Italian Adventures

Hi my name is Meli, and this blog is not just a project for my honors class, but also a personal project involving one of my favorite places in the world. My project is mainly focused on sexuality, but I also included other details and photographs that make up Italy and Italian culture as a whole.

In 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried this ancient town in nearly 20 feet of pumice and ash.  The town was lost for over 1,500 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1599.  Since then, it has been properly excavated and reveals a shocking glance into life during the height of the Roman Empire.
The town of Pompeii was highly populated, as the extremely fertile soil drew in hordes of people.  Little did they know that soon they would all die as a result of a catastrophic eruption.  Many of the people died from ash suffocation while others died of the hot surges of over 450 Fahrenheit that surly caused instant death, even to those who found shelter.
A mural of 70 AD Pompeii.
Visit the city of Pompeii, preserved by the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius that buried the city in AD 79, and you will encounter erotic imagery around every corner.
“There are phalluses greeting you in doorways, above bread ovens and carved into the surface of the street,” says historian Mary Beard, making the point in her book Pompeii: The Life Of A Roman Town.
There is also rather a lot of sex-related graffiti carved into walls and doors; 150 examples of which are contained in one brothel. They are of the “Felix went with Fortunata” type, with other translated examples including: “Marcellus loves Praestina and she doesn’t give a damn” and “Restitutus has cheated on lots of women”.
Mi­che­lan­gelo Buo­nar­roti, Notte, par­ti­co­lare, 1526–1531, Fi­renze, Chiesa di San Lo­renzo, Sa­cre­stia Nuova

First Century Ancient Roman Fresco, Pompeii
Sexuality and art of Pompeii
Statue of David.
David is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture created between 1501 and 1504, by the Italian artist Michelangelo.
A fresco depicting “The Foolish Virgins,” Castel d’Appiano Italy, 1125.

Unlike previous periods of western civilization, where male and female clothing were very similar, distinctions in apparel developed at this time and have been generally agreed upon ever since. Dress lengths went up and down but then became permanently longer for many centuries.
The Implications of Slave Women’s Sexual Service in Late Medieval Italy

Why black Africans draw this attention has less to do with their prominence in slave populations of the time and more to do with concerns of scholars today. The focus on black slaves in the Christian Mediterranean provides a connection between slavery’s more remote past and its more recent, better understood past. But the focus has also had the effect of obscuring features of late medieval slavery worthy of study for what they can tell us about how ancestry was experienced by Italians in the fifteenth century without reference to the model of racialized slavery that prevailed later across the Atlantic. If, for the moment, we put aside what we know about later systems of slavery, we will see that legal status evolved in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italy in a way that was the diametrical opposite of racialized slavery in later centuries. This point can best be made by drawing attention to the sexual service performed by slave women.
Rape of Persephone Vechelde
The Rape of Proserpine 
Cere’s virgin daughter is aggressively ravished by Pluto, who then kidnaps her and whisks her off in his chariot to the underworld. Nymph Cyane tries to stop him but is turned into a pool. Ceres searches for her daughter and is mocked by a youth who she turns into a newt. When Ceres finds out that her daughter has been taken to the underworld in her anger she curses the land of Sicily and destroys its fertility. Ceres then drives her chariot to Heaven and demands justice from her husband/brother Jove. Jove tries to defend his brother Pluto. Ceres is also told that Proserpine’s return is furthermore blocked by the fates who have stipulated that she must remain in the underworld. Enraged Cere’s turns various helpers into Sirens (birds with beautiful voices and women’s faces forever looking out to sea).
Calliope’s retelling of the rape has been considered a complex and chaotic one, with a fine use of an internal narrator seeing things differently from the narration itself. The rape is troubling-swift and horrific and described vicariously through a surrogate rape. Dealing with such an important subject matter as rape through Calliope’s storytelling allows Ovid to engage with profound material and sexual dynamics with a veiled lightness of touch. But it’s all too apparent what is going on.
The problems what that assertion are many, but it does belie the popularity, if not notoriety, of Italy’s most high-profile 17th century women painter.
Pompeii: Erotic Art and Roman Sexuality

The Birth of Venus is undoubtedly one of the world’s most famous and appreciated works of art. Painted by Sandro Botticelli between 1482 and 1485
Lorenzo Lotto, Portrait of Messer Marsilio Cassotti and His Wife, Faustina, 1523, oil on canvas