The Romans loved to scrawl on walls and just abut any surface you could think of. The streets and bars of the preserved city of Pompeii are full of graffiti that give us a glimpse of the thoughts of the everyday Roman. And they are not as high-minded as you think.
The graffiti of Pompeii:
a whole new filthy side
to latin scripture
We often think of the Ancient Romans reclining in marble halls contemplating the nature of being or high-minded brotherhood. Or indeed, the decadent elitists indulging the senses in orgies of pleasure. But the graffiti evident on the walls of Pompeii gives us an insight into the ordinary Roman of Pompeii. their carnal pleasures, their toilet humour, their boasts and complaints. Here are a few of the most interesting graffiti found at Pompeii.
Weep, you girls. My penis has given you up. Now it penetrates men’s behinds. Goodbye, wondrous femininity! (Bar/Brothel of Innulus and Papilio)
The story of Successus, Severus and Iris is played out on the walls of a bar:
[Severus]: “Successus, a weaver, loves the innkeeper’s slave girl named Iris. She, however, does not love him. Still, he begs her to have pity on him. His rival wrote this. Goodbye.”.
[Answer by Successus]:
“Envious one, why do you get in the way. Submit to a handsomer man and one who is being treated very wrongly and good looking.”
[Answer by Severus]: “I have spoken. I have written all there is to say. You love Iris, but she does not love you.” (Bar of Prima)
Restitutus says: “Restituta, take off your tunic, please, and show us your hairy privates”. (peristyle of the Tavern of Verecundus)
Amplicatus, I know that Icarus is buggering you. Salvius wrote this. (House of the Citharist; below a drawing of a man with a large nose)
I screwed the barmaid (Bar of Athictus)
[…]postpone your tiresome quarrels if you can, or leave and take them home with you. (House of the Moralist)
Theophilus, don’t perform oral sex on girls against the city wall like a dog (on the wall in the street)
Blondie has taught me to hate dark-haired girls. I shall hate them, if I can, but I wouldn’t mind loving them. Pompeian Venus Fisica wrote this. (atrium of a House of the Large Brothel)
Atimetus got me pregnant (vicolo del Panattiere, House of the Vibii, Merchants)
Hedone says, “You can get a drink here for only one coin. You can drink better wine for two coins. You can drink Falernian for four coins.” (Bar of Hedone (or Colepius) on the Street of the Augustales; on the corner toward the lupinare)
Secundus likes to screw boys. (Eumachia Building, via della Abbondanza)
Chie, I hope your hemorrhoids rub together so much that they hurt worse than when they every have before! (in the basilica)
We have wet the bed, host. I confess we have done wrong. If you want to know why, there was no chamber pot. (Inn of the Muledrivers; left of the door)
Two friends were here. While they were, they had bad service in every way from a guy named Epaphroditus. They threw him out and spent 105 and half sestertii most agreeably on whores. (bar/inn joined to the maritime baths in Herculaneum)
We have wet the bed, host. I confess we have done wrong. If you want to know why, there was no chamber pot. (Inn of the Muledrivers)
Prof. Prof. Brian Harvey
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