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debauchery

debauchery A formula for debauchery may be reduced to the single-minded pursuit of flagons, feasts, and fornication. Traditionally one who over-indulgences in the sensual appetites, particularly eating and drinking, the debauchee is laid bare in Thomas Warton the Elder's poem The Glutton (1747):Fat, pamper'd Porus, eating for Renown,
In Soups and Sauces melts his Manors down;
Regardless of his Heirs, with mortgag'd Lands,
Buys hecatombs of Fish, and Ortolans;
True Judge of Merit, most disdainful looks
On Chiefs and Patriots when compar'd to Cooks;
With what Delight Pigs whipt to Death he crams
On fattn'd Frogs, or Essences of Hams;
For fifty thousand Tongues of Peacocks sighs
Mix'd with the Brains of Birds of Paradise;
Loud ring the Glasses, powder'd Footmen run,
He eats, drinks, surfeits, still eats, is undone!
See the swoln Glutton in terrific State,
Behind his chair what dire Diseases wait?


Warton goes on to make explicit the relationship between gluttony and morbidity, by indicating what diseases lurk behind the piled high plates of food. To his catalogue of illness, which includes gout, Asthma, and apoplexy, may be added obesity and heart disease. Gluttony is a slave to a passion which turns feasts into orgies of immoral excess. A table-fellow of the glutton is invariably the gourmet, whose debaucheries tend to be more qualitative than quantitative.

Connoisseurs of food become debauched once eating becomes an act of immorality. Aside from obvious examples such as gratuitous cannibalism or the eating of live animals, the debauched gourmet offends cultural codes by going beyond the limits of good taste. Such transgressions may include the preparation of a domestic pet or the creation of a tasty fricassée out of certain taboo animals. Nowadays, there is even greater condemnation of ‘delicacies’ involving ingredients containing endangered species — like the ancient Chinese speciality, Panda Paw Casserole, the recipe for which was given to M. Urbain Dubois, chef to the Prussian monarchy during the nineteenth century.

The Renaissance French author, François Rabelais, was caricatured as a drunken buffoon, whose most enduring legacy was his comic fiction Gargantua (1534–5). The eponymous giant–hero and his creator have become synonymous with images of engorgement, as in the proverbial gargantuan appetite and Rabelasian excesses.

No better example of the latter can be found, albeit anachronistically, than in the Roman banquet, whose corollary was the aptly named vomitarium. The most famous account is that of Trimalchio's feast narrated by Petronius in his Satyricon (c.65 ad). Here guests had wine poured over their hands before being presented with sows' udders, plump fowls, and a hare with wings fastened to its back to look like Pegasus. The centre-piece was an enormous platter carried into the dining room on which lay a wild boar with a basket of Syrian dates and one of Theban dates hanging from its tusks. A slave drew a hunting knife and stabbed the wild boar in the belly. Out of the gash flew live thrushes, which were caught and distributed to guests. An enormous pig was served up on the table, whose stomach was slashed open, a cornucopia of black puddings and sausages pouring out of it.

Nostalgia for a more extreme example of the dissipations of ancient Rome is expressed by the Comte de Gernande, who, mercifully, is only a fictional character in the Marquise de Sade's La Nouvelle Justine (1797):
I admit that I have often wanted to imitate the debauchery of Apicius, that most famous of Roman gourmets. He had slaves thrown live into his fish ponds so that the flesh of his fish would achieve a greater delicacy. I am cruel in my lusts and would be even more so when it came to such acts of debauchery. I would sacrifice a thousand if necessary, just to eat a dish which was more tempting or recherché

The conflation between cruelty and food was not confined to the Roman Empire. The lunch and dinner of Tz'u-hsi, the Chinese Dragon Empress, who reigned between 1861 and 1908, consisted of hundreds of dishes from which she always picked her favourites. Aware of this, her chefs did not replace most other dishes for up to ten days, with the result that they would be crawling with weevils. A favoured lady-in-waiting, at the Empress's possibly sadistic invitation, would be forced to sample, with a smile, one of those rotting dishes. Imperial decadence can be seen here in wasting food on a gargantuan scale in an inversion of satiation. Whoever was unfortunate enough to have to entertain the Emperor Charles V for lunch, was expected to serve up no less than 400 dishes. De Sade's Comte de Gernande's more modest fare was in evidence during the feast he had hosted, which consisted of 89 dishes. During the meal, however, he drank 12 bottles of wine followed by a Tokay, a Paphos, a Madeira, and a Falernian with the fruit. His night-cap consisted of two bottles of liqueurs des îles, two bowls of punch, a pint of rum, and 10 cups of coffee.

The libertine used such banquets to stimulate lust, particularly as the ability to eat a huge meal has been seen as a signifier of sexual prowess. Descriptions of food are often used in novels to sublimate sexual desire. The Marquise de Sade's notorious sweet tooth provided him with yet another tool of debauchery, as when he secretly fed some prostitutes, the aphrodisiac Spanish Fly, disguised in chocolate, making them severely ill. Sexual practices that have been regarded as the height of debauchery are the kind of sadistic bedroom activities to which the Marquise gave his name. As John Henry Meibomius points out in A Treatise of the Use of Flogging in Venereal Affairs (1718): ‘there are Persons who are stimulated to Venery by Strokes of Rods, and worked up into a Flame of Lust by Blows, and that the Part, which distinguishes us to be Men, should be raised by the Charm of invigorating Lashes.’

Far more benign was the pseudo-Aristotelian, anonymously written sex manual, Aristotle's Master-piece — even though it was described as ‘an hoary old debauchee as acknowledged by no-one’ by D'Arcy Power, the twentieth-century surgeon. Ironically this mine of medical misinformation about sexuality was intended to exalt the state of matrimony. To see Aristotle's Master-piece as debauched in its dissemination of sexual advice, over the course of three centuries, is a legacy of Victorian prurience. The mark of true debauchees is, surely, when individuals have become so consumed by the excesses of their own sensual desires and carnal appetites that they can no longer function as whole and integral human beings.

Marie Mulvey-Roberts

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Debauchery

160. Debauchery (See also Dissipation, Profligacy.)

  1. Alexander VI Borgia pope infamous for licentiousness and debauchery. [Ital. Hist.: Plumb, 219220]
  2. Bacchus (Gk. Dionysus ) god of wine; honored by Bacchanalias. [Gk. Myth.: Howe, 83]
  3. Behan, Brendan (19231964) uninhibited Irish playwright who lived wildly. [Irish Lit.: NCE, 261]
  4. Bowery Manhattan district, once notorious for brothels and gambling halls. [Am. Hist.: Hart, 97]
  5. Hell-fire Club 18th-century British clique devoted to debauchery. [Br. Hist.: Brewer Note-Book, 411]
  6. Nero (A.D. 3768) hated as Roman emperor; led life of debauchery. [Rom. Hist.: NCE, 1909]
  7. Pandarus a honey-sweet lord; go-between for lovers. [Br. Lit.: Troilus and Cressida ]
  8. Pornocracy period of unparalleled papal decadence (early 10th century). [Christian Hist.: Grun, 106]
  9. Rasputin (18711916) debauchee who preached and practised doctrine mixing religious fervor with sexual indulgence. [Russ. Hist.: NCE, 1770]
  10. Saturnalia licentious December 17th feast honoring Saturn. [Rom. Myth.: Espy, 19]
  11. Satyricon tales of vice and luxury in imperial Rome. [Rom. Lit.: Satyricon ]
  12. Sergius III instituted the Pornocracy. [Christian Hist.: Grun, 106]
  13. Sodom and Gomorrah ancient cities destroyed by God because of their wickedness. [O.T.: Genesis 19:129]

Debt (See BANKRUPTCY , POVERTY.)

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debauchery

de·bauch·er·y / diˈbôchərē/ • n. excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures.

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Debauchery

Debauchery

of bachelorsHare.

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debauchery

debaucherybeery, bleary, cheery, dearie, dreary, Dun Laoghaire, eerie, eyrie (US aerie), Kashmiri, leery, peri, praemunire, query, smeary, teary, theory, weary •Deirdre • incendiary • intermediary •subsidiary •auxiliary, ciliary, domiciliary •apiary • topiary • farriery • furriery •justiciary •bestiary, vestiary •breviary • aviary • hosiery •diary, enquiry, expiry, fiery, friary, inquiry, miry, priory, spiry, wiry •podiatry, psychiatry •dowry, floury, flowery, loury, showery, towery •brewery • jewellery (US jewelry) •curie, de jure, fioriture, fury, houri, Jewry, jury, Manipuri, Missouri, moory, Newry, tandoori, Urey •statuary • actuary • sanctuary •obituary • sumptuary • voluptuary •January • electuary • ossuary •mortuary •Bradbury, Cadbury •blackberry, hackberry •cranberry • waxberry •Barbary, barberry •Shaftesbury • raspberry •bayberry, blaeberry •Avebury • Aylesbury • Sainsbury •bilberry, tilbury •bribery •corroboree, jobbery, robbery, slobbery, snobbery •dogberry • Roddenberry • 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•scullery • jugglery • cutlery •chancellery • epistolary • burglary •mammary • fragmentary •passementerie • flimflammery •armory, armoury, gendarmerie •almonry •emery, memory •creamery • shimmery • primary •rosemary • yeomanry •parfumerie, perfumery •flummery, Montgomery, mummery, summary, summery •gossamery • customary • infirmary •cannery, granary, tannery •canonry •antennary, bimillenary, millenary, venery •tenantry • chicanery •beanery, bicentenary, catenary, centenary, deanery, greenery, machinery, plenary, scenery, senary, septenary •disciplinary, interdisciplinary •hymnary • missionary •ordinary, subordinary •valetudinary • imaginary • millinery •culinary • seminary • preliminary •luminary • urinary • veterinary •mercenary • sanguinary •binary, finery, pinery, quinary, vinery, winery •Connery • Conakry • ornery • joinery •buffoonery, poltroonery, sublunary, superlunary •gunnery, nunnery •consuetudinary • visionary •exclusionary • legionary • pulmonary •coronary • reactionary • 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promissory •janissary • necessary • derisory •glossary • responsory • sorcery •grocery • greengrocery •delusory, illusory •compulsory • vavasory • adversary •anniversary, bursary, cursory, mercery, nursery •haberdashery •evidentiary, penitentiary, plenipotentiary, residentiary •beneficiary, fishery, judiciary •noshery • gaucherie • fiduciary •luxury • tertiary •battery, cattery, chattery, flattery, tattery •factory, manufactory, olfactory, phylactery, refractory, satisfactory •artery, martyry, Tartary •mastery, plastery •directory, ex-directory, interjectory, rectory, refectory, trajectory •peremptory •alimentary, complementary, complimentary, documentary, elementary, parliamentary, rudimentary, sedimentary, supplementary, testamentary •investigatory •adulatory, aleatory, approbatory, celebratory, clarificatory, classificatory, commendatory, congratulatory, consecratory, denigratory, elevatory, gyratory, incantatory, incubatory, intimidatory, modificatory, participatory, placatory, pulsatory, purificatory, reificatory, revelatory, rotatory •natatory • elucidatory • castigatory •mitigatory • justificatory •imprecatory • equivocatory •flagellatory • execratory • innovatory •eatery, excretory •glittery, jittery, skittery, twittery •benedictory, contradictory, maledictory, valedictory, victory •printery, splintery •consistory, history, mystery •presbytery •inhibitory, prohibitory •hereditary • auditory • budgetary •military, paramilitary •solitary • cemetery • limitary •vomitory • dormitory • fumitory •interplanetary, planetary, sanitary •primogenitary • dignitary •admonitory, monitory •unitary • monetary • territory •secretary • undersecretary •plebiscitary • repository • baptistery •transitory •depositary, depository, expository, suppository •niterie •Godwottery, lottery, pottery, tottery •bottomry • watery • psaltery •coterie, notary, protonotary, rotary, votary •upholstery •bijouterie, charcuterie, circumlocutory •persecutory • statutory • salutary •executory •contributory, retributory, tributary •interlocutory •buttery, fluttery •introductory • adultery • effrontery •perfunctory • blustery • mediatory •retaliatory • conciliatory • expiatory •denunciatory, renunciatory •appreciatory, depreciatory •initiatory, propitiatory •dietary, proprietary •extenuatory •mandatary, mandatory •predatory • sedentary • laudatory •prefatory • offertory • negatory •obligatory •derogatory, interrogatory, supererogatory •nugatory •expurgatory, objurgatory, purgatory •precatory •explicatory, indicatory, vindicatory •confiscatory, piscatory •dedicatory • judicatory •qualificatory • pacificatory •supplicatory •communicatory, excommunicatory •masticatory • prognosticatory •invocatory • obfuscatory •revocatory • charlatanry •depilatory, dilatory, oscillatory •assimilatory • consolatory •voluntary • emasculatory •ejaculatory •ambulatory, circumambulatory, perambulatory •regulatory •articulatory, gesticulatory •manipulatory • copulatory •expostulatory • circulatory •amatory, declamatory, defamatory, exclamatory, inflammatory, proclamatory •crematory • segmentary •lachrymatory •commentary, promontory •informatory, reformatory •momentary •affirmatory, confirmatory •explanatory • damnatory •condemnatory •cosignatory, signatory •combinatory •discriminatory, eliminatory, incriminatory, recriminatory •comminatory • exterminatory •hallucinatory • procrastinatory •monastery • repertory •emancipatory • anticipatory •exculpatory, inculpatory •declaratory, preparatory •respiratory • perspiratory •vibratory •migratory, transmigratory •exploratory, laboratory, oratory •inauguratory • adjuratory •corroboratory • reverberatory •refrigeratory • compensatory •desultory • dysentery •exhortatory, hortatory •salutatory • gustatory • lavatory •inventory •conservatory, observatory •improvisatory •accusatory, excusatory •lathery •feathery, heathery, leathery •dithery, slithery •carvery •reverie, severy •Avery, bravery, knavery, quavery, Savery, savory, savoury, slavery, wavery •thievery •livery, quivery, shivery •silvery •ivory, salivary •ovary •discovery, recovery •servery • equerry • reliquary •antiquary • cassowary • stipendiary •colliery • pecuniary • chinoiserie •misery • wizardry • citizenry •advisory, provisory, revisory, supervisory •causerie, rosary

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