Love & Sex in the Ancient World


Mark Cartwright
published on 14 February 2019

Love in antiquity, just as today, expressed itself in all kinds of relationships, meanings, connotations and expectations. There were representations in art, literature and religion of heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual love, the temporary and often misguided madness of desire, the lasting love of family, friends and pets, and even the love of learning, music and wine. In short, anything we think ourselves capable of today in the love department has already been tried, tested, eulogised and abused by peoples living millennia ago from Akkad to Zakros.   

In this collection, we look at the Greek and Roman personifications of love and desire, the rules and conventions concerning sex and marriage in Mesopotamia and Egypt, and look at some example literature on the subject, including possibly the world's first love poem and the first romantic novel.   

Ancient Greek goddess of love, beauty, desire, and all aspects of sexuality, Aphrodite could entice both gods and men into illicit affairs with her good looks and whispered sweet nothings. Born near Cyprus from the severed genitalia of the sky god Uranus, Aphrodite had a much wider significance than the traditional view as a mere goddess of love and sex. 



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About the Author

Mark Cartwright
Mark is a history writer based in Italy. His special interests include pottery, architecture, world mythology and discovering the ideas that all civilizations share in common. He holds an MA in Political Philosophy and is the Publishing Director at AHE.

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