I meant to post this early. However, I've seen nothing about it recently, so perhaps it's not too late: I spent years as a Classics teacher telling children that Pompeii was destroyed by Vesuvius in AD 79. Wrong it seems: In October the news broke that it had actually disappeared in October!
All of this is well explained on this excellent site: The (well-named) Petrified Muse! Click the link to read more.
The graffito in question has been interpreted as follows:
A translation of the above might go something like this: 'On the 16th day before the Kalends of November [i. e. on October 17th] s/he gave free rein to her/his hunger to the max.' (Translation: Peter Kruschwitz). Whether or not this means that the Cambridge Latin Course has got to rewritten, is a matter for discussion. As far as I know (and that could be very wrong), nobody has commented on the actual Latinity of the written of this. Apart from the fact that there doesn't seem to be a good parallel for pro masumis meaning 'to the maximum,' esuritio meaning 'hunger, appetite' is a very rare and literary word. It occurs first in two of Catullus' more scabrous poems: 23.14 and 21.1, where the context makes it clear that the 'hunger' and 'appetite' under discussion may be for more than food! Such an interpretation would put the scribble directly in the tradition of Pompeian graffiti that show the population of Pompeii had a more than passing knowledge of contemporary literature. Was Catullus dining that night in Pompeii?
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