The Erotic art of Pompeii
The ancient Roman City of Pompeii is a spectacle of some of the worlds most beautiful and risqué forms of artwork ever found from ancient ruins. It is a city of beautiful villas, streets, bakeries, mansions, coliseums, bars and brothels. But the artwork of Pompeii is not like others found around the world. Rather the artwork from the city of Pompeii is very erotic. The city of Pompeii holds many secrets regarding the ideas of Roman morality, the erotic frescoes that line entire rooms with depictions of orgies, fellatio and cunnillingus sexual positions, and many other erotic depictions. Depictions in Peristyle Gardens (a colonnaded courtyard) show beautiful frescoes of Pygmies at a banquet being entertained by male and female pygmies having sex in front of the rest of the banquet. What does this depiction mean?
It seems amazing to think that depictions of such things would line the walls of houses of elite men and women while also being very visible in the public sectors of the town as well. It seemed that sexual behavior was appropriate and open in Pompeii. But was it really?
The questions of Roman morality and their obsessive love for erotic art, and its uses in everyday Roman life is the question that I would like to answer in this paper. I would like to discover the purpose of this art, and why it was placed in both private and public sectors of the city? Lastly, I would like to further understand the reasons why Roman society in Pompeii had such a fetish for erotic art. By understanding these questions we can begin to understand the personalities and lifestyles of the Roman citizens of Pompeii.
Undergraduate Paper, Western Oregon University, 2003