In view of these public debaucheries, all authorized by both law and religion, a fair idea may be formed of what private life must have been among these noble Romans. It was not luxury alone, it was not dissipation, it was not simply perversion of morality, it was an absolute aberration of the genesic sense; a monstrous insanity in creating and glutting the sexual desire.1
1 Bale's "Catalogue of Sodomites" enumerates, among the sexual and other vices, " m&stupration, satyriasis, priapismus, melancholy, madness, fornication, adultery, buggery, sodomy, theft, murder and infanticide;" and Jovius remarks that the Romans "mustered up women aa we do soldiers, having choice of the rarest beauties in the world, their poets, even, giving themselves to nothing but songs and dalliances of which wine, lust and women were the chiefest subjects."
Intercourse between males was the daily practice of the Roman aristocracy. In our day, if a man discover vicious tendencies in his son, or a mother in her daughter, he or she will endeavor by every art of parental soUcitude to correct or overcome it; but among the patrician families of Rome—a custom I could never satisfactorily account for, except on the ground of avoiding venereal disease—it was quite common to give to the young man, just arrived at puberty, a male slave of the same age for a bedfellow, in order that he might satisfy, according to Dupouy, his first genesic impulses.
Such practices are so monstrous that the reader may well ask himself if he is dreaming; but that they prevailed, is easily susceptible of historic proof. " And thou, perfumed husband, it is very nice to say that thou regretfully givest up thy beardless pets," cries Catullus to the husband of Julia; and the same poet acknowledges that the young married man is excusable, adding "you have never known any but pleasures which were permitted, but a spouse should no longer taste of them; there are others.'"
Well might the elder Cato mantle his face at the shocking obscenity of the times. Murder, incest, adultery, pederasty, prostitution, protected themselves l^eneath law and the imperial purple. Curio was permitted to say, and, if the evidences of history go for anything, was justified in saying, as quoted by Suetonius, that the conqueror of Gaul and Britain was " the husband of all women and the wife of all men."*
I should scarcely be justified, were this other than a work for the learned, presumably already fairly acquainted with the depths of human depravity, to mention the monstrous acts of Tiberius, for instance, from whose awful lust not even infancy was sacred. Of the infamous Nero, who was seen wedding, in public, and with the greatest imaginable pomp, the poor boy, Sporus, whose genital organs he had caused to be previously removed; or of the same crowned lunatic, and sadist, ravishing the two officiating priests at a public religious ceremony;8 or of Heliogabalus, a worthy rival of the imperial incendiary, who did not, however, go beyond the passive role in his sodomy, willing to give an empire to the athletic male slave whom he had married.*
The instances are too shocking and revolting for even a work of this character, and belong more properly to the realm of sexual psychiatry, or mental alienation. But there is a fearful lesson to be learned from an analysis of the secret causes, however revolting, which produce a nation's downfall; and pursuing my original intent, there is no field, modern or ancient, that I shall regard as forbidden ground in the pursuit of these investigations.
The incisive keenness of Martial's epigram on Amillus—
"Non pjpdicari bo qui teatatur, Amillc, Illud siepe facit, quod sine teste facit,"1 can only be properly appreciated by remembering that in the play of words, lestaiitr and teste, together with the preceding statement that "Amillus leaves all his doors open when he receives large boy3 at home," the conclusion being that he likes to be surprised in his villainous occupation, the word testis may mean either a testicle or a toitness. The satirist's meaning is, however, made quite plain in his further remark—"he who, in such a case, wishes to prove that he is not a patient, often does at another time that which may be accomplished without a witness."* (Without a testicle?)
When we remember that the terms, percidis and pmdicari, are descriptive of acts of such gross homosexual obscenity that I almost hesitate to translate them, that the rectum, the mouth, the hand and the tongue, were equally employed in sexual intercourse, a fair idea may be formed of the force and energy of the satirical writers of the times. Intercourse with infants, with daughter or sister, even mother, mutual masturbation between males, Lesbian-love, or sexual intercourse between females, every form of lewdness known in any, or every, age of the world, was so familiar to the debauchees of Rome that even the Latin language, rich as it is in terms descriptive of such vices, is almost at a loss to paint or describe them. Sodomites—such as the Amillus whom Martial so vigorously attacked—were designated, according to Buret,4 in every-day language by the expressions cincedi, pathici, padicones, the passive instruments—that is submitting themselves to other men—of the unnatural lubricity of the debauched patricians. And here it may not be improper to remark that only this form of pederasty, the passive, was considered disreputable in Rome, the active form being esteemed creditable and virile.
The male mastuprator was called fellator, the feminine fellatrix being applied to female prostitutes who were sufficiently degraded to receive the sexual organ into the mouth. The verbs irrumarc, cunnilingere and lambcre designated, according to Ricord,* "a certain preparatory to the virile act, which may be easily imagined, and which gave the name cunnilingus or irrupiator to the individual who surrendered himself to the revolting practice of exciting women with the tongue."
So fur as women were concerned, the last-mentioned obscenity was, without doubt, much rarer in Rome than in Lesbos, since Martial mentions but one such prostitute—Philenis—"plane media* vorat puella*,"1 in a Latin far too picturesque for translation even here. It will convey a sufficiently accurate picture of the times to conclude, for the present, these reflections with the remark of Martial—"thy young slave ails in his penis; thou, Naevolus, it is at the anus; I am not a magician, but I know thy habits.'"
"The beauty of a Chinese woman," says Dr. Matignon, "resides largely in her foot."3 She is as bashful in revealing this to a man as the European lady her breasts. When the physician finds it necessary to examine her feet, the Chinese school-girl will blush, turn her back to unfasten the bandages, and then conceal the member in a cloth, leaving only the affected part visible.* Even the pictures of naked Chinese women always show the feet surrounded by a little silken frill.
* This is not the only instance in which modern Japan is suffering from the careless Use of her earlier history in the hands of writers. The Japan of to-day is not the Japan of even twenty years ago.