Human Behavior has not Changed throughout History

People haven’t changed much in 2,000 years.

We have learned more about the character of a past civilization through the writings recovered from Pompeii, which was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, than we have ever done through the writings of scribes who produced the Bible, the Torah and the Koran. That’s because the historians who studied life in Pompeii wanted to know the truth rather than what they wanted to believe happened.

It turns out that human behavior has changed very little. It was no better then than it is now.

For example, at the time of Christ, the Romans issued edicts to control the behavior street wolves to protect innocent walkers. Different behavior deserved different punishments: adsectatio’ or flattering a woman in the streets was one thing but blanda oratio’ or persuading a woman and youth to have sex was another. Finally, the removal of a guardian escort of a young female comitum abductio’ was worthy of the heaviest punishment.

That’s not far different from degrees of harassment that would earn different penalties in modern life.

Men of course cheated on their wives and even women cheated on their husbands. Brothels had secure rooms as they do today.

Even though life depended on cooperation, theft was common and householders had to lock their doors and bar the entrances to their homes even through openings in their roofs. Theft by mean crawling across a roof from a neighbor was common, as it is today in cities like New York.

Road rage occurred to. Pompeii’s streets were too narrow to permit two carts to pass each other so the town had a one-way system with some thoroughfares barred to vehicular traffic and parking lots were provided if one wanted to go there. Vehicular traffic consisted of heavy carts or light two-person gigs but it mattered little that they were not BMWs if your passage was obstructed by someone entering your street from a cross street without warning.

Like the soccer fights of today between the Brits and Germans, the gladiatorial games in ancient Pompeii had their own fights among the audience. One riot between the citizens of Pompeii and supporters from a neighboring town of Nocera was so bad that starting with traded insults and the throwing of stones it escalated to violence and some deaths. The authorities exiled the organizers and closed the arena for ten years.

Human behavior does not change even as civilization develops.