Irrumatio is an archaic Latin term describing the forced, sexual penetration of a person's mouth by a penis. Although there isn’t a simple equivalent in English, the word irrumare can be translated roughly as "to force to fellate". While Modern English does make reference to irrumatio-like acts (known as "forced fellatio" or, slangily, as "face fucking", "skull fucking", and "throat fucking"), all oral-phallic sex is now grouped under the term fellatio, regardless.

To the Romans, however, sexuality was viewed in terms of "activity versus passivity". Penetration was considered active and masculine; being penetrated was, conversely, viewed as both passive and feminine. As a reflection of this, Latin contains both "insertive" and "receptive" verbs for vaginal, anal and oral penetration. And, while all penetration was believed to degrade the passive individual at the expense of the penetrator's masculinity, it was the penetration of the mouth that was considered the most degrading.

While the act of fellating was already considered passive, the term irrumatio further emphasized this passivity, focusing on the degradation of the fellator. The negative connotations of irrumatio gave rise to its use as a means of extreme humiliation. It was considered a just punishment for adulterers, as well as a particularly hostile means by which one could assert rank. Irrumatio was also commonly associated with acts of oral rape.

Reference to irrumatio appears frequently in Roman texts, often figuratively, or in suggestive double entendre. In one instance, the Roman poet Catullus writes:

Gellius audierat patruum obiurgare solere
     si quis delicias diceret aut faceret.
Hoc ne ipsi accideret, patriu perdepsuit ipsam
     uxorem et patruum reddidit Arpocratem.
Quod voluit fecit: nam quamvis
irrumet ipsum
     nunc patruum, verbum non faciet patruus.

Gellius had heard that the uncle was usually censorious
     if one did or said anything naughty.
Lest this should happen to him he worked over
     his uncle's wife and rendered the uncle an Harpocrates.
He did what he wished, for even if (or however much) he should irrumate
     his own uncle now, his uncle won't say a word.(8)

Here, Gellius escapes his uncle’s public condemnation by sleeping with his aunt; in doing so, Gellius's uncle is forced to silence for fear of being outted as a cuckold. Irrumatio first enters into things figuratively, meaning to silence (as in, "to silence someone by irrumatio"). In associating his uncle with Harpocrates, the Egyptian/Greek god of silence, the former meaning is repeated alongside the god’s childishness. This then leads to the second meaning of irrumatio; because Gellius has so clearly demonstrated his dominance, we are left with ambiguity over the poem’s end, unsure (as in the second line) whether Gellius's irrumation is literal or purely talk. 


  1. "Dictionary of Sexual Terms – irrumatio" Dictionary of Sexual Terms and Expressions
  2. "Roman Sex Hot Sex from the Frescos in Pompeii" by Sacha Tarkovsky, Focus Article
  3. "Irrumatio" Wikipedia
  4. Sex in the Ancient World from A to Z by John Grimes Younger (2005)
  5. Roman homosexuality by Craig Arthur Williams (1999)
  6. The Latin Sexual Vocabulary by James Noel Adams (1990)
  7. Catullus by Julia Haig Gaisser (2009)
  8. Catullan Provocations by William Fitzgerald (2000)
  9. Roman Sexualities by Judith P. Hallett & Marilyn B. Skinner (1997)