From the ruins of Pompeii we are able to put together a picture of the residents lives that looks amazingly like our own. One of the most fantastic discoveries was that of graffiti written on walls throughout the city. Everything from so and so was here to bathroom grafitti and political slogans. Sound familiar? For specific examples see below.

The pictures at the top of this documents are of portraits found at Pompeii. The lady at the left is referred to as "Sappho". It dates from the first century A.D. (10). The painting on the right was found in the house of Paquius Proculus. The couple depicted are believed to be he and his wife (11). Both paintings can be found at the Naples National Archeological Museum.

Although much was taken from the site during the looting of previous centuries, we still have many examples of everyday objects. Furniture, stoves, lamps, dishes, jewelry...(for pictures see below.) We have recipes from cookbooks (click here for recipes) and half eaten meals sitting on tables. At the Bakery of Modestus there were 81 loaves of bread still in the ovens (12). We can guess as to what these people deemed most valuable by observing what they took with them when they fled their homes. Objects such as money and jewelry were found with many of the bodies (13). By pouring plaster into holes in the hardened ash we have been able to see the people who died trying to escape the burning city. It is a gruesome but touching picture. For photos of bodies click here.

Graffiti from Pompeii:

  • Political:
    "The goldsmiths unanimously urge the election
    of Gaius Cuspius Pansa as aedile..."(14).

    "If upright living is considered any recommendation,
    Lucretius Fronto is well worthy of the office" (15).

    "Claudius' little girl-friend is working for his
    election as duovir."(16)

    "Vote for Lucius Popidius Sabinus; his
    grandmother worked hard for his last election
    and is pleased with the results."(17)

  • Love:
    "Marcus loves Spendusa" (18)

    "Thyas, don't love Fortunatus" (19)

    "The weaver Successus loves the innkeeper's slave
    girl, Iris by name. She doesn't care for him,
    but he begs her to take pity on him. Written
    by his rival. So long." (20)

    "Let him who chastises lovers try to fetter the winds
    and block the endless flow of water from a
  • Other:
    "Aufidius was here."(22)

    "Ampliatus Pedania is a thief"(23)

    "Stronnius is a know-nothing"(24)

    "I wonder, O wall, that you have not fallen in
    ruins from supporting the stupidities of so
    many scribblers."(25)

  • On a bathroom wall:
    "Apollinaris, physician of the
    Emperor Titus, had a good shit here!"(26)

An example of political
graffiti from Pompeii (27).


Recipes from Pompeii (9):

  1. Chicken Fronto:
    • Brown the chicken, put in a mixture of liquimen (fish sauce) and oil to which you add a bouquet of dill, leek, savory, and green coriander; and cook. When it is done take it out, place on a serving dish, sprinkle generously with defrutum, powder with pepper, and serve.

  2. Port Fricassee with Apricots:
    • Put in the saucepan oil, liquimen, wine, chop in dry shallot, add a diced shoulder of pork cooked previously. When all this is cooked, pound pepper, cumin, dried mint and dill. Moisten with honey, liquimen, passum, a little vinegar, and some of the cooking liquor; mix well. Add the stoned apricots. Bring to the boil, and let it boil until done. Crumble pastry to bind. Sprinkle with pepper and serve.

  3. Lentils with Chestnuts:
    • Boil the lentils. Take a new saucepan and put in the carefully cleaned chestnuts. Add water and a little cooking soda. Put on the fire to cook. Meanwhile, put in the mortar pepper, cumin, coriander seed, mint, rue, asafoetida root, and pennyroyal; pound. Moisten with vinegar, add honey and liquimen, blend with vinegar and pour over the cooked chestnuts. Add oil, bring to the boil. When it is boiling well, stir. Mix with the lentils. Taste; if something is missing, add it. When you have put it in the serving dish, add best oil.

  4. Rose Wine:
    • Rose wine you will make like this: Thread together rose-leaves from which the white part has been removed, and steep as many as possible in wine for seven days. After seven days take the rose-leaves out of the wine, and in the same way put in other fresh rose-leaves threaded together, to rest seven days in the wine, then take them out. Repeat a third time, take out the rose-leaves, strain the wine, and, when you want to use it for drinking, add honey to make rose wine. But take care to use the best rose-leaves, when the dew has dried off them...

*These are listed as having been taken from an Imperial Cookbook attributed to Apicius.

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