Jan 082012

UK newspaper the Guardian has a piece on the recent discovery of a bronze token specifically made for spending in Roman brothels in Britain.

While the Putney token has been hailed as a rare discovery from Roman Britain, such artefacts showing similar scenes were actually well known in Renaissance Italy. Scholars in the 16th century didn’t know what they were – maybe something to do with the reputed excesses of the emperor Tiberius? – but they did leap on evidence of ancient Roman erotic art. Anything from antiquity was considered noble in the Renaissance, so these “coins” (as they were misnamed) licensed saucy 16th-century art, including Giulio Romano’s famous series of pornographic illustrations I Modi.

Again, this ties into Howard Bloom’s “strong misreading” idea I talked about earlier, that this misunderstanding of a given text (the token) fertilizes more creativity.

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