|The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter|
At the start of his translation of "The Satyricon," by Petronius, W. C. Firebaugh includes an interesting, somewhat rambling section on ancient prostitutes, the history of prostitution in ancient Rome, and the decline of ancient Rome. He discusses the loose morals of the Romans, evidenced by the historians, but especially by the poets, about Roman men bringing back to Rome standards in prostitution from the East, and about normal Roman matrons acting like prostitutes.
There are two basic instincts in the character of the normal individual; the will to live, and the will to propagate the species. It is from the interplay of these instincts that prostitution took origin, and it is for this reason that this profession is the oldest in human experience, the first offspring, as it were, of savagery and of civilization. When Fate turns the leaves of the book of universal history, she enters, upon the page devoted thereto, the record of the birth of each nation in its chronological order, and under this record appears the scarlet entry to confront the future historian and arrest his unwilling attention; the only entry which time and even oblivion can never efface.
If, prior to the time of Augustus Caesar, the Romans had laws designed to control the social evil, we have no knowledge of them, but there is nevertheless no lack of evidence to prove that it was only too well known among them long before that happy age (Livy i, 4; ii, 18); and the peculiar story of the Bacchanalian cult which was brought to Rome by foreigners about the second century B.C. (Livy xxxix, 9-17), and the comedies of Plautus and Terence, in which the pandar and the harlot are familiar characters. Cicero, Pro Coelio, chap. xx, says: "If there is anyone who holds the opinion that young men should be interdicted from intrigues with the women of the town, he is indeed austere! That, ethically, he is in the right, I cannot deny: but nevertheless, he is at loggerheads not only with the licence of the present age, but even with the habits of our ancestors and what they permitted themselves. For when was this NOT done? When was it rebuked? When found fault with?" The Floralia, first introduced about 238 B.C., had a powerful influence in giving impetus to the spread of prostitution. The account of the origin of this festival, given by Lactantius, while no credence is to be placed in it, is very interesting. "When Flora, through the practice of prostitution, had come into great wealth, she made the people her heir, and bequeathed a certain fund, the income of which was to be used to celebrate her birthday by the exhibition of the games they call the Floralia" (Instit. Divin. xx, 6). In chapter x of the same book, he describes the manner in which they were celebrated: "They were solemnized with every form of licentiousness. For in addition to the freedom of speech that pours forth every obscenity, the prostitutes, at the importunities of the rabble, strip off their clothing and act as mimes in full view of the crowd, and this they continue until full satiety comes to the shameless lookers-on, holding their attention with their wriggling buttocks." Cato, the censor, objected to the latter part of this spectacle, but, with all his influence, he was never able to abolish it; the best be could do was to have the spectacle put off until he had left the theatre. Within 40 years after the introduction of this festival, P. Scipio Africanus, in his speech in defense of Tib. Asellus, said: "If you elect to defend your profligacy, well and good. But as a matter of fact, you have lavished, on one harlot, more money than the total value, as declared by you to the Census Commissioners, of all the plenishing of your Sabine farm; if you deny my assertion I ask who dare wager 1,000 sesterces on its untruth? You have squandered more than a third of the property you inherited from your father and dissipated it in debauchery" (Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae, vii, 11). It was about this time that the Oppian law came up for repeal. The stipulations of this law were as follows: No woman should have in her dress above half an ounce of gold, nor wear a garment of different colors, nor ride in a carriage in the city or in any town, or within a mile of it, unless upon occasion of a public sacrifice. This sumptuary law was passed during the public distress consequent upon Hannibal's invasion of Italy. It was repealed eighteen years afterward, upon petition of the Roman ladies, though strenuously opposed by Cato (Livy 34, 1; Tacitus, Annales, 3, 33). The increase of wealth among the Romans, the spoils wrung from their victims as a portion of the price of defeat, the contact of the legions with the softer, more civilized, more sensuous races of Greece and Asia Minor, laid the foundations upon which the social evil was to rise above the city of the seven hills, and finally crush her. In the character of the Roman there was but little of tenderness. The well-being of the state caused him his keenest anxiety. One of the laws of the twelve tables, the "Coelebes Prohibito," compelled the citizen of manly vigor to satisfy the promptings of nature in the arms of a lawful wife, and the tax on bachelors is as ancient as the times of Furius Camillus. "There was an ancient law among the Romans," says Dion Cassius, lib. xliii, "which forbade bachelors, after the age of twenty-five, to enjoy equal political rights with married men. The old Romans had passed this law in hope that, in this way, the city of Rome, and the Provinces of the Roman Empire as well, might be insured an abundant population." The increase, under the Emperors, of the number of laws dealing with sex is an accurate mirror of conditions as they altered and grew worse. The "Jus Trium Librorum," under the empire, a privilege enjoyed by those who had three legitimate children, consisting, as it did, of permission to fill a public office before the twenty-fifth year of one's age, and in freedom from personal burdens, must have had its origin in the grave apprehensions for the future, felt by those in power. The fact that this right was sometimes conferred upon those who were not legally entitled to benefit by it, makes no difference in this inference. Scions of patrician families imbibed their lessons from the skilled voluptuaries of Greece and the Levant and in their intrigues with the wantons of those climes, they learned to lavish wealth as a fine art. Upon their return to Rome they were but ill-pleased with the standard of entertainment offered by the ruder and less sophisticated native talent; they imported Greek and Syrian mistresses. 'Wealth increased, its message sped in every direction, and the corruption of the world was drawn into Italy as by a load-stone. The Roman matron had learned how to be a mother, the lesson of love was an unopened book; and, when the foreign hetairai poured into the city, and the struggle for supremacy began, she soon became aware of the disadvantage under which she contended. Her natural haughtiness had caused her to lose valuable time; pride, and finally desperation drove her to attempt to outdo her foreign rivals; her native modesty became a thing of the past, her Roman initiative, unadorned by sophistication, was often but too successful in outdoing the Greek and Syrian wantons, but without the appearance of refinement which they always contrived to give to every caress of passion or avarice. They wooed fortune with an abandon that soon made them the objects of contempt in the eyes of their lords and masters. "She is chaste whom no man has solicited," said Ovid (Amor. i, 8, line 43). Martial, writing about ninety years later says: "Sophronius Rufus, long have I been searching the city through to find if there is ever a maid to say 'No'; there is not one." (Ep. iv, 71.) In point of time, a century separates Ovid and Martial; from a moral standpoint, they are as far apart as the poles. The revenge, then, taken by Asia, gives a startling insight into the real meaning of Kipling's poem, "The female of the species is more deadly than the male." In Livy (xxxiv, 4) we read: (Cato is speaking), "All these changes, as day by day the fortune of the state is higher and more prosperous and her empire grows greater, and our conquests extend over Greece and Asia, lands replete with every allurement of the senses, and we appropriate treasures that may well be called royal, -- all this I dread the more from my fear that such high fortune may rather master us, than we master it." Within twelve years of the time when this speech was delivered, we read in the same author (xxxix, 6), "for the beginnings of foreign luxury were brought into the city by the Asiatic army"; and Juvenal (Sat. iii, 6), "Quirites, I cannot bear to see Rome a Greek city, yet how small a fraction of the whole corruption is found in these dregs of Achaea? Long since has the Syrian Orontes flowed into the Tiber and brought along with it the Syrian tongue and manners and cross-stringed harp and harper and exotic timbrels and girls bidden stand for hire at the circus." Still, from the facts which have come down to us, we cannot arrive at any definite date at which houses of ill fame and women of the town came into vogue at Rome. That they had long been under police regulation, and compelled to register with the aedile, is evident from a passage in Tacitus: "for Visitilia, born of a family of praetorian rank, had publicly notified before the aediles, a permit for fornication, according to the usage that prevailed among our fathers, who supposed that sufficient punishment for unchaste women resided in the very nature of their calling." No penalty attached to illicit intercourse or to prostitution in general, and the reason appears in the passage from Tacitus, quoted above. In the case of married women, however, who contravened the marriage vow there were several penalties. Among them, one was of exceptional severity, and was not repealed until the time of Theodosius: "again he repealed another regulation of the following nature; if any should have been detected in adultery, by this plan she was not in any way reformed, but rather utterly given over to an increase of her ill behaviour. They used to shut the woman up in a narrow room, admitting any that would commit fornication with her, and, at the moment when they were accomplishing their foul deed, to strike bells, that the sound might make known to all, the injury she was suffering. The Emperor hearing this, would suffer it no longer, but ordered the very rooms to be pulled down" (Paulus Diaconus, Hist. Miscel. xiii, 2). Rent from a brothel was a legitimate source of income (Ulpian, Law as to Female Slaves Making Claim to Heirship). Procuration also, had to be notified before the aedile, whose special business it was to see that no Roman matron became a prostitute. These aediles had authority to search every place which had reason to fear anything, but they themselves dared not engage in any immorality there; Aulus Gellius, Noct. Attic. iv, 14, where an action at law is cited, in which the aedile Hostilius had attempted to force his way into the apartments of Mamilia, a courtesan, who thereupon, had driven him away with stones. The result of the trial is as follows: "the tribunes gave as their decision that the aedile had been lawfully driven from that place, as being one that he ought not to have visited with his officer." If we compare this passage with Livy, xl, 35, we find that this took place in the year 180 B C. Caligula inaugurated a tax upon prostitutes (vectigal ex capturis), as a state impost: "he levied new and hitherto unheard of taxes; a proportion of the fees of prostitutes; -- so much as each earned with one man. A clause was also added to the law directing that women who had practiced harlotry and men who had practiced procuration should be rated publicly; and furthermore, that marriages should be liable to the rate" (Suetonius, Calig. xi). Alexander Severus retained this law, but directed that such revenue be used for the upkeep of the public buildings, that it might not contaminate the state treasure (Lamprid. Alex. Severus, chap. 24). This infamous tax was not abolished until the time of Theodosius, but the real credit is due to a wealthy patrician, Florentius by name, who strongly censured this practice, to the Emperor, and offered his own property to make good the deficit which would appear upon its abrogation (Gibbon, vol. 2, p. 318, note). With the regulations and arrangements of the brothels, however, we have information which is far more accurate. These houses (lupanaria, fornices, et cet.) were situated, for the most part, in the Second District of the City (Adler, Description of the City of Rome, pp. 144 et seq.), the Coelimontana, particularly in the Suburra that bordered the town walls, lying in the Carinae, -- the valley between the Coelian and Esquiline Hills. The Great Market (Macellum Magnum) was in this district, and many cook-shops, stalls, barber shops, et cet. as well; the office of the public executioner, the barracks for foreign soldiers quartered at Rome; this district was one of the busiest and most densely populated in the entire city. Such conditions would naturally be ideal for the owner of a house of ill fame, or for a pandar. The regular brothels are described as having been exceedingly dirty, smelling of the gas generated by the flame of the smoking lamp, and of the other odors which always haunted these ill ventilated dens. Horace, Sat. i, 2, 30, "on the other hand, another will have none at all except she be standing in the evil smelling cell (of the brothel)"; Petronius, chap. xxii, "worn out by all his troubles, Ascyltos commenced to nod, and the maid, whom he had slighted, and, of course, insulted, smeared lamp-black all over his face"; Priapeia, xiii, 9, "whoever likes may enter here, smeared with the black soot of the brothel"; Seneca, Cont. i, 2, "you reek still of the soot of the brothel." The more pretentious establishments of the Peace ward, however, were sumptuously fitted up. Hair dressers were in attendance to repair the ravages wrought in the toilette, by frequent amorous conflicts, and aquarioli, or water boys attended at the door with bidets for ablution. Pimps sought custom for these houses and there was a good understanding between the parasites and the prostitutes. From the very nature of their calling, they were the friends and companions of courtesans. Such characters could not but be mutually necessary to each other. The harlot solicited the acquaintance of the client or parasite, that she might the more easily obtain and carry on intrigues with the rich and dissipated. The parasite was assiduous in his attention to the courtesan, as procuring through her means, more easy access to his patrons, and was probably rewarded by them both, for the gratification which he obtained for the vices of the one and the avarice of the other. The licensed houses seem to have been of two kinds: those owned and managed by a pandar, and those in which the latter was merely an agent, renting rooms and doing everything in his power to supply his renters with custom. The former were probably the more respectable. In these pretentious houses, the owner kept a secretary, villicus puellarum, or superintendent of maids; this official assigned a girl her name, fixed the price to be demanded for her favors, received the money and provided clothing and other necessities: "you stood with the harlots, you stood decked out to please the public, wearing the costume the pimp had furnished you"; Seneca, Controv. i, 2. Not until this traffic had become profitable, did procurers and procuresses (for women also carried on this trade) actually keep girls whom they bought as slaves: "naked she stood on the shore, at the pleasure of the purchaser; every part of her body was examined and felt. Would you hear the result of the sale? The pirate sold; the pandar bought, that he might employ her as a prostitute"; Seneca, Controv. lib. i, 2. It was also the duty of the villicus, or cashier, to keep an account of what each girl earned: "give me the brothel-keeper's accounts, the fee will suit" (Ibid.)
When an applicant registered with the aedile, she gave her correct name, her age, place of birth, and the pseudonym under which she intended practicing her calling. (Plautus, Poen.)
If the girl was young and apparently respectable, the official sought to influence her to change her mind; failing in this, he issued her a license (licentia stupri), ascertained the price she intended exacting for her favors, and entered her name in his roll. Once entered there, the name could never be removed, but must remain for all time an insurmountable bar to repentance and respectability. Failure to register was severely punished upon conviction, and this applied not only to the girl but to the pandar as well. The penalty was scourging, and frequently fine and exile. Notwithstanding this, however, the number of clandestine prostitutes at Rome was probably equal to that of the registered harlots. As the relations of these unregistered women were, for the most part, with politicians and prominent citizens it was very difficult to deal with them effectively: they were protected by their customers, and they set a price upon their favors which was commensurate with the jeopardy in which they always stood. The cells opened upon a court or portico in the pretentious establishments, and this court was used as a sort of reception room where the visitors waited with covered head, until the artist whose ministrations were particularly desired, as she would of course be familiar with their preferences in matters of entertainment, was free to receive them. The houses were easily found by the stranger, as an appropriate emblem appeared over the door. This emblem of Priapus was generally a carved figure, in wood or stone, and was frequently painted to resemble nature more closely. The size ranged from a few inches in length to about two feet. Numbers of these beginnings in advertising have been recovered from Pompeii and Herculaneum, and in one case an entire establishment, even to the instruments used in gratifying unnatural lusts, was recovered intact. In praise of our modern standards of morality, it should be said that it required some study and thought to penetrate the secret of the proper use of several of these instruments. The collection is still to be seen in the Secret Museum at Naples. The mural decoration was also in proper keeping with the object for which the house was maintained, and a few examples of this decoration have been preserved to modern times; their luster and infamous appeal undimmed by the passage of centuries.
Over the door of each cell was a tablet (titulus) upon which was the name of the occupant and her price; the reverse bore the word "occupata" and when the inmate was engaged the tablet was turned so that this word was out. This custom is still observed in Spain and Italy. Plautus, Asin. iv, i, 9, speaks of a less pretentious house when he says: "let her write on the door that she is 'occupata.'" The cell usually contained a lamp of bronze or, in the lower dens, of clay, a pallet or cot of some sort, over which was spread a blanket or patch-work quilt, this latter being sometimes employed as a curtain, Petronius, chap 7.
The arches under the circus were a favorite location for prostitutes; ladies of easy virtue were ardent frequenters of the games of the circus and were always ready at hand to satisfy the inclinations which the spectacles aroused. These arcade dens were called "fornices," from which comes our generic fornication. The taverns, inns, lodging houses, cook shops, bakeries, spelt-mills and like institutions all played a prominent part in the underworld of Rome. Let us take them in order:
Lupanaria -- Wolf Dens, from lupa, a wolf. The derivation, according to Lactantius, is as follows: "for she (Lupa, i. e., Acca Laurentia) was the wife of Faustulus, and because of the easy rate at which her person was held at the disposal of all, was called, among the shepherds, 'Lupa,' that is, harlot, whence also 'lupanar,' a brothel, is so called." It may be added, however, that there is some diversity of opinion upon this matter. It will be discussed more fully under the word "lupa."
Fornix -- An arch. The arcades under the theatres.
Pergulae -- Balconies, where harlots were shown.
Stabulae -- Inns, but frequently houses of prostitution.
Diversorium -- A lodging house; house of assignation.
Tugurium -- A hut. A very low den.
Turturilla -- A dove cote; frequently in male part.
Casuaria -- Road houses; almost invariably brothels.
Tabernae -- Bakery shops.
The taverns were generally regarded by the magistrates as brothels and the waitresses were so regarded by the law (Codex Theodos. lx, tit. 7, ed. Ritter; Ulpian liiii, 23, De Ritu Nupt.). The Barmaid (Copa), attributed to Virgil, proves that even the proprietress had two strings to her bow, and Horace, Sat. lib. i, v, 82, in describing his excursion to Brundisium, narrates his experience, or lack of it, with a waitress in an inn. This passage, it should be remarked, is the only one in all his works in which he is absolutely sincere in what he says of women. "Here like a triple fool I waited till midnight for a lying jade till sleep overcame me, intent on venery; in that filthy vision the dreams spot my night clothes and my belly, as I lie upon my back." In the AEserman inscription (Mommsen, Inscr. Regn. Neap. 5078, which is number 7306 in Orelli-Henzen) we have another example of the hospitality of these inns, and a dialogue between the hostess and a transient. The bill for the services of a girl amounted to 8 asses. This inscription is of great interest to the antiquary, and to the archoeologist. That bakers were not slow in organizing the grist mills is shown by a passage from Paulus Diaconus, xiii, 2: "as time went on, the owners of these turned the public corn mills into pernicious frauds. For, as the mill stones were fixed in places under ground, they set up booths on either side of these chambers and caused harlots to stand for hire in them, so that by these means they deceived very many, -- some that came for bread, others that hastened thither for the base gratification of their wantonness." From a passage in Festus, it would seem that this was first put into practice in Campania: -- "harlots were called 'aelicariae', 'spelt-mill girls, in Campania, being accustomed to ply for gain before the mills of the spelt-millers." "Common strumpets, bakers' mistresses, refuse the spelt-mill girls," says Plautus, i, ii, 54.
There are few languages which are richer in pornographic terminology than the Latin.
Meretrix -- Nomus Marcellus has pointed out the difference between this class of prostitutes and the prostibula. "This is the difference between a meretrix (harlot) and a prostibula (common strumpet): a meretrix is of a more honorable station and calling; for meretrices are so named a merendo (from earning wages) because they plied their calling only by night; prostibulu because they stand before the stabulum (stall) for gain both by day and night." Prostibula -- She who stands in front of her cell or stall.
Proseda -- She who sits in front of her cell or stall. She who later became the Empress Theodora belonged to this class, if any credit is to be given to Procopius.
Nonariae -- She that is forbidden to appear before the ninth hour.
Mimae -- Mime players. They were almost invariably prostitutes.
Cymbalistriae -- Cymbal players. They were almost invariably prostitutes.
Ambubiae -- Singing girls. They were almost invariably prostitutes.
Citharistriae -- Harpists. They were almost invariably prostitutes.
Scortum -- A strumpet. Secrecy is implied, but the word has a broad usage.
Scorta erratica | Clandestine strumpets who were street walkers. Secuteleia |
Busturiae -- Tomb frequenters and hangers-on at funerals.
Copae -- Bar maids.
Delicatae -- Kept mistresses.
Famosae -- Soiled doves from respectable families.
Doris -- Harlots of great beauty. They wore no clothing.
Lupae -- She wolves. Some authorities affirm that this name was given them because of a peculiar wolflike cry they uttered, and others assert that the generic was bestowed upon then because their rapacity rivalled that of the wolf. Servius, however, in his commentary on Virgil, has assigned a much more improper and filthy reason for the name; he alludes to the manner in which the wolf who mothered Rotnulus and Reinus licked their bodies with her tongue, and this hint is sufficient to confirm him in his belief that the lupa; were not less skilled in lingual gymnastics. See Lemaire's Virgil, vol. vi, p. 521; commentary of Servius on AEneid, lib. viii, 631.
AElicariae -- Bakers' girls.
Noctiluae -- Night walkers.
Blitidae -- A very low class deriving their name from a cheap drink sold in the dens they frequented.
Forariae -- Country girls who frequented the roads.
Diobolares -- Two obol girls. So called from their price.
Amasiae, also in the diminutive -- Girls devoted to Venus. Their best expression in modern society would be the "vamps."
Amatrix -- Female lover, frequently in male part.
Amica -- Female friend, frequently a tribad.
Quadrantariae -- The lowest class of all. Their natural charms were no longer merchantable. She of whom Catullus speaks in connection with the lofty souled descendants of Remus was of this stripe.
From many passages in the ancient authors it is evident that harlots stood naked at the doors of their cells: "I saw some men prowling stealthily between the rows of name-boards and naked prostitutes," Petronius, chap. 7. "She entered the brothel, cozy with its crazy-quilt, and the empty cell -- her own. Then, naked she stands, with gilded nipples, beneath the tablet of the pretended Lysisca," Juvenal, Sat. vi, 121 et seq. In some cases they had recourse to a gossamer tissue of silk gauze, as was formerly the custom in Paris, Chicago, and San Francisco. "The matron has no softer thigh nor has she a more beautiful leg," says Horace, Sat. I, ii, "though the setting be one of pearls and emeralds (with all due respect to thy opinion, Cerinthus), the togaed plebeian's is often the finer, and, in addition, the beauties of figure are not camouflaged; that which is for sale, if honest, is shown openly, whereas deformity seeks concealment. It is the custom among kings that, when buying horses, they inspect them in the open, lest, as is often the case, a beautiful head is sustained by a tender hoof and the eager purchaser may be seduced by shapely hocks, a short head, or an arching neck. Are these experts right in this? Thou canst appraise a figure with the eyes of Lynceus and discover its beauties; though blinder than Hypoesea herself thou canst see what deformities there are. Ah, what a leg! What arms! But how thin her buttocks are, in very truth what a huge nose she has, she's short-waisted, too, and her feet are out of proportion! Of the matron, except for the face, nothing is open to your scrutiny unless she is a Catia who has dispensed with her clothing so that she may be felt all over thoroughly, the rest will be hidden. But as for the other, no difficulty there! Through the Coan silk it is as easy for you to see as if she were naked, whether she has an unshapely leg, whether her foot is ugly; her waist you can examine with your eyes. As for the price exacted, it ranged from a quadrans to a very high figure. In the inscription to which reference has already been made, the price was eight asses. An episode related in the life of Apollonius of Tyre furnishes additional information upon this subject. The lecher who deflowered a harlot was compelled to pay a much higher price for alleged undamaged goods than was asked of subsequent purchasers.
"Master," cries the girl, throwing herself at his feet, "pity my maidenhood, do not prostitute this body under so ugly a name." The superintendent of maids replies, "Let the maid here present be dressed up with every care, let a name-ticket be written for her, and the fellow who deflowers Tarsia shall pay half a libra; afterwards she shall be at the service of the public for one solidus per head."
The passage in Petronius (chap. viii) and that in Juvenal (Sat. vi, 125) are not to be taken literally. "Aes" in the latter should be understood to mean what we would call "the coin," and not necessarily coin of low denomination.
The origin of this vice (all peoples, savage and civilized, have been infected with it) is lost in the mists which shroud antiquity. The Old Testament contains many allusions to it, and Sodom was destroyed because a long-suffering deity could not find ten men in the entire city who were not addicted to its practice. So saturated was this city of the ancient world with the vice that the very name of the city or the adjective denoting citizenship in that city have transmitted the stigma to modern times. That the fathers of Israel were quick to perceive the tortuous ramifications of this vice is proved by a passage in Deuteronomy, chap. 22, verse .5: "the woman shall not wear that which pertaineth to a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abominations unto the Lord thy God." Here we have the first regulation against fetishism and the perverted tendencies of gynandry and androgeny. Inasmuch as our concern with this subject has to do with the Roman world alone, a lengthy discussion of the early, manifestations of this vice would be out of place here; nevertheless, a brief sketch should be given to serve as a foundation to such discussion and to aid sociologists who will find themselves more and more concerned with the problem in view of the conditions in European society, induced by the late war. Their problem will, however, be more intimately concerned with homosexuality as it is manifested among women!
From remotest antiquity down to the present time, oriental nations have been addicted to this practice and it is probably from this source that the plague spread among the Greeks. I do not assert that they were ignorant of this form of indulgence prior to their association with the Persians, for Nature teaches the sage as well as the savage. Meier, the author of the article "Paederastia" in Ersch and Grueber's encyclopedia (1837) is of the opinion that the vice had its origin among the Boeotians, and John Addington Symonds in his essay on Greek Love concurs in this view. As the two scholars worked upon the same material from different angles, and as the English writer was unacquainted with the German savant's monograph until after Burton had written his Terminal Essay, it follows that the conclusions arrived at by these two scholars must be worthy of credence. The Greeks contemporary with the Homeric poems were familiar with paederasty, and there is reason to believe that it had been known for ages, even then. Greek Literature, from Homer to the Anthology teems with references to the vice and so common was it among them that from that fact it derived its generic; "Greek Love." So malignant is tradition that the Greeks of the present time still suffer from the stigma, as is well illustrated by the proverb current among sailors: "Englisha man he catcha da boy, Johnnie da Greek he catcha da blame." The Romans are supposed to have received their first introduction to paederasty and homosexuality generally, from the Etruscans or from the Greek colonists in Italy, but Suidas (Tharnyris) charges the inhabitants of Italy; with the invention of this vice and it would appear from Athenaeus (Deiphnos. lib. xiii) that the native peoples of Italy and the Greek colonists as well were addicted to the most revolting practices with boys. The case of Laetorius (Valerius Maximus vi, 1, 11) proves that as early as 320 B. C., the Romans were no strangers to it and also that it was not common among them, at that time.
As the character of the primitive Roman was essentially different from that of the contemporary Greek, and as his struggle for existence was severe in the extreme, there was little moral obliquity during the first two hundred and fifty years. The "coelibes prohibeto" of the Twelve Tables was also a powerful influence in preserving chastity. By the time of Plautus, however, the practice of paederasty was much more general, as is clearly proved by the many references which are found in his comedies (Cist. iv, sc. 1, line 5) and passim. By the year 169 B. C., the vice had so ravaged the populace that the Lex Scantinia was passed to control it, but legislation has never proved a success in repressing vice and the effectiveness of this law was no exception to the rule. Conditions grew steadily worse with the passage of time and the extension of the Roman power served to inoculate the legionaries with the vices of their victims. The destruction of Corinth may well have avenged itself in this manner. The accumulation of wealth and spoils gave the people more leisure, increased their means of enjoyment, and educated their taste in luxuries. The influx of slaves and voluptuaries from the Levant aided in the dissemination of the vices of the orient among the ruder Romans. As the first taste of blood arouses the tiger, so did the limitless power of the Republic and Empire react to the insinuating precepts of older and more corrupt civilizations. The fragments of Lucilius make mention of the "cinaedi," in the sense that they were dancers, and in the earlier ages, they were. Cicero, in the second Philippic calls Antonius a catamite; but in Republican Rome, it is to Catullus that we must turn to find the most decisive evidence of their almost universal inclination to sodomy. The first notice of this passage in its proper significance is found in the Burmann Petronius (ed. 1709): here, in a note on the correct reading of "intertitulos, nudasque meretrices furtim conspatiantes," the ancient reading would seem to have been "internuculos nudasque meretrices furtim conspatiantes" (and I am not at all certain but that it is to be preferred). Burmann cites the passage from Catullus (Epithalamium of Manlius and Julia); Burmann sees the force of the passage but does not grasp its deeper meaning. Marchena seems to have been the first scholar to read between the lines. See his third note.
A few years later, John Colin Dunlop, the author of a History of Roman Literature which ought to be better known among the teaching fraternity, drew attention to the same passage. So striking is his comment that I will transcribe it in full. "It," the poem, "has also been highly applauded by the commentators; and more than one critic has declared that it must have been written by the hands of Venus and the Graces. I wish, however, they had excepted from their unqualified panegyrics the coarse imitation of the Fescennine poems, which leaves in our minds a stronger impression of the prevalence and extent of Roman vices, than any other passage in the Latin classics. Martial, and Catullus himself, elsewhere, have branded their enemies; and Juvenal in bursts of satiric indignation, has reproached his countrymen with the most shocking crimes. But here, in a complimentary poem to a patron and intimate friend, these are jocularly alluded to as the venial indulgences of his earliest youth" (vol. i, p. 453, second edition).
This passage clearly points to the fact that it was the common custom among the young Roman patricians to have a bed-fellow of the same sex. Cicero, in speaking of the acquittal of Clodius (Letters to Atticus, lib. i, 18), says, "having bought up and debauched the tribunal"; charges that the judges were promised the favors of the young gentlemen and ladies of Rome, in exchange for their services in the matter of Clodius' trial. Manutius, in a note on this passage says, "bought up, because the judges took their pay and held Clodius innocent and absolved him: debauched, because certain women and youths of noble birth were introduced by night to not a few of them (there were 56 judges) as additional compensation for their attention to duty" (Variorum Notes to Cicero, vol. ii, pp. 339-340). In the Priapeia, the wayfarer is warned by Priapus to refrain from stealing fruit under penalty of being assaulted from the rear, and the God adds that, should this punishment hold no terrors, there is still the possibility that his mentule may be used as a club by the irate landowner. Again, in Catullus, 100, the Roman paederasty shows itself "Caelius loves Aufilenus and Quintus loves Aufilena -- madly." As we approach the Christian era the picture darkens. Gibbon (vol. i, p. 313) remarks, in a note, that "of the first fifteen emperors, Claudius was the only one whose taste in love was entirely correct," but Claudius was a moron.
We come now to the bathing establishments. Their history in every country is the same, in one respect: the spreading and fostering of prostitution and paederastia. Cicero (Pro Coelio) accuses Clodia of having deliberately chosen the site of her gardens with the purpose of having a look at the young fellows who came to the Tiber to swim. Catullus (xxxiii) speaks of the cimaedi who haunt the bathing establishments: Suetonius (Tib. 43 and 44) records the desperate expedients to which Tiberius had recourse to regain his exhausted virility: the scene in Petronius (chap. 92). Martial (lib. i, 24)
"You invite no man but your bathing companion, Cotta, only the baths supply you with a guest. I used to wonder why you never invited me, now I know that you did not like the look of me naked." Juvenal (ix, 32 et seq.), "Destiny rules over mankind; the parts concealed by the front of the tunic are controlled by the Fates; when Virro sees you naked and in burning and frequent letters presses his ardent suit, with lips foaming with desire; nothing will serve you so well as the unknown measure of a long member." Lampridius (Heliogab. v), "At Rome, his principal concern was to have emissaries everywhere, charged with seeking out men with huge members; that they might bring them to him so that he could enjoy their impressive proportions." The quotations given above furnish a sufficient commentary upon the bathing establishments and the reasons for lighting them. In happier times, they were badly lighted as the apertures were narrow and could admit but little light. Seneca (Epist. 86) describes the bath of Scipio: "In this bath of Scipio there were tiny chinks, rather than windows, cut through the stone wall so as to admit light without detriment to the shelter afforded; but men nowadays call them 'baths-for-night-moths.'" Under the empire, however, the bathing establishments were open to the eye of the passer-by; lighted, as they were by immense windows. Seneca (Epist. 86), "But nowadays, any which are disposed in such a way as to let the sunlight enter all day long, through immense windows; men call baths-for-night-moths; if they are not sunburned as they wash, if they cannot look out on the fields and sea from the pavement. Sweet clean baths have been introduced, but the populace is only the more foul." In former times, youth and age were not permitted to bathe together (Valer. Max. ii, 7.), women and men used the same establishments, but at different hours; later, however, promiscuous bathing was the order of the day and men and women came more and more to observe that precept, "noscetur e naso quanta sit hasta viro," which Joan of Naples had always in mind. Long-nosed men were followed into the baths and were the recipients of admiration wherever they were. As luxury increased, these establishments were fitted up with cells and attendants of both sexes, skilled in massage, were always kept upon the premises, in the double capacity of masseurs and prostitutes (Martial, iii, 82, 13); (Juvenal, vi, 428), "the artful masseur presses the clitoris with his fingers and makes the upper part of his mistress thigh resound under his hands." The aquarioli or water boys also included pandering in their tour of duty (Juvenal, Sat. vi, 331) "some water carrier will come, hired for the purpose," and many Roman ladies had their own slaves accompany them to the baths to assist in the toilette: (Martial, vii, 3.4) "a slave girt about the loins with a pouch of black leather stands by you whenever you are washed all over with warn water," here, the mistress is taking no chances, her rights are as carefully guarded as though the slave were infibulated in place of having his generous virility concealed within a leather pouch. (Claudianus, 18, 106) "he combed his mistress' hair, and often, when she bathed, naked, he would bring water, to his lady, in a silver ewer." Several of the emperors attempted to correct these evils by executive order and legislation, Hadrian (Spartianus, Life of Hadrian, chap. 18) "he assigned separate baths for the two sexes"; Marcus Aurelius (Capitolinus, Life of Marcus Antoninus, chap. 23) "he abolished the mixed baths and restrained the loose habits of the Roman ladies and the young nobles," and Alexander Severus (Lampridius, Life of Alex. Severus, chap. 24.) "he forbade the opening of mixed baths at Rome, a practice which, though previously prohibited, Heliogabalus had allowed to be observed," but, notwithstanding their absolute authority, their efforts along those lines met with little better success than have those of more recent times. The pages of Martial and Juvenal reek with the festering sores of the society of that period, but Charidemus and Hedylus still dishonor the cities of the modern world. Tatian, writing in the second century, says (Orat. ad Graecos): "paederastia is practiced by the barbarians generally, but is held in pre-eminent esteem by the Romans, who endeavor to get together troupes of boys, as it were of brood mares," and Justin Martyr (Apologia, 1), has this to say: "first, because we behold nearly all men seducing to fornication, not merely girls, but males also. And just as our fathers are spoken of as keeping herds of oxen, or goats, or sheep, or brood mares, so now they keep boys, solely for the purpose of shameful usage, treating them as females, or androgynes, and doing unspeakable acts. To such a pitch of pollution has the multitude throughout the whole people come!" Another sure indication of the prevalence of the vice of sodomy is to be found in Juvenal, Sat. ii, 12-13, "but your fundament is smooth and the swollen haemorrhoids are incised, the surgeon grinning the while," just as the physician of the nineties grinned when some young fool came to him with a blennorrhoeal infection! The ancient jest which accounts for the shaving of the priest's crown is an inferential substantiation of the fact that the evils of antiquity, like the legal codes, have descended through the generations; survived the middle ages, and been transmitted to the modern world. A perusal of the Raggionamente of Pietro Aretino will confirm this statement, in its first premise, and the experiences of Sir Richard Burton in the India of Napier, and Harry Franck's, in Spain, in the present century, and those of any intelligent observer in the Orient, today, will but bear out this hypothesis. The native population of Manila contains more than its proportion of catamites, who seek their sponsors in the Botanical Gardens and on the Luneta. The native quarters of the Chinese cities have their "houses" where boys are kept, just as the Egyptian mignons stood for hire in the lupanaria at Rome. A scene in Sylvia Scarlett could be duplicated in any large city of Europe or America; there is no necessity of appeal to Krafft-Ebbing or Havelock Ellis. But there is still another and surer method of gauging the extent of paederastic perversion at Rome, and that is the richness of the Latin vocabulary in terms and words bearing upon this repulsive subject. There are, in the Latin language, no less than one hundred and fifteen words and expressions in general usage.
But it is in Martial that we are able to sense the abandoned and cynical attitude of the Roman public toward this vice: the epigram upon Cantharus, xi, 46, is an excellent example. In commentating upon the meticulous care with which Cantharus avoided being spied upon by irreverent witnesses, the poet sarcastically remarks that such precautions would never enter the head of anyone were it merely a question of having a boy or a woman, and he mentions them in the order in which they are set forth here. No one dreads the limelight like the utter debauchee, as has been remarked by Seneca. We find a parallel in the old days in Shanghai, before the depredations of the American hetairai had aroused the hostility of the American judge, in 1907-8. Men of unquestioned respectability and austere asceticism were in the habit of making periodic trips to this pornographic Mecca for the reason that they could there be accommodated with the simultaneous ministrations of two or even three soiled doves of the stripe of her of whom Martial (ix, 69) makes caustic mention:
"I passed the whole night with a lascivious girl whose naughtiness none could surpass. Tired of a thousand methods of indulgence, I begged the boyish favor: she granted my prayers before they were finished, before even the first words were out of my mouth. Smiling and blushing, I besought her for something worse still; she voluptuously promised it at once. But to me, she was chaste. But, AEschylus, she will not be so to you; take the boon if you want it, but she will attach a condition." In all that could pertain to accomplished skill in their profession, the "limit was the ceiling," they were there to serve, and serve they did, as long as the recipient of their ministrations was willing to pay or as long as his chits were good. With them, secrecy was the watchword. Tiberius, probably more sinned against than sinning (he has had an able defender in Beasley) is charged, by Suetonius, with the invention of an amplification and refinement of this vice. The performers were called "spinthriae," a word which signified "bracelet." These copulators could be of both sexes though the true usage of the word allowed but one, and that the male. They formed a chain, each link of which was an individual in sexual contact with one or two other links: in this diversion, the preference seems to have been in favor of odd numbers (Martial, xii, 44, 5), where the chain consisted of five links, and Ausonius, Epigram 119, where it consisted of three.
The arena of his activities is, however, that of Venus and not Mars. Petronius is fond of figurative language, and in several other passages, he has made use of the slang of the arena: (chap. 61 ), "I used to fence with my mistress herself, until even the master grew Suspicious"; and again, in chapter 19, he says: "then, too, we were girded higher, and I had so arranged matters that if we came to close quarters, I myself would engage Quartilla, Ascyltos the maid, and Giton the girl."
Dufour, in commentating upon this expression, Histoire de la Prostitution, vol. III, pp. 92 and 93, remarks: It is necessary to see in Petronius the abominable role which the "obscene gladiator" played; but the Latin itself is clear enough to describe all the secrets of the Roman debauch. "For some women," says Petronius, in another passage, "will only kindle for canaille and cannot work up an appetite unless they see some slave or runner with his clothing girded up: a gladiator arouses one, or a mule driver, all covered with dust, or some actor posturing in some exhibition on the stage. My mistress belongs to this class, she jumps the fourteen rows from the stage to the gallery and looks for a lover among the gallery gods at the back."
On "cum fortiter faceres," compare line 25 of the Oxford fragment of the sixth satire of Juvenal; "hic erit in lecto fortissimus," which Housman has rendered "he is a valiant mattress-knight."
CHAPTER 17. "In our neighborhood there are so many Gods that it is easier to meet one of them than it is to find a man."
Quartilla is here smarting under the sting of some former lover's impotence. Her remark but gives color to the charge that, owing to the universal depravity of Rome and the smaller cities, men were so worn out by repeated vicious indulgences that it was no easy matter for a woman to obtain satisfaction at their hands.
"Galla, thou hast already led to the nuptial couch six or seven catamites; thou went seduced by their delicate coiffure and combed beards. Thou hast tried the loins and the members, resembling soaked leather, which could not be made to stand by all the efforts of the wearied hand; the pathic husband and effeminate bed thou desertest, but still thou fallest into similar couches. Seek out some one rough and unpolished as the Curii and Fabii, and savage in his uncouth rudeness; you will find one, but even this puritanical crew has its catamites. Galla, it is difficult to marry a real man." Martial, vii, 57.
"No faith is to be placed in appearances. What neighborhood does not reek with filthy practices'?" Juvenal, Sat. ii, 8.
"While you have a wife such as a lover hardly dare hope for in his wildest prayers; rich, well born, chaste, you, Bassus, expend your energies on boys whom you have procured with your wife's dowry; and thus does that penis, purchased for so many thousands, return worn out to its mistress, nor does it stand when she rouses it by soft accents of love, and delicate fingers. Have some sense of shame or let us go into court. This penis is not yours, Bassus, you have sold it." Martial, xii, 99.
"Polytimus is very lecherous on women, Hypnus is slow to admit he is my Ganymede; Secundus has buttocks fed upon acorns. Didymus is a catamite but pretends not to be. Amphion would have made a capital girl. My friend, I would rather have their blandishments, their naughty airs, their annoying impudence, than a wife with 3,000,000 sesterces." Martial xii, 76.
But the crowning piece of infamy is to be found in Martial's three epigrams upon his wife. They speak as distinctly as does the famous passage in Catullus' Epithalamium of Manilius and Julia, or Vibia, as later editors have it.
"Wife, away, or conform to my habits. I am no Curius, Numa, or Tatius. I like to have the hours of night prolonged in luscious cups. You drink water and are ever for hurrying from the table with a sombre mien; you like the dark, I like a lamp to witness my pleasures, and to tire my loins in the light of dawn. Drawers and night gowns and long robes cover you, but for me no girl can be too naked. For me be kisses like the cooing doves; your kisses are like those you give your grandmother in the morning. You do not condescend to assist in the performance by your movements or your sighs or your hand; (you behave) as if you were taking the sacrament. The Phrygian slaves masturbated themselves behind the couch whenever Hector's wife rode St. George; and, however much Ulysses snored, the chaste Penelope always had her hand there. You forbid my sodomising you. Cornelia granted this favor to Gracchus; Julia to Pompey, Porcia to Brutus. Juno was Jupiter's Ganymede before the Dardan boy mixed the luscious cup. If you are so devoted to propriety -- be a Lucretia to your heart's content all day, I want a Lais at night." xi, 105.
"Since your husband's mode of life and his fidelity are known to you, and no woman usurps your rights, why are you so foolish as to be annoyed by his boys, (as if they were his mistresses), with whom love is a transient and fleeting affair? I will prove to you that you gain more by the boys than your lord: they make your husband keep to one woman. They give what a wife will not give. 'I grant that favor,' you say, 'sooner than that my husband's love should wander from my bed.' It is not the same thing. I want the fig of Chios, not a flavorless fig; and in you this Chian fig is flavorless. A woman of sense and a wife ought to know her place. Let the boys have what concerns them, and confine yourself to what concerns you." xii, 97.
"Wife, you scold me with a harsh voice when I'm caught with a boy, and inform me that you too have a bottom. How often has Juno said the same to the lustful Thunderer? And yet he sleeps with the tall Ganymede. The Tirynthian Hero put down his bow and sodomised Hylas. Do you think that Megaera had no buttocks? Daphne inspired Phoebus with love as she fled, but that flame was quenched by the OEbalian boy. However much Briseis lay with her bottom turned toward him, the son of AEacus found his beardless friend more congenial to his tastes. Forbear then, to give masculine names to what you have, and, wife, think that you have two vaginas." xi, 44
CHAPTER 26. "Quartilla applied a curious eye to a chink, purposely made, watching their childish dalliance with lascivious attention."
Martial, xi, 46, makes mention of the fact that patrons of houses of ill fame had reason to beware of needle holes in the walls, through which their misbehaviour could be appreciatively scrutinized by outsiders; and in the passage of our author we find yet another instance of the same kind. One is naturally led to recall the "peep-houses" which were a feature of city life in the nineties. There was a notorious one in Chicago, and another in San Francisco. A beautiful girl, exquisitely dressed, would entice the unwary stranger into her room: there the couple would disrobe and the hero was compelled to have recourse to the "right of capture," before executing the purpose for which he entered the house. The entertainment usually cost him nothing beyond a moderate fee and a couple of bottles of beer, or wine, if he so desired. The "management" secured its profit from a different and more prurient source. The male actor in this drama was sublimely ignorant of the fact that the walls were plentifully supplied with "peep-holes" through which appreciative onlookers witnessed his Corybantics at one dollar a head. There would sometimes be as many as twenty such witnesses at a single performance.
CHAPTER 34. Silver Skeleton, et seq.
Philosophic dogmas concerning the brevity and uncertainty of life were ancient even in the time of Herodotus. They have left their mark upon our language in the form of more than one proverb, but in none is this so patent as "the skeleton at the feast." In chapter lxxviii of Euterpe, we have an admirable citation. In speaking of the Egyptians, he says: "At their convivial banquets, among the wealthy classes, when they have finished supper, a man carries round in a coffin the image of a dead body carved in wood, made as life-like as possible in color and workmanship, and in size generally about one or two cubits in length; and showing this to each of the company, he says: 'Look upon this, then drink and enjoy yourself; for when dead you will be like this.' This is the practice they have at their drinking parties." According to Plutarch, (Isis and Osiris, chapter 17.) the Greeks adopted this Egyptian custom, and there is, of course, little doubt that the Romans took it from the Greeks. The aim of this custom was, according to Scaliger, to bring the diners to enjoy the sweets of life while they were able to feel enjoyment, and thus to abandon themselves to pleasure before death deprived them of everything. The verses which follow bring this out beautifully. In the Copa of Virgil we find the following:
"Wine there! Wine and dice! Tomorrow's fears shall fools alone benumb! By the ear Death pulls me. 'Live!' he whispers softly, 'Live! I come.'"
The practical philosophy of the indefatigable roues sums itself up in this sentence uttered by Trimalchio. The verb "vivere" has taken a meaning very much broader and less special, than that which it had at the time when it signified only the material fact of existence. The voluptuaries of old Rome were by no means convinced that life without license was life. The women of easy virtue, living within the circle of their friendships, after the fashion best suited to their desires, understood that verb only after their own interpretation, and the philologists soon reconciled themselves to the change. In this sense it was that Varro employed "vivere," when he said: "Young women, make haste to live, you whom adolescence permits to enjoy, to eat, to love, and to occupy the chariot of Venus (Veneris tenere bigas)."
But a still better example of the extension in the meaning of this word is to be found in an inscription on the tomb of a lady of pleasure. This inscription was composed by a voluptuary of the school of Petronius.
ALIAE. RESTITVTAE. ANIMAE. DVLCISSIMAE. BELLATOR. AVG. LIB. CONIVGI. CARISSIMAE. AMICI. DVM. VIVIMVS. VIVAMUS.
In this inscription, it is almost impossible to translate the last three words. "While we live, let us live," is inadequate, to say the least. So far did this doctrine go that latterly it was deemed necessary to have a special goddess as a patron. That goddess, if we may rely upon the authority of Festus, took her name "Vitula" from the word "Vita" or from the joyous life over which she was to preside.
CHAPTER 36. "At the corners of the tray we also noted four figures of Marsyas and from their bladders spouted a highly seasoned sauce upon fish which were swimming about as if in a tide-race."
German scholars have adopted the doctrine that Marsyas belonged to that mythological group which they designate as "Schlauch-silen" or, as we would say in English, "Wineskin-bearing Silenuses." Their hypothesis seems to be based upon the discovery of two beautiful bas-reliefs of the age of Vespasian, which were excavated near the Rostra Vetera in the Forum. Sir Theodore Martin has a note on these bas-reliefs which I quote in extenso:
"In the Forum stood a statue of Marsyas, Apollo's ill-starred rival. It probably bore an expression of pain, which Horace humorously ascribes to dislike of the looks of the Younger Novius, who is conjectured to have been of the profession and nature of Shylock. A naked figure carrying a wineskin, which appears upon each of two fine bas-reliefs of the time of Vespasian found near the Rostra Vetera in the Forum during the excavations conducted within the last few years by Signor Pietro Rosa, and which now stand in the Forum, is said, by archaeologists, to represent Marsyas. Why they arrive at this conclusion, except as arguing, from the spot where these bas-reliefs were found, that they were meant to perpetuate the remembrance of the old statue of Marsyas, is certainly not very apparent from anything in the figure itself." Martin's Horace, vol. 2, pp 145-6.
Hence German philologists render "utriculis" by the German equivalent for "Wineskins."
"The Romans," says Weitzius, "had two sources of water-supply, through underground channels, and through channels supported by arches. As adjuncts to these channels there were cisterns (or castella, as they were called). From these reservoirs the water was distributed to the public through routes more or less circuitous and left the cisterns through pipes, the diameter of which was reckoned in either twelfths or sixteenths of a Roman foot. At the exits of the pipes were placed stones or stone figures, the water taking exit from these figures either by the mouth, private parts or elsewhere, and falling either to the ground or into some stone receptacle such as a basket. Various names were given these statuettes: Marsyae, Satyri, Atlantes, Hermae, Chirones, Silani, Tulii."
No one who has been through the Secret Museum at Naples will find much difficulty in recalling a few of these heavily endowed examples to mind, and our author, in choosing Marsyae, adds a touch of sarcastic realism, for statues of Marysas were often set up in free cities, symbolical, as it were, of freedom. In such a setting as the present, they would be the very acme of propriety.
"The figures," says Gonzala de Salas, "formerly placed at fountains, and from which water took exit either from the mouth or from some other part, took their forms from the several species of Satyrs. The learned Wouweren has commented long and learnedly upon this passage, and his emendation 'veretriculis' caused me to laugh heartily. And as a matter of fact, I affirm that such a meaning is easily possible." Professor E. P. Crowell, the first American scholar to edit Petronius, gravely states in his preface that "the object of this edition is to provide for class-room use an expurgated text," and I note that he has tactfully omitted the "wineskins" from his edition.
In this connection the last sentence in the remarks of Wouweren, alluded to above, is strangely to the point. After stating his emendation of "veretriculis or veretellis" for "utriculis," he says: "Unless someone proves that images of Marsyas were fashioned in the likeness of bag-pipers," a fine instance of clarity of vision for so dark an age.
CHAPTER 40. "Drawing his hunting-knife, he plunged it fiercely into the boar's side, and some thrushes flew out of the gash."
In the winter of 1895 a dinner was given in a New York studio. This dinner, locally known as the "Girl in the Pie Dinner," was based upon Petronius, Martial, and the thirteenth book of Athenaeus. In the summer of 1919, I had the questionable pleasure of interviewing the chef-caterer who got it up, and he was, at the time, engaged in trying to work out another masterpiece to be given in California. The studio, one of the most luxurious in the world, was transformed for the occasion into a veritable rose grotto, the statuary was Pompeian, and here and there artistic posters were seen which were nothing if not reminiscent of Boulevard Clichy and Montmartre in the palmiest days. Four negro banjo players and as many jubilee singers titillated the jaded senses of the guests in a manner achieved by the infamous saxophone syncopating jazz of the Barbary Coast of our times. The dinner was over. The four and one half bottles of champagne allotted to each Silenus had been consumed, and a well-defined atmosphere of bored satiety had begun to settle down when suddenly the old-fashioned lullaby "Four and Twenty Blackbirds" broke forth from the banjoists and singers. Four waiters came in bearing a surprisingly monstrous object, something that resembled an impossibly large pie. They, placed it carefully in the center of the table. The negro chorus swelled louder and louder -- "Four and Twenty Blackbirds Baked in a Pie."
The diners, startled into curiosity and then into interest, began to poke their noses against this gigantic creation of the baker. In it they detected a movement not unlike a chick's feeble pecking against the shell of an egg. A quicker movement and the crust ruptured at the top.
A flash of black gauze and delicate flesh showed within. A cloud of frightened yellow canaries flew out and perched on the picture frames and even on the heads and shoulders of the guests.
But the lodestone which drew and held the eyes of all the revellers was an exquisitely slender, girlish figure amid the broken crust of the pie. The figure was draped with spangled black gauze, through which the girl's marble white limbs gleamed like ivory seen through gauze of gossamer transparency. She rose from her crouching posture like a wood nymph startled by a satyr, glanced from one side to the other, and stepped timidly forth to the table.
CHAPTER 56. Contumelia -- Contus and Melon (malum).
All translators have rendered "contus" by "pole," notwithstanding the fact that the word is used in a very different sense in Priapeia, x, 3: "traiectus conto sic extendere pedali," and contrary to the tradition which lay behind the gift of an apple or the acceptance of one. The truth of this may be established by many passages in the ancient writers.
In the "Clouds" of Aristophanes, Just Discourse, in prescribing the rules and proprieties which should in govern the education and conduct of the healthy young man says:
"You shall rise up from your seat upon your elders' approach; you shall never be pert to your parents or do any other unseemly act under the pretence of remodelling the image of Modesty. You will not rush off to the dancing-girl's house, lest while you gaze upon her charms, some whore should pelt you with an apple and ruin your reputation."
"This were gracious to me as in the story old to the maiden fleet of foot was the apple golden fashioned which unloosed her girdle long-time girt." Catullus ii.
"I send thee these verses recast from Battiades, lest thou shouldst credit thy words by chance have slipped from my mind, given o'er to the wandering winds, as it was with that apple, sent as furtive love token by the wooer, which out-leaped from the virgin's chaste bosom: for, placed by the hapless girl 'neath her soft vestment, and forgotten -- when she starts at her mother's approach, out 'tis shaken: and down it rolls headlong to the ground, whilst a tell-tale flush mantles the cheek of the distressed girl." Catullus 1xv.
"But I know what is going on, and I intend presently to tell my master; for I do not want to show myself less grateful than the dogs which bark in defence of those who feed and take care of them. An adulterer is laying siege to the household -- a young man from Elis, one of the Olympian fascinators; he sends neatly folded notes every day to our master's wife, together with faded bouquets and half-eaten apples." Alciphron, iii, 62. The words are put into the mouth of a rapacious parasite who feels that the security of his position in the house is about to be shaken.
"I didn't mind your kissing Cymbalium half-a-dozen times, you only disgraced yourself; but -- to be always winking at Pyrallis, never to drink without lifting the cup to her, and then to whisper to the boy, when you handed it to him, not to fill it for anyone but her -- that was too much! And then -- to bite a piece off an apple, and when you saw that Duphilus was busy talking to Thraso, to lean forward and throw it right into her lap, without caring whether I saw it or not; and she kissed it and put it into her bosom under her girdle! It was scandalous! Why do you treat me like this?" Lucian, Dial. Hetairae, 12. These words are spoken by another apostle of direct speech; a jealous prostitute who is furiously angry with her lover, and in no mood to mince matters in the slightest.
Aristxnetus, xxv, furnishes yet another excellent illustration. The prostitute Philanis, in writing to a friend of the same ancient profession, accuses her sister of alienating her lover's affections. I avail myself of Sheridan's masterly version.
PHILANIS TO PETALA.
As yesterday I went to dine
And she had curl'd and bound her hair
CHAPTER 116. "You will see a town that resembles the fields in time of pestilence."
In tracing this savage caricature, Petronius had in mind not Crotona alone; he refers to conditions in the capital of the empire. The descriptions which other authors have set down are equally remarkable for their powerful coloring, and they leave us with an idea of Rome which is positively astounding in its unbridled luxury. 'We will rest content with offering to our readers the following portrayal, quoted from Ammianus Marcellinus, lib. xiv, chap. 6, and lib. xxviii, chap. 4. will not presume to attempt any translation after having read Gibbon's version of the combination of these two chapters.
"The greatness of Rome was founded on the rare and almost incredible alliance of virtue and of fortune. The long period of her infancy was employed in a laborious struggle against the tribes of Italy, the neighbors and enemies of the rising city. In the strength and ardor of youth she sustained the storms of war, carried her victorious arms beyond the seas and the mountains, and brought home triumphal laurels from every country of the globe. At length, verging towards old age, and sometimes conquering by the terror only of her name, she sought the blessings of ease and tranquillity. The venerable city, which had trampled on the necks of the fiercest nations, and established a system of laws, the perpetual guardians of justice and freedom, was content, like a wise and wealthy parent, to devolve on the Caesars, her favorite sons, the care of governing her ample patrimony. A secure and profound peace, such as had been once enjoyed in the reign of Numa, succeeded to the tumults of a republic; while Rome was still adored as the queen of the earth, and the subject nations still reverenced the name of the people and the majesty of the senate. But this native splendor is degraded and sullied by the conduct of some nobles, who, unmindful of their own dignity, and of that of their country, assume an unbounded license of vice and folly. They contend with each other in the empty vanity of titles and surnames, and curiously select or invent the most lofty and sonorous appellations -- Reburrus or Fabunius, Pagonius or Tarrasius -- which may impress the ears of the vulgar with astonishment and respect. From a vain ambition of perpetuating their memory, they affect to multiply their likeness in statues of bronze and marble; nor are they satisfied unless those statues are covered with plates of gold, an honorable distinction, first granted to Achilius the consul, after he had subdued by his arms and counsels the power of King Antiochus. The ostentation of displaying, of magnifying perhaps, the rent-roll of the estates which they possess in all the provinces, from the rising to the setting sun, provokes the just resentment of every man who recollects that their poor and invincible ancestors were not distinguished from the meanest of the soldiers by the delicacy of their food or the splendor of their apparel. But the modern nobles measure their rank and consequence according to the loftiness of their chariots and the weighty magnificence of their dress. Their long robes of silk and purple float in the wind; and as they are agitated, by art or accident, they occasionally discover the under-garments, the rich tunics, embroidered with the figures of various animals. Followed by a train of fifty servants, and tearing up the pavement, they move along the streets with the same impetuous speed as if they travelled with post-horses, and the example of the senators is boldly imitated by the matrons and ladies, whose covered carriages are continually driving round the immense space of the city and suburbs. Whenever these persons of high distinction condescend to visit the public baths, they assume, on their entrance, a tone of loud and insolent command, and appropriate to their own use the conveniences which were designed for the Roman people. If, in these places of mixed and general resort, they meet any of the infamous ministers of their pleasures, they express their affection by a tender embrace, while they proudly decline the salutations of their fellow-citizens, who are not permitted to aspire above the honor of kissing their hands or their knees. As soon as they have indulged themselves in the refreshment of the bath, they resume their rings and the other ensigns of their dignity, select from their private wardrobe of the finest linen, such as might suffice for a dozen persons, the garments the most agreeable to their fancy, and maintain till their departure the same haughty demeanor which perhaps might have been excused in the great Marcellus after the conquest of Syracuse. Sometimes, indeed, these heroes undertake more arduous achievements. They visit their estates in Italy, and procure themselves, by the toil of servile hands, the amusements of the chase. If at any time, but more especially on a hot day, they have courage to sail in their galleys from the Lucrine lake to their elegant villas on the seacoast of Puteoli and the Caieta, they compare their own expeditions to the marches of Caesar and Alexander. Yet should a fly presume to settle on the silken folds of their gilded umbrellas, should a sunbeam penetrate through some unguarded and imperceptible chink, they deplore their intolerable hardships, and lament in affected language that they were not born in the land of the Cimmerians, the regions of eternal darkness. In these journeys into the country the whole body of the household marches with their master. In the same order as the cavalry and infantry, the heavy and the light armed troops, the advanced guard and the rear, are marshalled by the skill of their military leaders, so the domestic officers, who bear a rod as an ensign of authority, distribute and arrange the numerous train of slaves and attendants. The baggage and wardrobe move in the front, and are immediately followed by a multitude of cooks and inferior ministers employed in the service of the kitchens and of the table. The main body is composed of a promiscuous crowd of slaves, increased by the accidental concourse of idle or dependent plebeians. The rear is closed by the favorite band of eunuchs, distributed from age to youth, according to the order of seniority. Their numbers and their deformity excite the horror of the indignant spectators, who are ready to execrate the memory of Semiramis for the cruel art which she invented of frustrating the purposes of nature, and of blasting in the bud the hopes of future generations. In the exercise of domestic jurisdiction the nobles of Rome express an exquisite sensibility for any personal injury, and a contemptuous indifference for the rest of the human species. When they have called for warm water, if a slave has been tardy in his obedience, he is instantly chastised with three hundred lashes; but should the same slave commit a wilful murder, the master will mildly observe that he is a worthless fellow, but that, if he repeats the offense, he shall not escape punishment. Hospitality was formerly the virtue of the Romans; and every stranger who could plead either merit or misfortune was relieved or rewarded by their generosity. At present, if a foreigner, perhaps of no contemptible rank, is introduced to one of the proud and wealthy senators, he is welcomed indeed in the first audience with such warm professions and such kind inquiries that he retires enchanted with the affability of his illustrious friend, and full of regret that he had so long delayed his journey to Rome, the native seat of manners as well as of empire. Secure of a favorable reception, he repeats his visit the ensuing day, and is mortified by the discovery that his person, his name, and his country are already forgotten. If he still has resolution to persevere, he is gradually numbered in the train of dependents, and obtains the permission to pay his assiduous and unprofitable court to a haughty patron, incapable of gratitude or friendship, who scarcely deigns to remark his presence, his departure, or his return. Whenever the rich prepare a solemn and popular entertainment, whenever they celebrate with profuse and pernicious luxury their private banquets, the choice of the guests is the subject of anxious deliberation. The modest, the sober, and the learned are seldom preferred; and the nomenclators, who are commonly swayed by interested motives, have the address to insert in the list of invitations the obscure names of the most worthless of mankind. But the frequent and familiar companions of the great are those parasites who practice the most useful of all arts, the art of flattery; who eagerly applaud each word and every action of their immortal patron, gaze with rapture on his marble columns and variegated pavements, and strenuously praise the pomp and elegance which he is taught to consider as a part of his personal merit. At the Roman tables the birds, the dormice, or the fish, which appear of an uncommon size, are contemplated with curious attention; a pair of scales is accurately applied to ascertain their real weight; and, while the more rational guests are disgusted by the vain and tedious repetition, notaries are summoned to attest by an authentic record the truth of such a marvellous event. Another method of introduction into the houses and society of the great is derived from the profession of gaming, or, as it is more politely styled, of play. The confederates are united by a strict and indissoluble bond of friendship, or rather of conspiracy; a superior degree of skill in the Tesserarian art is a sure road to wealth and reputation. A master of that sublime science who in a supper or an assembly is placed below a magistrate displays in his countenance the surprise and indignation which Cato might be supposed to feel when he was refused the praetorship by the votes of a capricious people. The acquisition of knowledge seldom engages the curiosity of the nobles, who abhor the fatigue and disdain the advantages of study; and the only books which they peruse are the Satires of Juvenal and the verbose and fabulous histories of Marius Maximus. The libraries which they have inherited from their fathers are secluded, like dreary sepulchres, from the light of day. But the costly instruments of the theatre-flutes, and enormous lyres, and hydraulic organs -- are constructed for their use; and the harmony of vocal and instrumental music is incessantly repeated in the palaces of Rome. In those palaces sound is preferred to sense, and the care of the body to that of the mind. It is allowed as a salutary maxim that the light and frivolous suspicion of a contagious malady is of sufficient weight to excuse the visits of the most intimate friends and even the servants who are dispatched to make the decent inquiries are not suffered to return home till they have undergone the ceremony of a previous ablution. Yet this selfish and unmanly delicacy occasionally yields to the more imperious passion of avarice. The prospect of gain will urge a rich and gouty senator as far as Spoleto; every sentiment of arrogance and dignity is subdued by the hopes of an inheritance, or even of a legacy; and a wealthy childless citizen is the most powerful of the Romans. The art of obtaining the signature of a favorable testament, and sometimes of hastening the moment of its execution, is perfectly understood; and it has happened that in the same house, though in different apartments, a husband and a wife, with the laudable design of overreaching each other, have summoned their respective lawyers to declare at the same time their mutual but contradictory intentions. The distress which follows and chastises extravagant luxury often reduces the great to the use of the most humiliating expedients. When they desire to borrow, they employ the base and supplicating style of the slave in the comedy; but when they are called upon to pay, they assume the royal and tragic declamation of the grandsons of Hercules. If the demand is repeated, they readily procure some trusty sycophant, instructed to maintain a charge of poison or magic against the insolent creditor, who is seldom released from prison till he has signed a discharge for the whole debt. These vices, which degrade the moral character of the Romans, are mixed with a puerile superstition that disgraces their understanding. They listen with confidence to the predictions of haruspices, who pretend to read in the entrails of victims the signs of future greatness and prosperity; and there are many who do not presume either to bathe or to dine, or to appear in public, till they have diligently consulted, according to the rules of astrology, the situation of Mercury and the aspect of the moon. It is singular enough that this vain credulity may often be discovered among the profane sceptics who impiously doubt or deny the existence of a celestial power."
CHAPTER 116. "They either take in or else they are taken in."
"Captare" may be defined as to get the upper hand of someone; and "captari" means to be the dupe of someone, to be the object of interested flattery; "captator" means a succession of successful undertakings of the sort referred to above. Martial, lib. VI, 63, addresses the following verses to a certain Marianus, whose inheritance had excited the avarice of one of the intriguers:
"You know you're being influenced,
And Ammianus Marcellinus, lib. XVIII, chap. 4, remarks: "Some there are that grovel before rich men, old men or young, childless or unmarried, or even wives and children, for the purpose of so influencing their wishes and them by deft and dextrous finesse."
That this profession of legacy hunting is not one of the lost arts is apparent even in our day, for the term "undue influence" is as common in our courts as Ambrose Bierce's definition of "husband," or refined cruelty, or "injunctions" restraining husbands from disposing of property, or separate maintenance, or even "heart balm" and the consequent breach of promise.
CHAPTER 119. The rite of the Persians:
Castration has been practiced from remote antiquity, and is a feature of the harem life of the Levant to the present day. Semiramis is accused of having been the first to order the emasculation of a troupe of her boy slaves.
"Whether the first false likeness of men came to the Assyrians through the ingenuity of Semiramis; for these wanton wretches with high timbered voices could not have produced themselves, those smooth cheeks could not reproduce themselves; she gathered their like about her: or, Parthian luxury forbade with its knife, the shadow of down to appear, and fostered long that boyish bloom, compelling art-retarded youth to sink to Venus' calling," Claudianus, Eutrop. i, 339 seq.
"And last of all, the multitude of eunuchs, ranging in age, from old men to boys, pale and hideous from the twisted deformity of their features; so that, go where one will, seeing groups of mutilated men, he will detest the memory of Semiramis, that ancient queen who was the first to emasculate young men of tender age; thwarting the intent of Nature, and forcing her from her course." Ammianus Marcellinus, book xiv, chap. vi.
The Old Testament proves that the Hebrew authorities of the time were no strangers to the abomination, but no mention of eunuchs in Judea itself is to be found prior to the time of Josiah. Castration was forbidden the Jews, Deuteronomy, xxiii, 1, but as this book was probably unknown before the time of Josiah, we can only conjecture as to the attitude of the patriarchs in regard to this subject; we are safe, however, in inferring that it was hostile. "Periander, son of Cypselus, had sent three hundred youths of the noblest young men of the Corcyraeans to Alyattes, at Sardis; for the purpose of emasculation." Herodotus, iii, chapter 48.
"Hermotimus, then, was sprung from these Pedasians; and, of all men we know, revenged himself in the severest manner for an injury he had received; for, having been captured by an enemy and sold, he was purchased by one Panionius, a Chian, who gained a livelihood by the most infamous practices; for whenever he purchased boys remarkable for their beauty, having castrated them, he used to take them to Sardis and Ephesus and sell them for large sums; for with the barbarians, eunuchs are more valued than others, on account of their perfect fidelity. Panionius, therefore, had castrated many others, as he made his livelihood by this means, and among them, this man.
"Hermotimus, however, was not in every respect unfortunate, for he went to Sardis, along with other presents for the king, and in process of time was the most esteemed by Xerxes of all his eunuchs.
"When the king was preparing to march his Persian army against Athens, Hermotimus was at Sardis, having gone down at that time, upon some business or other, to the Mysian territory which the Chians possess, and is called Atarneus, he there met with Panionius. Having recognized him, he addressed many friendly words to him, first recounting the many advantages he had acquired by this means, and secondly, promising him how many favors he would confer upon him in requital, if he would bring his family and settle there; so that Panionius joyfully accepted the proposal and brought his wife and children. But when Hermotimus got him with his whole family into his power, he addressed him as follows:
"'O thou, who, of all mankind, hast gained thy living by the most infamous acts, what harm had either I, or any of mine, done to thee, or any of thine, that of a man thou hast made me nothing?
"'Thou didst imagine, surely, that thy machinations would pass unnoticed by the Gods, who, following righteous laws, have enticed thee, who halt committed unholy deeds, into my hands, so that thou canst not complain of the punishment I shall inflict upon thee.'
"When he had thus upbraided him, his sons being brought into his presence, Panionius was compelled to castrate his own sons, who were four in number; and, being compelled, he did it; and after he had finished it, his sons, being compelled, castrated him. Thus did vengeance and Hermotimus overtake Panionius." Herodotus, viii, ch. 105-6.
Mention of the Galli, the emasculated priests of Cybebe should be made. Emasculation was a necessary first condition of service in her worship. (Catullus, Attys.) The Latin literature of the silver and bronze ages contains many references to castration. Juvenal and Martial have lavished bitter scorn upon this form of degradation, and Suetonius and Statius inform us that Domitian prohibited the practice, but it is in the "Amoures" attributed to Lucian that we find a passage so closely akin to the one forming a basis of this note, that it is inserted in extenso:
"Some pushed their cruelty so far as to outrage Nature with the sacrilegious knife, and, after depriving men of their virility, found in them the height of pleasure. These miserable and unhappy creatures, that they may the longer serve the purposes of boys, are stunted in their manhood, and remain a doubtful riddle of a double sex, neither preserving that boyhood in which they were born, nor possessing that manhood which should be theirs. The bloom of their youth withers away in a premature old age: while yet boys, they suddenly become old, without any interval of manhood. For impure sensuality, the mistress of every vice, devising one shameless pleasure after another, insensibly plunges into unmentionable debauchery, experienced in every form of brutal lust." The jealous Roman husband's furious desire to prevent the consequences of his wife's incontinence was by no means well served by the use of such agents; on the contrary, the women themselves profited by the arrangement. By means of these eunuchs, they edited the morals of their maids and hampered the sodomitical hankerings, active or otherwise, of their husbands: Martial, xii, 54: but when the passions and suspicions of both heads of the family were mutually aroused, the eunuchs fanned them into flame and gained the ascendancy in the home. They even went so far as to marry: Martial, xi, 82, and Juvenal, i, 22.
In the third century a certain Valesius formed a sect which, following the example set by Origen, acted literally upon the text of Matthew, v, 28, 30, and Matthew, xix, 12. Of this sect, Augustine, De Heres. chap. 37, said: "the Valesians castrate themselves and those who partake of their hospitality, thinking that after this manner, they ought to serve God." That injustice was done upon the wrong member is very evident, yet in an age so dark, so dominated by austere asceticism, this clean cut perception of the best interests of suffering humanity, is only to be rivalled by the French physician in the time of the black plague. He had observed that sthenic patients, when bled, died: the superstition and medical usage of the age prescribed bleeding, and when the fat abbots came to be bled, he bled them freely and with satisfaction. Justinian decreed that anyone guilty of performing the operation which deprived an individual of virility should be subjected to a similar operation, and this crime was later punished with death. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries we encounter another and even viler reason for this practice: that "the voice of such a person" (one castrated in boyhood) "after arriving at adult age, combines the high range and sweetness of the female with the power of the male voice," had long been known, and Italian singing masters were not slow in putting this hint to practical use. The poor sometimes sold their children for this purpose, and the castrati and soprani are terms well known to the musical historian.
These artificial voices disgraced the Italian stage until literally driven from it by public hostility, and the punishment of death was the reward of the individual bold enough to perform such an operation. The papal authority excommunicated those guilty of the crime and those upon whom such an operation had been performed, but received artificial voices, which were the result of accident, into the Sistine choir. This pretext served the church well and, until the year 1878, when the disgrace was wiped out by Pope Leo XIII, the Sistine choir was an eloquent commentary upon the attitude of an institution placed, as it were, "between love and duty." It should be recorded that this choir, in its recent visit to the United States, had but one artificial voice, and its owner was the oldest member of the choir.
Young home-born slaves were bought up by the dealers, castrated, because of the increased price they brought when in this condition, and sold for huge sums: Seneca, Controv. x, chap. 4; and kidnapping was frequently resorted to, just as it is in Africa today.
In Russia there is a sect called the "skoptzi," whose tenets, in this respect, are indicated by their name. This sect is first mentioned in the person of a certain. Adrian, a monk, who came to Russia about the year 1001. In 1041, l090 to 1096, 1138 to 1147, 1326, they are noticed, and in 1721 to 1724 they are prominent. They call themselves "white doves" and are divided into smaller congregations which, in their allegorical terminology, they call "ships"; the leader of each congregation is called the "pilot" and the female leader, the "pilot's mate." Their tenets provide for two degrees of emasculation: complete and incomplete, and, in the case of the former, he who submitted to the operation had the "royal seal" affixed to him, this being their name for complete emasculation: in the case of the latter, the neophyte had reached the "Second Degree of Purity." The operation was performed with a red-hot knife or a hot iron, and this was known as the "baptism by fire."
In the case of female converts, the breasts were amputated, either with a red-hot knife or a pair of red-hot shears (Kudrin trial, Moscow, 1871; testimony of physicians and examination of the accused) which served the double purpose of checking haemorrhage, as would a thermo-cautery, and avoiding infection. Another method consisted in searing the orifice of the vagina so that the scar tissue would contract it in such a manner as to effectually prevent the entrance of the male.
A peculiar attribute of this sect is the character of many of its members: bankers, civil service officials, navy officers, army officers and others of the finest professions. Leroy-Beaulieu, in discussing their methods of obtaining converts says: "they prefer boys and youths, whom they strive to convince of the necessity of 'killing the flesh.' They sometimes succeed so well, that cases are known of boys of fifteen or so resorting to self-mutilation, to save themselves from the temptations of early manhood. These apostles of purity do not always scruple to have recourse to violence or deceit. They ensnare their victims by equivocal forms of speech, and having thus obtained their consent virtually upon false pretences, they reveal to the confiding dupes the real meaning of the engagement they have entered into only at the last moment, when it is too late for them to escape the murderous knife. One evening, two men, one of them young and blooming, the other old, with sallow and unnaturally smooth face, were conversing, while sipping their tea, in a house in Moscow. 'Virgins will alone stand before the throne of the Most High,' said the elder man. 'He who looks on a woman with desire commits adultery in his heart, and adulterers shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.' 'What then should we sinners doe' asked the young man. 'Knowest thou not,' replied the elder, 'the word of the Lord? If thy right eye leadeth thee into temptation, pluck it out and cast it from thee; if thy right hand leadeth thee into temptation, cut it off and cast it from thee. What ye must do is to kill the flesh. Ye must become like unto the disembodied angels, and that may be attained only, through being made white as snow.' 'And how can we be made thus white?' further inquired the young man. 'Come and see,' said the old man. 'He took his companion down many stairs, into a cellar resplendent with lights. Some fifteen white robed men and women were gathered there. In a corner was a stove, in which blazed a fire. After some prayers and dances, very like those in use among the Flagellants, the old man announced to his companion: 'now shalt thou learn how sinners are made white as snow.' And the young man, before he had time to ask a single question, was seized and gagged, his eyes were bandaged, he was stretched out on the ground, and the apostle, with a red-hot knife, stamped him with the 'seal of purity.' This happened to a peasant, Saltykov by name, and certainly not to him alone. He fainted away under the operation, and when he came to himself, he heard the voices of his chaste sponsors give him the choice between secrecy and death."
Catherine II signed the first edict against this sect in 1772, but agitation was more or less constant until the Imperial government began vigorous prosecutions in 1871, and many were sentenced to hard labor in Siberia. When prosecutions were instituted, large numbers emigrated to Roumania and there took the name of "Lipovans." Women, especially one of the name of Anna Romanovna, have had a great share in the invention and diffusion of the doctrine. Not infrequently it is the women who, with their own hands, transform the men to angels.
In 1871 their number was estimated to be about 3000, in 1874 they numbered 5444, including 1465 women, and in 1847, 515 men and 240 women were transported to Siberia. The sect still holds its own in Russia. They are millennarians and the messiah will not come for them until their sect numbers 144,000.
Antiquity knew three varieties of eunuch:
CHAPTER 127. "Such sweetness permeated her voice as she said this, so entrancing was the sound upon the listening air that you would have believed the Sirens' harmonies were floating in the breeze."
Many scholars have drawn attention to the ethereal beauty of this passage. Probably the finest parallel is to be found in Horace's ode to Calliope. After the invocation to the muse he thinks he hears her playing:
"Hark! Or is this but frenzy's pleasing dream?
Sir Theodore Martin's version.
Another exquisite and illuminating passage occurs in Catullus, 51, given in Marchena's fourth note.
CHAPTER 131. "Then she kneaded dust and spittle and, dipping her middle finger into the mixture, she crossed my forehead with it."
Since the Fairy Tale Era of the human race, sputum has been employed to give potency to charms and to curses. It was anciently used as anathema and that use is still in force to this day. Let the incredulous critic spit in some one's face if he doubts my word.
But sputum had also a place in the Greek and Roman rituals. Trimalchio spits and throws wine under the table when he hears a cock crowing unseasonably. This, in the first century. Any Jew in Jerusalem hearing the name of Titus mentioned, spits: this in 1903. In the ceremony of naming Roman children spittle had its part to play: it was customary for the nurse to touch the lips and forehead of the child with spittle. The Catholic priest's ritual, which prescribes that the ears and nostrils of the infant or neophyte, as the case may be, shall be touched with spittle, comes, in all probability from Mark, vii, 33, 34, viii, 23, and John, ix, 6, which, in turn are probably derived from a classical original. It should be added that fishermen spit upon their bait before casting in their hooks.
CHAPTER 131. Medio sustulit digito:
There is more than a suggestion in the choice of the middle finger, in this instance. Among the Romans, the middle finger was known as the "infamous finger."
Infami digito et lustralibus ante salivis
To touch the posteriors lewdly with the finger, that is, the middle finger put forth and the two adjoining fingers bent down, so that the hand might form a sort of Priapus, was an obscene sign to attract catamites. That this position of the fingers was an indecent symbol is attested by numerous passages in the classical writers. "He would extend his hand, bent into an obscene posture, for them to kiss," Suetonius, Caligula, 56. It may be added that one of that emperor's officers assassinated him for insulting him in that manner. When this finger was thus applied it signified that the person was ready to sodomise him whom he touched. The symbol is still used by the lower orders.
"We are informed by our younger companions that gentlemen given to sodomitical practices are in the habit of frequenting some public place, such as the Pillars of the County Fire Office, Regent St., and placing their hands behind them, raising their fingers in a suggestive manner similar to that mentioned by our epigrammatist. Should any gentleman place himself near enough to have his person touched by the playful fingers of the pleasure-seeker, and evince no repugnance, the latter turns around and, after a short conversation, the bargain is struck. In this epigram, however, Martial threatens the eye and not the anus." The Romans used to point out sodomites and catamites by thus holding out the middle finger, and so it was used as well in ridicule (or chaff, as we say) as to denote infamy in the persons who were given to these practices.
"If anyone calls you a catamite, Sextillus," says Martial, ii, 28, "return the compliment and hold out your middle finger to him." According to Ramiresius, this custom was still common in the Spain of his day (1600), and it still persists in Spanish and Italian countries, as well as in their colonies. This position of the fingers was supposed to represent the buttocks with a priapus inserted up the fundament; it was called "Iliga," by the Spaniards. From this comes the ancient custom of suspending little priapi from boys' necks to avert the evil eye.
Aristophanes, in the "Clouds," says:
SOCRATES: First they will help you to be pleasant in company, and to know what is meant by OEnoplian rhythm and what by the Dactylic.
STREPSIADES: Of the Dactyl (finger)? I know that quite well.
SOCRATES: What is it then?
STREPSIADES: Why, 'tis this finger; formerly, when a child, I used this one.
(Daktulos means, of course, both Dactyl (name of a metrical foot) and finger. Strepsiades presents his middle finger with the other fingers and thumb bent under in an indecent gesture meant to suggest the penis and testicles. It was for this reason that the Romans called this finger the "unseemly finger.")
SOCRATES: You are as low minded as you are stupid. See also Suetonius. Tiberius, chapter 68.
CHAPTER 138. "OEnothea brought out a leathern dildo."
This instrument, made from glass, wax, leather, or other suitable material such as ivory or the precious metals (Ezekiel xvi, 17), has been known from primitive times; and the spread of the cult of Priapus was a potent factor in making the instrument more common in the western world. Numerous Greek authors make mention of it: Aristophanes, Lucian, Herondas, Suidas and others. That it was only too familiar to the Romans is shown by their many references to it: Catullus, Martial, the apostle Paul, Tertullian, and others.
Aristophanes, Lysistrata: (Lysistrata speaking) "And not so much as the shadow of a lover! Since the day the Milesians betrayed us, I have never once caught sight of an eight-inch-long dildo even, to be a leathern consolation to us poor widows." Her complaint is based upon the fact that all the men were constantly absent upon military duty and the force of the play lies in her strategic control of a commodity in great demand among the male members of society. Quoting again from the same play: Calonice: "And why do you summon us, Lysistrata dear? What is it all about?" Lysistrata: "About a big affair." Calonice: "And is it thick, too'?" Lysistrata: "Indeed it is, great and big too." Calonice: "And we are not all on the spot!" Lysistrata: "Oh! If it were what you have in mind, there would never be an absentee. No, no, it concerns a thing I have turned about and about, this way and that, for many sleepless nights." When the plot has been explained, viz.: that the women refuse intercourse to their husbands until after peace has been declared -- Calonice: "But suppose our poor devils of husbands go away and leave us"' Lysistrata: "Then, as Pherecrates says, 'we must flay a skinned dog,' that's all."
Lucian, Arnoures, says: "but, if it is becoming for men to have intercourse with men, for the future let women have intercourse with women. Come, O new generation, inventor of strange pleasures! as you have devised new methods to satisfy male lust, grant the same privilege to women; let them have intercourse with one another like men, girding themselves with the infamous instruments of lust, an unholy imitation of a fruitless union."
Herondas, Mime vi:
KORITTO | Two women friends
Time, about 300 B. C.
Scene, Koritto's sitting room.
METRO: You have as hard a time as I do, Koritto, dear -- day and night these low servants make me gnash my teeth and bark like a dog, just like they do you. -- But I came to see you about -- (to the slave girl) get out of here, get out of my sight, you trouble maker, you're all ears and tongue and nothing else, all you do is to sit around Koritto -- dear, now please don't tell me a fib, who stitched that red dildo of yours?
KORITTO: Metro, where did you see that?
METRO: Why Nossis, the daughter of Erinna, had it three days ago. Oh but it was a beauty!
KORITTO: So Nossis had it, did she? Where did she get it, I wonder?
METRO: I'm afraid you'll say something if I tell you.
KORITTO: My dear Metro, if anybody hears anything you tell me, from Koritto's mouth, I hope I go blind.
METRO: It was given to her by Eubole of Bitas, and she cautioned her not to let a soul hear of it.
KORITTO: That woman will be my undoing, one of these days; I yielded to her importunity and gave it to her before I had used it myself, Metro dear, but to her it was a godsend -- , now she takes it and gives it to some one who ought not to have it. I bid a long farewell to such a friend as she; let her look out for another friend instead of me. As for Nossis, Adrasteia forgive me. I don't want to talk bigger than a lady should -- I wouldn't give her even a rotten dildo; no, not even if I had a thousand!
METRO: Please don't flare up so quickly when you hear something unpleasant. A good woman must put up with everything. It's all my fault for gossiping. My tongue ought to be cut out; honestly it should: but to get back to the question I asked you a moment ago: who stitched the dildo? Tell me if you love me! What makes you laugh when you look at me? What does your coyness mean? Have you never set eyes on me before? Don't fib to me now, Koritto, I beg of you.
KORITTO: Why do you press me so? Kerdon stitched it.
METRO: Which Kerdon? Tell me, because there are two Kerdons, one is that blue-eyed fellow, the neighbor of Myrtaline the daughter of Kylaithis; but he couldn't even stitch a plectron to a lyre -- the other one, who lives near the house of Hermodorus, after you have left the street, was pretty good once, but he's too old, now; the late lamented Kylaithis -- may her kinsfolk never forget her -- used to patronize him.
KORITTO: He's neither of those you've mentioned, Metro; this fellow is bald headed and short, he comes from Chios or Erythrai, I think -- you would mistake him for another Prexinos, one fig could not look more like another, but just hear him talk, and you'll know that he is Kerdon and not Prexinos. He does business at home, selling his wares on the sly because everyone is afraid of the tax gatherers. My dear! He does do such beautiful work! You would think that what you see is the handiwork of Athena and not that of Kerdon! Do you know that he had two of them when he came here! And when I got a look at them my eyes nearly burst from their sockets through desire. Men never get -- I hope we are alone -- their tools so stiff; and not only that, but their smoothness was as sweet as sleep and their little straps were as soft as wool. If you went looking for one you would never find another ladies' cobbler cleverer than he!
METRO: Why didn't you buy the other one, too?
KORITTO: What didn't I do, Metro dear'? And what didn't I do to persuade him'? I kissed him, I patted his bald head, I poured out some sweet wine for him to drink, I fondled him, the only thing I didn't do was to give him my body.
METRO: But you should have given him that too, if he asked it.
KORITTO: Yes, and I would have, but Bitas slave girl commenced grinding in the court, just at the wrong moment; she has reduced our hand mill nearly to powder by grinding day and night for fear she might have four obols to pay for having her own sharpened.
METRO: But how did he happen to come to your house, Koritto dear? You'll tell me the truth won't you, now?
KORITTO: Artemis the daughter of Kandas directed him to me by pointing out the roof of the tanner's house as a landmark.
METRO: That Artemis is always discovering something new to help her make capital out of her skill as a go-between. But anyhow, when you couldn't buy them both you should have asked who ordered the other one.
KORITTO: I begged him to tell me but he swore he wouldn't, that's how much he thought of me, Metro dear.
METRO: You mean that I must go and find Artemis now to learn who the Kerdon is -- good-bye KORITTO. He (my husband) is hungry by now, so it's time I was going.
KORITTO: (To the slave girl) Close the doors, there, chicken keeper, and count the chickens to see if they're all there; throw them some grain, too, for the chicken thieves will steal them out of one's very lap.
A lascivious dance of the old Greek comedy. Any person who performed this dance except upon the stage was considered drunk or dissolute. That the dance underwent changes for the worse is manifest from the representation of it found on a marble tazza in the Vatican (Visconti, Mus. Pio-Clem. iv, 29), where it is performed by ten figures, five Finns and five Bacchanals, but their movements, though extremely lively and energetic, are not marked by any particular indelicacy. Many ancient authors and scholiasts have commented upon the looseness and sex appeal of this dance. Meursius, Orchest., article Kordax, has collected the majority of passages in the classical writers, bearing upon this subject, but from this disorderly collection it is impossible to arrive at any definite description of the cordax. The article in Coelius Rhodiginus. Var. Lect. lib. iv, is conventional. The cordax was probably not unlike the French "chalhut," danced in the wayside inns, and it has been preserved in the Spanish "bolero" and the Neapolitan "tarantella." When the Romans adopted the Greek customs, they did not neglect the dances and it is very likely that the Roman Nuptial Dance, which portrayed the most secret actions of marriage had its origin in the Greek cordax. The craze for dancing became so menacing under Tiberius that the Senate was compelled to run the dancers and dancing masters out of Rome but the evil had become so deep rooted that the very precautions by which society was to be safeguarded served to inflame the passion for the dance and indulgence became so general and so public that great scandal resulted. Domitian, who was by no means straight laced, found it necessary to expel from the Senate those members who danced in public. The people imitated the nobles, and, as fast as the dancers were expelled, others from the highest and lowest ranks of society took their places, and there soon came to be no distinction, in this matter, between the noblest names of the patricians and the vilest rabble from the Suburra. There is no comparison between the age of Cicero and that of Domitian. "One could do a man no graver injury than to call him a dancer," says Cicero, Pro Murena, and adds: "a man cannot dance unless he is drunk or insane."
Probably the most realistic description of the cordax, conventional, of course, is to be found in Merejkovski's "Death of the Gods." The passage occurs in chapter vi. I have permitted myself the liberty of supplying the omissions and euphemisms in Trench's otherwise excellent and spirited version of the novel. "At this moment hoarse sounds like the roarings of some subterranean monster came from the market square. They were the notes, now plaintive, now lively, of a hydraulic organ. At the entrance to a showman's travelling booth, a blind Christian slave, for four obols a day, was pumping up the water which produced this extraordinary harmony. Agamemnon dragged his companions into the booth, a great tent with blue awnings sprinkled with silver stars. A lantern lighted a black-board on which the order of the program was chalked up in Syriac and Greek. It was stifling within, redolent of garlic and lamp oil soot. In addition to the organ, there struck up the wailing of two harsh flutes, and an Ethopian, rolling the whites of his eyes, thrummed upon an Arab drum. A dancer was skipping and throwing somersaults on a tightrope, clapping his hands to the time of the music, and singing a popular song:
Hue, huc, convenite nunc
"This starveling snub-nosed dancer was old, repulsive, and nastily gay. Drops of sweat mixed with paint were trickling from his shaven forehead; his wrinkles, plastered with white lead, looked like the cracks in some wall when rain has washed away the lime. The flutes and organ ceased when he withdrew, and a fifteen-year-old girl ran out upon the stage. She was to perform the celebrated cordax, so passionately adored by the mob. The Fathers of the Church called down anathema upon it, the Roman laws prohibited it, but all in vain. The cordax was danced everywhere, by rich and poor, by senators' wives and by street dancers, just as it had been before.
"'What a beautiful girl,' whispered Agamemnon enthusiastically. Thanks to the fists of his companions, he had reached a place in the front rank of spectators. The slender bronze body of the Nubian was draped only about the hips with an almost airy colorless scarf. Her hair was wound on the top of her head, in close fine curls like those of Nubian woven. Her face was of the severest Egyptian type, recalling that of the Sphinx.
"She began to dance languidly, carelessly, as if already weary. Above her head she swung copper bells, castanets or 'crotals,' -- swung them lazily, so that they tinkled very faintly. Gradually her movements became more emphatic, and suddenly under their long lashes, yellow eyes shone out, clear and bright as the eyes of a leopardess. She drew her body up to her full height and the copper castanets began to tinkle with such challenge in their piercing sound that the whole crowd trembled with emotion. Vivid, slender, supple as a serpent, the damsel whirled rapidly, her nostrils dilated, and a strange cry came crooning from her throat. With each impetuous movement, two dark little breasts held tight by a green silk net, trembled like two ripe fruits in the wind, and their sharp, thickly painted nipples were like rubies, as they protruded from the net.
"The crowd was beside itself with passion. Agamemnon, nearly mad, was held back by his companions. Suddenly the girl stopped as if exhausted. A slight shudder ran through her, from her head down the dark limbs to her feet. Deep silence prevailed. The head of the Nubian was thrown back as if in a rigid swoon but above it the crotals still tinkled with an extraordinary languor, a dying vibration, quick and soft as the wing flutterings of a captured butterfly. Her eyes grew dim but in their inner depths glittered two sparks; the face remained severe, impersonal, but upon the sensuous red lips of that sphinx-like mouth a smile trembled, faint as the dying sound of the crotals."
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