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10 Moments In The History Of The Orgy

Joe Duncan


We tend to think we live in a time of sexual liberty, lusty debauchery, and sleazy hookups, an era of Tinder and college parties. But, in actuality, we have some pretty stiff competition when we reach back into history and look to our ancestors and the kings, queens, nobleman, military leaders, emperors, and even prehistoric humans of old. Our free and liberated ways often can’t hold a candle to the pure, unbridled sexuality of a Nero or a Caligula.

Contrary to popular belief and assumption, orgies have actually always been popular; there really hasn’t been a time in human history where people didn’t like sex with a bunch of other people.[1] Did you know that group sex was a big thing in the 16th century? Well, it was. From Xochiquetzal, the Aztec fertility goddess, to Ishtar of ancient Babylon, humans have been sex-crazed and horny since the dawn of time, and there have certainly been orgies going on throughout the ages somewhere. Here are ten moments in the history of lusty orgies.

10 Prehistoric Orgies


It is widely believed that prehistoric humans, much like modern-day people, enjoyed sex in various ways just for the sheer pleasure of it. Sex throughout the ages has been pretty wild and kinky and could even make many of us today blush. And we’re not talking about run-of-the-mill, vanilla sex here; we’re talking about some legitimate kink, up to and including orgies.

Pornography is one of humankind’s earliest inventions. A 37,000-year-old carving found in Southern France depicts a vulva. Another example is the so-called “Venus Cult.”[2] These people carved out statues of rather voluptuous women, which seem to have been essentially prehistoric pin-up girls. However, the figures may also have been meant to depict pregnancy.

It is thought that throughout prehistory, people had large, orgiastic festivals where they celebrated both sexuality and fertility, not unlike the ancient Romans, Babylonians, or even modern-day swinger parties. Primitive sex toys have also been unearthed.

9 Orgies Of Civilization

Photo credit: Rama

Civilization inevitably ensued. Humans tamed the Earth and animals and became stationary city-dwellers, rather than nomadic bands of hunter-gatherers. Nevertheless, they still carried the traditions of old, including orgies and sex festivals, only they did it much, much bigger. In ancient Sumer, there was cult worship of Ishtar (also called Inanna), the Sumerian analogue to the Roman goddess Venus, and these cults practiced ritual prostitution in the name of the gods, as well as large orgy festivals where everyone did the nasty with everyone else.

And just like that, the orgy had become civilized. These fertility festivals in the name of Ishtar were actually the much more wild, pagan roots of the modern-day Easter—and they were a far cry from bunnies and eggs.[3] Orgiastic festivals of group sex were always a staple of the ancient world, as a means of celebrating the human experience and as religious thanks and prayer, in hope for increased fertility.


8 Egyptian Orgies


Ancient Egypt was a fascinating and unique culture. From their religion and obsession with the afterlife to their art and aesthetics to their sex habits, the ancient Egyptians did everything in their own way. The Egyptian city of Bubastis saw some wild times with its annual festival of Bastet (or Bast).

Herodotus writes about the festival of Bastet, describing a scene of unbridled wine consumption and general debauchery.[4] One can only imagine the Egyptian landscape littered with hundreds of people drinking and stumbling, music and drums playing loudly, absolute euphoria and decadence in the way of naked bodies, as the sexual frenzy continues on. One thing is for sure, the ancient world sure knew how to party.

7 Greece

Photo credit: Unknown

When it comes to the ancient world of sex, the city-states of ancient Greece made a name for themselves; Greece was no stranger to hedonistic sex. Remnants of several-thousand-year-old Greek art, from paintings to pottery, show that the Greeks weren’t at all bashful about their sexuality and were loud and proud about their debauchery.[5]

While Greece is often mentioned for its practices of homosexuality and pedophilia, there were no shortage of festivals that would include wine and sex orgies as a way to celebrate—and to give thanks to their gods of the day. Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and fertility, was said to enjoy annual festivals in his name, not unlike Ishtar. Wine was consumed en masse, and sex was had all day, every day, for the course of the festival.

These festivals have inspired art aplenty, even in modern times, and have been depicted for thousands of years by painters and illustrators alike, who vividly use their imaginations to capture the scenes of the ancient Greek orgy. Make no mistake: These rich cultures were seen as the foundations of our Western society, and that includes their orgies and lavish festivals.

6 Rome

Photo credit: Edouard-Henri Avril

Of all the cultures on earth, very few, if any, of them did orgies quite like Rome. With their exaggerated shows, amazing wealth, and celebratory spirit, the Romans did orgies like they did everything else—extravagantly. As Dionysus transformed into the Roman Bacchus with the augmenting of Greek culture into Rome, so, too, were sex practices absorbed into the culture that started off as a small-town, largely agrarian farm offshoot of the ancient Etruscans.

Bacchus was the Roman equivalent of Dionysus, complete with wine, fertility, celebratory festivals, and yes, orgies. Bacchus was Dionysus with a Roman flare, and the festivals carried out in his name were called Bacchanalia. Even today, in English, the word “bacchanalia” can mean “orgy.” This drunken feast was originally a small festival which was surprisingly held by women only,[6] but as Rome grew, so did the Bacchanalia, and soon, it was the annual festival of drunken group sex that was putting Dionysus to shame.

As republic turned to empire, things only got more carried away, with Roman emperors carrying out their lusty wishes. The Lake Nemi ships were two vessels recovered in 1929. They were lavish, awe-inspiring boats built by Emperor Caligula. Lined with gold and marble, it quickly became clear that these were no ordinary ships; these were vessels of excess. As you might have guessed, Caligula would use these ships for massive, floating orgies.


5 India


The West wasn’t the only part of the world with a history of fancy sex rituals and orgies. India is now a very sexually conservative country compared to its wild roots. One might imagine the nation that brought us the Kama Sutra as being an indulgent bastion of sexual prowess, and once upon a time, it was.

In the Indian town of Khajuraho, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, lies one of the most intact displays of erotic Indian temple art, depicting sex scenes of all different types, a large number of them being of group sex.[6] The walls depict people having all sorts of sex, and plenty of orgies line the temple, as bundles of entangled humans are seen doing all sorts of naughty acts with one another. This sex temple is amazingly well-preserved and serves as a window into the world of old in India, where orgies were nothing short of bountiful.

4 The Renaissance

Photo via Pinterest

Don’t let their Christian writings and humble demeanor fool you; there were orgies throughout the Middle Ages, though group sex experienced a pretty sharp decline in popularity under the watching eye of the church. But the poor classes generally didn’t have a social face to save and thus relocated their adventures to places in society where the wealthy elite didn’t go—until the Italian Renaissance, that is, when a new breath of life was injected into the orgy: the masquerade ball.

Masquerade orgies[8] were held by the elite classes, and they did have to save face the next day after a debaucherous night of drinking and sex, and the masks served this very purpose—to save face—because every other article of clothing besides the mask was likely to come off. Masquerades weren’t unlike the Bacchic orgies of old, only on a smaller scale and much more private. Protecting the identity was of the utmost importance, as everyone needed to wake up and pretend to be high-class, upstanding Christian citizens the next day. The masks they designed were both elaborate and effective in this endeavor, and the masquerade lives on in today’s Mardi Gras and other similarly inspired parties, which still carry the strong sexual undertones that the masquerades did.

3 Turn Of The 20th Century

Photo credit: Albert Kirchner

The popularity of masquerades eventually faded, as did wild sex in general, being replaced by prudish practices, long dresses, and covered skin so as to not entice the eye, or hand, of another. Western culture largely became averse to sex. At this point, orgies were relegated to the fringe members of society, the Rasputins and Aleister Crowleys of the world. But as the 20th century began to roll in, the West was finally starting to shed its puritanical and deeply religious ways.

Le Coucher de la Mariee, a French film, is one of the first pornographic films and was made in 1896.[9] The early 20th century would see no shortage of pornography, some of which included group sex. The orgy was on the rise again. The early 1900s were actually replete with threesomes, foursomes, and moresomes, both in Europe and the United States, and many of the erotic videos from the day can still be found on the Internet today.

2 Sexual Revolution


As the World Wars faded into history and the 1960s rolled in, a sexual revolution came about. Free love and casual drug use became the norm. And the new version of the faceless masquerade was the ability to get lost in the anonymity of the rock concert. Advocates and organizations pushed for the further liberalization of sex, with sex acts, even in groups, taking on a new meaning: protest.

Also brewing beneath the colorful surface of the hippies’ peace and love was a brooding blackness that carried out their own secluded orgies: the Church of Satan.[10] Anton LaVey, the founder, would hold racy orgies in robes and religious garments, photos of which can be found online today. The 1960s were a time when many people rejected any and all social norms and scrutinized the prudish doctrines that had been dominant for centuries. Advancements in film technology had also made pornography easier to make and significantly more accessible. Yet again, the way was paved for the new generation of orgies that were to come.

1 The Modern Orgy


Since the 1960s, the orgy has slowly gotten bigger, with more participants, more bizarre acts, and even more cameras. The decade’s push for sexual liberation paved the way for something major that happened in the United States in the 1970s: swinging. Far tamed from the ships of Caligula, swinging is the practice of groups of people, usually couples, coming together for a sex-indulgent orgy or some other form of group play, like wife-swapping. And swinging has since remained steadily popular.

However, technological advancements would be the most notable guide for the direction the orgy would take in modern times, with pornography leading the charge in the way of groups of people of whatever size coming together and having sex. Pretty much, if a group of people can do it and sexualize it, and it’s not illegal to do, it’s been done and is simply a click away. It is estimated that there are now 572 billion porn webpages online, and while many of these cater to niche content, it’s safe to say that plenty of them feature some type of orgiastic group activity.

The other technological advancement which has ushered in more group sex has been the compact cell phone camera, which people can use, as could be expected, for amateur, homemade pornography. Amateur porn is drastically on the rise. Now swingers can swing, record it with the same device that they use to call their mothers, and sell the rights to their steamy sessions for cash. And this phenomenon of amateur pornography is global, occurring in almost every nation on Earth. Even India is experiencing the same phenomenon as cell phones become much more readily accessible to its massive population.[11]

And so it will continue into the future; whatever advancements the human race makes, we’ll somehow find a way to pervert it to sexual ends, coming together in groups, big or small, to have sex and enjoy a good old-fashioned orgy, the way we have been since prehistory. It’s only a matter of time before someone, or some porn company, has the money and opportunity to hold the first weightless orgy, in the deep, vast, vacuous abyss of space.

I like to write about dark stuff, history, and philosophy.

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