Pompeii. You probably have heard of this ancient city burnt down by a fiery load of lava. If you haven’t already heard of this southern Italian city destroyed by the volcanic eruption of mount Vesuvius, stick here to find out all about the once-thriving city of Pompeii.
The city of Pompeii faced its demise a long time ago, 17 CE to be precise. The relentless lava of the volcanic eruption covered the whole city in 19 feet of ash and debris, preserving clues to the ancient way of living. This quick burial of the city actually helps us to understand certain aspects of society, which also includes the sex lives of the people of Pompeii.
The question is, did the lifestyle of this group of ancient Romans raise hell within the earth? Ancient Romans are infamous for their lavish way of living, their odd forms of entertainment, and their thirst for collective pleasure in society. The thing is, the volcanic eruption left the city frozen at a certain point in history, revealing the clues that expose the erotic nature of the Pompeii citizens.
Did this way of living anger the who rules the world? Was the eruption of Mount Vesuvius a way of punishing the sinful lives of the Pompeii citizens? Well, we might never know what God’s plans were; however, we have evidence to showcase the wild sex lives of the citizens of Pompeii.
Sex in Pompeii
Sex in Pompeii was pretty casual. How casual, you ask? It was as casual as buying fruits from the market. Sex was liberating, with all kinds of sexual relationships running within society. This means that there were all kinds of sexual relationships, which included heterosexuals, homosexuals, prostitutes, incest, pedophilia, and so on.
Romans viewed sex as another normal part of life, meaning that eroticism was the core of the people of the day. They expressed their sexual nature through various forms of art and architecture. This further shows the cultural values of Pompeii citizens in a gist when it comes to sex.
Who lived in the lost city?
If you cannot imagine what Pompeii was like, it was all full of bling. Pompeii was a popular destination for the rich, so undoubtedly, the city was full of things that satisfied the wealthy citizens. This includes extravagant holiday villas, beautiful architecture, vibrant fashion as well as dozens of brothels spread throughout the city.
While Pompeii was a holiday destination for the wealthy class, about 80% of the people in Pompeii were poor. This meant that prostitution was the only way out of poverty for some people due to its high-paying wages. Since many people opted for prostitution in Pompeii, this career became the highlight of the economic success in this ancient city.
Inside the Brothels of Pompeii
Since sex was a fairly normal topic in this ancient city, brothels were legal in the city. Brothels and prostitutes were registered by the government of the city, meaning that they also had to pay an income tax to the government. Archaeological research shows that there were around 25 brothels in the city when Pompeii was destroyed.
The sensual nature of the people made the brothels more welcoming to the customers. This means that brothels were decorated with various items such as sensual art, murals, lavish curtains, dark rooms, candle-lit rooms, divine scents, and so on. These decorations enhanced the pleasure of the visitor, so the brothels were also known as “Pleasure houses” in Pompeii.
What’s left after the eruption 2000 years ago is the art and the structure of these brothels. These brothel houses consisted of a few rooms, which had beds carved out of rocks. These rooms were small and often did not consist of a door for privacy but a curtain.
The mural art shows pictures of people engaging in sexual actions, and they were often explicit content. The reason for these in brothels varies since researchers consider that they were included to guide the visitors in their sexual activities. Another reason was to get the visitors all hooked up for sexual activity.
Some archeologists consider that these murals acted as a menu for what each pleasure house had to offer. Whatever the purpose it had, these aesthetics were persevered perfectly by the volcanic eruption, telling a vivid story of eroticism and pornographic content in Roman society 2000 years ago.
Romans practiced all types of sexual forms. This means that they also engaged in incest activities. While incest in the modern world is frowned upon, it was quite normal in the ancient city of Pompeii.
Did you know the word incest actually comes from the ancient Romans? The Latin word ‘Incestum’ means something unholy or unconventional. This meant that incest activities were not as popular as the other types of sexual activities. However, this does not imply that Romans said no to incest. This meant that incest was not uncommon in Pompeii. Some cases of incest were even authorized, such as marriage between uncle and nieces.
Pedophilia in Pompeii?
Pedophilia in the modern world is morally wrong. However, for the citizens of Pompeii, it was just another normal sexual practice. The reason why pedophilia was so common could be the common representation of it in Greek and Roman mythology. Phedophillia, or having sexual activities with children, was so common amongst the nobility that they believed it was a “‘rite of passage” for the children.
Now that you know all about the sexual and moral practices of the ancient city of Pompeii, it is up to you to decide whether their way of living actually raised hell in Pompeii. Or was it a mere natural disaster? We will never know. The volcanic fluids left the city perfectly still on a typical day in August, preserving everything that happened in Pompeii. This means that this 2000-year-old city frozen in time is actually a representation of the ancient world of sexual practices.