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Many Roman religious festivals had an element of sexuality.The February Lupercalia, celebrated as late as the 5th century of the Christian era, included an archaic fertility rite. At certain religious festivals throughout April, prostitutes participated or were officially recognized.The sexuality of martyrology focuses on tests against the Christian's chastity The obscene humor of Martial was briefly revived in 4th-century Bordeaux by the Gallo-Roman scholar-poet Ausonius, although he shunned Martial's predilection for pederasty and was at least nominally a Christian.Like other aspects of Roman life, sexuality was supported and regulated by religious traditions, both the public cult of the state and private religious practices and magic.In general the Romans had more flexible gender categories than the ancient Greeks.A late 20th-century paradigm analyzed Roman sexuality in terms of a "penetrator–penetrated" binary model, a misleadingly rigid analysis that may obscure expressions of sexuality among individual Romans.Visual art was created by those of lower social status and of a greater range of ethnicity, but was tailored to the taste and inclinations of those wealthy enough to afford it, including, in the Imperial era, former slaves.
Erotic art, especially as preserved in Pompeii and Herculaneum, is a rich if not unambiguous source; some images contradict sexual preferences stressed in literary sources and may be intended to provoke laughter or challenge conventional attitudes.
Sexuality in ancient Rome, and more broadly, sexual attitudes and behaviors in ancient Rome, are indicated by Roman art, literature and inscriptions, and to a lesser extent by archaeological remains such as erotic artifacts and architecture.
It has sometimes been assumed that "unlimited sexual license" was characteristic of ancient Rome; Verstraete and Provençal express the opinion that this perspective was simply a Christian interpretation: "The sexuality of the Romans has never had good press in the West ever since the rise of Christianity.
The Dii Consentes were a council of deities in male–female pairs, to some extent Rome's equivalent to the Twelve Olympians of the Greeks.
The Vestal Virgins, the one state priesthood reserved for women, took a vow of chastity that granted them relative independence from male control; among the religious objects in their keeping was a sacred phallus: The men who served in the various colleges of priests were expected to marry and have families.
Cicero held that the desire (libido) to procreate was "the seedbed of the republic", as it was the cause for the first form of social institution, marriage.