The sex lives of people living in the Greco-Roman era were apparently more shocking and perverted than previously thought.
According to a new sex book The Joy of Sexus: Lust, Love, & Longing in the Ancient World, people in the historical era often made dildos out of breadsticks and erection-losing creams out of mouse feces.
Author Vicki Leon, 70, a self-proclaimed "historical detective" said that she was shocked when she started researching how people loved and lusted in the Greco-Roman world of 2,000 years ago.
"No one back then identified as hetero or gay or bisexual. They readily admitted to a rainbow of sensual pleasures--guilt-free," Leon wrote in an article published on The Huffington Post.
"I dug deeper, discovering a plethora of things they were crazy about: buttock worship, for one. Aphrodisiacs. And anti-aphrodisiacs. X-rated celebrity antics. Illustrated porn by female writers. Biodegradable dildos. Fertility festivals," she wrote.
Leon had travelled more than 6,000 miles from California to Italy to speak with experts on ancient Roman life, visit archeological sites and study historical artifacts.
"That old adage, 'A picture is worth a thousand words' certainly holds true with regard to Greco-Roman art," she wrote in her book. "Studying the erotic and romantic depictions on drinking vessels, cups, mirrors, and other artifacts, including items as minute as seal rings, is revelatory."
Leon describes the subject of breadstick dildos as beginning in an ancient bakery where a "where a gal with time on her hands started fooling around with bread dough".
"While lasciviously daydreaming, she created an olisbo-kollix: the breadstick dildo, the sex industry's first green product," Leon wrote on The Huffington Post. "From this moment on, lonely widows in Arcadia, unsatisfied moms in Athens, and partnerless gals on Lesbos had a DIY pal, discreet and disposable. Custom made to fit; even nutritious, should the need arise."
Leon describes another Roman custom that is sure to shock. She wrote that for centuries, male and female cheaters in Athens and Rome could legally be killed if they were caught "en flagrante". However, there was another "non-lethal humiliating punishment reserved for male cheaters," Leon wrote.
"The cuckolded husband could legally sodomize the adulterer--with an audience, if desired," she wrote. "Rather than human-to-human penetration, the punishment sometimes took symbolic form. The injured party could inflict his revenge by inserting a radish into his rival's bum! I call it an ancient "sting" operation, since Greek radishes grew to a healthy size and had a good "bite" to them."
"This method of anal justice was likewise practiced in Rome. How do we know about the procedure? Because it was portrayed in Greek comedies from Aristophanes and others," she explained.
Leon also talked about aphrodisiacs and "anti-aphrodisiacs" for some overly eager men who often needed to "cool their jets". Men would often eat lettuce, a salad leaf thought to be a powerful anti-potency drug at the time, or spread creams made from mouse droppings on themselves.