The ancient Greeks and Romans were not shy about sex. Phallic imagery, sex scenes, and the lively activities of their promiscuous gods adorned many objects, buildings, and sculptures. Drinking cups, oil-lamps, and walls were decorated with scenes of seduction; statues of erect penises served as boundary-stones and signposts; and marble satyrs and nymphs grappled in gardens.
Caroline Vout examines the abundance of sexual imagery in Greek and Roman culture. Were these images intended to be shocking, humorous, or exciting? Are they about sex or love? How are we to know whether our responses to them are akin to those of the ancients? The answers to these questions provide fascinating insights into ancient attitudes toward religion, politics, sex, gender, and the body. They also reveal how the ancients saw themselves and their world, and how subsequent centuries have seen them. Beautifully illustrated throughout, this lively and thought-provoking book not only addresses theories of sexual practice and social history, it is also a visual history of what it meant and still means to stare sex in the face.
1. Sex, Love, Seduction
4. Divine Encounters
5. Fatal Attraction
6. Desire for the Antique
A note about Greek pottery
Caroline Vout is Senior Lecturer in Classics at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Christ’s College. In 2008 she was awarded the prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize for Art History. She is the author of Power and Eroticism in Imperial Rome and Antinous: the Face of the Antique, which won the inaugural Art Book Award.