The norms of ethics, morality and openness of personal life in Ancient Rome were radically different from modern ones. If in today's society, sexual life is rather closed, which is not customary to put on display, then with the Romans everything was completely different. The motives of eroticism and sex in Ancient Rome were not just an integral part of life - there were no taboos and prejudices on its presentation to society.
In Rome, the image of a naked person (both male and female) was not something remarkable. And the lack of clothing didn't always have a direct erotic context. Nevertheless, there are many works of not just erotic, but also pornographic nature, both with a variety of sexual acts, and without them. And often such images for modern norms of ethics are a manifestation of various types of perversions.
One of the most striking examples of demonstrating life styles on an intimate theme is the perfectly preserved Roman city of Pompeii. It has just a lot of sources on erotic topics. Literally in every villa there are frescoes with sexual acts, on the walls of the streets there are a lot of drawings made by ordinary people with phalluses and words on a similar topic. Erotic themes are also massively found in ordinary everyday things - dishes, oil lamps, amulets, pendants... almost everywhere where it was possible to depict a sexual act or a penis, they depicted it without a moment's hesitation.
A similar spread was received by eroticism itself and outside Pompeii. From the east to the far-flung British Isles, a wide variety of species are found throughout the Roman state. Moreover, the prevalence concerns not only territorial nature, but also social-this was popular among slaves, plebeians, and patricians.
The tradition of unrestrained sex life came to Rome from conquered Greece, where public orgies especially flourished during the festivities in honor of the wine god Dionysus — "The Great Dionysians". In Rome, such sexual rampant festivities have passed into the culture as bacchanalia, which were held on March 16-17 (the wine god Bacchus is essentially the Roman equivalent of Dionysus), and saturnalia (in the name of the god Saturn). Saturnalia, in turn, was the only day when slaves were treated equally with their masters, sat at a common table with them, and their masters served them. Orgies from these festivals were held on such an amazing scale that, according to contemporaries of their participants, Roman girls might not even understand who they got pregnant from — they could have sex with more than five partners in an evening.
They became especially ugly during the era of Nero (1st century BC), where almost all types of sexual perversions were practiced: homosexuality, lesbianism, group sex, sadism, masochism, voyeurism, and so on. Sometimes it got to the point that they involved children in their orgies. It should be noted that they were already given a special status of perversions in our time, and in antiquity this was not something particularly beyond the bounds of decency. The only exception was homosexual relationships. A real Roman was forbidden to have sex with another man in a passive role. At the same time, an active role was not at all forbidden by society. Nevertheless, such mass orgies were banned in 186 AD.
There is an extant description of the orgy in the ancient Roman novel by Petronius "Satyricon "" ... The slave pulled out two ribbons from her bosom and tied our hands and feet with them... The girl threw her arms around his neck and, meeting no resistance, showered him with countless kisses... Last of all, Kinad (a corrupt homosexual) appeared in green clothes made of shaggy wool, belted with a sash. He alternated between rubbing his open thighs against us and smearing us with smelly kisses... Finally Quartilla, holding up a whalebone whip and belting her dress high, ordered us to give the poor wretches a break..."
Prostitution in ancient Rome took on an incredibly wide scale. With their faces whitened and their eyes lined with soot, Roman prostitutes carried on their ancient trade . They were everywhere-at the walls of the Colosseum, in theaters and temples. Visiting women of easy virtue was considered a common occurrence among the Romans, which in a modern way can be compared to going to the cinema or shopping.
There were quite a large number of types of prostitutes. The cheapest harlots sold fast sex right in the city blocks and were called Scortum, in a modern way-a yard whore. Priestesses of love of higher rank, supported by bath attendants, acted less explicitly, in Roman thermal baths. Alicariae or bakers – girls who kept close to bakers and sold tortillas in the shape of male and female genitalia. Diobolares — old, worn-out prostitutes, the cheapest. Nani – little girls who started prostitution before the age of 12. The most common were Lupana - brothel prostitutes from the lupanarium, from which the name came. Meretricula were a complete analogue of the Greek hetaera, who were in the modern sense rather permanent elite mistresses of rich and influential "sponsors". They had a great influence on fashion, art, literature, and the whole of Patrician society.
As the Roman Empire flourished, representatives of the ancient profession were actively replenished at the expense of foreign slaves. There were even so-called "harlot farms" where the owners bought slaves or raised orphaned children for prostitution. The slave trade was also a legal source. Pimps bought women and sent them to work. The sexual use of female slaves was legal in Rome, and it was used everywhere. The rape of a slave by a pimp was also not punishable. Brothel owners also offered boys.
Since the 40th year of our era, prostitutes of the Roman Empire were obliged to pay taxes. It is assumed that the calculation was made based on one sexual act per day. Income earned in excess of this norm was not taxed. This tax brought a significant part of the income to the treasury. Prostitutes after 30 years were practically not listed. The usual outcome for such harlots was a sad end: drunkenness, illness, and early death.
As for brothels, in Rome, as mentioned earlier, the inhabitants of brothels were called "lupae" (wolves), and the brothels themselves were called "lupanaria". There were cheap inns in the city. In Pompeii, where there were about 20 thousand inhabitants, during excavations, seven brothels were discovered, many of which simultaneously served as taverns or barbers. At Vicolo del Lupanare, you can still see cavernous rooms with stone-built beds. "Advertising" inscriptions are displayed on the external walls: "For those who love, life is as sweet as for bees (in these cells)." Another brothel had the inscription "Hic habitat felicitas" ("Here dwells pleasure").
Male genitalia was also not banned. They were depicted on statues, frescoes, mosaics and other objects of fine art. And often it was not just as a part of the image of the male anatomy, but as an independent object or even a character. In the latter case, it could also have "limbs" that are not peculiar to itself - wings, legs, hooves, tail, or, most commonly, other phalluses.
He was often depicted on walls in cities, amulets, ornaments and other amulets. That is, it was ubiquitous. This is due to a rather extensive symbolism - it represented both the masculine principle, and luck, and fertility, and protection from the evil eye.