Sex features a lot in my books, a fact I only realised after Mr LJ helpfully totted up the number of ‘scenes of a sexual nature’ (as the announcers on the BBC say) in Palatine.
Err there was quite a lot.
So why so many?
No, I’m not sex obsessed. I have two small children, if anything I’m sleep obsessed. I positively drool at the thought of a solid 8 hours kip.
Roman society’s attitude to sex and sexuality are interesting to explore. This is a non Christian society, there are no Ten commandments, no sin. This doesn’t make it necessarily a more permissive society than our own modern one but it does mean that they have different rules and norms to us. And personally I find that fascinating.
Wandering round Pompeii you are well aware of this difference what with the lucky penis shapes carved into walls and the pavement, the explicit frescoes demonstrating a variety of sexual positions and acts, not to mention the err quite graphic graffiti.
“Theophilus, don’t perform oral sex on girls against the city wall like a dog”
“Weep, you girls. My penis has given you up. Now it penetrates men’s behinds. Goodbye, wondrous femininity!”
Being two such examples.
People talked about sex, they joked about sex, they scrawled their exploits onto walls.Or for the higher born like Catullus and Martial they wrote poetry about it.
“Stay at home, and get ready
for nine fucks, in succession, with me.
Truly, if you should want it, let me know now:
because lying here, fed, and indolently full,
I’m making a hole in my tunic and cloak”
“Lesbia swears she’s never been fucked for free.
True. When she wants to be fucked, she has to pay.”
And these are two of the tamer examples of their work.
Even imperial biographers such as Suetonius can’t resist listing ala the poets just who was doing what to who.
For the record
Augustus with Julius Caesar and virgins who’d been especially rounded up for him to deflower.
Tiberius with various slave boys and he was fond of cunninglingus
Caligula with everyone
Claudius only with women (a situation Suetonius thinks is worth stressing)
Nero with his freedmen both passive and active role and with his mother.
And that’s just the Julio Claudians
So I think my conclusion is that I’m not sex obsessed it’s all those Romans who are.