An ancient statue of Pan having sex with a nanny goat has brought up an age-old problem: How do you present an erotic work of art to the public?
The British Museum in London believes it has solved the problem by posting a warning sign. According to The Times of London, the museum plans to keep the sculpture in plain sight for the duration of the Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibit March 28-Sept. 29.
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All that will accompany the art is a sign with a message that reads, "This section of the exhibition contains sexually explicit material," museum spokeswoman Olivia Rickman told The Huffington Post.
Rickman explained that Senior Curator Paul Roberts was adamant that everyday Roman life be conveyed as it was. The work, probably made between A.D. 1-20, was one of many sexually-themed pieces from the time, and was seen as "comical and amusing," she said.
Pan, a half-goat, half-man Satyr from Greek mythology, is god of the shepherds. His ugliness repulsed even his own mother, according to lore. But, apparently, his goat lover had no problem with his appearance in the Roman-made statue.
The sculpture and other works in the exhibit survived the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the year 79, according to the British Museum.
The sculpture is on loan from a Naples museum, where it gets its own room with a sign advising that visitors under 14 be accompanied by a teacher, Rickman said.
The Guardian previously wrote that the piece is supposed to create positive buzz for the sites where the relics were unearthed.
The publicity generated by Pan's out-in-the-open lust probably can't hurt either, but Rickman reiterated that to somehow shield the work would be to inaccurately portray Roman attitudes toward sex. "It was not something to be hidden away," she said.
The sculpture of Pan having sex with a nanny goat was in a garden in Herculaneum before the Mount Vesuvius eruption in A.D. 79, historians believe. (Image credit: Alamy)