FRESCO FROM POMPEII.
THIS erotic scene is remarkable for the presence of the cubicular slave, a beautiful youth, who brings to the married pair a drinking-vessel, probably containing a comforting liquor, 1 turning his head aside as he presents it to them, as if he blushed at their nakedness; with the same hand that holds the vessel he raises two fingers, a gesture which in our own day we should call the cuckold's sign, but which was not in ancient times a mark of insult or derision. It was simply a gesture to which was attributed the virtue of driving away witchcraft; and, as we said before, this superstition still exists in Italy. Possibly the young
slave is desirous of keeping off the evil influences which might preside over the act of which he is a witness, and which will some day give him a new master.
The drawing of these figures is rather incorrect, and the expression cold.
103:1 In their parties of debauchery, the ancients took great delight in drinking water heated to a certain temperature, in which it is very probable they mixed some agreeable aphrodisiac to awaken sensuality. It is supposed also that they used hot water internally as a remedy tending to refresh them, and to restore to them part of the strength they had abused. SENEC., Wal. quæst., lib. III. p. 24; FREINSHERNINUS, de Calid. Potion, c. i. § 1 and 2"--(J. B. LEVEE, Notes, Arch. sur le Curculion de Plauti.)