Scroll and Tablet Blog

Posted on April 28th, 2023 in Students, We Have Thoughts On That... by Elizabeth W. Thill

This photo was shared by student Corran Goodart. More about Corran at the end of the post.

One of the lesser known facts about ancient people in Pompeii is that they were really, really into doodling. So into doodling, that they regularly scratched doodles into the walls of pretty much everything: public buildings like temples or theaters, latrines, brothels, tombs, and even the elaborately frescoed walls of elite villas. One of these doodles is thought to be among the first known caricatures. It shows the profile of Mr. Magoo’s ancestor, below the helpful label “Rufus est,” which translates to…“This is Rufus.”

Oddly, the doodle is incised on the wall of the atrium of the Villa of the Mysteries, one of the most luxurious residences in Pompeii. Any archaeologist who tells you that they know what this is all about is lying to you.

But behold! A mystery IUPUI student has been keeping this tradition alive (the tradition of doodling, not archaeologists lying) by sharing their version of Rufus on the campus chalkboard near the library! Corran snapped the picture and thus immortalized it for the ages. Hopefully this does not presage an impending volcanic eruption for IUPUI campus.

Corran Goodart is a junior and an anthropology major, hoping to focus on Archaeology as a career. If you are interested in taking a Classical Studies course, or in even earning a Classical Studies Minor, and want more information, please reach out to our Program Director Dr. Elizabeth Thill.