Ancient Pompeii Graffiti Reveals Potty Mouths, Penis Jokes

photo via flickr

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 each other’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.

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