When talking about erotic relationships and love, the role of eroticism in love and love in eroticism is inseparable from either of the concepts. This is the most appropriate contradiction to the Platonic form of love, which is used in the modern phraseology to justify the absence of erotic relationships in the concept of true love.
The Rape culture that is now considered a pathogenic behaviour in the modern society was surprisingly one of the true catalyst for the growth of “Roman Civilisation”. When Romulus founded the city of Rome in 753 BCE, the Roman society was patriarchal in nature where men (the head of the family) had complete control over the household consisting children, women as well as slaves. Shortly after laying the foundation of the civilisation by Romulus, the Romans invaded the tribal communities neighbouring it, taking away their women and impregnating them which is famously known as the “Famous Rape of the Sabine women”. The tribal communities retaliated back but was suppressed by the powerful Romans.
Though some of these tribal women vehemently opposed the rape culture of the Romans, but some of them submitted, as they saw this obedience to be the only way to end the deaths of hundreds and thousands of their tribesmen. One of the famous examples of this was Hersila (Romulus’s wife) who encouraged other women to submit to the Romans in order to terminate the violence.
From the Roman side, this move was justifiable as they sought a complete demographic re-engineering of the region. The Roman society saw men as the most powerful who can flaunt their sexuality whereas women’s role in the society was restricted to child bearing, preferably boys to carry on their lineage. This concept was backed by religion as they dictated that men should make the rules and women had to follow them, men held the power and women are meant to respond to them accordingly.
When scrutinising the concept of love in Ancient Rome, it is important to analyse the contemporary literature of that period. In numerous poems, there has been evidences of adultery in Ancient Rome. While romantic relationships between married couple is attested to letters, epitaphs as well as inscriptions, a bigger picture of romantic as well as erotic relationships comes from literary works such as poems in which poets were seen complimenting women or boys with whom they were romantically or sexually intimate, usually an extramarital affair on one part or both.
Marriage in Roman society was highly regulative in nature where parents took the final decision without consulting or taking consent from their children. This led to a flawed social institution in the name of marriage. Divorce, on the other hand was present but was regulated strictly by patriarchal rules and social order. The social norms for divorce included infertility on wife’s part or neglect and abuse on the husband’s. Adultery could be a reason for divorce but it couldn’t be brought by a woman engaged in extramarital affair. In a nutshell, Adultery was a sin and an illegal activity but was rampant in the period.
Therefore, Roman civilisation provided a rationale, not only for the prevailing rape culture in that period but also a patriarchal social structure in which women neither had a free will nor freedom to act justly opposing to the subjugation. The social order was extremely stringent and women never left the chain of oppression in Roman society.