Someone once said, “historians first learn to write on the walls.”
This statement is most accurate for the ruins of Pompeii, located at the foothills of Mount Vesuvius near Rome.
In 79 A.D. Mt Vesuvius had erupted, destroying the whole town of Pompeii and killing around ten thousand people.
The city remained buried under volcanic ash, till a surveying engineer discovered it in 1748.
One of the first things that struck the excavators is the graffiti on the Pompeii houses’ walls.
Now that it has become a tourist destination welcoming 2.5 Million visitors annually, the travelers look forward to the graffiti as well.
There are two kinds of graffiti on the walls of Pompeii’s houses and other establishments – electoral propaganda or general graffiti.
We can further categorize General graffiti as philosophies of life (sometimes poetic!) or offending scrawls and insults.
Electoral propaganda at Pompeii
The electoral propaganda got written in red or black ink and usually goaded the people of Pompeii to vote for one candidate or the other.
Writing election slogans was the job of signwriters, also known as scriptores, and they worked alongside lanternarius, the lantern-bearers, because slogan writing was a night task.
So far, excavators have found more than three thousand such electoral inscriptions in Pompeii.
General graffiti at Pompeii
However, the general graffiti appeals more to the tourists visiting Pompeii because it conveys that the people who lived in Pompeii weren’t any different than us.
These graffiti paint a vivid picture of life in Pompeii before the volcanic eruption destroyed it all, including jokes, comments on girlfriends, announcements about the writer’s sex life, etc.
Just in case you are wondering, people of Pompeii had a very active sex life.
We have handpicked 25 of the most interesting graffiti found on the walls of Pompeii.
We have also mentioned where you can find the said graffiti, amongst the Pompeii ruins.
Let’s start with a conversation that happened between two young Pompeii men, only via wall graffitis.
Conversation between Successus and Severus
Seems like Gladiator Barracks got a lot of action
Some were preachy too
Looks like prostitutes in Pompeii were popular
Bars seemed like a good place to pick up partners
Hygiene in Pompeii seemed to be secondary
Recommended Reading: Interesting Pompeii facts
Being in a relationship was cool
Love was given first preference
Recommended: Must-see attractions of Pompeii
In Pompeii, it was OK to boast about your sex life
Being gay was cool too
Friendship was important
In Pompeii, some were always jealous
And finally someone thanked the walls of Pompeii for holding so much graffiti
Have you heard of the masturbating man of Pompeii?
Some tourists visit both Herculaneum and Pompeii on the same day. Herculaneum is said to be better preserved than Pompeii.