Tuesday 26 January
10 AM PST
1 PM EST
6 PM GMT
7 PM CET
7 AM NZDT (Wednesday 27 January)
With Dr. Eireann Marshall
In the early days of excavations in the Vesuvian cities, the authorities put everything they deemed to be erotic in a Secret Museum which was later bricked up in 1849 because the contents seemed too scandalous. The creation of this collection, which is now the Secret Cabinet in the Naples Archaeological museum, emphasises the differences between ancient and modern notions of sexuality. Images which could pass off as pornography in modern times were sometimes placed in the most public areas of elite houses because their notions of what was appropriate to put in public view is so different from our own. Using footage from the Vesuvian cities as well as Rome, this online lecture/virtual tour will consider artefacts and paintings put on display in houses in the Roman world and will explore how individual sexuality was defined.
We will examine how Romans tended to define sexual identities on the basis of people’s roles in sexual acts – whether they are active or passive – rather than identifying people’s sexual identities on the basis of their proclivities. This lecture will also look at the ways in which gender was defined, as well as the roles assigned to the different genders. We will see how women could play important roles in the economies of Roman cities, just as elite women could take on active roles in the public running of these cities, albeit it behind the scenes.