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Ancient Rome was not known for modesty in their artwork. Of course, modesty as we know it today was different then. Also, nudes of gods and goddess do not reflect the everyday person. In fact, the Roman matron was to be fully covered in public. That is what is said but other sources from the time suggest otherwise. This is most likely a way to promote what the ideal matron should be.

It is important to note that some images are of goddess and gods or heroes or people of note who are portrayed in the manner of a god or goddess. Some though, are distinctly sexual in one nature or the other. Some of the best remaining sources of this erotic art are from Pompeii.

Gods & Goddesses

Venus & Mars

“Celebrities” Deified

Thought to be a depiction of a mistress depicted as Aphrodite.

Brothel Images

Source: Photo of this mural was taken by Okc (CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

This image is interesting as it contradicts the idea of breasts being unattractive.

An Image of Interest

This image, although showing the socially disgraceful act of cunnilingus, has been speculated to be a humorous depiction in some sources. However, I would disagree with this as the man’s eyes are upturned in awe. More importantly, the woman is wearing a crossbody chain. These crossbody chains are associated with Aphrodite and perhaps even the Aphrodite-Isis/Isis figure that was so popular in Rome, especially amongst sex workers. It could be speculated that this is a form of worship, submission, and/or honoring this goddess. I think there is much more to this than simply an image of humor.

This may or may not depict a brothel. Her yellow gown could symbolize marriage, or just a dramatized image of a couple or perhaps a mistress. That is not to say that this doesn’t portray a sex worker as some sources report sex workers wearing see through clothing, how this exactly translates could be speculative. For example, during certain times in history, just wearing an underdress could be considered to be “nude.”