Friday, November 30, 2012

Sex Toys: The Early Years By Violetta Vane (GUEST POST)

Hello and welcome to the last week of Riptide Publishing’s Warriors of Rome month! We’re Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane, and all week we’ll be posting across the web chatting about our heart-pounding new novel Mark of the Gladiator, Roman history in general, and dropping a few sexy gladiator-related surprises along the way! For a complete tour listing, please check out the Riptidewebsite, but first, read on for today’s post, and don’t forget to leave us a comment for today’s chance at winning our week-long contest!

Thank you so much to our hosts for having us, and to all of you for reading along!

Sex Toys: The Early Years
By Violetta Vane

There are some spoilers about Mark of the Gladiator we don’t want to give away on this blog tour—ask us privately and we’ll spill the beans!

However, it shouldn’t be giving away too much to mention that there’s a scene involving ancient Roman sex toys. It’s a very consensual and enjoyable-for-both-partners scene, and we had a lot of fun researching it.

There were most definitely dildos in those times. The Greeks called them olisbos, and there are dildo representations on ancient Greek vases. Women commonly used them to, umm, handle sexual needs. There’s a reference in Lysistrata:

And so, girls, when fucking time comes… not the faintest whiff of it anywhere, right? From the time those Milesians betrayed us, we can’t even find our eight-fingered leather dildos...

Our very word for dildo comes from the Latin dilatare, to dilate or spread. The ones made of polished stone have survived quite well. The more common ones made of leather (eww) have obviously not. Other materials included wood and potentially glass, since the Romans developed some advanced glass-blowing technologies. And as for lubricant, if you guessed olive oil, you’re right.

People must have used sex toys in much the same way back then as they do now. For auto-erotic pleasure. To spice up an existing relationship. To find a way around medical or psychological issues affecting sexual enjoyment.

One difference between the modern-day Anglo-European world and ancient Rome is that phallic representations also had an important religious aspect. So unlike in our society, where dildos are generally kept to pornographic videos and your bedside drawer, in Rome an artificial penis could be an intimate, private possession... or an object of public worship.

If you’d like to see some depictions of ancient sex toys, you can check out this website, which starts at the Stone Age.

Mark of the Gladiator is a fairly dark book, but it does have flashes of comedy, and we coudn’t resist one or two toy jokes. That sex scene we mentioned, though, ends up getting very serious—in fact, reverent—about the possibilities for pleasure and aesthetic enjoyment embodied in these clever, ancient things.

We hope you enjoy it!

Contest Info
All week, leave comments on our blog tour stops for a chance to win all three books in our M/M urban fantasy series Layers of the Otherworld. All you have to do is leave a comment with your email whenever you see us touring. One comment = one entry, so be sure to check us out every day! The more you comment, the better your odds! On December 3rd (that’s one week after Mark of the Gladiator’s release!), we’ll draw one lucky winner to receive Cruce de Caminos, The Druid Stone, and Galway Bound in the ebook format of their choice. Bonne chance!

About Heidi and Violetta
Two unlikely friends and co-writers, Heidi Belleau is a wholesome small-town history nerd from Northern Canada and Violetta Vane is a former academic with a sketchy past from the American South. Together, they write sex-soaked multicultural M/M romance and urban fantasy. You can visit them online at and, or reach them on twitter as @HeidiBelleau and @ViolettaVane.

About Mark of the Gladiator
After an inconvenient display of mercy in the arena, the gladiator Anazâr is pulled from the sands and contracted to nobleman Lucius Marianus to train his new stable of female gladiators. His charges are demoralized and untested, and they bear the marks of abuse. Anazâr has a scant two months to prepare them for the arena, and his new master demands perfection.

Anazâr is surprised by how eager he is to achieve it—far more eager than a man motivated only by self-preservation. Perhaps it’s because Marianus is truly remarkable: handsome, dignified, honorable, and seemingly as attracted to Anazâr as Anazâr is to him.

But a rivalry between Marianus and his brother sparks a murder conspiracy, with Anazâr and his gladiatrices caught in the middle. One brother might offer salvation . . . but which? And in a world where life is worth less than the pleasures of the crowd or the whims of a master, can there be any room for love? As a gladiator, Anazâr's defenses are near impenetrable. But as a man, he learns to his cost that no armor or shield can truly protect his heart.

Buy the entire Warriors of Rome Collection (including MotG) at a 20% discount

Also available on your favourite third party e-tailers!


  1. Thank you for this blog tour. I really enjoyed every step of it, beacause not only I disvovered an amazing book, but also I've learned something new. That article about sex toys was both interesting and informative. Now, no one can say that our generation is full of debauchery :).

    Best wishes,

  2. Thanks so much Barbara! We figured the blog tour would be a great opportunity not just to talk about the book and ourselves, but also share all the amazing stuff we learned about Roman history on the way!

    And yes, if anyone says OUR generation is debauched and oversexed, well... nope!

  3. It's always fun to learn there's nothing new under the sun. I remember a really great article in the now-defunct zine BLAM!BLAM! about Japanese erotic art in the feudal era, and it discussed the various forms of dildos people thought up (some very sophisticated, apparently).


  4. This has been an informative and delightful blog tour. I LOVE the ancient "man with basket of dildos" image. There is no doubt what is in the basket there! Many thanks!

    brendurbanist at gmail dot com

  5. I've enjoyed your blog tour and everything you've shared with us :)


  6. I love the pic of the vase. I love exploring how social acceptance of sexuality has changed over the millennium and differed by culture. Thanks for all that info.

    nrlymrtl at gmail dot com

  7. This has been such a great tour, I have learned all kinds of new things.

    JYL22075 at gmail dot com

  8. Thanks everyone for the wonderful feedback, and thank you Sally for hosting us!

  9. I just love the topic of historical sex toys and how they differed across cultures. Aaaand, for those who didn't yet read "Mark of the Gladiator", that sex toy scene's hot ;D

    berniak85 @