For a long time affairs at Crotona ran along in this manner and Eumolpus, flushed with success so far forgot the former state of his fortunes that he even bragged to his followers that no one could hold out against any wish of his, and that any member of his suite who committed a crime in that city would, through the influence of his friends, get off unpunished. But, although I daily crammed my bloated carcass to overflowing with good things, and began more and more to believe that Fortune had turned away her face from keeping watch upon me, I frequently meditated, nevertheless, upon my present state and upon its cause. "Suppose," thought I, "some wily legacy hunter should dispatch an agent to Africa and catch us in our lie? Or even suppose the hireling servant, glutted with prosperity, should tip off his cronies or give the whole scheme away out of spite? There would be nothing for it but flight and, in a fresh state of destitution, a recalling of poverty which had been driven off. Gods and goddesses, how ill it fares with those living outside the law; they are always on the lookout for what is coming to them!" (Turning these possibilities over in my mind I left the house, in a state of black melancholy, hoping to revive my spirits in the fresh air, but scarcely had I set foot upon the public promenade when a girl, by no means homely, met me, and, calling me Polyaenos, the name I had assumed since my metamorphosis, informed me that her mistress desired leave to speak with me. "You must be mistaken," I answered, in confusion, "I am only a servant and a stranger, and am by no means worthy of such an honor.")
("You yourself," she replied, "are the one to whom I was sent but,) because you are well aware of your good looks, you are proud and sell your favors instead of giving them. What else can those wavy well-combed locks mean or that face, rouged and covered with cosmetics, or that languishing, wanton expression in your eyes? Why that gait, so precise that not a footstep deviates from its place, unless you wish to show off your figure in order to sell your favors? Look at me, I know nothing about omens and I don't study the heavens like the astrologers, but I can read men's intentions in their faces and I know what a flirt is after when I see him out for a stroll; so if you'll sell us what I want there's a buyer ready, but if you will do the graceful thing and lend, let us be under obligations to you for the favor. And as for your confession that you are only a common servant, by that you only fan the passion of the lady who burns for you, for some women 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." Puffed up with this delightful chatter. "Come now, confess, won't you," I queried, "is this lady who loves me yourself?" The waiting maid smiled broadly at this blunt speech. "Don't have such a high opinion of yourself," said she, "I've never given in to any servant yet; the gods forbid that I should ever throw my arms around a gallows-bird. Let the married women see to that and kiss the marks of the scourge if they like: I'll sit upon nothing below a knight, even if I am only a servant." I could not help marveling, for my part, at such discordant passions, and I thought it nothing short of a miracle that this servant should possess the hauteur of the mistress and the mistress the low tastes of the wench!
Each one will find what suits his taste, one thing is not for all,
One gathers roses as his share, another thorns enthrall.
After a little more teasing, I requested the maid to conduct her mistress to a clump of plane trees. Pleased with this plan, the girl picked up the skirt of her garment and turned into a laurel grove that bordered the path. After a short delay she brought her mistress from her hiding-place and conducted her to my side; a woman more perfect than any statue. There are no words with which to describe her form and anything I could say would fall far short. Her hair, naturally wavy, flowed completely over her shoulders; her forehead was low and the roots of her hair were brushed back from it; her eyebrows, running from the very springs of her cheeks, almost met at the boundary line between a pair of eyes brighter than stars shining in a moonless night; her nose was slightly aquiline and her mouth was such an one as Praxiteles dreamed Diana had. Her chin, her neck, her hands, the gleaming whiteness of her feet under a slender band of gold; she turned Parian marble dull! Then, for the first time, Doris' tried lover thought lightly of Doris!
Oh Jove, what's come to pass that thou, thine armor cast away
Art mute in heaven; and but an idle tale?
At such a time the horns should sprout, the raging bull hold sway,
Or they white hair beneath swan's down conceal
Here's Dana's self! But touch that lovely form
Thy limbs will melt beneath thy passions' storm!
She was delighted and so be witchingly did she smile that I seemed to see the full moon showing her face from behind a cloud. Then, punctuating her words with her fingers, "Dear boy, if you are not too critical to enjoy a woman of wealth who has but this year known her first man, I offer you a sister," said she. "You have a brother already, I know, for I didn't disdain to ask, but what is to prevent your adopting a sister, too? I will come in on the same footing only deem my kisses worthy of recognition and caress me at your own pleasure!" "Rather let me implore you by your beauty," I replied. "Do not scorn to admit an alien among your worshipers: If you permit me to kneel before your shrine you will find me a true votary and, that you may not think I approach this temple of love without a gift, I make you a present of my brother!" "What," she exclaimed, "would you really sacrifice the only one without whom you. could not live'? The one upon whose kisses your happiness depends. Him whom you love as I would have you love me?" 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. I was struck with wonder and dazzled by I know not what light that shone upon me, brighter than, the whole heaven, but I made bold to inquire the name of my divinity. "Why, didn't my maid tell you that I am called Circe?" she replied. "But I am not the sun-child nor has my mother ever stayed the revolving world in its course at her pleasure; but if the Fates bring us two together I will owe heaven a favor. I don't know what it is, but some god's silent purpose is beneath this. Circe loves not Polyaenos without some reason; a great torch is always flaming when these names meet! Take me in your arms then, if you will; there's no prying stranger to fear, and your 'brother' is far away from this spot!" So saying, Circe clasped me in arms that were softer than down and drew me to the ground which was covered with colored flowers.
With flowers like these did Mother Earth great Ida's summit strew
When Jupiter, his heart aflame, enjoyed his lawful love;
There glowed the rose, the flowering rush, the violet's deep blue,
From out green meadows snow-white lilies laughed. Then from above,
This setting summoned Venus to the green and tender sod,
Bright day smiled kindly on the secret amour of the God.
Side by side upon the grassy plot we lay, exchanging a thousand kisses, the prelude to more poignant pleasure, (but alas! My sudden loss of vigor disappointed Circe!)
(Infuriated at this affront,) "What's the matter," demanded she; "do my kisses offend you? Is my breath fetid from fasting? Is there any evil smelling perspiration in my armpits? Or, if it's nothing of this kind, are you afraid of Giton?" Under her eyes, I flushed hotly and, if I had any virility left, I lost it then; my whole body seemed to be inert. "My queen," I cried, "do not mock me in my humiliation. I am bewitched!" (Circe's anger was far from being appeased by such a trivial excuse; turning her eyes contemptuously away from me, she looked at her maid,) "Tell me, Chrysis, and tell me truly, is there anything repulsive about me? Anything sluttish? Have I some natural blemish that disfigures my beauty? Don't deceive your mistress! I don't know what's the matter with us, but there must be something!" Then she snatched a mirror from the silent maid and after scrutinizing all the looks and smiles which pass between lovers, she shook out her wrinkled earth-stained robe and flounced off into the temple of Venus (nearby.) And here was I, like a convicted criminal who had seen some horrible nightmare, asking myself whether the pleasure out of which I had been cheated was a reality or only a dream.
As when, in the sleep-bringing night
Dreams sport with the wandering eyes,
And earth, spaded up, yields to light
Her gold that by day she denies,
The stealthy hand snatches the spoils;
The face with cold sweat is suffused
And Fear grips him tight in her toils
Lest robbers the secret have used
And shake out the gold from his breast.
But, when they depart from his brain,
These enchantments by which he's obsessed,
And Truth comes again with her train
Restoring perspective and pain,
The phantasm lives to the last,
The mind dwells with shades of the past.
(The misfortune seemed to me a dream, but I imagined that I must surely be under a spell of enchantment and, for a long time, I was so devoid of strength that I could not get to my feet. But finally my mental depression began to abate, little by little my strength came back to me, and I returned home: arrived there, I feigned illness and threw myself upon my couch. A little late: Giton, who had heard of my indisposition, entered the room in some concern. As I wished to relieve his mind I informed him that I had merely sought my pallet to take a rest, telling him much other gossip but not a word about my mishap as I stood in great fear of his jealousy and, to lull any suspicion which he might entertain, I drew him to my side and endeavoured to give him some proofs of my love but all my panting and sweating were in vain. He jumped up in a rage and accused my lack of virility and change of heart, declaring that he had for a long time suspected that I had been expending my vigor and breath elsewhere. "No! No! Darling," I replied, "my love for you has always been the same, but reason prevails now over love and wantonness.") "And for the Socratic continence of your love, I thank you in his name," (he replied sarcastically,) "Alcibiades was never more spotless when he left his master's bed!"
"Believe me, 'brother,' when I tell you that I do not know whether I am a man or not," (I vainly protested;) "I do not feel like one, if I am! Dead and buried lies that part in which I was once an Achilles!" (Giton, seeing that I was completely enervated, and) fearing that it might give cause for scandal if he were caught in this quiet place with me, tore himself away and fled into an inner part of the house. (He had just gone when) Chrysis entered the room and handed me her mistress's tablets, in which were written the following words:
CIRCE TO POLYAENOS--GREETING.
Were I a wanton, I should complain of my disappointment, but as it is I am beholden to your impotence, for by it I dallied the longer in the shadow of pleasure. Still, I would like to know how you are and whether you got home upon your own legs, for the doctors say that one cannot walk without nerves! Young man, I advise you to beware of paralysis for I never in my life saw a patient in such great danger; you're as good as dead, I'm sure! What if the same numbness should attack your hands and knees? You would have to send for the funeral trumpeters! Still, even if I have been affronted, I will not begrudge a prescription to one as sick as you! Ask Giton if you would like to recover. I am sure you will get back your strength if you will sleep without your "brother" for three nights. So far as I am concerned, I am not in the least alarmed about. finding someone to whom I shall be as pleasing as I was to you; my mirror and my reputation do not lie.
Farewell (if you can).
"Such things will happen," said Chrysis, when she saw that I had read through the entire inditement, "and especially in this city, where the women can lure the moon from the sky! But we'll find a cure for your trouble. Just return a diplomatic answer to my mistress and restore her self-esteem by frank courtesy for, truth to tell, she has never been herself from the minute she received that affront." I gladly followed the maid's advice and wrote upon the tablets as follows:
POLYAENOS TO CIRCE--GREETING.
Dear lady, I confess that I have often given cause for offense, for I am only a man, and a young one, too, but I never committed a deadly crime until today! You have my confession of guilt, I deserve any punishment you may see fit to prescribe. I betrayed a trust, I murdered a man, I violated a temple: demand my punishment for these crimes. Should it be your pleasure to slay me I will come to you with my sword; if you are content with a flogging I will run naked to my mistress; only bear in mind that it was not myself but my tools that failed me. I was a soldier, and ready, but I had no arms. What threw me into such disorder I do not know, perhaps my imagination outran my lagging body, by aspiring to too much it is likely that I spent my pleasure in delay; I cannot imagine what the trouble was. You bid me beware of paralysis; as if a disease which prevented my enjoying you could grow worse! But my apology amounts briefly to this; if you will grant me an opportunity of repairing my fault, I will give you satisfaction.
After dismissing Chrysis with these fair promises, I paid careful attention to my body which had so evilly served me and, omitting the bath, I annointed myself, in moderation, with unguents and placed myself upon a more strengthening diet such as onions and snail's heads without condiments, and I also drank more sparingly of wine; then, taking a short walk before settling down to sleep, I went to bed without Giton. So anxious was I to please her that I feared the outcome if my "brother" lay tickling my side.
Finding myself vigorous in mind and body when I arose next morning, I went down to the same clump of plane trees, though I dreaded the spot as one of evil omen, and commenced to wait for Chrysis to lead me on my way. I took a short stroll and had just seated myself where I had sat the day before, when she came under the trees, leading a little old woman by the hand. "Well, Mr. Squeamish," she chirped, when she had greeted me, "have you recovered your appetite?" In the meantime, the old hag:A wine-soaked crone with twitching lips
brought out a twisted hank of different colored yarns and put it about my neck; she then kneaded dust and spittle and, dipping her middle finger into the mixture, she crossed my forehead with it, in spite of my protests.
As long as life remains, there's hope;
Thou rustic God, oh hear our prayer,
Great Priapus, I thee invoke,
Temper our arms to dare!
When she had made an end of this incantation she ordered me to spit three times, and three times to drop stones into my bosom, each stone she wrapped up in purple after she had muttered charms over it; then, directing her hands to my privates, she commenced to try out my virility. Quicker than thought the nerves responded to the summons, filling the crone's hand with an enormous erection! Skipping for joy, "Look, Chrysis, look," she cried out, "see what a hare I've started, for someone else to course!" (This done, the old lady handed me over to Chrysis, who was greatly delighted at the recovery of her mistress's treasure; she hastily conducted me straight to the latter, introducing me into a lovely nook that nature had furnished with everything which could delight the eye.)
Shorn of its top, the swaying pine here casts a
And quivering cypress, and the stately plane
And berry-laden laurel. A brook's wimpling waters strayed
Lashed into foam, but dancing on again
And rolling pebbles in their chattering flow.
'Twas Love's own nook,
As forest nightingale and urban Procne undertook
To bear true witness; hovering, the gleaming grass above
And tender violets; wooing with song, their stolen love.
Fanning herself with a branch of flowering myrtle, she lay, stretched out with her marble neck resting upon a golden cushion. When she caught sight of me she blushed faintly; she recalled yesterday's affront, I suppose. At her invitation, I sat down by her side, as soon as the others had gone; whereupon she put the branch of myrtle over my face and emboldened, as if a wall had been raised between us, "Well, Mr. Paralytic," she teased, "have you brought all of yourself along today?" "Why ask me," I replied, "why not try me instead?" and throwing myself bodily into her arms, I revelled in her kisses with no witchcraft to stop me.
The loveliness of her form drew, me to her and summoned me to love. Our lips were pressed together in a torrent of smacking kisses, our groping hands had discovered every trick of excitation, and our bodies, clasped in a mutual embrace, had fused our souls into one, (and then, in the very midst of these ravishing preliminaries my nerves again played me false and I was unable to last until the instant of supreme bliss.) Lashed to fury by these inexcusable affronts, the lady at last ran to avenge herself and, calling her house servants, she gave orders for me to be hoisted upon their shoulders and flogged; then, still unsatisfied with the drastic punishment she had inflicted upon me, she called all the spinning women and scrubbing wenches in the house and ordered them to spit upon me. I covered my face with my hands but I uttered no complaint as I well knew what I deserved and, overwhelmed with blows and spittle, I was driven from the house. Proselenos was kicked out too, Chrysis was beaten, and all the slaves grumbled among themselves and wondered what had upset their mistress's good humor. I took heart after having given some thought to my misfortunes and, artfully concealing the marks of the blows for fear that Eumolpus would make merry over my mishaps or, worse yet, that Giton might be saddened by my disgrace, I did the only thing I could do to save my self-respect, I pretended that I was sick and went to bed. There, I turned the full fury of my resentment against that recreant which had been the sole cause of all the evil accidents which had befallen me.
Three times I grasped the two-edged blade
The recreant to cut away;
Three times by Fear my hand was stayed
And palsied Terror said me nay
That which I might have done before
'Twas now impossible to do;
For, cold with Fear, the wretch withdrew
Into a thousand-wrinkled mare,
And shrank in shame before my gaze
Nor would his head uncover more.
But though the scamp in terror skulked,
With words I flayed him as he sulked.
Raising myself upon my elbow I rebuked the shirker in some such terms as these: "What have you to say for yourself, you disgrace to gods and men," I demanded, "for your name must never be mentioned among refined people. Did I deserve to be lifted up to heaven and then dragged down to hell by you? Was it right for you to slander my flourishing and vigorous years and land me in the shadows and lassitude of decrepit old age? Give me some sign, however faint, I beg of you, that you have returned to life!" I vented my anger in words such as these.
His eyes were fixed, and with averted look
He stood, less moved by any word of mine
Than weeping willows bending o'er a brook
Or drooping poppies as at noon they pine.
When I had made an end of this invective, so out of keeping with good taste, I began to do penance for my soliloquy and blushed furtively because I had so far forgotten my modesty as to invoke in words that part of my body which men of dignity do not even recognize. Then, rubbing my forehead for a long time, "Why have I committed an indiscretion in relieving my resentment by natural abuse," I mused, "what does it amount to? Are we not accustomed to swear at every member of the human body, the belly, throat, or even the head when it aches, as it often does? Did not Ulysses wrangle with his own heart? Do not the tragedians 'Damn their eyes' just as if they could hear?
"Gouty patients swear at their feet, rheumatics at their hands, blear-eyed people at their eyes, and do not those who often stub their toes blame their feet for all their pain?
"Why will our Catos with their frowning brows
Condemn a work of fresh simplicity'?
A cheerful kindness my pure speech endows;
What people do, I write, to my capacity.
For who knows not the pleasures Venus gives?
Who will not in a warm bed tease his members?
Great Epicurus taught a truth that lives;
Love and enjoy life! All the rest is embers.
"Nothing can be more insincere than the silly prejudices of mankind, and nothing sillier than the morality of bigotry,"
I called Giton when I had finished my meditation: "Tell me, little brother," I demanded, "tell me, on your honor: Did Ascyltos stay awake until he had exacted his will of you, the night he stole you away from me? Or was he content to spend the night like a chaste widow?" Wiping his eyes the lad, in carefully chosen words took oath that Ascyltos had used no force against him. (The truth of the matter is, that I was so distraught with my own misfortunes that I knew not what I was saying. "Why recall past memories which can only cause pain," said I to myself. I then directed all my energies towards the recovery of my lost manhood. To achieve this I was ready even to devote myself to the gods; accordingly, I went out to invoke the aid of Priapus.) Putting as good a face upon the matter as I could I knelt upon the threshold of his shrine and invoked the God in the following verses:
"Of Bacchus and the nymphs, companion boon,
Whom fair Dione set o'er forests wide
As God: whom Lesbos and green Thasos own
For deity, whom Lydians, far and wide
Adore through all the seasons of the year;
Whose temple in his own Hypaepa placed,
Thou Dryad's joy and Bacchus', hear my prayer!
To thee I come, by no dark blood disgraced,
No shrine, in wicked lust have I profaned;
When I was poor and worn with want, I sinned
Not by intent, a pauper's sin's not banned
As of another! Unto thee I pray
Lift thou the load from off my tortured mind,
Forgive a light offense! When fortune smiles
I'll not thy glory shun and leave behind
Thy worship! Unto thee, a goat that feels
His primest vigor, father of the flocks
Shall come! And suckling pigs, the tender young
Of some fine grunting sow! New wine, in crocks
Shall foam! Thy grateful praises shall be sung
By youths who thrice shall dance around thy shrine
Happy, in youth and full of this year's wine!"
While I was engaged in this diplomatic effort in behalf of the affected member, a hideous crone with disheveled hair, and clad in black garments which were in great: disorder, entered the shrine and, laying hands upon me, led me thoroughly frightened, out into the portico.
"What witches" (she cried,) "have devoured your manhood? What filth did you tread upon at some crossroads, in the dark? Not even by the boy could you do your duty but, weak and effeminate, you are worn out like a cart-horse at a hill, you have lost both labor and sweat! Not content with getting yourself into trouble, you have stirred up the wrath of the gods against me and I will make you smart for it." She then led me, unresisting, back into the priestess's room, pushed me down upon the bed, snatched a cane that hung upon the door, and gave me another thrashing: I remained silent and, had the cane not splintered at the first stroke, thereby diminishing the force of the blow, she might easily have broken my arms or my head. I groaned dismally, and especially when she manipulated my member and, shedding a flood of tears, I covered my head with my right arm and huddled down upon the pillow. Nor did she weep less bitterly:
The sailor, naked from his foundered barque,
Some shipwrecked mariner seeks out to hear his woe;
When hail beats down a farmer's crop, his cark
Seeks consolation from another, too.
Death levels caste and sufferers unites,
And weeping parents are as one in grief;
We also will beseech the starry heights,
United prayers climb best, is the belief.
She seated herself upon the other side of the bed and in quavering tones commenced to accuse the delays of old age. At last the priestess came in. "Why," she cried, "what has brought you into my cell as if you were visiting a newly made grave? And on a feast-day, too, when even mourners ought to smile!" "OEnothea," the old hag replied, "this young man here was born under an unlucky star: he can't dispose of his goods to either boy or girl. Such an unfortunate fellow you never saw. He has no tool at all, only a piece of leather soaked in water! I wish you would tell me what you think of a man who could get up from Circe's bed without having tasted pleasure!" On hearing these words, OEnothea sat down between us and, after shaking her head for a while, "I'm the only one that knows how to cure that disease," said she, "and for fear you think I'm talking to hear myself talk, I'll just have the young fellow sleep with me for a night, and if I don't make it as hard as horn!
All that you see in the world must give heed to my mandates;
Blossoming earth, when I will it, must languish, a desert.'
Riches pour forth, when I will it, from crags and grim boulders
Waters will spurt that will rival the Nile at its flooding
Seas calm their billows before me, gales silence their howlings,
Hearing my step! And the rivers sink into their channels;
Dragons, Hyrcanian tigers stand fast at my bidding!
Why should I tell you of small things? The image of Luna
Drawn by my spells must descend, and Apollo, atremble
Backs up his horses and turns from his course at my order!
Such is the power of my word! By the rites of a virgin
Quenched is the raging of bulls; and the sun's daughter Circe
Changed and transfigured the crew of the wily Ulysses.
Proteus changes his form when his good pleasure dictates,
I, who am skilled in these arts, can the shrubs of Mount Ida
Plant in the ocean; turn rivers to flow up the mountains!"
At this declaration, which was so awe-inspiring, I shuddered in terror, and commenced to scrutinize the crone more narrowly. "Come now," said OEnothea, "obey my orders," and, carefully wiping her hands, she bent over the cot and kissed me, once, twice! On the middle of the altar OEnothea placed an old table, upon which she heaped live coals, then with melted pitch she repaired a goblet which had become cracked through age. Next she replaced, in the smoke-stained wall, a peg which had come out when she took down the wooden goblet. Then, having donned a mantle, in the shape of a piece of square-cut cloth, she set a huge kettle upon the hearth and at the same time speared with a fork a cloth hanging upon the meathooks, and lifted it down. It contained some beans which had been laid away for future use, and a very small and stale piece of pig's cheek, scored with a thousand slashes. When she had untied the string which fastened the cloth, she poured some of the beans upon the table and ordered me to shell them quickly and carefully. I obey her mandate and with careful fingers separate the beans from the filthy pods which contain them; but she, accusing my clumsiness, hastily snatched them and, skillfully tearing off the pods with her teeth, spat them upon the ground, where they looked like dead flies. I wondered, then, at the ingenuity of poverty and its expedients for emergency. (So ardent a follower of this virtue did the priestess seem that it was reflected in everything around her. Her dwelling, in particular, was a very shrine of poverty.)
No Indian ivory set in gold gleamed here,
No trodden marble glistened here; no earth
Mocked for its gifts; but Ceres' festive grove:
With willow wickerwork 'twas set around,
New cups of clay by revolutions shaped
Of lowly wheel. For honey soft, a bowl;
Platters of green bark wickerwork, a jar
Stained by the lifeblood of the God of Wine;
The walls around with chaff and spattered clay
Were covered. Flanging from protruding nails
Were slender stalks of the green rush; and then
Suspended from the smoky beam, the stores
Of this poor cottage. Service berries soft,
Entwined in fragrant wreaths hung down,
Dried savory and raisins by the bunch.
An hostess here like she on Attic soil,
Of Hecate's pure worship worthy she!
Whose fame Kallimachos so grandly sang
'Twill live forever through the speaking years.
In the meantime, (having shelled the beans,) she took a mouthful of the meat and with the fork was replacing the pig's cheek, which was coeval with herself, upon the meat-hook, when the rotten stool, which she was using to augment her height, broke down under the old lady's weight and let her fall upon the hearth. The neck of the pot was broken, putting out the fire, which was just getting a good start, her elbow was burned by a flaming brand, and her whole face was covered by the ashes raised by her fall. I jumped up in dismay and, not without laughing, helped the old lady to her feet. She hastily scurried out into the neighborhood to replenish the fire, for fear anything should delay the sacrifice. I was on my way to the door of the cell when lo! and behold! three sacred geese which were accustomed, I suppose, to demand their feed from the old woman at midday, made a rush at me and, surrounding me, made me nervous with their abominable rabid cackling. One tore at my tunic, another undid the lacings of my sandals and tugged at them, but one in particular, the ringleader and moving spirit of this savage attack, did not hesitate to worry at my leg with his serrated bill. Unable to see the joke, I twisted off one of the legs of the little table and, thus armed, began to belabor the pugnacious brute. Nor did I rest content with a light blow, I avenged myself by the death of the goose.
'Twas thus, I ween, the birds of Stymphalus
To heaven fled, by Herakles impelled;
The Harpies, too, whose reeking pinions held
That poison which the feast of Phineus
Contaminated. All the air above
With their unwonted lamentations shook,
The heavens in uproar and confusion move
The Stars, in dread, their orbits then forsook!
By this time the two remaining geese had picked up the beans which had been scattered all over the floor and bereft, I suppose, of their leader, had gone back into the temple; and I, well content with my revenge and my booty, threw the dead goose behind the cot and bathed the trifling wound in my leg with vinegar: then, fearing a scolding, I made up my mind to run away and, collecting together all my belongings, started to leave the house. I had not yet stepped over the threshold of the cell, however, when I caught sight of OEnothea returning with an earthen vessel full of live coals. Thereupon I retraced my steps and, throwing off my garments, I took my stand just inside the door, as if I were awaiting her return. She banked her fire with broken reeds, piled some pieces of wood on top, and began to excuse her delay on the ground that her friend would not permit her to leave until after the customary three drinks had been taken. "But what were you up to in my absence?" she demanded. "Where are the beans?" Thinking that I had done a thing worthy of all praise, I informed her of the battle in all its details and, that she might not be downcast any longer, I produced the dead goose in payment for her loss. When the old lady laid eyes upon that, she raised such a clamor that you would have thought that the geese had invaded the room again. Confounded and thunderstruck at the novelty of my crime, I asked her why she was so angry and why she pitied the goose rather than myself.
But, beating her palms together, "You villain, are you so brazen that you can speak?" she shrieked. "Don't you know what a serious crime you've committed? You have slaughtered the delight of Priapus, a goose, the very darling of married women! And for fear you think that nothing serious has happened, if the magistrates find this out you'll go to the cross! Until this day my dwelling has been inviolate and you have polluted it with blood! You have conducted yourself in such a manner that any enemy I have can turn me out of the priesthood!"
She spoke, and from her trembling head she tore the snow-white hair,
And scratched her cheeks: her eyes shed floods of tears.
As when a torrent headlong rushes down the valleys drear,
Its icy fetters gone when Sprint appears,
And strikes the frozen shackles from rejuvenated earth
So down her face the tears in torrents swept
And wracking sobs convulsed her as she wept.
"Please don't make such a fuss," I said, "I'll give you an ostrich in place of your goose!" While she sat upon the cot and, to my stupefaction, bewailed the death of the goose, Proselenos came in with the materials for the sacrifice. Seeing the dead goose and inquiring the cause of her grief, she herself commenced to weep more violently still and to commiserate me, as if I had slain my own father, instead of a public goose. Growing tired of this nonsense at last, "See here," said I, "could I not purchase immunity for a price, even though I had assaulted you'? Even though I had murdered a man? Look here! I'm laying down two gold pieces, you can buy both gods and geese with them!" "Forgive me, young man," said OEnothea, when she caught sight of the gold, "I am anxious upon your account; that is a proof of love, not of malignity. Let us take such precautions that not a soul will find this out. As for you, pray to the gods to forgive your sacrilege!"
The rich man can sail in a favoring gale
And snap out his course at his pleasure;
A Dance espouse, no Acrisius will rail,
His credence by hers he will measure;
Write verse, or declaim; snap the finger of scorn
At the world, yet still win all his cases,
The rabble will drink in his words with concern
When a Cato austere it displaces.
At law, his "not proven," or "proved," he can have
With Servius or Labeo vieing;
With gold at command anything he may crave
Is his without asking or sighing.
The universe bows at his slightest behest,
For Jove is a prisoner in his treasure chest.
In the meantime, she scurried around and put a jar of wine under my hands and, when my fingers had all been spread out evenly, she purified them with leeks and parsley. Then, muttering incantations, she threw hazel-nuts into the wine and drew her conclusions as they sank or floated; but she did not hoodwink me, for those with empty shells, no kernel and full of air, would of course float, while those that were heavy and full of sound kernel would sink to the bottom. She then turned her attention to the goose, and, cutting open the breast, she drew out a very fat liver from which she foretold my future. Then, for fear any trace of the crime should remain, she cut the whole goose up, stuck the pieces upon spits, and served up a very delectable dinner for me, whom, but a moment before, she had herself condemned to death, in her own words! Meanwhile, cups of unmixed wine went merrily around (and the crones greedily devoured the goose which they had but so lately lamented. When the last morsel had disappeared, OEnothea, half-drunk by this time, looked at me and said, "We must now go through with the mysteries, so that you may get back your virility.")
(As she said this OEnothea brought) out a leathern dildo which, when she had smeared it with oil, ground pepper, and pounded nettle seed, she commenced to force, little by little, up my anus. The merciless old virago then anointed the insides of my thighs with the same decoction; finally mixing nasturtium juice with elixir of southern wood, she gave my genitals a bath and, picking up a bunch of green nettles, she commenced to strike me gently all over my belly below the navel. The nettles stung me horribly and I suddenly took to my heels, with the old hags in full pursuit. Although they were befuddled with wine and lust they followed the right road and chased me through several wards, screaming "Stop thief." I made good my escape, however, although every toe was bleeding as the result of my headlong flight. (I got home as quickly as I could and, worn out with fatigue, I sought my couch, but I could not snatch a wink of sleep for the evil adventures which had befallen me kept running through my brain and, brooding upon them, I came to the conclusion that no one could be so abjectly unfortunate. "Has Fortune, always inimical to me, stood in need of the pangs of love, that she might torture me more cruelly still," I cried out; "unhappy wretch that I am! Fortune and Love have joined forces to bring about my ruin. Cruel Eros himself had never dealt leniently with me, loved or lover I am put to the torture! Take the case of Chrysis: she loves me desperately, never leaves off teasing me, she who despised me as a servant, because, when she was acting as her mistress's go-between, I was dressed in the garments of a slave: she, I say) that same Chrysis, who looked with contempt upon your former lowly lot, is now bent upon following it up even at the peril of her life; (she swore that she would never leave my side on the day when she told me of the violence of her passion: but Circe owns me, heart and soul, all others I despise. Who could be lovelier than she?) What loveliness had Ariadne or Leda to compare with hers? What had Helen to compare with her, what has Venus? If Paris himself had seen her with her dancing eyes, when he acted as umpire for the quarreling goddesses, he would have given up Helen and the goddesses for her! If I could only steal a kiss, if only I might put my arms around that divine, that heavenly bosom, perhaps the virility would come back to this body and the parts, flaccid from witchcraft would, I believe, come into their own. Contempt cannot tire me out: what if I was flogged; I will forget it! What if I was thrown out! I will treat it as a joke! Only let me be restored to her good graces!
At rest on my pallet, night's silence had scarce settled down
To soothe me, and eyes heavy-laden with slumber to lull
When torturing Amor laid hold of me, seizing my hair
And dragging me, wounding me, ordered a vigil till dawn.
'Oh heart of stone, how canst thou lie here alone?' said the God,
'Thou joy of a thousand sweet mistresses, how, oh my slave?'
In disarrayed nightrobe I leap to bare feet and essay
To follow all paths; but a road can discover by none.
One moment I hasten; the next it is torture to move,
It irks me again to turn back, shame forbids me to halt
And stand in the midst of the road. Lo! the voices of men,
The roar of the streets, and the songs of the birds, and the bark
Of vigilant watch-dogs are hushed! Alone, I of all
Society dread both my slumber and couch, and obey
Great Lord of the Passions, thy mandate which on me was laid."
(Such thoughts as these, of lovely Circe's charms so wrought upon my mind that) I disordered my bed by embracing the image, as it were, of my mistress, (but my efforts were all wasted.) This obstinate (affliction finally wore out my patience, and I cursed the hostile deity by whom I was bewitched. I soon recovered my composure, however, and, deriving some consolation from thinking of the heroes of old, who had been persecuted by the anger of the gods, I broke out in these lines:)
Hostile gods and implacable rate not me alone pursue;
Herakles once suffered the weight of heaven's displeasure too
Driven from the Inachian coast: Laomedon of old
Sated two of the heavenly host: in Pelias, behold
Juno's power to avenge an affront; and Telephus took arms
Knowing not he must bear the brunt; Ulysses feared the storms
Angry Neptune decreed as his due. Now, me to overwhelm
Outraged Priapus ever pursues on land and Nereus' realm.
(Tortured by these cares I spent the whole night in anxiety, and at dawn, Giton, who had found out that I had slept at home, entered the room and bitterly accused me of leading a licentious life; he said that the whole household was greatly concerned at what I had been doing, that I was so rarely present to attend to my duties, and that the intrigue in which I was engaged would very likely bring about my ruin. I gathered from this that he had been well informed as to my affairs, and that someone had been to the house inquiring for me. Thereupon,) I began to ply Giton with questions as to whether anyone had made inquiry for me; "Not today," he replied, "but yesterday a woman came in at the door, not bad looking, either, and after talking to me for quite a while, and wearing me out with her far-fetched conversation, finally ended by saying that you deserved punishment, and that you would receive the scourging of a slave if the injured party pressed his complaint." (This news afflicted me so bitterly that I levelled fresh recriminations against Fortune, and) I had not yet finished grumbling when Chrysis came in and, throwing herself upon me, embraced me passionately. "I have you," she cried, "just as I hoped I would; you are my heart's desire, my joy, you can never put out this flame of mine unless you quench it in my blood!" (I was greatly embarrassed by this wantonness of Chrysis and had recourse to flattery in order that I might rid myself of her, as I feared that her passionate outcries would reach the ears of Eumolpus who, in the arrogance of success, had put on the manner of the master. So on this account, I did everything I could think of to calm Chrysis. I feigned love, whispered compliments, in short, so skillfully did I dissimulate that she believed I was Love's own captive. I showed her what pressing peril overhung us should she be caught in that room with me, as Eumolpus was only too ready to punish the slightest offense. On hearing this, she left me hurriedly, and all the more quickly, as she caught sight of Giton, who had only left me a little before she had come in, on his way to my room. She was scarcely gone when) one of the newly engaged servants rushed in and informed me that the master was furiously angry with me because of my two days' absence from duty; I would do well, therefore, to prepare some plausible excuse, as it was not likely that his angry passion would be placated until someone had been flogged. (Seeing that I was so vexed and disheartened, Giton said not a word about the woman, contenting himself with speaking of Eumolpus, and advising me that it would be better to joke with him than to treat the matter seriously. I followed this lead and appeared before the old fellow, with so merry a countenance that, instead of showing severity, he received me with good humor and rallied me upon the success of my love affairs, praising the elegance of my figure which made me such a favorite with the ladies. "I know very well," he went on, "that a lovely woman is dying for love of you, Encolpius, and this may come in handy for us, so play your part and I'll play mine, too!")
(He was still speaking, when in came a) matron of the most exclusive social set, Philumene by name, who had often, when young, extorted many a legacy by means of her charms, but an old woman now, the flower of her beauty faded, she threw her son and daughter in the way of childless old men and through this substitution she contrived to continue her established policy. She came to Eumolpus, both to commend her children to his practical judgment and to entrust herself and her hopes to his good nature, he being the only one in all the world who could daily instruct young children in healthy precepts. In short, she left her children in Eumolpus' house in order that they might hear the words that dropped from his lips, as this was the only legacy she could leave to them. Nor did she do otherwise than as she had promised, but left in his bed chamber a very beautiful daughter and her brother, a lad, and pretended that she herself was compelled to go out to a temple to offer up her vows. Eumolpus, who was so continent that even I was a boy in his eyes, lost no time in inviting the damsel to sacrifice to the Aversa Venus; but, as he had told everyone that he was gouty and that his back was weak, and as he stood in danger of upsetting the whole farce if he did not carefully live up to the pretence, he therefore, that the imposture might be kept up, prevailed upon the young lady to seat herself upon that goodness which had been commended to her, and ordered Corax to crawl under the bed upon which he himself was lying and after bracing himself by putting his hands upon the floor, to hoist his master up and down with his own back. Corax carried out the order in full and skillfully seconded the wriggling of the girl with a corresponding seesaw. Then, when the crisis was about due, Eumolpus, in a ringing voice, called out to Corax to increase the cadence. And thus the old lecher, suspended between his servant and his mistress, enjoyed himself just as if he were in a swing. Time and again Eumolpus repeated this performance, to the accompaniment of ringing laughter in which he himself joined. At last, fearing I might lose an opportunity through lack of application, I also made advances to the brother who was enjoying the gymnastics of his sister through the keyhole, to see if he would prove amenable to assault. Nor did this well trained lad reject my advances; but alas! I discovered that the God was still my enemy. (However, I was not so blue over this failure as I had been over those before, and my virility returned a little later and, suddenly finding myself in better fettle I cried out,) "Great are the gods who have made me whole again! In his loving kindness, Mercury, who conducts and reconducts the souls, has restored to me that which a hostile hand had cut away. Look! You will find that I am more graciously endowed than was Protestilaus or any other of the heroes of old!" So saying, I lifted up my tunic and showed Eumolpus that I was whole. At first he was startled, then, that he might believe his own eyes, he handled this pledge of the good will of the gods with both hands. (Our good humor was revived by this blessing and we laughed at the diplomacy of Philumene and at the skill with which her children plied their calling, little likely to profit them much with us, however, as it was only in hopes of coming into a legacy that she had abandoned the boy and girl to us. Meditating upon this unscrupulous method of getting around childless old men, I began to take thought of the present state of our own affairs and made use of the occasion to warn Eumolpus that he might be bitten in biting the biters. "Everything that we do," I said, "should be dictated by Prudence.) Socrates, whose judgment was riper than that of the gods or of men used to boast that he had never looked into a tavern nor believed the evidence of his own eyes in any crowded assembly which was disorderly: so nothing is more in keeping than always conversing with wisdom.
Live coals are more readily held in men's mouths than a secret!
Whatever you talk of at home will fly forth in an instant,
Become a swift rumor and beat at the walls of your city.
Nor is it enough that your confidence thus has been broken,
As rumor but grows in the telling and strives to embellish.
The covetous servant who feared to make public his knowledge
A hole in the ground dug, and therein did whisper his secret
That told of a king's hidden ears: this the earth straightway echoed,
And rustling reeds added that Midas was king in the story.
"Every word of this is true," I insisted, "and no one deserves to get into trouble more quickly than he who covets the goods of others! How could cheats and swindlers live unless they threw purses or little bags clinking with money into the crowd for bait? Just as dumb brutes are enticed by food, human beings are not to be caught unless they have something in the way of hope at which to nibble! (That was the reason that the Crotonians gave us such a satisfactory reception, but) the ship does not arrive, from Africa, with your money and your slaves, as you promised. The patience of the fortune-hunters is worn out and they have already cut down their liberality so that, either I am mistaken, or else our usual luck is about to return to punish you!"
("I have thought up a scheme," replied Eumolpus, "which will embarrass our fortune-hunting friends sorely," and as he said this, he drew his tablets from his wallet and read his last wishes aloud, as follows:) "All who are down for legacies under my will, my freedmen only excepted, shall come into what I bequeath them subject to this condition, that they do cut my body into pieces and devour said pieces in sight of the crowd: nor need they be inordinately shocked for among some peoples, the law ordaining that the dead shall be devoured by their relatives is still in force; nay, even the sick are often abused because they render their own flesh worse! I admonish my friends, by these presents, lest they refuse what I command, that they devour my carcass with as great relish as they damned my soul!" (Eumolpus had just started reading the first clauses when several of his most intimate friends entered the room and catching sight of the tablets in his hand in which was contained his last will and testament, besought him earnestly to permit them to hear the contents. He consented immediately and read the entire instrument from first to last. But when they had heard that extraordinary stipulation by which they were under the necessity of devouring his carcass, they were greatly cast down, but) his reputation for enormous wealth dulled the eyes and brains of the wretches, (and they were such cringing sycophants that they dared not complain of the outrage in his hearing. One there was, nevertheless, named) Gorgias, who was willing to comply, (provided he did not have too long to wait! To this, Eumolpus made answer:) "I have no fear that your stomach will turn, it will obey orders; if, for one hour of nausea you promise it a plethora of good things: just shut your eyes and pretend that it's not human guts you've bolted, but ten million sesterces! And beside, we will find some condiment which will disguise the taste! No flesh is palatable of itself, it must be seasoned by art and reconciled to the unwilling stomach. And, if you desire to fortify the plan by precedents, the Saguntines ate human flesh when besieged by Hannibal, and they had no legacy in prospect! In stress of famine, the inhabitants of Petelia did the same and gained nothing from the diet except that they were not hungry! When Numantia was taken by Scipio, mothers, with the half-eaten bodies of their babes in their bosoms, were found! (Therefore, since it is only the thought of eating human flesh that makes you squeamish, you must try to overcome your aversion, with all your heart, so that you may come into the immense legacies I have put you down for!" So carelessly did Eumolpus reel off these extravagances that the fortune-hunters began to lose faith in the validity of his promises and subjected our words and actions to a closer scrutiny immediately; their suspicions grew with their experience and they came to the conclusion that we were out and out grafters, and thereupon those who had been put to the greatest expense for our entertainment resolved to seize us and take it out in just revenge; but Chrysis, who was privy to all their scheming, informed me of the designs which the Crotonians had hatched; and when I heard this news, I was so terrified that I fled instantly, with Giton, and left Eumolpus to his fate. I learned, a few days later, that the Crotonians, furious because the old fox had lived so long and so sumptuously at the public expense, had put him to death in the Massilian manner. That you may comprehend what this means, know that) whenever the Massilians were ravaged by the plague, one of the poor would offer himself to be fed for a whole year upon choice food at public charge; after which, decked out with olive branches and sacred vestments, he was led out through the entire city, loaded with imprecations so that he might take to himself the evils from which the city suffered, and then thrown headlong (from the cliff.)
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 he 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.
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.
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.
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.
Gallinae--Thieving prostitutes, because after the manner of hens, prostitutes take anything and scatter everything.
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."
"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
"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.
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.
"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.
"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.
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.
As yesterday I went to dine
With Pamphilus, a swain of mine,
I took my sister, little heeding
The net I for myself was spreading
Though many circumstances led
To prove she'd mischief in her head.
For first her dress in every part
Was studied with the nicest art
Deck'd out with necklaces and rings,
And twenty other foolish things;
And she had curl'd and bound her hair
With more than ordinary care
And then, to show her youth the more,
A light, transparent robe she wore--
From head to heel she seemed t'admire
In raptures all her fine attire:
And often turn'd aside to view
If others gazed with rapture too.
At dinner, grown more bold and free,
She parted Pamphilus and me;
For veering round unheard, unseen,
She slily drew her chair between.
Then with alluring, am'rous smiles
And nods and other wanton wiles,
The unsuspecting youth insnared,
And rivall'd me in his regard.--
Next she affectedly would sip
The liquor that had touched his lip.
He, whose whole thoughts to love incline,
And heated with th' enliv'ning wine,
With interest repaid her glances,
And answer'd all her kind advances.
Thus sip they from the goblet's brink
Each other's kisses while they drink;
Which with the sparkling wine combin'd,
Quick passage to the heart did find.
Then Pamphilus an apple broke,
And at her bosom aim'd the stroke,
While she the fragment kiss'd and press'd,
And hid it wanton in her breast.
But I, be sure, was in amaze,
To see my sister's artful ways:
"These are returns," I said, "quite fit
To me, who nursed you when a chit.
For shame, lay by this envious art;
Is this to act a sister's part?"
But vain were words, entreaties vain,
The crafty witch secured my swain.
By heavens, my sister does me wrong;
But oh! she shall not triumph long.
Well Venus knows I'm not in fault
'Twas she who gave the first assault
And since our peace her treach'ry broke,
Let me return her stroke for stroke.
She'll quickly feel, and to her cost,
Not all their fire my eyes have lost
And soon with grief shall she resign
Six of her swains for one of mine."
The myth of Cydippe and Acontius is still another example, as is the legend of Atalanta and Hippomenes or Meilanion, to which Suetonius (Tiberius, chap. 44) has furnished such an unexpected climax. The emperor Theodosius ordered the assassination of a gallant who had given the queen an apple. As beliefs of this type are an integral part of the character of the lower orders, I am certain that the passage in Petronius is not devoid of sarcasm; and if such is the case, "contus" cannot be rendered "pole." The etymology of the word contumely is doubtful but I am of the opinion that the derivation suggested here is not unsound. A recondite rendering of "contus" would surely give a sharper point to the joke and furnish the riddle with the sting of an epigram.
"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."
"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,
You know the miser's mind;
You know the miser, and you sensed
His purpose; still, you're blind."
Pliny the Elder, Historia Naturalis, lib. XIV, chap. i, writes in scathing terms against the infamous practice of paying assiduous court to old people for the purpose of obtaining a legacy under their wills. "Later, childlessness conferred advantages in the shape of the greatest authority and Lower; undue influence became very insidious in its quest of wealth, and in grasping the joyous things alone, debasing the true rewards of life; and all the liberal arts operating for the greatest good were turned to the opposite purpose, and commenced to profit by sycophantic subservience alone."
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.
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 hath 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:
Castrati: Scrotum and testicles were amputated.
Spadones: Testicles were torn out.
Thlibiae: Testicles were destroyed by crushing.
"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?
Through groves I seem to stray
Of consecrated bay,
Where voices mingle with the babbling stream,
And whispering breezes play."
Sir Theodore Martin's version.
Another exquisite and illuminating passage occurs in Catullus, 51, given in Marchena's fourth note.
"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.
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
Expiat, urentes oculos inhibere perita.
Persius, Sat. ii
See also Dio Chrysostom, xxxiii. "Neither," says Lampridius, Life of Heliogabalus, "was he given to demand infamies in words when he could indicate shamelessness with his fingers," Chapter 10. "With tears in his eyes, Cestos often complains to me, Mamurianus, of being touched by your finger. You need not use your finger, merely: take Cestos all to yourself, if nothing else is wanting in your establishment," Martial, i, 93
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.]
"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."
KORITTO, METRO, two women friends, and A Female Domestic.
Time, about 300 B. C.
Scene, Koritto's sitting room.
KORITTO: (Metro has just come to call) Take a seat, Metro; (to the slave girl) Get up and get the lady a chair; I have to tell you to do everything; you're such a fool you never do a thing of your own accord. You're only a stone in the house, you're not a bit like a slave except when you count up your daily allowance of bread: you count the crumbs when you do that, though, and whenever the tiniest bit happens to fall upon the floor, the very walls get tired of listening to your grumbling and boiling over with temper, as you do all day long--now, when we want to use that chair you've found time to dust it off and rub up the polish--you may thank the lady that I don't give you a taste of my hand.
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."
The conquests of the French have resulted, during this war, in a boon to knowledge and to letters. Egypt has furnished us with monuments of its aboriginal inhabitants, which the ignorance and superstition of the Copts and Mussulmans kept concealed from civilized countries. The libraries of the convents of the various countries have been ransacked by savants and precious manuscripts have been brought to light.
By no means the least interesting of the acquisitions is a fragment of Petronius, which we offer to the public, taken from an ancient manuscript which our soldiers, in conquering St. Gall, have sent to us for examination. We have made an important discovery in reading a parchment which contains the work of St. Gennadius on the Duties of Priests, and which, judging from the form of the letters employed, we should say was written in the eleventh century. A most careful examination led us to perceive that the work by this saint had been written on pages containing written letters, which had been almost effaced. We know that in the dark ages it was customary to write ecclesiastical works on the manuscripts containing the best authors of Latinity.
At a cost of much labor we have been able to decipher a morsel which we give to the public: and of the authenticity of which there can be no doubt. We render homage to the brave French army to which we owe this acquisition.
It is easy to notice that there is a lacuna in that passage of Petronius in which Encolpius is left with Quartilla, looking through a chink in the door, at the actions of Giton and little Pannychis. A few lines below, it relates, in effect, that he was fatigued by the voluptuous enjoyment of Quartilla, and in that which remains to us, there is no mention of the preliminaries to this enjoyment. The style of the Latin so closely resembles the original of Petronius that it is impossible to believe that the fragment was forged.
For the benefit of those who have not read the author, it is well to state that this Quartilla was a priestess of Priapus, at whose house they celebrated the mysteries of that god. Pannychis is a young girl of seven years who had been handed over to Giton to be deflowered. This Giton is the "good friend" of Encolpius, who is supposed to relate the scene. Encolpius, who had drunk an aphrodisiacal beverage, is occupied with Quartilla in peeping through the door to see in what manner Giton was acquitting himself in his role. At that moment a soldier enters the house.
Finally an old woman, about whom there is some question in the fragment, is the same as the one who had unexpectedly conducted Encolpius to the house of the public women and of whom mention is made in the beginning of the work.
Ipsa Venus magico religatum brachia nodo
Perdocuit, multis non sine verberibus.
Tibullus viii, 5.
Vous verrez que vous avez affaire a un homme.
You will learn that you have to deal with a man.
Fighting men have in all times been distinguished on account of the beauty of their women. The charming fable of the loves of Venus and Mars, described by the most ancient of poets, expresses allegorically, this truth. All the demi-gods had their amorous adventures; the most valiant were always the most passionate and the happiest. Hercules took the maidenheads of fifty girls, in a single night. Thesus loved a thousand beauties, and slept with them. Jason abandoned Hypsipyle for Medea, and her, for Creusa. Achilles, the swift of foot, forgot the tender Deidamia in the arms of his Briseis.
It has been remarked that the lovers did not have very scrupulous tastes in their methods of attaining satisfaction from the women they loved. The most common method was abduction and the women always submitted to this without a murmur of any sort. Helen was carried off by Theseus, after having also been abducted by Paris. The wife of Atreus was abducted by Thyestus, and from that arose the implacable hatred between the two families. Rape was no less common. Goddesses themselves and the favorites of the Gods were at the risk of falling prey to strong mortals. Pirithous, aided by Theseus, even attempted to snatch Proserpina from the God of the under-world. Juno herself was compelled to painful submission to the pursuit of Ixion, and Thetis succumbed despite herself, to the assaults of Peleus. The gift of foretelling the future, with which Apollo endowed Cassandra, did not insure her against the brutal caresses of Ajax, son of Oileus.
In the infancy of society, there was never known any other distinction except between the weak and the strong: the strong commanded and the weak obeyed. For that reason, women were regarded in the light of beings destined by nature, to serve the pleasures and even the caprices of men. Never did her suitors express a tender thought for Penelope, and, instead of making love to her, they squandered her property, slept with her slaves, and took charge of things in her house.
Circe gave herself to Ulysses who desired to slay her, and Calypso, full blown goddess as she was, was obliged to make his advances for him. The fine sentiments that Virgil puts into the mouth of the shade of Creusa, content with having died while serving against the Greeks, "she was a Trojan, and she wedded the son of Venus"; the confession with which Andromache, confronted by the murderer of her first husband, responds to the question of AEneas; these ideas, I say, and these sentiments, appertained to the polished century of Augustus and not to the epoch or, scene of the Trojan War. Virgil, in his AEneid, had never subscribed to the precepts of Horace, and of common sense:
Aut famam sequere, aut sibi convenientia finge
Horace Ars Poet. 119.
From this manner of dealing with women arose another reason for the possession of beauty by the valiant. One coveted a woman much as one would covet a fine flock of sheep, and, in the absence of laws, the one in possession of either the one or the other of these desirable objects would soon be dispossessed of them if he was not courageous enough to guard them against theft. Wars were as much enterprises for ravishing women as they were for taking other property, and one should remember that Agamemnon promised to retire from before Troy if the Trojans would restore Helen and his riches to Menelaus; things which Paris had despoiled him of.
Also, there was never any of that thing we call "conjugal honor" among the Greeks; that idea was far too refined; it was a matter too complex ever to have entered the heads of these semi-barbarous people. This is exemplified in the fact that, after the taking of Troy, Helen, who had, of her own free will, belonged successively to Paris, and to Deiphobus, afterwards returned to Menelaus, who never offered her any reproach. That conduct of Menelaus was so natural that Telemachus, who, in his trip to Sparta found Helen again with Menelaus, just as she was before her abduction, did not show the least astonishment.
The books which bear the most remarkable resemblance to each other are the Bible and Homer, because the people they describe and the men about whom they speak are forerunners of civilization in pretty much the same degree. Sarah was twice snatched from the bosom of Abraham and he was never displeased with his wife and continued to live on good terms with her. David, a newcomer on the throne, hastened to have Michol brought to him although she had already married another man.
The best proof that, during the time of the Romans the women preferred soldiers to other men is in the claims to successful enterprises by the bragging soldier of Plautus. Pyrgopolinices thought it was only necessary to pose as a great warrior, to have all the women chasing after him; therefore, his parasite and his slave spoke of nothing but the passions be inspired in women. Tradition has it that among the Samnites, the bravest men had the choice of the fairest women, and to this custom is attributed one of the reasons these people were so warlike.
In the times of chivalry the greatest exploits were achieved for the pleasure of one's Lady-Love, and there were even such valiant knights, as Don Quixote, who went about the world proving by force of arms that their ladies had no peer. The poverty-stricken troubadours singing harmoniously about their beautiful women found them flying away in the arms of knights who had broken lances at tournaments, or had performed the greatest feats of arms. In fine, all the peoples of the world have said with Dryden:
"None but the brave deserves the fair."
Ses camarades se saisissent de moi et de Quartilla.
His comrades seized hold of Quartilla and me.
The profession of Quartilla corresponded to that which is followed by our ladies of the Palace Royal. This Palace Royal is a sort of Babylon, with this difference; that the former prostitute themselves all the year round, and that they are not quite so attractive as the Chaldean beauties. For the rest, one of the incontestable facts of ancient history is this prostitution of the women of Babylon in honor of Venus, and I cannot understand why Voltaire refused to believe it, since religions have always been responsible for the most abominable actions, and because religious wars, the horrors of intolerance, the impostures of priests, the despotism of kings, the degradation and stupidity of the people, have been the direct fatal effects of religions; and seeing that the blind fanaticism of martyrs and the brutal cruelty of tyrants is a hundred times more deplorable than a sacrifice equally agreeable to the victim and to the one who officiates at the sacrifice; and seeing that the enjoyment and giving of life is no less holy than the maceration and caging of innocent animals.
The origin of courtesans is lost in the deepest antiquity. It appears that it was one of the patriarchal customs to enjoy them, for Judah slept with Thamar, widow of his two sons, and who, to seduce him, disguised herself as a courtesan. Another courtesan, Rahab, played a great role in the first wars of the people of the Lord: it was this same Rahab who married Solomon, father of Boaz, fourth forefather of David, and thirty-second forefather of Jesus Christ, our divine Savior. Yet the eternal sagacity of man has failed to take notice of this profession and to resent the injustice done it by the scorn of men. The elected kings of the people, the man who adopts the word father according to the flesh, are descendants of a courtesan.
For the rest, it must be admitted that many who follow this noble profession are unworthy of it and only too well justify the ignominy which is levelled against the entire class. You see these miserable creatures with livid complexions and haggard eyes, with voices of Stentor, breathing out at the same time the poisons which circulate in their veins and the liquors with which they are intoxicated; you see on their blemished and emaciated bodies, the marks of beings more hideous than they (twenty come to satisfy their brutal passions for every one of them); you listen to their vile language, you hear their oaths and revolting expressions: to go to these Megeres is often to encounter brigands and assassins: what a spectacle! It is the deformity of vice in the rags of indigence.
Ah! But these are not courtesans, they are the dregs of cities. A courtesan worthy of the name is a beautiful woman, gracious and amiable, at whose home gather men of letters and men of the world; the first magistrates, the greatest captains: and who keeps men of all professions in a happy state of mind because she is pleasing to them, she inspires in them a desire for reciprocal pleasure: such an one was Aspasia who, after having charmed the cultured people of Athens was for a long time the good companion of Pericles, and contributed much, perhaps, towards making his century what it was, the age of taste in arts and letters. Such an one also was Phryne, Lais, Glycera, and their names will always be celebrated; such, also, was Ninon d'Enclos, one of the ornaments of the century of Louis XIV, and Clairon, the first who realized all the grandeur of her art; such an one art thou, C-----, French Thalia, who commands attentions, I do not say this by way of apology but to share the opinion of Alceste.
A courtesan such as I have in mind may have all the public and private virtues. One knows the severe probity of Ninon, her generosity, her taste for the arts, her attachment to her friends. Epicharis, the soul of the conspiracy of Piso against the execrable Nero, was a courtesan, and the severe Tacitus, who cannot be taxed with a partiality for gallantry, has borne witness to the constancy with which she resisted the most seductive promises and endured the most terrible tortures, without revealing any of the details of the conspiracy or any of the names of the conspirators.
These facts should be recognized above that ascetic moral idea which consists of the sovereign virtue of abstinence in defiance of nature's commands and which places weakness in these matters along with the most odious crimes. Can one see without indignation Suetonius' reproach of Caesar for his gallantries with Servilia, with Tertia, and other Roman ladies, as a thing equal to his extortions and his measureless ambitions, and praising his warlike ardor against peoples who had never furnished room for complaint to Rome? The source of these errors was the theory of emanations. The first dreamers, who were called philosophers imagined that matter and light were co-eternal; they supposed that was all one unformed and tenebrous mass; and from the former they established the principle of evil and of all imperfection, while they regarded the latter as sovereign perfection. Creation, or, one might better say co-ordination, was only the emanation of light which penetrated chaos, but the mixture of light and matter was the cause of all the inevitable imperfections of the universe. The soul of man was part and parcel of divinity or of increased light; it would never attain happiness until it was re-united to the source of all light; but for it, we would be free from all things we call gross and material, and we would be taken into the ethereal regions by contemplation and by abstinence from the pleasures of the flesh. When these absurdities were adopted for the regulation of conduct, they necessarily resulted in a fierce morality, inimical to all the pleasures of life, such, in a word, as that of the Gymnosophists or, in a lesser measure, of the Trappists.
But despite the gloomy nonsense of certain atrabilious dreamers, the wonderful era of the Greeks was that of the reign of the courtesans. It was about the houses of these that revolved the sands of Pactolus, their fame exceeded that of the first men of Greece. The rich offerings that decorated the temples of the Gods were the gifts of these women, and it must be remembered that most of them were foreigners, originating, for the most part, in Asia Minor. It happened that an Athenian financier, who resembled the rest of his tribe as much as two drops of water, proposed once to levy an impost upon the courtesans. As he spoke eloquently of the incalculable advantages which would accrue to the Government by this tax, a certain person asked him by whom the courtesans were paid. "By the Athenians," replied our orator, after deliberation. "Then it would be the Athenians who would pay the impost," replied the questioner, and the people of Athens, who had a little more sense than certain legislative assemblies, hooted the orator down, and there was never any more question about a tax upon courtesans.
Corinth was famous for the number and beauty of its courtesans, from which comes the proverb: "It is not given to every man to go to Corinth"; there they ran the risk of losing their money and ruining their health. The cause of this great vogue of courtesans in Greece was not the supposed ugliness of the sex, as the savant Paw imagined, and contradicted by the unanimous evidence of ancient authors and of modern travellers; but rather, the retired and solitary life which the women of the country led. They lived in separate apartments and never had any communication with the streets or with the residences of men "the inner part of the house which was called the women's apartments," said Cornelius Nepos (preface). Strangers never visited them; they rarely visited their nearest relations. This was why marriage between brothers and sisters was authorized by law and encouraged by usage; the sisters were exposed to the attacks of their brothers because they lived separated from them.
With the Romans, as with us, the virtuous women corrupted somewhat the profession of the courtesans. The absolute seclusion of women was never the fashion at Rome and the stories we have on the authority of Valerius Maximus on the chastity and modesty of the first Roman matrons merit the same degree of belief as the legend of Romulus and Remus being brought up by a wolf, the rape of Lucretia or the tragic death of Virginia. On the contrary, in Livy, a great admirer of the customs of the early days of Rome, we find that in those times a great number of Roman women of the noblest families were convicted of having poisoned their husbands and condemned to death for this hideous crime: that, by no means shows a very exquisite and tender conjugal sentiment. During the period of the second Punic War with what energy they went about the city seeking the repeal of the law which took out of their hands the custody of jewels and precious stones! A repeal which they obtained despite the opposition of Cato the Censor. It appears that the profession of the courtesan was generally practised by the freed-women; their manner necessarily showed the results of their education. But the young sparks of Rome never paid much attention to them, they preferred to have love affairs with the wives of their friends. For one Sallust who ruined himself with freedwomen, there were five Cupienniuses; "Cupiennius, that admirer of the pudenda garbed in white," Hor. Sat. I, ii, 36. Delia, Lesbia, Ipsythillia, Corinna, Nemesis, Neeria, Cynthia, Sulpitia, Lycimnia, and almost all the women to whom, under real or assumed names, Catullus, Tibullus, Propertius, Ovid, Horace, and others, addressed their erotic compositions, were Roman married women. Horace is the only one who celebrated a freedwoman in some of his odes. This is due, however, to his taste for variety and perhaps also, to his birth, for he himself was the son of a freedwoman. Ovid's Art of Love and the Satires of Juvenal reveal the extent to which gallantry was the fashion at Rome and Cato would never have praised the conduct of that young man who had recourse to a public house if that had been an ordinary course of procedure.
In Europe of the middle ages, the priests and abbots helped to some extent in reviving the profession of the courtesans. Long before, Saint Paul had stated in his Epistles that it was permitted to the apostles of the Lord to take with them everywhere a sister for charity. The deaconesses date from the first century of the church. But the celibacy of the clergy was not universally and solidly established until about the eleventh century, under the pontificate of Gregory VII. During the preceding century, the celebrated Marozie and Theodore had put their lovers successively upon the chair of St. Peter, and their sons and grandsons, as well. But after the priests had submitted to celibacy they ostensibly took the concubines of which, alas! our housekeepers of today are but feeble vestiges. The Spanish codes of the middle ages were often concerned with the rights of the concubines of priests (mancebas de los clerigos) and these chosen ones of the chosen ones of the Lord invariably appeared worthy of envy. Finally the courtesans appeared in all their magnificence in the Holy City, and modern Rome atoned for the rebuffs and indignities these women had been compelled to endure in ancient Rome. The princes of the church showered them with gifts, they threw at their feet the price of redemption from sin, paid by the faithful, and the age of Leo X was for Rome a wonderful epoch of fine arts, belles lettres, and beautiful women. But a fanatical monk from Lower Germany fell upon this calm of the church and this happy era of the harlots; since then the revenues of the sacred college have continued to decrease, the beautiful courtesans have abandoned the capital of the Christian world, and their pleasures have fled with them. And can anyone longer believe in the perfection of the human race, since the best, the most holy of human institutions has so visibly degenerated!
Le Soldat ordonne a embasicetas de m'accabler de ses impurs baisers.
[The soldier ordered the catamite to beslaver me with his stinking kisses.]
One of the reasons which caused the learned and paradoxical Hardouin to assert that all the works which have been attributed to the ancients, with the exception of the Georgics and the Natural History of Pliny, were the compositions of monks, was doubtless the very frequent repetition of scenes of love for boys, which one notices in most of these writings: this savant was a Jesuit. But this taste is not peculiar to convents; it is to be found among all peoples and in all climates; its origin is lost in the night of the centuries; it is common in the most polished nations and it is common among savage tribes. Profound philosophers have argued in favor of it; poets have sung the objects of this sort of love in their tender and passionate compositions, and these compositions have always been the delight of posterity. What stupid or unfeeling reader can read without emotion that beautiful eclogue of Virgil where Corydon sighs his hopeless love for the beautiful Alexis? The most passionate ode of Horace is that one in which he complains of the harshness of Ligurinus. The tender Tibullus, deceived by his Marathus, brings tears to all who have hearts. The delicate Anacreon, praising his Bathylle, and the valiant Alceus giving himself up after his labors in war to sing of the dark eyes and black hair of Lycus . . . "with dark eyes and black hair beautiful." It is not to over-civilized refinements of society which, according to certain misanthropists, degrade nature and corrupt it, that this taste is due; it is found among the south sea islanders, and the evidence of the first Spaniards attests that it was common among the hordes of American Indians before the discovery of the new world. Paw had attempted to explain this as resulting from defects in the formation of the organs of pleasure among the natives; but a peculiar cause is not sufficient explanation for a universal effect.
At the time of the Patriarchs, Greek love was so general that in the four cities, Sodom, Gomorrah, Adama, and Seboim, it was impossible to find ten men exempt from the contagion; that number would have sufficed, said the Lord, to withhold the punishment which he inflicted upon those cities.
It should be noted here that most of the assertions about the morals of the Israelites which are to be found in the Erotica Biblon of Mirabeau are either false or pure guesswork. It is a bizarre method of judging the morals of a people, that of taking their legal code and inferring that the people were accustomed to break all the laws which are forbidden by that code. Nevertheless, that is the method which the author of the Erotica Biblon adopts for portraying the morals of the Jewish people. Again, he has not even understood this code; he has believed that the law against giving one's seed to the idol Moloch meant giving the human semen; and he is ignorant of the fact that this seed, as spoken of in the Bible, means the children and descendants. Thus it is that the land of Canaan is promised to the seed of Abraham, and the perpetuity of the reign on Sion to that of David. Moloch was a Phoenician deity, the same one to which, in Carthage, they sacrificed children; the Romans believed him to be a reincarnation of their Saturn, but Saturn was an Etruscan divinity who could never have had any connection with the Gods of Phoenicia. He (Mirabeau) has translated "those who polluted the temple" as meaning those who were guilty of some obscenity in the temple; and he does not know that the temple was "polluted" by a thousand acts, declared impure by law, and which were not obscene. The entrance of a woman into a sacred place, less than forty days after her accouchement, or the entrance of a man who had touched an impure animal, constituted a pollution of the House of the Lord. When one wishes to make a parade of erudition he should make some attempt to understand the things which he pretends to make clear to others. Or is it that this Mirabeau was merely careless?
The love of boys was so thoroughly the fashion in Greece that we have today given it the name "Greek Love." Orestes was regarded as the "good friend" of Pylades and Patroclus as the lover of Achilles. In this taste, the Gods set the example for mortals, and the abduction of Ganymede for the service of the master of thunder, was not the least cause for annoyance given the chaste but over-prudish Juno. Lastly, Hercules was not content with the loves of Omphale and Dejanira, he also loved the beautiful Hylas, who was brought up by the nymphs.
The Greeks boasted, without blushing, of this love, which they considered the only passion worthy of men, and they did blush at loving a woman, intimacy with whom, they said, only rendered her adorers soft and effeminate. In the Dialogue of Plato, entitled "The Banquet," which is concerned entirely with discussions of the various forms of love, they dismiss love for women as unworthy of occupying the attention of sensible men. One of the speakers, I believe it was Aristophanes, explaining the cause of this fire which we kindle in the bosoms of our loved ones, affirms that the first men were doubles which multiplied their force and their power. This, they abused and, as punishment, Jupiter struck them with lightning and separated them. By their love for each other they came together again to regain their primitive state. But the effeminates sought out only the women because they were only half men, half women; while those whose tastes were masculine and courageous wanted to become double men again.
Phedre has put into the mouth of AEsop an explanation of that love which would certainly not have been relished by the Greeks. He says that while Prometheus was occupied with modelling his man and woman, he was invited to a feast given by Jupiter, to the Gods; he came back intoxicated and, by mistake, applied the sexual parts of one to the body of the other.
For the rest, the Greeks were all in accord in their profound contempt for women. The theatrical writers, especially, who studied more particularly the general opinions and catered to them in order to obtain the applause of the public, were distinguished by their bitterness against the sex. Euripides maintained that Prometheus deserved to be chained to Mount Caucasus with the vulture gnawing at his entrails, because he had fashioned a being so pernicious and hateful as woman. The shade of Agamemnon, in the Odyssey advised Ulysses not to put any faith in Penelope and did not stop talking until he had enumerated the entire list of the vices of the sex. The first Latin authors imitated the Greeks in their invectives against women; the comedies of Plautus, especially, teem with virulent attacks upon them.
At Rome, however, the great freedom permitted to women, soon brought about other opinions in regard to them; they often played an important role in public and private affairs, and the men convinced themselves that, like men, women were capable of the greatest crimes and of the most heroic virtues. The noble stoicism of Arria is not the only example of courageous virtue displayed by the Roman women at a time when crowned monsters governed the empire. The young Paulina opened her veins with her husband, the philosopher, Seneca; Mallonia preferred to die in torments rather than give herself up to the odious he-goat of Capri. Who does not admire the noble independence, the conjugal love, and the matronly virtues of Agrippina, the wife of Germanicus?
Moreover, men began to avow their love for women, and we have here occasion to observe the rapid progress of gallantry among the Romans. However, the love for boys was no less universally in vogue in Rome, and Cicero charges, in his letters to Atticus, that the judges who had so scandalously white-washed Clodius of the accusation of having profaned the mysteries of the "Good Goddess," had been publicly promised the favors of the most illustrious women and the finest young men of the first families. Caesar himself, in his early youth had yielded to the embraces of Nicomedes, King of Bithynia; moreover, after his triumph over the Gauls, on the solemn occasion when it was customary to twit the victor with all his faults, the soldiers sang: "Caesar subdued the Gauls, Nicomedes subdued Caesar. But Caesar who subdued the Gauls, triumphed, and Nicomedes, who subdued Caesar did not." Cato said of him that he was loved by the King, in his youth and that, when he was older, he loved the queen and, one day, in the senate, while he was dwelling on I know not what request of the daughter of Nicomedes, and recounting the benefits which Rome owed to that monarch, Cicero silenced him by replying: "We know very well what he has given, and what thou hast given him!" At last, during the time when the first triumvirate divided all the power, a bad joker remarked to Pompey: "I salute thee, O King," and, addressing Caesar, "I salute thee, O Queen!" His enemies maintained that he was the husband of all the women and the wife of all the husbands. Catullus, who detested him, always called him "the bald catamite," in his epigrams: he set forth that his friendship with Mamurra was not at all honorable; he called this Mamurra "pathicus," a name which they bestowed upon those who looked for favors among mature men or among men who had passed the stage of adolescence.
The masters of the empire never showed any hesitancy in trying and even in overdoing the pleasures which all their subjects permitted themselves. Alas! A crown is such a weighty burden! The road of domination is strewn with so many briars that one would never be able to pass down it if he did not take care that they were pressed down under the roses. The Roman emperors adopted that plan; they longed for pleasures and they took the pleasures which offered themselves without delay and in a spirit of competition. Caligula was so little accustomed to waiting that, while occupied in offering a sacrifice to the Gods, and the figure of a priest having pleased him, he did not take time to finish the sacred ceremonies before taking his pleasure of him.
A remarkable thing is that among almost all peoples, the baths are the places where the prostitution of men by their own sex is the most common. We see in Catullus that the "cinaedi" (catamites), a noun which my chaste pen refuses to translate into French, haunted the baths incessantly to carry out their practices. Among the Orientals, of all modern peoples who have retained this taste most generally, this same fact holds good. It was at the bath that Tiberius, impotent through old age and debauchery, was made young again by the touch little children applied to his breasts; these children he called "'little fishes," they sucked his withered breasts, his infected mouth, his livid lips, and finally his virile parts. Hideous spectacle of a tyrant disgraced by nature and struggling against her maledictions! But in vain did he invent new pleasures, in vain did he take part in these scenes in which groups of young men by threes and fours assumed all sorts of lascivious postures, and were at the same time active and passive; the sight of these indulgences of the "sprintriae" (for that is the name which was given there) did not enable him to resuscitate his vigor any more than the glamor of the throne or the servile submission of the senate served to mitigate his remorse.
But of all the emperors, the ones who carried their taste for young boys to the greatest lengths were, Nero, Domitian and Hadrian. The first publicly wedded the young eunuch Sporus, whom he had had operated upon so that he might serve him like a young woman. He paid court to the boy as he would to a woman and another of his favorites dressed himself up in a veil and imitated the lamentations which women were accustomed to utter on nuptial nights. The second consecrated the month of September to his favorite and the third loved Antinous passionately and caused him to be deified after death.
The most ample proof of the universality of the taste for young boys among the Romans is found in the Epithalamium of Manilius and Julia, by Catullus, and it might be cause for surprise that this has escaped all the philologists, were it not a constant thing that men frequently reading about these centuries fail to perceive the most palpable facts in their authors, just as they pass over the most striking phenomena of nature without observing them. It appears, from this epithalamium, that young men, before their marriage, had a favorite selected from among their slaves and that this favorite was charged with the distribution of nuts among his comrades, on the day, they in turn, treated him with contempt and hooted him. Here follows an exact translation of this curious bit. The favorite could not refuse the nuts to the slaves when by giving them it appeared that he owned that his master had put away his love for hire.
"Lest longer mute tongue stays that
In festal jest, from Fescennine,
Nor yet deny their nuts to boys,
He-Concubine! who learns in fine
His lordling's love is fled.
Throw nuts to boys thou idle all
He-Concubine! wast fain full long
With nuts to play: now pleased as thrall
Be thou to swell Talasios' throng
He-Concubine throw nuts.
Wont thou as peasant-girls to jape
He-whore! Thy Lord's delight the while:
Now shall hair-curling chattel scrape
Thy cheeks: poor wretch, ah' poor and vile:--
He-Concubine, throw nuts."
"'Tis said from smooth-faced ingle train
(Anointed bridegroom!) hardly fain
Hast e'er refrained; now do refrain!
O Hymen Hymenaeus io,
O Hymen Hymenaeus!
We know that naught save licit rites
Be known to thee, but wedded wights
No more deem lawful such delights.
O Hymen Hymenaeus io,
O Hymen Hymenaeus."
(LXI. Burton, tr.)
The Christian religion strongly prohibits this love; the theologians put it among the sins which directly offend against the Holy Ghost. I have not the honor of knowing just why this thing arouses his anger so much more than anything else; doubtless there are reasons. But the wrath of this honest person has not prevented the Christians from having their "pathici," just as they have in countries where they are authorized by the reigning deities. We have even noticed that they are the priests of the Lord and especially the monks who practice this profession most generally amongst us. The children of Loyola have acquired well-merited renown in this matter: when they painted "Pleasure" they never failed to represent him wearing trousers. Those disciples of Joseph Calasanz who took their places in the education of children, followed their footsteps with zeal and fervor. Lastly, the cardinals, who have a close acquaintance with the Holy Ghost, are so prejudiced in favor of Greek love that they have made it the fashion in the Holy City of Rome; this leads me to wonder whether the Holy Ghost has changed His mind in regard to this matter and is no longer shocked by it; or whether the theologians were not mistaken in assuming an aversion against sodomy which He never had. The cardinals who are on such familiar terms with him would know better than to give all their days over to this pleasure if He really objected to it.
I shall terminate this over-long note with an extract from a violent diatribe against this love which Lucian puts into the mouth of Charicles. He is addressing Callicratidas, a passionate lover of young boys, with whom he had gone to visit the temple of Venus at Cnidus.
"O Venus, my queen! to thee I call; lend me your aid while I plead your cause. For everything over which you deign to shed, be it ever so little, the persuasion of your charms, reaches absolute perfection, above all, erotic discourses need your presence, for you are their lawful mother. In your womanhood, defend the cause of woman, and grant to men to remain men as they have been born. At the beginning of my discourse, I call as witness to the truth of my arguments the first mother of all created things, the source of all generation, the holy Nature of this universe, who, gathering into one and uniting the elements of the world--earth, air, fire and water--and mingling them together, gave life to everything that breathes. Knowing that we are a compound of perishable matter, and that the span of life assigned to each of us was short, she contrived that the death of one should be the birth of another, and meted out to the dying, by way of compensation, the coming into being of others, that by mutual succession we might live forever. But, as it was impossible for anything to be born from a single thing alone, she created two different sexes, and bestowed upon the male the power of emitting semen, making the female the receptacle of generation. Having inspired both with mutual desires, she joined them together, ordaining, as a sacred law of necessity, that each sex should remain faithful to its own nature--that the female should not play the male unnaturally, nor the male degrade himself by usurping the functions of the female. Thus intercourse of men with women has preserved the human race by never-ending succession: no man can boast of having been created by man alone; two venerable names are held in equal honor, and men revere their mother equally with their father. At first, when men were filled with heroic thoughts, they reverenced those virtues which bring us nearer to the Gods, obeyed the laws of Nature, and, united to women of suitable age, became the sires of noble offspring. But, by degrees, human life, degenerating from that nobility of sentiment, sank to the lowest depths of pleasure, and began to carve out strange and corrupt ways in the search after enjoyment. Then sensuality, daring all, violated the laws of Nature herself. Who was it who first looked upon the male as female, violating him by force or villainous persuasion? One sex entered one bed, and men had the shamelessness to look at one another without a blush for what they did or for what they submitted to, and, sowing seed, as it were, upon barren rocks, they enjoyed a short-lived pleasure at the cost of undying shame.
"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. Whereas, if each would abide by the laws prescribed by Providence, we should be satisfied with intercourse with women, and our lives would be undefiled by shameful practices. Consider the animals, which cannot corrupt by innate viciousness, how they observe the law of Nature in all its purity. He-lions do not lust after he-lions, but, in due season, passion excites them towards the females of their species: the bull that rules the herd mounts cows, and the ram fills the whole flock of ewes with the seed of generation. Again, boars mate with sows, he-wolves with shewolves, neither the birds that fly through the air, nor the fish that inhabit the deep, or any living creatures upon earth desire male intercourse, but amongst them the laws of Nature remain unbroken. But you men, who boast idly of your wisdom, but are in reality worthless brutes, what strange disease provokes you to outrage one another unnaturally? What blind folly fills your minds, that you commit the two-fold error of avoiding what you should pursue, and pursuing what you should avoid? If each and all were to pursue such evil courses, the race of human beings would become extinct on earth. And here comes in that wonderful Socratic argument, whereby the minds of boys, as yet unable to reason clearly, are deceived, for a ripe intellect could not be misled. These followers of Socrates pretend to love the soul alone, and, being ashamed to profess love for the person, call themselves lovers of virtue, whereat I have often been moved to laughter. How comes it, O grave philosophers, that you hold in such slight regard a man who, during a long life, has given proofs of merit, and of that virtue which old age and white hairs become? How is it that the affections of the philosophers are all in a flutter after the young; who cannot yet make up their minds which path of life to take? Is there a law, then, that all ugliness is to be condemned as vice, and that everything that is beautiful is to be extolled without further examination? But, according to Homer, the great interpreter of truth--'One man is meaner than another in looks, but God crowns his words with beauty, and his hearers gaze upon him with delight, while he speaks unfalteringly with winning modesty, and is conspicuous amongst the assembled folk, who look upon him as a God when he walks through the city.' And again he says: 'Your beauteous form is destitute of intelligence; the wise Ulysses is praised more highly than the handsome Nireus.' How then comes it that the love of wisdom, justice, and the other virtues, which are the heritage of the full-grown man, possess no attraction for you, while the beauty of boys excites the most vehement passion! What! should one love Phoedrus, remembering Lysias, whom he betrayed? Could one love the beauty of Alcibiades, who mutilated the statues of the Gods, and, in the midst of a debauch, betrayed the mysteries of the rites of Eleusis? Who would venture to declare himself his admirer, after Athens was abandoned, and Decelea fortified by the enemy--the admirer of one whose sole aim in life was tyranny? But, as the divine Plato says, as long as his chin was beardless, he was beloved by all; but, when he passed from boyhood to manhood, when his imperfect intelligence had reached its maturity, he was hated by all. Why, then, giving modest names to immodest sentiments, do men call personal beauty virtue, being in reality lovers of youth rather than lovers of wisdom? However, it is not my intention to speak evil of distinguished men. But, to descend from graver topics to the mere question of enjoyment, I will prove that connection with women is far more enjoyable than connection with boys. In the first place, the longer enjoyment lasts, the more delight it affords; too rapid pleasure passes quickly away, and it is over before it is thoroughly appreciated; but, if it lasts, it is thereby enhanced. Would to heaven that grudging Destiny had allotted us a longer lease of life, and that we could enjoy perpetual health without any sorrow to spoil our pleasure; then would our life be one continual feast. But, since jealous Fortune has grudged us greater blessings, those enjoyments that last the longest are the sweetest. Again, a woman, from puberty to middle age, until the last wrinkles furrow her face, is worth embracing and fit for intercourse; and, even though the prime of her beauty be past, her experience can speak more eloquently than the love of boys.
"I should consider anyone who attempted to have intercourse with a youth of twenty years to be the slave of unnatural lust. The limbs of such, like those of a man, are hard and coarse; their chins, formerly so smooth, are rough and bristly, and their well-grown thighs are disfigured with hairs. As for their other parts, I leave those of you who have experience to decide. On the other hand, a woman's charms are always enhanced by an attractive complexion, flowing locks, dark as hyacinths, stream down her back and adorn her shoulders, or fall over her ears and temples, more luxuriant than the parsley in the fields. The rest of her person, without a hair upon it, shines more brilliantly than amber or Sidonian crystal. Why should we not pursue those pleasures which are mutual, which cause equal enjoyment to those who receive and to those who afford them? For we are not, like animals, fond of solitary lives, but, united in social relations, we consider these pleasures sweeter, and those pains easier to bear, which we share with others. Hence, a common table was instituted, the mediator of friendship. When we minister to the wants of the belly, we do not drink Thasian wine, or consume costly food by ourselves alone, but in company: for our pleasures and enjoyments are increased when shared with others. In like manner, the intercourse of men with women causes enjoyment to each in turn, and both are alike delighted; unless we accept the judgment of Tiresias, who declared that the woman's pleasure was twice as great as the man's. I think that those who are not selfish should not consider how they may best secure the whole enjoyment for themselves, but should share what they have with others. Now, in the case of boys, no one would be mad enough to assert that this is the case; for, while he who enjoys their person reaches the height of pleasure--at least, according to his way of thinking--the object of his passion at first feels pain, even to tears, but when, by repetition, the pain becomes less keen, while he no longer hurts him, he will feel no pleasure himself. To mention something still more curious --as is fitting within the precincts of Venus--you may make the same use of a woman as of a boy, and thereby open a double avenue to enjoyment; but the male can never afford the same enjoyment as the female.
"Therefore, if you are convinced by my arguments, let us, men and women, keep ourselves apart, as if a wall divided us; 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; in a word, let our wanton Tribads reign unchecked, and let our women's chambers be disgraced by hermaphrodites. Far better that a woman, in the madness of her lust, should usurp the nature of a man, than that man's noble nature should be so degraded as to play the woman!"
Embasicetas fut bientot au comble de ses voeux.
The Catamite soon reached the height of his passion.
The theologians class this species of lascivious feeling with pollution which is complete when it produces a result. The Holy Scripture tells us of Onan, son of Judas, grandson of Jacob, and husband of Thamar, who was slain by the Lord because he spilled his semen, "he poured his semen upon the ground." We may be reproached, perhaps, for citing the Holy Bible too frequently, but that book contains the knowledge of salvation, and those who wish to be saved should not fail to study it with assiduity. That this study has occupied a good part of our life, we admit, and we have always found that study profitable. To vigorous minds that admission may seem ridiculous, but we are writing only for pious souls, and they will willingly applaud this courageous profession of our piety.
The theologians have also classified onanism and pollution among the sins against the Holy Ghost, and this being the case, there is no being in the world who has been sinned against so often. A medium indulgence in this sin furnished the pleasure of a queen, the severity of one Lucretia does not repel a thousand Tarquins. Men with vivid imaginations create for themselves a paradise peopled with the most beautiful houris, more seductive than those of Mahomet; Lycoris had a beautiful body but it was unfeeling; the imagination of her lover pictured her as falling before his caresses, he led her by the hand over pressed flowers, through a thick grove and along limpid streams; in that sweet reverie his life slipped by.
Here icy cold fountains, here flower covered meadows, Lycoris;
Here shady groves; life itself here would I dream out with thee.
Virgil Bucol. Ecl. X, 41.
In the minds of the theologians pollution is synonymous with all pleasures with persons of the opposite or the same sex, which result in a waste of the elixir of life. In this sense, love between woman and woman is pollution and Sappho is a sinner against the Holy Ghost.
(Notwithstanding), however (these caprices of the third person of the trinity) I cannot see why pleasure should be regulated, or why a woman who has surveyed all the charms of a young girl of eighteen years should give herself up to the rude embraces of a man. What comparisons can be made between those red lips, that mouth which breathes pleasure for the first time, those snowy and purplous cheeks whose velvet smoothness is like the Venus flower, half in bloom, that new-born flesh which palpitates softly with desire and voluptuousness, that hand which you press so delicately, those round thighs, those plastic buttocks, that voice sweet and touching,--what comparison can be made between all this and pronounced features, rough beard, hard breast, hairy body, and the strong disagreeable voice of man? Juvenal has wonderfully expended all his bile in depicting, as hideous scenes, these mysteries of the Bona Dea, where the young and beautiful Roman women, far from the eyes of men, give themselves up to mutual caresses. Juvenal has painted the eyes of the Graces with colors which are proper to the Furies; his tableau, moreover, revolts one instead of doing good.
The only work of Sappho's which remains to us is an ode written to one of her loved ones and from it we may judge whether the poetess merited her reputation. It has been translated into all languages; Catullus put it into Latin and Boileau into French. Here follows an imitation of that of Catullus:
Peer of a God meseemeth he,
Nay passing Gods (and that can be!)
Who all the while sits facing thee
Sees thee and hears
Thy low sweet laughs which (ah me!) daze
Mine every sense, and as I gaze
Upon thee (Lesbia!) o'er me strays
My tongue is dulled, limbs adown
Flows subtle flame; with sound its own
Rings either ear, and o'er are strown
Mine eyes with night.
(LI. Burton, tr.)
After that we should never again exhort the ministers and moralists to inveigh against love of women for women; never was the interest of men found to be so fully in accord with the precepts of divine law.
Here I should like to speak of the brides of the Lord; but I remember "The Nun" of Diderot, and my pen falls from my hand. Oh, who would dare to touch a subject handled by Diderot?
Giton venait de la deflorer, et de remporter une victoire sanglante.
Giton the victor had won a not bloodless victory.
All people have regarded virginity as something sacred, and God has so honored it that he willed that his son be born of a virgin, fecundated, however, by the Holy Ghost. Still, it appears problematical whether the Virgin Mary, complete virgin that she was, did not have the same pleasure as those who are not virgins, when she received the divine annunciation. Father Sanchez has discussed the question very fully "whether the Virgin Mary 'spent' in copulation with the Holy-Ghost," unhappily, he decided in the negative, and I have too much veneration for Father Sanchez not to submit to his decision; but because of it, I am vexed with the Virgin Mary and the Holy Ghost.
Notwithstanding this, the daughters of the people of the Lord were not content to remain virgins; a state of being which, at bottom has not much to recommend it. The daughter of Jephtha before being immolated for the sake of the Lord, demanded of her father a reprieve of two months in which to weep for her virginity upon the mountains of Gelboe; it seems it should not have taken so long had she had nothing to regret. Ruth had recourse to the quickest method when she wished to cease being a virgin; she simply went and lay down upon the bed with Boaz. The spirit of God has deemed it worth while to transmit this story to us, for the instruction of virgins from century to century.
The pagan Gods thought highly of maidenheads, they often took them and always, they set aside the virgins for themselves. The Phtyian, from whose organ Apollo was foreordained to come, proved to be only a virgin; the spirit of God did not communicate itself to anyone who had ever been sullied by contact with a mortal. It was to virgins that the sacred fires of Vesta were entrusted, and the violation of their virginity was a capital crime which all Rome regarded as a scourge from wrathful heaven.
The Sybils lived and died virgins; in addressing the Cumaean Sybil, AEneas never failed to bestow that title upon her.
Most of the immortals have preserved their virginity, Diana, Minerva, et cet. But what is the most astonishing is that the companions of Venus and Amor, the most lovable of all divinities, the Graces, were also virgins. Juno became a virgin again every year, by bathing in the waters of a magic fountain; that must have rendered Jupiter's duties rather onerous.
There are some reasons for this passion of mankind for maidenheads. It is so wonderful to give the first lessons of voluptuousness to a pure and innocent heart, to feel under one's hand the first palpitations of the virginal breasts which arouses unknown delights, to dry the first tears of tenderness, to inspire that first mixture of fear and hope, of vague desires and expectant inquietude; whoever has never had that satisfaction has missed the most pleasurable of all the delights of love. But taken in that sense, virginity is rather a moral inclination, as Buffon says, than a physical matter, and nothing can justify the barbarous precautions against amorous theft which were taken by unnatural fathers and jealous husbands.
In those unhappy countries which are bent under oppression, in those countries where heaven shows its heat in the beauty of the sex, and where beauty is only an object of speculation for avid parents; in such countries, I say, they resort to the most odious methods for preserving the virginity of the young and beautiful daughters who are destined to be sold like common cattle. They put a lock over the organ of pleasure and never permit it to be opened except when it is strictly necessary for carrying out those animal functions for which nature destined them.
The locks of chastity were long known in Europe; the Italians are accused with this terrible invention. Nevertheless, it is certain that they were used upon men, at least, in the time of the first Roman emperors. Juvenal, in his satire against women, VI, says: "If the singers please them there is no need for locks of chastity for those who have sold their voices to the praetors, who keep them."
Si gaudet cantu, nullius fibula durat
Vocem vendentis praetoribus.
Sat. VI, 379.
If pleased by the song of the singer employed by the praetor
No fibula long will hold out, free, the actor will greet her.
Christianity, most spiritual, most mystical of ancient religions, attempts to make out a great case for celibacy. Its founder never married, although the Pharisees reproached him for frequenting gay women, and had, perhaps, some reason for so doing. Jesus showed a particular affection for Mary Magdalen, to the point of exciting the jealousy of Martha, who complained that her sister passed her time in conversation with Jesus and left her with all the housework to do. "Mary has chosen the better part," said the Savior. A good Christian must not doubt that the colloquies were always spiritual.
St. Paul counseled virginity and most of the apostolic fathers practiced it. Among others, St. Jerome lived his whole life among women and never lost his purity. He answered his enemies who reproached him with his very great intimacy with the Saintly Sisters, that the irrefutable proof of his chastity was that he stank. That stinking of St. Jerome, which is not a veritable article of faith in the Church, is, however, an object of pious belief; and my readers will very gladly assent to it.
When the Christian clergy wishes to form a body of doctrines to be submitted to by all the common people it thinks that by separating its interests and those of the common people as far as possible it must tighten those ropes by which it binds its fellow citizens. Also the Pope who was the most jealous of ecclesiastical power and the one who abused it most, Hildebrand, rigorously prohibited the marriage of priests and enunciated the most terrible warnings against those who did not retain their celibacy. However, although neither priests nor monks were permitted to marry, the epithet "virgins" cannot be justly applied to all priests and all monks without exception. Nor shall I repeat here the naughty pleasantries of Erasmus, of Boccaccio, and all the others, against the monks; without doubt maliciousness has developed more "satyrical" traits that they have brought out; beyond that, I have nothing to say.
Alors une vielle . . . .
[Finally an old woman . . .]
The question here has to do with a procurers or go-between. That profession has gradually fallen into discredit by I know not what fatality, which befalls the most worthy things. Cervantes the only philosophic author Spain has produced, wanted that calling to be venerated in cities above all others. And truly, when one thinks how much finesse is necessary to pursue that profession with success, when one considers that those who practice that truly liberal art are the repositories of the most important as well as the most sacred secrets, one would never fail to have the greatest respect for them. The tranquillity of homes, the civil state of persons they hold at their discretion, and still, though they drink in insults, though they endure abuse, very rarely do these beings, true stoics, compromise those who have confided in them.
In their Mercury, the ancients realized their beau ideal or archetype of go-between which they called; in vulgar language "pimp". That God, as go-between for Jupiter, was often involved in the most hazardous enterprises, such as abducting Io, who was guarded by Argus of the hundred eyes; Mercury I say, was the God of concord, or eloquence, and of mystery. Except to inspire them with friendly feeling and kind affections, Mercury never went among mortals. Touched by his wand, venomous serpents closely embraced him. Listening to him, Achilles forgot his pride, extended hospitality to Priam and permitted him to take away the body of Hector. The ferocious Carthaginians were softened through the influence of this God of peace, and received the Trojans in friendship. Mercury it was who gathered men into society and substituted social customs for barbarism. He invented the lyre and was the master of Amphion, who opened the walls of Thebes by the charm of his singing. Mercury or Hermes gave the first man knowledge; but it was enveloped in a mysterious veil which it was never permitted the profane to penetrate, which signifies that all that he learned from God, concerning amorous adventures, should be wrapped in profound silence. How beautiful all these allegories are! And how true! How insipid life would be without these mysterious liaisons, by which Nature carries out her designs, eluding the social ties, without breaking them! Disciples of Mercury, I salute you, whatever be your sex; to your discretion, to your persuasive arts are confided our dearest interests, the peace of mind of husbands, the happiness of lovers, the reputation of women, the legitimacy of children. Without you, this desolated earth would prove to be, in reality, a vale of tears; the young and beautiful wife united to decrepit husband, would languish and grow weak, like the lonely flower which the sun's rays never touch. Thus did Mexence bind in thine indissoluble bands the living and the dead.
Fate, however, has often avenged the go-betweens on account of the misunderstandings from which they suffer at the hands of the vulgar. Otho opened the way to the empire of the world by his services as a go-between for Nero. And the go-betweens of princes, and even of princesses, are always found in the finest situations. Even Otho did not lose all his rights; Nero exiled him with a commission of honor, "because he was caught in adultery with his own wife, Poppaea." "Uxoris moechus coeperate esse suae" (Suet. Otho, chap. 111), said malicious gossip at Rome.
To the scholar contemplating an exhaustive study of Petronius, the masterly bibliography compiled by Gaselee is indispensable, and those of my readers who desire to pursue the subject are referred to it. The following is a list of editions, translations, criticisms and miscellaneous publications and authors from which I have derived benefit in the long and pleasant hours devoted to Petronius.
|Amsterdam (Containing Frambotti's corrections)||1670|
This web edition published by:
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:12