The recent visit of the president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, to Italy was only controversial in so far as Italian prime minister Renzi decided to have all nude statues on the route taken by Rouhani through the Capitoline museum covered up with panels ‘so as not to offend the sensibility of the Iranian president.’
The majority of Italian citizens were not amused and neither was most of Renzi’s government. After all, these statue represent some of the most wonderful examples of Italian art and culture.
Cultural appeasement is the next worse thing to iconoclastic destruction of ancient monuments such as is happening right now to such important sites in the development of civilization like Nineveh, Babylon and Palmyra.
At the same time, western culture has not been immune to such ridiculousness. In the past Michelangelo’s great ‘Last Judgement’ in Rome’s Sistine chapel (did the Pope show Rouhani that painting at their meeting?) was almost ordered to be destroyed because of objections to the large number of nude representations in it. It was only when Daniele di Volterra, detto il braghettone, (big underpants) was brought in to paint the standard loin-cloth over the various genitalia displayed that the painting was saved for posterity. Fortunately, in the fresco’s recent restoration braghettone’s work has been removed to reveal once more ‘private’ parts in all their full, pub(l)ic glory.
(Underwear designed by Il Braghettone)
Anyway, how can you walk around historic Rome without coming across a nude statue every five minutes?
In more recent times, Victorian women were not encouraged to make journeys to Khajuraho’s temples and Orissa’s black pagoda because of the large number of sexually explicit statues on them. In fact, sexual union is symbolic of spiritual union with the Godhead as expounded in Advaita Vedanta (non-dualist Hindu religious philosophy).
(Non-dualistic philosophy expounded at Khajuraho)
Similarly, the Capitoline Venus, shaded from the Iranian president’s eyes, represents the goddess of love in all her procreative loveliness. It’s not just a statue of a posh tart.
Is India supposed to give health warnings to the many visitors that visit its gorgeous temples?
Is Bagni di Lucca supposed to put veils, cloths knickers or brassières around its lovely nude statues in case some may be offended?
I think not!
Sir Kenneth ‘Civilization’ Clark made a clear distinction between the nude and the naked. For nudes go to museums and art galleries and for the naked enjoy your naturist beach, the closest one to us being just south of Migliarino. A tad cold I feel at this time of year, however…
PS What’s just as bad is that Renzi invited the head of Iran to a state banquet without any wine being served. Now can you imagine a meal in Italy without the liquid gold of fermented grapes? And some wines here are derived from fruity Iranian varieties like Shirazi! At least when Rouhani visited Paris the French president just invited him to take tea… probably not P(arental G(uidance) Tips, however.