Every woman’s man, every man’s woman

Gallic leader Vercingetorix surrendered to Caesar in 52 BC

Today, Julius Caesar has an image of a stoic leader, founder of the Roman Empire, and a general who conquered barbaric Gauls. However, the less known fact is Caesar had a very lively sex life. So lively that even his Legions would sing songs about it during long marches. In his youth, Caesar was famous for cross-dressing and playing the role of a woman in a relationship with other men.

Known to Romans more as penetrated than penetrator, sexually speaking Caesar was both. As a young man, he spent a lot of time the court of King Nicomedes IV in Bithynia, modern-day Turkey, and this fact alone fueled rumors which followed Caesar for his entire life.

Even his most loyal legionaries were chanting:

Caesar might have conquered the Gauls but Nicomedes conquered him.

In Roman times sexual relationships between two men were acceptable, however, being in a submissive role in such a relationship was damaging to the reputation of the masculine leader of legions.

Indeed, this was the only “stain” on Caesar’s image of the tireless seducer. It was said no woman, no wife, and no daughter was safe before Caesar.

Roman fresco from a room in Pompeii

Caesar was notoriously famous for seducing wives of his allies and using sex with aristocratic women to improve his political status. He also spent an enormous amount of money, often public money, on the number of prostitutes.

Caesar was given the nickname “bad adulterer”.

During one of Caesar’s triumphs, his soldiers were singing:

Men of Rome, watch out for your wives,We’re bringing the bald adulterer home.In Gaul he f*cked his way through a fortune. Which he borrowed here in Rome.

Julius Caesar was a tall man (most Romans were not) and had a fashion sense. In his younger years, he was considered a handsome man. It is said he had a good sense of humor (even at his own expense). All that contributed him to being a ladies’ man.

He married three times, yet this hasn’t stopped Caesar from taking the number of mistresses. His wives were:

  • Pompeia. Caesar divorced her after a scandal in which Publius Clodius Pulcher, dressed as a woman, was found at the ceremony to the Bona Dea at which no men were permitted. Caesar famously said that his wife “must be above suspicion.”
  • Calpurnia. Calpurnia stayed devoted to him despite Caesar’s numerous mistresses, which included Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. She told him about her dream of his assassination.

In Roman times the definition of marriage wasn’t to stay loyal to your spouse. It was allowed to have sex with other women and men as long as it wasn’t humiliating to Roman society and carried out in a discreet manner.

Cleopatra being smuggled into Caesar’s chamber

Caesar’s most famous mistress was indeed the Queen of Egypt — Cleopatra. Legend of Cleopatra being wrapped in huge carpet and smuggled to Caesar past her brother’s guards is well-known.

Cleopatra and Caesar had a son together- Caesarian, meaning “Little Caesar”. It is widely believed affair between Cleopatra and Caesar was a one-night stand.

Cleopatra and Caesar were never married since it was against Roman law.

On one occasion when Caesar was speaking in the Senate, a messenger slipped him a note. His sworn enemy, senator Cato the Younger, interrupted the speech, demanding Caesar to read the letter aloud.

Cato believed the letter would contain evidence of Caesar’s involvement in the notorious Second Catilinarian conspiracy (exposed by Cicero in 63 BC).

Caesar tried several times to let him off the hook but to no avail. In the end, he had to read aloud the content of the note in front of the whole senate.

It was a love note from Servilia, his mistress, and half-sister of Cato. She was proclaiming her fervent lust for Caesar in very explicit terms. Cato was made a fool in front of the entire Senate.

Satyr and nymph, mythological symbols of sexuality found in Pompeii

Servilia’s son Marcus Brutus was Caesar’s favorite. Despite rumors, Brutus wasn’t Caesar’s son since he was born when Caesar was only fifteen years old.

Marcus Brutus was treated very well by Caesar. Even when he sided with Caesar’s opponent Pompey, Caesar ordered his men no harm should come to Brutus.

During the assassination of Julius Caesar in the Roman Senate in 44 BC, Caesar was fighting back his attackers, but when he saw Marcus Brutus approaching, he stopped fighting and said: “You too, my child?”.

This is a significant difference to widely adopted “Et Tu Brute?” translating to “And you Brutus?” and might hint Caesar treated Brutus as if he was Caesar’s son.

The Roman society promoted sexuality. Prostitution was legal and public. Houses had “pornographic” paintings. No moral punishment was directed at men who enjoyed sex with other women and men, even if they were of inferior status, as long as their actions weren’t deemed as excesses.

Sex with men was not regarded as demeaning to man’s masculinity if the man took the active and not the receptive role.

Joseph A. Cornacchia