Pompeii unveils erotic Leda and the Swan fresco to the public for first time

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Part of the ancient Roman city which has never before been seen by the public is to be opened to tourists.

Tourists in Pompeii will be able to see an erotic fresco depicting a scene from the Greek myth Leda and the Swan for the first time.

The fresco shows Leda, Queen of Sparta, being impregnated by the god Zeus in disguise as a swan.

In the provocative scene, the disguised god is seen perched on Leda’s naked lap.

The painting was discovered last year during maintenance work in Regio V, an area of the ancient Roman city which is still being excavated by archaeologists.

Pompeii was buried under mounds of volcanic ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD.

Experts believe the fresco decorated the bedroom of a wealthy home on Via del Vesuvio.

The road and the nearby Central Baths will be opened to the public for the first time while the House of Golden Cupids will be reopened following maintenance works.

Images of Leda and the Swan were popular in Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum, but this fresco is particularly well-preserved.

According to Greek mythology, Leda was seduced – some say raped – by Zeus while he took on the form of a swan.

                              Pompeii unveils erotic Leda and the Swan fresco to the public for first time

The encounter happened the same night that Leda had intercourse with her husband, the mortal King Tyndareus.

As a result, Leda bore a number of children of mixed mortal and deity descent, including Helen of Troy and the twins Castor and Pollux.

The myth inspired paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Tintoretto.

It also inspired the classic poem by William Butler Yeats, who is widely considered to be one of the greatest poets of the 20th century.

                              Pompeii unveils erotic Leda and the Swan fresco to the public for first time

The 54-acre Regio V site is being excavated as part of the Great Pompeii Project and has not previously been open to the public.

The dig, which began last year, has already uncovered the skeleton of a fugitive, the remains of a harnessed horse and saddle and a fresco depicting fighting gladiators.

About a third of the ancient city has not yet been excavated.

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