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Private Life

241. Women unfavourably compared with boy lovers. Egypt, 2nd cent. A.D. (Achilles Tatius, Leucippe and Clitophon 2.37.5-9, 38.1-3. G)

From a debate between defenders of heterosexual and homosexual intercourse in one of the most popular ancient Greek novels.

(37.5) ' ... I am just a beginner in dealings with women, and have only had intercourse with women who sell sex. A man who has been further initiated into the mysteries could probably tell you more. Still, I'll speak in defence of women, even though I have limited experience. (37.6) A woman's body is moist in the clinch, and her lips are soft in response to kisses. On account of this she holds the man's body in her arms, with it completely joined to her flesh, and he is surrounded with pleasure when he has intercourse with her. (37.7) She stamps her kisses on his lips like seals on wax, and when she has experience she can make her kisses sweeter, by not only wishing to use her lips, but also her teeth, grazing round her lover's mouth and biting his kisses. And her breast when it is caressed provides its own particular pleasure. (37.8) At the height of orgasm she goes mad with pleasure, and opens her mouth in passion. At this time tongues keep company with each other, and so far as possible they also make love to one another; you can make your pleasure greater by opening your mouth to her kisses. (37.9) Towards the end of the orgasm the woman begins to pant with hot pleasure ...'

(38.1) 'To me you sound less like a beginner in sex than an old pro, surrounding us with all these female complications. Now listen to what I have to say in defence of boys. (38.2) Everything women do is false, both words and actions. Even if a woman appears to be beautiful, it is the laborious contrivance of make-up. Her beauty is all perfume, or hair dye, or potions. And if you strip her of all these devices, she'll look like the jackdaw in the fable, stripped of all his feathers.[1] (38.3) A boy's beauty isn't fostered by the scent of myrrh or by other false odours; a boy's sweat smells sweeter than all women's perfumes ...'


Notes:

1. The jackdaw put on peacock's feathers and tried to join a flock of peacocks, but the peacocks plucked them off; Phaedrus, Fable 1.3.