The twins Castor and Pollux, who were in love with Helen; the dangerous, irresistible sirens; Aphrodite, the beautiful god of love who seduced warriors; ancestors and demi-gods copulating, adolescents eroticized by a shepherd with a flute and gods mating with animals to give birth to other beautiful demi-gods. Sometimes it was fully approved of, even to the point of suggesting that it was the highest and noblest form of love, and on other occasions the ancient Greeks seemed to condone it. The book proved to be so popular that it was translated into English almost immediately. In these images we can see the union of Hercules and Hebe the alliance of beauty with courage and virtue , in full consummation of the act, as well as statues penetrating demi-gods, gods raping animals Leda and the swan and mythological animals such as the fawn copulating with maidens.
They had gods devoted to it, festivals to partake in it, and local economies that surrounded it. Sex was not something to be ashamed of or hidden from public view. Rather, it was something to rejoice in. We all know the legend surrounding Pompeii. Rather, they existed on a highly public and unashamed platform, alongside the forum and communal bath houses, both of which were important sites of a larger public sex system.
A Look at Pornai, the Prostitutes of Ancient Greece
Rarely does L. Erotic images and depictions of genitalia, the phallus in particular, were incredibly popular motifs across a wide range of media in ancient Greece and Rome. Simply put, sex is everywhere in Greek and Roman art. Explicit sexual representations were common on Athenian black-figure and red-figure vases of the sixth and fifth centuries BC.
Prostitution was legal in Athens, for example, as long as the workers were enslaved, freedwomen, or Metics foreigners in Ancient Greece who had limited rights, not unlike illegal residents in the U. These women had to register and were required to pay taxes on their earnings. Pornai were generally the ordinary sex workers, from those who worked in brothels to streetwalkers who advertised their services out in the open. How open?