Lupanar (Pompeii)

Lupanar is the most famous brothel located in the ruined Roman city of Pompeii. It is of particular interest due to erotic paintings on the walls.


The Lupanar (VII, 12, 18-20) is located approximately two blocks east of the forum at the intersection of Vico del Lupanare and Vico del Balcone Pensile.


Early Pompeian excavators, guided by strict modesty of the time period, quickly classified any building containing erotic paintings as brothels. Using this metric, 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. Using a stricter standard for identifying Brothels brings the number to a more realistic figure including nine single room establishments and the Lupanar at VII, 12, 18-20.

Brothels during this time period were typically small with only a few rooms. The Lupanar was the largest of the brothels found in Pompeii with 10 rooms. Like other brothels, rooms in the Lupanar were plainly furnished. A mattress on a brick platform served as a bed.


134 graffiti were transcribed in the Lupanar at Pompeii. The presence of this graffiti served as one of the criteria for identifying the building as a brothel.

Some examples that identify (VII, 12, 18-20) as a Brothel:

hic ego puellas multas futui

Felix bene futuis

Other examples can be traced to other locations in Pompeii. Given that persons of wealth generally did not visit brothels (because they had slaves/concubines ), the names generally do not link back to persons of importance. The graffiti do tell stories, however. Various authors respond to each other's carvings in a sort of dialogue.


The artwork found in the Lupanar at Pompeii is discussed in the article on Erotic art in Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Further reading

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