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Plate LII.


p. 103




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

p. 104

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.)

Next: Plate LIII: Spinthria