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The Oddment Emporium

A Cornucopia of Eclectic Delights

Posts tagged Ancient Rome:

Catullus 16
Catullus 16 is a poem written by the Roman poet Gaius Valerius Catullus that was deemed so obscene it was not published in its entirety in English until the latter part of the 20th century. 
The poem is addressed to two men, Furius - another 1st century poet who had an affair with Catullus’ lover - and Aurelius - a consul of the same period. The two men appear in other of Catullus’ poems where he regularly uses abusive language towards them. Catullus was apparently offended by accusations from Furius and Aurelius that his poetry was ‘delicate’, and he himself effeminate. In fact, Catullus’ gentle attitude left him particularly vulnerable to the cruel environment of Roman high society. Catullus 16, therefore, is an attack on these criticisms and a demonstration of the Roman ideology regarding masculinity.
Click ‘Read More’ below to read the full English translation. It’s NSFW, obviously. In fact, the first line has been described as “one of the filthiest lines ever written in Latin - or any other language for that matter”, so procede with caution…
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I will sodomize you and face-fuck you,Cocksucking Aurelius and bottom-man Furius,You who think that I’m a pussyBecause of my delicate verses.It’s right for the devoted poetTo be chaste himself, but it’s notNecessary for his verses to be so.Verses which then have taste and charm,If they are delicate and sexy,And when they can incite an itch,And I don’t mean for boys, but inThose hairy old men who can’t get their dicks up.You, because you have read of my thousands of kisses,You think I’m a pussy?I will sodomize you and face-fuck you.
[Sources: Catullus 16 | Catullus | Image]

Catullus 16

Catullus 16 is a poem written by the Roman poet Gaius Valerius Catullus that was deemed so obscene it was not published in its entirety in English until the latter part of the 20th century. 

The poem is addressed to two men, Furius - another 1st century poet who had an affair with Catullus’ lover - and Aurelius - a consul of the same period. The two men appear in other of Catullus’ poems where he regularly uses abusive language towards them. Catullus was apparently offended by accusations from Furius and Aurelius that his poetry was ‘delicate’, and he himself effeminate. In fact, Catullus’ gentle attitude left him particularly vulnerable to the cruel environment of Roman high society. Catullus 16, therefore, is an attack on these criticisms and a demonstration of the Roman ideology regarding masculinity.

Click ‘Read More’ below to read the full English translation. It’s NSFW, obviously. In fact, the first line has been described as “one of the filthiest lines ever written in Latin - or any other language for that matter”, so procede with caution…

Read More

Butter Sculptures

Butter sculptures often depict animals, people, buildings and other objects. They are best known as attractions at state fairs in the United States as lifesize cows and people, but can also be found on banquet tables and even small decorative butter pats. 

The history of carving food into sculptured objects is ancient. Archaeologists have found bread and pudding moulds of animal and human shapes at sites from Babylon to Roman Britain. During the Renaissance and Baroque periods moulding food was commonly done for wealthy banquets. It was during this period that the earliest known reference to a butter sculpture is found. In 1536 Bartolomeo Scappi, cook to Pope Pius V, organised a feast composed of nine scenes elaborately carved out of food, each carried in episodically as centerpieces for a banquet. 

The earliest butter sculpture as public art and not a banquet centerpiece can be traced to the 1876 when Caroline Shawk Brooks [Image Four], a farm woman from Arkansas, displayed her Dreaming Iolanthe, a bust of a woman modeled in butter [Image One]. The heyday of butter sculpting was from about 1890 to 1930. During this period refrigeration became widely available, and the American dairy industry began promoting butter sculpture as a way to compete against synthetic butter substitutes like margarine. Image Two depicts a 1925 butter sculpture of Edward VIII when Prince of Wales, about which you can read more here.

[Thanks to Vintage-Royalty]

(Source: Wikipedia)

Tintinnabulum
In ancient Rome, a tintinnabulum was a wind chime or assemblage of bells. A tintinnabulum often took the form of a bronze phallic figure with wings, or fascinum, a magico-religious phallus thought to ward off the evil eye and bring good fortune and prosperity. It was hung outdoors in locations such as gardens, porticoes, houses, and shops, where the wind would cause them to tinkle. The sounds of bells were believed to keep away evil spirits [From Wikipedia].

Tintinnabulum

In ancient Rome, a tintinnabulum was a wind chime or assemblage of bells. A tintinnabulum often took the form of a bronze phallic figure with wings, or fascinum, a magico-religious phallus thought to ward off the evil eye and bring good fortune and prosperity. It was hung outdoors in locations such as gardens, porticoes, houses, and shops, where the wind would cause them to tinkle. The sounds of bells were believed to keep away evil spirits [From Wikipedia].

(Source: revoada.net)

The Lord of Misrule and the Feast of Fools
In medieval England, the Lord of Misrule was an officer appointed by lot at Christmas to preside over the Feast of Fools - a riotous banquet where the central idea seems always to have been a brief social revolution in which power, dignity and impunity is briefly conferred on those in a subordinate position. The Lord of Misrule was generally a peasant appointed to oversee these Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness, wild partying and general licentiousness.
The appointment of a Lord of Misrule comes from antiquity. In ancient Rome a Lord of Misrule was appointed for the feast of Saturnalia, in the guise of the god Saturn. During this time the ordinary rules of life were subverted as masters served their slaves, and the offices of state were held by slaves. The Lord of Misrule presided over all of this, and had the power to command anyone to do anything during the holiday period. 
In the medieval version young people chose from among their own number a mock pope, archbishop, bishop, abbot to reign as Lord of Misrule. Participants would then “consecrate” him with many ridiculous ceremonies in the chief church of the place, and give themselves such names as Archbishop of Dolts, Abbot of Unreason, Boy Bishop, or Pope of Fools.
The parody often tipped dangerously towards the profane, the ceremonies mocking the performance of the highest offices of the church, while other persons, dressed in different kinds of masks and disguises, engaged in songs and dances and practised all manner of revelry within the church building. As a result, the Feast and the almost blasphemous extravagances were constantly the object of condemnations of the medieval Church, until it was finally forbidden under the very severest penalties by the Council of Basel in 1431.
[Image Source: Pieter Bruegel, The Fight Between Carnival and Lent (1559)]

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 22nd

The Lord of Misrule and the Feast of Fools

In medieval England, the Lord of Misrule was an officer appointed by lot at Christmas to preside over the Feast of Fools - a riotous banquet where the central idea seems always to have been a brief social revolution in which power, dignity and impunity is briefly conferred on those in a subordinate position. The Lord of Misrule was generally a peasant appointed to oversee these Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness, wild partying and general licentiousness.

The appointment of a Lord of Misrule comes from antiquity. In ancient Rome a Lord of Misrule was appointed for the feast of Saturnalia, in the guise of the god Saturn. During this time the ordinary rules of life were subverted as masters served their slaves, and the offices of state were held by slaves. The Lord of Misrule presided over all of this, and had the power to command anyone to do anything during the holiday period. 

In the medieval version young people chose from among their own number a mock pope, archbishop, bishop, abbot to reign as Lord of Misrule. Participants would then “consecrate” him with many ridiculous ceremonies in the chief church of the place, and give themselves such names as Archbishop of Dolts, Abbot of Unreason, Boy Bishop, or Pope of Fools.

The parody often tipped dangerously towards the profane, the ceremonies mocking the performance of the highest offices of the church, while other persons, dressed in different kinds of masks and disguises, engaged in songs and dances and practised all manner of revelry within the church building. As a result, the Feast and the almost blasphemous extravagances were constantly the object of condemnations of the medieval Church, until it was finally forbidden under the very severest penalties by the Council of Basel in 1431.

[Image Source: Pieter Bruegel, The Fight Between Carnival and Lent (1559)]

Advent Calendar of Oddments 2012: December 22nd

Flying Penis
Another oddment courtesy of the Romans:
This penis is made out of animal bone and has wings on it. Phallic symbols, including versions with wings, are commonly seen throughout the Roman Empire. [Source]
Apparently, these Roman genitalia carvings were meant to protect the possessor from evil. John Pearce, a lecturer in archaeology at King’s College London, analyzed some of the Roman artifacts [found along with this penis] and concluded:

"One theory is that those scenes that show sexual activity have an apotropaic power, because they make you laugh so that wards off the evil eye." [Source]





I’m no expert but I would have said they might have been fertility charms.

Flying Penis

Another oddment courtesy of the Romans:

This penis is made out of animal bone and has wings on it. Phallic symbols, including versions with wings, are commonly seen throughout the Roman Empire. [Source]

Apparently, these Roman genitalia carvings were meant to protect the possessor from evil. John Pearce, a lecturer in archaeology at King’s College London, analyzed some of the Roman artifacts [found along with this penis] and concluded:

"One theory is that those scenes that show sexual activity have an apotropaic power, because they make you laugh so that wards off the evil eye." [Source]
I’m no expert but I would have said they might have been fertility charms.
I keep seeing this fact about a female serial killer being raped by a giraffe as a punishment and finally decided to do some research on it. I've come up with this article by foghorn magazine until article "Why I shouldn't read books". Apparently not only is it true but there were people trained to do it AND Roman women actually volunteered to be raped by wild animals to make money for their families. but wasn't sure if you knew more about this? asked by uncannysaudade

Actually, this is the first I’ve heard about it but my God is it fascinating! I presume the female serial killer you refer to is Locusta:

Born around the first century C.E., Locusta grew up to become one of the preeminent poison masters in all of Rome. It is said that Empress Agrippina and Locusta conspired together to poison Claudius with a batch of poisoned mushrooms so that Agrippina’s son Nero could become the Emperor.After this Locusta came under Nero’s employ, helping to poison Britannicus, Claudius’s son by an earlier marriage. With Emperor Nero as one of her satisfied customers, Locusta enjoyed a growing reputation. The emperor lavished her with land, money, gifts, and a full pardon for all the poisonings she had been charged with over the years. There were many imperial referrals and more assignments. Locusta was very busy with her contract work in poisonings-for-hire, and even opened a school where she taught others her knowledge of herbs and toxins.

Locusta was riding high, until the Roman Senate decided to off Nero. It is said that Locusta had thoughtfully furnished Nero with a poison kit for himself when it was known that his end was near, but in the confusion of the moment, Nero left the kit behind. Before he could be brought before the Roman Senate to stand trial for his many “crimes,” Nero killed himself with his own dagger. However, this seems like a pleasant end when compared to Locusta’s own death. It is said that Locusta was publicly raped by a specially trained giraffe [some sources say llama], then torn apart by wild animals. [Source]

There doesn’t seem to be any doubt that this is true, and animals were commonly used as a method of execution in ancient Rome. As for women volunteering to have sex with animals, according the this website:

Bestiality was a common form of entertainment in the Roman arena - in the words of R. E. L. Masters in “The Prostitutes In Society”, mass bestiality, as public display in Rome, was “a phenomenon unique in all of history”. Beasts were specially trained to copulate with women: if the girls or women were unwilling then the animal would attempt rape. A surprising range of creatures was used for such purposes - bulls, giraffes, leopards, cheetahs, wild boar, zebras, stallions, jackasses, huge dogs, apes, etc. The beasts were taught how to copulate with a human being either via the vagina or via the anus. In the modern world occasional shows are staged where an animal copulates with a woman but there has never been anything comparable to what was seen in the Roman arena.

and certainly Roman civil law said nothing against bestiality. 

History is absolutely bonkers sometimes! Thanks for sharing this with me!

Crocodile Skin Suit of Armour

'In ancient Egypt the crocodile was seen as sacred and divine, and worshipped as a god, so this suit might have been worn by priests of the crocodile sect who by wearing such a garment would take on the spirit of the deity. In many parts of Africa the crocodile is seen as a fearsome and invincible creature and so … by wearing crocodile armour and a headpiece like this, a warrior might be transformed in some magical way and take on the attributes of the animal.' 

When the province of Egypt became part of the Roman Empire, it put Romans into direct contact with Egyptian culture and religion. In Egypt Roman garrisons were closely integrated into civic and religious life and participated in local cults. Around Manfalout, on the banks of the Nile in central Egypt, Roman soldiers were particularly attracted to the crocodile cult centred on the sacred grottoes of the region.

This imposing armour is made from the skin of a crocodile. It comprises a helmet and cuirass (body armour) and would have been used in military-style ceremonies of the regional crocodile cult. The skin has been radio-carbon dated to the third century AD. It was presented to the British Museum in 1846 by a Mrs Andrews, who was among a group of European travellers to Manfalut who found grottoes containing the mummified remains of humans and animals, including many crocodiles.

(Source: britishmuseum.org)

Tear Catcher
A tear catcher, also called a Tear Bottle is typically an ornamental vase piece, made from blown glass and dyed appropriately to the creator’s taste. There is an attached glass fixture at the opening of the stem that is formed to [the] eye. In ancient Persia, when a sultan returned from battle, he checked his wives’ tear catchers to see who among them had wept in his absence and missed him the most.
Tear Catchers were commonly used during Ancient Roman times, with mourners filling glass bottles with their tears, and placing them in tombs as a symbol of their respect for the deceased. It was also used to show remorse, guilt, love and grief. The women cried during the procession, and the more tears collected in tear bottles meant the deceased was more important. The bottles used during the Roman era were lavishly decorated and measured up to four inches in height. Tear bottles were designed with special seals, which allowed the tears to evaporate. By the time that the tears were assumed to have evaporated, the mourning period was considered over.
In the 19th century during the Victorian era in the British Empire tear bottles made a comeback among the wealthy. These were more elaborate than their Roman predecessors, and were often decorated with silver and pewter.
[Image: Silver Victorian tear catcher]

Tear Catcher

A tear catcher, also called a Tear Bottle is typically an ornamental vase piece, made from blown glass and dyed appropriately to the creator’s taste. There is an attached glass fixture at the opening of the stem that is formed to [the] eye. In ancient Persia, when a sultan returned from battle, he checked his wives’ tear catchers to see who among them had wept in his absence and missed him the most.

Tear Catchers were commonly used during Ancient Roman times, with mourners filling glass bottles with their tears, and placing them in tombs as a symbol of their respect for the deceased. It was also used to show remorse, guilt, love and grief. The women cried during the procession, and the more tears collected in tear bottles meant the deceased was more important. The bottles used during the Roman era were lavishly decorated and measured up to four inches in height. Tear bottles were designed with special seals, which allowed the tears to evaporate. By the time that the tears were assumed to have evaporated, the mourning period was considered over.

In the 19th century during the Victorian era in the British Empire tear bottles made a comeback among the wealthy. These were more elaborate than their Roman predecessors, and were often decorated with silver and pewter.

[Image: Silver Victorian tear catcher]