The interest in traditions and culture of Ancient Rome has been growing in the USA and Europe lately. Roman saunas are currently being built in Great Britain and France - such saunas are extremely popular. Yet, people are especially interested in the traditions of the Ancient Roman love. It is still considered to be the ultimate art of pleasure, for it had absolutely no limits and no prejudices, when everything was allowed.
Professor of Art History John Clarke, University of Texas, is considered to be one of the most respectable specialists in the field of Ancient Rome studies. He has recently published a best-selling book titled "Roman Sex." The book became a bestseller immediately, because up-to-date people are tired and disappointed in politics – they are more attracted to something more natural and more available.
In the book, the professor paid his attention to the time, when noble wives were ready to have a love affair with any man they liked. Ancient Romans did not know the word "unfaithful." Sex was considered to be a normal way to satisfy human desires, it was the greatest pleasure of all, a gift from heaven, and Romans approved any forms of it even on the state level. There were absolutely no problem with the number of people and their sex. Pleasure and happiness was a lot more important.
Nevertheless, there were certain restrictions too. It was not recommended for noble Roman men to have sex with women of the high society - the birth of a child would lead to serious inheritance problems. However, the high society was not numerous in Ancient Rome, and there were not any complications. Roman wealthy men usually loved women from poor layers of the population, whereas daily sex with slaves was considered to be an absolutely normal practice. There were slaves that were specifically meant for their owners' pleasures.
A good-looking boy or a beautiful girl were as valuable in Ancient Rome as a fancy car nowadays. If a man did not want to have sex with his slave, it was considered to be a disgrace for a man. Love orgies inspired a lot of ancient artists. People did not think of it as pornography, they decorated all public places with sexual paintings. Moreover, such paintings made a lot of people admire and even worship them. Artists were praised for their ability to incarnate the sexual passion on a painting.
In modern Europe, especially in Italy, they try not to propagandize their ancestors' traditions. The Vatican is carefully watching it. Ancient Rome was an absolutely different society, no one ever discussed any love affairs there, not even homosexual affairs. Nowadays, oral sex is considered to be a crime in several American states, even if it is practiced by married people.
Ancient Romans would think that the up-to-date perception of pornography is absolutely wild. They did not know such a word. They had erotic images everywhere. Archaeologists have recently found a scent bottle in Spain: the bottle depicted a man hugging a woman and there was another man with a boy next to them. The visitors of the British Museum in London probably remember the Warren Cup, one of the most remarkable exhibits of the museum that was purchased for three million pounds. The silvery cup is all covered with images of homosexual love. British scientists could not believe the Roman origin of the cup – they could not make up with the idea that ancient people were so open about the tough eroticism, from the modern point of view. The men depicted on the cup had short haircuts with long locks at the back of their heads. Clarke found out that such haircuts were common for slaves, especially young men that were meant only for sex.
In ancient Rome, women enjoyed equal rights with men as far as sex was concerned. Moreover, it was believed that a woman would not be able to give birth to a healthy child, if she was not a master of sexual pleasure.
A sauna in Ancient Rome was a very important place, which combined a hygienic procedure and sex. There were about 900 erotic saunas in Rome in the year 300. During the decline of the empire, Roman theatres often staged numerous sexual performances, in which actors and actresses were making love in most incredible positions. Those scenes were usually staged during intervals in comedy or tragedy plays. Theatrical sex artists were as popular as serious actors and actresses. A male actor was highly appreciated for a big penis, because it could be seen from back rows. However, a big penis was not a symbol of manhood - Romans and Antique Greeks perceived it as something comic.
Yet, the Roman sex had certain bans. Having sex with a person of a lower status was absolutely normal, although passive homosexual activities with such a partner (or a slave) were strictly prohibited. If a noble Roman man was found guilty of that, he would be brought down to the level of actors, gladiators and prostitutes. He would also be deprived of the right to participate in elections, or represent his interests at court. He would be ousted from the society and humiliated on every possible occasion.
Romans had a very special attitude about mouth. Making a speech at the Senate implied the use of the mouth for the audience. That is why, an accusation against a senator using his holy mouth for a sexual act was equal to an accusation of treason. If the scandal about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky had happened in Ancient Rome, Lewinsky would have been considered the only guilty person - no one would have said anything bad about Clinton.
In conclusion, Professor Clarke pointed out a very important difference between the modern and the Roman society. Up-to-date people practice the moral rules that are common to everyone, both rich and poor people. However, Ancient Romans believed that the social status of an individual was the most important thing. It just so happens that only rich Romans had a right to fully enjoy life, although money and status are extremely important nowadays too.
The Christian religion put an end to the Roman free love, when it started penetrating to Rome in the beginning of the 4th century. Bans were getting stronger and more frequent very fast, sinful pleasures were over with, and people forgot Venus, the goddess of love. Some scientists believe that the Roman civilization collapsed because of the unrestrained passion. Yet, sexual revolutions of the modern history (in the beginning of the 1960s, for example) coincided with a sudden increase of the scientific and technical development.
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