Love, sex, and contraception: nothing new

I started studying Latin when I was in 8th grade.

By my junior year of high school, I was translating Ovid and Catullus, two famous and gifted Roman poets.

The classics are beautiful, but they were basic people. They were humans. One of the filthiest lines ever written may be this not-safe-for-work line, here.

Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo

(couldn’t resist providing the Latin!)

And yes, we did translate this at some point in high school, along with poems expressing so much love that the voice of the two couldn’t wait to, shall we say, engage in intercourse.

At that young age, and admittedly in an attempt to not think about Latin grammar, my mind wandered. Birth rates were low in the newly formed Empire, and Augustus wasn’t happy about it…yet I was translating explicit love (and break up) poetry.

The question seemed—and still does seem—most obvious to me: Why was the birth rate low when the lust factor was supposedly so high?

Was it the lead in the water pipes that caused sterilization? No.

When you look back through history, in times of economic hardship, the birth rates fall. It’s a tried and true pattern.

As a young woman well aware that my great-grandmother may have been a “midwife” in the 1930’s to women who didn’t appear pregnant and didn’t have children within 9 months, this was rather intriguing. What was happening in the bedrooms of the Greeks and Romans?  How do we explain all this “let’s get it on? mentality” but so few births?

Easy. Egyptian, Greek, and Roman women utilized contraception on a regular basis.

EFFECTIVE contraception.

In my next couple posts, I’ll talk most about the methods employed, the ideologies and philosophies of the time, the original Hippocratic Oath, and how the Romans picked to extinction a plant that was greatly effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies.

Take a trip back in time with me and you’ll learn, abortion is really just a 20th century issue.

Abortion only really became an issue to improving business of the newly formed AMA gynecologists and obstetricians, an ugly side of USA xenophobia (okay, I agree, there is no “pretty side” of xenophobia) and a Papal Bull issued by the same Pope who declared Pope’s to be  infallible.


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