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 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 was graffiti on the walls of the Pompeii houses.
Now that it has become a tourist destination welcoming 2.5 Million visitors annually, travelers also look forward to the graffiti.
There are two kinds of graffiti on Pompeii’s houses and other establishments – electoral propaganda and general graffiti.
We can further categorize General graffiti as philosophies of life (sometimes poetic!) or offending scrawls and insults.
Table of contents
- Electoral propaganda at Pompeii
- General graffiti at Pompeii
- Seems like Gladiator Barracks got a lot of action
- Bars seemed like a good place to pick up partners
- Being in a relationship was cool
- 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
Electoral propaganda at Pompeii
The electoral propaganda was 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 over 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 living there weren’t different from us.
This graffiti paints a vivid picture of life in Pompeii before the volcanic eruption destroyed everything, including jokes, comments on girlfriends, announcements about the writer’s sex life, etc.
Just in case you are wondering, the 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 graffiti amongst the Pompeii ruins.
Let’s start with a conversation between two young Pompeii men, only via wall graffiti.
Visual Story: 13 must-know tips before visiting Pompeii
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.