For the ancient Romans, slaves were not human. They were treated as living possessions that anyone could sexually use. However, not everyone was satisfied with the usual attitude. Some degenerate "gourmets" liked gladiator sweat, others - castrated youths.
"The rich did not have to go to the brothel because they had slaves they could exploit:both men and women," says Mary Beard, an ancient Roman historian bluntly. The servants were treated more like living things than people:they had nothing to say. With the consent of the owner, each guest was allowed to sexually abuse them. And if he happened to do it without permission, he was punished as for… property damage.
Slaves were a common commodity for the ancient Romans. In order to satisfy their whims, they did not hesitate to castrate them ... Picture by Jacob Maris.
In practice, slaves were not protected in Rome by any paragraphs. They did not have the right to marry each other (in the comedy "Carina" Plaut only joked about such an idea), and they could only discharge the drive as the man wished. For example, the famous ancient politician and orator Cato the Elder allowed his own subjects to have intercourse with one another ... charging a fee for them! Well, money doesn't stink - as another Roman classic said.
The Romans not only played with their slaves themselves, but often forced them to have sex with each other to enjoy the perverse sight. The illustration shows fragments of Pompeian frescoes.
Whether or not they wanted to, slaves had to adapt to such conditions. Even more:they should try to keep their gentlemen and ladies as satisfied as possible. Near Pompeii, a gold bracelet was discovered on the body of a woman with the inscription "From the master for his slave" - which may indicate a certain extraordinary affect, and therefore such situations also took place. Sex was also sometimes the way to freedom. The owner could free the slave - out of love, gratitude, pity, or his own whim.
A drop of gladiator's sweat
Gladiators were a special case among slaves. "Graffiti in Pompeii shows that they were gifted with the same violent feeling that nowadays underage girls have for famous singers," assessed philologist Michael Grant. - “The authors of the inscriptions on the walls in Pompeii call the Thracian Celadus the hero of the girls, making their hearts beat; another entry specifies a retiarius [type of fighter armed with a net and a trident - ed. aut.] Krescens as the ruler and doctor of girls at night. ”
Of course, the inscriptions from Pompeii can only be boasts of the warriors themselves or their fans. Just like a rich woman, whose body was found after centuries in the ruins of the gladiators' barracks in Pompeii, she did not necessarily show up there to indulge in love games at the time of the Vesuvius eruption. Rather, she was looking for help!
The ancient Romans most often bought slaves abroad or won them as a result of conquests. The illustration shows a relief from Smyrna (today's Turkey) showing a Roman soldier leading prisoners in chains.
It is undeniable, however, that gladiators did in fact evoke vivid feelings of Roman women. Even the Vestals who watched the skirmishes appreciated their "profession". Augustus, on the other hand, did not allow women to sit too close to the arena to prevent rumors of matrons' affairs with muscular slaves. There were times when they actually spent with the arena warriors intoxicating nights - a rumor said that the father of Emperor Commodus was a gladiator, not Marcus Aurelius. Others, in turn, bought the sweat of gladiators (full, as we know today, of male hormones) to get excited.
Not only women were sighing to the champions from the arena. Horoscope of a young man named Antigonos of Nikoi - born on April 6, 11 CE. - says that "he was sensual and liked gladiators". It can be suspected that behind more than one ordered mosaic or painting with a warrior in the arena there were more or less hidden male fantasies.
Artists, musicians, castrati ...
It does not change the fact that everyone who performed on stage was identified by the Romans as a man selling his body. Thus, the ancients saw no particular difference between an artist and a prostitute. Even the Greeks who participated in the symposiums liked girls with aulos ("aulist" was a synonym of a prostitute), and boys with kitara were objects of desire. In Rome, even free citizens who decided to perform on stage - as dancers or gladiators - paid for it with a loss of honor. That is why Juvenal mocked the singer - an overseas star, whom he called "wimp", and compared gladiators to male prostitutes.
There were just enough of these, and all kinds of them. Castrated boys used as sexual toys were popular among the degenerate Roman "gourmets". Not only by men but also by women. Only during the reign of Domitian, at the end of the 1st century CE, it was forbidden to castrate boys for erotic games. However, the law could be circumvented - slave traders mutilated slaves outside Rome (Syria, Egypt and Delos were famous for making eunuchs), and then delivered live goods to the streets of the capital of the world ...
The text was created during the author's work on his latest book. " Ages of shame. Sex and erotica in antiquity ” .
- Michel Grant, Gladiators , crowd. Tadeusz Rybowski, Ossolineum, 1980.
- John R. Gregg, Sex, the Illustrated History:Through Time, Religion and Culture , vol. I, Xlibris Corporation, 2016.
- Juvenal, Satire VII , in:Lida Winniczuk, Three Roman satirists. Horace, Persius, Juvenal , PIW, 1959.
- John G. Landels, Music of Ancient Greece and Rome , crowd. Maciej Kaziński, Homini Publishing House, 2003.
- Meet the Romans with Mary Beard , episode 3: Behind Closed Doors , BBC, 2012
- Thomas Wiedemann, Emperors and Gladiators , Routledge, 2002.
- John G. Younger, Sex in the Ancient World from A to Z , Routledge, 2005.