Love in the Ancient World


Human Beings have been having sex for a good number of years now, and the habit seems to be escalating. 


With that much practice firmly behind them you would think that people would no longer need help with matters of a sexual nature. 


The very opposite is true.


But can we learn from the past when it comes to our own sexuality? Well, no, not really, but there is no denying that the average human finds the subject both compelling and fascinating. 


People have been so engaged by the subject over the centuries that we have plenty of records of their personal experiences and observations. 




Some races, such as the Celtic nations. did not leave much information behind them as they continued an oral tradition, and by that Wotta Tripp does not mean what you all think, but merely that they did not write anything down. 


If you are out and about in Britain on a Saturday night you can still get an inkling of an idea about the way things might once have been. 


Fortunately, or not, depending on your point of view, the Romans and Greeks were very fond of writing things down about their sex lives, and also enjoyed making it the subject of plenty of murals, even in family homes, leaving us accurate records of their explicit exploits. 


For this reason we will be dealing only with the frequently annoying habits of ancient Romans and Greeks. Think how exhausting it would be to write about, say, the sexual habits and secrets of ancient India and Japan as well. 


Dame Wotta Tripp will first have to recover from writing this helpful article. 


Even the mythologies of the Romans and Greeks are full of x-rated stories of love and betrayal, lust and murder. 


There is plenty of ordinary hum-drum sex, as well as incest, homosexuality, rape, transvestism and necrophilia, just the same as can be found in the media today, and sometimes next door as well. 


Nothing changes very much. It merely sways sinuously back and forth a little bit over time, wearing nothing but an evil grin. 


If you were fairly well-off and didn't like your wife or husband, you could purchase a boy or a flute-girl as a sex-slave and rent a room to keep them in. 


These people knew how to convince themselves that they were having a darn good time, and some of them actually were. It's just a shame how often it was at somebody else's expense. 



Beastly Behaviour 

It's almost as though humans just can't help themselves. Nothing is ever quite enough, and people get completely bored with each other, even though most of them are agonizingly boring themselves. 


So bored do some in fact become that they turn to the animal kingdom for comfort and consolation.  


 Turning to Animals for Comfort

 This behaviour is taboo for many excellent reasons, but people never learn, and there are still remote places, such as Wales, Bolivia and the Ozarks, where nothing on four legs is safe from human ministrations. 


The myths of the world are full of such stories, with people professing paramours from among a variety of ungulate species, and many more types besides. 


Some people, still not satisfied, entertained dalliances with satyrs, minotaurs and even interdimensional beings, but no man was ever successful in seducing the unicorn, and a jolly good thing that is, too. 


Many have thought they had a special secret lover, only to eventually discover that they had been tricked by an amorous Djinn. 


There is simply no end to the excesses indulged in on Earth. People come here on a Saturday night from spiritually underdeveloped planets just to watch. 



Women reported getting pregnant by snakes quite frequently in ancient times, and although historians take this to mean that the ladies in question quite literally thought they had conceived a child with a serpent, it's very possible that they were referring instead to the human father. 


Most women still have occasion to call at least one man a snake during their lifetime, perhaps even a lot more than one. 


On the other hand, there have long been a hidden race of intelligent snake people. There are accounts of them from around the world and in the fabled India of long ago they were known as 'Nãgas'.    


The offspring that were the result of human sexual unions with these beings were half human and half Nãga.  


Born with inherent shape-shifting and magical abilities, the upper body of a human, scaly skin and sometimes a tail rather than legs, such creatures were killed whenever possible and banished deep beneath the Earth's surface. 



Shape Shifting Abilities 



Occasionally a throw-back is born who is kept locked in a room, killed out of fear and ignorance or sold to a circus or travelling show.


These poor souls can be seen on You Tube sometimes. 


At any rate, becoming too closely familiar to any creature that isn't human, unless you too are inhuman (and I am forced to wonder about some of you), is not the right avenue to go down when venturing off the straight and narrow highway of life to explore the back roads. 


The ancient Greeks and Romans ought to have known that, and you jolly well should too. 


No ifs, ands or buts! 








There is nothing much new under the Sun, but there are no records or depictions of rainbow colored togas, chitons or any other clothing surviving from ancient times. 



This is because they were not necessary. Not only would they have been gaudy for formal wear, but homosexuality, lesbianism and bisexuality were perfectly acceptable under the correct circumstances. 


That is because the laws treated citizens, freedmen and slaves differently, and their rights differed widely accordingly. 




What a holiday destination, and with lovely beaches as well! Fortunately, the island of Lesbos is the third largest Greek Island, so it can handle a fair amount of tourism. 


It is beautiful, has a long, rich and varied history, several important archaeological sites and a petrified forest, and is also of course full of Greeks, which is rather nice. 


Because of human nature, most people don't know these facts about fair Lesbos, named originally for the patron god of the island. 


Instead it made its way into the minds of people everywhere as, and Wotta Tripp quotes only what she has heard with her own ears over and over, "that island all the 'lezzies' come from". 


Not only is this startlingly ignorant, it also makes no sense whatsoever. 




Its reputation is due to Sappho, a female poet of great repute who was born on the island around 630 BCE. 


Most of her work has been lost to the past, however some fragments have survived. 


Lesbos at this time was a cultural center, and Sappho was named as one of the lyric poets. 


Exiled for a period due to political activities, Sappho was an educated and wealthy woman born into an aristocratic family. 


Writing innovative poetry and accompanying music for the lyre, she wrote love songs in the first person, which for the times was unusual. 


She received the honour of being officially elevated from lyric poet to muse. 


Her poetry was full of homo-erotic content, and she was not censured in any way. It was accepted as perfectly normal, as were the different types of love between men.  


In fact, it was often expected.  


And it was due to her unique poetry and her birthplace that the word 'lesbian' was coined, and with which the word 'Sapphic' is still associated. 


If you book a holiday on Lesbos in the expectation of finding thousands of naked lesbians on the white beaches you will be disappointed.  


There are no more lesbians per square yard on Lesbos than anywhere else. 


Who says things have progressed? It's disappointing but true that gay people would actually find greater acceptance and equality in various places and times in the ancient past - as long as they weren't slaves. 


Not so for the furry community or 'Trekkies', however, who in most eras would sadly have had no place left to hide but in caves, high up and with a very good look-out. 



The Meat Market 

Beauty contests for the women were held at Olympia and other places, and the ladies could enter and 'go for the gold'.  


Nobody knows what this golden prize might have been, perhaps a wreath-like crown, maybe even an early sex toy, but the term is still in use today. 


Men too could enter beauty contests in cities of the ancient world, and the winner had the thrilling honour of carrying a ram around the entirety of the city walls on his presumably broad shoulders.  


It is not clear if the ram was used for a feast, as a sacrifice or if it was in fact also a sex toy. Who can tell, perhaps it was all three. 


Friends then adorned these winning young beaux with colourful ribbons, and sometimes weapons were presented as prizes. 


Beauty of face in women, but particularly in men, was equated with strength of spirit and character as well as good humour in a startlingly inane way that is disturbingly similar to modern values and equates well with the shallowness of Hollywood, and the world of fashion or professional sports today.



School of Charm

Body Image

The way that people have presented themselves to each other has always been considered important. 


Even two thousand years ago people had mirrors and were shaving, plucking, oiling, perfuming, sculpting and arranging everything to everyone's satisfaction. 


There were hairdressers, as well as people who sold precious oils and unguents, made cosmetics and created fine perfumes. 


There were folk who designed and fabricated sex toys while others created more conservative adornments such as jewellery or hair ornaments. There were designers of fashionable clothing and even gay husbands. 


Some people from the present would feel right at home back in the ancient world. 


The cosmetics frequently worn by women in both ancient Rome and Greece contained ingredients that were fairly typical of both Europe and the Mediterranean at the time. 


White lead was used extensively to whiten the complexion, which was perhaps not the wisest choice, but expensive foundation creams have been discovered that rival today's in quality. 


Berry and root juices were mixed into preparations to be used as rouge for the cheeks or to tint lips, saffron to color the eye-lids and soot or the more expensive kohl to darken and accentuate both the eyes and eyebrows. 


They even used heated curling irons, and young men sometimes got into this habit as well, curling their locks for the girls and boys. 


The wealthy had slaves who were trained in massage, cosmetics application and the specialized cleaning of bodily orifices. 


The ladies kept picatrices, who were young ladies qualified specifically to be expert hairdressers of pubic hair. 


Between them all, they had everything covered. 




Hanging Out at the Baths 



Hanging Out at the Baths 

The public baths in ancient Rome were a place to get somewhat clean if you were not rich enough to have your own bath-house at home. They were equipped with saunas. 


They were also a place for exercising and socializing, so people from all strata of society visited them daily. Some of them contained libraries, snack shops and gardens. 


Public baths were used as places for assignations between married lovers, unsuitable partners and of course for picking strangers and acquaintances up. 


Although they were often placed near to brothels, sex with male and female prostitutes was available at most public baths as well, and larger establishments might rent out private rooms to lovers who wished to meet in seclusion. 




Despite hot and cold water and the vigorous use of strigils for scraping oneself and other persons with, the supple imagination can only turn to the appalling lack of hygiene at the average baths, where dirty water was frequently re-circulated over and over. 


These places were almost as filthy as our modern-day hospitals are. 


In some parts of the world today, saunas carry a similar significance, in other parts, not, but be careful when you're out, all of you, wherever you live. There is a seemingly endless and world-wide array of exotic sins to indulge in. 


Be extra cautious when visiting fish and chip shops, goat markets and flower shows. 



Sex Toys 

Wotta Tripp knows that ancient sex toys were just as much fun for at least half of the people using them as they are today. 


Oils were combined with such ground-up ingredients as nettle seeds, black pepper and mint and used as sexually stimulating lubricants along with sex toys. 


Many of the toys and techniques in use today had already been invented, including the dildoe, a word designed to make even grown-ups giggle foolishly. 


They were made of leather in those days. If you consider the Italian gift for crafting purses, shoes and other goods from leather, and the attention they pay to detail, stitching and fine workmanship, you get some idea of where it all began so long ago. 


Women were depicted in art using dildoes while alone, so clearly were experienced in attending to their own sexual needs with or without a partner being present, and this may well have been a selected preference rather than indicating the lack of a lover or husband. 


Sandal-slapping was a term used to describe the practice of loudly slapping ones lover's naked body with a leather sandal to increase desire. 


The astute student of history will notice the involvement here of yet more leather goods.  


It explains a lot. 



The Rigid Male 

The male erection has been handled in a variety of ways in the past. 


It was considered by learned people, such as doctors, that erections were cause by air blowing up the male organ until it became stiff, rather like that which holds so many ears apart in today's world. It seems that hot air has risen higher in the human animal over the ensuing centuries. 



Things Have Changed 


Similar to a balloon inflating, one can only imagine where they thought the air went to at a later point, as one would expect strong gusts to be emitted at the point of satisfaction, rather than the result so many have come to expect. 


The lack of even a small breeze seemed to sail right by them. 


Like most men today, neither did the ancients want to caught hanging around outside the bath-house with a visible erection.  


Most especially if they were an athlete, gladiator, politician or some other similar form of entertainer, they might wish to at least appear celibate, or even truly practice abstinence in order to conserve physical energy. 


This potential social embarrassment was easily prevented by the simple action of piercing the foreskin with a sharp and possibly unhygienic implement and inserting a fibula, a metal object similar to a cloak pin, or a modern diaper safety pin, only hopefully without a duck or teddy bear decorating it. It was compulsory wear for male slaves. 


Of course, there were ladies who occasionally paid to have a fibula removed from somebody else's slave.  


But then there were high-up officials and men with reputations to uphold who paid agents to fan out across the city and find them male prostitutes and slaves with extremely large and possibly deformed pleasure-parts. 


Slaves often had elaborate piercings, tattoos and even brands, but Roman and Greek male citizens rarely did. They were considered Egyptian or Celtic habits which they did not wish to emulate. 


For those who had the problem of not being able to get aroused easily in the first place there were readily available erotic novels and pictures designed to titillate the viewer. 



Hadrian - Typical! 

Let us use the Emperor Hadrian as an example of the times. 


Hadrian had a lover, a boy who was fourteen years old. The relationship continued until the young man was twenty, when he promptly drowned in the river Nile during a boating party.


Hadrian mourned him to the point of deifying him, building a lot of boring statuary and temples dedicated to his young lover and even founding a city to the drowned boy close to the spot where he went under. 


Who knows, perhaps he had a guilty conscience? 


This total excess of grief was not befitting a man whose business it was to go to war and kill lots of people at once, but if you consider that this was also the man who built a long meandering wall along the bottom of Scotland for no apparent reason, perhaps it all makes a bit more sense. 


Historians tell us that 'Hadrian's Wall' was a fortification built to keep the Picts out of Roman-infested England, but any fool can see that it wouldn't have kept a rabbit out, let alone a crack fighting team of fierce guerrilla warriors. 


Hadrian, like so many historical and modern figures, was a barking-mad pedophile with a lot of sociopathic issues that are not very well covered in the history books. 



Ancient Love Potions 

People have always made use of herbs, animal parts and objects that they believed have an aphrodisiac action, either through their action on the body when ingested or applied, or through the reaction of sympathetic magic. 


They have also used these techniques as anaphrodisiacs, which are designed to dampen-down or deter sexual desire or cause impotence. 


Poison was very useful in such instances, if a little permanent in nature. 


Flagellation with nettles was used to enhance sexual desire.  


As stings from young nettle leaves can feel somewhat like wasp-stings, one can assume that sex was the only way to take one's mind off the pain afterwards and was instigated by frustrated partners determined to have their way at last. 


During a certain festival women who wished to become pregnant would allow young men, who would run around and around the bottom of the Palatine, which was the middle hill of the Seven Hills of Rome, to whip them as they went by, as this apparently improved their chances of conception. 


As with all cultures, body parts and secretions, such as toenail clippings, blood, semen, urine, hair and sweat were used in magic spells, love potions, black magic and even medicines. 


Many people secretly employ such techniques even today. 



Sex Symbols 

In Greece athletes were lionized and much sought after as lovers, very much as they are today. In Rome, they loved gladiators.  


In fact, sports terms were used in the discussion of sex, which was quaintly termed 'bed wrestling' by the poetically-challenged masses. 


Eros was the patron god of the gymnasium, and that alone should tell us quite a bit. 



Early Cage Dancer 


Discus throwers were much in demand, and this is because people found the throwing of the discus to be the sexual, dangerous and highly erotically-charged act of a desirable ancient Greek bad-boy. 


Nobody today knows why this was so, and they probably didn't back then either. 


One thing they did know how to do was to live decadently, and they weren't particularly shy about being forward, sometimes to the point of grotesque crudity, rather like that readily experienced in North America today. 


Sometimes things took a darker more mysterious turn, however. 




Dark deeds were committed in the rites of Bacchus; today people just go to the pub. 


Dionysus has a lot to answer for, but his followers didn't seem to need very much encouragement to enact his rites out quite a bit. Well, whenever they got the chance, really. 


At one point, only women were admitted into the Bacchanalian mysteries, but later on men were also initiated. 


The male initiations were performed three times a month, and only after it was dark outside. 


The men being initiated at the rites were expected to fully participate by having sex with each other, and those who refused were summarily executed, so you see they took it all rather seriously back then. 


So we will leave them there in the past, happily savaging each other.


Dame Wotta Tripp hopes most sincerely that nobody is considering re-enacting any of the disturbing scenarios laid out in this article, which was written for educational purposes only. 


She does not want to have to deal with the aftermath of such actions in the many future cries for advice which will undoubtedly pour into her letter-box in the future. 


If there are not too many unsettling results from publishing this article, then Wotta Tripp will later cover the unsavoury habits of other ancient peoples in even more diversified areas of the world. 







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