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Thanks to Martial, I've come across a decent variety of sexual terms in Latin. Unfortunately, these words are generally difficult to look up in dictionaries, because of the archaic style Latin dictionaries are written in: Lewis and Short gloss futuō ("to fuck") as "to have connection with", or cunnus ("vagina") with another Latin word, pudenda ("the things one should feel shame about"). For some words, like irrumō ("face-fuck") they simply refuse to gloss the sexual meaning at all, and give nothing but citations to Classical authors for readers who want to know.

This makes it extremely difficult to find the Latin equivalent to a given English term, since it's hard to guess the particular euphemisms L&S would use for something.

In this case, I'm curious if there's a Latin verb for "have an orgasm", because I want to do a corpus search and see what contexts it was used in (is it used for women as well as men, for example?). But I have no idea how I would find this, apart from asking people who already know.

So: in particular, is there a Latin equivalent for this? And in general, how should I look up such things?

3
  • It's the verb "patro". We can find these words in the "glossarium eroticum linguae latinae"; the only problem is that it's all written in Latin, yet the context helps us to understand every single world.
    – user11898
    May 19, 2023 at 1:08
  • 1
    Regarding irrumo, join the Georges side of the force. No German knowledge necessary, as this entry contains (almost) no German ;-) May 20, 2023 at 23:48
  • @SebastianKoppehel Ha! That certainly is a concise (and useful) explanation.
    – Draconis
    May 21, 2023 at 0:03

3 Answers 3

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The place to look these things up is J.N. Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary (1982).

There's a discussion of terms for orgasm starting on p. 142. As Manuel says, the most common verb is patrāre, lit. "accomplish, finish"; the noun patrātiō also occurs, but apparently not before the fourth century. There's also the fuller expression coitum patrāre.

Less often perficere and peragere seem to be used in the same sense, as well as various phrases meaning "reach a goal", though some of these are quoted from poetry so it's hard to know if they were current in colloquial speech. And in fine is attested a couple of times with the meaning "at the moment of orgasm".

As far as I can tell all of Adams' quotations either refer specifically to male orgasm or are ambiguous.

8

One other set of verbs relating to orgasm you'll see far more frequently than patrare relate to urination.

Adams lists a few well-known examples in Latin, including Catullus 67.40 (qui ipse sui gnati minxerit in gremium), Horace Sermones 2.7.52 (ne / ditior aut formae melioris meiat eodem), Martial 11.46.2 (incipit in medios meiere uerpa pedes), etc.

It's not clear if this usage is metaphorical or "reflect a 'primitive' failure to distinguish sharply between urine and sexual secretions," as Adams (p. 142) puts it. I believe in this case, though, it only refers to semen, and not other types of ejaculate.

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The poets came up with various euphemisms to describe orgasms. In the Aeneid when Venus asks her husband to forge weapons for Aeneas (8.370-406), Vulcan is initially reluctant, but then she starts touching him and he gets horny and immediately agrees to do what she wants. The scene ends with these lines:

Ea verba locūtūs
optātōs dedit amplexūs, placidumque petīvit
coniugis īnfūsus gremiō per membra sopōrem.

Carolus Ruaeus renders coniugis īnfūsus gremiō as “jacens in sinu uxoris,” and Loeb has “melting in his wife’s arms.” That’s fine as far as it goes, but from everything that has come before you can’t help but think there’s something more going on. Īnfundō, īnfundere means to pour into, so using the passive / middle, this phrase would literally be, “having poured himself into his wife’s lap,” and it’s not much of a stretch from there to see what’s being implied: Vulcan has sex with Venus, he comes inside her, then he falls asleep.

Ovid likes to speak of orgasms using the verb resolvō, resolvere, to loosen, relax, release. The syntax is venus aliquem vel aliquam resolvit, where some word for sex is the subject of the verb and the person having the orgasm the object.

Ōdī concubitūs quī nōn utrumque resolvunt. (Ars Amatoria 2.683)

I hate sex where only one of you comes.

Sentiat ex īmīs venerem resolūta medullīs
fēmina, et ex aequō rēs iuvet illa duōs. (Ars Amatoria 3.793-794)

Let a woman feel sex deep in her bones when she comes, and let that be something you both equally enjoy.

Ovid also has a peculiar instance of what cmw pointed out above about the use of ūrīnō, ūrīnāre to describe ejaculation. In Fasti 5.493-544 he tells the story of the birth and apotheosis of Orion. The setup is stereotypical: a poor but honest widower named Hyrieus offers hospitality to three wandering strangers, who turn out to be gods in disguise. When they grant him a boon, Hyrieus says that he would like a son, but doesn’t want to get married again. But now comes the pervy plot twist. [Warning: Spoiler Alert]

Adnuerant omnēs. Omnēs ad terga iuvencae
cōnstiterant—pudor est ulteriōra loquī.
Tum superiniectā tēxēre madentia terrā,
iamque decem mēnsēs et puer ortus erat.
Hunc Hyrieus, quia sīc genitus, vocat Ūrīōna.
Perdidit antīquum littera prīma sonum.

They had all nodded in agreement and gotten up to stand around the hide of the heifer Hyrieus had slaughtered, and—No, I’m not going to tell you what happened next, it’s too embarrassing. Suffice it to say that they buried the dripping hide, and ten months later there arose a little boy. Because of the way he was born, Hyrieus called him Urion. The first letter has lost its original sound.

So what happened? It doesn’t take much imagination to figure it out. The three gods Jupiter, Neptune and Mercury, performed a kind of divine circle jerk which, god semen being what it is, managed to thoroughly soak the hide (yuck), which they then proceeded to bury in the ground, and after a normal period of gestation a baby was born.

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