Ancient Roman love was about sex, lust and death
While modern day definition of love includes sharing, caring and friendship, for ancient Roman lovers it was nothing more than sexual pleasure, says a Hamilton College Classics Professor
According Barbara Gold, the idea of sharing or caring didn’t exist for Roman lovers.
They described themselves as “‘wounded, wretched, enslaved by their lovers, having their bone marrow on fire and suffering from double vision.”
“Love for them was interesting, both to live and to write about, because it was painful, like a disease,” said Gold.
“They melded coarse obscenities with deepest expressions of sexual, erotic longing.
“Above all there was no sharing or caring and no real idea of a friendship of equals,” she added.
For example the love poet Catullus writes to his ladylove, “I hate and I love. Perhaps you ask why I do that? I don’t know but I feel it happening and I am tormented.”
“The dream couples of ancient love poetry are hardly the stuff of today’s romantic,” said Gold.
“They inhabit a world of playful and elegant poetry far removed from the false sincerity of contemporary Hallmark romance.
“But the depth of the feelings expressed by the ancients is also far removed from the superficial and hyperbolic love bites found in contemporary commercial expressions of love,” she added.