Diary… Ancient Greeks accused of sex snobbery

Romans dismissed as dirty common fornicators

An email arrived at 07.01 today from an Arts+Culture editor at the Conversation called Jonathan, presumably backlinked to Valentine’s Day yesterday.

And presumably timed to ping across the world at 7am UK time.

It begins by telling us how much he enjoyed Latin at school. 

So much so that he would sneak into the Latin classes for the year above his.

He then goes on to tell us a bit more about his proclivities and to identify one of the linguistic leanings that pushed him into the arms of Latin.

It was earthy Roman writers such as Propertius and Catallus that would steer his teenage sex drive up the stairway to heaven.

“Amo, amas, amat” was never going to satisfy his raging hormones. Tales of late-night drunken fumblings were more likely to hit the spot.

“Please, no more amo, amas, amat, I’m all done in…”

Then he found the ancient Greeks who, scholars say, had a much more exalted, aesthetic take on the metaphorical beast with two backs.


It seemed to elevate sexuality beyond the physical to a more spiritual plane

Jonathan, the Conversation


No, stop! I can’t use that euphemistic metaphor!

The beast with the two backs came from Shakespeare, and he came after the Greeks. But you get the idea.

The Greeks saw the Romans as a bunch of dirty rampant shag-anything types, common fornicators.

Whereas the Greeks saw themselves as a much higher sexual authority with their refined elegies to homoeroticism, the romance poetry and the rest of it.

Sex snobs, in other words. Or at least that’s what comes across from culture guy Jonathan’s pithy precis.

All of this led up to February being LGBT+ Month, but I was already too distracted by Jonathan’s yarn about how Oscar Wilde would quote the ancient Greeks in public, but kept all his Roman perversions until he was safely behind closed doors.

◾Read yesterday’s diary.