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Erotic Classical Writers

Elephantis (see Epigram 3, page 35) was a licentious Greek poetess who wrote on the different modes of coition. In her work (which has perished) it is supposed that she enumerated nine postures of venery.[1] Astyanassa, the maid of Helen of Troy, was, according to Suidas, the first writer on erotic postures, and Philaenis and Elephantis (both Greek maidens) followed up the subject. Aeschrion however ascribes the work attributed to Philaenis to Polycrates, the Athenian sophist, who, it is said, placed the name of Philaenis on his volume for the purpose of blasting her reputation. This subject occupied the pens of many Greek and Latin authors, amongst whom may be mentioned: Aedituus, an erotic poet noticed by Apuleius in his Apology: Annianus (in Ausonius); Anser, an erotic poet cited by Ovid; Aristides, the Milesian poet; Astyanassa, above mentioned; Bassus; Callistrate, a Lesbian poetess, noted for obscene verses; Cicero, in his amorous letters to Cerellia; Cinna (Helvius), a Latin amatory poet; Cyrene, the artist of amatory tabellae or ex-votos offered to Priapus, and who enumerated twelve postures; Elephantis, the writer on Varia concubitis genera, above mentioned; Eubius, the doubtful author of a work on Pleasure; Everemus, a Messenian writer, whose works were translated

[1. From Martial--

Quales nec Didymi sciunt puellae,
Nec molles Elephantidos libelli,
Sunt illic Veneris novae figurae.

'Such verses as neither the daughters of Didymus know, nor the lubricious books of Elephantis, wherein are set out new modes of venery.' In place of novae figurae, Scriverius reads novem figurae--nine modes. Forberg in De Figuris Veneris, suggests with respect to these 'daughters of Didymus' that among the four thousand works written, according to Seneca, by the grammarian Didymus, there was one descriptive of the postures assumed in congress by women.]

into Latin by Ennius; Hemitheon of Sybaris, author of the Sybaritic books cited by Martial and Lucian for their lubricity: Hortensius, a lascivious writer; Laevius, who composed the poem Io, and wrote several books on love bearing the title of Erotopaegnia; Memmius, of whom Pliny the Younger speaks; Mimnermus, a Smyrnian erotic poet who flourished about the time of Solon; Musaeus; Myonia, an Aelian author; Naevius, a licentious poet; Nico, a Samian maiden, said by Xenophon to be the writer of lewd books; Paxamus, who wrote the Dodecatechnon, a volume treating of twelve erotic postures; Philaenis, cited above; Pliny the Younger, whose amatory work is not extant, but which he mentions in his letters; Proculus, the writer of amorous elegies; Protagorides, Amatory Conversations, Sabellus, contemporary with Martial, whose poem on the various modes of congress is lost; Sappho, the celebrated Greek poetess, equally renowned as the queen of tribades; Sisenna, who translated the works of Aristides into Latin; Sotades,[1] the Mantinean poet; Sphodrias, who composed an Art of Love; Sulpitia, an erotic, but modest, poetess, who wrote on conjugal love; Sulpitius (Servius), an author of amatory songs; Ticida; and Trepsicles, Amatory Pleasures.

[1. Sotades was the first to treat of Greek love or dishonest and unnatural love. He wrote in the Ionian dialect and according to Suidas he was the author of a poem entitled Cinaedica.]

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