§120 Graffito


(0120) Text: Μαθαῖῳ ὕει[α] | οὗ κύντατα ἤει.

Translation: Matthew has a swine that he did the nastiest thing with!

Commentary: There is much to note about this graffito, especially the Jewish name of the soldier responsible for guarding the pigs, despite being an unclean animal. The jokey charge of bestiality should not be taken seriously, but nevertheless indicates the sort of sexual concerns attested in §119. Note that the prohibition against Jews herding pigs is not evidenced until the rabbinic period: Sacha Stern, Jewish Identity in Early Rabbinic Writings, AGJU 23 (Leiden: Brill, 1994), 57 nn. 42-44. 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. 29; 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*.