Latin Language Blog

Roman Political Graffiti Posted by on Jan 27, 2021 in Latin Language, Roman culture

Salvete Omnes,

In light of this year being an inauguration year, let us take a look at Roman Political Graffiti or ads. This post will be highlighting some graffiti inscriptions that showcase men vying for particular political positions. In order to provide some background to some basic political positions – I have included a basic description of the following positions.

Political Positions:

Roman Political Graffiti

Electoral Notices, Pompeii
by Katharine Sykes (CC-BY-SA)

Quaestor: A quaestor handled finances in Rome or the provinces and held a seat in the Senate.

PraetorA Roman magistrate, responsible for the administration of justice, they served as the supreme civil judges for legal cases. They also acted as deputies to the consuls, in particular regarding the administration of the provinces.

Aedile: A magistrate who looked after the city of Rome, its corn supply, municipal regulations, and games. The office of aedile came between quaestor and praetor in the cursus honorum (the ‘sequence of offices’ in the career of a Roman politician).

Duoviri:, a magistracy of two men. Duoviri perduellionis were two judges, selected by the chief magistrate, who tried cases of crime against the state.

Roman Political Graffiti

Title: Graffiti_politique_de_Pompei or Political Graffiti from Pompeii; Source: Vincent Ramos

The following inscriptions are from Pompeii:

CIL IV 107
C(aium) I(ulium) Priscum.
‘Gaius Iulius Priscus.’

CIL IV 108
C(aium) I(ulium) P(riscum) IIvir(um).
‘Gaius Iulius Pricsus, (for) duovir.’

CIL IV 429 = ILS 6412e
C(aium) Iulium Polybium / aed(ilem) o(ro) v(os) f(aciatis) panem bonum fert.
‘We ask for Gaius Iulius Polybius for aedile, he has good bread.’

CIL IV 134 = ILS 6412ab
C(aium) Iulium Polybium / IIvir(um) muliones rog(ant).
‘The muleteers ask you to elect Gaius Iulius Polybius, duovir.’

CIL IV 316
C(aium) I(ulium) Polybium d(uumvirum) i(ure) d(icundo) d(ignum) r(ei) p(ublicae).
‘Gaius Iulius Polybius for duovir with judicial power, worthy of public office.’

CIL IV 909
C(aium) I(ulium) P(olybium) d(uumvirum) i(ure) d(icundo).
‘Gaius Iulius Polybius for duovir with judicial power.’

CIL IV 230
M(arcum) Cerrinium Vatiam aed(ilem) dignum rei / Messenio rog(at) scr(ipsit) Infantio cum Floro et Fructo et / Sabino hic ubique.
‘Marcus Cerrinius Vatia for aedile: he is worthy of this commonwealth. Messenio supports this. Written by Infantio with Florus and Fructus and Sabinus, here and everywhere.’

M(arcum) Cerrinium / Vatiam aed(ilem) o(ro) v(os) f(aciatis) seribibi / universi rogant / scr(ipsit) Florus cum Fructo.
All the late drinkers ask you to elect Marcus Cerrinius Vatia aedile. Florus and Fructus wrote this.

CIL 04, 03775
L(ucium) Statium Receptum
IIvir(um) i(ure) d(icundo) o(ro) v(os) f(aciatis) vicini dig(num)
scr(ibsit) Aemilius Celer vic(ini)
qui  deles

Neighbors beg you to elect Lucius Statius Receptus duumvir with judicial
power, a worthy man. Aemilius Celer wrote this, a neighbour. You jealous
one who destroys this, may you fall ill.

Next month we will be taking a look at another type of ad – sports ads.

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About the Author: Brittany Britanniae

Hello There! Please feel free to ask me anything about Latin Grammar, Syntax, or the Ancient World.


  1. Tony Taylor:

    Is “IIvir” early internet text?

    • Brittany Britanniae:

      @Tony Taylor IIvir(um) refers to duumvirum or the co-mayor. The duumvirum also known as duovir. II meaning 2 and duo meaning 2 since it was a two-person electoral position.

  2. Michael:

    Optime! placet.

  3. Ben blaszak:

    Do you know of any good latin books just for reading

    • Brittany Britanniae:

      @Ben blaszak Are you looking for Latin books from Ancient Rome or modern books that have been translated into Latin?