Roman Gaffitti – As Crude As Us!
11 Colorful Phrases From Ancient Roman Graffiti
When the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were suddenly consumed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 C.E., many of their buildings were so intimately preserved that modern archaeologists can even read the graffiti scribbled onto their ancient walls. See if any of these remind you of a twenty-first century bathroom.
1. “PHILIROS SPADO.”
“Phileros is a eunuch.”
2. “LUCIUS PINXIT.”
“Lucius wrote this.”
3. “APOLLINARIS, MEDICUS TITI IMPERATORIS HIC CACAVIT BENE.”
“Apollinaris, doctor to the emperor Titus, had a good crap here.” In Latin profanity, “cacatne” pertained to defecation.
4. “OPPI, EMBOLIARI, FUR, FURUNCLE.”
“Oppius, you’re a clown, a thief, and a cheap crook.”
5. “MIXIMUS IN LECTO. FAETOR, PECCAVIMUS, HOSPES. SI DICES: QUARE? NULLA MATELLA FUIT.”
“We have wet the bed. I admit, we were wrong, my host. If you ask ‘why?’ There was no chamber pot.” Found inside an inn.
6. “VIRGULA TERTIO SU: INDECENS ES.”
“Virgula to Teritus: You are a nasty boy.”
7. “EPAPHRA, GLABER ES.”
“Epaphra, you are bald.”
8. “TALIA TE FALLANT UTINAM MEDACIA, COPO: TU VEDES ACUAM ET BIBES IPSE MERUM.”
“If only similar swindling would dupe you, innkeeper: you sell water, and drink the undiluted wine yourself.”
9. “VATUAN AEDILES FURUNCULI ROG.”
“The petty thieves request the election of Vatia as adele.” In ancient Pompeii, an “adele” was an elected official who supervised markets and local police, among other things.
10. “SUSPIRIUM PUELLAM CELADUS THRAEX.”
“Celadus makes the girls moan.”
11. “ADMIROR, O PARIES, TE NON CECIDISSE, QUI TOT SCRIPTORIUM TAEDIA SUSTINEAS.”
“I wonder, O wall, that you have not yet collapsed, so many writers’ clichés do you bear.” This phrase seems to have been a popular one, as slightly different versions of it appear in multiple locations throughout Pompeii’s ruins.
The Bawdy Graffiti of Pompeii and Herculaneum
…And now for your viewing pleasure comes a list of bawdy graffiti scrawled on the walls of Herculaneum and Pompeii, which confirm, if we didn’t already know it, that the Romans were people exactly like us, albeit slightly more obsessed with defecation…or on second thoughts, maybe not. Here is a summary of some of the funniest and rudest graffiti translated so far:
Tavern of Verecundus: Restitutus says: “Restituta, take off your tunic, please, and show us your hairy privates”.
Bar/Brothel of Innulus and Papilio: Weep, you girls. My penis has given you up. Now it penetrates men’s behinds. Goodbye, wondrous femininity!
House of the Citharist, below a drawing of a man with a large nose: Amplicatus, I know that Icarus is buggering you. Salvius wrote this.
House of Cuspius Pansa: The finances officer of the emperor Nero says this food is poison (a 2000 year old restaurant critic!)
Bar: We two dear men, friends forever, were here. If you want to know our names, they are Gaius and Aulus.
House and Office of Volusius Luvencus: Secundus says hello to his Prima, wherever she is. I ask, my mistress, that you love me.
Bar of Athictus: I screwed the barmaid (that’s just boasting)
Pottery Shop or Bar of Nicanor: Lesbianus, you defecate and you write, ‘Hello, everyone!’ (the Romans really were obsessed with scatology)
Gladiator barracks: 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.
Gladiator barracks: Antiochus hung out here with his girlfriend Cithera.
House of Pascius Hermes: Watch it, you that shits in this place! May you have Jove’s anger if you ignore this. (wow, more defecating!)
Street wall: Theophilus, don’t perform oral sex on girls against the city wall like a dog (reasonable advice methinks)
Exterior of a small house: Gaius Sabinus says a fond hello to Statius. Traveler, you eat bread in Pompeii but you go to Nuceria to drink. At Nuceria, the drinking is better (second ever restaurant critic?)
House of Cosmus and Epidia: Aufidius was here. Goodbye (classic but boring)
Just outside the Vesuvius gate: Shitter, may everything turn out okay so that you can leave this place (shitting again! What is it with these guys?)
Barracks of the Julian-Claudian gladiators: Celadus the Thracian makes the girls moan! (there’s no praise like self praise)
On the Street of Mercury: Publius Comicius Restitutus stood right here with his brother (and did you take a shit?)
House of Sextus Pompeius Axiochus and Julia Helena: Hectice, baby, Mercator says hello to you (right back at ya)
Vico degli Scienziati: Cruel Lalagus, why do you not love me?
House of Orpheus: I have buggered men
Wood-Working Shop of Potitus, next to a bar: Would that you pay for all your tricks, innkeeper. You sell us water and keep the good wine for yourself (nothing’s changed in 2000 years – today its a glass full of ice and nothing else)
Atrium of the House of Pinarius: If anyone does not believe in Venus, they should gaze at my girl friend
House of Caesius Blandus: It took 640 paces to walk back and forth between here and there ten times (ah, the voice of the pissed resonates across time)
Vicolo del Panattiere, House of the Vibii Merchants: Atimetus got me pregnant (oops)
House of Caprasius Primus: I don’t want to sell my husband, not for all the gold in the world (what about for the insurance money?)
Eumachia Building, via della Abbondanza: Secundus likes to screw boys.
The Lupinare: I screwed a lot of girls here (uh huh)
The Lupinare: On June 15th, Hermeros screwed here with Phileterus and Caphisus (obviously a popular place for casual sex)
The Lupinare: Sollemnes, you screw well! (more sex at the Lupinare)
Vico d’ Eumachia, brothel: Gaius Valerius Venustus, soldier of the 1st praetorian cohort, in the century of Rufus, screwer of women
Vico d’ Eumachia, brothel: Vibius Restitutus slept here alone and missed his darling Urbana (awww…)