Greetings Graffiti Lesson by Amanda Levit and Nicole Wellington
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Refer to p. 108 of Scribbling Through History. Graffiti, Places, and People from Antiquity through Modernity (Bloomsbury, 2018), which discusses how greetings among Pompeian graffiti were very friendly, very social, and anything but anonymous. By greeting someone you not only named her, you also often named yourself (Prima Secundo sal).
- Assuming that your students have learned basic greetings at the beginning of their study of Latin, they should be familiar with the verbs saluto, valeo and the commands salve/salvete and vale/valete.
- Explain the graffiti conventions of SAL for salutem/salve and VA for vale.
II. Examples of Goodbyes
- For graffiti with simple greetings to women, see the graffiti from the Casa dei Quattro Stili (Pompeii, I.8.17). Here, there are many farewells addressed to individual women. Per Dr. Benefiel, this gives credit to just the woman, leaving her name alone without the inclusion of the one saying farewell.
- CIL 04, 08219b : Quartilla va(le)
III. Graffiti as a Signature
- For graffiti as a signature (i.e. someone was here), with a simple nominative, use of hīc, and fuit.
- CIL 04, 10525 Hyacinthus hic fuit
IV. Activity : Playful Greetings
Project or give students laminated copies of graffito CIL 04, 659 for students:
SUILIMEA CISSONIO FRATRABILITER SAL
- Initial discussion questions based on their observations: Do they remember what the SAL represents? Do they know a vocabulary word related to FRATRABILITER? What do they know about greetings and word order? Who is greeting whom? What is unusual about the greeter’s name? What is the case ending of CISSONIO? What is AEMILIUS giving to CISSONIUS?
- Develop the discussion further by asking: Who was this Aemilius? Why would he choose to spell his name backwards? Who is Cissonius? Would he get what Aemilius was doing? This conversation is a good way to say to the students, after your discussion, that it is still okay to not know all of the answers. Sometimes we have to be satisfied with not knowing.
- Challenge your students to leave greetings for one another during the week using the correct formula. Save space on your one of your whiteboards or put up a large piece of Craft Paper in the classroom for students to add their graffiti. Perhaps it could even be assigned as homework.