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NIHIL NOVUM SUB SOLE

1001 deeds, sayings, curiosities and anecdotes of the ancient world

A room with mirrors

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I think that Horace is the best Latin poet. I know that there will be someone who questions me and tell me that he is Virgil. Well, epic and lyric are two different genres of poetry.

Horace is the author of famous lines that have become  always said judgments: aurea mediocritas, Carpe diem, Beatus ille ...  I have mentioned him several times in this blog, as it can be found in it using the space next to the magnifying glass symbol. See for example:

 http://en.antiquitatem.com/the-most-beautiful-latin-poem-horace

http://es.antiquitatem.com/carpe-diem-horacio-oda-poesia-latina

In his poems he left us some information about his life and also we have a short biography that about him Suetonius left us  in his book De poetis, "Lives Of The Poets", corresponding to his De viris illustribus, “On famous Men”.

Suetonius wrote numerous works, he seems to have specialized in the biography, always rife with anecdotes that could be described as "historical gossip", to which at bottom we are so fond today as yesterday.

I tell you a couple of anecdotes of “historical gossip” concerning his dealings with Augustus or his peculiar sexual tastes.

Octavius enjoyed the friendship of the great Maecenas and of the emperor Augustus, but knew always keep some distance, jealous of their independence and aware of their personal reality. So it seems that he rejected the post of personal secretary which  the emperor offered him. But  Augustus got not angry, and he maintains a full of irony and trusting relationship with the poet, reciprocated in the same direction by Horace. Augustus jokes about the short stature and obesity of the poet (brevis atque obesus, says Suetonius), whom also jokingly he calls  "chaste penis" or "funny guy".

Horace remained unmarried all her life, but that does not mean he  does not had a wide sexual experience, as it is clear from his verses. For example there are several girls with Greek names on his works  cited as Cinara, Glícera, Lalage, Inaquia, like many courtesans, with whom perhaps he had relations. Also he is mentioned young boys as Lyciscus and Ligurinus. Perhaps the "most chaste penis" was as a mischievous irony of Augustus.

Moreover, Suetonius says he was "somewhat rampant in matters of love", "ad res venereas  intemperatior ". And to complete this data he tells us how he placed mirrors in your room (speculato cubiculo) to be seen from every angle himself in lovemaking.

I reproduce some fragments from the brief  Vita that Suetonius offers us, referring to these stories:

Besides this, among other drolleries, he often called him, "his most immaculate penis," and "his charming little man," and loaded him from time to time with proofs of his munificence.
…….
In person, Horace was short and fat, as he is described by himself in his Satires, and by Augustus in the following letter: "Dionysius has brought me your small volume, which, little as it is, not to blame you for that, I shall judge favourably. You seem to me, however, to be afraid lest your volumes should be bigger than yourself. But if you are short in stature, you are corpulent enough. You may, therefore, if you will, write in a quart, when the size of your volume is as large round as your paunch."
It is reported that he was immoderately addicted to venery. [For he is said to have had obscene pictures so disposed in a bedchamber lined with mirrors, that, whichever way he looked, lascivious images might present themselves to his view.] (
The Translation of Alexander Thomson, M.D.)

Praeterea saepe eum inter alios iocos «purissimum pene» et «homuncionem lepidissimum» appellat, unaque et altera liberalitate locupletavit.
……
Habitu corporis fuit brevis atque obesus, qualis et a semetipso in saturis describitur et ab Augusto hac epistula: «Pertulit ad me Dionysius libellum tuum, quem ego ut accusantem quantuluscumque est, boni consulo. Vereri autem mihi videris ne maiores libelli tui sint, quam ipse es. Sed tibi statura deest, corpusculum non deest. Itaque licebit in sextariolo scribas, quo circuitus voluminis tui sit ὀγκωδέστατος, sicut est ventriculi tui».

Ad res venereas intemperantior traditur; nam speculato cubiculo scorta dicitur habuisse disposita, ut, quocumque respexisset, ibi ei imago coitus referretur.

The multiplication by mirrors, it seems to be a remarkable aphrodisiac (word derived from Greek goddess of love Aphrodite, as the Latin Venus) yesterday and today, especially for voyeurs because there are many palaces, castles, hotels where there is "the room of mirrors". Famous it is the Palace of Versailles, although the great room of mirrors was not huge stage for special amorous but to feed the ego of the courtiers, which is another form of voyeurism. Maybe it was the room of the Castle of Belmonte, built by the famous and powerful Marquis of Villena. The ceiling of this room is adorned with lots of little mirrors. Clear relationship between eros and mirror they have different  Venus of Mirror painted by such notable artists as Velázquez and Rubens; in both an eros or cherub holds a mirror in which Venus, treated as a mortal and not a goddess, sees her face reflected.

Finally, cinephiles will  recall the first scenes of steamy movie, mixture of thriller  (police investigation) and aggressive sex, Basic Instinct, (19929, directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring by Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas.

Probably in no other field like love on its various forms, it is really the theme of this blog: nihil novum sub sole.
 

 

   
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