Sometimes when we look at the elegant statues and columned temples of the ancient world we forget that they were people just like us. The Romans were passion sporting fans, habitual gambler, sloppy drunks, and weren’t shy about it either.
The above pictures are one I took (with exception for the top picture, mine was fuzzy so I went to google.) of the brothel in Pompeii. The romans would call a brothel like this a Lupanar, or wolf-den. Lupa, the Roman word for a prostitute, being the feminine form of the Latin word for wolf. Recalling the myth of Romulus and Remus being suckled by a she-wolf, (or in some of the versions the farmer who found the twins beside the Tiber river’s wife, who was a prostitute). The Lupanar in Pompeii is a decent sized building from what i recall, with 10 little “cubicula” where the business got done. In the hall overhead were frescoes of various sex scenes, displaying different positions. You’ll note that the elegant furniture shown in the paintings doesn’t live up to the brick and plastered Bed, which would likely be covered with a mattress and fine sheets, and I suppose the quality of the furniture wasn’t really on the client’s minds. The Lupanar was easy to find if you follow the Phallus’ carved into the road leading the way.
On the walls there is graffiti, showing us yet again how human, and down right vulgar the Romans were. From the Lupanar many are written and even responded too, in a dialogue of sorts between various clients and even the prostitutes. there are over 100 graffiti inscription from the Lupanar, So I’ve put a few choice ones below, for your amusement:
"Here I fucked many girls."
"Lucky guy, you fuck well" Possibly "Lucky guy, you get a good fuck."
"On june 15th, Hermeros Screwed here with Phileterus and Caphisus"
"I (a woman) was fucked here"
"Scordopordonicus here fucks well whomever he pleases"
There are also references to the girls who perform fellatio (and one reference which make indicate a male who performs fellatio). Two of the rooms (both on the south side of the building) contain Graffiti that talks about homosexual sex between men. And one referece to cunnilingus, though this may be meant as an insult, as men were supposed to be the ricievers of pleasure and women the givers.
The taverns in Pompeii would also serve as brothels, with the barmaids being prostitutes. We even hear of a female proprietor of a tavern who indulged in prostitution. Indicating that the profession was not relegated to slaves, and thei presence of grafiti by the prostitutes themselves indicates that they were literate. Here is some examples of tavern graffiti, and they can tell an interesting story or two:
"Whoever wants to serve themselves can go on an drink from the sea."(over a picture of a woman carrying a pitcher of wine and a drinking goblet.)
"I screwed the barmaid"
"We have wet the bed, host. I confess we have done wrong. If you want to know why, there was no chamber pot"
"Restituta, take off your tunic, please, and show us your hairy privates"
"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." (Quite a Sum of money, 900 sestertii was the annual pay of a soldier at the time.)
"Weep, you girls. My penis has given you up. Now it penetrates men’s behinds. Goodbye, wondrous femininity!"
"Apelles the chamberlain with Dexter, a slave of Caesar (the emperor), ate here most agreeably and had a screw at the same time."
"Apelles Mus and his brother Dexter each pleasurably had sex with two girls twice." (these two were really out on the town"
Tavern graffiti gives us a slice of every day drama:
[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.”
The Romans weren’t shy about other bodily functions in their graffiti either:
(From a tavern or pottery shop) “Lesbianus, you defecate and you write, ‘Hello, everyone!’”
(outside the door of a house) “To the one defecating here. Beware of the curse. If you look down on this curse, may you have an angry Jupiter for an enemy.” (I don’t blame this guy, If people pooped outside the door of my house, I’d curse them too.)
(Outside the city gate) “Defecator, may everything turn out well so that you can leave this place.”
(At the public latrine, written thee times on a wall) “Secundus defecated here.” (Must have been his favorite spot.)
(On the walls of a public latrine) “Apollinaris, the doctor of the emperor Titus, defecated well here”
(On the wall of a water distribution tower) ” Anyone who wants to defecate in this place is advised to move along. If you act contrary to this warning, you will have to pay a penalty. Children must pay [number missing] silver coins. Slaves will be beaten on their behinds.” (Good policy, no pooping near the drinking water!)
Finally a collection of graffiti from various places in pompeii:
(Vestibule of a haouse) “The finances officer of the emperor Nero says this food is poison.”
(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.”
(On the wall of a possible brothel) “Gaius Valerius Venustus, soldier of the 1st praetorian cohort, in the century of Rufus, screwer of women.”
(Gladiator barracks) “Antiochus hung out here with his girlfriend Cithera.”
(On the wall in the street “Theophilus, don’t perform oral sex on girls against the city wall like a dog” (I guess teenagers in every era are the same.)
(Gladiator Barracks) “Celadus the Thracian gladiator is the delight of all the girls.”
(Wall of a house) “I have buggered men.”
(Another brothel wall) “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.”
(In the Atrium of a house “If anyone does not believe in Venus, they should gaze at my girlfriend.”
(On the wall of a house) “Atimetus got me pregnant” (oops)
(On the wall of a house) “I don’t want to sell my husband, not for all the gold in the world” (aww)
(Public market) “Secundus likes to screw boys.” (The same secundus who likes the same toilet?)
(Wall of a house) “My lusty son, with how many women have you had sexual relations?” (uh oh)
(Room of a possible Brothel) “Vibius Restitutus slept here alone and missed his darling Urbana”
(Above a bench outside the one of the city gates) “If anyone sits here, let him read this first of all: if anyone wants a screw, he should look for Attice; she costs 4 sestertii.”
(In the Basilica, essentially city hall/courthouse) “The man I am having dinner with is a barbarian.”
(In the Basilica, essentially city hall/courthouse) “Virgula to her friend Tertius: you are disgusting!”
(In the Basilica, essentially city hall/courthouse) “The one who buggers a fire burns his penis”
(In the Basilica, essentially city hall/courthouse) “Epaphra is not good at ball games.”
Finally and perhaps most appropriately, from the walls of the Basilica ” O walls, you have held up so much tedious graffiti that I am amazed that you have not already collapsed in ruin.”
an aesthetic that will never go out of style: making others feel loved, needed, and important
“People waste way too much energy taking things personally. That Facebook post is probably not about you. It was probably an accident that you weren’t tagged in that picture. And the person you’re dating is probably acting sad because that’s how they respond to setbacks at work, not because of anything you did.”
YOU GUYS TURN ON THE SUBTITLES
AHH I NEED A MINUTE
*gets on tiptoes to whisper into dairy cow’s ear* why ya titty out
How short are you that you need to stand on your toes to talk to a cow?
Looks like we got ourselves a city slicker
How freaking talk are your cows? My cousins own a dairy farm and the cows are about chest height.
You sure talk a lot of shit for someone whose cousin has short cows