After the discovery of the racy fragments censored from the 13th century’s most popular poem, can any other ancient texts match up?
You will, of course, be familiar with the epic Le Roman de la Rose (The Romance of the Rose), the vast poem written in the 13th century that is reckoned to have been the most popular book of the medieval period. It is also sensual and subversive, with bits so pleasingly filthy they were censored. Some of the more highly charged fragments, torn out of one of the original manuscripts, have now turned up in that hotbed of medieval s*******y, Worcester Record Office.
The love-pilgrim’s “staff” is “stiff and strong”; he talks of being “full of agility and vigour, between the two fair pillars … consumed with desire to worship”. Racy stuff – and we can no doubt expect a new popular edition soon. But is it the tip of the … iceberg? Should we be racing to read the dirty bits of other ancient texts? You bet your life we should. Here are a few suggestive suggestions: