuls at List of Roman consuls. The ones for the relevant years look like the names of real people. Kauffner (talk) 10:45, 17 December 2011 (UTC)

Stylistic edits[edit]

I've made a number of edits in an effort to clarify and tighten up the prose while leaving the substance of the article pretty much unchanged.helio 07:15, 16 May 2012 (UTC)

Misspellings of his name[edit]

There are several apparent misspellings of Heliogabalus (or Elagabalus) in the Elagabalus in later art section. Are these misspellings in the original titles of the various works, or should they be corrected? Anyone familiar with the work(s) in question should bring the spelling of his name in line with the rest of the article where appropriate.Prohairesius (talk) 03:36, 11 August 2012 (UTC)


"He also demonetized the antoninianus during this period in Rome." Please explain the meaning of the word "demonetized". Does it mean this coin (Antoninianus) was not coined anymore anywhere in the Roman empire after 219 ? If yes please say so. Not everbody knows the exact meaning of demonetized. Best regards (talk) 14:25, 25 November 2012 (UTC)

Is this article still FA-worthy?[edit]

The article was promoted to FA in April 2005, and "kept" after a FAR in September 2007. To me, it does not seem remotely near FA quality at the moment. Here are some examples of areas of concern:

  • There are various issues raised on this page concerning the article's accuracy (see, for example, "Flaws" and "Why is this buried?"). These issues do not seem to have been addressed.
  • The article contains uncited material, some of which was in the "kept" version of September 2007, but standards have changed a lot since then. Some uncited stuff has been added, for example the long final paragraph in the "Edward Gibbon" section, although it refers to sources, has no specific citations.
  • The prose is at times a bit careless. For example, is it appropriate to write of someone who died at 18: "In his youth he served as a priest..."? In the "Rise to power" section we have "Almost upon arrival in Syria she began a plot..." without saying who "she" was. In the "Family and priesthood" section I thought the information on the god Elagabulus unnecessary, and most confusing given the name duplication. In general, the prose is written in short, jerky paragraphs which make for awkward reading, and falls well short of being "engaging, even brilliant, and of a professional standard", as required by the featured article criteria.
  • The "Elagabalus in later art" section is a ragbag of seemingly just about any book, poem, painting etc that refers to Elagabalus. A lot of this is trivia, for example the references to the "Horrible Histories" TV series. Most of the list has been added since September 2007, and there is no clear indication as to sourcing. There may be a case for a scaled-down list, with fully-sourced expert critical comment, but at present the section looks untidy and unconvincing.

Various editors have worked on the article recently, but there does not seem to be actual stewardship, designed to bring the article into line with the current featured article criteria. Is it possible that a knowledgeable editor, or group of editors, would be willing to take this on? The alternative, I fear, will be another visit to FAR. Brianboulton (talk) 16:59, 11 March 2013 (UTC)

In response to your criticism I've corrected a couple of things, but only a couple since I don't find all of your points worth addressing. I agree, however, that the "Elagabalus in later art" section is undiscriminating and should be trimmed.Prohairesius (talk) 16:18, 15 March 2013 (UTC)
This is a rather casual response. Let's hope that someone with a bit more constructive attitude comes by soon, and makes a proper serious attempt to address the article's issues. Brianboulton (talk) 00:20, 17 March 2013 (UTC)

Elagabalus in later art[edit]

I've edited this section with a view to omitting passing or otherwise trivial references to the emperor in the various media. Since I'm not acquainted with much of this art at first hand, of course I welcome others to correct my edits at their discretion.Prohairesius (talk) 03:35, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

Forgive the piecemeal corrections and the second thoughts, I know I need to finally familiarize myself with the sandbox feature (#^.^#).Prohairesius (talk) 00:41, 5 April 2013 (UTC)

Roman Dusk and Eliogabalus (the album) don't straight off impress me as serious artistic treatments of the figure of Elagabalus. The vampire novel seems marginal at best to the subject, mention of the album seems like a bit of commercial promotion. Neither, I think, merits inclusion in an encyclopedia article on the emperor. I'm not going to remove them, but more such "contributions" and we will be back to where we were a few months ago, when the Legacy section was an undiscriminating collection with entries whose connection to Elagabalus couldn't even be guessed at in some cases.Prohairesius (talk) 18:43, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

Compulsory sodomy[edit]

The foolishness of this emperor rooted so deep, that to get a civil servant employment was compulsory to be sodomite. -- (talk) 02:07, 22 April 2013 (UTC)


Everywhere in the article the name ELAGABALUS appears, because this name was popularized.

However, since Wikipedia aims to be a serious encyclopedia, should not the article be named ANTONINUS? And the lead be changed to "also known as Elagabalus" or, if you insist, "known as Elagabalus"?

And should not Caracalla and Caligula refer to articles bearing the ACTUAL NAMES?

Given that only these three emperors have nicknames as article names, and all the mass of the others are plainly called by their correct names? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:59, 21 September 2013 (UTC)

In principle I agree that the name of the article should be changed to Antoninus, and that Caracalla's page be likewise changed. The problem is that they were both Marcus Aurelius Antoninus in their lifetimes. To avoid confusion they continue to be referred to as Elagabalus and Caracalla in contemporary discussions. Based on what I've read, the article on Caracalla could conceivably be renamed 'Bassianus'.Prohairesius (talk) 19:46, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
WP:COMMONNAME:Wikipedia does not necessarily use the subject's "official" name as an article title; it prefers to use the name that is most frequently used to refer to the subject in English-language reliable sources.Smeat75 (talk) 01:37, 6 July 2014 (UTC)

John Stuart Hay[edit]

He is not so easy to place (see s:Author talk:John Stuart Hay), but saying he was a don at Oxford seems to be a misconception. The title page to the book (s:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus) says "St John's College, Oxford" but does not claim to be a Fellow there. He was, as "J. Stuart Hay", a writer at that period for The New Age[4]. This places him aside from academia. In any case I have removed "Oxford don" as unreferenced. I'm fairly certain that he graduated in 1902, became a Catholic priest in London, had second thoughts and hung around with the group around Orage and T. E. Hulme, wrote the book (1911), and then went back to Catholicism. Charles Matthews (talk) 07:25, 12 April 2015 (UTC)


I think the CIL II references from note 61 can be found here, but can't read them and know for sure. If they are the ones, please link to that page. trespassers william (talk) 23:10, 26 October 2015 (UTC)

I linked some of the inscriptions using template:CIL, except for CIL III: 564-589; which I couldn't link without having to list them all one by one and making them seem unrelated to each other. Psychotic Spartan 123 22:41, 5 January 2016 (UTC)

To Raise An Old Argument: Basis For Pronoun Change[edit]

Elagabalus's pronouns have already been discussed here, certainly, but Eequor already backed it up above with:

  • Elagabalus desired (and possibly succeeded) to have her anatomical gender changed. Even the earlier Wikipedia article mentioned this!
  • Elagabalus was fairly effeminate, often (or always) wearing women's attire.
  • Elagabalus took the role of wife to a slave named Hierocles.
  • Elagabalus insisted upon being called empress (or imperatrix).
  • Elagabalus was very active sexually.

Note in particular that both NPOV Harry Benjamin and positively biased J. Stuart Hay agree on these. This is not calumny.

This was never even debased in the 11 years it's been on this page's talk section. I feel it valid that the pronouns could be, after so long, corrected. I'm happy to do it, if I could just receive blessing to do so. - Irockz (talk) 11:33, 8 December 2015 (UTC)

It was debated on this page a few years ago. Changing them would be a form of presentism, and I strongly disagree with revisionist history of that kind. One cannot measure intention or apply contemporary concepts with certainty to another culture thousands of years ago. All best. Icarus of old (talk) 13:26, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
Except being transgender is scientific, not societal. If we can't use female pronouns for someone who actively wanted to be female, then we also can't use male pronouns for Charley Parkhurst or James Barry and the page for Chevalier d'Eon would employ masculine pronouns far more often. Irockz (talk) 14:33, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
And in his society, we don't know for certain if they employed those terms or what gender pronouns in Greek the subject would have preferred. Because we don't know this, we can't assume without a verifiable citation. Again, this is presentism, which comes up often with historical subjects to whom we would apply contemporary or modern terms/concerns/modes of expression. Even the phrase "being transgender is scientific, not societal" is not a pure fact, but an opinion. People can disagree with this idea, because it is still being debated. Icarus of old (talk) 15:01, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
So you're arguing that we SHOULD, in fact, not use male pronouns for the pages I listed, as transgenderism wasn't a concept back then either? Irockz (talk) 15:10, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
I'm not concerned with those pages. This talk page is reserved exclusively for this article topic. You may bring that up on those talk pages, should you so desire. Either way, for this page, WP:Consensus must be reached for controversial changes. The subject's gender is sufficiently discussed in all its ambiguities without a 21st century person applying his/her/their ideas on a person from antiquity. Again, presentism. Icarus of old (talk) 15:25, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
I'm using those articles for context, not to swerve the discussion - I'm saying that this is an inconsistent usage of pronouns. Especially in relevance to James Barry. Male pronouns are used for them whenever they were never even explicitly transgender - certainly, Eligabalus showed more desire to be regarded as a woman than Barry. However, since we shan't reach a consensus any time soon on our own, how do you propose consensus is made? Irockz (talk) 15:35, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
Using normal Wikipedia processes, like I just did below! All best. Icarus of old (talk) 15:38, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
I think we can break down the arguement into two simple questions: Was Elagabalus transgender? and if so, What pronouns should we use to refer to Elagabalus?
Transgenderism is the state of being assigned a gender at birth and later identifying as another. I think its safe to say that the Romans had an idea of sex/gender. Elagabalus was born and assigned male at birth and later consistently identified and presented in the feminine. While the Romans may not have had an equivalent concept for transgenderism, Elagabalus certainly fits all of the criteria for being transgender.
As for feminine pronouns, there's less concrete evidence but there is some. E's request to be called imperatrix is very strong in my opinion. Its evidence that Elagabalus is not only presenting femininely, but also is referring to themself in the feminine. Also being "delighted to be called the mistress, the wife, the queen of Hierocles" as referenced in the page. I would agree with the change to feminine pronouns. But at the very least, avoid using male pronouns.Moira98 (talk) 07:17, 16 December 2015 (UTC)

RfC: Should the subject's gender be changed, or is this presentism?[edit]

The following discussion is an archived record of a request for comment. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
The consensus is against changing the gender. The majority opinion is that the subject is a historical figure and placing modern views would be presentism. The historical sources all describe him as male. A questionable source from modern sexuality study does exist, but that more sources would be needed to make the change. AlbinoFerret 05:35, 12 January 2016 (UTC)

Should the subject's gender be changed, or is this presentism and should be avoided? Icarus of old (talk) 15:37, 8 December 2015 (UTC)

  • Wikipedia reflects the sources it cites. Who can present sources which use pronouns other than the ones currently being used here? Please, just list the sources. Blue Rasberry (talk) 19:39, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Primary sources? None. Secondary? Here is one that chooses to and explains the reasoning behind using female pronouns. Irockz (talk) 19:57, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
While that source is certainly informational, all of the essays were "written by the students in Dr. Catherine Jacquet's trans*, gender non-conforming, and intersex history class," which isn't 100% suitable for an encyclopedia (WP:SCHOLARSHIP). We need credible sources to establish a reason for change. Icarus of old (talk) 21:07, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
I'd argue that the writer's background is irrelevant to the content as long as it's truthful, but it isn't for either of us to decide, that's why we're holding a consensus after all. Irockz (talk) 21:32, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
That certainly doesn't mean that I can't add input as the process unrolls; I'd argue that the writer's background is relevant, per established Wikipedia standards (WP:SCHOLARSHIP). All best. Icarus of old (talk) 21:40, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
Does this fall into unreliable sources, though? While it is done by students, I wouldn't say there was any particular bias in the matter beyond the whole pronoun thing, and I personally wouldn't consider this to be a self publication as their professor published it rather than themselves, though that's up for debate. Irockz (talk) 21:51, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Secondary sources denoting subject as male while still acknowledging the complexity of representing subject's gender. Icarus of old (talk) 22:18, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
1)Varner, Eric R. “Transcending Gender: Assimilation, Identity, and Roman Imperial Portraits." Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome. Supplementary Volumes 7 (2008): 185–205. Web. (JSTOR)
2) GLBTQ Archive
3) from The Transexual Phenomenon by Harry Benjamin, M.D.
  • I can't access that first one, but the second one feels quite biased ("As if this sacrilegious behavior did not suffice, Elagabalus seemed to strive during his short reign to break every social and sexual taboo of Roman society." being the most obvious attack of character") and neither the second or the third actually discusses the pronouns used. Irockz (talk) 22:25, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
The first source (academic) and third both discuss the pronouns, when read in full. I've done plenty of research on this. Icarus of old (talk) 22:27, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
As I say, I can't access the first without an account of some form, and the third - unless I'm not navigating it correctly - only states the following:
Another Roman emperor, Heliogabalus, is reported to have been formally married to a powerful slave and then to have taken up the tasks of a wife following the marriage. He is described as having been "delighted to be called the mistress, the wife, the Queen of Hierocles" [4] and is said to have offered half the Roman Empire to the physician who could equip him with female genitalia. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Irockz (talkcontribs) 22:48, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Against I agree with Icarus of old about the source he discusses. Also the whole matter is too long ago for a revision to be believable. I also think we shouldn't push or paste 21st century notions (mind that I say notions, not concepts) upon historical situations. That may be interesting sociology, but it's bad history. Besides, Elagabalus could not have undergone a change with the same legal and social consequences that we apply today. Gerard von Hebel (talk) 00:34, 14 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Hebel, do you mind defining what you mean by notions as opposed to concepts? Moira98 (talk) 07:32, 16 December 2015 (UTC)
Sure Moira98, The way I see it, transgenderism, homosexuality etc. are concepts. Real things that have been around throughout history. A notion in this context is in my view, the way people now or in the past have felt how they should judge these concepts and deal with them. Condemn, ignore or embrace or even make adjustment to our language about them.Gerard von Hebel (talk) 09:05, 16 December 2015 (UTC)
  • In Favor Transgenderism is being assigned one gender at birth and later identifying as another. Elagabalus, in this regard, is very clearly transgender/transsexual as E consistently presented female and showed a desire to have female genitalia. Elagabalus addressed herself in the feminine as imperatrix and was "delighted to be called the mistress, the wife, the queen of Hierocles." These facts in particular make her pronoun preference apparent.Moira98 (talk) 07:32, 16 December 2015 (UTC)
Also see: This entry on this very talkpage from a few years ago. Gerard von Hebel (talk) 00:39, 14 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose, per Hebel. I've done a cursory search in the literature, and no sources appear to use different pronouns. All appear to refer to him as male; a few mention him as cross-dressing, and even some as queer. Note that none of these are historic sources, but rather appear to be gender studies essays and articles, none of which show any indication of weight in their field (no citations). Unless substantial historical reliable sources are provided, then this would most certainly amount to presentism and a clear violation of WP:NPOV. Furthermore, changing all of the article's pronouns would prove extremenly confusing for the average reader, and would shift the article's focus to something other than an emperor's biography. The issue at hand appears to be more adequately suited for its own subsection, but please be aware the quality of sources is paramount in such cases. Historical sources need to be put first and foremost when discussing a figure that lived almost 2000 years ago. Regards, FoCuS contribs; talk to me! 02:14, 18 December 2015 (UTC)
I would like to bring attention to what the MoS has to say on gender identity:
"Give precedence to self-designation as reported in the most up-to-date reliable sources, even when it doesn't match what's most common in reliable sources."
Elagabalus identified herself as "imperatrix [5]" In addition, she also presented in the feminine and made a call for a physician to "equip her with female genitalia." It is of no consequence what pronouns historians have used to refer to her and for matters of gender identity I believe that E. made it abundantly clear how she identified.
Also on the point that it will be confusing to the reader: "When a person's gender self-designation may come as a surprise to readers, explain it without overemphasis on first occurrence in an article."
Also, I fail to see how using correct pronouns would detract any from the focus of the page, which is of course a biography. Moira98 (talk) 17:22, 18 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose for now. A very considerable literature uses the the male pronoun in English, and the Latin literature preponderantly uses the masculine gender. Moreover, the sources for the subject are neither plentiful nor good; if the subject did prefer the female pronoun, we know of that preference only from the subject’s bitter enemies, enemies who had every reason to falsify that preference. Transexual inclinations were a common currency of ancient political invective, and we ought not to chase too literally after corrupt or partial sources or give them too much credence; cf. recent efforts to understand the underlying political programs of Caligula and (especially) Nero. Nonetheless, both scholarship and custom may alter this decision in the future; we should retain the customary pronoun for the present without prejudice to revisiting the topic in the future. MarkBernstein (talk) 00:19, 20 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment we should use whatever pronoun is used by modern scholars. Everything else is irrelevant. Paul August 00:25, 20 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose per WP:NOR / WP:SYNTH. This would clearly be "presentism", but would also be original research / a synthesis of multiple sources to present a conclusion not present in any of them. - Ryk72 'c.s.n.s.' 19:19, 20 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose Elagabalus isn't comparable to people like Chelsea Manning or Caitlyn Jenner, simply because in the cases of Manning and Jenner, we have ample, direct, evidence of their desires and how they identified. The problem of histories written at the time are much knottier. Cassius Dio is our best source of the time, but like many of our histories of the time, even from historians that are considered reputable on a lot of things, such as Chen Shou or Michael Psellus, there's a lot of innuendo and rumor and personal dislike in there. Accusing a rules of being transgender or zoophilia or cannibalism are the kinds of insults you see in a lot of histories. Please note that I'm absolutely not saying that transgenderism is bad, only that historians at the time would have likely seen it as an insult. Mark Bernstein is right on point here as there are similar issues with histories of Caligula. Also Domitian, who also fell under the damnatio memoriae. Cassius Dio is reputable enough that we should report the beliefs, but not to the extent that we can really get even a glimpse of how Elagabalus personally felt. CoffeeCrumbs (talk) 17:25, 22 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Definitely presentism. Elagabalus was indisputably male, no matter whether he was gay, straight, or bisexual... and even these terms are borderline when it comes to describing third-century aristocrats. Maybe he liked playing submissive roles and being called his lover's wife, but that doesn't make him transgender; nor does expressing a desire to have female genitalia. The sources claiming that he did aren't reliable beyond question; even the best ancient historians reported rumors and stories (as we do here), but without always differentiating between fact and rumor. They all lived in societies that had certain expectations with respect to their treatment of sensitive subjects, making it expedient to slant accounts of certain historical figures in one direction or the other. We don't have credible sources stating unequivocally that Elagabalus considered himself to be a woman, or that he attempted to transform himself into one. No matter how much credibility modern historians accord the accounts that we do have, none of them identify Elagabalus as anything but male. It looks as if the only descriptions of him as anything else are from specialist studies of human sexuality. The way these opinions are currently presented in the article seems to accurately represent a modern re-interpretation, but adopting that position for the article as a whole would give undue weight to an ahistorical viewpoint. P Aculeius (talk) 16:27, 23 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. They had no ability to change his gender back in those times and no reliable sources claim that he ever did have his gender changed. Even if they removed his male parts they could not have been able to then make him female (the actual act of changing gender is what makes you another gender). Psychotic Spartan 123 12:45, 24 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Note. I apologize if what I said sounded offensive, but I meant it objectively. If they could have changed his gender that would just be another historic feat for the Romans. With regards, Psychotic Spartan 123 18:24, 24 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This is recentist, propagandistic, anachronistic, and culturally imposing. Whether some modern writers consider him transgender in some sense from a modern perspective might make interesting article content in a section, if well-sourced, but it's not encyclopedic for WP to retroactively redefine this person in his own historical context just to match present fads in definitionalist labeling. Not even all modern "transgender" people appreciate being labeled that way, and it's ridiculous to reach back in time and force the label on historical characters. [See my later comment in the section below for additional and more detailed rationales against this, including the policies it violates.]  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:54, 25 December 2015 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

On future discussions/debates about pronoun changes[edit]

In the latest thread on this subject, I was noticing a lot of discussion that was centered around false information about gender. The thread also seemed crowded by a lot of iffy logic (on my part as well). I'm not deep into Roman History or Biographies, but I feel like I'm well versed enough in gender studies to bring up a few definitions and guidelines from WP:LGBT Studies for future debates so that we can reach an organized and comprehensive decision.

  • Gender: Is a set of a person's internalized masculinity and/or femininity. This is mostly separate from sex, however in cultures where a gender is assigned at birth gender is inherently tied to biological sex.
  • Sex: Refers to a person's set of genitals and/or their sex chromosomes. Male, Female, and Intersex are biological sexes.
  • Gender Identity: How a person experiences their own gender, their feeling of masculinity and/or femininity. How they choose to refer to themselves, dress, act, etc.
  • Transgender: A transgender person's gender identity does not align with the gender they were assigned at birth.
  • Cisgender: A cisgender person's gender identity aligns with the gender they were assigned at birth.

MOS:ID requires that any person who's gender is questioned must be referred to by the pronouns and gendered nouns that align with their latest expressed gender identity. Also, that we must give precedence to self-designation even if the majority of sources do not use matching pronouns.

So, for a list of guidelines I'd like to propose that:

  1. Because the subject's gender has been a source of contention on multiple occasions, the article should avoid using gendered pronouns, possessive adjectives, and gendered nouns when referring to the subject. (As per: Chevalier D'Eon) Until credible sources arise that prompt a pronoun change.
  2. Arguments centering around pronouns used by historians or in historical documents may NOT be given any weight, for or against, a pronoun change (MOS:ID). The basis of the pronoun change must come from credible self-identification.
  3. The subject can only be consider transgender if:
Their culture assigned genders at birth
Their culture has more than one gender expression
They identify with a gender that is not the gender they were assigned at birth (with credible sources)

If anyone has any guidelines or definitions they'd like to have involved if (when) debates pop up in the future(especially if you come from a history/biographical standpoint) please feel free to add them to this thread. Also, feel free to ask questions and comment on these guidelines that I've come up with and we can talk it out.Moira98 (talk) 19:40, 24 December 2015 (UTC)

  • Strongly oppose. Designations and discussions about terminology of this type are only appropriate to present-day figures; that is, currently-living people or perhaps those of the recent past. Much of this terminology is very recent and has yet to enter the mainstream vocabulary; using it at all requires an explanation, and is likely to be controversial even among specialists in the subject (for instance, the idea that gender is "assigned at birth" seems at odds with most people's understanding of the term). This terminology has little or no direct and uncontroversial application to historical persons, particularly persons of the distant past whose personal views and actions are not well documented, and subject to debate due to the reliability and motivation of the sources. The clear consensus of the discussion above was that the historical evidence indicates that Elagabalus was male, and does not provide sufficient evidence that considered himself to be female. The proposal to ignore not only the views of his contemporaries but of modern historians fails to meet Wikipedia's requirements for a neutral point of view, and effectively gives undue weight to a doubtful identification that is quite adequately discussed in one section of the article. P Aculeius (talk) 14:52, 26 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. (not sure if this is a seperate proposal from the previous one) Because we cannot know with accuracy whether or not Elagabalus felt like he was a woman, we can't treat his gender identity as anything other than his sex. Not to mention this is probably just POV-pushing. Psychotic Spartan 123 15:19, 26 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Wikipedia must follow the consensus of reliable sources. Paul August 23:05, 26 December 2015 (UTC)
  • Inappropriate. This is not the place to try to establish "guidelines" on how to talk about transgendered people. WP has been working at this for several years and not yet reached much of a consensus other than what is presently at MOS:IDENTITY. See at least four RfCs at Village Pump this year alone. The definitions provided above are unsourced and not well-thought-out anyway (for one thing, the first and the third are essentially the same thing in different words, yet "gender" and "gender identity" are not in fact synonymous). Third, this section is essentially just rehash of the RfC above this, which is clearly going against trying to label Elagabalus as TG. Fourth, the article and its sources make it pretty clear that he was interested in and engaged in all sorts of things that the empire's citizens considered perverted or aberrant, and was not simply someone born male trying to identify publicly as female; the entire urge to mis-label this person as TG is way off the mark, much like trying to redefine prison rapists as "homosexuals". It belies a fundamental misunderstanding of what the terms mean, and what the motivations are of those to whom one is trying to misapply such labels. Next, PyschoticSpartan123 nailed the central problem with this side proposal: We can't read Elagabalus's mind from a temporal distance, so the entire question of what this person's "gender identity" was is unknowable, even aside from the fact that the whole notion of a "gender identity" is a very new concept, approximately two generations old, and extremely Western, nor is it one that reliable sources apply to this subject (or to anyone like him). From any perspective – historical, historiographical, anthropological, socio-linguistic, comparative-religious, philosophical, encyclopedic – other than that of the far-left's language change and thought policing agenda, which would rather rewrite history than ever let anyone with an unusual sexuality feel "uncomfortable", all these proposals to label pre-20th-century figures such as Elagabalus with inappropriate terms like "transgender" are essentially nonsensical at best.

    PS: MOS:IDENTITY does not say anything like "pronouns used by historians or in historical documents may NOT be given any weight". Even if someone were to editwar something like this into MoS (and there have been attempts), it would be invalid, since the WP:NOR and WP:V policies overrule a guideline (and "Elagabalus was transgendered and shouldn't be referred to as 'he'" is a canonical example of unsourced novel sythesis of unrelated facts and concepts, violating both policies at once). But MoS has never said anything like that, anyway, and none of the recent discussions about how to tweak that section of the guideline have concluded to have it say anything like that. The text actually clearly indicates the exact opposite: "When there is a discrepancy between the term most commonly used by reliable sources for a person or group and the term that person or group uses for themselves, use the term that is most commonly used by reliable sources; if it isn't clear which is most used, use the term that the person or group uses." With regard to TG persons, it adds Give precedence to self-designation as reported in the most up-to-date reliable sources, even when it doesn't match what's most common in [i.e. older] reliable sources. ... [They] should be referred to by the pronouns, possessive adjectives, and gendered nouns ... that reflect that person's latest expressed gender self-identification. For historical figures, neither of these will ever change, absent the highly unusual case (is there a single one, ever?) of the later discovery of documents, heretofore unknown, written in the subject's own hand proclaiming a gender self-identification at odds with their biological sex. The odds against this ever happening with regard to Elagabalus approach the astronomical, so unless and until something that virtually miraculous happens, we can simply put this issue to rest and let it rest forever.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  10:00, 27 December 2015 (UTC)

  • In Favor. I know this has no chance of surviving against this antithetical audience, but it's worth placing my favour down. This proposal would sate a rational audience, as it does not lean in favour of those against inclusion of transgenderism or in favour of those who agree with it. Irockz (talk) 20:36, 3 January 2016 (UTC)
    • Do you have any argument to make about the historical sources? For instance, a direct witness to Elgalabalus's desires? Cassius Dio was in Asia and Africa during this reign and only reports secondhand. Also, given that WP:AGF is a thing, I'll assume that referring to us as antiethical, against inclusion, and non-rational in two sentences was a brief lapse of judgment that you will no doubt quickly rectify. CoffeeCrumbs (talk) 03:14, 4 January 2016 (UTC)
      • You seem to have misread. I said antithetical, not antiethical (which isn't a word), and are you denying that you're against the inclusion of transgenderism in this article? Irockz (talk) 20:42, 4 January 2016 (UTC)
        • I think he was suggesting, quite adequately, that your vote as "In Favor" of this side proposal lacks any real merit from a historical perspective. A historical perspective is important when dealing with historical persons. Also, he was probably suggesting - rather modestly - that you were being uncivil (see WP:CIVIL). With regard, Psychotic Spartan 123 20:55, 4 January 2016 (UTC)
          • @Irockz: I concur with PsychoticSpartan123. Even "antithetical" is questionable. No one here expresses the antithesis of properly using transgender-related terminology with subjects to whom they properly apply, we just don't agree that it applies in "if only they'd been alive today, things might have been different" cases. WP is not a platform for what-if or for advocacy on this or any other issue. So, no, it's not worth casting an off-topic vote in favor of something inappropriate, just to make a point and to poorly attempt to insult others' reasoning abilities. I can't speak for CoffeeCrumbs, but your comments address the entire "antithetical audience", so I can speak for myself: I take exception to the "are you denying that you're against..." WP:BATTLEGROUND / WP:LAWYER wording; this is not a prosecution, and those in favor of WP:CORE policies being applied to this article are not on trial. I for one actually made it quite explicit that I recommend including material on TG-related academic theory in this article, in a section for gender studies materia, and with appropriate sourcing. We've regularly covered questions of whether someone would be considered a homosexual or bisexual in modern terms, in articles on historical subjects from cultures that didn't use such labels, and this is no different. The one thing we don't do is apply these 20th-and-later-century Western terms to historical figures as if they were self-labels. (For one thing, the Western trans-woman/trans-man dichotomy is a false one cross-culturally, with many Asian cultures taking a third-gender perspective that many Western TG thinkers are apt to deny as false or wrong – cultures that directly influenced the Ancient Greek, then later the Eastern Roman / Byzantine, eventually Ottoman empires, and a concept often deeply bound up with religious ideas. But they weren't "genderqueer", an American secular concept dating to the 1970s.) I also concur with comments below that the compromise between a fact-based position and an unsupported supposition-based one is not a "rational" result, it's just a common one in Western political squabbling. As with the creationism-in-schools debate, the proper solution is to present the fact-based position as the subject, then as a separate matter teach the dispute as a social issue, without commingling the supposition-based position into the factual presentation of the evidence-based one.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:17, 5 January 2016 (UTC)
    • One would hope that a rational audience would recognise a middle ground fallacy as readily as they might ad hominem. - Ryk72 'c.s.n.s.' 10:19, 5 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose - Concur with the comment by SMcCandlish, above. Add that the proposal is a classic middle ground fallacy. The solution to a dispute between a position supported by both policy & sources and a position supported by neither is not a third "compromise" position, which is also not supported by policy & sources. - Ryk72 'c.s.n.s.' 10:19, 5 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose "Arguments centering around pronouns used by historians or in historical documents may NOT be given any weight, for or against, a pronoun change (MOS:ID). The basis of the pronoun change must come from credible self-identification." Hell no, this is a history article not a transgender issues article and as such you cannot just raise your hands and request that history be dismissed for another, lesser in this instance, issue. And secondly; that is blatantly false, MOS:ID specifies word for word "When there is a discrepancy between the term most commonly used by reliable sources for a person or group and the term that person or group uses for themselves, use the term that is most commonly used by reliable sources; if it isn't clear which is most used, use the term that the person or group uses." Which means that the reliable sources take precedence over personal identification and not the other way around. History says him, he, his etc. Therefore use he, him, his etc. Where transgender issues come into play, then we can have a discussion about it. But for a history article, ancient history!, these issues simply don't belong. To summarize: Transgender issues have their place, this is not that place. I apologize if I am beating a dead horse, but I simply could not just let it slide that policy is being manipulated to further an argument and that you just openly request dismissing history, historical sources and sources dealing with history in a history article no less to further your own view (I almost said agenda here, because that's how it came across but AGF). Mr rnddude (talk) 14:58, 11 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Note Not to mention he would've probably had his name changed to Elagabala (feminine form of Elagabalus) if he actually had identified as a woman. The idea that modern theories on gender identity could apply to people living 1800 years ago seems to me a product of recentism (WP:RECENT - not a guideline). We can't just reassign peoples genders who lived centuries ago. What if nothing written about his sexual lifestyle is even true? Cassius Dio's stories about Elagabalus could just be an attack against a weak Emperor. What if he did have sex with men, but was just homosexual, or bisexual? The stories of his homosexual relationships could be true, but what about him wanting to change his gender? How could we possibly know whether or not that's true when all accounts on his life are written by people who in the same breath describe him as a weak, incompetent, leader? The answer is we can not, and will not, ever know if he identified as a woman. Psychotic Spartan 123 17:26, 11 March 2016 (UTC)
This ^, very much this. Mr rnddude (talk) 07:38, 12 March 2016 (UTC)

Featured Article, serious concers[edit]

I never paid great attention to it, but, this article isn't really an FA quality article, like, at all.

  • 1. The article has several passages that are unsourced or uncited, I'll list a few down below
    • "In Greek the sun god is Helios, hence "Heliogabalus", a variant of "Elagabalus"." Likely true, but, needs a citation.
    • "This placed senators in the awkward position of having to make offerings to Elagabalus whenever they made offerings to Victoria." According to whom?
    • "While Julia Maesa tried to position herself as the power behind the throne and thus the most powerful woman in the world, Elagabalus would prove to be highly independent, set in his ways, and impossible to control." As likely true, but needs a citation.
    • "Before constructing a temple in dedication to Elagabal, Elagabalus placed the meteorite of Elagabal next to the throne of Jupiter at the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus." Again likely true, but uncited.
  • 2. This article fails to meet WP:OR guidelines, specifically;
    • "Do not base an entire article on primary sources, and be cautious about basing large passages on them."
      • Given that primary sources (Dio, Herodian, Plutarch and Historia Augusta) make up more than 1/2 of all citations (70/106) this article can safely be said to fail the criterion. It shouldn't be too difficult given the breadth of work from secondary sources on Elagabalus, but, at least 2/3 of these should be sourced to a reliable secondary source. It would be a definite pass if no large passages cited primary sources and there were about 10-20 primary source citations in all. Personally, I would aim for less than 10% primary sourcing. Especially anything from the Historia Augusta which is not a reliable source, again, at all. This leads on to point 3.
  • 3. This article uses unreliable sources, which would be fine, if it were back up with a reliable source, and thus negate the need for the unreliable source. Fails WP:RS.

Right now, in this condition, the article technically fails to meet B-class requirements, B1 specifically. I personally can't go through this article to fix it up, if somebody who is involved or interested in the article could that would be much appreciated. Otherwise, the article could do with an FAR. Mr rnddude (talk) 13:38, 10 July 2016 (UTC)

I'll find citations if I can. Psychotic Spartan 123 18:41, 10 July 2016 (UTC)
  • "In Greek the sun god is Helios, hence "Heliogabalus", a variant of "Elagabalus"." The German source that preceded the remark states this.
  • "This placed senators in the awkward position of having to make offerings to Elagabalus whenever they made offerings to Victoria." Insinuated by Herodian and likely true. Asserted by the article on Elagabalus.
Tomorrow I'll find more for the other comments. I too question the reliability of these sources, but it will take a couple days to replace them. I'll get started on replacing them tomorrow, and I'd like to keep the article (or make the article) featured status. Psychotic Spartan 123 20:16, 10 July 2016 (UTC)
All good, I am in no rush to have this reviewed, take as long as you need. Thanks for taking up the work, I would, but I have two articles I am working on for A-class (Caracalla and Macrinus). If I come across any sources that could be useful for Elagabalus I'll let you know. Mr rnddude (talk) 01:01, 11 July 2016 (UTC)

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Removed "possibly transsexual" but left transgender[edit]

It previously read "Elagabalus has been characterized by some modern writers as transgender, possibly transsexual". I removed the "possibly transsexual" part as it was redundant because the term transsexual means the same thing as transgender. Transgender is just a newer version of the word transsexual that was made to remove some stigmatization for trans people. there has been some recent pushes from political and social groups to make a distinction between the terms because one group has personal issues being associated with other trans people who they don't like, but the distinction is overwhelming not approved of in the trans community and the words are used interchangeably.

Is it even possible to write a reliable life of Elagabalus given the quality of the primary sources?[edit]

This page is based on the ancient sources, which is as it should be. The problem is that these sources are flawed. Martijn Icks ("Heliogabalus, a Monster on the Roman Throne: The Literary Construction of a 'Bad' Emperor," 2008) makes a convincing case that there was a received way of writing about ‘bad’ emperors, and that all the sources, Herodian and Cassius Dio included, reflect this tendency. Much of the content informing this tradition concerns an emperor’s private life; few could have first-hand knowledge of it. The anecdote about Elagabalus’ wanting a transsexual operation is absurd, to give just one example. Sections 18–35 in the Historia Augusta is a sordid series of complete fabrications. Cassius Dio was not in Rome during E’s reign, and adhered to the patrician party line about the ‘interloper’ after his death. As an historian Herodian is held in even lower regard. That a revisionist history by a respected historian (Martijn Icks, Images of Elagabalus, 2008) presenting a very different picture, a favorable picture, of the emperor, has appeared just shows how little we know about Elagabalus for certain. The surviving sources just don’t measure up by today’s standards. In my view language to this effect ought to be included in the opening.Prohairesius (talk)

  • Articles should based on secondary sources primarily, per WP:OR, but primary sources may be used sparingly, per WP:PRIMARY. In the case of Dio and Herodian, there can be some cause to refer to them directly, but, exceptional care must be taken to do so. By contrast, the Historia Augusta (or Augustan History) should practically never be used. To answer the question in the heading; No, short of time travel, definitely not. Somewhere above and about a year ago, I mentioned that this article needs significant work to re-attain the FA standard. As far as I'm concerned, that assessment stands. It's not as easy as just writing into the lede that the ancient sources aren't particularly reliable as accounts of Elagabalus' life, you'd have to find a scholarly criticism of the ancient sources account of Elagabalus' life and then write them both into the article and the lede. The section entitled Sources may be a good start as some of it is covered in that section already. Mr rnddude (talk) 06:01, 21 October 2017 (UTC)