Orgy Planners and the burning of Rome

October 1, 2009 § 4 Comments

I’m currently reading a book by Vicki Leon, entitled Working IX to V. It’s all about the various occupations people had during the Roman times.

This is what she says about writing it:

This book was more fun to write than any other non-fiction I’ve done. Why? Because I got to draw from a Colosseum-sized mass of source material, quirky art, and on-site data that I’ve collected. In the process, I found scads more trades and professions than the 150 careers that made it into the book. The ancient job market hummed with vitality–and so did the lively human landscape of long ago. As Publishers Weekly said about IX to V: “Drawing on the same outrageous humor that’s made her Uppity Women series so popular, León demonstrates how uncannily similar the workaday experiences of the ancient world are to ours.”

This book isn’t for everybody but I love how Leon has created a very entertaining read while tackling a “boring” niche of history. ( plus I’m such a nerd for useless information)The book has lots of pop culture references so contemporary readers could understand better. She has clearly  brought Ancient Rome to the modern era.

This book will help me a lot since each time I start hating my job, I will just think back to all those horrendous jobs people used to have : Fullers — the dry cleaners who used urine, lime and sulfur to clean ancient togas; the Armpit Plucker; the Accusation Specialist, the Curse-Tablet Maker, the Litter Carrier — the ancient version of the taxi, Funeral clown and my favorite of all the Orgy Planner.

The last one is the most curious of all not because of its titillating factor, but because according to the book, their shenanigans might have been the reason or one of the reasons for the second burning of Rome in 64 AD.

Some interesting info about the Orgy Planner:

The star orgy planner during that time was Gaius Petronius and he was Emperor Nero’s favorite. Nero was one sick bastard, demanding more and more outrageous parties. Imagine the pressure on Gaius, since he had to amp up the kicks for each one! One day he no longer satisfied his client’s appetite, so to speak, and fell from favor. His punishment? He just had to take his own life. Ever the party planner, he even made an event out of his suicide.

After his death, he was replaced by Tigellinus who  surpassed Gaius’ notoriety. ( I didn’t know there were so many ways to degradation) He threw orgies that featured “daisy-chain sex , maidenhead plucking by gladiators, extreme degradation of the high-ranking by Nero himself, plus the morbid bonus of accidental deaths by rose petal smothering. “ He would have maintained his fame if only he wasn’t suspected of arson. The second burning of Rome , which happened a few days after the first,  started right in his own garden.

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§ 4 Responses to Orgy Planners and the burning of Rome

  • Randy Pena says:

    I found your site on Google and read a few of your other entires. Nice Stuff. I’m looking forward to reading more from you.

  • vicki leon says:

    Right on, Rusty—thanks for the nice words and insightful comments about my book, Working IX to V. I did take pains to make a lot of contemporary references and comparisons and I greatly appreciate that you totally got that. Just finished another book for Walker (it’ll be out in July) called How to Mellify a Corpse: and other human stories of ancient science and superstition. Might sound like a Halloween book but it’s much much more…
    Impudent best wishes from Vicki Leon, historical detective

    • rustyhalo says:

      wow, thanks vicki for commenting on my post. If I knew you’d be reading it, I would have tried to polish up what I wrote! *lol*
      Your new book sounds interesting! I will check it out! 🙂

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