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The Cunnilinges

To cause a woman to feel the venereal spasm by the play of the tongue on her clitoris and in her vagina was a taste much in vogue amongst the Greeks and Romans. Martial lashes it severely in several epigrams, that against Manneius being especially biting.

Manneius, the husband with his tongue, the adulterer with his mouth, is more polluted than the cheeks of the Suburan prostitutes. The obscene bawd, when she has seen him naked from a window in the Subura, closes her door against him and prefers to kiss his middle, rather than his face. But lately he used to wander in all the cavities of the coynte [with his tongue], and could tell with certainty and knowledge whether there was in the womb a boy or a girl. (Rejoice, ye coyntes! for now all is over.) He is not able to stiffen his swiving tongue, for, whilst he sticks glued in the teeming vulva, and hears the babes whimpering within, a filthy disease[1] paralyses this gluttonous member; and now he can neither be pure nor impure.

Again he says, 'Zoilus, an evil star has suddenly struck your tongue, whilst you were licking. Certes, Zoilus, you will futter now.'

He also speaks of the foul breath of a coynte-licker, and in his epigram on Philaenis we read, 'She does not suck [men]--thinking this

[1. The translator of Martial's Expurgatorius renders this passage, 'her course came on'; and states in his note to the epigram that Martial was probably ignorant of the fact that the menses cease during pregnancy. Our translator is strangely mistaken. With many women the menses do not cease altogether during pregnancy, and there is, besides, no good reason to suppose that Martial is alluding to the menses at all. About the second or third month of pregnancy a woman is frequently troubled with a discharge in the nature of leucorrhoea or 'whites', consequent upon her monthly courses ceasing, and this discharge is quite sufficient to infect a man with gonorrhoea or 'clap'.]

scarcely manly--but certainly devours the middles of girls. May the gods give thee sense, Philaenis, thou who imaginest it a manly thing to lick a coynte.' And he skits at Baeticus, a priest of Cybele, who, although castrated, eludes his goddess's commands by still using his tongue to fornicate with. To Gargilius he says, 'You lick, you do not fatter my girl, and you boast as though you were her gallant and a swiver. If I catch you, Gargilius, you will hold your tongue.' i.e. the luckless gallant would be irrumated by the poet. Of Linus he remarks, 'That mentule of Linus, lecherous to excess, and known to no few girls, ceases to stand. Tongue, beware!' His mentule beings no longer capable of active service, Linus's tongue would have to undertake its duties. Speaking of twin brothers, one of whom was a cunnilinge and the other a fellator, he gravely enquires whether this adds to or takes away from their resemblance to each other. Ausonius accuses Castor and Eunus of practising this vice and punningly compares the odour of the vulva to sardines and salgamas (salted roots and greens). He reproaches Eunus for licking his wife's parts during pregnancy, jocosely charging him with being in an undue hurry to teach his unborn children lessons of tongue (Eunus being a grammarian). Suetonius speaks of the populace ridiculing Tiberius as 'an old buck licking the vulvas of goats'. Cicero also accuses Sextus Clodius of this action; and some epigrams in the Analecta of Brunck contain unmistakeable allusions to the subject, one in particular being very nearly tamed:

Avoid Alpheus' mouth, he loves Arethusa's bosom,
And then goes and plunges into the salty sea.

The poet here draws upon the ambiguity of the words mouth, bosom (bay), plunge, salt sea, which may refer to the river Alpheus in Arcadia, to Arethusa, a spring in Sicily, and also to the mouth of a cunnilinge plunging into a woman's vulva. Galienus calls those who practise this debauchery, coprophages (dung-eaters). Ausonius calls Eunus an Opician because these practices were, according to Festus, most common amongst the Osci or Opici. Catullus compares cunnilinges to bucks on account of their foetid breath; and Martial mocks at the paleness of Charinus's complexion, which he sarcastically ascribes to his indulgence in this respect. Maleager has a distich upon Phavorinus (Huschlaus, Anaketa Critica), and Ammianus (Brunck, Analecta) has written an epigram, both of which appear to be directed against the vice. Suetonius (Illustrious Grammarians) speaks of Remmius Palaemon, who was addicted to this habit, being publicly rebuked by a young man who in the throng could not contrive to avoid one of his kisses; and Aristophanes says of Ariphrades in Knights:

Whoever does not execrate that man,
Shall never from the same bowl drink with us.

According to Juvenal women were not addicted to exchanging this kind of caress with one another: 'Taedia does not lick Cluvia, nor Flora Catulla.'[1] Many passages in the classics, both Greek and Roman, refer to the cunnilinges swallowing the menstrual and other secretions of women. Aristophanes frequently speaks of this. Ariphrades sods his tongue and stains his beard with disgusting moisture from the vulva. The same person imbibes the feminine secretion, 'And throwing himself on her he drank all her juice.' Galienus applies the appellation 'drinkers of menses' to cunnilinges; Juvenal speaks of Ravola's beard being all moist when rubbing against Rhodope's privities; and Seneca states that Mamercus Scaurus, the consul, 'swallowed the menses of his servant girls by the mouthful'. The same writer describes Natalis as 'that man with a tongue as malicious as it is impure, in whose mouth women eject their monthly Purgation.' In the Analecta of Brunck, Micarchus has an epigram against Demonax in which he says, 'Though living amongst us, you sleep in Carthage,' i.e. during the day he lives in Greece, but sleeps in Phoenicia, because he stains his mouth with the monthly flux, which is the colour of the purplish-red Phoenician dye. In Chorier's Aloisia Sigea, we find Gonsalvo de Cordova described as a great tongue-player (linguist). When Gonsalvo desired to apply his mouth to a woman's parts he used to say that he wanted to go to Liguria; and with a play upon words implying the idea of a humid vulva, that he was going to Phoenicia or to the Red Sea or to the Salt Lake--as to which expressions compare the salty sea of Alpheus and the salgamas of Ausonius and the 'mushrooms swimming in putrid brine' which Baeticus devours. As it was said of fellators (who sucked the male member) that they were Phoenicising because they followed

[1. Juvenal's assertion may however be looked upon as a bit of special pleading required by the context, his Satire being devoted to lashing the vice of sodomy. In these matters the customs of ages gone by are repeated today, and vice versa. And it is well known that ladies of easy virtue of the present day look upon this peccadillo with a favourable eye; many of them keeping a 'companion', one of whose chief duties is to attend to this portion of her friend's daily 'toilet'.]

the example set by the Phoenicians, so probably the same word was applied to cunnilinges from their swimming in a sea of Phoenician purple. Hesychius defines scylax (dog) as an erotic posture like that assumed by Phoenicians. The epithet excellently describes the action of a cunnilinge with regard to the posture assumed; dogs being notoriously addicted to licking a woman's parts. The reader who desires more information on the subject will find further details in Forberg, from whose pages I have drawn part of the material which constitutes this note.

The word labda (a sucker) is variously derived from the Latin labia and do, to give the lips; and from the Greek letter lambda, which, is the first letter in the word leíchein or lesbiázein, the Lesbians being noted for this erotic vagary. Ausonius says, 'When he puts his tongue [in her coynte] it is a lambda'- that is the conjunction of the tongue with the woman's parts forms the shape of the Greek letter {lambda}. In an epigram he writes:--

Lais, Eros and Itus, Chiron, Eros and Itus again,
If you write the names and take the initial letters
They will make a word, and that word you're doing, Eunus.
What that word is and means, decency lets me not tell.

The initial letters of the six Greek names form the word leíchei, he licks.