Sunday, August 10, 2014

To the Lupanare (Brothel) in Pompeii!

Let's go to the Lupanare! When I visited the ruined Roman city of Pompeii (or Pompei in Italian) with my friend, I popped by its best organized and most famous brothel. The Roman word for brothel was lupanar, meaning a wolf den, and a prostitute was called a lupa (source: Wikipedia). Come with me now...

Pompeii has many brothels, but Lupanare is the best organized and most famous. And we were all waiting (or can't wait) to get in!

Even the fur-kids are waiting eagerly too.

Here's a signage asking you to wait for your turn to enter. All right, I'm waiting.

And I'm in! Look at how narrow it is. There are five rooms on the ground floor and five on the upper. Only the ground floor is accessible during our visit.

Like other brothels, rooms in the lupanare were plainly furnished. Back in those days, the stone beds were covered by a mattress. According to Wikipedia, Pompeii had 35 lupanares. Given a population of ten thousand in Pompeii during the first century CE, this leaves one brothel per 286 people or 71 adult males.

Erotic paintings depicting the different positions decorated the lupanare. The snapshots I took below are just a few of those available in the premise and they are very faded. There are also many graffiti and they apparently helped to identify buildings that once served as a brothel.

According to the Brief Guide to Pompeii distributed at the entrance, the prostitutes were slaves, usually of Greek or Oriental origin. The revenues earned by these women without legal standing went to the owner or manager of the brothel. I don't like the sound of this.

There is only one latrine in the building and it's situated on the way out.

And out you go!

Wikipedia has more information about erotic art in Pompeii and Herculaneum if you're interested to find out more. Some of the pictures of the wall paintings I took above are also featured in the Wikipedia post.


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