In the Vita Beata (On the Good Life), the first-century A.D. orator and philosopher Seneca writes about virtue and pleasure in the Roman city. Some scholars have argued that the following passage (7.3-4; translated by John W. Basore for the Loeb Classical Library) is evidence that the Romans practiced a kind of moral urban zoning. (For this reason, they argue, Pompeii’s brothels would have been purposefully clustered in an undesirable part of town.) Others believe that Seneca was simply taking the opportunity to moralize about the dangers of pleasure:

“Virtue is something lofty, exalted and regal, unconquerable, and unwearied; pleasure is something lowly, servile, weak, and perishable, whose haunt and abode are the brothel and the tavern. Virtue you will find in the temple, in the forum, in the senate-house—you will find her standing in front of the city walls, dusty and stained, and with calloused hands; pleasure you will more often find lurking out of sight, and in search of darkness, around the public baths and the sweating-rooms and the places that fear the police—soft, enervated, reeking with wine and perfume, and pallid, or else painted and made up with cosmetics like a corpse. The highest good is immortal, it knows no ending, it permits neither surfeit nor regret; for the right-thinking mind never alters, it neither is filled with self-loathing nor suffers any change in its life, that is ever the best. But pleasure is extinguished just when it is most enjoyed; it has but small space, and thus quickly fills it—it grows weary and is soon spent after its first assault.”