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In the popular imagination and culture, it is synonymous with sexual license and abuse." Roman society was patriarchal (see paterfamilias), and masculinity was premised on a capacity for governing oneself and others of lower status, not only in war and politics, but also in sexual relations.(Virtus), "virtue", was an active masculine ideal of self-discipline, related to the Latin word for "man", vir.were published under the name of famous heterai (courtesans), and circulated in Rome.The robustly sexual Milesiaca of Aristides was translated by Sisenna, one of the praetors of 78 BC.

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.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.The corresponding ideal for a woman was pudicitia, often translated as chastity or modesty, but a more positive and even competitive personal quality that displayed both her attractiveness and self-control.But with extremely few exceptions, surviving Latin literature preserves the voices only of educated male Romans on the subject of sexuality.

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