Why is Roman sex so important, even today? And I don’t mean a knee-trembler up a dark alley in Milan with a hot tranny. I mean the model of sex and sexual behaviour which was central to Roman life. Why is it still important?
Western societies are essentially based on a Graeco-Roman model, with some aspects leaning more towards the Greek and some the Roman. Sex, despite centuries of Christianity, remains broadly Roman.
The name of King Jan III Sobieski of Poland is one that every European should know and speak with pride.
In September 1683, the city of Vienna was near to collapse. For months, it had been under siege by the Islamic hordes of the Islamic Ottoman army. Every day now, starvation and surrender grew closer. The city had long since run out of horses and pets to eat and even rats were few and far between now.
Worse, the Viennese knew that other Europeans had been the instruments of their doom. Swiss Calvinists had begged the Turks to attack, so that they could sweep away Catholicism. It beggars belief that Christians could call down the hounds of Islamic hell on their fellow Europeans, but that they had, hoping, no doubt, to negotiate some deal, a reward for their treachery, that might spare them the scimitar or a lifetime of submission to the foul creed of Islam.
The city’s defenders, listening in its basements, could hear the scrape-scrap of pick and shovel as the enemy’s sappers undermined them. Soon they would plant another huge mine and blow up a section of the city’s curtain wall, breaching it and allowing the enemy in. Nobody in Vienna was under any illusion as to what would happen then: the men would be tortured and killed or enslaved, the women would be raped and killed or enslaved and the children slaughtered. The behaviour of triumphant Islamic armies was well known.
Today, the Twelfth of September, was the last. The government of the city knew it. The people knew it and worse, the enemy knew it. They were ready: their final attack was to come on the twelfth of the month. There was nothing left. Vienna would fall. Without a miracle, Vienna must fall, and with it, Europe.
Perhaps incredibly, Roman sex remains the standard model in most of the world. It is only the Benighted West that thinks it’s different.
There was no equivalent, anywhere in the Ancient World, to modern concepts like ‘gay’. There was a class of males usually called cinaidus or catamite, and tese were exactly equivalent to the modern homosexual, highly feminised, submissive, receptive in sex and often dressing as women.
‘Same-sex’ intercourse was commonplace and indeed, enthusiastically pursued, but only according to social conventions. Breaking these would incur no criminal penalty but the culprits might be shunned or excluded from society. This, in Rome, was a severe penalty.
Roman sex was dictated by two sets of rules. The first set was known as the mos maiorum , which translates to “the way of the elders”. It was an unwritten code of honour.
Multiculturalism has become prevalent in Europe over the last fifty years. In many places it has supplanted European culture itself. In part this has been a result of the end of European Empires, a consequence of the wars of the 20th century and an understandable sense of repentance for the excesses of an Imperial past. We are embarrassed by a history that painted huge areas of the globe pink, or whatever colour our particular nation applied.
At the same time, across Western Europe, we have seen the rise of a sense of cultural equivalency, which holds that all cultures are of equal worth, and should be equally respected: according to this, European culture was no great shakes, just one of many.
So-called ‘homosexuality’, as it is known in the Anglo-West is almost non-existent outside it, despite efforts being continually made to revise history. That is because in all other places and at all other times, sex between males was strictly limited to sex between men and boys or older youths and younger boys, and sex between men and catamites who had permanently adopted the appearance and social role of women — mukhannathun — or today, ladyboys.
In the “homosocial” world of the early Ottoman Arab East, sexual symbolism was never far from the surface. Yet actual sexual intercourse between adult men was clearly perceived as an anomaly, linked either to violence (rape) or disease (ubnah).
However, sex between men and boys was practically universal in the Islamosphere, which for centuries was far more relaxed about this than the Christian world.
Sexual relations between men and boys in the early Ottoman Arab East were almost always conceived as involving an adult man (who stereotypically would be the “male” partner) and an adolescent boy (the “female”).
If the Popes believed that their God intended to keep them in control of Jerusalem, or indeed, in such high esteem at home, then they were to be rudely disabused. Central to Islam is the notion that the entire world not under its control is Dar al-Harb.
The Qu’ran or Koran is the codification of messages believed by Muslims to have been received by Mohammed from the Angel Gabriel. It says a territory may exist under two conditions: Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb. These mean, roughly, ‘Land of Submission’. and ‘Land of War’.
World War Three has been much talked about in the seven decades since World War Two ended. At that time, almost all of Europe and large parts of Asia were in ruins, scourged by years of brutal, mechanised, industrial war.
Since the beginning of that peace, war has raged incessantly throughout the world. It has never stopped. The killing, the butchery, the rapes, the genocides, the ethnic cleansings. Mass rapes, murders, enslavements. Whole cities destroyed, nations impoverished or obliterated.
Has World War Three begun?
As I write, war is raging in the Middle East, in Africa, in Asia. Why? If the end of World War Two heralded in an ‘era of peace’, then why is there so much war? And how fragile is that peace?
Hot cross buns. That’s what this article is about. So why do I have a picture of a Roman sculpture of a bull’s head here instead of a nice snap of some hot cross buns?
Hot cross buns actually originated in Assyria as a part of worship of the Moon Goddess Ishtar. At least that is the earliest record we have of them. The Egyptians continued the tradition of offering cakes to their Moon-Goddess Hathor. They decorated the cakes with bull’s horns, as the ox was the preferred sacrifice of the Goddess. The cakes, therefore, were symbolic of the sacrificed bull, whose flesh would be eaten by worshippers.
Hathor has been identified with Ishtar and Astarte, who was worshipped by King Solomon, as mentioned in the Old Testament (1 Kings 11, 2), and to whom he erected a temple or shrine in Jerusalem.
The cities of Sumer had been established for over a thousand years by the time the Epic of Gilgamesh was written, circa 2500BC, but they did not control all of the land. Most of it remained uncultivated and taming the wilderness, to make more commercially productive farmland, became important to the cities. That required an ever-increasing labour force, which could only be achieved through the enslavement of men.
Civilisation depends on the enslavement of men.
Many early civilisations were built on the enslavement of men, in the sense that we now understand it, but others were either not slave states or were only partially so. So how could the enslavement of men be effected, other than by force?
One answer is illustrated in two great tales: The Epic of Gilgamesh and Genesis. The enslavement of men to the city was brought about not through violence, but through love, or at least, lust.
Men and women select partners differently. Men are visual-target-oriented. They are the hunters. They see particular features and find them attractive, and so they tend to try to select mates that have them. Men are driven in this by female fertility. They are looking, in a long-term partner, for someone whom they think will be able to bear and rear children. This is the beginning of gender.
So who is the primary model for the ideal mother in a man’s mind? Easy; his own. So men tend to seek out women who in some way remind them of their own mothers, or rather, as their own mothers looked when they were young. There is evidence that men are most attracted to women of eighteen to twenty-two, which squares with this.
These traits were evolved over a long period of time, tens or even hundreds of thousands of years, and during that time, women gave birth early, beginning at twelve to fourteen or so. So, again, the ideal ‘proto-mother’ that men seek is a young woman.