New fresco discovered at Pompeii!

New fresco discovered at Pompeii!

A new fresco has been discovered during maintenance at the ancient ruins of Pompeii. Depicting a provocative scene from the myth of Leda and the Swan, the fresco was found on the wall of a bedroom in the Regio V section of the city, close to the city centre, but not yet open to the public. It was found following the discovery of an explicit mural of Priapus, the god of fertility, in the same house.

The legend of Leda and the Swan claims that the Queen of Sparta was seduced and impregnated, or raped, by a swan. The swan was actually Zeus, the Greek god of thunder and king of the Olympians, in disguise. She had slept with her husband, King Tyndareus, the same night and the duel union formed two swan eggs. From these eggs were birthed Helen of Troy, Clytemnestra, wife of Agamemnon, and the twins Castor and Pollux, also known as the Gemini.

This legend has been the muse for many famous artists, including the Renaissance masters Leonardo di Vinci and Michelangelo, and the poet Yeats. But the Pompeii fresco is different. Instead of depicting the strength of men or the weakness of women, it gives a message of sensuality and beauty. It is explicit, luxurious and nowadays would be considered scandalous, though this imagery is common for the time period.

“It was really a society where sex was not something to consume just in a private space. But it was before Christianity when the sense of sex was totally different." Massimo Osanna, Director of Pomepii, said in an interview with CNN.

The maintenance work on the house, believed to be that of a wealthy freed slave, will be finished within the year, at which point a roof and plexiglass will be installed to protect the fresco. It is unknown whether the rest of the house will be excavated.

You can visit Pompeii on our Archaeology of the Bay of Naples tour, departing in October 2019. Spending an entire day in the ancient city, the tour also visits Herculaneum, the Villas of Stabiae and the Phlegraean Fields. You can also find out more about Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra, daughters of Leda on our In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great tour, which visits the ruins of the legendary City of Troy.

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Added: 11th January 2019

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