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Feast of Liberalia – from The Darkening Age by Catherine Nixey

Feast of Liberalia – from The Darkening Age by Catherine Nixey

Macmillan © 2017


I have always been puzzled by references to Romans and Greeks which seem to imply that they had a fairly high level of communication and civilisation. For example Socrates has being quoted. My encyclopaedia puts him between approximately 470 and 399 BC. And yet after that, in the A.D. period of time, we have what has been called the dark ages. I get a digital weekly news and review magazine from England called The Week. I very rarely buy books but there appeared in it a review of a book called The Darkening Age. The review was good, and the book purported to explain why we had the dark ages. So I bought it.

I have always had trouble with sex and been unable to get hold of a wife and therefore have the children I wanted. I also had cancer on my penis 5 or 6 times. These things have been described a bit on this homepage, particularly in a video/audio series (on the menu point to the left under Viewpoints on Technology … , Video and MP3). Scientology processing over the years has helped considerably and explained something of the reasons behind my difficulties. Amongst other things I hope this page will bring things up to date a bit.

I found Catherine Nixey's book amazing. What was going on centuries ago in the Roman baths. At this stage I can only recommend you to get the book (if the subject interests you) and read it for yourself. I reckon it is well worth the time you spend on it. You can Google the book on Internet and order it there.

Here are a few paragraphs/excerpts.

The following is from the introduction, page xxxviii.
A note on vocabulary; I have tried to avoid using the word 'pagan' throughout, except when conveying the thoughts or deeds of a Christian protagonist. It was a pejorative and and insulting word and was not one that any non-Christian at the time would have been willingly used of themselves. It was also a Christian innovation: before Christianity's ascendancy few people would have thought to describe themselves by their religion at all. After Christianity, the world became split, forevermore, along religious boundaries; and words appeared to demarcate these divisions. One of the most common was 'pagan'. Initially this word had been used to refer to a civilian rather than a soldier. After Christianity, the soldiers in question were not Roman legionaries but those who had enlisted in Christ's army. Later, Christian writers concocted false, unflattering etymologies for it: they said it was related to the word 'pagus', to the 'peasants' and the field. It was not; but such slurs stuck and 'paganism' acquired an unappealing whiff of the rustic and the backward – a taint it carries to this day.

From page 177: Sex then ought to be contained – but it was not denied. In the writings of the Roman elite, like any other appetite it was as Peter Brown has observed, something to be admitted and managed rather than something to be ashamed of. The feast of the Liberalia was on the 17th of March; a now sadly forgotten festival which Roman citizens celebrated a boys first ejaculation. In Roman medical manuals, ejaculation had been readily and openly discussed by classical doctors who advised it for health and getting rid of the seed that might otherwise cause headaches. It was thought that if athletes could abstain from sex they would be stronger. Orgasms and sex were even recommended for women's health.
Sex, sexual desire and the consequences of sex were frankly discussed. …

On page 196 talking about the difference Christianity made she writes:
On 17 March, Roman citizens had celebrated the Liberalia. On 17 March, the Christian church celebrated instead the saint's day of Ambrose of Alexandria a pupil of Origen the man who (allegedly) had castrated himself for the sake of heaven. What was acceptable in terms of sexuality narrowed. It will be well over a thousand years before Western civilisation could come to see homosexuality as anything other than a perversion and a crime.

This page has come under the heading feast of the Liberalia mainly because my first ejaculation which was  traumatic (a shock I was not prepared for), but only one of many traumatic situations concerned with sex, made traumatic because I lived in an atmosphere of suppressed communication on questions concerning sex.


My first ejaculation occurred in the bathroom of the flat we lived in. The bathroom is one of the few places where I could touch my penis and enjoy the sensation (masturbation), an act which was forbidden according to a small Ministry of Health booklet my father handed me rather surreptitiously a few months earlier. In getting pleasure out of my penis at that moment I place it under the tap (faucet) in the wash basin. The penis began to make convulsive and very unpleasant movements. (I cannot remember if it emitted any liquid.) This scared me greatly. Had I damaged it? In the family and possibly more generally there was an enormous inhibition on communication on subjects concerning with sex and I had no word to describe my penis. To me it was totally impossible to mention this traumatic experience to anybody. If anybody else had tried to conversed to me about it I would have been speechless with embarrassment. However, time passed and nothing horrible happened and I was unable to resist the temptation to continue playing with myself (meaning my penis). Usually I could not go to sleep without doing so.

When I first set up my home page I was fearful of writing about this. The reasons shows a little bit of how "abberated" I was at that time about the subject of sex. One reason was that I felt that if I wrote sexual words on the Internet there was a danger of them being picked up and my site being banned as pornographic. It was impossible to seek advice on what had happened. I would say it was very traumatic. And it was dramatic. But I continued life and nothing unpleasant happened to my penis in fact I still was very much attracted to masturbating. Perhaps that gives you an idea why the feast of the Liberalia was the part of Catherine Nixey's book The Darkening Age which was the most important to me. Imagine a society where people talked about the first ejaculation and even celebrated it as a joyful event. In actual fact Catherine Nixey's book has far more important implications to civilisation, etc.


Update on cancer (17 March 2019)
Under Viewpoints on Technology and Philosophy  -> Video and MP3 (see on your left) I have given some rather extensive audio files (the first two also in video) concerning my encounters with sex and a number of cancers, all but one on the penis. The following is a little update on the data there.
At the beginning of (I think) 2012 I had an operation for cancer on my penis. The cancer was a little bit different from the earlier ones as it was not on the surface. I had the end of my penis removed. Yearly afterwards for the next five or six years I had it checked to see if it had returned. Now I no longer have it checked.  "Missing, presumed dead" as used to be said of soldiers in battle whose existence could not be accounted for.