By Anthony Blond

With the new good fortune of "Rome" on BBC2, nobody will examine the personal lives of the Roman Emperors back within the comparable gentle. Anthony Blond's scandalous reveal of the lifetime of the Caesars is a must-read for all drawn to what rather went on in historical Rome. Julius Caesar is mostly offered as a wonderful common whilst in truth he used to be an smug charmer and a swank; Augustus was once so aware of his top that he positioned lifts in his sandals. yet they have been not anything in comparison to Caligula, Claudius and Nero. This ebook is interesting interpreting, eye-opening in its revelations and without difficulty pleasing.

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The former partners might behave in a ‘civilized’ way towards each other. The poetess Lucretia, prized by Professor Richlin, remarks that her marriage lasted fifteen years and that she was still remarkably fond of her husband. How like an Upper-East-Side New Yorker! The husband was not expected to be faithful and there is no reference in Roman literature to ‘cheating on the wife’ nor to the ‘scarlet woman’ stealing his affections. In a city packed with prostitutes – and a bored married woman could register as one with the city aediles – there was no need for such carryings-on.

Diogenes masturbated in public. ’ She got off. Alcibiades, the Athenians’ star, died under a shower of their arrows. They were bored by his umpteenth betrayal. Excess was in fact the characteristic of the Athenian Empire, which lasted only thirty years; moderation that of the Roman, which lasted for centuries. Further, a Roman homosexual should not pursue his ultimate sexual goal – anal penetration – with a free-born boy, lest it affect his character. The passive role, reinforcing through economic domination the dread and contempt in which it was held, was reserved for slaves.

The charm of boys as they advanced towards puberty and on to manhood was vigorously celebrated and enjoyed. Unlike today, when enthusiasts have to check them out dangerously and often illegally, they were freely on view in the baths of Rome. Men’s eyes would fall easily on a ‘cute pair of balls’. The appearance of a spectacularly well-hung young man or a fortiori a boy – the beau ideal – would be greeted with applause. Dragging back could be expensive and there are sad little poems about an erection collapsing when a Roman reflected on the cost of further pursuit.

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