Holyday, in his illustrations to the sixth Satire of Juvenal, describes the fibula as a 'buckle, clasp or suchlike stay, applied to those that were employed to sing upon the stage; the Praetor, who set forth plays for the delight of the people, buying youths for that purpose. And that such might not by lust spoil their voice, their overseers dosed their shame with a case of metal, having a sharp pike of the same matter passing by the side of it, and sometimes used one of another form; or by a nearer cruelty they thrust a brazen or silver wire through that part, which the Jew did lose in circumcision.' This description is accompanied by an engraving showing two forms of the instrument, taken from Pignerius de Servis. François Noël states that they were used
1 to prevent singers from losing their voice,
2 to keep youths from masturbating themselves,
3 to conceal the organ of generation through modesty.
Roman gladiators also were frequently infibulated in order to preserve their vigour. The operation was performed by having the prepuce drawn over the glans; it was then pierced, and a thick thread was passed through it, remaining there until the cicatrising of the hole; when that had taken place a rather large ring was substituted. Juvenal speaks of the Roman ladies paying great sums of money to have these instruments removed from the persons of the comedians and singers to whom they had taken a fancy. Pliny notes the use of the fibula as a preventive of masturbation; and Martial has an epigram against Caelia whose slave's privities are concealed by a fibula whenever he accompanies his mistress to the bath--'for modesty's sake', Caelia says, but, according to the satirist, to conceal her slave's noble proportions from the envious eyes of other dames. Again he ridicules a man who wore an immense fibula to hide the fact that he was circumcised. The practice was very common in India from religious motives. Celsus describes the operation; and Strabo speaks of the infibulation of women by passing a ring through the labia or outer lips of the vagina. Schurig, in his Spermatalogia and Panhenologia, treats the subject as regards both sexes. In conclusion, I may mention the 'ceinture de chasteté', or belt through whose means the jealous Italian made sure of his wife's virtue; an instrument, it is said, not altogether in disuse at the present day. This belt (made sometimes of gold or other precious metal and covered with velvet) when passed round the woman's waist, was so adjusted that two plates of metal covered not only the vagina but also the anus(!) thus serving as a double protection to the doubting husband, who alone possessed the key which unlocked this precious contrivance.
[1. I refer the reader to the Index Expurgatorius of Martial, where distinction is drawn between the fibula and the 'pouch' (theca or aluta) by which it was covered,
2. The Easterns perforate the penis and insert in the hole thus made various objects, with the view, however, not of preventing coition but of enlarging the size of the penis, and thus doubling the woman's pleasure.]