Archaeologists have uncovered a colourful Roman-era snack bar in the tragic ancient town of Pompeii – with homophobic graffiti aimed at the owner.
According to The Telegraph, the slur – attributed to a freed Greek slave called Nico – reads: “NICIA CINAEDE CACATOR.”
They quote archaeologists explaining that it refers to the owner of the Roman snack bar Thermopolium of Regio V as being "an inverted s****er".
They noted it as a homosexual connotation from its derivation from the ancient Greek term for catamite.
"Catamites", or "cacators" as they were known in Latin, were pubescent boys kept for sexual pleasure by older men, referred to as "pederasts".
They were akin to modern day paedophiles and texts from the time reveal that many of these "relationships" ended once the child had grown facial hair, or was around 14.
Most often, catamites were slave boys, and the Romans' complicated societal hierarchy meant that they had no escape from being abused.
Ancient records also reveal that one Roman emperor, Nero, fell so deeply in love with one of his slaves, Sporus, that he castrated him and took him as his wife.
The scrawled graffiti is painted on a fresco of a chained dog, one of several colourful and incredibly well-preserved artworks on the stone walls of centuries-old 'thermopolium'.
Others included a sea nymph riding a seahorse, still-life scenes of animals including two mallard ducks hanging upside down, and a rooster.
Fascinatingly, they also found food residues, animal bones, graffiti and original victims of the 79 A.D. volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius which wiped out the thriving Roman town, the Archaeological Park of Pompeii staff said.
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Massimo Osanna, interim director general of the site the discovery of food left in terracotta containers preserved in the shop's counter, including duck bones and food remains from swine, goats, fish and land snails, would help researchers learn what Romans used to eat and sell.
He added: "As well as being another insight into daily life at Pompeii, the possibilities for study of this thermopolium are exceptional."
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