What is known about the sexual predilections of the men and women of ancient Rome? How scandalous were the Roman emperors? What were attitudes to extra-marital sex?
According to recent press reports, Americans are having oral sex at alarmingly younger ages -- and with increasing nonchalance. Note: Oral sex here refers exclusively to fellatio. Oral sex precedes and often replaces sexual intercourse because it's perceived to be noncommittal, quick and safe.
A prominent politician was accused of raping a year-old actress—in 54 B. The way his legendary lawyer dismissed it speaks volumes about how we prosecute these crimes now. There was a low, subdued chuckle from the crowd.
Ancient art and archaeological remains have provided archaeologists and historians today with clues to how the ancients practiced their sexuality and their overall attitude toward sex. To the causal observer, it seems the ancients were more open about their sexuality then we are today. In ancient Rome there were artworks in living rooms or studies depicting erotic images of lovers performing various sexual acts and in ancient Mesopotamia mass-produced terracotta plagues would show couples having sex.
It's easy to see the past as a prudish place full of religious zealots, even though we know this wasn't always true. Look at ancient Rome and Greece, where citizens openly enjoyed all kinds of crazy intercourse. But when it comes to Victorian England, the reputation for prudishness was never more correct.
Notably, the ancient Egyptians had strict rules about things like adultery and used early forms of birth control. Most people know ancient Egyptians practiced mummification, but the embalmers who performed the process didn't always respect the bodies. Instead, the families waited a few days so the corpse would be somewhat decomposed.
With the old joke about every generation thinking they invented sex, Listverse brings us the papyrus above, the oldest depiction of sex on record. Painted sometime in the Ramesside Period B. On the right side of the papyrus above animals perform various human tasks as musicians, soldiers, and artisans.
The history of erotic depictions includes paintingssculpturephotographsdramatic artsmusic and writings that show scenes of a sexual nature throughout time. They have been created by nearly every civilization, ancient and modern. Early cultures often associated the sexual act with supernatural forces and thus their religion is intertwined with such depictions.
Her book's topics range from orgasm to the long-ago fear of hermaphrodites, from circumcision to the wide acceptance of a variety of gay relationships. With Tip Sheet, she shared some carnal curiosities and extraordinary stories of sex and love, encountered while researching The Joy of Sexus. Most sexually twisted ruler : Emperor Nero?
Marguerite Johnson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under Creative Commons licence. In our series on sexual histories, authors explore changing sexual mores from antiquity to today.