Pompeii archaeologists uncover ancient homophobic insult to tavern owner

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12/26/2020

Archaeologists excavating a snack bar in the ruins of Italy’s Pompeii have uncovered “exceptional” frescoes, and obscene graffiti likely directed at the establishment’s seventh century owner. The volcanic ash which buried the town during the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in AD79 has preserved an intimate historical record of the Roman town 14 miles southeast of Naples, and the lives of its 13,000 inhabitants. One of these inhabitants was called Nicias and was likely a freed slave from Greece, according to excavators who recently uncovered an inscription insulting the man. “NICIA CINAEDE CACATOR” reads the scrawled graffiti on a fresco of a chained dog painted onto the bar of the Thermopolium of Regio V, a cheap street food eatery. “An inverted s****er” is how archaeologists rendered the slur, though the adjective carries a homosexual connotation from its derivation from the ancient Greek term for catamite. “This was probably left by a prankster who sought to poke fun at the owner, or by someone who worked in the thermopolium,” the archaeological park said in a statement highlighting the full range of scientific study that has been applied to understanding the crude inscription and its surrounding context.

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