STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports from Rome.
SYLVIA POGGIOLI: Rome's archeological superintendent, Angelo Bottini, explains why Eros was chosen as the subject of this exhibit.
ANGELO BOTTINI: (Through translator) Because Eros is universal. There's nothing more understandable than the concept of love. But we also want to illustrate antiquity to a society that knows less and less about the ancients.
POGGIOLI: Exhibit organizers say that although the Greek god of love is one of the best- known divinities, his mythological narrative is less detailed than that of the other gods. Greek tragedy and comedy are filled with tales of Eros' boundless power. The ancient poets, from Sappho to Anacreon, describe him as an invincible force that brings happiness but can also destroy it.
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POGGIOLI: The exhibit contains numerous erotic images of homosexual love. Angelo Bottini says it's an opportunity to illustrate the liberty and spontaneity with which the Greeks lived their sexuality.
BOTTINI: (Through translator) In antiquity, erotic practices that had nothing to do with procreation. Male and female homosexuality were completely accepted by society.
POGGIOLI: But there's one aspect of erotic love in antiquity that contemporary society is unable to embrace.
BOTTINI: (Through translator) In the case of men, the homosexual experience was a one-sided relationship between an adult and an adolescent boy. It was seen as a teacher-pupil relationship. We call it pedophilia and it's unacceptable for us.
POGGIOLI: Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Rome.
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INSKEEP: You can see some of the items on exhibit at the Coliseum, if you dare, by going to npr.org.