Pompeii pornography that affected Victorian society
Pornography is something that almost everyone has heard of. This is especially true with the advent of the Internet. But according to some, the history of pornographic expressions is very long.
The history of pornographic expressions is rich and intertwined with that of human civilization. In this article, we try to discuss how the idea of pornography is rooted in contemporary society.

Cities hidden under ashes

The current acceptance of pornography is changing. Some believe that people should secretly have fun from pornography, while others believe that they are sinful creations. However, it was not until 2000 years ago in Italy that these publications had a direct impact on the current worldview. On August 24, 79 CE, Mount Vesuvius erupted. The volcanic eruption destroyed two Roman cities, Pompeii and Herculaneum.
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Destroyed, but hidden in the ashes as they were at the time, these cities were arguably safer than most Roman cities. The most important feature was the collection of murals and other antiquities left in these cities. Systematic excavations in the vicinity of Pompeii and Herculaneum began in the mid-18th century. In 1752, when Charles VII, then King of Naples, visited the area, a statue found during excavations caused a great deal of controversy.

Church, Victorian Society and Historic Rome

Adherence to the moral denominations defined by the Catholic Church was the norm in Italy at the time. It is questionable how the Church’s powers diminished over the next century due to some political reasons, but how the measure of morality changed.

Art and sculpture sponsored by the Church or by noble families in Italy originated in Italy around the 15th century and later spread to other areas. We recognize this as the Renaissance. Nude human figures were often seen here, but such creations, especially those made under the auspices of the Church, were not generally regarded as erotic expressions. They often contained sermons, and it was hoped that the viewer would look at them in that sense. These showed full nude paintings or sculptures of men but covered the female genitals. If there were such paintings in full nudity, it would be in a private collection and not in public exhibitions.
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Although there were instances in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance where pornographic expressions were portrayed in various books or other media, they were not popular with the general public. The ruling elite generally controlled the distribution of them to the masses. They thought that they were not a problem but that they would corrupt ordinary people. As part of this process, Pope Paul IV first published a catalogue of “forbidden books” in 1559, which included books on moral as well as religious issues.
England became a world power in the 19th century and spread its traditions throughout the world. The traditional value systems adopted by them are still ingrained in many societies, consciously or unconsciously. Named after Victoria, Queen of England for most of the 19th century, we refer to these as Victorian denomination systems.
Archaeological finds and paintings found in the Pompeii and Herculaneum areas not only did not fit in with the Catholic and Victorian denominations but were utterly opposed. The statue of Pan and the Goat was indeed one extreme here. But the other paintings and antiquities found in these cities were also very controversial.
Findings from Pompeii and Herculaneum show that such paintings were found in many homes. These were found in brothels as well as in Roman baths and private homes. Having a large number of such pictures at home was also a reflection of the person’s economic strength as he needed some money to draw a large number of such paintings. Moreover, it can be said that it was an excellent proof that the prosperous Roman society at that time considered such acts as usual.
The findings came as a shock to Victorian society, which considered it a moral issue to even see a woman’s naked ankle. Sex was a topic of public discussion in Roman society, but in Victorian society, such things were discussed in secret. Thus, with the discoveries of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the cultural conflict between ancient Roman culture and Victorian society in the 19th century gave rise to the concept of erotic expression.
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The word pornography was added to the English language in 1857. In the same year, the British Parliament passed the Obscene Publications Act of 1857. It banned the sale of pornographic material and gave the judiciary the power to destroy such material. The court was also empowered to decide whether something was “obscene.”


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