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One of the features of Pompeii and Herculaneum that often surprises modern visitors is the frequency of erotic images. It so shocked the sensibilities of the earliest excavators that erotic art and objects were removed from the excavations by order of the Bourbon King Charles III and kept under lock and key. There was no attempt to hide away explicit scenes in the cities, although it is fair to say that there are different categories of erotic art that are displayed in different contexts. Firstly, a particularly common find are phalluses and images of Priapus in paintings and mosaics, in the form of decorative lamps, and, on one street, carved into a paving stone.

It is perhaps for this reason that a large wall-painting of Priapus, with enormous phallus, is found at the entrance to the House of the Vettii in Pompeii. Other categories are more overtly sexual in nature. There are abundant mythological scenes, displayed openly in different rooms of private houses. Common scenes include Venus and Mars, Art erotic herculaneum in pompeii Pan with a nymph.

These scenes are suggestive rather than explicit. Then there are sexually explicit, realistic, scenes, most commonly found in private spaces such as bedrooms, and back rooms, and in what may have been brothels. An exception to this rule can be seen in the Suburban Baths in Pompeii. The apodyterium changing-room of these baths had once been decorated with erotic scenes, displayed in numbered boxes. There has been much debate over their function.

Did they represent a sex manual, were they advertisements for a brothel in the baths, or were they merely designed to entertain and titillate? Whatever the case, by AD79 these scenes had been covered over with new, non-erotic, decoration. There is plenty of evidence for prostitution at Pompeii, but there is disagreement over the number of brothels because the identification of such properties is not straightforward.

Traditionally they have been identified Healthy aspects of masturbation the basis of explicit graffiti or wall-paintings.

But, as we have seen, erotic art was extremely common in the Roman world; in addition, explicit graffiti need Art erotic herculaneum in pompeii relate to sex for money or mark the precise location of a brothel.

Some scholars have argued for the existence of between nine and 35 brothels in Pompeii. But only one premises, known as the Lupanar, appears to have been purpose-built as one.

The five rooms of the upper floor were accessed by a separate entrance. The lower floor had five small rooms with masonry beds and the hallway was decorated with Art erotic herculaneum in pompeii wall-paintings. Pompeii exhibition: life under the volcano. Pompeii exhibition: the glories of Roman art. Pompeii exhibition: Art erotic herculaneum in pompeii was the dressing-room of a beauty 18 centuries ago Pompeii exhibition: a history of Pompeii and Herculaneum in numbers.

Follow Telegraph Art on Twitter. Terms and Conditions. Style Book. Weather Forecast. Art erotic herculaneum in pompeii links Skip to article Skip to navigation. Monday 25 November Pompeii exhibition: 50 shades of Pompeii? Discoveries of erotic paintings and artefacts have given the cities a distinctly racy reputation. Phallic tintinabulum, bronze.

By Joanne Berry. Related Articles. In Pompeii. Top news galleries. History Expat. Crossword Blogs Dating.

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