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Greco-Roman Sex: Wilder & Weirder Than Ours

01/29/2013 08:30 am ET | Updated Mar 31, 2013

Being a nonfiction author is my day job. In reality, I'm a historical detective (a gig so entertaining it ought to be illegal) and my "crime scene" is the ancient past. Recently I investigated the status of lust, love, and longing in the Greco-Roman world of 2,000 years ago.

I was shocked. No one back then identified as hetero or gay or bisexual. They readily admitted to a rainbow of sensual pleasures--guilt-free. I dug deeper, discovering a plethora of things they were crazy about: buttock worship, for one. Aphrodisiacs. And anti-aphrodisiacs. X-rated celebrity antics. Illustrated porn by female writers. Biodegradable dildos. Fertility festivals.

My long-ago witnesses did confess to certain erotic fears--over lettuce, that well-known virility killer. They also stressed over the stinging price paid for adultery. And the thunderbolt that men and women called love.

Aroused by this treasure-trove of passions, perversions, and piquant personalities, I tore into my research. Here are some salty, sometimes spicy samples for you from The Joy of Sexus: Lust, Love, & Longing in the Ancient World (Walker Books) P.S. Reading ancient history isn't smut--it's educational. At times edifying. Revel in it!

Ancient Greek and Roman Sex Facts