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Notes from a Roman Orgy

Blue Grotto

OK, I wasn’t alive 2000 years ago, and I didn’t actually take part in a Roman orgy, but last week I found myself in a small gondola near the isle of Capri in southern Italy, slowly sailing through a small dark tunnel, and into a sea cave called the Blue Grotto. During the Roman Empire, around the 1st century AD, the Blue Grotto was lined with statues and used as a swimming pool by Emperor Tiberius. As a lover of music, I am always curious what people did to make music throughout history. The Romans were musically pretty boring back then. They ripped off the Greeks and used their scales to make single note pieces without any harmonies. However, when it came to chasing pleasure, they were mad rock stars, and the Blue Grotto was the water palace for the Emperor’s orgies, with dozens of sweaty bodies, intoxicating substances, and enough naughty behavior to make even the sickest after-hours Hollywood “parties” look lame. The Romans still hold the title for the wildest party people, fully dedicated to keeping their dopamine surging night and day, and I’m sure this was in Hugh Hefner’s mind when he modeled his own Playboy Mansion grotto after the one in Italy. So as I sailed through the narrow dark tunnel leading into the Blue Grotto, I laid back in the gondola and closed my eyes, imagining what fantastic feats of human decadence had happened there. Just like Emperor Tiberius did 2000 years earlier.

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