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by Archaeology Newsroom

Erotic images and symbolism

On certain Athenian painted vases of the 6th to the 4th century BC the erotic scenes are of a religious nature and relate to fertility in general or specifically human fertility.A woman is often shown, with or without a child, also erect phallic figures and erotic scenes. Other paintings with phalluses as their main figures are meant to avert evil as are the Hermes pillars.There is a third category of vases with erotic or humorous scenes. The pleasures of lovemaking are shown with gods coupling with mortals or grown men with youths.On most vases however, men are shown having intercourse with courtesans or prostitutes. The article is beautifully illustrated and ends with a reminder that it is Victorian morals that are to blame for the hiding away of erotic vase paintings in museum basements.