Sex with a mirror was too distant a relationship for the Romans

BILLIONThis is a humorous story from the early days of the Roman Empire about the unfortunate end of a man named Hostius Quadra. Hostius was a rich man and, like his rich contemporaries, was a slave. He was known for being greedy and debauched, but what he really achieved notoriety and fame was his love of mirrors. He’s called a katoptronophiliac in the tech world: he likes to watch himself make love.

But not any mirror. According to Seneca, in Encyclopedia of the natural world, Hostius installed trick mirrors in his bedroom to make things appear larger than they really are. These mirrors can change the image so that “a finger exceeds the size and thickness of an arm”. These things, he “arranged that when he gave himself to a man, he could see in the mirror all the movements of the stallion behind him and then delight in the size of the stallion.” fake of its partner member.” Then.

In what looked like shame, Seneca wrote that Hostius was “a coward,” and that Augustus didn’t even think that avenging Hostius’ death was worthwhile after he was enslaved by the slave laborers. murdered in his house. This, notably, is not normal. Usually, if a worker murdered their landlord, they would pay with their lives. Augustus doesn’t think Hostius is worth the trouble, and Seneca thinks Augustus thinks he’s got the compliments.

Why? In a presentation at the Association for Classical Studies’ annual meeting earlier this month, Robert Santucci, a PhD candidate in Classical Studies at the University of Michigan, explains that “at the most basic level, Seneca, like most conservative Ancient Roman men, had a problem with adult males occupying positions of power. last resort when having sex with other adult men.” The problem is not same-sex relationships each join, which is the assumption of a sexual position that is inconsistent with one’s social position. But that’s not even the real issue, says Santucci, “Seneca told us that Hostius had sex with people of all genders, but Seneca specifically emphasized his interest in liberating. penis enlargement of your partner. Indeed, the use of mirrors – not the sexual acts themselves – was the reason” Seneca targeted him.

In popular culture, people who like to see themselves having sex are also sometimes described as narcissists. Think Patrick Bateman, in American mentality, who solicited two employees to have sex with the company, looking at himself in the mirror. Bateman was so excited by himself that his companions couldn’t even get his attention. Psychologist classify interest as a species of “autosuggestion” (the phenomenon of being attracted to oneself), as distinct from narcissism. Dr. Leo Seltzer writes: “By itself not a personality disorder, it is more like a hobby or orientation. Having a mirror in your bedroom seems unremarkable. However, a lot depends on how far on the spectrum you are going.

However interesting humans can find sex in front of a mirror, dolphins are far beyond us. Bottlenose dolphins, the intellectuals of the sea, can recognize themselves in the mirror. Mark Pendergast, author of Mirror, Mirror: A History of Human Love Affair with the Reflection cites a study that showed that dolphins “go wild” when a mirror is inserted. Using the work of dolphin researchers Marino and Reiss, Pendergast reports that during a half-hour-long sex session, two half-brothed dolphins named Pan and Delphi attempted to invade merged 43 times. The key piece of information, Marino and Reiss show, is that the dolphins have positioned themselves so that they can be tracked and deactivated if they accidentally move out of sight. Bateman looks tame by comparison.

However, the problem with Hostius is a bit more complicated. It’s not just that Hostius is lazy, decadent, and spends his time in the bathroom picking out potential mates to zap himself with. Santucci told me, “It’s not just that he uses a fun house-style mirror – otherwise, we can imagine that many people would be fired for this style of mirror use. It was Hostius that boasted that his use of a mirror made up for the lack of perspective that the nature (natura) gave mankind. ”

This turn to nature is inconsistent with Seneca’s Stoic view that the universe is perfectly and rationally organized. As Santucci argues in his thesis and other places, Hostius is trying to remake nature and, in the process, transform his eyes into organs of consumption: “Seneca mentions some that Hostius ‘eats’ the images in the mirror with his eyes. (Neil Gaiman’s fans) Sand sellers will be reminded of Corinth.)”

It’s also that his favorite pursuit is an antithesis of what he should be doing with his time. As a philosopher, Seneca has always turned inward to introspect and reflect on who you are and who you are. In fact, at the end of each day, this is what Seneca will do. He will review his actions and think about how to improve.

Hostius also spends a lot of time thinking about… having sex. His sexual passivity (ahem) is reflected by the fact that he is passively watching himself penetrated. He is consuming the scene and, in a sense, consuming himself. You might say, as Peter Toohey discusses in his book Melancholy, love and time, that Hostius is a perfect self-reflector.

Except, for two reasons, he didn’t. First, Hostius, as Santucci shows, is a glutton for sex. His party – for Seneca – is the opposite of human nature. Many Romans were foodies, and for ancient philosophers like Seneca, gluttony was the panacea to all kinds of corruption and excess. Because you “eat rice first” the more you eat with your eyes, the more precarious the situation becomes.

There is some scientific evidence to support this idea. A year 2004 research from the University of Illinois-Champaign found that moviegoers offering M&Ms with ten colors ate 43% more than those offering a combo of M&Ms with seven colors. An analogy experiment related to soy jelly revealed that when different colors were mixed together, people ate 69% more. The more visually diverse your culinary experience is, the more you’ll eat as a result. Buffer is a minefield. Hostius has found a way to increase the stake. It’s what Santucci calls a kind of “gluttony eye”.

To make matters worse, Hostius doesn’t even care about reality. The mirrors that he used to decorate his home made a difference. So, instead of reflecting on himself and living according to nature, he used the distorting effect of the mirrors to ‘beautify’ his appearance. As for Seneca, he was spiraled into an illusory world of sexual desires.

This will probably make us feel a little uncomfortable. After all, social media filters are the pinnacle of deceptive self-reflection. Filters, lights, and management present images of our bodies and lives that are not real. We are faking it (or, as Hostius would say, “providing what nature doesn’t have”) but when we do, we are also using other “emotional” images to feed our desires. We are to look better, live better and have more. I don’t shame anyone for using filters or changing their appearance, but Seneca will. He will say that we are feeding an insatiable feeling within ourselves. And not even the good kind. It makes us enthusiastic consumers of everything — food, sex, clothes, whatever — and that means worse philosophers.

So if you consider the ancient Romans to be wise liars, imagine how much they would hate us. Perhaps we can take some comfort in knowing that with dolphins we still look good. Sex with a mirror was too distant a relationship for the Romans


ClareFora is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. ClareFora joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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