Erotic Art in Pompeii

Erotic Art in Pompeii

Pompeii is an amazing city and a must-do during every trip to Italy. You can visit it traveling by train just 30 minutes from Naples.

Pompeii and Herculaneum: Why You Have to Visit Them

Pompeii was destroyed by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD and most of it was buried under volcanic ashes. This made it possible for houses, villas and artifacts to be preserved for centuries.Pompeii and Herculaneum started to emerge in the 18th century when excavations began.And because of its extraordinary and unique state of conservation of houses, shops and public buildings, this city has the UNESCO World Heritage Site status.But there is something that is often omitted by art textbooks and from the official travel guide books of Naples and Amalfi Coast: the gay erotic art.

Discovering the Erotic Art

Visiting the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum it seems impossible to not see giant penises all around! Sculptured on the walls, painted on the frescoes and on the mosaic artworks. Just walk in Pompeii and you will see more penises that in an entire life!Before going to Pompeii, make sure to visit the Secret Museum in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. Here you see a very interesting exhibition of Roman erotic artifacts that came from the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum.For years, this artwork was perceived as obscene and visitors were not be allowed to see them. When King Charles III of Bourbon saw the famous marble sculpture of the god Pan having sex with a she-goat for the first time, he was so horrified that he locked the sculpture in a cabinet at the Herculaneum Academy in Naples. This artifact was locked away from the public for nearly 200 years and was opened to the public only in the 2000s.

What to See in Pompeii

Walking down the streets of Pompeii and Herculaneum you can see all the phalluses, as well as frescoes of the god of sex and fertility, Priapus that is often shown with a oversized erection.

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Most of the artwork that is visible today are in the ‘Lupanar of Pompeii’, reopened to the public in 2006. This was a sex house and the paintings depicting sex acts are all around its walls.Some people say that this fresco indicates the services offered to the brothel’s clientele, while others say that their only purpose was to decorate the walls with joyful scenes and with images popular in Roman culture.Here the numerous old wall paintings show explicit scenes of sex between straight couples, gay couples and group sex.What we know today is that the prostitutes of the brothel’s house was both female and male as well as its clients. Prostitution was legal in Pompeii as in the Roman cities and married men were allowed to sleep with anyone regardless of gender.And this is one of the most interesting sights to discover in the frescoes: a fascinating and true glimpse into the ancient sex lives of Roman people.

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