16. The Roman Way of Life and Death at Ostia, the Port of Rome

16. The Roman Way of Life and Death at Ostia, the Port of Rome


Prof: Good morning, all.
The title of today’s lecture
is, “The Roman Way of Life and Death at Ostia,
the Port of Rome.” On Tuesday we spoke about
architecture under the emperor Hadrian, the extraordinary
emperor Hadrian. We talked about the buildings
that he commissioned, and some of which he also had a
hand in designing since, as we mentioned,
he was an amateur architect himself.
We spoke about that Greek
import, the Temple of Venus and Roma,
and also about the two major commissions during his
principate, the Pantheon in Rome and
Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli. The main takeaway point
vis-à-vis both of these buildings–
and you see them once again now on the screen,
at left and right–is that Hadrian followed the lead of
Trajan before him. What Trajan had done,
and Apollodorus of Damascus had done,
in the Forum of Trajan and in the Markets of Trajan,
and that is to combine, in one building complex,
both the traditional and the innovative strands of Roman
architecture. The traditional that goes back
to Greek and Etruscan architecture and is marked by
the traditional elements, the traditional vocabulary of
architecture, namely columns and walls and
the roofs that they support; and then more innovative Roman
architecture, which is predicated on concrete
construction, faced with a variety of
materials, from stone to what we’ll see today as the
ascendance of brick as a facing, which began,
as you’ll recall, after the fire in A.D.
64 in Rome.
Again, looking at these two
buildings as examples of what Hadrian, he and his architects,
tried to do. The Pantheon,
you’ll recall on the left, has a traditional porch,
a porch that looks very much like a typical Greek,
Etruscan or Roman temple, but then a revolutionary body,
when you walk inside the building, a revolutionary
cylindrical drum and hemispherical dome.
And then with regard to
Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli, I show you a view of the
Canopus, and you’ll recall that the Canopus makes use of
columnar architecture. There are columns that border
one end of the pool, although they are columns with
a twist because you can see they support a straight and an
arcuated lintel, which we saw in Second Style
Roman wall painting, in painting,
and then eventually it begins to infiltrate built
architecture, comes to the fore under Hadrian.
So that’s a playing around with
those lintels in a way you wouldn’t have seen in Greek and
Etruscan architecture, but still relies,
in the main, on the traditional vocabulary
of architecture. But then you’ll recall,
on the other end of the pool, a building that was meant to
conjure up the Serapeum in the Temple of Serapis in Canopus,
in Egypt, but that was made out of concrete construction and
that had a segmented dome, a kind of pumpkin dome that we
believe that Hadrian designed himself.
So this extraordinary
combination of traditional and innovative Roman architecture;
that we see the hallmark of Hadrianic architecture,
and a gift that he gave to the future evolution of
architecture. The other major contribution of
the Hadrianic period, that Hadrian himself had less
to do with because it was already bubbling up after the
fire in A.D. 64, is the move that we’re
going to see today toward multi-storied housing.
We saw that begin already at
the last gasp of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
You’ll remember after the
earthquake of 62, and before the eruption of
Vesuvius, the Pompeians and those who
lived in Herculaneum began to build,
began to add additional stories to their residential structures,
and that meant for the most part a second story being added
to their residential structures, but they never went beyond that.
What we see beginning to
happen, especially under Hadrian,
is an increased taste for multi-storied buildings,
multi-storied domiciles, but multi-storied residences
that had more than two stories, even up to as many as five
stories: essentially apartment houses.
And our best example for such
apartment houses are in the city of Ostia,
the port city of Rome, and it’s therefore to the city
of Ostia that we are going to turn to today.
And, in fact,
we’ll spend the entire lecture on the city of Ostia,
because like Pompeii and Herculaneum before it,
especially like Pompeii, we have an extraordinary array
of not only private domiciles, but also public architecture
from the city of Ostia that gives us an outstanding sense of
what this city looked like in antiquity.
I show you a plan of Ostia in
its heyday. You’ll remember that the city
was actually founded very early on.
At the very beginning of the
semester, we looked at the town plan of Ostia,
which dated to the mid-fourth century B.C.,
around 350 B.C. And you’ll recall–and I’ll
remind you of this plan in a moment–
you’ll recall that it was founded as–
it was actually Rome’s first colony,
although it was a colony in Italy obviously,
not outside the mainland, but its first colony in Italy,
or anywhere for that matter. And it was founded,
as so many of these first colonies were,
as a military camp. It was laid out as a
castrum, as you’ll recall.
And that castrum,
one can see in the very center–
I’m going to show you a better view of this from Ward-Perkins
in a moment– but you can see that kernel of
the castrum plan right here in the center of this plan.
But what this plan shows you is
the way in which the city grew over time.
Again, it began in the
Republic, it continued to be developed during the Republic.
It was under Augustus that some
new buildings, some public buildings were
added to the locale, including the Theater,
and we’re going to look at the Theater today.
And then ports were added,
as you’ll remember–and I’ll review that momentarily–ports
were added at Portus, by Claudius and also by Trajan.
And it was after the Port of
Trajan that the city really began to take off in terms of
its commercial activity, and much of the building that
we see in the city, as it looks still today,
belongs to the Hadrianic period and into the time of the
successors of Hadrian, the so-called Antonine
emperors, whose architecture we’ll also be studying this
semester. While this plan is on the
screen, let me just point out the location of Rome–
the arrow points this way–the so-called Via Ostiense,
the route, the street that leads from Rome to Ostia;
the Via Ostiense. And actually the city road
becomes the town–the country road;
the country thoroughfare becomes the city street,
the main city street, the decumanus of the
city of Ostia. You can also see in this plan
the location of a place called Isola Sacra, up there,
which we will see was the main cemetery for Ostia.
Yes, there are tombs outside
the city walls, also elsewhere in the city,
but our most- best-preserved tombs are from this area called
Isola Sacra; and I’ll show that to you also
today. And here you can see the Tiber
River, the Tevere, the Tiber River wending its way
from Rome to Ostia. And it is of course along the
Tiber that we’ll see warehouses were located,
and where the ships went back and forth to export or import
material, products from Rome to Ostia and
back again. Again, we talked about the
building of ports at Ostia. We talked especially about the
port that Claudius commissioned, at Portus, and I remind you of
it on the back of a Neronian coin, a coin of Nero;
obverse with Nero’s portrait, reverse representing that
Claudian port. And we see it there.
You’ll remember it had curved
breakwaters, which you can see in that coin depiction,
and a river god at the bottom; boats in the center,
as well as the lighthouse. We see all of that on the coin.
And you’ll remember that the
breakwaters were made up of columns that partook of that
rusticated masonry that Claudius so favored.
Down here, a painting that I’ve
shown you before, that is on the walls of the
Vatican in Rome, the Vatican Museums in Rome,
where you can see Claudius’ port,
with its curved breakwaters and its lighthouse over here.
And then the port that was
added by Trajan during his reign, a multi-sided additional
port right here. And it was again the
construction of that particular port that really brought
commerce even more– this area had been used since
the mid-fourth century B.C., but it begins to really take
off; there’s a real efflorescence
during this period. And it is therefore not
surprising that with commerce booming there was more need for
residential architecture, for those who lived there,
for the traders and so on and so forth who lived there,
and we see this, the building of not only civic
buildings but especially of private domiciles begins to move
very rapidly apace. The city becomes more crowded
and there becomes this need to build up vertically,
as well as horizontally; and we’ll see that development
today. Tourists who go to Rome really
miss the boat by not going out to Ostia in larger numbers,
because most tourists don’t tend to take the trip out to
Ostia. But it’s well worth it,
and it’s very easy to get to. It only takes about 25 minutes
to a half an hour on a suburban train, to get from Rome to
Ostia. So it’s a not-to-be-missed
experience. And I show you one of these
trains in the upper left that takes you very easily from Rome
to the site of Ostia. There are a number of stations
in Ostia. One of them is Ostia Centro,
the downtown of Ostia, which you see in that view in
the upper left. And the other is Lido di Ostia,
which means “the beach,” and I show you a
view of Lido di Ostia down here. Now looking at that nice view
of the ocean– I know you’ve all been,
you’re back from spring break, but still it’s nice to
reminisce about what some of you may have been doing during
spring break and see this wonderful view of the scene.
It looks very enticing,
but I can tell you that it’s not, once you get there.
It’s very polluted.
This is not one of the great
beaches of the world. So don’t be seduced by Lido di
Ostia. Stay on the train and make your
way to the site called Scavi di Ostia,
which is the excavations of Ostia, the archaeological
excavations, where you can see,
as you saw, as one sees in Pompeii,
an ancient Roman city, extremely well preserved.
And you see a glimpse of it
over here, and you can tell even just from this glimpse that we
are dealing here with a city that is not unlike Pompeii.
It has streets and sidewalks,
and it has buildings along the side of either of those.
But there is one main
difference between this and what we saw at Pompeii–
and you can see it very well in this image–
and that is that these houses, that are along the street,
look different than those did in Pompeii in that they are made
out of concrete, faced with brick:
a very different kind of appearance,
and one that is quintessentially Ostian and
makes this city well worth a visit.
In fact, if we think of Pompeii
as the quintessential first-century A.D.
Roman city, we should think of
the city of Ostia as the quintessential second-century
A.D. city, the best example that we
have of what a second century, a Hadrianic and Antonine city,
would have looked like, and that is what makes it so
important to us. Here I remind you again of the
original plan that we looked at, the plan from the mid-fourth
century B.C., 350 B.C., from Ward-Perkins,
that shows you the original castrum of the first
colony: this rectangular space, very regular,
with its own wall surrounding the city,
with the cardo, the north-south street,
and the decumanus, the east-west street,
intersecting exactly at the center of that city.
And then at that intersection,
as was Roman practice, the placement of the forum of
the city, a great open rectangular space
with a temple pushed up against the back wall,
in this case a Temple of Jupiter, a Capitolium,
dominating the space in front of it,
and then other buildings around it,
as you can see. Although there’s a striking
difference between this forum and the forum that we saw at
Pompeii, because you’ll remember at
Pompeii the various major buildings,
the Basilica, the Temple of Apollo,
and so on, sort of radiating out from the central core of the
forum. We don’t see that here.
We see the buildings sort of
placed separately, from that main forum space.
But in every other respect very
similar to the general plan of these early Roman cities .
What’s also useful about this
particular plan is the fact that it shows you the way,
as time went by and as the city grew,
it shows you the way in which the cardo and the
decumanus were extended, and then the other buildings of
the city were added here and there: a number of baths;
lots of private residences. This is a particularly
important building here at 15 and 16,
which we’ll look at today: 15 is the Theater and 16 is the
so-called Piazza of the Corporations,
the Piazzale delle Corporazioni,
which is very significant, and we’ll look at that soon.
If you go and visit the city of
Ostia today, and enter at the ticket booth,
what you see almost immediately is again a polygonal masonry
street, looking very much like Pompeii.
But once again there are no
stepping stones in Ostia, unlike Pompeii — the plot
thickens there in terms of why we see those in Pompeii and
don’t seem to see them anywhere else.
You walk along that polygonal
masonry street pavement and you see both the remains up here in
the upper left of the original Republican city wall,
and it should bring back memories of opus
quadratum, or ashlar masonry,
that we saw at the beginning of the semester.
You can see it’s consistent
with the age in which it was built in the Republic.
But then over here,
as you make your way along on one of the main streets,
you see what is characteristic of Ostia as a whole,
and that is concrete construction,
brick-faced concrete construction,
both for the residences and also for the public buildings,
and also for the religious structures,
namely the temples in this city. The reason for this,
of course–it takes us back to the Neronian period,
the great fire of 64, when it was realized —
you’ll remember the Subura, which was located back beyond
the precinct walls of the Forum of Augustus,
the area where the working poor of Rome lived,
primarily in rickety apartment houses that were made out of
wood; multi-storied houses.
Those were actually
multi-storied, but they were always going up
in flames, and there was a recognition
after the great destruction of the fire of 64 that the Romans
needed to fireproof their buildings,
and they recognized the fact that brick is better at
protecting the structure from fire than stone is,
and stone can burn, and they actually began to–
as we know, we talked about this before–
they began to build their houses and many of their civic
structures out of concrete faced with brick.
And we see that development
especially well here in Ostia. And Ostia is extremely
important for us also because many comparable buildings that
were put up in the city of Rome itself no longer survive.
The same apartment houses that
we’re going to see at Ostia did exist in Rome.
We have some remains of them.
There’s a very prominent one at
the base of the Capitoline Hill, to the left of the hill as you
climb up that hill. But we have very little
evidence for this in Rome, and so we have to rely on Ostia
to give us the best picture of apartment building in Rome,
in Roman architecture in the second century A.D.
Here is a spectacular view of
Ostia as it looks today, from the air,
and we are obviously looking down on the forum,
on the great open rectangular space of the forum,
with columns around it. We are looking also at the
Capitolium, at the Temple of Jupiter,
which is a very large structure,
as you can see here, made out of concrete,
faced with brick. It is a typical Roman temple,
unlike Hadrian’s Temple of Venus and Roma,
because we can see that it has a façade orientation;
it has a single staircase; it has a deep porch,
freestanding columns in that porch.
So a typical Roman structure
and–it’s a typical Roman temple.
And then you can also see its
vast scale. There are a couple of people
standing here who look miniscule in relationship to this
building, and only part of the building,
in fact the full height of the building,
is not even preserved here. So it was even larger still
than what you see. The reason for its size is
twofold: one, because we have already seen
that this taste for larger and larger buildings has really
taken off. We saw it in Hadrian’s Forum in
Rome. We saw it in Domitian’s Palace
on the Palatine Hill. We saw it in Hadrian’s Villa at
Tivoli, and in the Pantheon, the largest span,
the largest dome ever built. So this taste for largeness,
grandiosity in architecture, has really taken off.
So it’s not surprising to see
this Capitolium, which was built in the
Hadrianic period, specifically 120 A.D.,
also being large in scale. But there’s a second and
perhaps even more important reason,
and that is in a city in which all of the–
most of the houses are what are called insulae–
i-n-s-u-l-a in the singular; a-e in the
plural–insulae, multi-storied apartment
buildings, often of as many as five stories.
If you want your Capitolium to
stand out in that city, and be seen up above those
apartment houses, you’ve got to build it very
high. And that is undoubtedly the
reason that they– one of the two reasons,
the more important reason– that they have built this
temple so large, and especially so tall,
so that you could see the Temple of Jupiter from
everywhere in the city of Ostia. Here’s a view of the Temple as
it looks today in isolation, again, only part of its height
preserved, but enough for us to get a very
good sense of its concrete construction,
brick facing here, and as I’ve already described,
the single staircase, the columns in the porch and so
on. I mentioned already that it was
under Augustus that a theater and an entertainment district
was added to the city of Ostia, and that building,
you see the remains of it here, along one of the major streets
of the city of Ostia. It was renovated in around 200
A.D.; that is, in the early part of
the third century A.D., so considerably later.
It was expanded to be able to
hold 2,500 spectators at that particular point,
and much of the concrete and brick-faced construction belongs
to that renovation. One can’t imagine a building
quite like this in the age of Augustus.
So what you’re seeing here is
primarily the restored view, the restored version of this
building. But what you can see,
that does at least link it back to the Augustan period,
is the fact that the design of the façade is very
similar to the design of the Theater of Marcellus in Rome,
with the arches, and in this case pilasters
between them — that same general scheme that
we saw for theater and for amphitheater architecture,
used here. The main difference,
of course, is the fact that we have concrete construction with
brick facing, rather than concrete
construction with stone facing, travertine in the case of the
Theater of Marcellus. I haven’t yet shown you a Roman
latrine, but today is the day for the Roman latrine.
But you have to imagine,
of course, that in any major public
building, like a theater, where you’re going to have a
lot of people there at the same time,
you have to provide a public latrine.
And when I say a public
latrine, I really mean a public latrine.
There was no privacy,
as you can see, in this latrine whatsoever.
What it is composed of,
as you can see, is a bench that lines the
walls, with a series of holes in it,
and then just one single drain that encircles the building.
So this gives you an idea of
where you had to go, if you needed to go,
during intermission, if you were attending the
Theater in Ostia. One of the most important
buildings at Ostia is connected to this Theater.
I’m showing you now the plan of
the Theater, which corresponds to theaters that we’ve looked at
throughout this semester; a typical Roman plan.
It has a semi-circular
orchestra. It has a stage building or
scaenae frons here. It has a semicircular
cavea, the seats, which are placed on
top of, of course in this case, a concrete foundation.
This, like other Roman
theaters, is an urban phenomenon.
There was no hill to build this
on, so the Romans had to build–the
Ostians had to build their own hill out of concrete,
and then support the cavea on top of that.
But the cavea is made of
stone seats; they used stone for the seats,
as is traditional in Roman theater architecture.
But we see that this Theater is
appended to a porticus. Now we’ve seen a
porticus with these theaters before;
it was in fact characteristic of theater design.
And if you think back to the
Theater in Pompeii, for example,
you’ll remember that that porticus,
which had little shops all around it,
or small cubicles all around it, was used as a place where
you could go during intermission to relax,
to walk around, to buy a playbill,
to pick up a souvenir T-shirt or whatever the equivalent was
in those days: a souvenir of your experience
that evening at the theater. And so we see that same general
scheme here, this whole idea of this open
rectangular space, with some columns,
and then with these little cubicles all along.
But in this case it was not
meant to be a place for souvenirs or a place to store
props. But instead what we see is
something quite fascinating, given the fact that the city of
Ostia was primarily a commercial city,
a place where items were exported and imported.
Because it was a major port or
harbor city, what this was used for
instead–hence its name the Piazzale delle Corporazioni–
is a series of businesses that were–
the import/export business essentially is what these spaces
were used for. And I’ll show you.
Actually some of them are quite
well preserved and I can show you indeed what they looked
like. Then in the center something we
also don’t see in the Pompeii Theater,
a small temple in the center, a temple that corresponds to
Roman temples that we’ve looked at thus far: its rectangular
shape; its flat side and back walls;
some columns in the deep porch; a single staircase;
façade emphasis, as you can see here;
relatively small in scale, as these kinds of things go.
And it has been speculated by
the main excavator of this site that it was used as a–that it
was dedicated to some god whose name we don’t know;
we don’t know which god or goddess this was dedicated to.
But the excavator has
speculated that it was probably some god that had something to
do with commerce, and the blessing of commerce,
and that probably some trade guild,
one of the trade guilds that had its businesses set up here,
may have been the commissioners,
may have paid for, indeed commissioned this
particular temple. And I think that’s as good a
theory as any, and may well be the case.
This is a view–we’re standing
at the top of the cavea, looking down over that
cavea. We can see the cunei or
wedge-shaped sections of seats. We can see the stone that has
been used for those seats. We can see the semicircular
orchestra, the scalloped face of the
stage, and then one can imagine the scaenae frons,
with its forest of columns behind;
that part is not well preserved. And there also would have
been–I’ll show you a restored view a little bit later where
you’ll see that there was a much higher wall in between this and
the Piazzale that lay beyond. The wall is no longer there,
so we can see very well through these columns,
the small temple that was put up by that trade guild,
to some god of commerce. And then we can also see these
cubicles all along the way, that were used as these import
and export emporia. This is a view of the temple as
it looks today. We can see that single
staircase, fairly narrow staircase here;
the façade orientation; a couple of the columns,
including a Corinthian column, that are still preserved from
that small structure. And then here a very useful
view showing us again these interesting spaces,
rectangular spaces along here, fronted in each case by
columns. We’ll see that those columns
are made out of cement, faced with brick — so shades
of the Sanctuary of Hercules at Tivoli.
We haven’t seen this before,
I mean, since then. And that was a very unusual
view. Here we’re seeing something
that actually becomes more common in the second century,
making concrete columns and then facing them with brick.
I’d like to show you a few
views of these import/export businesses, as I’ve called them;
one of them here, where we can see that the
architecture itself, the walls and the columns are
only partially preserved. You have to imagine that in
antiquity they went up higher than this.
But what is well preserved are
the mosaics on the floor of each of these, or many of these
spaces. And you can see they’re all
done in black-and-white mosaic, just the two colors.
You can see the interest that
the Ostians had in geometric shapes.
They have inside these very
abstract, inside the shop here, these abstract patterns,
although they’ve made an attempt to vary them.
But then in the front,
something very interesting, that we see throughout,
is the use of sea imagery. Because again they were in the
import and export business, they were busy sending ships
back and forth, from Italy to other parts of
the Roman world by sea, and so it’s almost all sea
imagery. Here we see two heraldic
dolphins–dolphins are particularly popular in these
scenes– facing one another,
as a kind of advertisement or shop sign for this particular
enterprise. Here’s another one,
where you can see–I like this dolphin in particular;
he’s nicely preserved and he has a wonderful serpentine tail,
with a lot of flourish at the end here, as you can see.
And then inside an image of a
boat; you can see it’s partially
preserved. What’s wonderful about this
example is it shows us that although these are fairly simple
in design, and are meant essentially as
advertisements for the shop, the artist and the patron have
taken real care to think about what you’re going to see when
you’re standing where. So that they have oriented
these so that when you’re facing the shop and deciding whether
you’re going to pick this one– there’s 61 of these,
by the way, around the perimeter of this structure,
so you had a lot of choice, in terms of which enterprise
you were going to, where you were going to go to.
If you wanted to ship something
from Ostia somewhere else, or receive a delivery,
you had a lot of choices. Although I don’t doubt some of
them specialized in different parts of the world,
shipping to Egypt or shipping to Asia Minor.
But you can see here the
dolphin. When you’re standing,
deciding whether you want to go in, the dolphin,
you face the dolphin. Once you’re inside,
and standing and talking to the owner, if you turn around and
look back, you’re going to see the boat head on.
So they’ve really–they’ve
orchestrated this in such a–they’ve paid real attention;
it’s not done willy-nilly, they’ve paid attention to what
you’re going to see where, when you are entering and
inside these spaces. Here’s another one,
not only dolphins, dolphins, dolphins,
more dolphins and more dolphins,
but you also see in this case a lighthouse,
which could either be a representation of their local
lighthouse, or some lighthouse somewhere
else that this particular place ships to.
And then the last one,
which is the one on your Monument List,
with two boats. So again, how does one ship
things from Ostia elsewhere? By boat, and so they tend to
represent boats. So you’ve kind of seen it all;
dolphins, boats and lighthouses tend to be the items that are
chosen for these so-called advertisements.
But this one is very useful too
because you can see the shapes and the colors of the
tesserae that are used here.
And although these are very
effective, you can see that this is not the Alexander Mosaic;
these are not done with that kind of skill.
They use only black and white,
the simplest possible scheme, no colors, and you don’t get
the sense, as you do with something like
the Alexander Mosaic, when you step back from it,
it could almost be a painting, it’s done that well,
with the cast shadows and the crumpling figures so well
presented. Here it’s something quite
different, more abstract, and the stones are not as fine.
You can see they haven’t paid
as much attention to getting them perfectly shaped.
But nonetheless it’s very
effective, and it really does–it does what it intended
to do. One of the sad things–it’s
great to see, and if you go out to Ostia,
make a special point of seeing these and taking pictures.
Because I’ve been looking at
these for many years, and every time I’m there it
seems that there are fewer tesserae there–
these are the originals–there are fewer tesserae than
there were before. I’m not saying that people take
them, although I think people do take
them, but just that over time,
by tourists walking on them extensively,
they get loose and they get spread around the site,
and they haven’t done as good a job as I think they should at
Ostia, in keeping these mosaics
together. Here’s a restored view of the
whole complex, where I think you can see that,
although the Theater and the Piazzale are connected to one
another, and are part of the same
scheme, and are a development, a further development in
evolution, that is particularly
appropriate for this commercial city of Ostia,
that comes out of the orbit of that earlier theater and
porticus complex at Pompeii.
We can see that although
they’re part of that same complex, they are distinct from
one another. If you look at the Theater and
the cavea up above, with the original wall of the
scaenae frons preserved– we’re looking at it from the
back–you can see that that was very high.
So only if you were way up at
the top of the cavea would you really get a sense of
what lay beyond, and once you got into the
Piazzale over here, with its temple,
and with its various shops, you were in another world,
a commercial world. Also interesting is the fact
that although they’re open to the sky today,
in antiquity there was a covered colonnade,
as you can see here, that would have covered those
shops, and you would have had to go in
between the columns and back along the passageway in order to
check out what the options were. The city of Ostia,
like all Roman cities that we’ve talked about–
Rome, Pompeii, Herculaneum,
and so on– all obviously had a selection
of bath establishments. Ostia was no exception.
There are a number of baths
preserved, from the Roman city of Ostia, this being one of
them, the so-called Baths of Neptune, that dates to 139 A.D.;
the Baths of Neptune, so called because of the
spectacular mosaic, black-and-white mosaic,
of Neptune, on the floor. I’ll show it to you in a
moment, but go into it in more detail a bit later in the
lecture. If we look at the plan of the
Baths of Neptune in Ostia, I wondered if any of you can
tell me whether this is a plan that corresponds to the earlier
bath buildings at Pompeii– the Stabian Baths or the Forum
Baths– or conforms more closely to the
imperial bath type that we saw in Rome,
from the time of Titus, let’s say the Baths of Titus
and Trajan. Any thoughts?
You grimaced,
but maybe I’ll ask you. Do you have a–pick on you.
Student: The earlier
one. Prof: The earlier one,
absolutely. And why, why do you say that?
Student: Because the
central open area and the palaestra,
and then the series of bath rooms.
Prof: Excellent,
excellent, that’s exactly right.
We see the palaestra on
one side, with the natatio,
or the piscina, that usually accompanied it,
over here. And then on the other side,
all aligned in a row, the typical bath,
the bathing block, including the
apodyterium, the tepidarium,
the caldarium and the frigidarium;
although the frigidarium is not a round alcoved structure
at all — so in that sense perhaps
influenced by some of what came in between those early baths at
Pompeii and the imperial baths in Rome.
But, and of course also note
here the shops that line the front of it,
which is also characteristic of the Stabian Baths and the Forum
Baths at Pompeii. So they could have chosen the
other, but obviously felt that this
was much more appropriate to this commercial town,
to use the smaller, more intimate bath type here
than the imperial baths that had been developed in Rome from the
first century A.D. on.
Just a glimpse of the
black-and-white mosaic that gives this bath its name,
the Baths of Neptune; you see Neptune here.
But you can also see the way in
which every room in the bath– which was made out of concrete,
faced with brick, as you can also tell from this
view– every room was covered with
these black-and-white mosaics. Ostia is the land of the
black-and-white mosaic. I’ll return to that in a moment.
Perhaps most importantly,
of anything that I show you today, are the apartment houses
of Ostia, and it’s to those that I’d like now to turn.
What you’re looking at on the
screen is a model of what one of these apartment houses would
have looked like. This one is the so-called
Insula, i-n-s-u-l-a, of Serapis, the Insula of
Serapis. And we’re looking at it in a
model that is in that museum of casts that I’ve referred to a
number of times this semester, at a place, in a part of Rome
called EUR, E-U-R, that area that was built
up in the Fascist period by Mussolini in the 1930s.
This model is in that museum,
and it gives us as good an idea as anything I could show you of
what one of these apartment houses looked like in its
heyday, in the time of Hadrian.
The word insula,
I should mention, it can be used in two ways.
An insula either refers
to a multi-storied apartment house, or it refers to a block
of houses in a city like Ostia. It’s used, for whatever reason,
it was used interchangeably to refer to either a block or to an
individual house. So pay attention to that when
you read about an insula or insulae.
Again, this one dates to the
second century A.D., the Insula of Serapis.
And it basically was like a
modern condominium, and often more than one of
these insulae were next, were clearly next to one
another, but more than one sometimes shared a common bath.
So they would sometimes build a
bath building that would be used by those who lived in those two
apartment houses. Now what’s characteristic of
this, especially as we think about it
in relationship to early domus architecture,
that we saw at Pompeii, those single-family dwellings,
is the need in this teeming commercial city to accommodate a
very large population in a small amount of space —
people on the whole who could not afford single-family
dwellings, who needed to be housed in
these apartment buildings. They build up vertically,
and, as you can see, they go up to as many as five
stories, and we see that the Insula of
Serapis was indeed a five-storied structure.
It is made out of concrete.
It is faced with brick.
And what is particularly
interesting about the brick facing here–
and this is going to be our first example of this,
at Ostia–is the fact at some point the Romans realized that
brick was really attractive in its own right,
and it didn’t need to be stuccoed over anymore.
If you think back to the Domus
Aurea, even in the Domus Aurea,
the building was made out of– the palace was made out of
concrete faced with brick, but the façade was
gilded, and inside, you’ll remember,
Fabullus was commissioned to cover the entire interior of the
structure with stucco, and then paint it.
So you would have had no sense,
when you were standing in the Palace of Nero,
in Nero’s day, that it was a brick-faced
concrete structure. But somewhere along the way,
and it comes to the fore in the second century A.D.,
they realized: “Hey, this brick is
actually pretty attractive in its own right.
It has texture.
We can vary the color;
we can use a reddish brick, we can use a slightly yellowish
brick. We can add some stucco,
to make some decorative effects.
This looks awesome.”
And we think some innovative
architects got the idea, innovative designers,
to “let’s leave it, let’s not stucco it over,
let’s let it speak for itself.”
And that was a very wise
decision, because as you’ll see today,
the buildings that we have remaining from Ostia,
that were unadulterated brick exteriors,
without stucco, are absolutely magnificent,
and they became, the designers became real
experts at rendering it in an extraordinary way.
I think you can get a sense of
that even in this model. So exposed brickwork here.
You see these arches are made
of bricks that are kind of wedge shaped and look like the sort of
thing we saw earlier in stone. Those wedge-shaped sections of
stone that we saw, for example,
in the Falerii Novi Gate, we see that sort of thing here.
It may have been used,
just as it was in the Pantheon. You’ll remember how they used
them during the building process to keep the concrete from
settling before it dried, but they realized afterwards
that these could be positioned in a way that made them very
attractive in their own right ultimately.
We can also see that they have
added moldings, usually with stucco,
added moldings that make the building more attractive,
sometimes even little pediments, as you can see over
some of the windows over here. So they come up with strategies
to make this brick look even more attractive than it was on
its own. Note also the shops in the
first story. Some of these are shops,
some of these are actually staircases that lead you to the
uppermost stories. And once again,
it’s clear that the Romans have become so adept at using
concrete that they are able to open up these walls.
The openings are larger than
they had been even before, and so they become very good at
dematerializing the wall in a way that becomes increasingly
sophisticated over time. The most famous house at Ostia
is in a sense mine, because it’s called the Casa di
Diana, the House of Diana, at Ostia.
And we see a view of it here,
as it looks today. It was a multi-storied
apartment building, a multi-storied insula.
Only two of those stories are
preserved now. I’ll show you a restored view
of what the original looked like momentarily.
But we see it here,
as it looks today: concrete faced with brick,
exposed brick, brick enjoyed in its own right.
Very large openings that lead
into–they’re either entranceways into the structure,
or lead to staircases, or open up onto shops.
We can see here in actuality
the same sort of thing we saw in the model from EUR,
and that is the use not only of exposed brick,
but also of moldings that are added,
either in brick sometimes, or also sometimes in stucco,
of the nice overhangs that they have created above the
second-story windows, up there.
We also see a lot of Italian
school children in Ostia, and Pompeii also,
but particularly Ostia because of its proximity to Rome,
and all the schools that they have in the city of Rome;
lots of kids always out in groups, and they always seem to
have T-shirts of the same color. So you’ll see one red school
and one yellow school and one blue school;
it’s a lot of fun. And every one of them has
their–it’s so funny to me, they have their cell phones and
they’re all clicking, clicking, clicking,
as they walk through these buildings.
I’m not sure they’re looking at
anything, but they’re definitely clicking, to record the fact
that they were at Ostia; perhaps that’s for student
papers, I don’t know. But here a detail of the Insula
of Diana, looking through one of these entranceways into the rest
of the structure. And I’ll bet you’re as struck
as I am in looking at this, that with regard to vista,
the interesting panorama and vista.
It doesn’t matter whether
you’re building out of rubble or stone or opus incertum or
concrete faced with brick, there is that aesthetic,
that Roman aesthetic, of building things in such a
way that wherever you’re standing in that structure
you’re going to be looking from one part of the building to
another, and you’re going to be struck
by the wonderful scenes that you see within that building and
from that building, outside of that structure.
Here’s the restored view of the
Insula of Diana, where you can see that
originally it was a four-storied structure.
It’s a cutaway and an
axonometric view: four-storied structure.
And this particular restored
view is also extremely helpful because it shows us that these
houses did not have the peristyle courts,
or the hortus that we know from the domus
italica or the Hellenized domus.
There was no space for that in
this commercial city. There is no emphasis on the
greenery and the wonderful fountains and statuary that we
saw in Pompeii. And keep in mind,
of course, that Pompeii, in Campania,
was essentially a resort town; a very different kind of feel
than Ostia, this teeming commercial center.
So what they replaced those
with here, in order to get more light into the structure,
is a kind of a light well; and you see that light well up
here, where there are also windows on multiple stories.
And, in fact,
I would imagine that those were the choicest apartments to have,
because they would have been less noisy than what you can
imagine an apartment along the street must have been,
with all the activity going in and out of the thermopolia
and the other shops down below;
the cart traffic and so on. So again I imagine the light
well apartment would have been highly desirable.
Speaking of thermopolia,
we have them at Ostia, as we have them at Pompeii,
quite a number of them. And I show you the best
preserved, which happens to be in Diana’s House,
and I show it to you here, the Thermopolium of the
Casa di Diana at Ostia. You can see that right at the
entranceway they have put a black-and-white mosaic.
You see inside just what we saw
at–just exactly the same thing that we saw at Pompeii,
one of these counters that would have had recesses in it.
So you have to imagine,
just the same as we saw there, a kind of fast food emporium,
where you would take a peek at what looked good for the day,
make your choice. If you go inside the
thermopolium of Diana, you see hanging on the wall a
painting, which it seems likely may have
served as a kind of shop sign that might have been hung
outside the building to advertise what you could get in
this particular thermopolium.
And if we look at what’s
depicted here, it’s a still life of objects,
and we see what seems to be a pomegranate on the right,
hanging on a nail, on the wall. In the center–I don’t know if
you can see it from where you sit,
but in the center a block that supports what looks like a
drinking cup that has little round things floating in it,
lentils or chickpeas or something like that.
And then at the far left
there’s a plate that also is on a block, a plate that has a
carrot and some other vegetables.
So this may have been a
vegetarian, I guess this was a vegetarian restaurant in
Pompeii; one of the healthier places one
could go, if one wanted a snack–in Ostia,
excuse me. If you go to Ostia,
by the way, you really do want to set aside a day to do that,
because by the time you take the half an hour ride out there,
get there–there’s a lot to see. And it used to be,
if you’d go there for a day, which I’ve done many,
many times, there was absolutely nowhere to eat.
So you had to remember to bring
your– and nowhere to get a bottle of
water, so you’d have to remember to
bring your bottle of water, and maybe a snack.
But they have rectified that in
recent years; the last few years they’ve
finally put up the Caffetteria degli Scavi,
which loosely translated is the Excavation Café,
the Cafeteria of the Excavations at Ostia.
And it’s actually a wonderful
place. I have to say it’s very modern.
It has a wonderful deck with
tables and the ubiquitous Italian white umbrella where
one–and the food is actually, for a cafeteria,
ain’t bad; Italian pasta is always hard to
make bad, it’s always good. And then inside,
I thought you’d be amused to see,
when they decided on the décor for the interior of
the cafeteria, with its simple tables and
chairs, they put brick on the wall,
and they then hung up these wonderful versions of the
Piazzale delle Corporazioni black-and-white mosaics.
So again, very–Italians are
really, they do build Ferraris after
all, they are very good at design and aesthetic,
and pay a great deal of attention to that,
and consequently always make one’s surroundings pleasant.
Warehouses.
This was a commercial port.
We talked about the fact that
in commercial ports one needs warehouses.
We began the semester with a
warehouse, in fact, the Porticus Aemilia in Rome,
along the banks of the Tiber. And I remind you of that here.
Here’s the Tiber,
a model of the Tiber, with the Porticus Aemilia.
You’ll remember that was made
out of concrete. It was one of the earliest
examples of concrete construction in the Republic in
Rome: a series of barrel vaults linked to one another,
on three tiers, as you’ll recall,
with axial and lateral spatial relations inside that structure.
Ostia needed its own warehouses
as well. It had them in the Republic
already, but it began to add to them in the second century A.D.
And it’s fascinating to see
what happens when you build a warehouse out of concrete faced
with brick. You get an extraordinary
structure that looks very much like an insula.
If I had put this up and said:
“What is this?” And you said:
“It’s an insula,”
you would sort of be on the mark, because it looks exactly
like an insula; but it is a warehouse.
And this is the most famous
warehouse in Ostia, the so-called Horrea–because
the word horrea, h-o-r-r-e-a,
is warehouse in Latin– the Horrea Epagathiana,
which you have on your Monument List,
which dates to 145 to 150 A.D. This is the entrance to the
Horrea Epagathiana. It is again made out of
concrete, faced with brick; exposed brickwork,
brickwork enjoyed in its own right, for its own aesthetic
here. We can see that it is like the
apartment houses in that it is multi-storied,
with the large entranceways, or entranceways into the
structure, down below, and then the
smaller windows up above. They have monumentalized the
entrance, the main entrance, to the structure,
by giving it columns supporting a pediment.
Very grand, in fact,
and we haven’t– it’s interesting to see that
even with this brick-faced concrete architecture,
the Romans have not lost their interest in Hellenizing works of
art and using touches of ancient Greece to monumentalize and to
make more cultured, in a sense, the entranceway
into this structure. So we see these columns,
engaged columns, supporting a pediment above,
capitals on those columns, as you can see here.
All of this done in concrete
faced with brick. And you can see here,
this is an outstanding example of the way in which they have
used brick to their advantage. They have recognized that you
can vary the color; you can have a reddish brick;
you can have a yellowish brick. So here they’ve used red brick
to face the column shaft, and then a yellow brick for the
capital. So there’s a distinction
between the shaft and the capital.
And they have even used the
most expensive material, marble, for the inscription
plaque, where they identify this
building at the Horrea Epagathiana,
and then the pediment above. And you can see,
if you look at the pediment decoration and if you look at
the volutes of the capitals, you will see they have used a
small amount of stucco to enable them to create the spirals of
the volutes, for example,
and some of the more delicate decorative work in the pediment
above. Another subtlety,
another nice subtlety; it just shows you the amount of
effort and time and money that went into this commission.
Also this very nice pilaster
that is placed right next to the column,
which makes a wonderful transition from the column,
the roundness of the column, to the squareness of the
pilaster, to the shape of the doorway.
The aesthetics very much on the
mind of this particular designer, as well as the vistas;
again, this idea of looking through one space,
seeing another opening and wondering where that opening is
going– all of that very,
very carefully designed by the architect.
Here’s another view head on of
this elaborate doorway, leading into the Horrea
Epagathiana, announcing with the inscription
exactly where you are and what this building was used for in
antiquity. A detail of the pediment,
where we can see the inscription.
We can also see the capitals,
the use of stucco work here, and the very elaborate work
that they have done to decorate the pediment above.
Just a few more details of the
columns, where you can see even better this capital,
and the way in which they have used brick.
They have used brick even for
the acanthus leaves. You can see that there are
acanthus leaves here. This is actually an example,
one of the few we’ve seen, of the composite capital,
with the acanthus leaves of the Corinthian,
and the volutes of the Ionic. We saw it on the Arch of Titus
in Rome. But here we see that they’ve
used brick, and then only at the uppermost part,
where the leaf has to curve over, do they add the stucco.
And this is just a warehouse,
and yet a tremendous amount of effort has gone into making it
an extraordinarily beautiful building.
And it shows again that they
are absolutely going over the top, in terms of their being
enamored of what they can do with brick facing;
that they are now able to expose.
Once they can expose it,
they’re much more willing to put the effort into it,
to make it really attractive. And if you go into the
courtyard of the Horrea Epagathiana–
and by the way, behind, within these areas
here, we have annular vaulting–you
can see these niches that have been placed here.
They don’t really need these
niches in this courtyard of this warehouse.
What did they use these niches
for? Well perhaps they put little
statuettes of gods that those who worked here favored and
protected their daily toil here in the Horrea Epagathiana.
But look at the attention that
they’ve paid to these niches, that have no other purpose than
to be attractive, and possibly again to hold
these statuettes. But you can see here again,
with this combination of stucco work for the pilasters and the
capitals, and brickwork; brickwork creating these
interestingly shaped lozenges and triangles,
to create–shows an interest again in geometric form and the
contrast of one geometric form to another,
just as we saw in black-and-white mosaic,
capitalized on by these designers.
Now I don’t want to leave you
with the impression that because brick is now exposed and enjoyed
in its own right, that there are no walls that
were stuccoed and painted in Ostia.
That would be a misconception,
because there are still painted walls in Ostia.
On the insides of some of these
buildings they still opted to stucco over the wall and to
paint it. And I want to show you just one
glorious example: the Insula of the Painted
Vaults, which dates to 150 to 200,
is one that has one of our best preserved ceilings,
walls and ceilings anywhere in a Roman house–
you can see how well preserved it is here–
and it is what we call the spoked-wheel effect,
because the ceiling decoration does look like a spoked wheel.
We can also see this division;
in fact as you look at it, I think you’ll be as struck as
I am by the fact that as we look at this spoked wheel,
we really get the sense that we’re looking at one of
Hadrian’s pumpkin domes in paint.
Because you can see the
segmented dome effect here, and also, in a sense,
the octagonal effect that one also gets from this structure,
as well as the effect of the ribs of a groin vault,
as you can see well here. But it’s a painted version of a
pumpkin dome, and it’s not surprising to see
that Hadrian’s pumpkin domes took off in this way.
I also just want to mention to
you that while there’s a fair amount of what we call
post-Pompeian painting, Roman painting after A.D.
79, almost all of it is an
exploitation of the Fourth Style of Roman painting,
as we know it from Pompeii. There’s actually not as much
invention as one would expect, after 79, in Roman painting.
I want to show you very briefly
the Insula of the Muses; the Insula of the Muses in
Ostia, which dates to around A.D.
130, because this is one of the
few single family dwellings that we see in the second century in
Ostia. You can see,
if you look at the plan, that it is arranged not around
an atrium but around a peristyle court, here;
although there aren’t columns, there are these piers,
as you can see also in plan. But just as we saw in the late
first-century A.D. houses in Herculaneum,
from between the earthquake and the eruption of Vesuvius,
the triclinium has become the most important room
in the house. You enter into it here.
You have a vestibule,
you have this court, and then you have,
on axis, the triclinium of the house.
But what makes this particular
house most distinctive is the fact that every single floor is
covered with mosaic. So, as I said to you before,
the black-and-white mosaic reigned supreme in the city of
Ostia, and it’s clear that everyone
who could afford it decorated every room of their house with
mosaic. And although this doesn’t come
from this particular house, this comes from the House of
Apuleius in Ostia. It’s not on your Monument List,
you don’t have to remember it, but I just wanted to show it to
you, because it’s a marvelous
example of what can be done– I wish it were a little more in
focus– but it’s a marvelous example of
what could be done, and was done,
using black-and-white mosaic in Ostia;
only black and white tesserae,
with a Medusa head in the center.
And then if you–this is one of
those examples, illusionistic examples,
that as you look at it and focus on it,
it’s hard to tell exactly what’s in the foreground,
what’s in the background. It’s got that like an op art
effect that those of you who know Op Art of the 1960s–
and I show you an example of it, a painting from the Blaze
series by the Op artist Bridget Riley of the 1960s.
I’ve mentioned so many times in
the course of this semester that there isn’t anything that the
Romans didn’t do before anybody else,
and this is, and Op Art is an example of
that. So we do see Op Art in Ostia,
and we see it obviously also much later in more contemporary
painting. Another bath structure in
Ostia, this one the Baths of the Seven Wise Men or the Seven
Sages; dates to A.D. 130.
I show it to you only to show
you this one circular room, and not because it’s a bath
building, but rather because it has a
wonderful mosaic on the floor; again, a circular structure,
with a circular mosaic, once again done in black and
white. And if you look at this,
you can see that what we have represented here–
I’ll show you a detail in a moment–
is a flowering acanthus plant that has intertwined within its
leaves hunters and the hunted, hunted animals and their
hunters, in combat, as you can see here.
And here’s a detail where you
can see once again done entirely in black-and-white mosaic:
the hunters, the animals,
very carefully depicted, interspersed among these
flowering acanthus plants; very effectively done.
This is another view of the
Baths of Neptune, in Ostia, which we looked at
before, dates to 139 A.D. And this is a good view because
it shows you not only the brick-faced concrete
construction of these structures,
but also the mosaics themselves, and how every single
room of this bath was covered with black-and-white mosaic.
The pièce de
résistance, the finest mosaic in the
complex, is this one, and it’s the one from which the
bath gets it name, the Baths of Neptune,
because we see Neptune himself in the center of this scene.
It’s not surprising that the
god of the sea was chosen as an appropriate subject for a bath
building. We see him here with his
trident–that’s how we know it’s him–being carried along by four
horses. He’s holding the reins of those
horses. His mantle is billowing up
behind him. One expects to see a chariot
here; one thinks of this as Neptune
in a chariot, but it’s not Neptune in a
chariot. You can see that these horses,
by the way, aren’t fully horses but the
front part is a horse and the rest is a sea creature,
and you can see that the legs of Neptune are interwoven with
the tail of the sea creature; he’s in fact using the tails of
those sea creatures almost like skates,
as he makes his way along this–or water skis,
I guess is a better way of putting it;
water skis, as he makes his way from right to left,
across the white background. One of the interesting things
about this mosaic is you see the tension in the minds and work of
this artist, on the one hand making these
very abstract black shapes against a white background,
but at the same time paying a lot of attention to the actual
musculature, to what the chest of the god
Poseidon would have looked like, as you look at it;
there’s very pronounced musculature that’s carefully
done here by the artist. Here are our friends the
dolphins frolicking, dolphins with cupids on their
back, some fairly–other floating
figures, a female figure on the back of
another sea creature, all of this going on,
on the floor of the Baths of Neptune.
But what’s particularly
interesting, I think, is the same sort of
thing that we saw in the Piazzale delle Corporazioni,
and that is that the artist has designed this in such a way that
it doesn’t matter which part of the room you’re standing in.
Wherever you are standing,
you can look onto the floor, from where you are standing,
and see at least some of the figures head on;
whether you’re standing here, whether you’re standing here,
whether you’re standing up there or to the right,
you are always seeing some, not all but some,
of the figures head on. So again this is not–this is
done with great care, and orchestrated to fit the
space in which it was located. Here a detail of the mosaic
that we just looked at, showing Neptune and his horses
and sea creatures. The most important development
that happens at Ostia, with regard to residential
architecture, later in its history,
is we do begin to see the re-emergence of the
domus, already in the second century
and then even more so in the third and fourth centuries A.D.
And I want to show you quickly
two examples of that, because they tell us a good
deal about late residential architecture in Ostia,
and also by association in Rome. This is the Domus of Fortuna
Annonaria, an axonometric view of that house.
It dates to the late second
century A.D., but was remodeled significantly
in the fourth century A.D., and I think we really need to
think of it as more a fourth-century house than as a
second-century house. And, by the way,
Ostia was still thriving in the third century.
By the year 400 A.D.,
it was abandoned, but in the third century still
a thriving–and early fourth century–still a thriving city.
We see this house here.
It’s an axonometric view from
Ward-Perkins. The most important features,
besides the fact that it’s a single-story dwelling,
single-family dwelling, is the fact that it has an open
court here, with a pool;
that it has the triclinium as the most
important room of the house; so that continues on in
residential architecture. But there’s a particular taste
for apses in these late Roman buildings.
You can see that this one has
an apse, not so unlike the apse that we saw in Domitian’s
Palatine Palace on the Palatine Hill.
It is finally starting to catch
on, among others. We see that you go into that
room through three arches, on columns.
And this idea of supporting a
triple arch on columns is also a very popular motif in domestic
architecture in later antiquity. And look also at the fact that
on the left-hand side of the triclinium there is a
fountain. So the incorporation of a
fountain; a pool court here,
a fountain there, an apsed triclinium,
and then views through triple arches,
supported by columns, all characteristic features of
late Roman domestic architecture.
This is a view obviously,
through the columns, supporting that triple arch,
toward the fountain on the left and toward the apse in the
center of the structure. And you can see the remains of
marble revetment, real marble revetment,
that was used both on the floor, for the pavement,
and also on the walls. The other house I want to show
you briefly is the Domus of Cupid and Psyche,
the more famous of the two. This dates, without any
question, to late antiquity, to around A.D.
300.
The House of Cupid and Psyche,
we see it first in plan, and you can see it’s very
simple. An entranceway here,
a long corridor, a series of cubicula on
one side of that corridor. There may have been a second
story on a small part of the house.
You can see the stairway there.
As you walk along the corridor,
you eventually end up in the very large triclinium.
So again, from the time of the
House of the Mosaic Atrium in Herculaneum to here,
the triclinium gaining in importance.
As you walk along that
corridor, you look through a series of columns,
supporting arches, as we’ll see,
customary of buildings of this time.
And then look at this wall,
which is scalloped for a fountain — so another one of
these fountain courts that seems to be popular during this
period. Here’s a view into the room
with the lovers, the famous statue of Cupid and
Psyche, the little young Cupid and Psyche embracing one
another. That’s from that statue that
the house gets its name. One of the best-preserved
marble revetted rooms in the history of Roman architecture is
this room here, probably the triclinium
in the House of Cupid and Psyche.
You can see that even marble
from the walls is preserved, as well as on the pavement and
on the steps and on the side, the base of the walls as well.
Brick-faced concrete
construction, faced with real marble.
What makes this particular
house especially appealing, besides that wonderful statue,
is the fact that although there’s the usual touches of
maroon and green that we tend to see in many of these Roman
pavements, most of the color is pastel,
and it makes it look particularly attractive,
and it goes particularly nicely with the red and yellow of the
brick construction. And I show you a detail here,
of that marble revetment, which gives you as good an idea
as anything I have shown you this semester of what the
original Hellenistic palaces of the kings,
the palaces of Nero and Domitian would have looked like
in their heyday. And a detail of the statue of
Cupid and Psyche, and the room in which that
found itself; it can still be seen there
today. And the marble revetment once
again done in pastel colors of the floor,
and of the walls, giving us again an excellent
sense, not only of fourth-century
domestic architecture décor,
but also what so many of the buildings that are no longer
preserved, whose revetment is no longer as
well preserved as one would wish,
what they would have looked like in antiquity.
A view through the corridor,
through the columns, in this case grey granite
columns, that probably would have supported an arcade,
but then without question the fountain on the side of the wall
that is scalloped, both down here and the wall
itself, and then the columns there do
support arches. So this whole concept of
columns supporting arches, very much a part of late Roman
house design. In the very few minutes that
remain, I just want to say a few words about–we’ve talked about
the life of this port city. I want to talk about–since I
said the lecture was about life and death–
I want to just end with saying a few words about the tombs in
which the people who lived here were buried.
People all up and down the
social pyramid lived in this commercial center.
The simplest tombs–and by the
way, I mentioned to you already that
there are tombs both outside the city of Pompeii ,
on the major roads, and then a little bit further
away at this place called Isola Sacra,
or the Sacred Island, where one can see particularly
well-preserved tombs from those who lived in Ostia of the second
century. The working poor were buried in
very simple tombs, of two types.
The upper part of clay
amphoras, just the upper part; they were broken and then the
upper part was stuck into the ground.
The remains of the person were
placed below the ground, and then the spout could be
used to pour wine libations into.
The other simple type was tiles
that were– the body was placed below,
and then tiles were arranged around it,
looking almost like a kind of a house that helped to protect —
this idea of the houses of the living and the houses of the
dead, that were meant to protect the
body. But most of the tombs are of
what we call the house type. We looked at the house type on
the Via Appia, in the age of Augustus in Rome;
a tomb that resembles a house from the front,
with a doorway, and a couple of windows,
and then an inscription plaque. And note the use of the
travertine jambs and lintel around it, just as we saw in the
Markets of Trajan in Rome. But if you look at these,
in this very good view from the side, you will see that almost
all of these are barrel-vaulted tombs;
which is characteristic of second-century tomb
architecture, at Ostia, at Isola Sacra,
these barrel-vaulted structures with facades that make them look
like houses. Here’s a detail of one of them,
one of these house tombs, with again the travertine jambs
down below, with the touch of a pediment up
above– they haven’t lost their
interest in Hellenization to a certain extent;
windows here, slit windows here; an inscription,
a long inscription plaque that tells us who was buried there.
And then very often in these
wonderful tombs for this commercial center,
these panels that are done in terracotta that tell us
something about the profession of those who are buried here.
Here’s probably a shipper was
buried here, someone who made his money in the import and
export business. And over here you can maybe
barely make out a representation of a mill,
just as those that we would have–saw in Pompeii,
or we saw on the Tomb of the baker Eurysaces;
a mill with a worker and a mule that is helping to rotate the
mill of the bakery; so perhaps a baker also from
this particular family. I’ve superimposed a couple of
other terracotta plaques, making them a little larger
here, to show you that these two belong to people who’ve made
their profession by sharpening knives,
knife sharpeners, and they not only sharpen
knives– and you can see them both doing
this, in this scene–but they also
sold them. And I love the way in the still
life, they’re arrayed every possible knife that you can
sharpen here or buy, from these individuals.
And what do you think the
professions were of these two? This one clearly a shop,
someone selling things in a shop — looks like vegetables
once again, asparagus and maybe broccoli or some such over
there. But what about this one,
what was the profession of this one?
Student: Midwife.
Prof: Midwife, midwife.
And I love this,
because here we have this woman, about to give birth.
She’s got another woman holding
her and giving her support. And here the midwife,
instead of looking at what she’s doing–
she’s reaching in, but she’s not,
but instead of looking at what she’s supposed to be
concentrating on, she’s looking out at the
spectator, just to make sure that we don’t
forget her features for posterity,
on this tomb relief, from her tomb in Ostia.
We saw columbaria,
these underground columbaria, with these niches where they
placed the cremated remains of the deceased and had
inscriptions. We see the same sort of thing
in the interiors of tombs at Ostia, but they are above ground
rather than subterranean at Ostia.
And we also see–and basically
the last point I want to make today–
is we also see in the interiors of these tombs at Ostia,
not only those niches for the cremated remains,
but it’s in the second century A.D.,
the time of Hadrian on, that inhumation,
burial becomes the norm, largely under the influence of
the spread of Christianity, the idea that the soul needs to
ascend to heaven, and so you have to maintain the
bodily remains. And so we begin to see in these
interiors what we call arcosolia,
a-r-c, arco, a-r-c-o-s-o-l-i-a,
arcosolia, which are these much larger
niches where bodies are placed, bodies are buried,
and then they are covered over with a marble slab that might
have the inscription naming the deceased,
or a figural scene. And just in closing,
to show you one last tomb that we’re going to look at next
time, the Tomb of the Caetennii in
the Vatican Cemetery in Rome, to show you that these
concrete, brick-faced tombs, with windows,
and with very elaborate interiors,
also begin to be put up in Rome, in the second century A.D.
We’ll look at those.
The title of next time’s
lecture is “Bigger is Better”;
we’re really going to culminate our move toward larger,
more grandiose buildings then. And then on Thursday we will
finally move out to the provinces by studying Roman
architecture in Roman North Africa.
Thank you.

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