Ludi Flor­ales – The Feast of Flor­als

The his­tory of Rome has provided us with a sur­pris­ing num­ber of nasty girls, and here we will have a look at the most prom­in­ent. While the com­pet­i­tion is crowded, it remains remark­able that no less than six of them, Claudia Livia Julia (usu­ally called Livilla), Julia Livia (some­times called Julia Drusi Caesar­is fil­ia, daugh­ter of Drusus Caesar), Julia Agrip­pina the Young­er, Claudia Octavia, Julia the Eld­er, the only daugh­ter of Augus­tus [read her post on this Blog], and Livia Drusil­la (also called Julia Augusta), all came from a single fam­ily and all lived with­in one cen­tury (58 BC to AD 68), at the same time as the fam­ous Valer­ia Mes­salina [read her post on this Blog], Pop­paea Sabina the Young­er and Pop­paea Sabina the Eld­er, her moth­er.

Three­some at the Nile River – Pom­peii

Caveat: “Some sexu­al atti­tudes and beha­viours in ancient Roman cul­ture dif­fer markedly from those in later West­ern soci­et­ies. Roman reli­gion pro­moted sexu­al­ity as an aspect of prosper­ity for the state, and indi­vidu­als might turn to private reli­gious prac­tice or “magic” for improv­ing their erot­ic lives or repro­duct­ive health. Pros­ti­tu­tion was leg­al, pub­lic, and wide­spread. “Por­no­graph­ic” paint­ings were fea­tured among the art col­lec­tions in respect­able upper-class house­holds. It was con­sidered nat­ur­al and unre­mark­able for men to be sexu­ally attrac­ted to teen-aged youths of both sexes, and ped­er­asty was con­doned as long as the young­er male part­ner was not a free­born Roman. “Homo­sexu­al” and “het­ero­sexu­al” did not form the primary dicho­tomy of Roman think­ing about sexu­al­ity, and no Lat­in words for these con­cepts exist. No mor­al cen­sure was dir­ec­ted at the man who enjoyed sex acts with either women or males of inferi­or status, as long as his beha­vi­ors revealed no weak­nesses or excesses, nor infringed on the rights and prerog­at­ives of his mas­cu­line peers. While per­ceived effem­in­acy was denounced, espe­cially in polit­ic­al rhet­or­ic, sex in mod­er­a­tion with male pros­ti­tutes or slaves was not regarded as improp­er or viti­at­ing to mas­culin­ity, if the male cit­izen took the act­ive and not the recept­ive role. Hyper­sexu­al­ity, how­ever, was con­demned mor­ally and med­ic­ally in both men and women. Women were held to a stricter mor­al code, and same-sex rela­tions between women are poorly doc­u­mented, but the sexu­al­ity of women is vari­ously cel­eb­rated or reviled through­out Lat­in lit­er­at­ure. In gen­er­al the Romans had more flex­ible gender cat­egor­ies than the ancient Greeks.” Also: “Pros­ti­tu­tion was leg­al through­out the Roman Empire in all peri­ods. Most pros­ti­tutes were slaves or freed­wo­men. Pros­ti­tutes in Rome had to register with the aediles. Des­pite what might seem to be a clear dis­tinc­tion as a mat­ter of law, the jur­ist Ulpi­an opined that an openly promis­cu­ous woman brought the status of pros­ti­tute upon her­self, even if she accep­ted no money. The Augus­t­an mor­al legis­la­tion that crim­in­al­ized adul­tery exemp­ted pros­ti­tutes, who could leg­ally have sex with a mar­ried man. Encour­aged to think of adul­tery as a mat­ter of law rather than mor­al­ity, a few socially prom­in­ent women even chose to avoid pro­sec­u­tion for adul­tery by regis­ter­ing them­selves as pros­ti­tutes.” [From Wiki­pe­dia]

Yet murder and per­ver­sion aboun­ded ... as seen in the movie “Caligula” [Down­load] The estab­lish­ment of the Imper­i­al Court seems to have brought the, er, eman­cip­a­tion of the girls to a flower­ing ...

One may reas­on­ably doubt wheth­er a more mur­der­ous, licentious and scan­dal­ous breed exis­ted in the annals of man­kind, and they cer­tainly matched the infam­ous males of the clan – the respect­ive emper­ors of the age, Tiberi­us, Caligula, Claudi­us and Nero.

Tiberius on Capri
Tiberi­us on Capri
More floozies at the Ludi Flor­alia (Flower Fest­iv­al)

Num­bers 10 to 8, fea­tur­ing: Theodora, Faustina the Young­er, Fulvia Flacca Bam­bula

On Fulvia, polit­ic­ally the most inter­est­ing of the ladies and by far the most power­ful, there is an exhaust­ive Mas­ter Thes­is “A Study of Fulvia”, by Allis­on Jean Weir [Link to PDF].

No. 10: Theodora
No. 9: Faustina
Fulvia With the Head of Cicero by Pavel Svedomsk
No. 8: Fulvia With the Head of Cicero by Pavel Sve­domsk

Num­bers 7 to 4, fea­tur­ing: Julia the Eld­er, Valer­ia Mes­salina, Claudia Livia JuliaCleo­patra

No. 7: Julia by Leon Fran­cois Comerre
No. 6: Mes­salina by Eugène Cyrille Bru­net
La Reine Bacchanale by Fritz Zuber-Buhler (1822-1896)
La Reine Bac­chanale by Fritz Zuber-Buhler (1822−1896)
No. 5: Claudia Livia Julia (Livilla) as Diana by Fran­cois Bouch­er
No. 4: Cleo­patra by Robert Auer
Venus in the Gar­dens of Luc­ul­lus

And the top three, fea­tur­ing: Pop­paea Sabina the Young­er, Julia Agrip­pina the Young­er, Livia Drusil­la

Pop­pea brings the Head of Claudia Octavia to Nero, by G. Muzzi­oli (1876)

No. 3: Pop­paea Sabina bathing ...
No. 2: Agrip­pina, murdered by Nero
Virgil Reading the Aeneid to the Emperor Augustus, His Wife Livia and His Fainting Sister Octavia -  Antonio Zucchi
Vir­gil Read­ing the Aeneid to the Emper­or Augus­tus, His Wife Livia and His Faint­ing Sis­ter Octavia – Ant­o­nio Zuc­chi
Livia and her son, Tiberi­us

But if you were curi­ous and DID peek, send us a com­ment on the debauch­ery you wit­nessed! Gory details wel­come!

Orgia by Édouard Henri Avril
Édou­ard Henri Avril depicts fun for all the fam­ily ...
Four­some (Pom­peii)

(© John Vin­cent Pal­at­ine 2019)

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