Sources for Sex in Ancient Rome

If you are interested in further reading on sex in ancient Rome, the Partial Historians have compiled a list for your reading and thinking pleasure below:


Sources: Sex in Ancient Rome


Chrystal, P. 2015. In Bed with the Romans (Amberley Publishing Limited)

Edwards, C. 1993. The Politics of Immortality in Ancient Rome (Cambridge University Press)

Gardner, J. F. 1991. Women in Roman Law and Society (Indiana University Press)

MacLachlan, B. 2013. Women in Ancient Rome: A Sourcebook  (Bloomsbury Publishing)


Cornelia of the Gracchi


Appian Civil Wars 1.20

Pliny Natural History 34.31

Plutarch Life of Tiberius 1.4; Life of Gaius Gracchus 4,19




Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities 4.64 – 4.67.4

Livy 1.57-60

Ovid Fasti 2.721-852

Valerius Maximus 6.1.1




Livy 8.8.1-11

Seneca Dialogue 12.16.4

Valerius Maximus 2.1.3; 7.1.1

Langlands, R. 2006. Sexual Morality in Ancient Rome (Cambridge University Press)




Livy Periocha 57

Juvenal Satires 3.62-66; 6.127

Martial 1.34.8; 2.17; 6.66.1-2; 9.4.1

Seneca Controversiae 1.2.3

Suetonius Life of Tiberius 35.2

Tacitus Annals 2.85


McGinn, T. 2003. Prostitution, Sexuality, and the Law in Ancient Rome (Oxford University Press)

Olson, K. 2006. ‘Matrona & Whore: Clothing and Definition in Roman Antiquity’ Faraone, C. A., McClure, L. K. (eds.) Prostitutes and Courtesans in the Ancient World (University of Wisconsin Press), 186-204.

Pomeroy, S. B. 1975. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, & Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity (Pimlico)


Sex Under Augustus


Codex Theodosianus 9.9.25

Suetonius Life of the Divine Augustus 101

Tacitus Annals 2.85.1


Vestal Virgins


Beard, M. 1980. ‘The Sexual Status of Vestal Virgins’ The Journal of Roman Studies 70: 12-27.

Greenfield, P. 2011. Virgin Territory: The Vestals and the Transition from Republic to Principate [Doctoral Thesis, The University of Sydney]

Staples, A. 1998. From Good Goddess to Vestal Virgins: Sex and Category in Roman Religion (Routledge)

Takács, S. A. 2008. Vestal Virgins, Sibyls, and Matrons: Women in Roman Religion (University of Texas Press)

Wildfang, R. 2006. Rome’s Vestal Virgins: A Study of Rome’s Vestal priestesses in the late Republic and early Empire (Routledge)


sex in ancient rome sources
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo c. 1743. The Empire of Flora. Currently held by Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


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