Pederasty (Richard F. Burton) — 2

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Pederastía had in Greece, I have shown, its noble and ideal side: Rome, however, borrowed her malpractices, like her religion and polity, from those ultra-material Etruscans and debauched with a brazen face. Even under the Republic Plautus (Casin. ii. 21) makes one of his characters exclaim, in the utmost sang-froid, “Ultro te, amator, apage te a dorso meo!” With increased luxury the evil grew and Livy notices (xxxix. 13), at the Bacchanalia, plura virorum inter sese quam fœminarum stupra. There were individual protests; for instance, S. Q. Fabius Maximus Servilianus (Consul U.C. 612) punished his son for dubia castitas; and a private soldier, C. Plotius, killed his military Tribune, Q. Luscius, for unchaste proposals. The Lex Scantinia (Scatinia?), popularly derived from Scantinius the Tribune and of doubtful date (B.C. 226?), attempted to abate the scandal by fine and the Lex Julia by death; but they were trifling obstacles to the flood of infamy which surged in with the Empire. No class seems then to have disdained these “sterile pleasures:” l’on n’attachoit point alors à cette espèce d’amour une note d’infamie, comme en païs de chrétienté, says Bayle under “Anacreon.” The great Cæsar, the Cinædus calvus of Catullus, was the husband of all the wives and the wife of all the husbands in Rome (Suetonius, cap. lii); and his soldiers sang in his praise Gallias Cæsar subegit, Nicomedes Cæsarem (Suet. cies. xlix); whence his sobriquet “Fornix Bithynicus.” Of Augustus the people chaunted,

Videsne ut Cinædus orbem digito temperet?

Tiberius, with his pisciculi and greges exoletorum, invented the Symplegma or nexus of Sellarii, agentes et patientes, in which the spinthriæ (lit. women’s bracelets) were connected in a chain by the bond of flesh20 (Seneca Quæst. Nat.). Of this refinement, which in the earlier part of the nineteenth century was renewed by sundry Englishmen at Naples, Ausonius wrote (Epig. cxix. 1),

Tres uno in lecto: stuprum duo perpetiuntur;

And Martial had said (xii. 43),

Quo symplegmate quinque copulentur;
Qua plures teneantur a catena; etc.

Ausonius recounts of Caligula he so lost patience that he forcibly entered the priest, M. Lepidus, before the sacrifice was completed. The beautiful Nero was formally married to Pythagoras (or Doryphoros) and afterwards took to wife Sporus who was first subjected to castration of a peculiar fashion; he was then named Sabina after the deceased spouse and claimed queenly honours. The “Othonis et Trajani pathici” were famed; the great Hadrian openly loved Antinoüs, and the wild debaucheries of Heliogabalus seem only to have amused, instead of disgusting, the Romans.

Uranopolis allowed public lupanaria where adults and meritorii pueri, who began their career as early as seven years, stood for hire: the inmates of these cauponæ wore sleeved tunics and dalmatics like women. As in modern Egypt, pathic boys, we learn from Catullus, haunted the public baths. Debauchees had signals like freemasons whereby they recognized one another. The Greek Skematízein was made by closing the hand to represent the scrotum and raising the middle finger as if to feel whether a hen had eggs, tâter si les poulettes ont l’œuf: hence the Athenians called it Catapygon or sodomite and the Romans, digitus impudicus or infamis, the “medical finger21” of Rabelais and the Chiromantists. Another sign was to scratch the head with the minimus—digitulo caput scabere (Juv. ix. 133).22 The prostitution of boys was first forbidden by Domitian; but Saint Paul, a Greek, had formally expressed his abomination of Le Vice (Rom. i. 26; i. Cor. vi. 8); and we may agree with Grotius (de Verit. li. c. 13) that early Christianity did much to suppress it. At last the Emperor Theodosius punished it with fire as a profanation, because sacro-sanctum esse debetur hospitium virilis animæ.

In the pagan days of imperial Rome her literature makes no difference between boy and girl. Horace naïvely says (Sat. ii. 118):—

Ancilla aut verna est præsto puer;

and with Hamlet, but in a dishonest sense:—

           —Man delights me not
Nor woman neither.

Similarly the Spaniard Martial, who is a mine of such pederastic allusions (xi. 46):—

Sive puer arrisit, sive puella tibi.

That marvellous Satyricon which unites the wit of Molière23 with the debaucheries of Piron, whilst the writer has been described, like Rabelais, as purissimus in impuritate, is a kind of triumph of pederasty. Geiton, the hero, a handsome, curly-pated hobbledehoy of seventeen, with his câlinerie and wheedling tongue, is courted like one of the sequor sexus: his lovers are inordinately jealous of him and his desertion leaves deep scars upon the heart. But no dialogue between man and wife in extremis could he more pathetic than that in the scene where shipwreck is imminent. Elsewhere every one seems to attempt his neighbour: a man alte succinctus assails Ascyltos; Lycus, the Tarentine skipper, would force Encolpius and so forth: yet we have the neat and finished touch (cap. vii):—“The lamentation was very fine (the dying man having manumitted his slaves) albeit his wife wept not as though she loved him. How were it had he not behaved to her so well?

Erotic Latin glossaries24 give some ninety words connected with Pederasty and some, which “speak with Roman simplicity,” are peculiarly expressive. “Aversa Venus” alludes to women being treated as boys: hence Martial, translated by Piron, addresses Mistress Martial (x. 44):—

Teque puta, cunnos, uxor, habere duos.

The capillatus or comatus is also called calamistratus, the darling curled with crisping-irons; and he is an Effeminatus, i.e. qui muliebria patitur; or a Delicatus, slave or eunuch for the use of the Draucus, Puerarius (boy-lover) or Dominus (Mart. xi. 71). The Divisor is so called from his practice Hillas dividere or cædere, something like Martial’s cacare mentulam or Juvenal’s Hesternæ occurrere cænæ. Facere visibus (Juv. vii. 238), incestare se invicem or mutuum facere (Plaut. Trin. ii. 437), is described as “a puerile vice,” in which the two take turns to be active and passive: they are also called Gemelli and Fratres = compares in pædicatione. Illicita libido is = præpostera seu postica Venus, and is expressed by the picturesque phrase indicare (seu incurvare) aliquem. Depilatus, divellere pilos, glaber, lævis and nates pervellere are allusions to the Sotadic toilette. The fine distinction between demittere and dejicere caput are worthy of a glossary, while Pathica puella, puera, putus, pullipremo, pusio, pygiaca sacra, quadrupes, scarabæus and smerdalius explain themselves.



  1. This and Saint Paul (Romans i. 27) suggested to Caravaggio his picture of St. Rosario (in the museum of the Grand Duke of Tuscany), showing a circle of thirty men turpiter ligati.
  2. Properly speaking “Medicus” is the third or ring-finger, as shown by the old Chiromantist verses,

    Est pollex Veneris; sed Jupiter indice gaudet,
    Saturnus medium; Sol medicumque tenet.
     
  3. So Seneca uses digito scalpit caput. The modern Italian does the same by inserting the thumb-tip between the index and medius to suggest the clitoris.
  4. What can be wittier than the now trite Tale of the Ephesian Matron, whose dry humour is worthy of The Nights? No wonder that it has made the grand tour of the world. It is found in the neo-Phædrus, the tales of Musæus and in the Septem Sapientes as the “Widow which was comforted.” As the “Fabliau de la Femme qui se fist putain sur la fosse de son Mari,” it tempted Brantôme and La Fontaine; and Abel Rémusat shows in his Contes Chinois that it is well known to the Middle Kingdom. Mr. Walter K. Kelly remarks, that the most singular place for such a tale is the “Rule and Exercise of Holy Dying” by Jeremy Taylor, who introduces it into his chap. v.—“Of the Contingencies of Death and Treating our Dead.” But in those days divines were not mealy-mouthed.
  5. Glossarium eroticum linguæ Latinæ, sive theogoniæ, legum et morum nuptialium apud Romanos explanatio nova, auctore P. P. (Parisiis, Dondey-Dupré, 1826, in 8vo). P. P. is supposed to be Chevalier Pierre Pierrugues, an engineer who made a plan of Bordeaux and who annotated the Erotika Biblion. Gay writes, “On s’est servi pour cet ouvrage des travaux inédits de M. le Baron de Schonen, etc. Quant au Chevalier Pierre Pierrugues, qu’on désignait comme l’auteur de ce savant volume, son existence n’est pas bien avérée, et quelques bibliographes persistent à penser que ce nom cache la collaboration du Baron de Schonen et d’Éloi Johanneau.” Other glossicists as Blondeau and Forberg have been printed by Liseux, Paris.



Retour à l’article principal Pederasty (Richard F. Burton)
Pederasty (1 — The Sotadic Zone. The ancient Greeks)
Pederasty (2 — Rome)
Pederasty (3 — Al-Islam)
Pederasty (4 — Asia. America)
Pederasty (5 — Modern Europe)

Voir aussi

Source

  • A plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights’ entertainments, now entituled The book of the thousand nights and a night : with introduction explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men and a terminal essay upon the history of the Nights. Vol. X / by Richard F. Burton. – The Burton Club, 1886 (printed in the U.S.A.).

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