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The Ancient World Was Not What We Think

What did the Roman empire's graffiti say?

by
Sarah Hoyt

Bio

December 28, 2013 - 12:00 pm
Yes, he's a monkey.  But at least he won't grow up to write awful graffiti.

Yes, he’s a monkey. But at least he won’t grow up to write awful graffiti.

As we get ready to say goodbye to another year (and I don’t know about you, but though I’m not triskaidekaphobic, I’m about ready to bid 2013 goodbye) it is important to remember that the world has been going downhill for a looooong time.

If you need proof, here are some colorful phrases from Roman graffiti (with to a link to others, less safe for work.)

Among my favorites:

4. “Oppi, emboliari, fur, furuncle.”

“Oppius, you’re a clown, a thief, and a cheap crook.”

A clarivoyant graffiti writer would have added “And two thousand years from now, in a land yet to be discovered, you could become immensely wealthy by taking public office.”

5. “Miximus in lecto. Faetor, peccavimus, hospes. Si dices: quare? Nulla matella fuit.”

“We have wet the bed. I admit, we were wrong, my host. If you ask ‘why?’ There was no chamber pot.” Found inside an inn.

So long as they had a good reason…

9. “Vatuan aediles furunculi rog.”

“The petty thieves request the election of Vatia as adele.” In ancient Pompeii, an “adele” was an elected official who supervised markets and local police, among other things.

Well, okay, so they would have understood American politics — at least in Chicago.

10. “Suspirium puellam Celadus thraex.”

“Celadus makes the girls moan.”

And you should totally believe him, because he’s not self-interested at all in posting this publicity!

So, as the new year approaches, take heart.  The world is not going to heck any faster than it was in ancient Rome, and there’s hope for humanity yet. I mean, look on the bright side — in most of the civilized world you don’t need chamberpots in hotel rooms!

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock Copyright: khd

Sarah Hoyt lives in Colorado with her husband, two sons and too many cats. She has published Darkship Thieves and 16 other novels, and over 100 short stories. Writing non-fiction is a new, daunting endeavor. For more on Sarah and samples of her writing, look around at Sarah A. Hoyt.com or check out her writing and life blog at According to Hoyt.com.

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"Romans go to the house!"
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
The more things change, humans remain the same.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Romanes eunt domus"
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh, graffiti. At first I thought it said "giraffe," but then I just got off the road after 11 hours.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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