Ancient Pompeii graffiti reveals potty mouths, penis jokes
A friend just emailed us a link to this collection of awesome (and dirty!) graffiti from Pompeii. We know it seems like it couldn’t possibly be real, but Pompeiana.org seems like a legitimate academic site. (They describe themselves as “an online resource for all things Pompeian… a place for original research by scholars in the fields of art, archaeology, architecture and classics.” And the site is packed with stuffy academic papers — seems like an awful lot of work to go to for a prank.) And besides, Pompeii is known for its phallic and erotic artifacts (and, we suppose now, its poop jokes).
Back in the ancient world, graffiti was actually taken pretty seriously as a form of writing — people would respond to one another’s witticisms, write poetry, draw pictures, etc. And, occasionally, brag about conquests or pine for loved ones or just note that they’d been by. That is, until Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79 and buried their city under 36 hours’ worth of ashes and stone. But as architects continue to excavate this lost city, more and more graffiti is being uncovered.
Below are some of our favorites, translated from the original Latin of course. We love that the compliments (“Sollemnes, you screw well!”) are as enthusiastic as the insults (“Phileros is a eunuch!”). A bit of graffiti like the following would vastly improve our public bathroom experiences…
Weep, you girls. My penis has given you up. Now it penetrates men’s behinds. Goodbye, wondrous femininity!
Amplicatus, I know that Icarus is buggering you. Salvius wrote this.
I screwed the barmaid.
Floronius, privileged soldier of the 7th legion, was here. The women did not know of his presence. Only six women came to know, too few for such a stallion.
Theophilus, don’t perform oral sex on girls against the city wall like a dog.
Hectice, baby, Mercator says hello to you.
If anyone does not believe in Venus, they should gaze at my girlfriend.
Atimetus got me pregnant.
Sollemnes, you screw well!
Vibius Restitutus slept here alone and missed his darling Urbana.
Chie, I hope your hemorrhoids rub together so much that they hurt worse than when they ever have before!
Phileros is a eunuch!
The one who buggers a fire burns his penis.
We have wet the bed, host. I confess we have done wrong. If you want to know why, there was no chamber pot.
Secundus defecated here. [This apparently appeared three times on one wall.]
Apelles Mus and his brother Dexter each pleasurably had sex with two girls twice.
Apollinaris, the doctor of the emperor Titus, defecated well here. [We particularly love the "well" in this one, implying a certain enjoyment -- as if the graffiti were meant as a celebration of pooping rather than to give offense.]
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Photo credit: Flickr