Image – Gustav Klimt, “The Theatre in Taormina” (detail)
“I Delicia” or The “Delicia Scrolls” are the wild and salacious memoirs of Aurelia Livia Helenus or “Delicia” (her more widely used slave name) who was imprisoned and enslaved on the order of the Emperor Tiberius after her family was accused of conspiracy and treason.
Delicia was renowned for her beauty and it was said that “any man who cast eyes upon her would immediately be smitten by her charms.”
After her father’s death she was held captive by the Emperor in the cells of his Palace in Rome to be tortured at his pleasure. Then as further act of punishment and, it was said, in order to humiliate her even more, the Emperor banished her from Rome and imprisoned her as a sex slave on Capri, his private Island, which at that time was infamous for its debauchery, wild orgies and sex games.
Somehow she survived to tell her tale.
Delicia often dictated to a scribe and her style is chatty and discursive. She was widely read in the ancient world after the death of Nero, during whose reign the scrolls were written while Delicia was living in Egypt. She was especially popular with Roman legionaries to whom she became a kind of heroine. However the scrolls were probably read furtively or in secret as they were considered immoral and even seditious. Copies have been found in Pompeii, Egypt, Southern France and Spain. The contents are very explicit however they have have not been edited or censored in any way here.