de Artes, Religiões e Ciências

nova série | número 51 | abril-maio | 2015




From the Classical Antiquity

to the Modern Age: Sexualities

Cecília Barreira é actualmente professora de Cultura Contemporânea na Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Pertence ao CHAM, onde é investigadora de periódicos. Pertence aos grupos de pesquisa AMONET e IRENNE, sobre questões de género. Licenciada em História, com Doutoramento e Agregação em Estudos Portugueses, interessa-se particularmente pela História das Mentalidades.



ISSN 2182-147X  
Dir. Maria Estela Guedes  
Página Principal  
Índice de Autores  
Série Anterior  
Apenas Livros Editora  

Arte - Livros Editora

Domador de Sonhos  
Agulha - Revista de Cultura  
Revista InComunidade  

Civilizations had known homosexual practices, despite the punishments.

In the classical antiquity, were manufactured dildos in Miletus: in wood or leather and they were exported to other major cities.

 In the city of Leocadia, Filémis wrote an alleged book illustrated with lesbian sexual positions (Tribades, Gallants, Fanchonos militants. Homosexuals who made history. 2000).

As the historian Drumond Braga tells us is unavoidable the poetess Sappho (612 BC - 560 BC). She lived in Lesbos and in Sicily for a few years, in exile. Girls from good families gathered around Sappho, composing songs and poems. Look at some poems, those few which were not destroyed (Lyric in Fragments 1991.): 

"From an herb with rare essence

the body aroma! anointed thee

and your long hair I perfumed!

eternal, lying next to me

in a soft bed, as you you in me

do not mitigate your thirst and hunger."

For example, Erina (350 BC-331 BC) and Nóssis are two forgotten poetesses.  

There was always a great silence around child abuse in Greco-Roman civilization. Kenneth Dover published in 1978, the book Greek Homosexuality. A pedagogic look at the eroticism between older and younger Greek citizens, the cornerstone of philosophy, of the literature and the art produced.

Until the 70s of the twentieth century scholars did not speak of the matter. The gay liberation movement of the 70s paved the way for the recognition of other homosexualities.

Rui Rocha, already gone, in the introduction to the book Pederasty in the Imperial Age by Royston Lambert, implies that in the classical antiquity existed pederasty: a sexual expression that meets the mature and free man with a young man also free, who wants to have an important position when he becomes adult.

The loves of older men with younger must disappear when appears the first beard of the younger.

Rui Rocha divides the Gynaeceum (a female private space) from the polis (city), in the Greek society. Back in Rome, emerge the family and the civitas. "If who possesses sexually is not free, and who is possessed is free,we are face to an unacceptable reversal". The Romans thought so.

The prefaced author, Royston Lambert confirms that pederasty in Ancient Greece was an estimated social institution. Pederasty survived the Christian emperors of the fourth century AD to the point of Justinian, 200 years later, had reinforced the Edicts on the subject.

There would be, an older lover between 20 and 40 years, and a boy aged between 12 and 18 years. The tutor taught intellectual issues and sports to the boy who, in turn, could or not satisfy the sexual desires of the elder. 

The Gymnasium, the Lecture and the Symposium were the places where the boys strolled.

Philosophers such as Xenophon, said that the relationship with a boy was more spiritual and divine than with a woman, who is an human being inferior and salacious. Plato himself, in the later works, despised the sexuality in order to prefer the pure friendship. 

There was talk about the "affaire" of Julius Caesar with Nicomedes IV (King of the Bitínios). Cicero criticized Julius Caesar and spoke of him as a man for every women and woman for all men.

The author, throughout the trial, talks about bisexuality as the norm. José Mattoso suspicious of scholars who refer to homosexuality or bisexuality (this author is medievalist) as a common standard: "Let us make no mistake; it is useless to want to get from the past, results comparable to the Kinsey report.” 

I should add that by other data and other readings, there has never been a dominant bisexuality in any society of the past until today. I believe that in Rome there was male prostitution, usually from slaves who wanted to be free men.

The days of Nero, says Royston Lambert, portrayed in Satyricon, are of jealousy and loves, of sodomy and obscenity, occurred at the Baths where boys watched. 

There would be couples like the one of Flavius Ursus and his friend 15 years old as well as Melior and Glaucias, a slave freed and adopted as a son.

Marcial wrote about the death of the lovers.

Even Marcus Aurelius, a young stoic was loved by Fronton.

Horace, Catullus and Tibullus spoke in verse about infidelities and betrayals. Let us not forget Juvenal, his irony, and Seneca.

Suetonius in Lives of the Caesars, indicates pederasty cases in each Emperor. Two emperors were not caught by that critical eye: Claudius women lover and, Vespasian who tried to mend what was Nero. 

In Rome it was an offense being effeminate.

The wedding was done between families in perpetuation of properties and common names.

There were laws to prevent sodomy with free youngsters.

The love for young boys was a Greek, not a Roman ideal.

Specially, males' gymnasiums, were locals of body exhibition and, perhaps, of less normative attractions.

Trajan, an Emperor, dignified his woman, sister and daughter. Never let a lover obtain any political favor.

But when Commodus, caressed in public a lover, during a triumph march. It was a scandal. 

In 76 was born Adriano. In 100 he married Sabina, probably with 12 years old. Antinous was born in 110. In 117 Hadrian became Emperor.

In 125 Antinous is the intimate friend of Hadrian. In 130 Antinous is found dead, drowned, on the banks of the Nile. Adriano gives him the name of a star and founded the city of Antinoopolis. Hadrian died in 138, leaving this verses:

"Sweet and wandering little soul / from the body / temporary resident / you will disappear / in the cold, naked darkness / against the usual / you will not give to more loves."

David Halprin, argues that in ancient Rome a male boy was it by inherence.

A less prescriptive and more ambiguous behavior even with ironies of Suetonius, in his condition of man, general or emperor became a symbol of masculinity.

The most effeminate were punished, ridiculed and offended.

Halprin informs that there is no similarity between male passivity and the contemporary homosexual gender.

Aristotle said that women were deficient men. The menstrual blood and semen were similar.

In the second century, Galen, physician, believed that women were damp and imperfect. Were rotten, greedy, pollute, and men were rational, courageous, innovative and active. Galen thought that the orgasm was fundamental in procreation. What was the orgasm? Was the result of the friction of the skin and other body movements.

Some early Christians claimed to be a mortal sin to have sex with a menstruated.

Origen, a theologian of the third century saw women as worse than animals and, in this way, threatened the male ethics.

The Christian perfection should overcome the body and the desire to achieve a high spirituality. The asceticism could lead to self-mutilation and castration.

There is talk about Melania, the Old, of the younger Melania , Olimpia, Paul and Demeter were ascetics. Deeply. When arised the female monasteries, many women were freed from domesticity and probably felt freer.

In those days of the early Christianism existed sects, like Gnosticism, Manichaeism, the Encratism. Historians reinforce that the attraction for asceticism would serve to compete with religious sects.

Marcion, Gnostic thought that nature was made of evil, and practiced celibacy.

Tatian, encratita saw in the sexual act, the devil. Even marriage should be spiritual.

The early church fathers believed that marriage was imperfect since it presupposed sex. The fervour for Christianity would be the renunciation of worldly pleasures.  

Boswell relates male unions. The Christian martyrs Sergius and Bacchus (beginning of the 4th century) shared a home and were executed because of prejudices. The Church turned them into saints.

The readings which were made of the Christ teachings, reaffirmed the asceticism, celibacy, virginity and abstinence.

The historian Brooten examined a selection of obscure texts, from magic, astrology and medicine which betrayed an unwillingness and fear by female homoeroticism. It is because the love between women defied the falus of pagan and Christian antiquity.

Women were nicknamed tribas, virago, frictrix and Lesbian: male and active women. Probably there were clitorectomias in those women, so hated.

Halprin claims that the ancients were not concerned about the sexuality of tribades. The problem was the challenge of gender. Incidentally, Sto. Augustine and several Christian writers militated against the body, helping to put the sex and desire in a moral universe.

In 533, Justinian, Christian emperor banned, with the threat of the death penalty, the male homosexuality.

The molícies, masturbation, were prohibited.

In Portugal sodomy was "very grave and above all should be avoided and one should save of it" (Sacramento. 1488).

Clemente de Vercial, the author of those words, also speaks about lust:

"Says Santiago and St. Tomás de Aquino, among all manners of lust this sin is more serious than any of the others, because it bleeds through what is unnatural and is determined between husband and wife." 

Reading the historian A.H. de Oliveira Marques we listens to the Cancioneiro Geral of Garcia de Resende: he moked the male and female homosexualities, and the masturbation (Cancioneiro da Biblioteca Nacional. t. II).

Fernão Lopes in his Chronicle D'El-Rei D. Pedro I reported that the king loved too much Afonso Madeira, squire "more than should be said here" and, out of jealousy, ordered him to be castrated.

The historian José Mattoso is meticulous when it comes to prohibited sexualities.

The monks and preachers lived obsessed with the temptations of the flesh, but the medievalist tells us that the Church has penetrated very slowly in the feudal world. 

It is nevertheless interesting that the imaginary friend of the songs openly mention the pre and extra marital relationships. Many young noblemen, second sons were prevented from marrying and dreamed, for example, with his master's wife. But adultery was punished.

Through the "Canções de amigo", were referred the mothers, very cautious about the first love experiences of daughters, and the romantic encounters during pilgrimages. 

The clergy moral was strict with the adultery, but tolerant with relations between free people.

The concubinage was tolerated until the end of the thirteenth century. There were a high number of bastards who belonged to the nobles. The nobles could have amorous adventures, but with ladies of lower condition: nobles or clerics bastards, second daughters, working women, prostitutes, peasants, care takers' daughters.

The "Cantigas de escárnio e maldizer" make the apology of sex. In the medieval universe each action was adapted to the practice. St. Augustine might well preach against the sins of the flesh. But in the popular or noble social groups, sexuality was free, with the exception of female adultery.

Continuing to read the historian José Mattoso, it becomes obvious that the "Poesia de escárnio e maldizer" caricatured an ilicit behaviour, well known to the public to whom were said those verses.

Minstrels admitted the polyamorous relationships, sodomy or other erotic standards. Bernardo Fendudo de Bonaval, João Peres or Maria Peres Lopes Balteira and Urraca were the best known minstrels, using words like fuck or excite (erection), or cunt, pubic haiirs, Cock, dick, balls, ass, arse or arsehole. João Baveca severely points sodomite practices to Bernardo Fendudo de Bonaval.

Reading two “Cantigas de escárnio”, José Mattoso, perceived the  ease in describing the ugliness of the woman.

There are many “Cantigas de escárnio “ about old women.

The youth of the woman raised strong attractions. Virginity was not a problem. A song disdains the sterility of the "death of love". But José Mattoso, referring to Tristan and Isolde perceive another reality. 

The passion of some women by Moors (The problem would be the erotic fantasy about the size and power of the virile member); old age and disease; incestuous mothers with their sons, were matters of the "Canções de escárnio e de maldizer"

Clerics had affairs with women. The religious women were often pregnant and had children: minstrels liked to mock the Church.

In the Cantigas de Santa Maria of Alfonso X the Wise, appears the clergymen lecherous, and womanizer. As appears also, in the plays of Gil Vicente. But, chastity and virginity were highly respected, not only by the clergy but by most laymen.

The marriage of clerics in the seventh century is legitimate if the woman is widowed, divorced or prostitute and if everything is entered into with the consent of the Bishop. Until the Council of Compostela of 1056 the married cleric still arises.

It is very slow the identification of the concubine with the woman of evil life.

José Mattoso indicates that the habit of choosing freely between cohabitation and marriage would last for a long time. By the end of the thirteenth century, the concubine is a free woman  living with someone in an union  duration .

The “barregão”, is a young and strong man, a warrior. Texts admit non-marital unions: the “”. The word “ barregão”, fallen into disuse in the sixteenth century, meant the strong man, as stated above.

The raptus, mythically famous by the rape of the Sabine, was gradually fought.

The ritual of the cleric presiding over the marriage comes only from the eleventh century. But even in the fourteenth century in England, many marriages were not celebrated by a clergy.

The marriage, depending on a dowry paid by the husband, also existed in Portugal.

José Mattoso refers the case of D. Maria Pais Ribeira, concubine of Sancho I, and who survived him. Widow, resisted the insistence of Gomes Lourenço de Alvarenga and eventually married D. João Fernandes de Lima, a notable Portuguese nobleman.

With the advent of Aviz Dynasty is repressed the barregania of clergy and married men. In relation to the unmarried, the barregania was being practiced: "The barregania began, to fall in the field of underground and non-legality."

In the Middle Ages, as proposed by José Mattoso, the truths of the Church were not dominant among the population and even in the Royal Court. Through the reading of the erotic poetry, satirical poetry and other sources are perceived the customs of the people, well beyond what the priests preached.

We were away from the modern era, when everything was ruled. The clerical moral, says the historian, overlaps with other moralities. But the monarchical power controlled the judiciary and, in this way, the feudal lords.

Some norms were still coming from paganism (superstitions and magical practices). In the Middle Ages the instincts and ancestral beliefs were prevalent. The Church penetrated very slowly in these world conceptions.

The poetry of the minstrels and the troubadours only reached high social groups, but with regard to the satirical poetry, are assumed standard behaviors, regardless of the social class.

Not infrequently, the censorship about moral offenders provoked laughter and many ironies, exist even some connivance with the marginality. When some clergy sectors show some tolerance, the Church uses a total silence or raises the precepts of St. Augustine, very conservative, to highest levels.

The monks and preachers lived obsessively the condemnation of the "flesh" impulses Of course the "flesh" taboo was widely coveted and exercised by the medieval communities. In Portugal, through the Galician-Portuguese lyric, it is considered that there was a different sexual moral from the one of the Church (José Mattoso). The Provençal troubadours were able to establish a very interesting tension between the desire and the forbidden.

In "Cantigas de Santa Maria" shows up the teats of the Virgin Mary. One of the songs describes the excitement of a newly married young man when he sees the bride’s chest

The poems dedicated to Ávaro Rodrigues and his young Moor; to Bernardo Fendudo and Pero of Armea, already suggest homosexual practices. George Duby spoke of male homosexuality among young knights who lived in common as well as among the young nobles who could not marry because of the family heritage.

Such as in Greece and Rome, it was condemned the passive sodomy and sodomy between an old man and a young man. The partners should belong to the same age group and the same social context.

A poem from Coton identifies the female homosexuality in convents or between women with a so-called normal sexual life.

Minstrels were silent in relation to orgasm.

The troubadour society could even know sadism, but was also silenced about it.

In another song, it is suggested the anal sex and the genital kiss.

Only in the "Cancioneiro Geral" from Garcia de Resende the historian José Mattoso finds the description, in detail, of the kiss on the mouth.

Since Babylonian documents, of 3000 BC, to the present day, we can speak of an ancient permanence of conjugal affection.

Greeks and Romans valued this affection. There was always a certain Manichaeism, in the depreciation of eroticism and the devaluation of marriage.

There is much talk of tolerance and appreciation of pederasty in Greek or Roman aristocracy until the third century, but simultaneously the passive homosexuality is censored and ridiculed.

The first Western author, who distinguished between the two kinds of tears, those from pain, and those from love, was Gregory the Great, Pope, who lived between 540 and 604. Tears may flow from our meagre and fragile condition in relation to the infinite and to God. José Mattoso stresses that in the East, Origen and Éfreme, referred tears because of the commited sin.

Between the 8th and 12th centuries, the two kinds of tears, have become the most frequent theme of the monastic literature.

Until the end of the sixth century tears were disgust after that time would be generated by contemplation. The monks of the eleventh and twelfth centuries cried. In the beginning of the thirteenth century begins to diminish the value assigned to tears. The English mystic Richard Rolle (m.1349), author of a Song of Love, says: "My heart became like liquid wax."

In Portugal, Frei Tomé de Jesus (1529-1582), Frei Amador Arrais (1530-1600), Carmelita barefoot; D. Manuel de Portugal (m.1606), Earl of Vimioso, still testified the praise of tears.

In the eighteenth century everyone ceased to speak of tears and compunction. Spiritual affections took refuge in Protestant countries. "Maybe in the tears of the medieval monks there is not much more than that intensity of affection that arguably led Julius Caesar to cry with emotion while reading the life of Alexander the Great (...) Nowadays also, the body insists sometimes, to challenge social conventions, and it seems, is good to do it (...) a man cries, and it's good to cry."

In a song of Fernando EsquiloI, addressed to an abbess, the dildos are already cited.

The troubadour Eanes Afonso de Cotom, adressed to Maria Mateus, a lesbian song: 

“Mari’Mateu, ir-me quer’eu daquen,

Por que nom poss’un cono baratar;

Alguen que mi o daria noño tem,

E algua      eu o tem no mio o quer dar.

Mari’Mateu, Mari’Mateu,

Tan desejosa ch´es de cono com´eu!


E foi Deus já de conos avondar

Aqui outros, que o non na mester,

E ar feze-os muito desejar

A min e ti, pero chés molher.

Mari’Mateu, Mari’Mateu,

Tan desejosa ch´és de cono com’eu!” 

Returning to the "Cancioneiro Geral" of  Garcia de Resende, the historian Drumond Braga puts in his book, a song about a lady of the court accused of kissing D. Guiomar de Castro:

“Senhora, eu vos nam acho

rezam para rafiar

e beijar tam sem empacho

Dona Guiomar,

salvante se vós sois macho.


Se sois e nam sois dama,

é mui bem que o digais

e tambem deve sua ama

nam querer que vós jaçais

soo com ela em ua cama.

Confessai-nos que sois macho

ou que folgais de beijar,

que doutra guisa nam acho

rezam de antrepernar

tal dama tam sam empacho.


Ajuda, de Fernam da Silveira:


Dous gostos podeis levar,

senhora, desta maneira,

pois sabeis de tudo usar:

ser macho pera Guiomar

e fêmea pera Nogueira.

E por isso nam vos tacho,

antes vos quero louvar;

nos trajos em que vos acho

podereis vós emprenhar

outra mulher como macho.”

D. Guiomar de Castro, bastard daughter of D.Álvaro de Castro, famous at the Court for having kissed on the mouth her brother, D. Rodrigo de Castro. She will marry later with the Spanish, first Duke of Nájera, Pedro Manrique de Lara. 

Currents share the idea that the sexual imagery of antiquity may have been carried over to the Renaissance.

Religious restrictions always existed, but then say that religion has prevented the damn passionate it is the largest of the lies.

Of course there was the fear of the body. Because of the devil. One could not fall into temptation.

In the eleventh century became illegal the marriages of priests as well as mixed monasteries. Was valued, as was common in the Church, the spiritual marriage and the celibacy.

St. Tomás de Aquino, like all other priests and philosophers of the Church, thought that women within marriage, should breed. In Summa Theologica (1273), Aquinas, details the unnatural vices: not copulate with a same-sex partner; coitus should not be practiced in unnatural positions; one should not copulate with animals; a person cannot masturbate.

In classical antiquity, civilization was considered superior to Nature. At the end of Roman civilization the own doctors and philosophers begin to dictate what is natural and / or unnatural. The practices that were not found in the animal world would be sinful.

The penitential books, written from the sixth century, were so meticulous, that included the detailed description of each sex.

The Pope Boniface VIII (1298) publishes a bulla which requires the full cloistered of nuns.

Of course there was evidence that the clerics had mistresses.

Only in 1560 the Church introduced the confessional as we know it.

Relations between nuns were difficult to prove.

There were priests burned at the stake for sodomy. The historian Judith Brown reported the case of two nuns with an alleged sexual relationship. One of them was punished by imprisonment for more than thirty years.

Women, with the pleasure of spiritualities within concentric spaces, have been the subject of much speculation.

The historian, Caroline Bynum expressed that these spiritualities passed through the body: to kiss the saints, of Jesus, the self-flagellation, put the body in cold or boiling water. Getting to the ecstatic by the pain. Pleasure and pain: the perfect combination.

Afonso X King of Castela in the Fuero Real, tells us that an homosexual accused, was castrated in public. After three days, would be suspended by the legs until death.

D. Afonso IV in 1355, turned the sodomy a crime of lese-majesty (Livro das Leis e Posturas 1971).

The Ordenações Afonsinas of 1449 already refer for the homosexuals the death at the stake.

The Ordenações Manuelinas (1512-1513), and the Ordenações Filipinas  (1603), beyond death at the stake they added infamy on children and grandchildren.

DJoão III, in 1550, required to the Pope that the Inquisition could punish this sin. The punishment took a while. Only in 1562 Pius IV offered to the Inquisition the power to question about the sexual orientation of all citizens.

D.João III, Cardinal D. Henrique and the regent D. Catarina gave orders to persecute homosexuals.

The Inquisition, inquired. The Sodomites who self-confessed were pardoned. Judgments against the nobles and clergy, nothing was known. Sodomites of the lower classes were whipped through the streets or suffered other punishments.

In the sixteenth century brothels were closed. Decorum has become a symbol of distinction against the licentiousness of the lower classes. The medicine was always on the side of religion. The emergence of syphilis in the late fifteenth century was regarded as a divine punishment for the libertines.

There were two types of sexualities: the first was conjugal and procreative. The second was inspired by the sensuality having as result the sterility.

In the lower classes was used the bundling: a girl at night was visited by her boyfriend, spending the night together, with caresses, but without the fear of getting pregnant.

The Church, with the Council of Trent (1563) undertakes a tenacious fight against these inconveniences. However, rural areas have always   been more loosened and, therefore, more sinful. The cities were supervised by the social control.

The great enemies of religious morality were poets, novelists, artists, bohemians and the humanists. 

The European marriage is delayed, the celibacy, when assumed, is final, and the sexual restraint was important.

Take the case of Minho: an area of large influence of the church, the pre nuptial, conceptions reached about 20% in the second half of  the eighteenth century.

In addition to regional differences, there are studies, with regard to sexuality, which confirm the existence of behaviours depending on the social strata. In rural areas, the nobleman of the region exercised his social position to have sex with either single or married women. The children were either natural, or spurious, born from individuals outside the marriage and from incestuous or adulterous relationships. There were also the sacrilegious children, children of ecclesiastics.

Returning to the wedding: the process of preparing the ceremony was so long that it was normal, the bride being already many months pregnant. In small communities, there were broad hypotheses of possible incestuous marriages, an especially serious offense. Another illegitimacy was the link between a man of higher social status with an inferior woman.

Many single women, economically dependent, were more exposed to noble young singles take advantage of their weaknesses. Populations that kept conformist practices in Portugal, when they went to live in Brazil, modified completely their behaviour.

The illegitimate sexuality has always existed and, after all, was presented as an accepted breeding form for future generations.

Another case, involved women with sporadic relations with different men in very specific places: cases that were already approaching prostitution.

There were also men of high social status who "kidnapped" girls, during a week or two, then, handing them over to the community.

Joaquim Ramos de Carvalho (History of Private Life) refers very interesting stories.

Teresa and João, both unmarried, denounced to the Inquisition in 1692, she was pregnant but they could not marry because they had blood relationship in the forth degree.

Manuel and Catarina, he was a servant of the house, she was daughter of the owner of the house, getting pregnant and having given birth to a stillborn, they were denounced.

Baptista de Moura and Isabel year of 1692. He was a widowed, she was his servant. It was said that she was virtuous when she entered the house of the widower. She left the house pregnant. This case is simpler to solve: at the social back grounds, a widower could seduce a young servant and if there were no bloodlines, they could marry.

The historian, noted above, speaks of an interesting event, dated 1692, in Soure. It is the relation of José da Cunha e Sá, a man of great families, with Isabel Rodrigues, daughter of the caretaker. This last married with António Francisco and gives birth to a girl named Maria, and amazingly, baptizes her daughter declaring her as daughter of José da Cunha e Sá (1695). In turn this great landlord assumes the fatherhood. In 1713, José Maria da Silva Melo and Maria Branca were reported as making life as if they were married. Both fled because they were excommunicated in Lent and because they had lots of terror.

The researcher also notes that in 1708 Maria Marques, 18 years old, would have denounced seduction attempts of  two young girls her friends, from  a boy of high social status: "João Francisco, bachelor, son of another João Francisco, from the Street Square will go at night with other singles boys to the home of Palace António Gonçalves do Paço, hoe worker at the Pedregal street , talk to the maidens Madalena  and Catarina, more than 24 years old, with their father and brother at home, laughing and rejoicing always and dallying and saying some less honest words, when the father and brother were they did not, because when they were there , they were serious."

The ecclesiastics liked to seduce single girls.

Father João Marques pursued Antonia, single, daughter of a widow (1725). The priest "makes great assistance to the aforesaid door and always goes upward, dating the predicted". 

António Cordeiro would be a pimp that would take women to the home of some men in exchange for favours. Among the women that the António Cordeiro pimp provided were Maria da Silva, the Ruiva and Maria Esteva.

In 1694 the noble Don Pedro "buy" a young single girl to her father. The promise to the effect of deflowering the girl was of 15 000 reis.

The manuals for confessor’s distinguishing sins, involving the reproduction sins from the unnatural sins. Natural sins were: simple fornication, adultery, rape, incest, kidnapping and sacrilege. The sins of lust were: masturbation, sodomy, bestiality. These practices were unnatural, because they were not reproductive.

The sodomy, has assumed jurisdiction, with the Portuguese Inquisition from 1555. The Historian, states that the offense of sodomy was very difficult to prove: with or without semen emission, and, in women, with the use of phallic objects. According to Joaquim Ramos de Carvalho, we know very little about homosexuality at this time, except its highest expression in the colonies that Portugal had acquired. The abundance of slaves left more loose the sodomites' desires.

The Historian Isabel dos Guimarães Sá (History of Private Life) relates from the end of the Council of Trent (1545-1563), especially in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the gathering maidens' institutions. These institutions were the convents as: protection from the dangers of the world and the certification of a sexual honour. There were also gatherings for women of low status or for young women who hoped to marry. They had daughters with dowry-family and those who had nothing, and did minor works. Despite the public spectacle of honour, enclosed spaces, dormitories and cells were spaces of transgression by secrecy.

Religious, through the confessions, were able to be closer to men. "There is evidence that female homosexuality could be recurring within these institutions"

In all the period of modern history there was no place for the insane (except in the All Saints Hospital in Lisbon, which had a ward for them since the 30s of the sixteenth century). Some insane were chained to the walls of the hospital to beg. There was not hygiene. The criminals were all mixed. Until the sixteenth century, was used as a penalty the cut of the members of the prisoners. The banishment to the colonies was highly regarded. There, they could build family and fortune.

There were numerous bums and beggars in the city streets.

Madame Rattazi in the nineteenth century, complained about the streets full of garbage and human waste as well as the hundreds of beggars who persecuted anyone who seems to have possessions. She could not sleep because the dozens and dozens of churches, of Lisbon, were constantly ringing the bells. Poverty was something heartbreaking for the Italian lady.

The existence of illiteracy in Portugal, in the nineteenth century, was about 80%. Reading separated the big cities from the rural areas. In the eighteenth century they talk about Saramago, a free mulatto, son of a slave and an unknown father, who lived in Caparica. He is arrested for several murders. Saramago knows how to sign his name however could neither read nor write. Literacy levels are higher among jobs related to trade and industry.

The reading shall constitute a very important power. Throughout the eighteenth century the number of schools increases. The Portuguese elites sent their children to prestigious schools.

As regards to the university is believed that in 1540 Coimbra had about 600 students. The Jesuits were very educated. In the seventeenth century the Oratorians open the doors to foreign students. In Lisbon, only between 1763 and 1769, there were 61 boys teachers As regards the university is believed that in 1540 Coimbra had about 600 students. The Jesuits were very educated. In the seventeenth century the Oratorians opened the doors to foreign students. In Lisbon, only between 1763 and 1769, there were 61 teachers of boys.

Regarding the correspondence arises the first edition of “Cartas Familiares” from D. Francisco Manuel de Melo in 1664.

Further back still, D. Francisco Manuel de Melo in the work ”Carta de Guia de Casados”, reduced the woman to a domestic excrescence.

D. Francisco Manuel de Melo in Carta de Guia de Casados, addressed to a cousin Don Francisco de Melo, warns future husbands about literate women "God saves me of the mule that makes him, and the woman who knows Latin" because "The point is that Latin is not what brings other knowledge; it can bring other kind of knowledge behind it. "Distresses me those women who get into government elections, judge fights, practice challenges and move demands. Others who cherish understanding of verses, bite off into alien languages, deal with questions of love, and finesse, decorating questions for discreet people, bringing memorial troublesome motes".

D. Francisco Manuel de Melo points swords against female friendships and wanted the woman very homely, without too much sociability. The woman would have to be wary when talking and laughing.

Up to the 25 years old, could still be allowed some clothing galas, but then had to be careful with the outputs and increased care with the blessed women. The controversial author was part of those who said that: "A woman is the most monstrous breeding animal, of bad temper and worse language. Having this animal at home is like looking for complications in the form of gossip, chatter, malicious gossip and controversy. "

Up to the 25 years old, could still be allowed some clothing galas , but then had to be careful with the going out and an increased care with the blessed women. The controversial author was part of those who said that: "A woman is the most monstrous breeding animal, of bad temper and worse language. Having this animal at home is like looking for complications in the form of gossip, chatter, malicious gossip and controversy." 

Luís António Verney (1713-1792) advocates the education of women.

The well-known Cavaleiro de Oliveira does not look kindly to these issues. In the eighteenth century, Soror Tomásia Caetana de Santa Maria, presents more than a dozen books of poetry published. The book of Teresa Margarida "Aventuras de Diófanes" obtained three editions between 1752 and 1790. 

In the circle of Leonor de Almeida, known as Marquise de Alorna arises Teresa de Mello Breyner, Countess of Vimieiro. The first books banned in Portugal are reported between 1547 and 1551. The access to many books was held in collective, thanks to a diseur. From the sixteenth century to the eighteenth century we pass from tens or hundreds of homes with books to thousands of homes with books. 

Books and libraries belonged to clerics, militaries and owners, as well as to lawyers, surgeons and merchants. 

D. João de Almeida Portugal, 2nd Marquess of Alorna, imprisoned in the Tower of Belem for having married a Tavora kept clandestine correspondence with his wife, Leonor de Lorena, and his children, Leonor, Maria Rita and Pedro José. The Marquis was using a kind of cipher, abbreviations, in reference to people. And replaced the colored ink by the lemon juice or vinegar ink, visible by the action of heat.

D.Teresa de Mello Breyner observes the poems of Alcípe, or better, the Marquise de Alorna, and there she sees eloquence and inspiration. D. Teresa advises that Boileau, Fénélon, Metastasio and Madame de Sévignet should be studied. But D.Leonor goes further:and  reads Montesquieu, D'Alembert, Helvetius, Rousseau.

In the eighteenth century Bocage frequented the Café Nicola. The cafes and bars until the late twentieth century lasted as places of political and literary discussion.

Tinhorão underlined the "first war of the Poets" in 1767, in Arcádia Lusitana. In the "war" center, Curvo Semedo despises those who applaud Bocage "rabble of stupid  troubadours/ who clog the  fragile cafe shops cafes / and, in return for liquor, boiling punch, / to the ducks who are in the throne and the quill drop out, / dull ballads which growling they vomit."

In the Nicola Coffee House and in the bar of Parras the newspapers were available to customers. The satirical vein was important in conversations. Take as example Nicolau Tolentino (1740-1811).

Tinop refers the "Agulheiro dos Sábios" who gathered at the Bar of the Parras, in the late eighteenth century. Bocage was a goer. How tells us Maria Alexandre Lousada, "the world of coffee shops was above all, the world of literary bohemia."

Returning to the historian Isabel dos Guimarães Sá, in the sixteenth century, women who were prepared for childbirth usually were helped by neighbours. At All Saints hospital treatments were based on clysters and bloodletting, weakening the patients. Hospitals were for the poor. The Mercy of Lisbon helped about 200 blind and crippled in the late seventeenth century.

The charity was becoming increasingly a public phenomenon.

In the eighteenth century the aristocratic and bourgeois woman socialized in the cultural life of big cities. In 1834 were extinguished the religious orders.

Love was heavily satirized in the fairs of medieval culture. Rabelais, Gargântua and Pantagruel, satirized the various authorities and represented the bodily appetites.

Chausser and Boccaccio have presented the marriage and fidelity as a social imposition. In the Decameron of Boccaccio, are explored betrayal and desire.

Historians have to be cautious with the literature that has reached our days, some of it translated, but the illiterate (who were the majority) did not consume these stories. If literary works use oral traditions or local folklore, a more wide audience appropriated the works. Despite much talk of abstinence and there is a huge literature on the subject, it is thought that medieval society had little spirituality and was more carnal.

Fernando de Rojas wrote in 1502 La Tragicomedia of Calixto y Melibea. The name of the main character, Celestina, matchmaker, would be eternally as the title of the play. La Celestina was translated into most European languages of the time.

The story is simple: a matchmaker is a counselor for a younger woman. The matchmaker is expert in some medecin, can extort money from men and is in herself a dominant outcry against the absence of the female virtues. The public always tended to forgive the Celestina wrongdoing actions, because they give rise to laughter and irony.

The theater of Gil Vicente is full of bawds (see Brígida Vaz) and there are plenty of other examples like this throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Ariosto, in La Lena (1528), comes up with a figure of bawd who criticizes the society that is coeval.

The plays that occurred at the time of wedding celebrations, would create a sensual freedom that shocked the moralists. During the Golden Age (late sixteenth century and seventeenth century) Spanish actors and actresses were treated as blasphemous; in France were pimps and in England gave rise to many Puritan writings. Rousseau, very moralistically, displays a misogynistic attitude saying that actresses are prostitutes.

Even Desdémona in Othello, from Shakespeare (1604) do not get rid of the stigma of "whore" and is murdered by the man who loves her.

Between Aristotle and Galen the medicine was always misogynistic. In the work of Praxis Villeneuve a supposed doctor says: "I will occupy myself here, with God's help, of what concerns women, and how most of the time women are bad animals, then I will treat the bite of poisonous animals "(1586).


Says José Agostinho de Macedo (Poesia Portuguesa Erótica e Satírica  Fernando Ribeiro de Melo 1975..): 

"The Canon Azevedo, the sodomite,

Before whom no ass passed secure

Eugénio Mentecuculi and Torena

Donate Areus Coimbrões. what master  blunder,

Or Quixotada at the unhappy Leiria

In search of marenguistas well-doing. Changed his luck and his uniform in white furs, and conserving the natural plump sword, thick, prim and stiff, all in rows passed.

 If the Dardanelles

If they moved in ass, broke the ass; (...) they cover the ass with their hands, their eyes, a thousand exorcisms with fervent prayer". 

From Bocage:

In Tróia, near Setubal an uneducated neighborhood

Lives the typical black, of whom I speak,


Without wanting to be hidden in the shorts

When tougher, the swollen clapper,

Now pulls out the buttons with hard fury

Now unhinging the walls when pees


How fucking black, the nigger is black and ugly

From lark to gaelic bunch

With respect a thousand times names it,

And the proud cock wild

The whores all render homage


"Help the hungry fuckers,

propitious deity which hear me!

You consoles, You fill favors

The master of fuck, the father of whores;

Did you see that, the lust enjoying the pain,

Fought with a sheet, immense struggles,

And slightly slow down, as I note,

To give pious protection to your devotee."

Returning to the historian Drumond Braga, the Inquisition was not interested in female homosexuality, because there was no penetration. Only when dildos or fingers occurred is that one could think of a sodomy sin.

We can consider, in the nineteenth-century Portuguese literature, two particularly erotic poems.

From Antero de Quental the famous sonnet Metempsychosis and from António Nobre the poem O Lascivo. Even so, the poem from Cesario Verde titled lubricious.

But António Nobre wins the case.

"(...) The guests are Tigers, Panthers,

That beyond the Seas comes attend our wedding...

And you in that Olympic orgy of beasts

Devour me, too, beast greater than all!

Oh my love! Meet my funereal howls!

Pity! Come! Quiets them: gives more pasture to the lions,

Yells. Make us wake up the cemeteries!

And the dead howl inside their coffins.

I want you to see, as well, sprawled, naked,

Able to seduce the dead with desire...

Ah, that your heat reaches the stars, street flower!

That Jesus descends on the earth to cover you with kisses,

That the ocean, finally, presses in his arms the moon!... " 

In Poesia Portuguesa Erótica e Satírica séculos XVIII_XIX. Preface by José Martins Garcia .1975. 

From Almeida Garrett (1799-1854) we have the poem The Theft of the Sabines and The Portrait of Venus from which we leave a few brief verses.

"(...) There, laughing mouth, where I continuous

Love nested, opened you, loving;

There the breast of pure alabaster,

The Dairy Pomos, devouring kisses

From the hungry amateur; smooth columns,

Underpinning greedy a thousand of secrets;

Secrets ... Forgive: behold me silent.

Turn to my verses, compassionate lover,

Benign eyes: flying for you

Scathing critique of censorship flee.

If you receive the rude offer,

Will be my verses, like you, divine." 

Jose Martins Garcia, in 20th of March, 1975, prefaced by the hand of Fernando Ribeiro de Mello, poetry, almost pornographic, and justified himself as follows:

"(...) If so, is spoken in pill and think that it fulfilled a highly progressive and patriotic dictate. So that in order to the family remains intact. So that the chaste, yesterday accomplices of fascism, can continue accomplices of another ism. To make it any emerging voice of the marginalized Jews and Moors of the ghettos. If someone does not permit us the courage, we assume the courage of marginality.

Profusely illustrated, Fernando Ribeiro de Mello pointed out that he had already published O Supermacho from Alfred Jarry; A Filosofia na Alcova the Marquis de Sade; Cara LH amas from E.M. de Melo e Castro and Antologia de Poesia Latina Erótica e Satírica,, from a group of teachers of the Faculty of Letters of Lisbon."

Ribeiro de Mello, in the flaps, spoke of the Inquisition, of hypocrisy and even of Freud, so that the audience could appreciate more such a challenging publication. Promised the republication of Kamasutra and claimed that up to the 25th of April, all the "damn" works he published had been confiscated by the PIDE.



© Maria Estela Guedes