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Ancient Rome and the Construction of Modern Homosexual Identities$
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Jennifer Ingleheart

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199689729

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199689729.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 10 December 2019

‘Gay’ Pompeii

‘Gay’ Pompeii

Pompeian Art and Homosexuality in the Early Twentieth Century

(p.196) (p.197) 10 ‘Gay’ Pompeii
Ancient Rome and the Construction of Modern Homosexual Identities

Sarah Levin-Richardson

Oxford University Press

Eduard von Mayer’s Pompeii as an Art City, ostensibly a guidebook to the visual culture of the ancient town, called for a return to the enlightened sexual mores of the Roman past by pointing to the ancient homoeroticism in ‘everyday life’, as seen through Pompeii’s ‘humble’ art. This chapter places the project of Mayer within the context of the early homosexual emancipation movement in Germany, which aimed to find homoeroticism in the art and literature of the past. Analysing the way in which Mayer bolsters his claims about how homoeroticism was celebrated in Pompeian art, it argues that Mayer’s emphasis on continuity between the past and present allowed him to present the Roman past as a moral paradigm for the present. This chapter proposes that Pompeii’s unique ability to provide ‘everyday’ art in its original context made it particularly useful in early twentieth-century arguments promoting homosexuality.

Keywords:   Pompeii, visual culture, guidebook, homoeroticism, Eduard von Mayer, homosexual emancipation movement, Germany, homosexuality

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