Above links --same
window Below links --new window
Herculaneum (its sister city), was destroyed, and completely
buried, during a catastrophic eruption of the
Vesuvius spanning two days on 24 August 79 AD.
Sept. 2007 eruption as seen from the southeast crater
The same ring include's Europe's most active
is in an almost constant
state of eruption.
volcano on the east coast of
|At the mouth of
Sarno River it was revealed that the port also was populated and
that people lived in
palafittes, within a system of channels that suggested a
apodyterium dressing room then led to the
room), followed by the
calidarium (hot room).
Harpastum Romans also referred
to it as the small ball game and thought to be similar to rugby
Baths of Caracalla
thermae, built in
between AD 212 and 216, during the reign of the
Emperor Caracalla. The extensive ruins of the baths have
become a popular tourist attraction. The baths consisted of a
frigidarium (cold room) under three 32.9 meter (108 ft)
groin vaults, a double pool
tepidarium (medium), and a 35 meter (115 ft) diameter
caldarium (hot room), as well as two
palaestras . The north end of the bath building contained a
natatio or swimming pool. The natatio was roofless
with bronze mirrors mounted overhead to direct sunlight into the
The Baths of Diocletian
accommodated 3,000 bathers, almost twice as many as the Baths of
Caracalla, being approximately twice its size.
Public Baths in Different Cultures
Sentō - Japanese
Erotic art in Pompeii and Herculaneum
The Suburban Baths
Explicit sex scenes (such as group
sex and oral sex) are depicted in these paintings that can not
be easily found in collections of erotic Roman art.
Secret Museum or
Secret Cabinet (Gabinetto Segreto)
Priapus, At Pompeii, locked metal cabinets were constructed
over erotic frescos, which could be shown, for a modest
additional fee, to gentlemen but not to ladies. This peep show
was still in operation at Pompeii in the 1960s
Villa of the Papyri
Villa"is a free replication of the Villa of the Papyri
Pompeii in popular culture
Temples of Pompeii
Temple of Isis at Pompeii
History of nudity . It
wasn't until the 1990s (and after) that nudity became expected
at major public events, such as
Bay to Breakers and
World Naked Bike Ride.
Nudity and sexuality
Nudity in religion
Nudity in sport
basilica, dedicated to
Madonna del Rosario di Pompei, has become a site for
pilgrimages in recent years. It houses a canvas by
Luca Giordano. Italy knows Pompei as home to the
Cathedral of Pompei
On the Life of the Caesars
Before he died,
Julius Caesar had designated his great nephew, Gaius
Octavius (who would be named
Roman Senate after becoming emperor) as his adopted son and
heir. Octavius' mother,
Atia, was the daughter of Caesar's sister,
These stories all belong to
Campania region of
Joie_de_vivre used to
express a cheerful enjoyment of life
by Barbara McManus Images courtesy of
Learning from Pompeii
by Carroll William
Wonders of Pompeii by
Monnier, Marc, 1827-1885
"A small, portable work; accurate, conscientious,
and within everybody's reach.
Not copyrighted in
the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your
country before downloading this ebook.
download sites by country ||Read
/Paestum @ wikitravel.org
History of Being Clean @ canadianliving.com
A Short History of Bathing before 1601:
NOVA. "Secrets of Lost Empires: Roman
Bath." PBS. Originally broadcast February 22, 2000. Transcript:
Sweat bathing--be it in the form of the Finnish sauna, the Russian bania,
the Turkish hamman, or an American Indian sweatlodge-- is as common to
the world as the baking of bread and the squeezing of the grape.
and Roman Batths
Rome: in 2008 opened Augustus'
modest apartment to visitor viewing @ dailymail.co.uk
Sodomy, Sex And The
By VL Carey
|With the fall of Rome and the spread of
Christianity, baptism was in, and bathing — both public and
private—was out. Because Roman bathhouses had mixed
facilities, church authorities condemned women's attendance at
mixed gender bathhouses.
founder, the early Christian church prized spiritual purity over
physical cleanliness, which facilitated “sins of the flesh.”
Thus, a Christian ascetic who crawled with vermin and reeked of
body odor was venerated as a paragon of virtue.
Medieval Christians proved their holiness by not washing. A
monk came upon a hermit in the desert and rejoiced that he
“smelt the good odour of that brother from a mile away.”
Cleanliness improved during the Middle
Ages—particularly after the Crusaders imported the Turkish
bath. Islamic culture had preserved the Roman traditions
of cleaning the body first, then soaking and socializing.
Deprived of sophisticated Roman plumbing, most medieval and
renaissance people appear to have bathed less often, but with
the same social enjoyment.
Public bathhouses were popular
and well run, and expectant mothers even used them for
“baby showers,” or festive “lying-in baths,” with their female
friends. Paris and London had many of these jolly communal
“stews”—a term later applied to houses of prostitution.
Because so much sex
went on in the public baths of the middle ages, the term “stew”
or “stewhouse,” which originally referred to the moist warmth of
the bathhouse, gradually came to mean a house of prostitution.
The church chimed in that the
baths encouraged concupiscence, and the stews were closed. From
the mid-16th century well into the 19th century in much of
Europe, a person could go from cradle to grave without a good
In England, Elizabeth I declared that
she bathed once a month “whether I need it or not.” In Spain
during the Inquisition, Ashenburg says, Jew and Muslim alike
could be condemned by the frightful words “was known to bathe.”
Nor was sanitation prized in France, where feces left in the
halls of Versailles were carted away once a week.
|The citizens of Pompeii
have been revealed as sophisticated, cultured people who enjoyed fine
art, architecture, and the pleasures of the flesh. Their life stories
have become a grand narrative of how to live joyfully in the present as
if every day might be your last.
|The Baths of
built in Rome between AD 212-216
|The Farnese Collection donated
to the Naples Archeological Museum by former ruler Charles of
Bourbon contains many wonderful sculptures and gems found at the
Baths of Caracalla
|Image by Sir
Lawrence Alma-Tadema 1836-1912 Oil on canvas 1899 59 7/8 x
37 1/2 inches 152.3 x 95.3 cm Private collection
In the long centuries of Christian
Europe, when miserable
conditions of life and religious repression conspired to minimize the
expression of sexual longing, desire was driven underground to rise only
momentarily during celebrations like Carnaval. Yet by the late
nineteenth century, increasing privacy, prosperity, and good health
again permitted the underlying biological urge for total body sex to
express itself. Our section on the history of the bikini tells
this story from a sixties and Brazilian perspective. The wise look to
the past as a guide to the future which brings us to Pompeii.
Pompeii had public baths as early as the 4th Century BC, whereas Rome itself did not have them until the time of Augustus (late 1st Century BC).
assumed a character like the
Greek gymnasium but incorporated advances which we can still appreciate
today. The community of Pompeii was finishing one the grandest bathhouse
ever built when Mount Vesuvius exploded in 79 AD, giving us a remarkable
view of a different way of living life.
|The resort city
of Pompeii has yielded an amazingly large collection of erotic votive objects and frescoes. Many were removed and kept until
their 21st century unveiling at the Naples Archeological Museum.
They had been previously opened to public viewing for a brief
period during the 1960s. [more]
The city of Pompeii was the luxury
destination for the Roman elite and many members of the upper classes
lived almost full-time. Pompeii was a lively place, and evidence abounds of literally the
smallest details of everyday life. In examining the street Latin
graffiti at Pompeii, we can gather that well-known gladiators and actors
frequented the city,
and drinking and sex were commonplace and accepted as outlets of
entertainment in the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
While the Romans adopted the
idealization of beauty like the Greeks, their genius was melding ideas,
money, and slave labor into greater infrastructure than had ever been
seen before. Their increasingly complex structures included the baths.
The Romans built so many of them, the baths became an experimental
laboratory to test out new concepts. The baths were available to all as
community center and a daily ritual that defined what it meant to be
The locals and visitors frequented a
magnificent 5,000-seat theatre and a 20,000-capacity amphitheatre while
enjoying at least 81 takeaway food emporiums featuring hot food and
fresh bread. The spiritual life of the elite was important too, as the
surviving temples dedicated to
Isis, Venus, Jupiter and Apollo show us.
Beneath the lava ruins rests a
freeze-frame of high style Roman living. Twenty-five thousand people or
more died, buried under what was a high tower of pumice pebbles that
fell for twelve hours, and killed in an instant by a
hundred-mile-an-hour surge of pyroplastic flow -- a superheated mixture
of poisonous gas, lava foam, and rocks. When archaeologists began the
large-scale uncovering of the city a century ago, they found that there
were cavities in the rock, left over from the victims. The
plaster casts of the victims that have made Pompeii Italy's #1 visitor
painted terracotta votive figure crowned and nude - a syncretic
icon of Egyptian Greco-Roman worship 2nd century CE. NY:
Metropolitan Museum of Art. [more]
The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans are the
three ancient cultures with the most important Carnaval lineage, and they
all retain their glorious presence in the preserved record of Pompeii at
the beginning of the last great age. Isis is the Egyptian deity most
responsible for the truce between the Romans and Catholics at the
Council of Nicea in 325 AD. One
of the most important fine art cycles in the history of art is at the
Villa of Mystery. Here it is likely that young women were
initiated into the mysteries of life, death and rebirth under the
watchful eyes of Dionysis and his consort Ariadne.
Pompeii was a
rich and cosmopolitan Roman city of trade originally dominated by the Greek
also ruled Egypt under the Ptolemys. There are depictions of women as goddesses,
seductresses, saints, sinners, and muses, which often have the female
Inside their villas, Pompeians chose
many different ways to express themselves. The interior walls of Pompeii
homes were enriched by warm and brilliantly colored decorations often
with mythological, heroic and fantastic subjects. Some Pompeians
had a great love for depicting the mythological stories of the Greeks in
these paintings. The rich colors and great skills of all the work
show that a support of the arts was a revered aesthetic among the
The large number of well-preserved
frescoes throw a great light on everyday life and have been a major
advance in art history of the ancient world, with the innovation of the
Pompeian Styles (First/Second /Third Style).
|“the gong that announced the opening of the
public baths each day was a sweeter sound, than the voices of the
philosophers in their school”
|The Latin word thermae means
"hot baths". Communal bathing in public facilities was an
important and essential part of Roman life, and formed part of
the daily routine for all classes.
In general, a Roman public bath was
like a country club. For a small sum, it was a place to meet friends, go
to the gym, play a few games, have a good meal, and spend a bit of time
in a succession of cold, tepid, warm or hot baths. Lines on the road
from the city’s port led not only to brothels, but directed visitors to
the heavily used bathhouses. Their great popularity in Pompeii likely
contributed to making them an everyday life in the City of Rome and
wherever Romans built their network of far-flung cities over the great
|Venus, goddess of the youthful and virginal beauty that attracts the
male gaze and gives sexual pleasure, represent in religion the twin
social expectations of women. In matters of adornment and dress, women
claimed the right of visual self-expression from the time of their
fierce opposition to the 2nd century BCE
Oppian law, a regulation
limiting women's public display.
gilt bronze mirror back depicts two
women bathing before a statuette of Venus. 2nd century CE .
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts.
Roman history bears witness to the fact that women's bodies were not
their own, but lying at the intersection of public interest as they did,
were constitutionally entrusted to males to regulate and administer for
the good of the state. Women had no political rights. They were not
allowed to vote, directly address the Senate, nor mill about in the
In the earlier times of the republic there was a difference of hours
for the two sexes. The thermć were monopolized alternately by the women
in the morning and then the men after they finished their workday in the
early afternoon till dinner. Mixed bathing was generally frowned upon,
although the fact that various emperors repeatedly forbade it seems to
indicate that the prohibitions did not always work. Women who were
concerned about their respectability would not frequent the baths when
the men were there after 2 in the afternoon, but then the baths with its
many small rooms and visitors on holiday would be an excellent place for
prostitutes to ply their trade.
Of particular note for the ancient seaside trading community
by the Greeks for many centuries was the water system with a central natatorium or swimming
pool, and an aqueduct that provided water for more than 25 street
fountains, at least four public baths, and a large number of private
houses (domus) and businesses.
Water was heated by furnaces in cavities beneath the marble floor. This rose through terracotta layering in the walls. The actual water would be supplied from the aqueduct constructed in the time of Augustus found in the city. The water-wheel in the Strabian
Baths indicates that before this, water channeled through a well or a cistern.
Thanks to under-floor heating, and air
ducts built into the walls, the whole room would have been full of steam
when in use. Grooves in the ceiling allowed condensation to be
channelled to the walls, rather than drip onto bathers. Cold water was
piped into designated basins enabling
bathers to cool off when they wanted.
The oldest bathhouse in Pompeii was the Strabian Baths, but there were several others - the
Central, Suburban, Sarno, Amphitheatre and Forum Baths. This was in a
resort city of 15,000-20,000 people. The smaller nearby town of
Herculaneum also had two large bathing places. Baths were for people of every social class,
but not too egalatarian. The inscription in the huge Villa of Julia Felix
which made her baths public following the rebuilding from the quake in 62 AD
reads ‘elegant baths for respectable people.’
room: Here are stone benches to sit down upon, and
pins fixed in
the walls, where the slave hangs up your white woolen toga and
your tunic, as well lockers for your other items
| The Stabian baths was the most important of the
bathing establishments. This bathhouse lay nearby Brothel Lane, the Holconius and the Via Strabiana. These are by far the oldest, built c. 4th Century BC, dating from the Samnite
It was very spacious, and contained all
sorts of apartments, side rooms, round and square basins, small
ovens, galleries, porticoes, etc., without counting a space for
bodily exercises ( palćstra) where the young Pompeians went
through their gymnastics. It houses a gymnasium, has walls
painted of garden imagery, has several changing rooms and
latrines for guests. This was a complete water-cure
|Body care was continued in the "Grande Palestra" a
huge rectangular area designed for gymnastic exercises. It
measured over 100 metres along each side. A large pool was
situated at its centre.
"How have you managed to
preserve yourself so long and so well?"
asked Augustus of Pollio.
"With wine inside, and oil outside,"
responded the old
|Woman with Flask: marble statue of a woman wearing a peplos
and holding a glass perfume flask. Ostia, c. 30 CE. Rome,
Slave attendants addressed all your needs; one of them cuts your
nails, another plucks out your stray hair, and a third still seeks to
press your body and rasp the skin with his brush, a fourth prepares the
most fearful frictions yet to ensue, while others deluge you with oils
and essences, and grease you with perfumed unguents. They were perfumed with myrrh, spikenard, and cinnamon; there was
the Egyptian unguent for the feet and legs, the Phśnician for the
cheeks and the breast, and the Sisymbrian for the two arms; the essence
of marjoram for the eyebrows and the hair, and that of wild thyme for
the nape of the neck and the knees.
These unguents were very dear, but they kept up youth and
The square basin (alveus or baptisterium)
which served for the warm baths was of marble. It was ascended by three
steps and descended on the inside by an interior bench upon which ten
bathers could sit together.
This frigidarium or natatio is a
circular room, which strikes you at the outset by its excellent state of
preservation. In the middle of it is hollowed out a spacious round basin
of white marble, four yards and a half in diameter by about four feet in
depth; an circular series of steps on the interior enabled the Pompeians to bathe in a sitting
posture. Four niches, prepared at the places where the angles would be
if the apartment were square, contained benches where the bathers
rested. The walls were painted yellow and adorned with green branches.
The frieze and pediment were red and decorated with white bas-reliefs.
The vault, which was blue and open overhead, was in the shape of a
truncated cone. It was clear, brilliant, and gay, like the antique life
Do you prefer a warm bath? Retrace your steps and, from the apodyteros,
where you left your clothing, pass into the tepidarium.
On quitting the stove, or warm bath, the Pompeians wet their heads in
that large wash-basin, where tepid water which must, at that moment,
have seemed cold, leaped from a bronze pipe still visible. Others still
more courageous plunged into the icy water of the frigidarium, and came
out of it, they said, stronger and more supple in their limbs.
|Graffiti at Pompeii and Herculaneum suggests,
as one would expect in a city known for hedonistic pleasure
seeking that having food and prostitutes added to bath
experience was not an uncommon pleasure. Still the paintings in
the changing rooms at the Pompeii Suburban Baths have no peers.
They depict both group and oral sex rarely ever found by
There is a lively debate among
scientists regarding the purpose of the erotic frescoes. Some
claim they are advertisements for sexual services available on the upper
floor of the baths. Others believe the explicit paintings were
meant to entertain, and theorize that they could even have been
used to label lockers underneath them.
The Roman Quest:
How to employ sexuality so as to maximize the self's health,
|The study of Roman
culture shows us a transition
between the sexuality of the ancient world of Greece and that of
Christian Europe. This cultural synthesis would have found its
apex in Pompeii and the Bay of Naples.
In the Greek world, sexual ethics
and politics were organized around axes of social power and male domination, and understandable largely in terms of hierarchical
systems of interpersonal relation.
|THE CARE OF THE SELF Volume Three
of The History of Sexuality. By Michel Foucault. Translated by
Robert Hurley. 279 pp. New York: Pantheon Books [more]
"Romans, by contrast, evince a
more solipsistic focus. The issue for them is the self rather than
the household or city or the demands of philosophy: how to
employ sexuality so as to maximize the self's health,
well-being, happiness. There are enough hints here about the
unpublished fourth volume on early Christianity that one can
reasonably infer its thesis: this preoccupation with the
well-being of the self becomes the basis for a Christian ethics
in which the salvation of the individual soul is the fulcrum of
moral activity and thought; Roman advice about how to optimize
health and happiness is transformed into absolute rules about
how to behave to attain salvation."
JOHN BOSWELL reviewing for NY Times
1st and most influential emperor
he died, Julius Caesar had designated his great nephew, Gaius
Octavius (who would be named Augustus by the Roman Senate after
becoming emperor) as his adopted son and heir. Octavius' mother,
Atia, was the daughter of Caesar's sister, Julia Caesaris.
Augustus' reign laid the foundations of a regime that lasted
hundreds of years until the ultimate decline of the Roman
Augustus made an
example of his daughter
unwillingness to only have sex with the older political
spouses he had her marry by exiling her.
|In 11 BC Augustus forced Tiberius to
divorce his wife Vipsania and marry Julia, Augustus'
daughter. In 6 BC, Tiberius abruptly retired to Rhodes.
In 2 AD he returned to Rome and in 4 AD, with Augustus's
grandsons both dead, Tiberius was adopted as Augustus's
son. In 27 AD
Tiberius, the emperor since 14 AD retired to Capri,
never returning to Rome. Upon his death in 37 AD he
was succeeded by Caligula
the Roman epic to rival the Homer and the Bible
Augustus lived a modest life, with few of the luxuries that
his rank would have allowed him to have.
Augustus also introduced laws to improve morality to
regulate marriage and family life and to control promiscuity.
Livia, was the third wife of Augustus for over fifty
years, from 38 BC until his death in AD 14. They remained
married despite the fact that she bore him no child. Together
they promoted the feminine ideal of the earliest years of Rome,
although this was apparently more honored in the breach
than observance even by her husband, despite his success in being
the patriarch of domestic virtue.
The use of Egypt's immense land rents to finance the Empire's
operations resulted from Augustus' conquest of Egypt and the
shift to a Roman form of government. As it was effectively
considered Augustus' private property rather than a province of
the Empire, it became part of each succeeding emperor's
patrimonium. The highly productive agricultural land of Egypt
yielded enormous revenues that were available to Augustus and
his successors to pay for public works and military
expeditions, as well as bread and circuses for the population of
In AD 9, Augustus made
adultery a criminal offence, although it is said this was more to
intimidate wives than husbands. He first instituted the still
encouraged practice of the Catholic church of many offspring by
granting privileges to couples with three or more children.
The Augustan era poets Virgil and Horace praised Augustus as a
defender of Rome, an upholder of moral justice. Virgil's “The
Aeneid” is considered a great epic classic in many ways, not
only beating the drum for Roman virtue, but thoughtfully and
artfully blending the complex relations at the heart of the
Roman Empire into a belief system which served the stability of
the realm immeasurably.
Emperor Augustus is also known
for his famous last words: "Did you like the performance?",
referring to the play-acting and regal authority that he had put
on as emperor.
"Were it not for the
need to procreate, church leaders would have cast out sex
After the Roman torch was passed to the
Roman Catholic Church in the 5th century, the body and sexuality became
an evil sin where the only purpose of sex was procreation of new members
of the one true religion.
When Christianity banished the
pagan gods, ending forever their lust-filled adventures, a
sexual chill gripped Western Europe for centuries, says
University of Toronto professor Edward Shorter, author of
Written in the Flesh: A History of Desire. Were it not for
the need to procreate, church leaders would have cast out sex
|In the 14th century the Catholic
church expanded the definition of sodomy to include
everything but the “missionary position”; on the other
allowed the practice of prostitution during this era to
flourish. It was believed that straight men
needed an outlet to release their sexual tension or they
would commit acts of adultery, rape or homosexuality.
The Catholic church and Thomas Aquinas saw prostitution
as a “necessary evil.” There has always been much debate
beginning with Martin Luther about this policy decision,
which had no biblical basis.
|The Romans pose fewer ethical problems
relative to the Roman Catholic norms which followed than is generally
realized. Romans idealized conjugal union and nuclear families as the norm of
erotic fulfillment. Roman hedonism versus Christian asceticism is a
illusion than it deserves to be.
Viva la France
Joie de vivre
the cultural heirs
of Pompeians pursuit of the good life
|We are all ancient Romans to some
extent. However, the French, it's safe to say, are the cultural heirs
of Rome. Gaul, today's France, was first conquered by Julius
Ceasar. Emperor Claudius I, who
was born at Lugdunum (now Lyon), admitted Gallic nobles
to the Roman Senate in AD 48.
banished the pagan gods over 1500 years ago, ending forever their
lust-filled adventures, a sexual chill gripped Western
French film star Bridget Bardot in 1956, who was
monumental in transforming the two-piece swim
suit from daring to one of the most popular
items of clothing in the world
The French invented the first bikini in 1946
Even today, the current
Pope tells all who will listen that having sex only for procreation
and without protection is necessary to avoid the
damnation of hell. The record shows that church leaders
have few nice things to say about sex, declaring most
manifestations of it sinful despite the fact that sexual desire is hard-wired into the
In the late 13th
century, the French bathhouses in Paris employed criers to
announce when the water was hot.
"A crier patrolled the streets of
thirteenth-century Paris to summon people to the heated
steam-baths and bath-houses. These establishments,
already numbering twenty-six in 1292 [Riolan,
Curieuses Recherches, p. 219],
Napoleon and Josephine were fastidious for their time
in that they both took a long, hot, daily bath. But
Napoleon wrote Josephine from a campaign, “I will return
to Paris tomorrow evening. Don’t wash.”
Bathing had become rarer with time as 17th-century
aristocratic Frenchman, thought cleanliness meant
changing his shirt once a day, using perfume to
obliterate both his own aroma and everyone else’s.
Nude beaches first became popular in the 1950s along the
French coast and have since spread around the world. For
many decades, going topless has been tolerated and si common on almost
all French beaches..
The heroic illusions of
the French revolution were expressed through a vision of
Roman virtue and glory. Napoleon
declared himself Consul and later an Emperor, paying
tribute to these ideas. The Napoleonic Code, which the
French legal system uses to this day, is essentially
founded on its Roman prototypes.
Traditionally a predominantly Roman Catholic country,
with anticlerical leanings, France has been a very secular
country since the 1970s. However, public holidays are still largely
traditional Catholic holidays; and knowledge of facts
about the history of Catholicism (for instance, the
attribute of saints) is considered normal for an
educated person. The French generally consider that
since the 1905 law of separation of Church and State,
they have struck an excellent balance between the rights
of religious people and the neutrality of public
institutions with respect to religious matters.
Carla Bruni, became France's first lady
on 2Feb 2008. Born in 1967, her career in the spotlight has been
mostly as a supermodel and lover. She has released 2 albums
since 2002, and has strong family ties to the two most important
cultures redefining our relationship with the body:
Roman and Brazilian.
Much has been said about the sex lives of the French. The fact the late president, François Mitterrand, had a love child was an open secret. And the
extramarital affairs of his successor, Jacques Chirac, were so
well known that even his wife joked about them publicly.
Current French President, 53 year old Nicolas Sarkozy, has raised a few
eyebrows since his 2007 election, managing to go through a divorce, courtship and marriage
to a model/ pop singer 41 year-old Carla Bruni - all within the first 100 days of
his presidency. Carla Bruni is a fascinating beauty
who knows her way around a media frenzy. In April 2008 a nude
photo of Ms. Bruni, was sold at auction for 91,000 euros. The
photographer had persuaded the seller to donate the money from
the sale to charity. The charity, a Children’s Hospital
Association in Cambodia headed by Swiss pediatrician and musician Beat Richner,
refused the money.
Accepting money obtained from exploitation of the female
body would be perceived as an insult...In Cambodia “use of
nudity is not understood in the way it is in the West”....At
the same time, for Cambodians and their government, Madame
Bruni is now seen as the First Lady of France. Our
reputation would be stained by what they would perceive as
disrespect should we accept money of this nature.”
Exploitation generally means to take unfair advantage,
and perhaps nothing has created more controversy more
regularly than exposing the female body, except perhaps
exposing the sexual passions the feminine form stirs.
However, the ideal of progress requires we deal with it.
By celebrating beauty as a high artistic ideal the
French and Brazilian cultures have become beacons for a new
tomorrow where exploitation of superior power and the
planetary suicide of war can be avoided.
For most of our history, the dance of a playful body became shameful
except once a year during the Carnaval or other great annual cultural
festival. Bathing as a communal part of daily life was never as prominent
again until the urban beach culture of Rio de
Janeiro blossomed in the sixties with a celebration of the body that
continues to grow and blossom.
of Greeks & Romans
|Nude female athlete, the
handle of a bronze strigil, herself holds a strigil. Etruscan, found in a sarcophagus from Praeneste (Palestrina),
c. 300 BCE. London, British Museum.
|Antiquity was more comfortable with
the naked body: The bible tells us Peter was naked when
working in his boat (John 21:7). The Greeks and Roman practiced
their sports without clothes on. The Greek word gymnos meant
“naked”. We still find the word in such terms as gymnastics and
The Oppian Law
woman's rights in
The Oppian Law represents one of history's earliest successful
efforts of organizing for woman's rights. It was passed following the disastrous defeat of the Romans by
Hannibal at the battle of Cannae (216 B.C.). Because of the wars
with Carthage, many men had died. Their wives and daughters had
inherited their lands and monies, allowing many women to become
quite rich. The state, in order to help pay for the cost of the
wars, decided to tap into women's wealth by passing the Oppian
Law. It limited the amount of gold women could possess and
required that all the funds of wards, single women, and widows
be deposited with the state. Women also were forbidden to wear
dresses with purple trim (the color of mourning and a grim
reminder of Rome's losses). Nor could they ride in carriages
within Rome or in towns near Rome.
Roman women obeyed these
restriction with little fuss. Yet, at the end of the successful
Second Punic War in 201 B.C., male Romans and women in towns
beyond Rome again donned their rich clothing and rode about in
carriages. Women in Rome, however, continued to be denied these
luxuries because of the Oppian Law. With the end of the wars,
upper class women chafted at these continuing restrictions and
now wished to keep their inherited money for their own use.
In 195 B.C., some members of
the Tribunal proposed eliminating the Oppian Law. Women
throughout Rome kept an eye on these proceedings. When it seemed
that the majority of Tribunal was about to veto the proposed
repeal, they poured into the streets in protest. It was the
first time anything by women on a scale such as this was seen in
Rome. As a result of the women's protest, the tribunes withdrew
their veto and approved the repeal.
Resort for the rich famous and patrons of the arts
the entire duration of the Roman Empire, Naples and Pompeii was
celebrated as a rich and elegant cultural centre, where the
Roman emperors and aristocracy came to spend the summer months
in their sumptuous villas along the Bay of Naples coast and as
far as Sorrento on one side of the bay.
"We think ourselves poor and mean if our walls
(of the baths) are not resplendent with large and costly
mirrors; if our marbles (statues and busts) are not set off by
mosaics of Numidian stone, or their borders are not faced over
on all sides with difficult patterns, arranged in many colors
like paintings; if our vaulted ceilings are not buried in glass;
if our swimming pools are not lined with Thasian marble, once a
rare and wonderful sight in any temple; and finally, if the
water has not poured from silver spigots."
|Seneca, the prominent
Roman Stoic philosopher and unforgiving tutor of Nero,
who was also a frequent visitor to the pleasures
design was based on Greek culture and evolved from the Etruscans,
whose style was derived from the Greeks during the 8th
and 7th Centuries B.C.
Poseidonia in tribute to
the Greek god of the sea. May have been the 2nd city to Athens
although little is known about its first centuries including its
relationship between the nearby Bay of Naples cities of Naples
and Pompeii. Founded around the end of the 7th century BCE by
colonists from the Greek city of Sybaris. Today the best
preserved world's best preserved Greek Doric temples are found
The Sybarites were a luxury-loving people who are credited
with inventing the steam bath.in the 8th century B.C.,
nearby beach in the province of Salerno is long (15 km) Paestum
is accessible from Naples by train. The site is a 15 minute walk
from the train station.
|Pompeii was where the Sarno
River met the sea and it had a long ancient popularity as a safe
port by Greek and Phoenician sailors.
The city of Naples was founded by Greek
immigrants, who ruled over the Gulf of Naples. Then the area was
dominated by the Etruscans (525-474). After their defeat, the
city again was subjected to the rule of the Greeks (474-425).
The cultural mixing began early as the Greeks would send only
men out as colonizers.
The struggle for supremacy in the territory of Campania was
resolved by another civilization, that of Samnites who came down
from the mountains of the Sannio regions. The archaeological
excavations have revealed a number of buildings, of Sannitic
type, as well as various sculptural and pictorial works
referable to the same period.
For more than 3 centuries Pompei remained under their influence,
until the end of the III century when the Roman conquered
Campania region. Pompei at first was declared "socia" of Rome
and it maintained its own institutions and language, then in the
year 80 BC. became a Roman colony with the name of "Colonia
Veneria Cornelia Pompeii". From then Pompeii was a city with
Roman language, customs, architecture, political and
were masters of design with a strong passion for beauty and
comfort; they were noted for their building skills and used
exact scientific mathematical precision in their buildings.
Concrete, easily manipulated, was discovered in the 2nd
Century, B.C. and was considered a technological breakthrough.
Concrete has the great
advantage of being cast. In other words, you can make it any
shape you like. It has the great advantage of being strong, so
you can make shapes which bridge large spaces.
The Romans were able to change the form of both exterior and
interior architecture, allowing architects to build complex
vaults without interior center supports, including barrel
vaults, groined (or cross), vaults and the dome and semi-dome.
The buttresses of the vaults were an integral part of the
interior support system of buildings and the great public
buildings like the bathhouses.
In 2002 another important discovery at the mouth of
Sarno River revealed that the port also was populated and
that people lived in
palafittes, within a system of channels that suggested a
Venice to some scientists. These studies are just beginning
to produce results.
Pompeii, with approximately 2.5 million visitors a year,
is the most popular tourist attraction in Italy.
The Lupanare -
houses of prostitution
— so called because "Lupa" for "she-wolf" was the Latin term for
a prostitute who would howl to signal customers
clients used the upper floor, which had a separate entrance, a
balcony and was richly decorated with frescoes that leave little
to the imagination.
Prices were posted outside the building, while the skills and
names of the prostitutes were carved on the walls. Each
apparently had her own specialty when approaching the world's
oldest profession. Myrtis, for example, had a sign outside her
room indicating her skills in oral sex.
The various available services were also advertised by a fresco
at the top of every doorway. Each depicts a different sexual
Luciana Iacobelli, a lecturer in Pompeian antiquities at Bicocca
University in Milan, said the graffiti also surprisingly reveals
names of Roman women of various social classes. This suggests it
wasn't only women doing the servicing.
"A recent study suggests that also men worked as prostitutes in
the Lupanare. Their clients were both women and men," Iacobelli
told Naples’ daily newspaper, "Il Mattino."
Unearthed in 1862, the Lupanare underwent several restorations.
In 2006 the restoration lasted one year, mainly focused on the
frescoes, which had begun to fade.
It was believed the City of
Pompeii supported 35 houses of prostitution in 79 AD - about the
same number of bakeries - but that was based on the presense of
erotic paintings. Using the typical single room configuration,
the total is put at 9.
The first toilets
|Bathhouses also had large
public latrines, often with marble seats over channels whose
continuous flow of water constituted the first “flush toilets.”
A shallow water channel in front of the seats was furnished with
sponges attached to sticks for patrons to wipe themselves.
Originally, Pompeii received
its water supply from the River Sarno and from wells, but an aqueduct was
built when the needs of the city increased. Large lead pipes ran under the
pavements carrying running water to the homes of the richest residents, to
the public baths, and to the public fountains where the poorer inhabitants
obtained their water.
Thermae (Public Baths)
baths were a place of social necessity: they upheld public
health and hygiene, they were a place to talk and meet casually
with clients or business people, and they allowed fitness and
exercise. Here you are, as nude as an antique statue.
- Caldarium - closest to the furnace. This room had a
large tub or small pool with very hot water and a waist-high fountain (labrum)
with cool water to splash on the face and neck.Hot air came through air ducts behind he walls and onto a marble floor held up by brick pillars.
- Frigidarium - Cold bath, rather like a smaller version of a swimming pool.
- Tepidarium - Warm bathing room, occasionally linked to a sweating room.
- laconicum - dry heat like a sauna
- apodyterium dressing room
- palaestra - The large central courtyard was the exercise ground it
was surrounded by a shady portico which led into the bathing rooms.
- Vestibule - Entrance Hall to the bathhouses.
The great natural philosopher
Pliny insisted on recording his observations of
Vesuvius up to the moment when the volcano swept away his
It would be 1600
years following the eruption of Vesuvius on the 24th of August
79 AD before we would begin to learn of the society that was
Today, three million people
live in and around Naples. It is only a matter of time until
there is another gigantic explosion, and now there are almost a
hundred times as many people in the area as there were in Roman
Mount Vesuvius has been sleeping since 1944 under the watchful
eyes of volcanologists, who regularly measure its temperature.
Their observatory lies 608m high.
volcanic band includes Stromboli, a remote island to the south,
and Sicily's Mt. Etna, which demonstrated a significant period
of activity in 2007.
Between 1933 and
1944 Mount Vesuvius buried several towns underneath
more than 250 million cubic metres of lava. Even the cable car,
well known through the folk song Funiculě, funiculŕ, fell
victim to the lava .
It's well worth
walking the crater rim to admire the slumbering, steaming lava
The nearby smaller City of Herculaneum was covered by a
pyroclastic surge (instead of the ash and lapilli that covered
Pompeii). This allowed some second storeys to survive.
|The ancient Egyptians went to great lengths to be clean. Egyptians thought highly of cleanliness and shaved not only
their heads, upon which they wore wigs, but also their
pubic hair, which prevented forms of pubic lice. Circumcision
was also practiced which eliminated smegma (dirt and bacteria
build up under the foreskin). Both sexes anointed their
genitals with perfumes designed to deepen and exaggerate their
|Ancient Egyptian Frescoe depicting three dancers,
found in Tomba Nakht, c. 1420 BC.
Finland, where the sauna is a national institution, when
government leaders cannot agree on an issue, they adjourn to the
sauna to continue the discussion.
The Finnish use of sauna is
well documented back to the beginning of their history.
"The first examples of saunas were simple
pits dug in the earth, with heated stones to generate the
dry, hot atmosphere. Hot stones remain the hallmark of the
sauna, radiating warmth into a small surrounding room, which
today is typically built of wood. Dousing the stones with
water creates a vapor called loyly by the Finns.
Body brushes, called vihta or vahta, and
birch branches, are used to stimulate the skin and a healthy
sweat." (von Furstenberg, p. 93)
Japanese & Baths
|Japanese baths are of similar if not greater antiquity.
Western writers claim that the soaking baths of Japan originate
from the extensive use of Japanese hot springs.
"Situated between two volcanic belts, Japan offers
countless natural thermal baths, furos. The tradition of
public bathing dates back at least to A.D. 552 and to the
dawn of Buddhism, which taught that such hygiene not only
purified the body of sin but also brought luck." (von
Furstenberg, p. 91)