Elephantis was a Greek poetess apparently renowned in the classical world as the author of a notorious sex manual. Her works have not survived.

According to Suetonius, the Roman Emperor Tiberius took a complete set of her works with him when he retreated to his resort on Capri.

One of the classical epigrams to Priapus collected by Sir Richard Burton refers to her books:

Obscenas rigido deo tabellas
dicans ex Elephantidos libellis
dat donum Lalage rogatque, temptes,
si pictas opus edat ad figuras.

("Lalage dedicates a votive offering to the God of the erect penis, bringing pictures from the shameless books of Elephantis, and begs him to try and imitate with her the variety of intercourse of the figures in the illustrations.")

And the Roman poet Martial wrote:

Quales nec Didymi sciunt puellae,
Nec molles Elephantidos libelli,
Sunt illic Veneris novae figurae

("Such verses as neither the daughters of Didymus know, nor the debauched books of Elephantis, in which are set out new forms of lovemaking.") "Novae figurae" has been read as "novem figurae" (i.e., "nine forms" of lovemaking, rather than "new forms" of lovemaking), and so some commentators have inferred that she listed nine different sexual positions.


  • Carmina Priapea 4
  • Martial, Epigrams 12,43,4
  • Pliny the Elder , NH 28,81
  • Sueton, The Life of Tiberius 43

Other erotic writers

  • Sappho
  • Mimnermus
  • Callistrate of Lesbos, poetess, noted for obscene verses
  • Elephantis
  • Sphodrias
  • Aristides of Miletus
  • Philaenis of Samos, daughter of Okymenes
  • Sotades of Mantineia

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