R-Rated Pompeii… Seaports of the Mediterranean

The Lupanare or main brothel of Pompeii. Girls would stand in the window and call to the men below.

The Lupanare or main brothel of Pompeii. Women would stand in the window and bark at the men below.

Today’s blog is R-rated with a :). It’s for mature audiences with a sense of humor. Seriously.

I’ll start by noting that the citizens of Pompeii had a slightly different take on morality than we do; um, make that a major take. Erotic art was found everywhere in the city during archeological excavations. Think ubiquitous. It was also quite explicit.

When King Frances of Naples visited a Pompeii exhibition at the National Museum with his family in 1819, he was so embarrassed by the erotic art that he locked it away in a secret cabinet. Ever since, the collection has had a history of on-again, off-again exposure.

Early bra sizing.

Early bra sizing.

Today, it’s on again. Sort of. When you visit the Archeological Museum in Naples, Pompeii’s erotic art is stored in the Gabinetto Segreto, Secret Room. You may have to make an appointment to get in… not because the subject matter is XXX, (which it is) but because the exhibit is the most visited site in the museum.

Similarly, in Pompeii, the Lupanare is included on every tour group’s must-see list.  Our guide warned us that visiting the brothel was an adult activity. She also told us we weren’t allowed to linger. Our tour was to be a quickie, so to speak. We had five minutes. Other groups were waiting.

The brothel was called the Lupanare because its working ladies were called lupe or she wolves. They were called lupe because they were not allowed to solicit in the normal way. It wasn’t “Hey, sailor, looking for a good time?” It was more like “woof, woof, woooooo.”

Once inside, guests were treated to a series of paintings that graphically portrayed the various services available… and costs. Sailors weren’t noted for being literate. Each woman  a small cubicle with a stone bed.

Each of the ten rooms in the Lupanare had a stone bed and pillow. I call this Lupe's Den.

Each of the rooms in the Lupanare had a stone bed and pillow. I call this Lupe’s Den. Hopefully, a mattress was included.

Graffiti was found on the walls. Those who could write were invited to evaluate their experience. It was basic. “Sollemnes, you S**** well!” one proclaimed. Apparently, she received a four-star rating.

In Naples we followed up with a visit to the Secret Room. I found the exhibition much more humorous than erotic. I mean, how can you take a flying penis with bells on seriously?

It's hard to take this guy with wings and bells on seriously.

Stepping out for the night?  A friend said, “OK, I get the wings, but what’s with the bells?” I told him I found them quite chiming.

Batter up? Or maybe I should label this 17, 18 and 19.

Batter up? Or maybe I should label this contestants 17, 18 and 19 doing the Macarena. And the winner is…

I'll close with a final view of the Lupanare. It had 10 rooms, altogether. Five upstairs and five down. The upstairs rooms were larger and had private entrances.

I’ll close with a final view of the Lupanare. It had 10 rooms, altogether. Five upstairs and five down. The upstairs rooms were larger and had private entrances.

NEXT BLOG: Back to a G-rated look at Pompeii.

7 comments on “R-Rated Pompeii… Seaports of the Mediterranean

    • Thanks Alice. I was reluctant to write about the erotica of Pompeii, but it was such an important part of the city’s history, I didn’t think I could leave it out. When all else fails, use humor. (grin)

  1. You, sir, did a remarkable bit of “wordsmithing” in a very charming way! “…quite chiming” and …”Batter up…” Very, very, um, politically correct. 😉 But the city, for example, is plastered (no pun intended) with phallic symbols…down to street pointers at your feet… Get it? Well, maybe not plastic; they were rock hard.

    Well written and amusing post, Curt!

  2. Had to chuckle at these pieces of artwork. I wonder if the artists were men or women? Were the brothel and artwork accepted part of the culture?

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