These Roman Phallic Carvings in Pompeii Euphemistically Pointed the Way to Brothels

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Phallic symbols can be found not only as graffiti roughly drawn and carved onto public walls, but built into the roads as well in Pompeii, Italy. It is guessed that the phallic symbols on the streets point towards the nearest brothel, to direct foreign sailors who may be heavily intoxicated and/or unable to speak the local language.

In the ancient Roman empire, prostitution was legal and did not have the stigma that it has today. Because Pompeii was a port city, sailors commonly visited the brothels to blow of some steam after a long voyage.
As many of the sailors did not speak the local language or were too intoxicated to do so, the brothels had a sort of “menu” to select from. Graphic pornography paintings decorated the buildings, and sailors were thought to point and choose an act they would like to pay for, before being shown to their room.

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