The Happy Cuckold

Steve Hutton (
4 Sep 1996 12:56:42 GMT

Lars Eighner ( wrote:
: In our last episode <50hbdp$>,
: Broadcast on alt.folklore.urban,sci.anthropology
: The lovely and talented (Bryant) wrote:

: >What happens in the cultures you have in mind when a husband finds out
: >about the trysts? What cultures, in fact, are you describing?

: He is delighted, especially if there is some prospect of offspring.
: The biological father's family will almost certainly attempt to
: ransom the child. Most of these societies are 1)chronically
: underpopulated and 2) dependent upon a very labor-intensive
: economy. The husband gets to keep the child or he gets the offerings
: of the biological father's family. In either case, he will be
: wealthier and the biological father's family will be poorer.

There are certainly cases where a man wants to be a father but can't
become one because of infertility, impotence, or lack of sexual interest
in women. (I'll leave it to others to decide whether any of these traits
are correlated with milk drinking.)

In ancient Rome, they had:
- legal penalties for being childless and benefits for having 3 or more
- a wide variety of sexual options
- writers who loved scandal

This combination gives us, in Juvenal's ninth satire, the lament of a male
prostitute whose peak-earning years are past:

You can hedge if you like, discount all the rest, but don't you
Think it worth something, Virro, that if I hadn't displayed
True dedication to duty, your wife would be virgin still?
... Often enough she'd be on the point of bolting
When I finally got her to bed, she'd have torn up her marriage-vows
And be leaving for good. ... There's many a household
Just on the point of break-up that's been saved by adultery.
... I sired you a son and a daughter: doesn't that mean
Anything to you at all? ... You've got
Something - from me - to shut up the gossip-mongers.
... But just think of the added benefits if I provide you with
Another child, and bring the score up to three!

The Sixteen Satires, Juvenal, translated by Peter Green, Penguin, 1974

Steve Hutton [speaking only for himself]