Okay, y’all ain’t ready for this. I wasn’t ready. As you know, I like to give you a little flavor along with the history of the sites I visit. Well, when our tour guide gave us the background on what life was really like in Pompeii before it was destroyed, it was like I was listening to “E True Hollywood Story: Pompeii”. There is just so much.
First, the excavation site was visually more stunning than I expected. Second, I was amazed that so many ancient homes were still somewhat intact. I can’t even imagine my house being around thousands of years from now.
As we are walking, the guide tells us about the people of Pompeii. I’m listening kind of lazily while taking pictures. I mean, I’d just hiked up a volcano so my attention span was on a downward spiral. Anyway, the guide says a series of things that capture and hold my interest for the rest of the day.
1. Pompeii had an open sewer. That’s right; Pompeii’s theme song was “Funkytown”. I know…I couldn’t really believe it either. I had to ask for clarification because it just seemed too nasty to be real. Feces and urine would run down the streets and they would wait for the rain to wash it away. Sorry for you if it happened to be a dry month. You can see in this picture that there are huge stones that the people would use to cross the street (I like to call it “Doo Doo Crossing”) so they wouldn’t have to step in that crap (you know they only wore sandals which meant if they stepped in it, then they got the full effect). I am sure that folks inevitably fell off the stones. Maybe that is where the saying “Oh, sh*t!” came from?
2. The rich folks in Pompeii were pompous. Apparently, the good citizens of Funkytown liked to show off their wealth. When you went over to Titus’s house, he had his treasure chest open on the front table so you could see how rich he was. Also, they had a tiled mosaic of a big dog with “beware of dog” (in Latin) in the foyer. So, basically, they invited you over and said, “Hey, look at all my money…but don’t try to take it because Fido will kill you. More wine?” This was well before the time of Occupy Pompeii Street.
3. Pompeii was full of freaks. Apparently, Pompeii was where the party was at. They had 80 bars and 25 brothels. With the open sewer. I am not able to get past the open sewer so let’s just address that now. It’s gonna come up…often. Anyway, the freaks did come out at night and they were doing things that Rick James couldn’t even dream of. Modern Pompeii is full of people selling erotic calendars, statues, playing cards, etc (see below). Now, I originally thought these sexual position scenes may have been their version of “art” back then. But, the guide pointed out that they posted these scenes in the bedrooms of the whorehouses as a “menu of services” (just like McDonald’s). You know I was looking to see what the “goings on” were (purely for research purposes only). You ain’t ready for that. A menu of sexual services. Seriously. After getting your drank on at one of the 80 bars then crossing and falling into the open sewer, you go over to Octavia’s and ask for a #3. Love it.
4. Funk is a theme. Now, the good people of Pompeii didn’t have bath tissue back then so they had to make do. The lower caste folks would just wipe their booty with the left hand and eat with the right (they didn’t have forks or spoons back then which means they really needed both hands). The rich folks would use a communal sea sponge for the family. I’m gonna let that marinate for a minute. Imagine you and your family all using the same sponge to wipe after doing #2. I guess if they can deal with the open sewers, they can deal with a communal sponge. They also used urine to bleach their clothes. Really? My dog would love that.
5. They had cafes! We found these bars with counters. People would come in during the day and have bread and wine. They paid their money and would sit at tables to socialize. I never imagined an ancient civilization with marble counters!
It broke my heart to see the castes of the human & canine remains that were preserved from the lava and ash. You can see the remains below of a man, dog and slave.
Overall, Pompeii was fascinating! I highly recommend a visit if you ever plan to be in the Naples or Sorrento area.