Wednesday 9 December
10 AM PST
1 PM EST
6 PM GMT
7 PM CET
With Dr. Eireann Marshall
The lives of the wealthy come to life in the cities destroyed by Vesuvius. Walking through the domus of these cities, including the House of Octavius Quartio and House of Menander in Pompeii as well as the House of the Wooden Partition in Herculaneum, we can gauge how much the lives of the elites were played out in the public arena. Passers-by could see right through the vestibule and atrium to see the master of the house sitting in his tablinum, his office, first thing in the morning waiting for clients who would be waiting on the benches which can still be seen right outside their houses. From these houses, we get an idea of how the elites displayed their wealth and their learning on the frescoes lining their walls and the mosaics decorating their floors, as well as the gardens and peristyles which brought precious light and sweet smelling flowers into their homes.
The domus of the rich in both Vesuvian cities provide glimpses of domestic religion with a number of shrines or lararia found inside the houses, some complete with votive statues. The elites living in Pompeii and Herculaneum were in constant competition with one another and their houses, with which they were closely identified, were an important expression of their status. Alongside them, there was an increasingly wealthy group of freedmen enriched by trade who strived to ensure their offspring gained entry into the higher echelons; while these weren’t allowed access to political power, they asserted their wealth by imitating the tastes of the elites.
This Spotlight Lecture explores the world of the elites and wealthy freedmen in Pompeii and Herculaneum, from the creature comforts they were afforded to the art they hoped would increase their standing.