Discussion:
spintriae
(too old to reply)
Allan Adler
2004-01-18 05:49:53 UTC
Permalink
In number 16 of Suetonius' biography of Caligula, he credits him
with driving from the city "the perverts known as spintriae, and
could with difficulty be restrained from drowning the lot." Regrettably,
the term "spintriae" does not occur in the glossary at the end of
the volume, nor in my Latin dictionaries, nor even in my copy of
The Latin Sexual Vocabulary.

So, what were "sprintriae"?

Ignorantly,
Allan Adler
***@zurich.ai.mit.edu

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The Bibliographer
2004-01-18 10:46:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by Allan Adler
So, what were "sprintriae"?
Of course, you mean "spintriae," I assume.


The Perseus dictionary states that the Latin "spintria" comes from the
Greek "sphinkter," the contractile muscle of the anus. The word spintria
should, I think, be understood as a noun for a male prostitute.

For the English adjective "spintrian," the <OED> has:
[f. L. spintria: So F. spinthrien.] (See quot. 1656.); 1656 BLOUNT
Glossogr., Spintrian, pertaining to those that seek out, or invent new and
monstruous actions of lust. a1678 MARVELL State Poems Wks. 1726 II. 46 The
poor Priapus,..in the mimicks of the spinstrian [sic] sport, Out~does
Tiberius, and his goatish Court. 1887 L. C. SMITHERS tr. Forberg's
Man. Class. Erotol. viii. 166 More than three may enjoy themselves
together; this is what we call after Tiberius, the spintrian kind. 1913
C. MACKENZIE Sinister St. I. II. ix. 287 My library..holds as many secrets
as the Spintrian books of Elephantis, long ago lost and purified by the
sea.

For the English noun "spintry," the <OED> has: [ad. L. spintria.] 1. A
species of male prostitute. The L. form is used as a pl. by
Goldsm. Cit. World xxxiv.
1598 R. GRENEWEY Tacitus, Ann. VI. i. (1622) 121 Then first of all were
those vnknowen words of Sellaries and Spintries found out of the filthines
of the place. 1603 B. JONSON Sejanus IV. v, [Some] are ravish'd hence,
like captives, and..dealt away, Unto his spintries, sellaries, and
slaves. 2. A place used for unnatural practices. 1649 C. WALKER Relat. &
Observ. II. 257 Their New erected Sodomes and Spintries at the
Mulbury-garden.


As a general rule, there is hardly any classical word, either Greek or
Latin, that is not represented by some derivative in English. The <OED>
then becomes a good way to gloss the classical word by looking up English
words that have the same stem. The older (Medieval,
Renaissance) definitions and quotations generally reflect the classical
meaning -- as is the case with "spintrian" and "spintry" above.
--
Regards, Frank Young
***@wam.umd.edu 703-527-7684
Post Office Box 2793, Kensington, Maryland 20891
"Videmus nunc per speculum in aenigmate... Nunc cognosco ex parte"
Dr. Axel Bergmann
2004-01-18 21:39:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Bibliographer
Post by Allan Adler
So, what were "sprintriae"?
Of course, you mean "spintriae," I assume.
"spintriae", as given in Allan's message header.
Post by The Bibliographer
The Perseus dictionary states that the Latin "spintria" comes from the
Greek "sphinkter," the contractile muscle of the anus. The word spintria
should, I think, be understood as a noun for a male prostitute.
The _OLD_ translates "spintria, ~ae, m." as "A type of male prostitute", which
lat. word it says has been used by
PETR. 113.11
TAC. Ann. 6.1
SUET. Tib. 43.1, Cal. 16.1, Vit. 3.2.

GEORGES, _Ausführliches lateinisch-deutsches Handwörterbuch_, 8th ed. = 11th
ed., 1962, not daring a German translation, explains "spintria (spinthria)
[...] Tac. u. Suet." as "qui muliebra patitur seque aliis abutendum praebet".

So that a spintria is a male prostitute serving as the passive, i.e. receptive
or 'female', coitus partner. It's not unusual that a culture more or less
accepts active homosexuality, but strongly rejects the passive one.
Post by The Bibliographer
For the English adjective "spintrian," the <OED> [...]
Best wishes,
Axel
Dan Clore
2004-01-21 15:45:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Allan Adler
In number 16 of Suetonius' biography of Caligula, he credits him
with driving from the city "the perverts known as spintriae, and
could with difficulty be restrained from drowning the lot." Regrettably,
the term "spintriae" does not occur in the glossary at the end of
the volume, nor in my Latin dictionaries, nor even in my copy of
The Latin Sexual Vocabulary.
So, what were "sprintriae"?
In Suetonius' biography of Tiberius he says: "In his retreat
at Capri there was room devised by him dedicated to the most
arcane lusts. Here he had assembled from all quarters girls
and perverts, whom he called _Spintriae_, who invented
monstrous feats of lubricity, and defiled one another before
him, interlaced in series of threes, in order to inflame his
feeble appetite." (trans. Joseph Cavorse)

I won't repeat the information from the OED that another
poster has given. But this:

For there are certain tempers of body, which matcht with an
humorous depravity of mind, do hatch and produce
vitiosities, whose newness and monstrosity of nature admits
no name; this was the temper of that Lecher that carnal'd
with a Statua, and constitution of Nero in his Spintrian
recreations.
Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici
[Browne clarifies in Annotations upon Religio Medici: The
Author doth not mean the last Nero, but Tiberius the
Emperour, whose name was Nero too; of whom Sueton. Successu
vero Capreensi etiam sellariam excogitavit sedem arcanarum
libidinum, in quam undique conquisiti puellarum et
exoletorum greges monstrosiq; concubitus repertores, quos
spintrias appellabit, triplici serie connexi invicem
incestarent se coram ipso, ut adspectu deficientes libidines
excitaret. Suet. in Tib. 43.]

probably antedates their first citation for the word
"Spintrian".

Some other stray references:

No antiquarian, unfolding with trembling hand the calcined
leaves of an Herculaneum manuscript, and hoping to discover
some lost lines of the Æneis in Virgil's own autograph, or
at least some unutterable abomination of Petronius or
Martial, happily elucidatory of the mysteries of the
Spintriæ, or the orgies of the Phallic worshippers, ever
pored with more luckless diligence, or shook a head of more
hopeless despondency over his task.
Charles Maturin, Melmoth the Wanderer: A Tale

Then Anaïtis put purple powder on her hair, and hastily got
together a few beguiling devices, and went into the Thebaid.
Jurgen went back to the Library, and the System of
Worshipping a Girl, and the unique manuscripts of Astyanassa
and Elephantis and Sotadês, and the Dionysiac Formulæ, and
the Chart of Postures, and the Litany of the Centre of
Delight, and the Spintrian Treatises, and the Thirty-two
Gratifications, and innumerable other volumes which he found
instructive.
James Branch Cabell, Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice

SPINTRIAN TREATISES--It is not difficult to guess the
character of these treatises when we recall that Tiberius
Cæsar had at Capri a troupe of men and women, especially
trained in sexual perversities, whom he called spintriæ.
James P. Cover, Notes on Jurgen

After this was done, Gentien avowed that the worshippers,
one and all, abandoned themselves to a very riot of lust and
spintrian pollutions.
Montague Summers, A Popular History of Witchcraft
--
Dan Clore

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