A statue depicting Pan engaging in sexual congress with a goat – one of Naples’ most precious archeological artifacts – is on display in London’s British Museum, in the “open” – that is, not hidden behind gated doors, as it is displayed in Naples’ “Secret Museum.”
The statue has prompted the British Museum to install a parental guidance notice on its blockbuster exhibition “Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum” currently underway.
Throughout ancient Pompeii, erotic frescoes, depictions of the god Priapus, sexually explicit symbols, inscriptions, and even household items (such as phallic oil lamps) were found. Ancient Roman culture had a different sense of shame for sexuality, and viewed sexually explicit material very differently to most present-day cultures. Ideas about obscenity developed from the 18th century to the present day into a modern concept of pornography.