10 sex stories that shook the ancient world
After the strict morals of the Victorian era, it seems that juicy scandals are a sign of modernity only. In fact, our ancient ancestors went far ahead in terms of immorality. Their sexual intrigues are intertwined with conspiracies, murders and executions, sometimes threatening entire nations. Here are the top 10 such stories.
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10 Depraved Judges
Around 1155 BC, Pharaoh Ramses III of Egypt was assassinated by conspirators led by his wife Teye. After his death, Ramses IV’s successor set up a commission of 12 judges to investigate the conspiracy. It turned out that Teie had involved numerous court officials and concubines in the murder of her husband, and all of them were put to death. Soon the investigation itself was disrupted by a new scandal: three judges were seduced by female witnesses. After a feast with witnesses, one of them had his nose and ears cut off, the second committed suicide, the third got off with a reprimand – probably because he testified against the first two.
9 Temple of Darkness and Mask of the Dog
During the reign of Emperor Tiberius, Rome was rocked by a particularly bizarre sex scandal. According to Josephus, a nobleman named Decius Mundus was inflamed with passion for a married woman named Paulina. He was ready to pay 200 thousand drachmas for her to spend the night with him, but Paulina indignantly refused. But Decius was not going to give up so easily. He knew that Paulina was devoted to the Egyptian gods, and bribed the priests to say that the god Anubis, a guide to the afterlife with a human body and a jackal’s head, wants to appear to her. Paulina obediently appeared at night in the temple, where Decius, dressed as Anubis, was waiting for her. He spent the night with the object of his passion, and a few days later he did not miss the opportunity to boast about how he cleverly saved 200,000 drachmas. Paulina complained to the emperor. As a result, the bribed priests were executed, and the Temple, where everything happened, was burned.
8 Scandal that ruined the country
In ancient China, a sexual scandal ruined the reign of the entire Chen dynasty. A certain married man Xia Ji had an affair with Prince Ling Chen and two of his ministers. Men openly boasted about their relationship. This angered Xia Ji’s son. One day he came to his father’s house when all three of his lovers were having fun there. The prince’s joke that the young man looked suspiciously like one of the ministers led to tragedy: Xia Ji’s son killed him. The ministers fled in panic, and the unfortunate young man was executed. As a result, this ignominious incident was used by the opponents of the Chen Dynasty as a pretext to finally defeat the emperor.
7 Killing a Tyrant
The brothers Hippias and Hipparchus came to rule Athens after the death of their father in 527 BC. The disaster occurred when Hipparchus fell in love with the young man Harmodius. There was nothing scandalous in this fact for Ancient Greece. But Harmodius was already in a relationship with a young man named Aristogeiton. Hipparchus tried to use his power to separate the couple. Driven into a corner, the unfortunate lovers decided on a desperate step. During a city festival, they approached Hipparchus and stabbed him to death. Harmodia immediately killed the tyrant’s guard, Aristogeiton was tortured and executed. Later, the Athenians erected a statue of young people who decided to oppose the tyrant.
6 The king who made his servants stare at his wife
Candaulus was the king of Lydia, a powerful state on the site of the western part of present-day Turkey. According to Herodotus, Candaules always boasted of his hot and passionate wife. One day he asked his bodyguard Giga if he wanted to see the queen naked. Gyges was embarrassed, but Candaules insisted that he hide behind the door of their bedroom and watch the queen undress. However, the woman noticed Giga and became furious. Upon learning that the idea belonged to her husband, she put the bodyguard before a choice: either he kills Kandavl and takes her as his wife, or she publicly accuses him of espionage. Not surprisingly, Gig chose the first option. That same night Candaules was stabbed to death in the bedroom by his own bodyguard.
5 The imaginary eunuch scandal
An unusual scandal erupted during the reign of Emperor Qin Shi Huangji of China. His mother, Queen Zhao, had a long relationship with a minister named Lu Buwei. Over the years, it became difficult for him to satisfy the queen, and then they found a replacement for the minister. A certain Lao Ai had a reputation as an excellent lover with a huge penis (it was rumored that it was the size of a wheel axle). His hair and beard were shaved off, and Lu Buwei was able to pass the man off as a eunuch who was sent to serve Queen Zhao. As a eunuch, he was allowed to enter the women’s quarters, where they indulged in passion. In the end, the lovers were discovered, Lao Ai was executed along with three generations of his family, and the dissolute queen and her minister were expelled from the palace.
4 A very jealous king
A certain Gadatas had an unusual problem: he suffered from hypersexuality. He was an ardent young nobleman who was in the service of Nabonidus of Babylon. One day, one of Nabonidus’s concubines began to flirt with Gadatas, saying that the woman who would become his bride would be lucky. Gadatas reciprocated the flirting, and that was a mistake. Nabonidus of Babylon immediately ordered the castration of the nobleman for his insolence. Later, Gadatas got the opportunity to take revenge: he betrayed Cyrus the Great and handed over the key fortresses of the state to the Persians.
3 Mark Licinius Crassus and the Virgin
Crassus was one of the richest and most powerful men in Roman history. When he became the hero of a dirty story, everyone was talking about it. Particularly scandalous was the fact that Crassus was accused of trying to seduce the Vestal (priestess of the goddess Vesta, who is obliged to remain chaste). This was considered a great crime. Luckily for Crassus, he had the perfect alibi. He stated that the only reason he was after the girl was to try to buy her villa at a low price. The man was acquitted. As Plutarch put it, "His stinginess freed him from the charge."
2 candid pictures
It is difficult to judge for sure what ancient people thought about sexual scandals. This interesting example comes from the reign of Hatshepsut, the most famous Egyptian female pharaoh. There were rumors that she had an affair with her courtier Senmut. And apparently, this story was popular among Hatshepsut’s contemporaries: not so long ago, a drawing depicting people during sex was discovered on the surviving wall of her temple. One of them is wearing the headdress of the pharaohs.
1 Scandalous Emperor
The whole life of the Roman emperor Heliogabalus consisted of scandals. He owes his early ascension to the throne at the age of 14 to his grandmother, from whose control he soon got out. Over the next few years, Heliogabalus had at least five wives and even one husband named Hierocles. The emperor’s contemporaries claim that under him the palace looked like a brothel, at the entrance to which stood the naked Heliogabal himself and instructed the guests. There is also evidence that the ruler often called himself a woman and offered a reward to the surgeon who would make him a vagina. It is difficult to say which of this is true, but historians agree that the life of Heliogabalus was a complete scandal. Feeling that the people did not like this, the emperor’s grandmother again organized a coup and put his cousin on the throne.