§119 Graffito


(0119) Text: καινοικήσας τὸ γυναικεῖον. | [ἔχων] νοσοῦ χάριν συλετοῦ […]γρ[…]ηιι

Translation: He recently dwelled in the brothel. He went crazy for the pleasure of the one he took […]

Commentary: Contra Testa, it seems unlikely that the graffito describes a victim of abduction forced to work in a nearby brothel (with the insinuation that she had come to enjoy her occupation). Rather, the inscription seems to joke about a heterosexual outlet for the garrison’s homosocial environment that involves a sex worker, a common enough topic in military graffiti throughout the Empire. Note also the accusation of sexual pleasure in §120. All graffiti at Herodium is likely from the pre-War period, evinced by the use of Greek and taking into account history of the site.

Provenience: Herodium, Judaea 22 BCE-70 CE

Bibliography: Emmanuele Testa, Herodion IV: I graffiti e gli ostraka, Studium Biblicum Franciscanum 20 (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1972), no. 2; Christopher B. Zeichmann, “Rethinking the Gay Centurion: Sexual Exceptionalism, National Exceptionalism in Readings of Matt 8:5-13//Luke 7:1-10,” BCT 11/1 (2015): 50 n. 31*.