Weird History The Craziest Ancient Rome Sex Scandals  

Aaron Edwards
16.3k votes 3.6k voters 1.1M views 16 items

List Rules Vote up the most insane stories from ancient Roman times—those that put Washington, D.C. and Hollywood to shame.

If the Ancient Romans knew how to do one thing well, it was party. When they weren't busy inventing the aqueduct, concrete, or the basis for the modern calendar, they were discovering new and exciting ways to have a good time with each other. Sure, every emperor, senator, and nobleman under the sun promoted family values... but when that sun set, ancient Rome got into the kind of action that would make the writers of Game of Thrones blush.  

While the Romans probably weren't the first in history to push the sexual envelope, they were among the first to keep detailed records. Regular talk of affairs, orgies, and contests spun around the rumor mill for centuries. Of course, the Romans weren't above tabloid-level journalism. It's no coincidence that the most extreme rumors were about the most hated emperors.

It wasn't all fun and games, though. Since most of these Roman rumors involved the emperors, that meant most of them ended in either bloody coups or executions. It's good to be the king, but only as long as people let you stay in power. So, as crazy as you think modern Washington controversies may seem, some of the ancient Rome sex stories on this list may make you appreciate just how far politicians have come over the last two thousand years.

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Nero Castrated A Man And Then Married Him

Nero Castrated A Man And Then ... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Craziest Ancient Rome Sex Scandals
Photo: John William Waterhouse/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

For someone with the power and maniacal reputation of Emperor Nero, it was probably easy to get bored at having his every whim met. Perhaps that's why Nero turned an innocent boy into a eunuch and then tied the knot. The boy, Sporus, was dressed as a woman in a veil for the official ceremony, and the pair even took a romantic honeymoon to Greece.

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Caligula Went To A Wedding And Left With The Bride

Caligula Went To A Wedding And... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Craziest Ancient Rome Sex Scandals
Photo: Louis le Grand/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Gaius Piso made the poor decision of inviting Emperor Caligula to his wedding. When Caligula showed up to the banquet, Gaius told the emperor not to touch his soon-to-be wife Livia Orestilla. So, naturally, Caligula stole her, married her, then banished her to an island where she was forbidden to sleep with anyone ever again. Moral of the story? Don't tell Caligula he can't do something.

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Nero Got Nasty With His Mom

Nero Got Nasty With His Mom is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Craziest Ancient Rome Sex Scandals
Photo:  Landesmuseum Württemberg/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

For Emperor Nero's mother, Agrippina, merely being the mother of the emperor wasn't enough. Early in his rule as a teenager, Agrippina had a heavy hand in his decision-making. Rumors spread that she reinforced her influence with her body. Stories spread about Nero's relationship with a consort who suspiciously resembled his mother as well as a public appearance together where his robes were noticeably stained.

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An Empress Had A Taboo Face-Off With A Famous Prostitute—And Won

An Empress Had A Taboo Face-Of... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Craziest Ancient Rome Sex Scandals
Photo: Ricardo André Frantz/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

According to Pliny the Elder, Valeria Messalina, the third wife of Emperor Claudius and mother of his son, was known for her appetite for pleasure. Just for fun, the empress bet the best Roman courtesan of her time that she could sleep with more men in one day than said lady of the night. Messalina came out on top by bedding 25 men.

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