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What are oldest known written or visual description of cunnilingus and fellatio?
March 30, 2008 7:45 AM   Subscribe

What are oldest known written or visual description of cunnilingus and fellatio?

I'm curious to know what are the first recorded mentions or depictions of both male and female oral sex. In my feminist, Nordic social democrat heart of hearts I hope that the earliest reference is to cunnilingus, though I suspect that it's the other way around.

As a bonus I'd like to know what the oldest references are in English.
posted by Kattullus to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, you've got Pompeii/Herculaneum, of course. This may not be the earliest, but it might be early enough to at least give your feminist, Nordic social democrat heart a warm glow. See also this book.
posted by flug at 8:03 AM on March 30, 2008


Some info here.
posted by beagle at 8:14 AM on March 30, 2008


I'm assuming that you know this quote to be eponysterical, but Catullus wrote "Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo" (sadly, my only translation is as coy as my only latin dictionary - if I remember correctly, "Pedicabo" is anal penetration and "irrumbo" is fellatio) sometime between 84 and 54 BC. No women involved, of course. Also, not that old a reference.
posted by bonecrusher at 9:28 AM on March 30, 2008


"question to be eponysterical", I meant.
posted by bonecrusher at 9:29 AM on March 30, 2008


The very last paragraph in the article beagle linked to may be of interest:

Are human beings the only mammals who practice fellatio?

There are certain male chimpanzees who lick their female mates, but that of course is called cunnilingus, and it seems as much an act of hygiene and play as it does an expression of innate sexual pleasure. It's certainly not an act in and of itself. While animals have an incredibly rich and complex sexual life, we humans are unique. As far as fellatio is concerned, at least as a sexual act unto itself, we human beings are all alone in the animal kingdom.

posted by gauchodaspampas at 9:32 AM on March 30, 2008


How beautiful your sandaled feet,
O prince's daughter!
Your graceful legs are like jewels,
the work of a craftsman's hands.
Your navel is a rounded goblet
that never lacks blended wine.
Your waist is a mound of wheat
encircled by lilies.


--Song of Solomon (in the Bible) 7:1-2

I can assure you that "navel" and "waist" in this translation are oblique references to what lies between her "graceful legs." It may not be a direct reference to cunnilingus, but what else does one do with blended wine but drink it?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:58 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Song of Songs Chapter 4 Verse 16

"Awake, O north wind, And come, wind of the south; Make my garden breathe out fragrance, Let its spices be wafted abroad. May my beloved come into his garden And eat its choice fruits!"

(971-931 B.C.)
posted by brautigan at 9:59 AM on March 30, 2008


I should add that there are plenty of people who disagree with me, but no one has yet explained what it could mean that the princess' bellybutton has wine in it. The scholars I trust see this as clearly sexual, and in the larger context, I think their case prevails.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:03 AM on March 30, 2008


Quite explicit references to fellatio in Archilochus (7th century B.C.):

Like a Thracian or Phrygian drinking beer through a tube
she sucked, stooped down, engaged too from behind.

posted by Cucurbit at 11:10 AM on March 30, 2008


no one has yet explained what it could mean that the princess' bellybutton has wine in it.

never been a witness to the belly shot, eh?

good golly. i was going to link you to a pic of such an event, confident that i'd have no trouble finding evidence of someone's alcohol-addled degeneracy displayed on a MySpace somewhere. but no. apparently, this was an event unique to our little group of degenerates. we used to lock the doors to the NorShor Theatre and have parties replete with such events--someone would lie down on the bar, and some trusting soul would slurp a shot from the prone, presumably clean, person's belly button.

great. turns out those years were crazier than i thought.

i prefer your theory.
posted by RedEmma at 11:51 AM on March 30, 2008


Even we preachers have some notion what a belly shot is, but the difficultly there is that the area in question "never lacks wine." So we're either talking about a perpetual series of belly shots, or some other opening reasonably close to the navel that could be said, metaphorically, never to lack wine.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:02 PM on March 30, 2008


While animals have an incredibly rich and complex sexual life, we humans are unique. As far as fellatio is concerned, at least as a sexual act unto itself, we human beings are all alone in the animal kingdom.

This is exceptionalist nonsense. In Biological Exuberance, Bruce Bagemihl cites evidence of oral stimulation of male genitals in numerous species, including bobobos, orangutangs, siamangs, macacques, thinhorn sheep, vampire bats (!), gorillas, baboons, manatees, dolphins, and orcas.
posted by ottereroticist at 12:17 PM on March 30, 2008


(And before anyone says "Eponysterical!" my handle comes from a circumstance of auto-fellatio by a sea otter which I myself witnessed.)
posted by ottereroticist at 12:19 PM on March 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


I have seen fellatio depicted on Greek red-figure pottery - I believe in the MFA collection in Boston, on the bottom of a krater or lip cup - although the only reference I could dig up online was this article on rape in antiquity. Red-figure pottery was pretty well over and done by 360 BC.

Here is an execrable Wikipedia article on the history of erotic depictions which is nonetheless well-sourced and might point you towards some better primary sources.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:30 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd like to know what the oldest references are in English.

This part I can do. From the OED:
1887 L. C. SMITHERS tr. Forberg's Man. Classical Erotology iii. 72 The verge, introduced into the mouth, wants to be tickled either by the lips or the tongue, and sucked; the party who does this service to the penis is a fellator or sucker. Ibid. 73 This fellatrix seems to have borne the name of Labda. Ibid. 97 With regard to the subject of fellation, we must not pass over in silence the raven, whom our constant authority (Martial XIV. 74) calls a fellator.
And:
1887 L. C. SMITHERS tr. Forberg's Man. Class. Erotology v. 122 A man who is in the habit of putting out his tongue for the obscene act of cunnilinging.
posted by grouse at 3:51 PM on March 30, 2008


Thanks, all! So, unless someone can dig up something older, the oldest depiction of cunnilingus is The Song of Songs from the 10th Century BC and fellatio is an important part of Egyptian myth, and therefore probably goes back even further. From beagle's link:
[T]he first clear real traces of fellatio are from ancient Egypt. Many of the more stellar examples are in the British Museum, where we find the famous myth of Osiris and Iris: Osiris was killed by his brother and cut into pieces. His sister Iris put the pieces together but, by chance, the penis was missing. An artificial penis was made out of clay, and Iris "blew" life back into Osiris by sucking it. There are explicit images of this myth.
Speaking here is Professor Thierry Leguay, who wrote Histoire raisonnée de la fellation, which would make him something of an authority. Now, I guess my task is to figure out what is the oldest depiction of the myth of Isis blowing life back into Osiris.
posted by Kattullus at 3:58 AM on March 31, 2008


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