When I was ten or twelve, I read an old-even-then collection of essays and short stories by Arthur C. Clarke that imagined some of the ways in which telecommunications satellites would undermine the power of nations. Of course the one that caught my attention was the speculation about satellite TV, written before there was such a thing, in which Clarke vividly described how some insurgent power might use the new technology to beam subversive erotica into every house in the world. In his description of the programming — and understand that I am operating on a decades-old memory here — he included an imagination of a show, nominally highbrow and educational, that focused on vivid and colorful examples of Roman erotic art of Pompeii. (Visionary though he was, he did not predict the Spice channel.)

Thus began my interest in the classics.

It was to be many years, of course, before I saw what he was talking about:

pompeii erotic relief

Image found here.

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