FRESCO FROM POMPEII.
IT must be admitted, this highly obscene painting would not be unworthy of the infamous collections of Aretine. None of the supposed refinements of pleasure were unknown to the ancients. Here, for instance, may be seen two amorous athletes who have changed places in the combat of Venus. Their youth seems emasculated, as it requires a new spur. The sex whom nature has destined to make the attack, and for whom she reserves the conqueror's crown, submits on this occasion to pass for vanquished. The youth is reclining languidly on a heavy mattress, and submits to the whole weight of a feeble woman, who is stript both of her vestments and of the still less transparent veil of modesty.
Of all the extravagances to which the delirium of a lustful imagination may lead, there could perhaps hardly be any less excusable in the two accomplices. For the man misconceives the nobleness of his character and the dignity of his nature, and the woman forgets that, of all her attractions, there is none more seductive than that amiable weakness which allows her to succumb while still resisting.
This painting was discovered not very long ago, at Pompeii. The drawing, as in most of the other Spinthriæ, is not very correct. The bed is formed of a sort of table, the four legs of which seem to be fixed by the help of cords crossing and recrossing each other.