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The Royal Museum at Naples,



(Stanislas Marie César Famin, b. 1799 d. 1853)


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The ancient Roman and Greek cultures had a very different attitude about sexuality than successive European cultures, more akin to that of the Kama Sutra. This, of course, was unimaginable to latter day Europeans, who rigidly compartmentalized body, mind and spirit, and to whom any sexuality was sinful and morbid.

Some of the best artistic expressions of this can be found in the recovered city of Pompeii. Pompeii was frozen in time by the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D., and not unearthed until 1748. Pompeii was a seaside resort, devoted to the arts, relaxation, and the pursuit of pleasure. The excavators were horrified to discover erotic frescos, mosaics, statuary and phallic votive objects. The moveable erotic artifacts were taken to Naples and kept in seclusion in the Royal Museum. The erotic wall and floor art had lockable metal boxes constructed over them and were displayed to tourists for an extra fee (women and children excluded). When I visited Pompeii in the late 1960s, this peepshow was still in operation.

This work is a translation of a book by a 19th Century French antiquarian César Famin. In 1816 (according to a citation in the Library of Congress catalog) he published (under the initials M. C. F.) Musée royal de Naples; peintures, bronzes et statues érotiques du cabinet secret, avec leur explication containing sixty lithographs of the best erotic artifacts in the Naples collection. The name of the artist is unknown. The volume was published with the cooperation of the Naples museum in a very limited edition. The French authorities confiscated and destroyed most known copies of the original book. One ended up in the 'Private Case' of the British Museum. There is also a copy in the Special Collections of the Library of Congress.

In 1871, an English translation of Famin's work was published in England under the byline of 'Colonel Fanin'. Privately printed in a limited edition, this translation became one of the rarest erotic books. A photographic reprint of this was published in 1969 in paperback by 'Collectors Publications' (City of Industry, CA), under the title The Secret Erotic Paintings. Collectors Publications was a fly-by-night pulp publisher whose line consisted mostly of stroke books, 'marriage' manuals, pirate editions of Grove Press books, and a few reprints of rare erotic books. The 1969 paperback edition, with atrocious color separations, was the source of this etext and the accompanying images. Originally priced at $15 (an astronomical price for a poorly printed 150 page paperback at the time--a more typical price was 50 cents), used copies of this run up to $50 on the Internet.

Famin's text to accompany the images is deeply conflicted. He is obviously drawn to the subject matter and has a deep understanding of the significance of the artifacts. He also takes every opportunity to condemn Classical sexual practices and cultural values. Whether this is a figleaf or a sincere reaction is impossible to determine. However, in spite of the 'shocked, shocked' attitude in Famin's text, it contains quite a bit of valid and well-researched information, including quotes from classical authors and details of mythology, artistic methods, spiritual practices, architecture, and literature.

These pictures are fairly explicit and aren't for everyone. Few of the items on display here are excessively purient by contemporary standards. These are historical cultural artifacts, not pornography. Nonetheless, consider yourself warned.

Introduction © 2003 J. B. Hare

Title Page
Plate I: The Satyr and the Goat
Plate II: Marsyas and Olympus
Plate III: Venus Callipyge
Plate IV: Sarcophagus
Plate V: The God Pan on a Mule
Plate VI: Invocation to Priapus
Plate VII: Bacchanalia
Plate VIII: Sacrifice to Priapus
Plate IX: The Phalluses in Stone
Plate: X: Two Little Votive Columns
Plate: XI: Drillopota
Plate XII: Drillopota
Plate XIII: Drillopota
Plate XIV: Dancer to the Crotalum
Plate XV: A Priapus-Hermes
Plate XVI: Votive Figure
Plate XVII: The Hermes in Bronze
Plate XVIII: The Tripod
Plate XIX: Two Mimic Buffoons
Plate XX: Two Idols
Plate XXI: Three Bronze Figures
Plate XXII: A Votive Phallus
Plate XXIII: Phallus-Hermes
Plate XXIV: Votive Phallus
Plate XXV: Phallic Lamps
Plate XXVI: Votive Phalli
Plate XXVII: Votive Phallus
Plate XXVIII: Votive Phalli
Plate XXIX: Bronze Amulets
Plate XXX: The Surprised Nymph
Plate XXXI: The Flight of Aeneas
Plate XXXII: The Faun's Kiss
Plate XXXIII: A Satyr and a Bacchante
Plate XXXIV: Venus on her Shell Conch
Plate XXXV: Spinthria
Plate XXXVI: Mercury and Yphtima
Plate XXXVII: An Erotic Scene
Plate XXXVIII: Spinthria
Plate XXXIX: Spinthria
Plate XL: An Hermaphrodite
Plate XLI: An Hermaphrodite and Faun
Plate XLII: A Satyr and Hermaphrodite
Plate XLIII: A Faun and Bacchante
Plate XLIV: Spinthria
Plate XLV: Spinthria
Plate XLVI: Spinthria
Plate XLVII: Spinthria
Plate XLVIII: Spinthria
Plate XLIX: Apollo and a Nymph
Plate L: Aeneas and Dido
Plate LI: Spinthria
Plate LII: Spinthria
Plate LIII: Spinthria
Plate LIV: Group of Animals
Plate LV: Pan and Syrinx
Plate LVI: Etruscan Vase
Plate LVII: Hercules and the Stymphalic Birds
Plate LVIII: Bell-shaped Vase
Plate LIX: Bell-shaped Vase
Plate LX: Langelle Vase