Roman Graffiti







~~I wonder, O wall, that you have not fallen in ruins from supporting the stupidities of so many scribblers (Kebric 167).

~~Twenty pairs of gladiators of Decimus Lucretius Satrius Valens, lifetime flamen of Nero Ceasar, son of Agustus, and ten pairs of gladiators of Decimus Lucretius Valens, his son, will fight at Pompeii on April 8,9,10,11,12.  There will be a full card of wild beast combats, and awnings.  Aemilius Celer [painted this sign], all alone in the moonlight (Kebric 167).


An invaluable inscription is written on the wall in the dining room of the House of the Moralist, which gets its name from the following list of the rules of the house.

~~The slave shall wash and dry the feet of the guests; and let him be sure to spread a linen cloth on the cushions of the couches. Donít cast lustful glances or make eyes at another manís wife. Donít be coarse in conversation.
Restrain yourself from getting angry or using offensive language.  If you canít go back to your own house (Kebric 168).


Although the Pompeiians did not have bathroom stall doors to write all their most perverse and lovesick thoughts as we do today they did not keep these thoughts to themselves.  On the contrary, archeologist have found a wealth of explicit graffiti on the walls of bathrooms and bath houses.  In fact, when Pompeii was first excavated many people were horrified by the amount of emphasis on sexuality in all aspects of the city, although this may have something to do with the fact that Venus, the goddess of love, was the protectress of the city.  

~~May I always and everywhere be as potent with women as I was here (Grant 210)!

~~"Celadus the Thracier makes the girls moan!" (C.I.L. IV, 4397; graffiti in the Pompeiian barracks of the gladiators)

~~Appollinaris, physician of the Emperor Titus, had a good shit here (Kebric 169).

Some of the graffiti on the wall of Pompeii is not nearly as humorous.  Some are quite tragic

~~Anybody in love, come here.  I want to break Venusí ribs with a club and pierce the goddessí loins.  If she can pierce my tender breast, why canít I break her head with a club (Kebric 169)?

The Pompeiians were notorious for voicing their opinions and support of the candidates on whitewashed walls with red paint.

~~Satia and Petronia support and ask you to elect Marcus Casellius and Lucius Albucius aediles.  May we always have such citizens in our colonyĒ (Roman 237)!

~~The fruit dealers together with Helvius Vestalis unanimously urge the election of Marcus Holonius Priscus as duovir with judicial power (Roman 237).

Even though women were unable to vote there are some inscriptions the allude to female authors, such as family members or prostitutes.

~~Claudiusí little girl-friend is working for his election as duovir (Grant 208).

~~Vote for Lucius Popidius Sabinus; his grandmother worked hard for his last election and is pleased with the results (Kebric 166).




SAMIUS             Samius
CORNELIO       to Cornelius:
SUSPENDRE    go hang yourself.

PHILIIROS SPADO    Phileros is a eunuch.

EPAPHRA GLABER ES    Epaphra, you're a hairless wonder.

VIRGULA TERTIO SUO INDECENS ES    Virgula to her fellow Tertius: You're disgusting.



C VALERIUS VIINUSTUS M CH I PR    Gaius Valerius Venustus, soldier of the first cohort

M CLODIUS PRIMIO FUIT HIC            Marcus Clodius Primio was here.

VIBIUS RESTITUTUS HIC                    Vibius Restitutus here
SOLUS DORMIVIT ET URBANAM      slept all alone and
SUAM DESIDERABAT                           longed for his Urbana.