Latin Love and Lust Epigram: Inscriptions from the Walls of Pompeii (contrbuted by Amelia W. Eichengreen)

In AD 79 Vesuvius erupted burying Pompeii in ash, preserving the city like a time-capsule for future scholars.  Since its re-discovery, Pompeii has attracted multitudes of tourists, archaeologists and classicists alike.  A rich supply of what may be learned from Pompeii lies in the graffiti, which provide insightful information into the thoughts of the average ancient Roman.  From reading the graffiti from Pompeii, we may learn what the average Roman felt it was worth writing down.

Amelia W. Eichengreen

 

 

1 (CIL IV 5092)

Amoris ignes si sentires, mulio

Magi[s] properares, ut videres Venerem.

Diligo iuvenem, Venustum; rogo, punge, iamus.

Bibisti: iamus, prende lora et excute,

Pompeios defer, ubi dulcis est amor

Meus es[…..]

If you could sense the fire of love, mule-driver

You would hurry more, so that you might see Venus.

I esteem a youth, Charmer; please, strike (the whip,) let’s go.

You’ve had a drink, let’s go, seize and drive the reins

Carry (me) to Pompeii, where my sweet love is

 

2 (CIL VI 1454)

Hic habitat

felicitas

Here lives

luck

 

3 (CIL IV 1796)

amplexus teneros hac si quis quaerit in u[rbe],

expect[at ceras] nulla puella viri

If in this town anyone seeks tender embraces,

No girl awaits wax tablets from her man

 

4 (CIL IV 2146)

Vibius Restitutus hic

Solus dormivit et Urbanam

Suam desiderabat

Vibius Restitutus here

slept alone and

he was desiring his Urbana

5 (CIL IV 2413)

Cestilia, regina Pompeianoru,

Anima dulcis, va[le]

Cestilia, queen of the Pompeiians,

a sweet soul, goodbye

 

6 (CIL 9171)

Sic [t]ib[i] contingat semper florere, Sabina; contingent

formae sisque puella diu

Thus, may you flourish forever, Sabina, and may your attain beauty;

And stay young for a long time

 

7 (CIL IV 1234)

Pupa quae bella is(=es) tibi

Me misit qui tuus es[t].  Vale

Girl who is beautiful,

He who is yours sends me to you.  Goodbye

 

8  (CIL IV 8807)

Ceio

et mul-

tis pupa

venust-

a

Girl, lovely to Ceius and many others

 

9 (CIL IV 1780)

Quid faciam vobis ocilli (=oculi) lusci

What may I do for you, runny-eyed eyes

 

10 (CIL IV 1970)

Noete lumen

Va[le] va[le]

Usque va[le]

Noete, (my) light

Goodbye, goodbye

Continuous goodbyes!

 

11 (CIL IV 8177)

[v] ale dulcissimae amantissimaeque

…que salutem ave

Goodbye to the sweetest and most beloved of girls

…and greetings, hello

12 (CIL  IV 1928)

Scribenti mii (= mihi) dictat Amor mostratque Cupido

…peream sine te si deus esse velim

Love speaks to me writing and Cupid shows me

…Let me perish without you if I should wish to be a god

 

13 (CIL IV 8364)

Secundus

Prime suae ubi-

que isse salute.

Rogo, domna,

ut me ames

Secundus,

goes to greet

his Prima wherever she is

Please, mistress,

love me!

(lit. I ask, mistress, that you love me)

 

14 (CIL IV 2414)

Propero.  Vale, mea Sava;

fac me ames

I am hurrying.  Greetings, my Sava

Make it that you love me!

 

15 (CIL IV 10234)

Amo te Facilis

fac mi (=mihi) copia

I love you Facilis

Do everything to me

 

16 (CIL IV 2015)

Isthmus Successe ubique salute et quod te rogavi

Ut quod iurasti

Isthmus greets Successa where she is, and that which I asked you

and that you swore to it

 

17 (CIL IV 6865)

[puell]ae nostrae feliciter

[perp]etuo rogo, domna; per

[Venere]m Fisicam te rogo ni me

…..

[ …]us.  Habeto mei memoriam

Greetings to my girl

I continuously ask, mistress; by

Venus Fisica I ask you, don’t

….. me

…. Hold a memory of me.

 

18 (CIL IV 8824)

Valen[s], domin[a]

Valens, domina essem.

Salutem rogam[us]

Valens, (I am) a lady

Valens I wish I were a mistress

I ask for health

 

19 (CIL IV 1893)

Surda sit oranti tua ianua, laxa ferenti.

Audiat exclusi verba receptus [a]man[s]

Your door should be deaf to prayers, but open to one bearing gifts.

Let the lover, having been admitted, hear the words of the one shut out.

 

20 (CIL IV 1894)

Ianitor ad dantis vigilet; si pulsat inanis,

surdus in obductam somniet usqu[e] seram

The doorkeeper must be awake for (bearers of) gifts, if (someone) empty knocks,

Let him sleep deaf against an obstructed bolt.

 

 

21 (CIL IV 7086)

Marcus Spedusa amat

Marcus loves Spedusa

22 (CIL IV 4637)

Cornelia Hele[na]

Amatur ab Rufo

Cornelia Helena

Is loved by Rufus

 

23 (CIL IV 2060)

Romula

hic cum

Staphylo

moratur

Romula here delayed with Staphylos

 

24 (CIL IV 8792a)

Antiochus

hic mansit

cum sua

Cithera

Antiochus

remained here

with his

Cithera

 

 

Erotic inscription from a brothel in Pompeii.

 

Chosen and translated by Amelia W. Eichengreen.

The above text is provided by the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum

Print Friendly

Leave a Comment