|Villa Jovis photo from http://www.capri.net|
It seems Tiberius frequented the famous Blue Grotto, or Grotta Azzurra, and had a quay carved from rock inside it, enabling him to indulge in his fondness for bathing in the other-worldly blue waters. It’s also said he built a marine nymphaeum, where he indulged in another passion – swimming naked with young boys and girls. Tiberius, from all accounts, was a depraved individual who held orgies of unorthodox sexual practices in several of the grottoes that dot the waterline around Capri.In AD 121, Suetonius wrote De Vita Caesarum - The Twelve Caesars. Although considered a primary source of Roman history, Suetonius had his critics, many questioning the truth of some of his claims. Suetonius has painted a picture of Tiberius which some scholars today say may not be true. But one only has to look at the paintings, statues, and other relics in Capri to see that he was probably close to the truth.
Suetonius graphically describes some of the lurid and debauched behaviour perpetrated by Tiberius on all who happened to cross his path. Not just sexual deviance, but murder and cruelty. At Villa Jovis, there is a ledge atop the cliff which is apparently where he would have people pushed to their death, merely on his whim.This extract – a translation from the Latin – shows just how depraved Tiberius was, and it doesn’t take too much imagination to see what went on in his Blue Grotto nymphaeum.
“After retiring to Capri, where he had a private pleasure palace built, many young men and women trained in sexual practices were brought there for his pleasure, and would have sex in groups in front of him. Some rooms were furnished with pornography and sex manuals from Egypt - which let the people there know what was expected of them. Tiberius also created lechery nooks in the woods and had girls and boys dressed as nymphs and Pans prostitute themselves in the open. Some of the things he did are hard to believe. He had little boys trained as minnows to chase him when he went swimming and to get between his legs and nibble him.” (Suetonius, De Vita Caesarum , XLIII,XLIV)
|Painting from http://www.artvalue.com/auctionresult--italian-school-20-italy-the-emperor-tiberius-caesar-au-1901797.htm|
For all his wayward and decadent behaviour, Tiberius was also a lover of the finer things in life. He gathered the best architects and craftsmen and set them to work creating complex and massive edifices which allowed him to play his games in luxury.
|A statue of Neptune recovered from the Blue Grotto|
underwater, on the floor of the Blue Grotto. The number and positions of the bases suggests that there were many statues decorating the grotto. In 1964, archaeologists recovered three statues from the floor of the Blue Grotto – one of the sea god Neptune, and the others were of Triton. Considering seven statue bases in all have been found, experts are confident that another four statues have yet to be discovered.
|Boats waiting to enter the small cave opening|
The Blue Grotto is today one of the most magical of places I've ever been.
Rosamanti - out on November 29th