Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Shocker! Roman History Whitewashed!

Why, whatever shall I do? Moneyed elites give us a watered-down version of history and ferret away Rome's treasures for their personal amusement? Shock, horror! The next thing you know, they'll tell us we've been fed watered-down religious teachings to keep us under control while the elites have the real knowledge under lock and key!

Can you read this to me? I'm trembling with astonishment...

The real history of Roman life became a smutty secret for "gentlemen's" clubs.

Deemed too shocking for women, children and the lower classes, artefacts that were later labelled pornographic were kept behind locked, and even bricked-up, doors in what became known as the Secret Museum established in 1819 in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.

There was also a series of secret rooms in London's British Museum.

On occasion, admittance to the Naples secret chamber was permitted to responsible gentlemen of good moral character, including young males of the wealthy elite enjoying a gap year by undertaking the European Grand Tour to complete their "education".

These same gentlemen could also gain access to a series of peep shows kept under lock and key at Pompeii where specially built steel cabinets kept various frescoes and murals from general view.

The Secret Museum was opened only briefly during the social revolution of the 1960s. It was closed again until 2000. Since 2005 the collection has been housed in a special room. Entry is gained by a separate ticket.


  1. Having been raised by a kind family of Jesuits, I kind of knew some of these stories. However they also pointed out that all the sex stuff kind of gets overblown (pun unintended). It'd be like scientists excavating New York City thousands of years from now and basing all of their conclusions on stuff they'd uncovered in Times Square.

  2. Maybe, maybe not. The Church destroyed so much history, science and architecture when it came to power, it's pretty likely that the only reason the erotic artifacts at Pompeii were not cast on the scrap-heaps and the bonfires was because it was buried beneath tons of ash and pumice. In that regard Vesuvius was both destroyer and preserver.

  3. I agree with Abel.

    How do you square your idea that the 'erotic' artefacts of Pompeii (a modern perspective not totally shared by their original owners - _context_is_everything_) are not unique examples but have multiple parallels from other sites all over the Roman world. Hell there are so many 'pornographic' Roman oil lamps (small domestic examples) that they get sold on the open market with no attendant furore from museums or 'Hidden Persuaders' scared that the herd might find out Teh Truth.
    Pompeii is important because the whole damn town was preserved not because it demonstrates something seen nowhere else.