The History of Sex: Pompeii -- 'The House of the Christian Inscription' -- (Chap. I, Pt. 12)

For the sake of comparison, he cites a letter by Cicero, who loved visiting Pompeii (and recorded the first known reference to 'sex,' noting around 85 BC that the 'race of men' is divided by gender: in sexu consideratur).

Like many of the great and good, Cicero had a villa on the Bay of Naples, and in his letter, the statesman asks a friend who's going to Greece to buy him a small ornament for his atrium.

'And he says, "Please do not spend more than 3.2 million asses."

For that, he could have had three million two hundred thousand sexual encounters!' Dr. Varone exclaims.

'So there was no way the two worlds could possibly meet. They lived in the same place at about the same time, but they were in completely different worlds.'

Cirque de Soleil eat your heart out:
Roman acrobats perform in a lost painting from Pompeii
(Eroticism in Pompeii)

Speaking of which, I ask the Pompeianist about the name of a house facing the lupanar.

A small book I stumbled across in the British Library bills the site as 'The House of the Christian Inscription.'

Strangely, though, the treatise on The Christian Inscription at Pompeii makes only a passing reference to the fact that the place right across the way is the world's oldest 'house of ill repute.'

The map in The Christian Inscription at Pompeii
(look at Block XI)...
...and what it doesn't show you
(my detail of Block XI in the map above) 

Much of 'Balcony Street' was still entombed by ash and pumice when the German archeologist Alfred Kiessling discovered an enigmatic message scrawled inside No. 11 in 1862.

The carbon graffiti adorned the far wall of the atrium, the main focal point of the building, where it would have been plainly visible to visitors.

Excited by the find, three more experts (including the archeologist who excavated the brothel) rushed to examine the barely legible fragments.

Realizing that the carbon writing would fade anyway, they agreed to authorize a second cleaning of the wall in the hope of deciphering the message. Unfortunately, the meaning still wasn't clear—in fact, some of the letters deteriorated further—but the one key word was unmistakable:


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