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Visiting the city of Pompeii, you may feel like you are gone back in time. Only within 30 minutes from Naples, the destination is famous Mt. Vesuvius volcano, which erupted in the year 79 A.D. The moment marks a natural disaster which wiped out the whole city of Pompeii and buried everything in a huge layer of ash. The mud preserved it all, sealing everything. In 1738 King Charles of Bourbon ordered the start of the excavations of the archeological wonder and now you can walk through it!
If you visit the archeological place with our gay-friendly guide, you learn several things about LGBTQ+ life in ancient Roman civilization, led by a few Untold Histories you probably haven’t heard before.
The decorations, frescos, graffiti, sculptures, so artful preserved for centuries, will unveil how the ancient times were open-minded about sexual orientation. These visual scenes illustrate that sensuality was considered a gift from the gods. Visit houses, streets and thermal baths adorned with artwork depicting sex scenes and homosexual relationships. In the suburban thermal baths watch sixteen scenes of gay sex between two men, two women and a threesome, as Catullus wrote in the Carmen 56.
Walking throughout the city, discover the ‘House of the Vettii’: there is a fresco that depicts Priapo, the son of Aphrodite and Dionysius, leaning against a wall while his giant phallus rests on one plate of a scale and on the other plate there is a bag full of coins. This clearly demonstrates that Romans viewed the male member as a symbol of prosperity and abundance.
Also in the ‘House of Criptoportico’ you can see a mold of a couple hugging . It has been found now, through DNA, that they were actually two males.
Enjoy stories of the Roman life and its important Greek influences. Same sex love was expression of power, while marriage was often just a pretext and mechanism to have children. While heterosexual relations were the norm, homosexuality was very common in Pompeii, and apparently the Latin vocabulary doesn’t even distinguish between hetero- and homo-sexual identities. In those days, homosexual relations were also quite frequent between powerful men.
In 2020 an important discovery brought to light a ‘thermopoly’, a resale of food and drinks perfectly conserved by the lava which destroyed the town. A graffiti was found here, together with many paintings of animals and mythologic characters, saying ‘Nicia, cinedo cacatore’. The sentence was probably referred to someone working at the thermopily and sexually attracted by males and females, in an active and passive way.
Julius Caesar, was known for same-sex relations. Nicknamed by Cicero, the “husband to all wives and wife to all husbands,” Casear also earned the nickname “Queen of Bithynia” after he engaged in a relationship with the Greek king Nicomedes the IV of Bithynia. There are many other similar accounts amongst Roman Emperors, such as Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, but the most interesting story is that of Emperor Hadrian and his beautiful young lover Antonious.