Integrated Wisdom

Sex in Ancient Rome

Sex as power is not a new concept, but to Romans it was a guiding principal in their culture.

To put it mildly, the ancient Romans had an open mind when it came to sex. They approached it guilt-free and regarded it as a gift from the gods to be enjoyed by mortals.  In practice, they were extremely liberal, and by liberal I mean that almost anything was acceptable. Some of what was considered normal in those days is regarded as perverse, even criminal, by today’s standards.

Now, when we say anything goes, we’re talking about Roman men. That’s not how it was for women. They were expected to marry as virgins and remain faithful to their husbands throughout. If an upper-class woman was caught in adultery, punishment was mandatory — she was exiled from her home and excluded from burial in the family tomb. A husband who did not report the crime was held culpable as a pimp. The punishment for the wife’s lover was, by law, forced sodomy by the offended husband. And it didn’t have to be with a penis — there is one case where a husband carried out the act with a fish.

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