should not have been ticking the ‘sane’ box
on any parchment forms…
Just because you want to dress like a woman, “be” a woman, does not discount the possibility that you may be one sick puppy.
The background as to how Elagabalus held the hereditary rank of high priest to the Syrian sun god El-Gabal (or Baal), and later Emperor of Rome, as well as the picture source from here. Skipping forward to the ‘good’ part (just after the string of wives):
Were the Romans quite used to learning of their emperors – among them even the mighty Trajan -having a liking for young boys, then they had evidently never had an emperor such as Elagabalus.
It appears most likely that Elagabalus was homosexual, for his interests lay clearly with men, and he seemed to have shown little desire for any of his wives. Further to this, Elagabalus seemed to bear the desire in him to be a woman. He had the hairs plucked from his body in order to appear more female, and delighted in appearing in public wearing make-up.
And he is said to have promised his physicians large sums of money if they would find away to operate on him and turn him into a woman.
More so, at court a blond Carian slave named Hierocles acted as the emperor’s ‘husband’.
Accounts also point to Elagabalus enjoying to pretend being a prostitute, offering himself naked to passers by in the palace, or even prostituting himself in the taverns and brothels of Rome. Meanwhile he would often arrange it to be caught by Hierocles, who would then be expected to punish him for his behaviour with a severe beating.
Elagabalus also seemed a little obsessed with genitals:
There are reports of severed human genitalia and small boys being sacrificed to the sun god.
Yet another (less serious) summary of his life found here:
Made Caesar at the tender age of 14, he acted pretty much in line with what you’d expect a teenager to act if given supreme power over the world’s largest empire: In four criminally-short years, he deposed Jupiter at the head of the Roman pantheon, was married and divorced five times, dressed up in women’s clothing and prostituted himself in taverns, and made sexual advances at random passers-by while standing in the imperial palace. Oh, yeah, and he offered a chunk of the Roman treasury to any physician who could give him female genitalia. […] He was brutally murdered by his own bodyguards in a latrine at age 18, his naked body dragged through the streets.
Of course Elagabalus was into the usual executing dissidents and promoting his buddies (what probably upset the Romans was that some of his buddies were ‘lowborn’).
According to Cassius Dio, a contemporary, Elagabalus was often thrashed by his lovers, and bore the marks on his body. He added that Elagabalus “frequented the notorious brothels, drove out to the prostitutes and played the prostitute himself” and that he “set aside a room in the palace and there committed his indecencies, always standing nude at the door of the room as the harlots do” and “in a soft and melting voice he solicited the passers by”. Elagabalus created a public bath inside the palace, so that he could collect paramours with remarkable phallic endowments. Even more infuriating to the people of Rome was the appointment of his lowborn lovers to the highest offices.
So it seems, chopping off male genitalia, obsession with acquiring female genitalia, is not such a new phenomenon. A fixation with genitals or body parts is not a healthy thing. Nor is masochism. Most obsessions are not healthy. If anything-goes Rome thought he was off the scale by their standards, then this little dude really must have been way out there. It wasn’t like the Romans were all that shy about phallus-worship either.