Thursday, July 12, 2012

After an explicit coin used to pay for pleasure is found in the Thames, the X-rated story of the Roman sex slaves of Britain

The girl lay on a stone bed in the tiny cubicle, awaiting her next customer with weary resignation.

In Londinium, there was no shortage of men wanting a few moments of sexual pleasure: merchants, officials, freed slaves from around the Roman Empire and, of course, soldiers.

Sure enough, the flimsy curtain was drawn back and a Roman legionary entered the room. He handed over a small bronze token. 

The girl looked at it. The image on the front depicted the act he required — it showed a woman face down on a couch and a man on top of her. 

On the reverse, the number 14 referred to the price he had paid: 14 asses, the equivalent of a day's pay for a labourer in the first century AD — not that the girl would see any of that money.

For the girl would have been a slave, possibly a native Briton captured in the rebellious north of the country — enslaving women was one Roman way of subjugating and humiliating these savage tribes. 

Some ended up in Rome, where their fair skin and blonde hair could fetch a high price.

This slave's body was now a commodity, part of the flourishing sex trade that helped sustain the Roman Empire.