What history lessons conceal
“753 – Rome crawled out of the egg” is what we learned in history or Latin class. The small town founded by two brothers, Romulus and Remus, became a world empire that eventually passed away. There must have been sex in ancient Rome, otherwise the Romans would have died out, but Roman orgies are rather absent from the lessons. Nevertheless, we now know a lot about how things were back then.
Unlike today, wine was a drink that was enjoyed quite frequently. One reason for this was that the water was very often undrinkable, if not sickening. And in the same way, sex was much more commonplace in ancient Rome. For small money the Roman man could satisfy his lust. Sometimes the tavern offered both the wine and the sex. The availability of sex for sale in ancient Rome was surely also a result of the fact that there were few other distractions and pleasures.
Poverty was also pervasive, so that some women contributed to the family income through prostitution. Nor did ancient society have any moral reservations about extramarital sex. Now when wine and sex were combined in ancient Rome, hot Roman orgies could certainly ensue.
Bacchinalia – a kind of carnival imported from Greece
Bacchus was worshipped as the god of wine. In his honour the so-called Bacchinalia were celebrated at the beginning of spring. If one reads descriptions of it, the festivities with parades, alcohol consumption, masquerades and mummery dance remind of the modern carnival. Historically, however, they are an import from Greece. There, the wine god Dionysus was also celebrated, among other things with theatre competitions.
Just like the modern carnival, however, the bacchinalia marked the beginning of spring. It is hardly surprising that in an exuberant festive mood with the enjoyment of wine, sex also occurred in ancient Rome. The Roman historian Livius reports that among the followers of the cult of Bacchus, celebrations with wine and sex in ancient Rome degenerated into nightly Roman orgies.
It is said that not only sex took place, but also crimes were committed. The hustle and bustle took on such characteristics that the Roman authorities put an end to it and strongly regulated the bacchinalia in the year 186 before Christ.
But it was not only the beginning of spring that was celebrated with wine, women and song. The term “orgia”, which comes from the Greek, generally referred to ritual acts for the wine god Bacchus or Dionysus. So these original Roman orgies were definitely organized and celebrated by well-heeled Romans. Such a feast started as a dinner together among friends.
The meal was sumptuous, for the inviter here showed his wealth. Therefore, these evening events were spiced up with music, theatre plays and readings. The wine was well received. In the course of the evening the mood became more and more exuberant. Not surprisingly, sex in ancient Rome then also formed a worthy conclusion to the evening.
But sex was not only enjoyed at home in ancient Rome. Around 60 BC, the seaside resort of Baiae on the Gulf of Naples was very popular as a holiday resort for the upper classes. Holidays could only be afforded by the top ten thousand, and said seaside resort offered not only sun, beach and water. According to testimonies from antiquity, Baiae was known to be a place where married men and women indulged in pleasure, not only with their own partners. So whoever could afford it escaped from the big city of Rome, especially in the summer.
But since the Roman aristocracy had to continue to direct the fortunes of the state, they stayed together even on vacation, and so sex in ancient Rome consequently took place outside the capital. Various sources prove that Baiae was the place where uninhibited Roman orgies took place.
Also aspiring nouveau riche discovered the place for themselves. There are different sources, but all agree that Baiae was a place of debauchery.
Rome – not only a military world power
In history classes, Rome is often taught as a world military power. The Roman Empire certainly was. Behind the scenes, however, the ancient Romans certainly let it rip.
Thus, it is no wonder that Roman orgies and sex in ancient Rome have become and remained a popular subject in film – including pornographic ones – despite being neglected in class.