by Barb B
Napa, CA and Hereford, AZ , Arizona
October 25, 2000
The largest of the brothels is located near the Porto Vesuvio and provides remarkable insight into the daily lives of the citizens of Pompeii. The inscriptions and graffiti on the walls relate to diverse subjects, which paint an extremely frank picture of contemporary social life. There were comments on particular people and events, risqué jokes, reflections on love and remarks regarding the pleasures one experienced in various rooms of the brothel.
The brothels generally were characterized by being built on two levels. An entryway or vestibule, waiting area and latrines were all provided for customers. Narrow hallways connected a labyrinth of tiny rooms or cubicles each with a stone bed. Throughout the buildings, walls were decorated with frescoed erotic scenes. Elaborate paintings of amorous embraces are in evidence in many of the cubicles.
Although thermal baths are located throughout the city, the Stabian thermal complex is the largest and occupies a vast area between the Brothel lane and the Holoconius crossroads. The oldest of the baths, it was established in the 1st century BC. Since at that time, the baths functioned as a form of entertainment, they were elaborately decorated and carried marvelous frescoes, statues, fountains and plaster ornamentation.
Divided into sections for male and female, the areas reserved for the female patrons generally exhibited far less decoration. An intricate heating and cooling system was achieved by running pipes through the cavities of the walls. This enabled the various forms of bathing: a frigidarium (frigid bath), tepidarium (tepid bath) and calidarium (high temperature steam baths). Designed around a central area used as a gymnasium, private baths and changing rooms lined the eastern side and a gigantic pool occupied the Western Wall of the complex.
During the excavation many impressions were found in the bath areas: A mournful reminder of the tragic end to the inhabitants of Pompeii.
From journal Pompeii- Echoes from the past