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Sex on Show

0 Comments 🕔24.Feb 2014

Sex on Show: Seeing the Erotic in Greece and Rome, by Caroline Vout (University of California Press, 2013).

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.

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