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When the ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were unearthed from under volcanic ash at the foothills of Mount Vesuvius, in the mid-18th century, the materials that emerged from the digs brought to light a certain aspect of the ancient world that caused great deal of embarrassment —the cities’ fascination with erotica. This was not the odd nude sculpture, but phallic shaped oils lamps and items of jewelry, frescoes of couples engaging in sex, scenes of fornications, and the most scandalous of them all —a statue depicting the half-man, half-goat Greek god Pan penetrating a female goat.

Today, it is well known that the ancient Romans had a very liberal view on sexuality, and that Pompeii boasted a large sex industry with dozens of brothels whose walls were adorned with erotic frescoes. Artistic depiction of sex was also found on the walls of bedrooms in private villas. Phallic-shaped amulets hung from the neck of Pompeii residents to ward of evil spirits, and an assortment of sex-themed artworks embellished every home.


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© Amusing Planet, 2016.


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