6. The Biblical king who had relations with his wife’s corpse for years
Herod the Great (74 BC – circa 1 AD) is best known from the New Testament as the king who ordered the Massacre of the Innocents when Jesus was born. Herod also carried out massive building projects, including the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and the fortress of Masada, both of which featured prominently in the Great Jewish Revolt, decades after his death. Less commonly known about Herod is that he was also a pervert of the ickiest kind.
Herod did not inherit the throne, but ascended it by marrying Mariamne, one of the last surviving heirs of Judea’s Hasmonean Dynasty. One of the reasons that Hasmoneans were so few on the ground was that Herod and his relatives had murdered them. Understandably, Mariamne found it difficult to love a hubby who had murdered so many of her kin. By contrast, Herod was crazy about Mariamne, who was a great beauty. However, when Herod discovered that Mariamne had been plotting against him with two of their sons, love did not stop him from having her and their offspring executed. He then plunged into a deep depression and was unable to let her go. Literally. According to the Talmud, Herod had Mariamne’s corpse preserved in honey, and kept “fulfilling his animalistic desires” with the cadaver for the next seven years.
5. Thomas Jefferson raped his dead wife’s lookalike half sister when she was 14
Thomas Jefferson penned some of the most stirring words in advocating freedom, liberty, and equality. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” has moved and inspired idealists for centuries. On the other hand, Jefferson pursued his happiness in a hilltop plantation, Monticello, leading a life of luxury that was only made possible by the labor of hundreds of chattel slaves. Their numbers included a relative, whom he turned into a sexual concubine when she was 13 or 14.
Sally Hemmings (1773 – 1835) was the half-sister of Jefferson’s wife, Martha Wayles Jefferson, having been fathered by Martha’s father upon one of his slaves. Sally looked like the spitting image of her older half-sister, and when Martha died in 1782, Thomas Jefferson was struck by how much 9-year-old Sally Hemmings resembled his deceased wife. So soon as she hit puberty, at age 13 or 14 – too young to consent even if she had not been a slave and withholding consent was an option – Jefferson turned his dead wife’s lookalike half-sister into his concubine.
4. Eric Gill had incestuous relations with his sister and molested his maids and daughters
Eric Gill (1882 – 1940) was an English sculptor, printmaker, and typeface designer, whose fonts are still used today. He was named Royal Designer for Industry – Britain’s highest award for designers. Gill was also prominent in the Arts and Crafts Movement that flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and which popularized the use of folk styles of decoration. In the negative column, Gill was a Class A pervert, who would probably do decades behind bars if he was alive today.
Gill was a sex maniac, and worked it into just about everything. His obsession did not revolve around normal intimacy: he was into incest, bestiality, and pedophilia, was addicted to prostitutes and liked to abuse his maids. One of his most famous sculptures, Ecstasy, depicts a couple passionately entwined. The model was his sister, with whom he had a lifelong incestuous relationship, and her husband. Some of his most celebrated artwork used his own prepubescent daughters as models, whom he liked to draw nude in semi-erotic poses.
3. Rasputin launched a cult revolving around carnal relations
Rasputin, the illiterate Siberian peasant, charlatan, mystic, holy wanderer, faith healer, blasphemer, and notorious lecher, led an extraordinary life. As a teen, he was such a notorious womanizer that he earned the nickname Rasputin, meaning “the depraved” in Russian. Later in life, his inexplicable ability to soothe the suffering of the child Alexei Nikolayevich, the hemophiliac heir to the Russian throne, won him the favor of his parents, the Tsar and Tsarina of the Russian Empire. The resulting proximity to the throne made him an incongruously powerful and influential figure in the Russian Empire’s final years.
In his youth, Rasputin fell in with a religious sect known as the Khlysts, who preached “holy passionless”, to be attained via exhaustion. So they wore themselves out with fervent prayer, dancing, and spinning. Rasputin built on that to invent a religious doctrine that he described as “driving out sin with sin“, to achieve holy passionless via total exhaustion: not just physical, but also via carnal relations. Rasputin led his cult into reaching exhaustion via orgies – prolonged bouts of debauchery by the entire congregation, to get all the base passions out of their system, then focus on God without distractions of the flesh.
2. Incase with his sisters was mild compared to Caligula’s other perversions
Caligula was Rome’s craziest emperor. The insanity included launching a war against Neptune, in which he ordered soldiers to gather seashells from a shore to show the sea god who was boss; ordering entire sections of spectators at an arena thrown to the wild beasts when he grew bored; breaking into sudden uproarious laughter at the thought that he could have anybody in his vicinity immediately executed with a gesture; and making his favorite horse consul – Republican Rome’s highest executive office. Unsurprisingly, Caligula’s personal life had no shortage of craziness.
Incest with his sisters was just the tip of the iceberg. At dinner parties, Caligula would often order a guest’s wife to accompany him to his bedroom, where he would have his way with her. Returning to the party, he would then rate her performance and berate the cuckolded husband for any shortcomings. He loathed Rome’s aristocrats, so to further humiliate them and shock their sensibilities, he turned part of the imperial palace into a whorehouse, in which the wives of leading senators and dignitaries were made to serve as prostitutes.
1. Tiberius’ perversions exceeded those of everybody on this list
Caligula had learned perversion from the best, having been raised by his uncle, the emperor Tiberius (reigned 14 – 37 AD). Unlike Rome’s most infamously perverted rulers, Caligula, Nero, and Heliogabalus, who became emperors in their teens and went crazy with the sudden power, Tiberius became emperor in his 50s. He exceeded all other emperors in perversion, but did his dirt in the privacy of a secluded palace compound in the island of Capri, far away from the public eye. There, Tiberius wallowed in perversions, most notably pedophilia with children of both genders. He reportedly had toddlers trained to dive underwater while he was in a pool to “nibble” at him as he swam, referring to them as his “minnows”.
Tiberius also had pleasure gardens stocked with teenaged and prepubescent youths, dressed as figures from Greco-Roman mythology, or frolicking about naked, displaying themselves for his pleasure, and engaging in intercourse on command with each other. As he grew older, Tiberius grew increasingly impotent, and so was often reduced to being a spectator. His residences had walls covered with pornographic paintings depicting all kinds of nefarious activity, from the routine to the shockingly depraved. The artwork was like a menu, enabling Tiberius to simply point at a painting, to communicate what he wanted done.
Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading