The Notion of Modern Eroticism in the Imagery of Ancient Greece and Rome.

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Sex and the City

The notion of modern eroticism arose from the imagery of Ancient Greece and Rome. Art was most commonly found in the homes of upper-class citizens and usually in the bedroom. This does not necessarily mean that the Romans associated eroticism with privacy. Pompeii provides most useful examples of both public and private art. The reason for this is that the volcano preserved vast amounts of useful evidence. It is most important to consider the social class of either patron or viewer, and the varying intentions of artists when analysing Roman art. Different classes had different attitudes towards erotic images; artists had various agendas. Art could be found not only in the bedrooms of villas or aristocratic dining rooms, but also in public baths and brothels. Many household objects also conveyed erotic imagery. It is also important to understand the principles of the Evil Eye: the Romans believed that jealousy and envy from another man's eyes was capable of sending forth particles that could make you ill or even kill you. For this reason much art attempted to counter these envious emotions. There were indeed differences between public imagery and the artwork of private civilians, however there were far more similarities. It shall be demonstrated that there were essentially 3 purposes for erotic art-to establish an amorous atmosphere through fantasy (often created by depicting wealthy lovers and not necessarily graphically depicting intercourse); to act apotropaically; and to provide amusement. It shall also become clear that contrast between the art of different classes was less common than might be expected even though art often focused on wealthy people. The Villa under the Farnesia in Rome had many painted panels placed in the cubicula, providing examples of Augustan erotic art in highly decorated bedrooms of the upper classes (Fig 1). Here women were portrayed as tall figures with somewhat disproportioned heads. Erotic art was obviously...
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