That I ne’er saw thee in a Coach with Man,
Nor thy chaste Name in wanton satire met;
That from thy sex thy liking never ran,
So as to suffer a Male-servant yet;
I thought thee the Lucretia of our time:
But, Bassa, thou the while a Tribas wert,
And clashing — with a prodigious Crime
Didst act of Man th’ inimitable part.
What Oedipus this Riddle can untie?
Without a Male there was Adultery.
[Quod numquam maribus iunctam te, Bassa, videbam
Quodque tibi moechum fabula nulla dabat,
Omne sed officium circa te semper obibat
Turba tui sexus, non adeunte viro,
Esse videbaris, fateor, Lucretia nobis:
At tu, pro facinus, Bassa, fututor eras.
Inter se geminos audes committere cunnos
Mentiturque virum prodigiosa Venus.
Commenta es dignum Thebano aenigmate monstrum,
Hic ubi vir non est, ut sit adulterium.]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 90 (1.90) [tr. Sedley (1702)]
"To Bassa". This epigram is often untranslated or omitted in collections. Martial thought lesbian sexuality perverse, though he enjoyed and wrote highly of pederasty, as any good Roman male would. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:
That with the males thou ne'er wast known to mix,
Nor e'er gallant did envious slander fix;
That thine officious sex thee homag'd round,
And not a man durst tain the hallow'd ground:
What less than a Lucretia could'st thou be?
Ah! what was found? Th' adulterer in thee,
To make the mounts collide emerg'd they plan,
And monstrous Venus would bely the man.
Thou a new Theban torture could'st explore,
And bid adult'ry need a male no more.
[tr. Hay (1755); Book 6, Part 3, ep. 44]
Inasmuch as I never saw you, Bassa, surrounded by a crowd of admirers, and report in no case assigned to you a favoured lover; but every duty about your person was constantly performed by a crowd of your own sex, without the presence of even one man; you seemed to me, I confess it, to be a Lucretia.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1897), "On Bassa"; the "translation" then shifts to the original Latin.]
In that I never saw you, Bassa, intimate with men, and that no scandal assigned you a lover, but every office a throng of your own sex round you performed without the approach of man -- you seemed to me, I confess, a Lucretia; yet, Bassa -- oh, monstrous! -- you are, it seems, a nondescript. You dare things unspeakable, and your portentous lust imitates man. You have invented a prodigy worthy of the Theban riddle, that here, where no man is, should be adultery!
[tr. Ker (1919)]
I never saw you close to men, Bassa, and no rumor gave you a lover. You were always surrounded by a crowd of your own sex, performing every office, with no man coming near you. So I confess I thought you a Lucretia; but Bassa, for shame, you were a fornicator. You dare to join two cunts and your monstrous organ feigns masculinity. You have invented a portent worthy of the Theban riddle: where no man is, there is adultery.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]
I never saw you, Bassa, with a man
No rumor ever spread of an affair.
You seemed as chaste as any woman can,
With Lucrece pure you made a worthy pair.
Belatedly I found I venerated,
A woman who a woman penetrated.
You found an amphisbaenic instrument --
To give cunts simultaneous content.
You pose a riddle Sphinxes never knew,
To be a woman and a woman screw.
[tr. Wills (2007)]
Bassa, I never saw you hang with guys --
Nobody whispered that you had a beau.
Girls surrounded you at every turn;
They did your errands, with no attendant males.
And so, I guess I naturally assumed
That you were what you seemed: a chaste Lucretia.
But hell no. Why, you shameless little tramp,
You were an active humper all the time.
You improvised, by rubbing cunts together,
And using that bionic clit of yours
To counterfeit the thrusting of a male.
Unbelievable. You’ve managed to create
A real conundrum, worthy of the Sphinx:
Adultery without a co-respondent.
[tr. Salemi (2008)]
Bassa, I never saw you close to men; no gossip linked you to a lover here.
A crowd of your own sex was always with you at every function, no man coming near.
I have to say, I thought you a Lucretia, but you (for shame!) were fucking even then.
You dare link twin cunts and, with your monstrous clitoris, pretend to fuck like men.
You'd suit a Theban riddle perfectly:
where there's no man, there's still adultery.
[tr. McLean (2014)]
Note not all quotations have been tagged, so Search may find additional quotes on this topic.
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Asking who’s the “man” and who’s the “woman” in a same-sex relationship is like asking which chopstick is the fork.
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At least when the Emperor Justinian, a sky-god man, decided to outlaw sodomy, he had to come up with a good practical reason, which he did. It is well known, Justinian declared, that buggery is a principal cause of earthquakes, and so must be prohibited. But our sky-godders, always eager to hate, still quote Leviticus, as if that looney text had anything useful to say about anything except, perhaps, the inadvisability of eating shellfish in the Jerusalem area.
“America First? America Last? America at Last?” Lowell Lecture, Harvard University (20 Apr 1992)
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Does it really matter what these affectionate people do — so long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses!
(Attributed) (c. 1910)
Apocryphally a rebuke to a young actress who criticized an older actor who seemed too affectionate toward the leading man in the production. Most famously given in this form in Alan Dent, Mrs. Patrick Campbell (1961). Variants (without or with variant attribution) can be found as far back at 1929 (see here for more discussion).
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