Historical Significance and Masterpieces in the Graffiti on the Walls of Pompeii

Pompeii is one of the most renowned ancient cities in the world, and for a good reason. The town lived, died, and returned to life, both metaphorically and literally, destroyed in 79AD due to a volcanic eruption. The ancient city would remain buried under the volcano debris for centuries till it was finally excavated in the 16th century to become one of the most popular tourist attractions today. The ancient city, which is now recognized among 55 of Italy’s UNESCO world heritage sites, acts as an important cultural site for Italy, serving as one of the primary sources of information and reference for understanding ancient societies. The walls of Pompeii mainly act as significant historical masterpieces, as they still possess some of the ancient Roman graffiti that is a fulfillment of the responsibilities of art, act as one of the primary sources of information. This paper analyzes some of the graffiti found on these ancient Pompeii walls. It looks into the subtle messages that the messages carry and what they tell concerning ancient Rome, its population, and their culture, the main emphasis being Pompeii’s political, economic, and social lifestyles.

Pompeii’s political life

Pompeii’s political life entailed a democratic form of government, whereby rulers were elected to leadership positions by the civilians. Evidence of the voting exercise can be witnessed by the graffiti depicting the request of the election of Postumius Proculus to the Aedile post by the dyers. Other notable graffiti paintings that further support the democratic form of governance claim include the request for Gnaeus Helvis to the Adele political office by Vesonius Primus (Heaphy, 2021). Moreover, the numerous inscriptions insinuating the presence of gladiator fights underlines the power accorded to the political leaders, such as the authority to arrange major conflicts in Pompeii.

Pompeii’s economic life

The significant economic activity undertaken by the people of Pompeii is trading, which is affirmed by the numerous mention of shops across the source provided. The coffee pot graffiti, for example, outlines words that tempt the masses to bring back a stolen coffee pot to the owner, who is the shopkeeper. Moreover, another inscription describes a ceremonious celebration, whereby the guest is treated to the view of shops built over one another. In ancient Pompeii history, shops were regarded as a symbol of wealth as trading was a very lucrative occupation at that age.

The most surprising inscriptions

The Puteolana graffiti with word phrases displayed Puteolana holding a litter of two males and another of three males. The inscription is very intriguing as it invokes one’s thoughts in attempting to decipher the true meaning of the graffiti painting. Indeed, two males and three females could mean numerous possibilities, which further adds to the thrill portrayed by the inscription.

In conclusion, the graffiti on Pompeii walls carries much historical significance as it communicates the political, economic, and social values of ancient Rome. From the democratic aspect of the city to its economic leaning towards trade and the social relevance of the art culture itself, Pompeii remains one of the most significant cultural heritage sites in the world. In this regard, the graffiti art on Pompeii walls fulfills the cultural preservation function of art.

07 July 2022
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