Page images
PDF
EPUB

furthest point to which the defence of sexual inversion has gone, or, indeed, could go, unless anyone were bold enough to assert that homosexuality is the only normal impulse, and heterosexual love a perversion. But a broad view of the phenomena of sex among animals generally, or even in savage or barbarous races of man, does not tend to make out even a prima facie case in its favour.

APPENDIX E.

NOTES ON THE CONCUBINUS.
By J. A. Symonds.

There was a custom among the ancient Romans which has an interesting bearing on modern hypotheses regarding the nature of homosexual love. They allowed a young gentleman to consort freely with male slaves of his own age before the period of marriage. One of these was called his concubinus, or bed-fellow; and it is clear, from allusions to the position occupied by this youth in the household, that he acted like a kind of harmless safety-valve for his master's passions. Thus the Romans counted upon a young man's liking for persons of his own sex. They did not fear lest the indulgence of this taste in early manhood should render him indifferent to the female, or incapable of marriage at the proper moment. Furthermore, they reckoned that permitted friendships of the sort in question would keep the lad from the society of loose women, and from forming dangerous connections with married wives. Something of the same kind existed, I believe, in the slave states of America, though I do not mean to imply that here the connection was as sexual as it appears to have been in Rome. The following passage from an Epithalamium of Catullus, explains the position of the concubinus.-1

Julia, the bride, is just about to appear; and the young people assembled to greet her are chanting the nuptial song. "Come forth, young bride," they cry. "Your smooth-lipped husband is not given to evil ways of pleasure, following base, infamous amours, nor will he seek to sleep apart from your soft bosom." As she draws nearer, the song turns to that playful satire which was permitted by ancient usage on such occasions. "Lift, lads, oh, lift your torches! see the bridal veil of flame advancing. March, sing in measure as you step; Io Hymen Hymenal, Io! Io Hymen Hymenal! Now's not the time, to keep your quips and wanton sallies in the leash; nor let the bedfellow begrudge the boys their nuts,2 the bedfellow who hears of his lord's love abandoned.

1 Carmen lxi, "In nuptias Julias et Manlii."

2 Nuces, trifles, with a double sense of testicles.

( 276 )

Fling nuts to the boys, you lazy bedfellow. Time enough you've played with nuts. 'Tis now the hour to wait upon the god of bridals. Bedfellow, fling nuts. But yesterday the farm lads were too homely for you, bedfellow! Now the barber with his basin comes to shear your lip and chin. Wretched, oh wretched bedfellow, fling nuts. 'Twill be said of you, fair bridegroom, dainty and perfumed, that you part but sadly from your smooth-cheeked slaves. Nay, part with them. Io Hymen Hymenaee, Io! Io Hymen Hymenaee! We know you practised nought with them but what is lawful.1 Yet these things are not lawful as before, now that you are wedded. Io Hymen Hymenal, Io! Io Hymen Hymenaee."

The explanation of the word concubiuus given in our dictionaries is "one who practises sexual intercourse without wedlock, a catamite." It is regarded as "a more honourable designation of the pellet." What the use of the male pellex was, appears clearly from Martial's epigram, addressed to a jealous wife (Lib. xii, 97).

The hymenaeal stanzas translated above from Catullus show the concubinus to have been a favourite lad selected from the other slaves for his master's comrade and bedfellow. So long as his bloom lasted he could afford to look down upon the other slaves about the farm. But when his lord married and the barber came to shave his beard, he had to leave the sports of boyhood and the privileges of his exceptional station. The young gentleman, too, is supposed to quit his smooth companions with reluctance: when he took a wife, their familiarity ceased to be right and fitting. The nature of this familiarity, proper to celibacy, improper after marriage, seems unintelligible now. If anywhere, we have to seek for it in the exact meaning of the words quae licent sola cognita and ista non eadem licent. But here the irony and veiled allusion of fescennine verse leave a wide field for conjecture. It might, perhaps, be not unreasonable to suppose that only certain forms of intimacy were allowed by custom and the sense of honour: as Cicero records about the Spartans, omnia permittunt praeter stuprum. Yet, taking the passage in its entirety, and allowing for an innuendo in the phrase satis din lusisti nucibus, we can hardly avoid the supposition that the concubint!s and his master were suffered, up to the marriage of the latter, to do very much what they pleased together. Robinson Ellis is of opinion that quae licent meant " any connexion, however

1 Licita. Roman law permitted even the stuprum of a slave.

disreputable, which was not punishable by law ". If so, the mode of their intimacy would have depended on their specific temperaments.

The Romans, then, were not afraid of encouraging relations between their sons and slaves, of a sexual nature, limited only by undefined good taste and sense of honour. They did this, in spite of what is called the widespread corruption of manners, which tolerated and flaunted every form of homosexuality and sadism. Yet it cannot be demonstrated that more Urnings (in the strict sense of that term as used by Ulrichs) were created by such practises than would have existed without them. More bachelors from a horror famine and an irresistible attraction for males do not seem to have been produced. What really happened was that men married, and carried on amours with both sexes, according to their personal proclivities: there being a pretty equal division between both in the case of habitual libertines.

APPENDIX F.

COUNTESS SAROLTA V.

On the 4th November, 1889, the father-in-law of a certain Count Sandor V., gave information to the authorities that he had been cheated of 800 florins by false pretences, and further stated that in the spring of that year a fictitious marriage had taken place between his daughter and Count Sandor; also he alleged that Count Sandor was not a man at all, but a woman going about in man's clothes, and really called Sarolta (Charlotte) Countess V.

She was arrested. On her first examination she acknowledged that she was born on the 6th December 1866, and was really of the female sex, a Catholic, unmarried, and that she was engaged as a journalist and author under the name of Count Sandor V.

From an autobiography written by this man-woman the following facts have been ascertained, and are confirmed by information from other sources.

She belongs to an ancient, aristocratic and highly respectable Hungarian family which has always been remarkable for eccentricity. A sister of her maternal grandmother was hysterical and somnambulistic, and on account of an imaginary paralysis kept her bed for seventeen years. Another great-aunt lay in bed for seven years on account of an imaginary fatal illness, but at the same time gave balls. A third had the idea that a console in her drawing-room was bewitched. If anyone placed anything on this console she became extremely excited, called out "Bewitched, bewitched," and hastened with the object into a room which she called the Black Chamber, the key of which she never allowed to go into anyone else's hands. After the death of this lady a collection of shawls, ornaments, bank-notes, etc., was found in the Black Chamber. A fourth great-aunt for two years would not allow her room to be cleaned, and would not wash or comb herself; at the end of the two years she

( 279 )

« PreviousContinue »