Monday 21 March 2011

Ancient Graffiti in Context

The newly published Ancient Graffiti in Context, edited by Claire Taylor and Jennifer Baird, has several references to the use and context of graffiti in ancient Pompeii. The launch of the new book was covered in the press last week here.

Titus wuz here: Ancient graffiti begins giving up its secrets

Cast your mind back to the history books you read in school, the ones that covered classical Greece and Rome, and you’ll probably find yourself thinking about people like Pliny and Plato, Seneca and Socrates, men who seemed to spend the bulk of their days orchestrating epic battles and formulating complicated theories about shadows in caves.

It seems less likely that you’ll recall the anonymous Athenian who, some 1,500 years ago, snuck out in the middle of the night to inform the world that a certain Sydromachos had a backside “as big as a cistern.” Likewise, the fact that someone named Titas was “a lewd fellow” will almost certainly have passed you by.

As for the pictures in the clomping textbooks of old, these would have consisted of grainy busts and urns, not boomerang-shaped penises or disembodied testicles. But times have changed, and there they are, on page 94 of “Ancient Graffiti in Context”: the free-floating genitalia of Hymettos, carved into the rocks there by someone with time on his hands and a loose grasp of human anatomy.

Read the full article.

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