Title: Wilmot's Sodom, or the quintessence of debauchery Credit: Craig Young Features Tuesday 16th November 2004 - 12:00pm1100559600 Article: 483 Rights
Given TVNZ's current broadcast of Charles II, I thought I'd look into a seventeenth-century poet and man of easy virtue who appeared in last week's episode. Like a seventeenth-century Patsy Stone, John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester (1646-1679) was continually drunk or stoned onopium, cavorted naked with other male 'Ballers' in Woodstock Park, and died of tertiary syphilis. He wrote thefirst literary work to be banned on the basis of obscenity: Sodom, or the Quintessence of Debauchery (1684), albeit posthumously. This forgotten masterpiece of erotic satire was even performed privately at Court, as Charles II's Restoration was a period of liberal reaction against the prescriptive moralism of the Puritan Commonwealth of the 1650s. Sodom's list of characters includes Sodom's royal family- King Bolloxnion, Queen Cuntigratia, Prince Pricket, Princess Swivia, and Prince Pockenello. Buggeranthos is General of Sodom's Army, while Borastus is Buggermaster-General. To round off this merry crew, Fuckadilla, Officina, Cunticula and Clytoris are maids of honour. As the curtain rises on vanished Sodom, King Bolloxinion declares sodomy to be the law of the land, and turns to Prince Pockenello as his newly preferred partner. In Act II, Sodom's women find their own pleasure in sapphic relief. In Act IV, the King is still unwilling to give up the pleasures of anal sex, especially as neighbouring King Tarsehole of Gomorrah has sent him fifty studly young men as tribute slaves, while Sodom's women grow increasingly frustrated with their relative lack of stimulation and plot revolution. In Act V, Bolloxinion reaps the whirlwind and pays the price of his pride when he threatens to roger the gods themselves from the heavens, but divine retribution arrives, in the form of an epidemic of venereal disease, genital rot, and the subsequent death, insanity or diseased impotence of the royal family ensues. At which point, Sodom is incinerated due to biblical accounts of retribution, but the maids of honour have the last word as they sing exuberant praises of male and female genitalia. Sadly, it is difficult to obtain an uncensored copy of Sodom, even online, although it was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2000. Apart from the work of (bisexual) Aphra Behn, it is somewhat more amusing than most of the tiresome Restoration 'comedies' of the late seventeenth century. It is time that this neglected if acerbic work received more attention. At least it isn't full of vicious and gratuitous violence intended to deliberately shock its audience, unlike a certain recent conservative Christian work of 'entertainment' and 'edification.' Recommended Reading: Cephas Goldworthy: The Satyr: An Account of the Life and Work of John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester: London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson: 2001. Rictor Norton: "England's First Pornographer" (1974/1998): Craig Young - 16th November 2004    
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