Let us have some Latin!

Nōmina stultōrum in parietibus et portīs semper vidēmus. (Cicero)
We always see the names of foolish men on walls and doors.
Siempre vemos los nombres de tontos en muros y puertas.
Άεί βλεπόμεν τὰ ὄνομα ἰδιώτων ἐπὶ τάχοις και θύραις.

Ok so here is a bit of a head-turner. We see graffiti (from the Greek γράφειν – to write, although the word used is closer to the Latin for ‘the written things’) in Roman walls, especially those of Pompeii. We tend to think of them as super cool, a sort of voice of the people idea. Well, Cicero did not think of them that way at all. Here, he tells us what the Roman elite thought of graffiti overall. Notice the Ancient Greek, where I use the word ‘idiot’ (ἰδιώτων) rather than foolish. I couldn’t really find a cognate for foolish, so I figured the word for ‘one-who-does-not-participate’ would be much better here; after all, if you are painting on walls, you are not doing anything constructive, right Cicero?

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