What was the Graffiti of Pompeii?

The historic city of Pompeii was a prosperous place before its tragic demise. The city was hidden for decades, fading from memory until the rediscovery. The city re-emerged from the darkness, with crumbling buildings, historic artefacts, and even human remains to discover. Trapped in a natural time capsule, the city’s artefacts remained intact for modern day people to see. While uncovering Pompeii’s secrets, historians have discovered their customs and traditions although can be very different, can be quite similar to modern age practices. One of the most noteworthy practices is graffiti, which can be found scattered throughout the ancient city. With over 11,000 graffiti samples found in the excavations of Pompeii. Graffiti has been uncovered in virtually every type of space, including houses, public buildings, temples, and even tombs. Here are just some categories of Graffiti found nowadays within the city.

Tagging Graffiti

Tagging is not just a modern trend nowadays as leaving your own name on public walls has been found throughout history. Majority of Pompeii’s graffiti sections have at least one inscription of a name. The reason for writing a name can be an individual wanting to produce a personal connection to a place. It can be used to commemorate a certain location, document an emotionally important time, or simply marking their territory. The oldest known graffiti also happens to be amongst the simplest tag; ‘Gaius Pumidius Diphilus was here.’

Passionate Graffiti

The fascinating part of graffiti is that it depicts the voices of the Pompeii’s people directly. Stating their feelings, thoughts, and passions in a short and sweet statement. Pompeii citizens have taken their frustrations with neighbours through graffiti, with statements such as ‘Sanius to Cornelius: Go hang yourself,’ and at House of the Citharist, of a drawing a man with a very large nose, with writing below stating ‘Amplicatus, I know that Icarus is buggering you. Salvius wrote this.’ Declarations of love have also been discovered, such as ‘We two dear men, friends forever were here. If you want to know our names, they are Gaius and Aulus.’ or ‘Health to you, Victoria, and wherever you are may you sneeze sweetly.’ These short statements give us a sense of passion in these ancient citizens, with many more graffiti examples that depict the emotions and everyday issues that these people faced.

Ad Graffiti

As well as illegal graffiti, public inspirations were used to campaign messages to the public. Advertisements similar to billboards were used for politics, public events, and public announcements. Many have been discovered throughout the city, including an inscription publishing the next gladiator games in Pompeii.

Graphic Graffiti

Pompeii is famous for their forward thinking in sexual behaviours. being quite open with their sexual needs and passions. Brothels were common throughout the city, and graphic graffiti was no different. Numerous lewd inscriptions and drawings cover the public walls, indicating numerous randy acts or body parts. If you have an innocent nature, we’d suggest skipping these inscriptions to avoid any scandalous surprise.

Check out our Pompeii & Mount Vesuvius Tour if you are in Pompeii.