For us it's highly interesting the twists and turns of Roman
sexuality to learn further about such different vision of the world and
society in comparison with our modern concepts.
For many people, the ideas of the Roman world may seem strange
and even considered wrong by some, particularly when it comes to the Roman
sexuality, but we have to keep in mind that those ideas were the basis of
our own civilization. Today's ideas differ so drastically from the Roman times
primarily due to a massive influence of the Christian culture.
In the Roman sexuality, sex didn't create connections of any kind between two
people. All people, men and women had the right to access sex whenever they
wanted (except actual married couples). The fact that most houses had slaves
who lived together with the family contributed a lot to that, guaranteeing different
sexual partners particularly for men, but also for women. There was no romantic
or legal obligations between sexual partners at all and nothing to restrict
the number of sexual partners one might have. Another important aspect of the
Roman sexuality is that marriage was exclusively a contract, without any necessity
of love between husband and wife. Prostitution was legalized and it was not
considered adultery if a man had sex with a prostitute, although any sexual
encounter without exchange of money was characterized as cheating.
Another very interesting aspect of the Roman sexuality is the fact that the
position (figuratively) during the sexual act was more a question of social
status than gender. That is, the dominating part in the act was always someone
of higher status and the submissive part someone of lower status, whether a
man or a woman. Sexual intercourse or other sexual activities between males
were common-ground, although there was no distinction of sexual orientations.
According with the viewpoint of the Roman sexuality, one could have sex with
a same-sex partner just to obtain pleasure, not by having a preference for that
specific gender. There were some men considered "Vir" who were at
the top of the social hierarchy and considered "impenetrable penetrator".
From this word is derived the modern term virility.