We Are Repaganizing


“There’s a very short and very brutal poem by the Scottish poet Hollie McNish, written in 2019 and titled ‘Conversation with an archaeologist’:

he said they’d found a brothel
on the dig he did last night
I asked him how they know
he sighed:
a pit of babies’ bones
a pit of newborn babies’ bones was how to spot a brothel

‘It’s true, you know,’ said the writer and lawyer Helen Dale when we had lunch in London last year and I mentioned this poem, which I chose as one of the epigraphs to my book The Case Against the Sexual Revolution. Helen was a classicist before she was a lawyer, and as a younger woman she had taken part in archaeological excavations of ancient Roman sites. ‘First you find the erotic statuary,’ she went on, ‘and then you dig a bit more and you find the male infant skeletons.’ Male, of course, because the males were of no use to the keepers of Roman brothels, whereas the female infants born to prostituted women were raised into prostitution themselves.”


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