Sexual Perversity in the Capitol

No, I’m not talking about Condit, Clinton, Kennedy, Jefferson, Cleveland or Harding. Not them, but those who inspired them.

Here are some historical notes on the perversions of the leaders of Rome; truly an inspiration to our folks in Washington (All quotes from Suetonius’ The Twelve Caesars):

The emperor Otho (A.D. 69) – The first metrosexual?:

“Otho, who did not look like a very courageous man, was of medium height, bow-legged, and with splay feet; but almost as fastidious about appearances as a woman. His entire body had been depilitated, and a well-made toupee covered his practically bald head. He shaved every day, and since boyhood had always used a poultices of moist bread to retard the growth of his beard. He used publicly to celebrate the rites of Isis, wearing the approved linen smock.”

The Emperor Galba (A.D. 69) – Death a Hate Crime?

A homosexual invert, he showed a decided preference for mature, sturdy men. It is said that when Icelus, one of his trusty bedfellows, brought the news of Nero’s death, Galba showered him with kisses and begged him to undress without delay; whereupon intimacy took place.” […]

Galba was murdered beside the Cutian pool, and left lying just as he fell. A private soldier returning from the grain issue set down his load and decapitated Galba’s body. He…stuffed it in his cloak; and presently brought it to Otho with his thumb thrust into the mouth.”

“Otho handed the trophy to a crowd of servants and campboys, who stuck it on a spear and carried it scornfully round the camp, shouting at intervals:

‘Galba, Galba, Cupid Galba,
Please enjoy your vigour still!’

No, sex wasn’t the problem. He was just a greedy so-and-so:

“Stories of Galba’s cruelty and greed preceded him; he was said to have punished townships that had been slow to receive him by levying huge taxes and even dismantling their fortifications; to have executed not only local officials and administrators, but their families too.”

But the best I’ve found so far is Tiberius (A.D. 14-37)

(The great Roman General, and brutal successor to Augustus’ relatively peaceable and stable reign):

“[At his private house in Capri] sexual extravagances were practiced for his secret pleasure. Bevies of girls and young men, whom he had collected from all over the Empire as adepts in unnatural practices, and known as spintriae, would perform before him in groups of three, to excite his waning passions.

“He furthermore devised little nooks of lechery in the woods and glades of the island, and had boys and girls dressed up as Pans and nymphs posted in front of caverns or grottoes; so that the island was now openly and generally called “Caprinieum”, because of his goatish antics.”

Well, that’s not so bad, really…On second thought:

“Some aspects of his criminal obscenity are almost too vile to discuss, much less believe. Imagine training little boys, whom he called his ‘minnows’, to chase him while he went swimming and get between his legs to lick and nibble him. Or letting babies not yet weaned from their mother’s breast suck at him – such a filthy old man he had become!”

But that’s not all:

“The story goes that once, while sacrificing, he took an erotic fancy to the acolyte who carried the incense casket, and could hardly wait for the ceremony to end before hurrying him and his brother, the sacred trumpeter, out of the temple and indecently assaulting them both. When they protested at this dastardly crime he had their legs broken.”

How’s that for La Cosa Nostra?

What nasty tricks he used to play on women, even those of high rank, is clearly seen in the case of Mallonia whom he summoned to his bed. She showed such an invincible repugnance to complying with his aged lusts that he set informers on her track and during her very trial continued to shout: “Are you sorry?” finally she left the court and went home; there she stabble herself to death after a violent tirade against “that filthy-mouthed, hairy, stinking old beast.”

“So a joke at his expense, slipped into the next Atellan farce, won a loud laugh and went the rounds at once:

The old goat goes
For the does
With his tongue.”

What can be said, except…It seems many of our celebrities and leading political figures are, indeed, quite Roman.



  1. On the Isle of Capri, the local story is that Tiberius would toss his best lovers off the cliff abutting his palace so no one else could enjoy them. If true, greed can encompass more than coin.

  2. Hi Robert,

    It’s good to hear from you here at the blogaroo!

    Sinatra sang a song about that, the Isle of Capri…something about a ‘lovely meatball on her finger, was goodbye to the Isle of Capri…”

    Tiberius was the ferocious one, to be sure. That Rodenberry (inventor of Star Trek) chose the name as the middle name of his protagonist (James T. Kirk) belies some of the “Peace, Love and Understanding” ethos that was supposed to underlie that enjoyable, goofey program…

    I’m reading the Christian Meier biography of Caesar at present. Amazing the influence of this one man, and his heirs, throughout history. Is it that he wrote his own biography? Or that he accomplished a great deal (or both)?

    Or just the time and the place to cast an enormous shadow. Think of all the folks who’ve read Caesar, modelled themselves on him, studied his failings…

    And that’s what’s really notable. Caesar isn’t the ‘best case scenario,’ he’s full of faults. And yet… everybody knows his name. From babies to short-order cooks to Romanovs…

    Till next, Liam

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