Romans, Birth Control, and the Origin of the Heart Symbol

Rain DeGrey
Written by Rain DeGrey

Did you ever wonder how the classic heart symbol became connected with the concept of love and sex? After all, it looks nothing at all like a real heart, with all of those ventricles and arteries spouting out all over the place. How did such a shape come about? What if I told you that it was ancient Romans and their love of fucking that gave us our modern day heart shape?

valentines-horny romans

If there was one thing that the ancient Romans were good at, other than conquering vast swaths of the planet, it was fucking. Those fuckers LOVED fucking. They loved it enough that most of their statues and ornaments were of giant dicks. A casual stroll through a typical Roman town would reveal dicks worn as necklaces, carved on walls for added decorative flair, and prominently featured as massive penis statues in the center of the town square.

naked-roman-statuesFor all of their love of sex, they were not too crazy about the end result of all that fucking…Romans didn’t want to deal with all of the babies that are the inevitable outcome of all of that mashing together of genitalia. In their determined hunt for effective birth control, they stumbled across a plant called silphium that proved to be incredibly handy for a multitude of ailments, including the prevention of babies.


Silphium is believed to be related to either celery or the giant fennel plant and was used for coughs, sore throats, fevers and as a wart remover. None of that was as valuable as the preventing of the babies, however, and soon this humble plant was worth its weight in silver–literally. The heart shaped seed pod of silphium found its way onto coins used throughout the realm, cementing the connection between a heart shape and love (aka sex).


The only catch was that silphium was a wild plant that could not be cultivated as a crop and only grew in a narrow coastal area in what is present day Libya. The crop became so valuable that smugglers would raid the coastline when the plant was in bloom. Coastlines are notoriously hard to guard, and the plants started vanishing at a rapid rate. With restrictions like that, it wasn’t long before those horny Romans had fucked the poor plant right into extinction. Their love of boning was such that the last reported sighting of a silphium plant was in the second or third century BCE.

The only thing left behind after all that fucking was some coins bearing the heart shaped seed pod of this talented plant. A shape that has become so integrated into our culture that its origins became lost in the mists of time. So this year, when you give your sweetie a Valentine’s Day box of chocolates, know that that shape came about from some long dead Roman’s love of baby free fucking.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all and may it be blessedly baby free! (unless you are aiming for that sort of thing)

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Rain DeGrey
Written by Rain DeGrey
  • Traveler2 years ago

    I must be part Roman… for sure. lol

  • Traveler2 years ago

    But if this plant no longer exists….how old is that photo ? lolol

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