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Sex, Knowledge, and Receptions of the Past$
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Kate Fisher and Rebecca Langlands

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199660513

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199660513.001.0001

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Bestiality in the Bay of Naples

Bestiality in the Bay of Naples

The Herculaneum Pan and Goat Statue

(p.86) 4 Bestiality in the Bay of Naples
Sex, Knowledge, and Receptions of the Past

Kate Fisher

Rebecca Langlands

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the marble statue of Pan having sex with a goat, which in the first century CE stood in the garden of the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum, and has been an object of fascination since its discovery in 1752. The chapter explores the various interpretations of the statue, and its deployment in a wide variety of debates relating to sex and sexuality. The chapter shows how the meaning of this statue is constituted anew in every context, and it emphasizes the hermeneutics of meaning, drawing on the insights and methodologies of classical reception studies. The further implication of the case-study is that there is no such thing as direct and unmediated access to the reality of the past, only a variety of versions that are constructed as acceptable and authentic knowledge in particular settings.

Keywords:   Pan and goat statue, object biography, classical reception, sexual knowledge, material reception studies, censorship, bestiality, Secret Museum in Naples

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