Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Polyamory in Ancient Rome

Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge, wrote about some of the the realities of daily life in ancient Rome at coincided with her BBC2 series, "Meet the Romans."

Then there was my favourite lady, Allia Potestas, an ex-slave who was given one of the chattiest tombstones of all — and who had one of the most curious domestic set-ups.

She was the centre of a menage a trois, living in domestic harmony with two men, one of whom composed her extraordinary epitaph, spending a surprising amount of time and tombstone space on her intimate features. How many modern tombstones praise the nipples of the deceased or her fastidiousness dealing with unwanted bodily hair?

Yet the giveaway as to the ordinariness underlying this set-up is revealed when he describes their daily routine. Of the three of them, it was Allia who was always up first in the morning, and always the last to bed at night. Presumably that was because she was trying to do the housework and hold down a job. The same old story!
 Yes, it is the same old story.
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