How much of a problem was sex in ancient times ?

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
13,811
Most religions have attempted to "regulate" sex, introducing all kinds of taboos and prohibitions

Typically humans introduce regulations -whether religious or legal- when something bothers them (for example when there were enough non smokers, smoking started to be regulated)

Should we then conclude that in ancient times humans were hyper active sexually (and the collateral damage would have been among other things all kinds of fights over sexual partners) and that then created a need for strict regulations ?
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
Which religions?

Sex being taboo is mainly a feature of the Abrahamic faiths. There was no prohibition against sex in the religion of the ancient Romans for instance, and that was likely true for much of pagan Europe.
 
Feb 2015
289
Netherlands
I think the issue isn't religion at all but the position of women in society.

Marriage and to some extent religion and certain laws are not about regulating sex, to my way of thinking, as establishing ownership over reproduction. Where it involves legislation or the enforcement of religious "norms" it can often be seen as an attempt by the state to establish jurisdiction over the reproductive rights of women; in other words, another form of "ownership" over reproduction.

Let me ask you a question. Do you think that recent discussions in politics about abortion and statements, for example, that women should be subject to "some form of punishment" for having an abortion is about religion? Peel back the layers and I think you will see that behind the smoke screen about "right to life" is a much more fundamental discussion being waged emotionally over a wide range of topics related to to how much sexual freedom a woman "deserves".

So, no.... it is not an attempt to regulate "sex". It is an attempt to regulate ownership of procreation.

In order to maintain a patriarchal society (particularly in past times when DNA testing did not exist) men need to be able to affirm with confidence that "this is my child" and specifically "this is my son who will inherit my power, my lands, and my wealth". If women are given sexual freedoms then such claims could only be made by the mother.

Hence the entire smoke screen.
 

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,643
Spain
No sex taboo in ancient times save Jews.. but nobody took seriously Jewish in Ancient Time...Not in Rome, Greece, China, India etc etc...
So, not sexual taboos and not taboo means not problem.. only the civilization came from the Jew monoteism (Judaism-Christianism-Islamism) create sexual problems...because they want to extend their sexual frustrations, their complex to the others cultures and people...So.. for Ancient time.. Sex was tabboo free.
 

Matthew Amt

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
2,966
MD, USA
No sex taboo in ancient times save Jews.. but nobody took seriously Jewish in Ancient Time...Not in Rome, Greece, China, India etc etc...
So, not sexual taboos and not taboo means not problem.. only the civilization came from the Jew monoteism (Judaism-Christianism-Islamism) create sexual problems...because they want to extend their sexual frustrations, their complex to the others cultures and people...So.. for Ancient time.. Sex was tabboo free.
You're kidding, right? EVERY culture had (and has) taboos about sex. They are just different depending on your gender, age, and status. Roman fathers could sell a daughter into slavery or even kill her for sexual misbehavior (even short of actual intercourse). Sons, on the other hand, might even be encouraged to go and get an education! But NOT from "proper" girls, of course. Greek women of any status mostly lived at home in seclusion, to protect them from any undesirable contact. Their men lived free lives that we would call "bisexual", though even that was thick with rules and taboos.

It's not about religion, though of course any culture will tie religion into it in order to make a transgression into a greater sin. It's about controlling the parentage of offspring, bloodlines, inheritance, and family resources. If women only have sex with their husbands, you KNOW who the kids are. That was REALLY IMPORTANT back then, but of course I don't have to point that out.

Sure, things were always more lax in the lower classes, because they often had little or nothing to inherit, and no pedigrees to maintain. Farm kids knew very well how everything worked from a very young age. Pregnancies that did occur might just be something the family put up with, with little more than a roll of the eyes, or the young man responsible might be convinced to marry the mother. (Hence the old wives' tale of first pregnancies typically being early!) Or they'd try abortion, or expose the baby after birth.

Remember, prostitution was extremely common all over the world, and still is in many places. So the "proper" girls can still have their sexual activity limited without restricting the men.

Do people really thing sexual taboos are only "Christian" or "Jewish"?? How utterly bizarre...

Matthew
 
Aug 2016
247
The United States
I would be careful assuming non-abrahamic societies were libertine. Greece is a particularly egregious example.
 

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,643
Spain
You're kidding, right? EVERY culture had (and has) taboos about sex. They are just different depending on your gender, age, and status. Roman fathers could sell a daughter into slavery or even kill her for sexual misbehavior (even short of actual intercourse). Sons, on the other hand, might even be encouraged to go and get an education! But NOT from "proper" girls, of course. Greek women of any status mostly lived at home in seclusion, to protect them from any undesirable contact. Their men lived free lives that we would call "bisexual", though even that was thick with rules and taboos.

It's not about religion, though of course any culture will tie religion into it in order to make a transgression into a greater sin. It's about controlling the parentage of offspring, bloodlines, inheritance, and family resources. If women only have sex with their husbands, you KNOW who the kids are. That was REALLY IMPORTANT back then, but of course I don't have to point that out.

Sure, things were always more lax in the lower classes, because they often had little or nothing to inherit, and no pedigrees to maintain. Farm kids knew very well how everything worked from a very young age. Pregnancies that did occur might just be something the family put up with, with little more than a roll of the eyes, or the young man responsible might be convinced to marry the mother. (Hence the old wives' tale of first pregnancies typically being early!) Or they'd try abortion, or expose the baby after birth.

Remember, prostitution was extremely common all over the world, and still is in many places. So the "proper" girls can still have their sexual activity limited without restricting the men.

Do people really thing sexual taboos are only "Christian" or "Jewish"?? How utterly bizarre...

Matthew
No, I am not kidding...many years ago I was in a project about sexual life in Natural People... not sexual taboos as we understand. Polyandry, Polygamy, Pederasty etc etc etc were (and are) accepted in different people...although you can´t believe... World is somethin greater than New York and Calvinist Moral... From the Bacha Bazi in Afghanistan-Pakistan-Central Asian Republic.. an institution lived 1.000 years ago.. and live today.. through Mosu (Polyandric people today as they were 3.000 years ago)... or the Polygamy or the several unions between different women and men.. and not forget the Holy Prostitution not only in Babylon and Summer but in India. today or in the Old Greece.. It is funny you say not prostitution in Greece because women were at home... not in Cyprus, Crete, Sicily etc etc were lived the famous Holy Prostitutes! In india we have the famous Devadasi..
So, Calvinus Moral is one of many many different morals.. and not.. the Ancient World lacked of the sexual prejudices of the Calvinist societies and I would add every christian-Jewish-Islamic societies...
Of course, they had tabboos but different kind of taboos...

About Rome... we can speak about the sexual life of each Roman Emperor...:) I am sure you don´t be surprised if I say to you.. they weren´t exactly Calvinist....
 

Matthew Amt

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
2,966
MD, USA
No, I am not kidding...many years ago I was in a project about sexual life in Natural People... not sexual taboos as we understand. Polyandry, Polygamy, Pederasty etc etc etc were (and are) accepted in different people...although you can´t believe... World is somethin greater than New York and Calvinist Moral... From the Bacha Bazi in Afghanistan-Pakistan-Central Asian Republic.. an institution lived 1.000 years ago.. and live today.. through Mosu (Polyandric people today as they were 3.000 years ago)... or the Polygamy or the several unions between different women and men.. and not forget the Holy Prostitution not only in Babylon and Summer but in India. today or in the Old Greece.. It is funny you say not prostitution in Greece because women were at home... not in Cyprus, Crete, Sicily etc etc were lived the famous Holy Prostitutes! In india we have the famous Devadasi..
So, Calvinus Moral is one of many many different morals.. and not.. the Ancient World lacked of the sexual prejudices of the Calvinist societies and I would add every christian-Jewish-Islamic societies...
Of course, they had tabboos but different kind of taboos...
That's exactly my point! Taboos vary widely but they very much exist! Prostitution thrives in areas where there are STRONG taboos (or laws!) against men just helping themselves to any girl they fancy. Taboos might severely restrict what a girl or woman can do, but have less effect on a man's actions. Places where people can have sex in public are generally specially designed for that purpose, as a way of deliberately getting around established laws and values.

Polygamy does not mean "sex with anyone", it's typically a form of marriage. With rules and taboos. Holy prostitutes are specialists who perform under particular circumstances. Their presence in a culture does not mean that ALL girls are free to bang any man they like in public.

And yes, religion was simply a strong part of regular daily life, and very much still is, in many places.

About Rome... we can speak about the sexual life of each Roman Emperor...:) I am sure you don´t be surprised if I say to you.. they weren´t exactly Calvinist....
Um, there were half a dozen Roman emperors whose sexual lives were infamous *because they trampled on law, custom, and taboo*. The Romans were in general far more prudish than even the Greeks! You can't judge a whole culture on the misdeeds of such a very few people.

There are always rules and taboos. They are *different* from place to place, but they exist.

We might even try to be a little less judgemental and derisive of those who have chosen to be a little less permissive than you might like.

Matthew
 

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,643
Spain
That's exactly my point! Taboos vary widely but they very much exist! Prostitution thrives in areas where there are STRONG taboos (or laws!) against men just helping themselves to any girl they fancy. Taboos might severely restrict what a girl or woman can do, but have less effect on a man's actions. Places where people can have sex in public are generally specially designed for that purpose, as a way of deliberately getting around established laws and values.

Polygamy does not mean "sex with anyone", it's typically a form of marriage. With rules and taboos. Holy prostitutes are specialists who perform under particular circumstances. Their presence in a culture does not mean that ALL girls are free to bang any man they like in public.

And yes, religion was simply a strong part of regular daily life, and very much still is, in many places.



Um, there were half a dozen Roman emperors whose sexual lives were infamous *because they trampled on law, custom, and taboo*. The Romans were in general far more prudish than even the Greeks! You can't judge a whole culture on the misdeeds of such a very few people.

There are always rules and taboos. They are *different* from place to place, but they exist.

We might even try to be a little less judgemental and derisive of those who have chosen to be a little less permissive than you might like.

Matthew

Thanks for your explanation I agree. Taboos are universal but different taboos. Sexual behaviours are different according to time, place. And if we studied the sexual life in Paleolithic´s days.. for sure we would be very surprised.
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
I would be careful assuming non-abrahamic societies were libertine. Greece is a particularly egregious example.
They weren't libertines, but Christianity did introduce some taboos that did not exist previously.

When 18th and 19th Century Europeans first started excavating Pompeii, they were shocked and horrified by some of what they found. A lot of Roman art (or looted/copied Greek art) is pornographic even by modern standards.