Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome

By Amy Richlin | Go to book overview

elitist associations that were inimical to the Athenian democracy. Greifenhagen has rightly called this scene the last great artistic expression of Archaic male erôs. Ironically, from an art-historical point of view, it represents a new level of technical refinement, when, for the first time, an artist could transcend the limitations of conventional vase painting (through the use of shading and other techniques developed in wall painting) to create the most sensuous "pinup boys" ever seen in this medium--just when the demand for such images was on the wane. By the time Plato came to celebrate the beautiful youth, these pictures were heirlooms of a bygone age.


I am grateful to Amy Richlin, not only for the invitation to contribute to this volume, but for much encouragement and many good suggestions along the way. Thanks also to Robert Sutton for his careful reading of an earlier draft and many helpful comments, and to Lucilla Burn and Dietrich von Bothmer for help in obtaining photographs.

See, however, Kappeler 1986: 152. Kappeler points out that the etymological derivation of pornography from "prostitute" is still accurately reflected in the power relationship of male and female.
In the remainder of this chapter, discussion of homosexual pornography or erotica is limited to that between males. There are, in my opinion, no depictions of explicit lesbian activity in Greek art, and attempts to recognize it (e.g., Keuls 1985: 87, fig. 81; Dover 1978: R207) do not convince. At most a scene like R207 might be intended for titillation of male viewers, as in the use of lesbianism in modern heterosexual pornography for men.
Keuls 1985: 297, fig. 166, reproduces a scene on the interior of a red-figured cup which she describes as "Man negotiating the price of sex with a boy." I doubt, however, that the money purse in the man's hand implies that the boy is a prostitute. Mature men often carry such a purse as an attribute (like the walking stick). It characterizes their status in society and signifies ability to purchase anything from sex to vegetables, but not necessarily intent.
A small number of black-figure vases show anal intercourse between men (e.g., Koch Harnack 1983: fig. 108). All these vases belong to the so-called Tyrrhenian Group, made for the Etruscan market. The iconography of these vases is often eccentric, and they cannot be used in a discussion of Athenian tastes and expectations.
An exception would be the ithyphallic Pan pursuing a goatherd ( Beazley 1963: 550, 1). But Pan falls more in the category of the bestial satyrs than of the Olympian gods.
The story that Helen distracted Menelaos from his wrath by baring her breast is depicted on a single remarkable vase of ca. 430. Beazley 1963: 1173 ( Vatican).
Beazley was himself uncertain about the identification ("according to conjecture"), but it was taken up and repeated by others with more certainty; also in Dover 1978: 98, cf. 93. The suggestion had first been made by Friedrich Hauser in 1893 (references in Greifenhagen 1957: 79).
The vases are (1) a second cup in Boston, inv. no. 95.31; Beazley 1963: 443, 25; and (2) cup, Berlin (West) inv. 2305; Beazley 1963: 450, 31.
A unique, recently published red-figured vase of about 490 ( Hermary 1986) is by far the earliest depiction of Eros as archer. The motif does not become popular until much later.
British Museum E440; Beazley 1963: 289, l; Greifenhagen 1957: 32, fig. 25.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Time Line of Events, Sources, and Persons Discussed xxiv
  • 1: Pornography and Persuasion on Attic Pottery 3
  • Notes 34
  • 2: Tragedy and the Politics of Containment 36
  • Notes 51
  • 3: Eros in Love: Pederasty and Pornography in Greece 53
  • Notes 72
  • 4: The Mute Nude Female Characters in Aristophanes' Plays 73
  • Notes 88
  • Appendix Texts Relating to the Writers of Sexual Handbooks 108
  • Notes 109
  • 6: The Body Female and the Body Politic: Livy's Lucretia and Verginia 112
  • Notes 129
  • 7: The Domestication of Desire: Ovid's Parva Tabella and the Theater of Love 131
  • Notes 155
  • Notes 158
  • Notes 178
  • Notes 179
  • 9: Death as Decoration: Scenes from the Arena on Roman Domestic Mosaics 180
  • Notes 208
  • 10: Callirhoe 212
  • 11: Sweet and Pleasant Passion: Female and Male Fantasy in Ancient Romance Novels 231
  • Notes 249
  • 12: The Edible Woman: Athenaeus's Concept of the Pornographic 250
  • Conclusion 266
  • Notes 269
  • Notes 269
  • Notes 283
  • Bibliography 285
  • Contributors 313
  • Index 315


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 324

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.