... the tales of two sisters

Dana lives in Seattle, and Tracie lives in Germany. We are businesswomen, writers and humorists. We write about life, dating, and today's modern women.

It’s Still Erect: The Penis and the Shewolves of Pompeii

And once again, it is Friday and we are stepping into weekend mode. 

Are you planning a vacation? Perhaps a staycation? If you’re planning a staycation, I hope you’ll discover something in your  hometown that will make your eyes light up. Just saving the money on flights and gasoline right now will certainly give you peace of mind. Take and enjoy this precious time and reconnect with yourself, family, and your friends–you’ll also be doing  something good for your local economy. And I DO hope you can unearth an unknown treasure! 

Speaking of unearthed treasures, I’m sharing a post today about one of my most favorite destinations of all time–so much so, that I even took Mama there. Pompeii, Pompeii, Pompeii…Pompeii has been a tourist destination for over 250 years. Today it has UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy, with approximately 2.5 million visitors every year.

Come along and find out why… 

It’s Still Standing: The Penis and the Shewolves of Pompeii

I’ve been spellbound by the Roman city Pompeii, located a few miles southeast of Naples, Italy, between the Mediterranean Sea and the base of Mt. Vesuvius since I first heard about it as a young girl.

The reason for my intrigue is because I couldn’t then, nor can I now, wrap my head around the sobering truth that most of the inhabitants of this city suffocated and burned to death when the mountain exploded in 79 A.D.

Pompeii is the most important archaeological site in the Roman world and as I stood in its midst, I felt as though I was standing face to face with antiquity. And I was.

Adding to my fascination is the fact this was an ancient, ancient time. Just what were the people like who lived there? If my parents would have paid my college tuition, which they did, and if Daddy would have let me study archaeology instead of Business and English, which he didn’t, that is what I would have done, for this world bewitches me. Pompeii, the remains of an entire civilization, lay buried for 1700 years (!) before excavation began and even this excavation was only by accident.

Let’s jump back in time and imagine. . .

It is the 24th of August, A.D. 79, sometime around noon. This bustling agricultural port town’s 20,000 inhabitants are busy: bakers are baking fancy bread prepared with spices, eggs, and honey; slaves are preparing for the evening; the men are in the public baths while mothers are tending to their children, and the Shewolves are perhaps not yet howling. (We will come back to the Shewolves in a moment).

The earth has been rumbling over the past few days, but no one takes notice until suddenly the ground shakes violently. Mt. Vesuvius roars, spewing forth a poisonous, smothering, blinding ash that buries daylight into darkness. Red hot clouds permeate the air. Enormous amounts of rock shoot into space here, there, and everywhere. Panicked, confused, and frightened beyond comprehension, between 1000 and 2000 of the 12,000 inhabitants die on the spot while others flee. Pompeii is destroyed forever.

At the time, there were about 800 houses, three public baths and in the city streets, horses and carriages were the means of transportation. No one knows really how many Shewolves there were at the time. It is estimated quite a few because their industry was big business in Pompeii.

And what was that business? Some say it’s the oldest profession in the world: Prostitution.

Artifacts and relics unearthed beneath this city buried between 4 to 6 meters or 13 to 20 feet of ash, revealed that there existed an elaborate system of sex. 

Today, near where the Forum stood, on the main street, stands the excavated remains of the oldest brothel, the Lupanar of Pompeii. And how do we know it was a brothel? Well for one, there are carved penises on the stones in the road pointing in its direction, and graffiti from the walls has been transcribed. An example in Latin: “I came here and had a good. . .f@#k.”And still visible today above the door of each of the 5 dark, gloomy rooms on the main floor is a pornographic fresco depicting which service and/or delight one would receive in that particular room. Built adjacent to one side of the wall in each of these rooms is a concrete bed with an elevation that served as a pillow. As I entered each enclosed space and touched the walls, I felt like I was standing in a prison cell.

Now, outside under a clear blue sky, an erect penis emerges from the structure over the entrance. This was Penis Avenue! I’m serious. What we have to remember is that Naples was a port town; men sailed in from all over the world, each with his own language (and desires). An erect penis on a building’s facade spoke for itself as it knocked down all language barriers. If sex was what you were looking for, you knew you were in the right place. Kind of like driving along the highway or Autobahn and seeing the Golden Arches. You know what’s on the menu.

Brilliant those Romans were!

And now we come back to the Shewolves or to the Lupa as they were referred to at the time.

I was told that the prostitutes were called Shewolves because they would beckon their tricks from the street below by howling like wolves perched from an opened upstairs window in the Lupanar.

Archeologists have turned up at least 41 brothels in the ruins of Pompeii and that is to say nothing of the taverns and hotels which were also common sites for prostitution. We also have to remember that 80% of the population was poor, so this was probably more often than not, as we would say today, a “hit it and quit it” kind of thing. No time for having a cigarette and talking about it afterward. Many of these women were slaves. Even though their pay was on the low end and was the equivalent of the price of a loaf of bread (and not the fancy egg and spiced variety), it was still more than what an average laborer was paid. So this in effect was a relatively high-paying job for them. Nonetheless, they still had to keep it moving.

And keep it moving they did. Literally.

Until Mt. Vesuvius blew her top putting an end to it all.

If you stare up at the open perch from where a Shewolf beckoned her prey, and concentrate, you think you can faintly hear the echo of her howl. And you know that she really was here nearly two thousand years ago, because the Penis, still erect atop the small opening of the exterior wall above the entrance, tells us so.