ARCHEOLOGY Historian Virginie Girod returns to the last fresco in Pompeii by archaeologists. He remembers that the Romans had a very different understanding of sexuality than ours.
Archaeological discoveries in the city of Pompeii are experiencing a new explosion.
A new lustful fresco by Leda has been unearthed in an undiscovered area.
Did the last frescoes of Leda have been found in a room in Pompeii’s erotic room, as the various media have explained?
We should not look at this fresco with our contemporary eye. Of course, this Leda has a voluptuous, peeled leg and is about to make love to Zeus. The king of the gods turned into a swan to seduce him better. But the representation of his divine love belongs to the Greco-Roman general culture. This is not trivial. The choice to reproduce this legend is to play with double meaning, especially since it is not completely naked. The idea of the Romans who commissioned this fresco was probably to put a sense of emotion in their rooms.
Did other frescoes and objects discover that show fatalities or couples in action were not erotic?
Old sexuality has a very biased look. For example, the phyllodes represented in frescoes are not necessarily erotic representations. They are mostly protective symbols to repel bad spirits. The Romans were superstitious. On the other hand, when human pairs match, we can talk about erotic scenes. This is the state of the frescoes depicted in the lupanar of Pompeii.
How are these series of discoveries in Pompeii explained?
The campaign, which began last spring at the Region V in Pompeii, is truly exceptional. This area has never been discovered due to financing problems but also protection issues. Indeed, as soon as these frescoes emerge, we must undertake protection as soon as possible. We look forward to discovering new and magnificent works in the coming months.
* His last book, Théodora, Byzance’s prostitute and edition, was published this year by Tallandier.