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Medieval Sourcebook:
Peter Damian:
Liber Gomorrhianus [.c.1048-54]

Peter Damian's (1007-) Liber Gomorrhianus [Book of Gomorrah] is the most extend, and indeed the only complete. discussion of homosexual activity in the middle ages. Peter was one of the forerunners of the Gregorian Revolution of the late 11th century, a revolution marked by the effort to centralize Church governance, establish a distinction between lay and clerical states, and an apparent revulsion against human sexuality. The text presented here is just the first paragraph of the entire work. Note that although the author considers sex between men to be the most sinful, he includes, as did other medieval writers, masturbation among the sins "against nature".


The Different Types of Those Who Sin Against Nature

Four types of this form of criminal wickedness can be distinguished in an effort to show you the totality of the whole matter in and orderly way: some sine with themselves alone [masturbation]; some by the hands of others [mutual masturbation]; others between the thighs [interfemoral intercourse]; and finally, others commit the complete act against nature [anal intercourse]. The ascending gradation among these is such that the last mentioned are judged to be more serious that the preceding. Indeed a greater penance is imposed on those who fall with others than those who defile only themselves; and those who complete the act are to be judged more severely than those who are defiled through femoral fornication. The devil's artful fraud devises these degrees of failing into ruin such that the higher the level the unfotyunate soul reaches in them, the deeper it sinks in the depths of hell's pit.



from Pierre J. Payer, Book of Gomorrah, ( Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1982), p. 29


This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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Paul Halsall April 1996