, a dwelling-house; οἶκος
, generally a room; in Homer and the Tragedians, δόμος
, but more usually in the plural as a
dwelling-house), a house.
One special form of hut appears to have been commonly used by many
different races of men at an early stage of their development. This was
a small circular structure made of branches of trees stuck into the
ground in a circle, and then bent inwards till their ends met and were
tied together at the top. This rude framework was then filled in by
wattled work woven in and out, and the whole was daubed over with
tempered mud or clay. The hut of Achilles, thatched with rushes (Il. 24.450
), was probably a dwelling of
this sort, and similar huts are said to have been used in Lydia, Sardis,
and other places in Western Asia Minor (Hdt.
): it seems probable that a reminiscence of this form of
building exists in the stone domical structures of Mycenae, Orchomenos,
and other early sites in Greece.
Even in historic times a survival of this ancient circular form of house
existed in the form of the Prytaneum in Athens and elsewhere, and also
in the Athenian Tholus,
which was built in
the newer part of Athens as an adjunct, in a more convenient position
for the use of the Prytanes. The Tholus was a round building with a
domical roof, and must have had some resemblance to the Roman Temple of
Vesta, to which the same name was frequently applied. The original
Temple of Vesta was a round hut formed with wattle-work of osiers (Ov. Fast. 6.261
Fest. p. 250, M.). Mr. James Frazer, in a
valuable article (Journ. of Philol.
vol. xiv.), derives
the form both of the Greek Tholus and the Roman Temple of Vesta, in both
of which a perpetual fire was kept burning, from the pre-historic round
hut of the village chief, under whose charge was the ever-burning fire,
which was kept lighted for the general convenience--a very important
thing at a time when a fresh fire could only be obtained by the
laborious process of friction.
Even during the imperial period in Rome one or more wattled huts were
preserved in memory of the primitive dwellings of its founders. One of
these, which stood at the western angle of the Palatine hill, was known
as the Casa Romuli
(Dionys. A. R. 1.79
; Plut. Rom. 20
); it was twice burnt and
repaired during the reign of Augustus (D. C.
, and 54.29. See also Ov. Fast.
; V. Max. 4.4
; Liv. 5.53
The Tugurium Faustuli is probably another name for the same thing.
Another hut, also called after Romulus, appears to have been preserved
on the Capitoline hill (Vitr. 2.1
1.6; Macrob. Saturn.
A careful representation of this early form of house, as used by the
pre-historic Latin race, exists in the small sepulchral
“house-urns,” which are found in considerable numbers
in the early cemeteries of Central Italy and elsewhere. In these the
construction is less simple, the roof being evidently formed of separate
branches, laid so as to form projecting eaves. These curious pieces of
archaic pottery have small movable doors fixed with a wooden peg. (See
Virchow, Die italienischen und deutschen Haus-Urnen,
During the many centuries which elapsed before the commencement of the
historic period of Greece, a state of society existed very different
from that with which Greek literature has made us familiar. Instead of
the large cities with their flourishing trade and carefully constructed
systems of political, religious, and social organisation, a number of
small, highly-fortified towns or villages were ruled in an autocratic
way by some chieftain of semi-oriental
habits, who lived in a style of much luxury and splendour, surrounded by
a group of followers, very much like those of a mediaeval feudal lord.
At this early period wealth and splendour, which in historic times were
devoted to the more public uses of the agora, the council chamber, and
the temples of the gods, were lavished on the palace of the chief. It is
this period which is celebrated in the Homeric poems; which, there is
every reason to believe, give us a faithful, if highly coloured, picture
of the magnificence which adorned the dwellings of wealthy chiefs, such
as Alcinous and, in a lesser degree, Ulysses. The recent discoveries
made by Dr. Schliemann and Dr. Dörpfeld, within the massive
walls of Tiryns (the Τίρυνς
of Homer), have for the first time shown us that
the stately and richly decorated palaces of the Odyssey were not wholly
the offspring of a poet's fancy.
Plan of the Palace of Tiryns.
--Some doubt has been thrown
on the remote antiquity of
Plan of the Palace at Tiryns.
Plan of the Palace at Tiryns
- 1. Main entrance.
- 2. Inner gate.
- 3. First propylaeum.
- 4. Second.propylaeum.
- 5. Open court.
- 6. Portico of hall.
- 7. Vestibule of hall.
- 8. Megaron.
- 9. Men's rooms.
- 10. Thalami.
- 11. Guard rooms.
- 12. Passage to women's part.
- 13. Open courts.
- 14. Thalamus or women's hall.
- 15. Thalami.
- 16. Passage to postern.
- 17. Narrow postern.
- 18. Projecting bastion.
- 19. Defences at the entrance.
these remains; but new discoveries of a similar pre-historic
building at Mycenae have put an end to any doubt as to the antiquity of
the Tirynthian palace. On the whole the evidence of the general planning
of the building, its methods of construction, and the style of its
ornament give overwhelming proofs that the house is one which belongs to
a far-off prehistoric period of Greek architecture, prior in all
probability to the Dorian invasion of the Peloponnesus. The house itself
occupies more than a third of the Tirynthian Acropolis, the massive
stones of which excited the wonder of Herodotus, Diodorus, and
Pausanias, and led to their being associated with the fables of Heracles
and Perseus, and the mysterious Cyclops, who were supposed to have been
their builders. The accompanying plan shows the arrangement of the
house, which is evidently carefully designed to suit its special
On entering through the main gateway of the Acropolis, the approach (as
shown by the dotted line on the plan) leads through a narrow passage,
strongly defended on both sides by massive walls, to a second doorway. A
continuation of the passage leads to the outer porch of the palace--a
propylaeum, decorated on both sides by two columns in
very similar in design to the 5th-century
propylaeum built by Ictinus at Eleusis. On passing this an outer court
is reached; and then a second propylaeum, smaller but of similar design
to the first, leads into the main courtyard of the palace. Rooms for
guards are placed at the sides of both these propylaea. The main court
), round which the apartments
of the men are grouped, was surrounded on three sides by a colonnade
), forming a cloister.
Near the propylaeum stands a stone altar with a rock-cut hollow beneath
it, into which the ashes would fall. This was probably an alter to Zeus
which is frequently
mentioned in the Odyssey (e. g. 22.335) as being placed in the courtyard
of a house. Opposite the propylaeum is the great hall (μέγαρον,
), with an open portico of two columns, and an inner
), into which three
doors open from the portico, and one into the hall. The roof of the hall
was supported on four columns, which probably carried a partly open
lantern [p. 1.656]
to give light, and also to form an
escape for the smoke of the fire--below, the circular stone hearth
) of which is placed midway
between the pillars. On the west side of the hall are a number of small
rooms for the use of the men; among them is a small bathroom, about 12
feet by 10 feet, the construction of which is very remarkable for its
ingenuity and the extreme care which has been taken in the workmanship.
The whole floor is formed of one great slab of stone, smoothed accurately
so as to fall to one point, where the water made its exit through a
stone pipe, and so into the main drain. The walls were lined with wooden
boards, each of which had its lower end fastened to the stone floor by
two wooden pegs or dowels. The edge of stone on which these boards
rested is raised about an inch above the general level of the floor, so
that water splashed by the bathers might not soak in under the wooden
wall-lining. The bath itself, which was made of clay deco-rated with a
red spiral pattern, much resembled in shape and size the fire-clay baths
now made in large quantities at Stourbridge.
The eastern half of the house seems to have been intended for the use of
the women, and probably the married members of the chief's family. This
portion, like the other, contains two open courts, and a hall with a
single vestibule--all on a rather smaller scale. In this hall the hearth
is square, and, the span being less, the roof was not supported by
pillars. On the east of the hall and court are two ranges of rooms, more
in number and larger than those on the men's side of the house. There
appear to have been three means of access to the women's part: one by a
long passage (λαύρη
) leading from a
side door in the outer propylaeum, another from the north-east corner of
the men's court, while a third way led by a long passage round the back
of the two halls to a rock-cut stairway, at the foot of which was a
small postern door in the outer fortification wall. In case of a siege
this little postern would be blocked up with stones, but in times of
peace the women of the household probably used this path to fetch water
from some spring in the plain below. When blockaded by an enemy, the
garrison appear to have depended on their stores of rain-water, large
cisterns for which were formed in the thickness of the outer wall. The
surface water was collected and carried to the cisterns in clay pipes
and stone drains.
In addition to the rooms on the ground-floor, the walls of which still
exist to a height of from two to three feet, there was also an upper
), which probably
extended over all the rooms except the two halls. Traces of a staircase
in two flights still exist on the east side of the women's hall.
Construction of the Palace of Tiryns.
The walls, about three feet thick, are built of roughly-dressed
limestone bedded in clay up to a height of about two feet above the
floor level: the rest of the wall was of sun-dried brick, and the
whole was covered inside and out with three coats of hard stucco,
made of lime mixed with sand, gravel, and broken pottery, forming a
coating nearly as hard as stone, which must have completely
protected the unburnt bricks from the effects of weather.
The floors, both of the roofed parts and of the open courts, were
made of a thick layer of good lime concrete. In the rooms the
pavement was worked to a smooth surface, on which simple patterns of
squares or spirals were incised, and then painted blue and red.
Pliny (Plin. Nat. 36.184
below, p. 664a
) speaks of painted
floors having been used by the Greeks before mosaic came into use:
those at Tiryns are the first examples of this kind of paving that
have been found.
The concrete paving of the open-air courts is laid so as to fall
towards open stone gullies, through which the rain-water escaped
into the drains: its upper surface is formed of a sort of rough
mosaic made of pebbles; these are set more closely together in
places where there was most traffic.
The various doorways have massive stone sills or thresholds (λάϊνος οὐδός
), mostly provided with
two large drill-holes, in which the bronze pivots of the doors
revolved, showing that in most cases folding doors were used. Some
of these bronze pivots were found during the excavations: they are
of very neat and solid workmanship, and much resemble the pivots of
the great Balawat gates of Shalmaneser II. (859-824 B.C.), which are
now in the British Museum. It is probable that the construction of
the doors themselves in the Tirynthian palace resembled that of the
Balawat doors. A number of thick wooden planks were placed side by
side, and held in their place by strong bronze bands, which were
nailed on to them, and lapped round the circular post on which the
door swung; each end of this post was shod with a pivot, which
revolved at the bottom in a hole drilled in the sill, and at the top
in a similar hole in the lintel (ὑπερθύριον
). The neatly-fitted planks are spoken of by
Homer (Hom. Od. 2.344
) as σανίδες πυκινῶς ἀραρυῖαι.
of hanging heavy doors lasted throughout the Greek and Roman
periods, and was used, as can still be seen, for the great doors in
Aurelian's wall round Rome. The wide bronze bands which were
constructionally necessary for this sort of door formed also in some
cases a rich and elaborate method of decoration, as they could be
enriched with repoussé reliefs and gilt. A beautiful
little earthenware box (pyxis
) of the
4th century B.C. in the British Museum shows that doors of similar
construction were used by the Greeks of later times. The painting on
it represents a toilet scene in a lady's room, and in the background
is a double door covered with wide bands, attached by rows of rivets
along each edge, exactly like the Balawat doors. Owing to the use of
soft unbaked brick for the jambs of the doorways, it was necessary
to line the whole opening with woodwork, so as to protect the angles
from injury. In some cases there seems to have been a stone lining,
but even then the woodwork was not omitted. Grooves cut in the stone
upright of some of the door-jambs (σταθμός
) show with what extreme care and neatness the
wood lining was fitted into its place. It is interesting to note
that this system of using wooden doorlinings survived till later
times, and was used in cases where it would seem needless. Even the
beautifully-finished white marble doorways in [p. 1.657]
the Parthenon and Propylaea at Athens had their reveals
concealed by wooden casings.
The roof of the men's hall was supported by four intermediate columns
), which, like all the
columns at Tiryns, were made of wood, resting on a
carefully-levelled block of stone. The construction of the roof, of
which nothing but charred fragments and ashes remains, may be
guessed from an early rock-tomb in Phrygia discovered by Prof.
Ramsay (see Journ. of Hellenic Studies,
iii. p. 19).
In this a copy of a wooden roof is carved in the rock: it is a
simple <*>owpitched roof, having a principal rafter
with tlebeam and king-post. These principal rafters are, according
to some commentators, the μεσόδμαι
of Homer (Hom. Od. 19.37
the small rafters or ceiling joists being the δοκοί
), and the ceiling itself the μέλαθρον
): the whole roof is called the ὀροφή
). A similar arrangement of hall with central hearth
and pillar-supported roof was discovered by Dr. Schliemann at
Hissarlik, and in both cases there was an open porch with wooden
Part of a wooden column found at Khorsabad shows us what was probably
a common method of decoration: the whole was sheathed with plates of
bronze, beaten so as to represent the scales on a palm-tree; the
metal was then thickly gilt. This system of ornament is probably a
survival of an earlier time when a real palm-tree, with all its
outer scales still attached, was used as a support. In some of the
rooms at Tiryns, part of the wall surface was decorated in a very
magnificent way. The wall was first lined with wooden planks, and on
these plates of bronze were nailed, repousse
with reliefs and gilt. Examples of these bronze linings on doors or
walls, dating from the 6th century B.C.,
have been found at Olympia. The designs of these plates retain a
very strongly-marked Oriental influence. Nothing could exceed the
splendour of effect produced by these wall-linings of what would
seem to be gleaming gold, broken into half-tones and high lights by
their delicate reliefs. Homer's description of the bronze walls of
the palace of Alcinous (Od. 7.84
have a foundation of reality; and even such apparently fabulous
details as the golden doors and silver posts and lintels probably
refer to a real custom of sheathing woodwork with gilt or silvered
Another of Homer's phrases, hitherto of somewhat doubtful meaning,
has been rendered intelligible by a discovery at Tiryns. This is the
) which ornamented the walls of
the hall of Alcinous. In the porch of the Megaron at Tiryns Dr.
Dörpfeld discovered a frieze of alabaster, about 22 inches
deep, which was carved with delicate patterns of rosettes and
spirals, very early in character, and studded at intervals with
jewel-like rows of bits of deep blue glass or paste, extremely
magnificent in effect. The pieces of alabaster which form this
magnificent frieze are fitted together with extreme neatness, the
joints being concealed by rebates. Other similar fragments of
friezes set with sham jewels have been found at Mycenae, Orchomenos,
All the wall surfaces at Tiryns which were not lined with bronze or
with bands of alabaster and marble, seem to have been ornamented
with paintings on stucco, executed in simple earth colours with much
decorative effect. These paintings were of several different styles:
some had simple patterns of chequers and spirals which were
evidently copied from the designs on woven stuffs; others were human
figures or beasts with great spreading wings of purely Oriental
style, treated in a very effective way by painting the feathers in
alternate colours--red, yellow, and white. One very spirited
painting represents a man on the back of a bull galloping at full
speed. The exterior of the building seems to have been decorated
with similar paintings on the stucco, which protected the unbaked
clay of the upper part of the walls from the effects of weather.
The Homeric Palace of Ulysses.
It is interesting to compare the palace of Tiryns with that of
Ulysses as depicted in the Odyssey. Among the many descriptions of
the latter, one of the clearest is that given by Prof. Gardner in
the Journal of Hellenic Studies
(vol. iii. p. 264 seq.
), of which we subjoin an abstract,
together with his ground-plan of the palace. But it is necessary to
remember at the outset, as Prof. Gardner observes in the
(January 1886, p. 121), that
there is this difference between the abode of Ulysses and the palace
of Tiryns, that the former is rude and rustic, while the latter is
more like “the glorious abode of Alcinous in Phaeacian
fairy-land, or the splendid house of Menelaus, which glittered
like the sun and moon as one drew near to it.”
The Homeric house, observes Prof. Gardner, consisted of three parts:
the fore-court; δῶμα
the hall of the men; and θάλαμος,
called in later times γυναικωνῖτις,
the apartments of the women (οἵ οἱ ἐποίησαν θάλαμον καὶ δῶμα καὶ
). The house was entered by
massive folding doors (θύραι δικλίδες,
), and on either side
were stone seats (ἕδραι,
cf. Od. 3.406
). The doors led into the αὐλή,
or open courtyard, which was used as a kind
of farm-yard. On either side and behind were chambers (θάλαμοι
) used for various purposes, such
as grinding the corn (Od. 20.105
sometimes for sleeping in (Od.
; Il. 9.473
). In one
corner of the court was the θόλος
), a circular building, no trace
of which is found in the palace at Tiryns. (See above, p. 654.) In
the midst of the court was the altar of Zeus ἑρκεῖος
), which, as we have already seen, existed at Tiryns.
In the court were two colonnades or porticoes, each called αἴθουσα,
one on either side right and
left of the court-yard (αἴθουσα
), and the other opposite the entrance to the
court-yard, and along the front of the δῶμα
latter is often considered as part of the πρόδομος,
so that αἴθουσα
are often used as synonymous terms. [For references see AITHOUSA
] Crossing the
the visitor passed into the μέγαρον
where the [p. 1.658]
At either end of the megaron
was a door, one
leading into the court-yard through the aithousa,
and the other into the women's apartments, the
properly so called.
In front of either door was a threshold (οὐδός
), probably raised. The threshold in front of
the door into the megaron
was made of
ash-wood (μέλινος οὐδός,
), and the threshold in
front of the door into the women's apartments was of stone, λάϊνος οὐδός
), a distinction which is
most important, as Prof. Gardner points out, for understanding the
combat between Ulysses and the suitors. By the ashen threshold was
or spear stand, close
to one of the pillars (Od. 1.128
was of great size. In the palace
of Ulysses the three hundred suitors of Penelope feasted in it. Its
height was that of the house itself, and its roof was supported by
lofty pillars (κίονες,
). In the upper part of the
was the ἐσχάρα,
or hearth, where the food was cooked (Od. 20.123
), and the smoke escaped
through a hole in the roof, as in the old Roman atrium.
Such a hole, called καπνοδόκη
by Herodotus, is mentioned in an early
Macedonian house, where the sun shone through it (Hdt. 8.137
). Besides the two principal
doors of the megaron
there was a third, or postern-door, called ὀρσοθύρη
), the position of which has given
rise to much dispute. It should, however, probably be placed, for
the reasons given by Gardner and Jebb, on the side of the megaron,
as shown in the plan (Plan, 6),
leading into the λαύρη
) or narrow passage, which gave access to the women's
apartments from the outer court-yard, thus avoiding the necessity of
passing through the megaron
The women's rooms, or θάλαμος,
properly so called, also called μέγαρα
), were immediately behind the megaron
on the ground-floor, directly communicating with
the latter by a door. This is clear from the whole narrative in the
Odyssey of the combat between Ulysses and the suitors. The passages
proving this have been critically examined by Prof. Jebb in the
essay quoted below. (Cf. Od.
; see also 4.718.) Here the women sat engaged in weaving and
domestic occupations. Here was the nuptial chamber, with the
marriage bed made by Ulysses with his own hands (Od. 23.192
). The ordinary sleeping and other rooms of the women
were in the upper story (ὑπερώϊον
), which was reached by a ladder, κλίμαξ
; cf. Od. 2.358
1.328, p. 1420, 53). Hence we find
Penelope, after sleeping with Ulysses in the nuptial chamber,
ascending with her hand-maids into the upper chamber (Od. 23.364
). It is therefore a
mistake on the part of some modern writers to describe the women's
rooms as situated only in the upper story. In the women's rooms was
the armoury (θάλαμος ὅπλων,
), and the treasury at the further extremity (θάλαμος ἔσχατος
), with a high roof
). In the women's part
of the house there was also an open court, in which grew an
olive-tree in the palace of Ulysses (Od.
). There was a similar court in the palace of
Priam, where fifty chambers were built for his fifty sons and their
wives (Il. 6.242
). For other details
of the Homeric house, the reader is referred to the works cited
below. (Prof. Gardner, Journ. of Hellenic Studies,
iii. p. 264 seq.;
vii. p. 170 seq.;
Dörpfeld, in Schliemann's Tiryns,
1866, and a review of this work by Gardner in the Quarterly
for January 1886; Winckler, Die
Wohnhäuser der Hellenen,
Protodikos, De Aedibus Homericis,
Leipzig, 1877; Rumpf, De Aedibus
Giessen, 1884, 1857. Valuable accounts of the
architecture and other arts of the Homeric period are given by
Helbig, Das homerische Epos,
1876; and by Buchholz,
Die homerischen Realien,
Leipzig, 1883-5.) [p. 1.659]
II. The later Greek house.
The discoveries of recent years have shown that bricks made of unbaked
clay were very extensively used by the Greeks down to quite late times.
This point is well brought out by Dr. Dörpfeld (vol. ix. of the
Mittheil. d. deutsch. archäol. Inst. in
), who shows that even important structures, such as the
Heraion at Olympia and the walls round Athens which were destroyed by
Sulla, were mainly formed of sun-dried bricks. The same perishable
material was commonly used for the private houses of the Greeks, and
this is one reason why examples of Hellenic domestic architecture are
<*>so very rare. Burnt bricks were first introduced by the
Romans (Blümner, Technol. u. Terminol.,
ii. p. 11). Till quite recently very few remains of
Greek houses were known to exist. In the Ionian Antiquities there is
figured a Greek house at Delos, of which a ground-plan is given by Guhl
and Koner (p. 106, 5th ed.). The excavations, however, made in the Greek
city of Naukratis in the Egyptian Delta during 1884-86 by Messrs. Petrie
and Ernest Gardner have brought to light remains of a large number of
Greek streets and houses, all built of sun--dried brick coated with
painted stucco. The accompanying figure shows part of Mr. Petrie's
discoveries:--A is a single house forming a complete insula,
as the Romans
Plan of a Greek house at Naukratis in Egypt.
would call it: it consists of six rooms, with what was
probably a small central open court. B B appear to be shops. C C are
narrow streets. In this Greek city the streets seem all to be very
narrow, and the insulae
are mostly very
small; in many cases, like the figured example, consisting of one house
only. Though but very scanty remains were found of the unbaked brick
walls, yet in a few places patches of painted stucco on the exterior
were found in situ.
Though walls of this
sort would last very well as long as they were roofed over and protected
by their coating of hard stucco, yet when once they had fallen into a
ruined state the process of decay would be rapid and complete, even in
Egypt, and of course much more so in a more rainy climate.
The other most important examples of Greek domestic architecture which
have yet been discovered are some houses in the Peiraeus, the
foundations of which were exposed in 1884 during the laying out of a new
street by the municipality. (See Dr. Dörpfeld in
Mittheil. d. deutsch. archäol. Inst. in
vol. ix., No. 3, 11884.) The figure shows a reduction
made from Dr. Dörpfeld's plan.
On the S.E. and S.W. sides the block faces on to streets: it appears to
be a double house, though this is not quite certain, owing to the
impossibility of ascertaining the positions of all the doors. On the
N.W. side remains were found of a large open peristyle, apparently
derived from the αὐλὴ
of the earlier
Hellenic plan: under the covered porticus of this cloister an altar was
found, probably dedicated to Zeus Herkeios.
Plan of a Greek house discovered in Peiraeus.
On the S.E. side the house was entered through a long shallow porch, with
two columns, in which stood another altar, probably that of Apollo
Agyieus. This porch led into a small open court, surrounded on three
sides by a covered walk (στοὰ
). The pavement of this was
laid so as to drain into an open gully, through which the rain-water
escaped into a drain. In one corner of the court was a well, and on the
other side a stone cistern for storing water; a second cistern stood in
the room adjoining the open court on the N.W. Some remains of paving
were found, as is indicated on the plan. In one room it consists of
stone flags; in another of a sort of rude mosaic, formed of pebbles set
in concrete, as in the open courts of the palace at Tiryns. On the S.W.
side are some rooms which were entered directly from the street: these
may have been shops or public offices. Traces of a staircase leading to
an upper floor were found at one end of the room with the flagging
pavement. This block measures, without counting the large peristyle,
about 140 feet by 75 feet. The clear open space of the peristyle was
about 68 feet wide; its other dimension was not discovered. It is
possible that this block may have been all part of the same house one
portion being the andronitis
or men's part,
and the rest the gynaeconitis
During the most flourishing period of Greece the private houses appear to
have been small and simple in design: splendour of materials and
ornament were reserved for the temples of the gods and the public
buildings, such as the Agora and the great στοαί,
which in Athens especially contributed so largely to
the architectural magnificence of the city. The front of the house
towards the street was not large, as the apartments extended rather in
the direction of its depth than of its width. In towns the houses were
often built side by side, with party walls between (ὁμότοιχοι οἰκίαι,
; Isaeus, de Philoctem.
§ 39, Plut. de Genio Socr
Plaut. Mil. Glor.
2.2). The exterior wall was plain, and
often covered with plaster or stucco (Plut. Comp. Arist. et
4). Sometimes, as in Tanagra, the exterior was adorned with
what was probably terra-cotta (Dicaearch. p. 245, Fuhr.). Plutarch says
that [p. 1.660]
Phocion's house was ornamented with
plates of bronze (Plut. Phoc. 18
Unbaked clay, as we have already shown, was used for the walls, with
probably a good deal of timber in the upper story (Xen. Mem. 3.1
, § 7): thus it was
easy for the Plataeans to break through the party walls of their houses,
so as to communicate with each other (Thuc. l.c.
). For the same reason the burglar was called τοιχωρύχος,
because he found it easier to
obtain an entrance into houses by breaking through the soft walls than
by the door or windows (Plat. Legg.
p. 831 E; Plut. Dem. 11
Foreigners were specially struck by the mean appearance of the private
houses of Athens in the time of Pericles, as strongly contrasting with
the splendour of the public buildings (Thuc.
). “A stranger,”
says Dicaearchus (p. 8), “might doubt upon a sudden view whether
this were really the city of Athens,” so mean were the houses
and crooked and narrow the streets. It was not till the time of
Demosthenes that good houses began to be built in Athens (Dem. c.
p. 689.207 if.; Olynth.
35.25 ff.). Meidias built a house in Eleusis larger than any in that
place (c. Mid.
p. 565, 24; Boeckh, Publ.
p. 65, Engl. Tr.; Staatshaush.
i.3 p. 83). But after the time of Alexander the Great
the decay of public spirit and the growth of private luxury led to the
erection of larger and more richly decorated houses throughout the Greek
cities, and especially in the chief colonies of Magna Graecia and
Sicily. In cities such as Tarentum and Syracuse the costly magnificence
of the private houses far surpassed those of the mother country.
The views of Socrates as to the arrangement of a good house are given by
iii, 8, § § 9, 10). It
should (he says) be cool in summer and warm in winter, with convenient
accommodation for the family and their possessions. The chief rooms
should be lofty, and should face the south so as to get the full rays of
the sun in winter, while for the sake of shade, when the sun was high up
in summer, the house was to be shaded by projecting eaves; the rooms on
the north, for the sake of shelter, were to be lower. Paintings and any
sort of elaborate decorations destroyed, Socrates thought, more pleasure
than they gave.
In all cases the country houses must have been much finer buildings than
those in the old cities, where streets were narrow and sites often very
cramped (Isocr. Areop.
§ 20). Thucydides (2.14
) speaks of the preference of the
Athenians for houses in the country.
The plan and whole arrangement of town and country houses would naturally
be absolutely different, and it is unreasonable to suppose that one
fixed type of house was used by the Greeks. Existing remains show us
that the Roman houses had as many varieties of plan as we have now, and
yet many archaeologists have written as if there was one stereotyped
plan of house used in classical times. The somewhat pedantic language of
) on the subject has tended to support the belief in the
existence of one fixed type of Greek house, but at his date, in the
reign of Augustus, archaeology was practically an unknown science, and
it may reasonably be suggested that the so-called Greek plan of
Vitruvius does not represent the domestic architecture of the bygone
days when the Greeks were an independent race, but rather Vitruvius'
private notion, as a practising architect, of a house to be built for
some wealthy Roman in the revived pseudo-Hellenic style which began to
be popular in the reigns of the early emperors. of Rome.
That the domestic architecture of the Roman empire was to a great extent
derived from that of the far more artistic Greeks is shown in many ways,
and especially by the fact that nearly all the names used in Rome for
the different parts of a house were not Latin, but Greek (see p. 667
): yet it should be remembered that
the luxurious and ostentatious habits of imperial Rome had little in
common with the austere simplicity of private life in Greece during its
period of glory, and that therefore it is almost certain that a plan and
arrangement of house would be required in Rome very different from that
used in Athens during the age of Pericles, or even much later.
Nevertheless, with this important reservation, many of Vitruvius'
statements may be of great use in illustrating difficult passages in
older Greek writers, which treat of some details in the Hellenic house,
especially when the description is compared with some of the existing
Roman dwellings, which are evidently designed to some extent after a
real or supposed Greek model.
Greek houses had three principal features in common. First, there were
one or two open courts, surrounded by the various rooms. Secondly, in a
Greek family the women lived in private apartments allotted to their
respective use. Hence the house was always divided into two distinct
), or men's apartments; and the
), or women's apartments. Thirdly, the
was, as a general rule, in
larger houses behind the Andronitis,
the same floor as the latter. Much difficulty has been occasioned in the
arrangement of a Greek house by the statement of Vitruvius (6.7
, (10)) that the principal entrance led at
once into the Gynaeconitis,
and that the
therefore was behind the
women's rooms, or rather, if we construe his words strictly, by their
side. ( “Conjunguntur autem his [i.e. the Gynaeconitis
] domus ampliores [i.e. the Andronitis
].” ) But such an
arrangement is alike inconsistent with the careful state of seclusion in
which the Greek women were kept, and also with the positive statements
of the writers of the period. It is very likely that Vitruvius
misunderstood to some extent the descriptions given by his Greek
authorities, and has assigned to the Gynaeconitis
the arrangement of the Andronitis.
In any case, as we have stated above, his
account cannot be accepted as a correct representation of a Greek house
in the period from the Peloponnesian war to the time of Alexander the
Great. The general plan was much the same as that of the Homeric house.
This is clearly brought out by Prof. Gardner in the essay already
quoted. He shows that the Peristyle of the Andronitis
is the successor of the Homeric Aule;
eating-room, of the Homeric Megaron;
and the peristyle of
of the Homeric Thalamos.
“As the Greeks grew in culture [p. 1.661]
to living in cities, the Aule
naturally become civilised, and the rooms round it part of the
house, while the feeding-room of the men would lose its enormous
proportions, and become a dining-room instead of a feasting
hall.” That this was the case is shown by the position of the
altars of the deities, which were least likely to be changed in an
ancient house. Thus the altar of Zeus ἑρκεῖος
was situated alike in the Homeric Aule
(see p. 657 b
and the historical court of the Andronitis
(see p. 662 a
), and the sacred hearth or
altar of Hestia
Plan of a Greek house. (Guhl and Koner.)
Plan of a Greek house. (Guhl and Koner.), |
- A. Entrance-hall.
- B. Peristyle of the Andronitis.
- C. Andron, or dining-hall.
- K. Peristyle of the Gynaeconitis.
- H. Rooms of the Andronitis.
- F. Perhaps sanctuaries of the θεοὶ κτήσιοι and θεοὶ πατρῶοι.
- D. Thalamos.
- E. Amphithalamos.
- G. Rooms of the Gynaeconitis, for working in wool and
- I. Rooms of the Andronitis, and in some houses perhaps
shops opening to the street.
- 1. Πρόδομος, and
further back, street-door, αὔλειος θύρα.
- 2. Door between the men and women's rooms, μέσαυλος or μέταυλος θύρα.
- 3. Garden-door, κηπαία
the same position in the Homeric Megaron
) and the historical Andron
(p. 662 b
The above plan of the ground-floor of a Greek house of the larger size,
with two courts or peristyles, is taken, with slight alterations, from
Guhl and Koner. It is of course conjectural, but it will serve for the
arrangements (for further we cannot
go) of the Greek house at the period we are speaking of. Other plans,
differing very much from this, have been given by several modern
writers; but this appears on the whole the most consistent with the
ancient authorities. In smaller houses the Gynaeconitis was much more
limited, having no open court, and in some cases, as we shall presently
see, was restricted to the upper story.
That there was, in some cases, no open space between the street
and the house-door, like the Roman vestibulum,
is plain from the law of Hippias,
which laid a tax on house-doors opening outwards, because they
encroached upon the street. (Aristot. Econ. 2.6
, p. 1347, 5.) The πρόθυρον,
which is sometimes
mentioned (Hdt. 6.35
), may be the
space indicated in the cut before the passage A. We learn,
however, from the same law of Hippias, that houses sometimes had
projections encroaching upon the street (προφράγματα
Heracl. Pont. Polit.
1). In front
of the house was generally an altar of Apollo Agyieus, or a rude
obelisk emblematical of the god. Sometimes there was a
laurel-tree in the same position, and sometimes a terminal bust
of the god Hermes or Hecate. (Thuc.
; Aristoph. Thes. 489
A few steps (ἀναβαθμοί
) led up
to the house-door, which generally bore some inscription, for
the sake of a good omen, or as a charm, such as Εἴσοδος Κράτητι Ἀγαθῷ
Frag. Vit. Crat. p. 874
was also frequently inscribed μηδὲν
an inscription which has been
found also at Pompeii and even in Kurdistan (D. L. 6.39
; C. L. Gr.
No. 4673). The form and
fastenings of the door are described under JANUA
This door, as
we have seen, sometimes opened outwards; but the opposite was
the general rule, as is proved by the expressions used for
shutting it, ἐπισπάσασθαι
(Plut. Pel. 11
57.) Immediately behind the door was the
sanctuary of Ἑρμῆς στροφαῖος
(Aristoph. Pl. 1153
The house-door was called αὔλειος,
or αὐλία θύρα
; Menandros ap. Stob. Serm.
Harpocr. s.v. Eustath. ad Iliad.
22.66, p. 1257,
17), because it led to the αὐλή.
It gave admittance to a narrow passage called
by Vitruvius, and
(1.77), on one side of which, in a large house, according to
Vitruvius, were the stables, on the other the porter's lodge.
The duty of the porter (θυρωρός,
) was to admit visitors, and to prevent
anything improper from being carried into or out of the house.
(Aristot. Econ. 1.6
1345 a.) It was also his duty to sweep the house (Pollux,
10.28). Plato (Protag.
p. 314 D) gives a lively
picture of an officious porter. The porter was attended by a
dog. (Apollod. apud
; Theocr. 15.43;
Aristoph. [p. 1.662]Thesm.
1025.) Hence the phrase
εὐλαβεῖσθαι τὴν κύνα
(Aristoph. Lys. 1215
corresponding to the Latin Cave
At the further end of the passage Vitruvius places another door
. . . locus
inter duas januas), which, however, is not mentioned by other
writers. Plutarch (de Gen. Socr.
18) mentions the
house-door as being visible from the peristyle.
3. Peristyle of the Andronitis (Plan, B).
From the θυρωρεῖον
we pass into
the peristyle (περιστύλιον
This was the most
important part of the house, corresponding to the Homeric
by which name it is
frequently called (Plat. Protag.
p. 311 A,
p. 328 C; Pollux, 1.77), though used for
very different purposes. It was a court open to the sky in the
surrounded on all four sides2
by colonnades (στοαί
whence the name Peristyle. The one nearest the entrance was
p. 314 E), and the same name was also
given to the colonnade opposite
entrance (ἐν τῷ κατ᾽ ἀντικρὺ
ib. p. 315 C). The word is also used
by later writers as equivalent to περιστύλιον
(Pollux, 1.77). These colonnades
were used for exercise, and were sometimes of considerable
extent, as in the house of wealthy Callias, and meals were
occasionally taken in them (Plat. l.c., Symp.
212; Plut. de Gen. Socr.
32; Dem. in
§ 55; Pollux, 1.78). Here, as in the
was the altar of Zeus
were offered (Harpocr. s.v. Eustath. ad Od.
22.335; Plat. Rep.
1.328 C). The colonnades were
arranged for the purpose of obtaining as much sun in winter, and
as much shade and air in summer, as possible. (Xen. Oecon.
9.4 ; Mem.
Aristot. Econ. 1.6
Round the peristyle were arranged the chambers used by the men
called by the general name of οἶκοι,
though the latter more specifically
indicated a dining-room. (See below.) There were
banqueting-rooms large enough to contain several sets of couches
), and at the same time to allow
abundant room for attendants, musicians, and performers of
games; parlours or sitting-rooms (ἐξέδραι
), sleeping-rooms (κοιτῶνες, οἰκήματα
), guest-chambers (ξενῶνες
), picture-galleries and
libraries, and sometimes store-rooms. The store-rooms were
generally in the women's part of the house (see p. 663 b
); but in the house of Callias a
) in the
was fitted up as a
guest's room (Plat. Protag.
p. 315 D). In the
arrangement of these apartments attention was paid to their
aspect. (Vitruv. l.c.;
§ 24, in
§ 10; Aristoph. Eccl. 8
; Pollux, 1.79, 7.28, 10.32). The disposition of these
rooms (Plan, H) is quite uncertain. F in plan, corresponding to
in a Roman house, may,
according to Guhl and Koner, be the sanctuaries of the θεοὶ κτήσιοι
p. 1239; cf. Lycurg. adv.
§ 25; Petersen, Der geheime
Gottesdienst bei d. Griechen,
Hamb. 1848), when
these gods had sanctuaries in later times.
4. Andron, or dining-hall (Plan, C).
was situated in the
centre of the house between the two courts opposite the entrance
to the court of the Andronitis.
corresponds to the μέγαρον
Homer, but greatly reduced in size, as the court of the Andronitis
contained the principal rooms
for the men. Here stood the ἑστία,
or sacred hearth, which is placed by
Aeschylus in the centre of the house (μεσόμφαλος ἑστία,
1056); but in historical
times it only stood as a symbol of domestic worship, the hearth
being removed to a special kitchen (ὀπτάνιον
). In later times it took the form of a
round altar sacred to the goddess Hestia,
and was a sanctuary
for suppliants. Thus it was the Hestia
house of the Molossian king Admetus at which Themistocles took
refuge (Thuc. 1.136
; Plut. Them. 34
), and it is
mentioned as a place of refuge by Lysias in a small Greek house
(ἐπὶ τὴν ἑστίαν καταφυγών,
de caede Eratosth.
§ 27). The Andron
is said by Xenophon to be the
place where dinner was taken (ἐπὶ τῷ
ἀνδρῶνι ἔνθα τὸ δεῖπνον ἦν,
1.13; cf. Aristoph. Eccl. 676
), and Thales is represented by
Plutarch as going through the porch to the banquet in the
(εἰς τ<*>`ν ἀνδρῶνα διὰ τῆς στοᾶς,
VII. Sap. Conv.
3). In a Greek inscription a
large dining-hall is called ἀνδρεῖον
(C. I. Gr.
Pollux (1.79) defines it generally as a place where men assemble
(ἀνδρὼν ἵνα συνίασιν οἱ
). It is sometimes used as equivalent to
and it is not
always easy to distinguish its specific and more general meaning
(cf. Hdt. 1.34
; Aeschyl. Agam.
712). The place occupied by the
is called by Vitruvius
probably the same as the παστὰς
of other writers, though he
is clearly in error in placing it in the Gynaeconitis,
as we have already seen. He says
that on the side of the peristyle facing the south (i. e.
opposite the entrance door) are two antae [ANTAE
], at a
considerable distance apart, which carry beams, and that the
recess behind them is equal to one-third less than their
distance from each other, and that this recess or room is called
It is expressly identified
by later writers with the Andron,
and the word παστὰς
derived from feeding (ἀπὸ τοῦ
Pollux, 6.7; Schol. ad
p. 655, 46). It would seem that the word παστὰς
did not originally signify a chamber,
but simply a colonnade on the side of the peristyle opposite the
entrance (Xen. Mem. 3.8
), and was thus the same as the πρόστῳον
mentioned by Plato in the
passage already quoted (Protag. l.c.;
3). We may therefore reasonably conjecture that the name was
afterwards transferred from the colonnade to the dining-room
lying immediately behind it; that is, to the Andron.
5. Peristyle of the Gynaeconitis (Plan, K).
The peristyle of the Andronitis
connected with that of the Gynaeconitis
by a door called μέταυλος, μέσαυλος,
which was in the middle of the
portico of the peristyle of the Andronitis,
or more specifically of the Andron. [p. 1.663]
(See Plan, 2.) Vitruvius applies the
to a passage
between the two peristyles, in which was the μέσαυλος θύρα;
but such a passage
is not mentioned by other writers, and was probably suggested to
Vitruvius by the position of the Roman Fauces.
(See below, p. 671 a.
) By means of this door all communication between
and the Gynaeconitis
could be shut off. Its uses
are mentioned by Xenophon, who calls it θύρα βαλανωτός
9.5; cf. Plut. Arat.
). Its name μέσαυλος
is evidently derived from μέσος,
and means the door between
the two αὐλαὶ
or peristyles. (Suidas, s. v. Μεσαύλιον
: Ael. Dion. apud
Eustath. ad Iliad.
11.547, p. 862, 17; Schol. in
.) The other name,
is taken by some
writers as merely the Attic form of μέσαυλος.
But Becker derives μέταυλος
as being the door
respect to the αὔλειος θύρα.
(Lys. de caede Eratosth.
§ 17; Plut.
7.1; Ael. Dion. apud
This door gave admittance to the peristyle of the Gynaeconitis,
which, like that of the
was surrounded by
colonnades. It was, as we have already said, situated in larger
houses immediately behind the Andronitis.
(Lys. c. Simon.
6; Dem. c. Euerg.
p. 1155.53; Xen. Oecon.
9.5.) In like manner Sophocles,
doubtless representing the practice of his own time, describes
both sets of rooms as on the same floor (Oed.
1241-1262). But in smaller houses, where there was
no space for a separate court for women, the Gynaeconitis
was in the upper story. Such was the
case in the small house (οἰκιδίον
) spoken of by Lysias (de caede
§ 19). There was the same
arrangement in other houses (Aristoph. Eccl. 961
116); and considering the small value
of many houses at Athens (see below, p. 664 b
), we may conclude that the women's rooms were often
in the upper story. On the right and left of this παστάς
(see above), according to
Vitruvius, were two bed-chambers, the θάλαμος
(Plan, D, E), of which the former was
the bed-chamber of the master and mistress of the house, and
where also seem to have been kept the vases and other valuable
articles of ornament. (Xen. Oecon.
9.3.) The Thalamus,
Sophocles νυμφικὰ λέχη
1242), is constantly described as
the bridal chamber (Pind. P.
; Soph. Trach. 913
Eur. Hipp. 940
2.136), and was rebuilt or re-adorned on occasion of a marriage
(ἔθος ἦν τοῖς γήμασι θάλαμον
Hom. Il. 2.701
; νεόγραπτος θάλαμος,
cf. Theocr. 27.36; Apollon. 3.36
Hesych. sub voce
). This chamber
is frequently called δωμάτιον
(Lys. de caede Eratosth.
§ 24; Aristoph. Eccl. 8
13; Plat. Rep.
390 C), and sometimes παστὰς
10.16; Lucian, Dial.
23.3; Anth. P.
5.52, 7.711). In the
were placed the
is supposed by some to be the
bed-chamber for the grown--up daughters of the family (cf.
Achill. Tat. 2.9). Beyond these rooms (for this seems to be what
Vitruvius means by in his locis
) were large apartments (ἱστῶνες
) used for working in wool (oeci magni, in quibus matres familiarum cum
lanificis habent sessionem,
Vitruv.). Round the
peristyle were the eating-rooms, bed-chambers, storerooms
cf. Aristoph. Lys. 495
), and other
apartments in common use (triclinia
quotidiana, cubicula, et cellce familiaricae
Besides the αὔλειος θύρα
the μέσαυλος θύρα,
there was a
third door (κηπαία θύρα
leading to the garden. (Pollux, 1.76; Dem. in
p. 1155.53; Lys. in Eratosth.
Other matters connected with a Greek house.
1. Upper stories.
When there was an upper story (ὑπερῷον,
), it seldom extended over the whole space
occupied by the lower story. The principal use of the upper
story was for the sleeping apartments, both of the family and of
the slaves. (Cf. Dem. in Euerg.
p. 1156.56, where
the words ἐν τῷ πύργῳ
to imply a building several stories high.) Houses rarely had
more than two stories; but in later times we find in the larger
towns mention of houses with three stories (as in Cyzicus,
xvi. p. 390, Dind.; τριστέγη,
Artemidor. 4.46; so also
in Troas, Acts 20.8, 9). The access to the upper floor seems to
have been sometimes by stairs (ἀναβαθμοί
) on the outside of the house, leading up
from the street, as was the case at Rome (see p. 665 b
). (Aristot. Oec.
p. 1347, 5; cf. Liv. 39.14
upper story was sometimes let, or used for lodging guests.
(Antiph. de Venef.
§ 14.) But in some
large houses there were rooms set apart for the reception of
) on the
ground-floor. (Vitruv. l.c.;
4.125; Eur. Alc. 564
.) In cases
of emergency store-rooms were fitted up for the accommodation of
guests. (Plat. Protag.
p. 315 D; see p. 662
Portions of the upper story sometimes projected beyond the walls
of the lower part, forming balconies or verandahs (προβολαί, γεισιποδίσματα,
1.81), like the Roman maeniana
p. 666 a
The roofs were generally flat, and it was customary to walk about
upon them, as on the Solaria at Rome (see p. 672 b
); (Lys. adv. Simon.
§ 11; Aristoph. Lys.
; Plaut. Mil.
2.2, 3;) or to pass from
one house to another (Dem. c. Androt.
But high-pitched roofs were also used, covered with tiles
Galen, 18.1, p.
518, K.; Pollux, 1.81).
For particulars, see JANUA
In the interior of the house the place of doors
was sometimes supplied by curtains (παραπετάσματα, παρακαλύμματα
), which also hung
between the pillars of the Peristyle
(Aristoph. Wasps 1215
were either plain, or dyed, or embroidered. (Pollux, 10.32;
The principal openings for the admission of light and air were in
the uncovered Peristyle
and perhaps in the roofed
part of the peristyle; but it is incorrect to suppose that the
houses had no windows (θυρίδες
), or at least none overlooking the street.
They appear to have been chiefly in the upper story; and in
ancient works of art women are represented looking out of them.
(Aristoph. Thes. 797
961; Plut. de
Also called φωταγωγοί
20.) [p. 1.664]
They were called ἀπόπατοι
(Aristoph. Ach. 81
Pollux, 10.44), ἔφοδοι
(Aristoph. Eccl. 1059
c. Arist g.
p. 785). Their position is
nowhere expressly indicated, but they were probably, as in Roman
houses (see below, p. 672 a
proximity to the kitchen (Hermann-Blümner, p. 154).
Artificial warmth was procured by little portable stoves
chafing dishes (ἀνθράκια
i. p. 717; Aristoph. Wasps 811
6.89, 10.101.) [FOCUS
] It is supposed that the chimney was altogether
unknown, and that the smoke escaped through an opening in the
roof; but it is not easy to understand how this could be the
case when there was an upper story. The καπνοδόκη
mentioned by Herodotus (8.137
) was not really a chimney, but
only an opening in the roof (see above, p. 658 b
). But the κάπνη
in Aristophanes (Aristoph. Wasps 143
) seems to have been really a
chimney, as it is described by the Scholiast on the passage as
any case the chimney seems to have been only used in the kitchen
The decorations of the interior were very plain at the period to
which our description refers. The floors were mere plaster. At a
late period coloured stones were used. (Plin. Nat. 36.184
are first mentioned as introduced under the kings of Pergamus.
The walls, up to the fourth century B.C., seem to have been only whitewashed. The first
instance of painting them is that of Alcibiades (Andoc.
§ 17, Dem. c.
§ 147; Plut. Alc.
). This innovation met with considerable opposition
(Xen. Mem. 3.8
9.2). Plato mentions the
painting of the walls of houses as a mark of a τρυφῶσα πόλις
ii. p. 373 A). These allusions prove that
the practice was not uncommon in the time of Plato and Xenophon.
We have also mention of painted ceilings at the same period
vii. p. 529 B, cf. κατὰ ταίχου γράφειν,
29). At a later period this
mode of decoration became general.
8. Letting and price of houses.
There was a great deal of speculation in the building and letting
of houses at Athens (Xen. Oecon.
3.1). A distinction was made at Athens between the οἰκία,
which was a dwelling-house
for a single family, and the συνοικία,
which was adapted to hold several
families--like the Roman insula.
The distinction is thus expressed by Aeschines (c.
§ 124): ὅπου μὲν γὰρ πολλοὶ μισθωσάμενοι μίαν οἴκησιν
διελόμενοι ἔχουσι, συνοικίαν καλοῦμεν, ὅπου δ᾽εἷς
The lodging-houses were let
mostly to foreigners who came to Athens on business, and
especially to the μέτοικοι,
whom the law did not allow to acquire real property, and who
therefore could not purchase houses of their own (Dem.
p. 946.6). As they, with their
families, formed a population of about 45,000, the number of
must have been
considerable. Pasion, the banker, had a lodging-house valued at
100 minas (Dem. c. Steph.
i. p. 1110.28).
Xenophon recommended that the μέτοικοι
should be encouraged to invest their money
in houses, and that leave should be granted to the most
respectable to build and become house proprietors (οἰκοδομησαμένοις ἐγκεκτῆσθαι,
2.6). The ἰσοτελεῖς
laboured under no such disability;
for Lysias and his brother Polemarchus, who belonged to that
class, were the owners of three houses. The value of houses must
have varied according to the size, the build, the situation, and
other circumstances. Those in the city were more valuable than
those in the Peiraeus or the country, caeteris paribus.
Two counting-houses are
mentioned by Isaeus (de Hagn. her.
as yielding a return of rather more than 8 1/2 per cent.
interest on the purchase-money. But this probably was much below
the average. The summer season was the most profitable for the
letting of houses, when merchants and other visitors flocked to
Athens. The rent was commonly paid by the month. Lodging-houses
were frequently taken on speculation by persons called ναύκληροι
(Ammon., Harpocrat., Phot., Hesych. sub voce
), who made a profit
by underletting them, and sometimes for not very reputable
purposes (Isaeus, de Philoct. her.
19). Boeckh has given an account from the ancient writers of the
prices of houses at Athens, which seem to have been very small.
They varied from 3 minas to 120 minas, according to their size,
situation, and condition, from 30 to 50 minas being an ordinary
price. (Boeckh, Publ. Econ. of Athens,
(The commentators on Vitruvius, l.c.
Schneider, Epim. ad
Die Lehre der Gebäude,
Stieglitz, Archäol. d. Baukunst,
pt. 2, pp. 150-159; Krause, Deinokrates,
p. 488 seq.
; Winckler, Die
Wohnhäuser der Hellenen,
ii. p. 105 seq.
p. 143 seq.,
Guhl and Koner, Leben d. Griech. u.
p. 95 seq.,
III. The Roman House.
The earliest dwellings of the Latins on the Palatine hill were probably
mere huts of mud-daubed osiers, like the hut of Romulus, which was
preserved as a sacred relic for many centuries. (See above. p. 654
) After the burning of Rome by the
Gauls, the city was rebuilt in haste, with very narrow streets and on no
regular plan (Liv. 5.55
). Even the houses of
the richest citizens were small and of inexpensive materials, such as
unburnt brick, or the soft brown tufa which could be quarried in nearly
all the hills of Rome. No examples of fired bricks are known in Roman
buildings till the time of Julius Caesar; and the remarks of Vitruvius
seem to refer wholly to crude or sun-dried bricks, of which no examples
in Rome have survived to modern times. Down to the beginning of the last
century of the republic, Romans of rank continued to live in small
houses. In B.C. 125 the censors censured Lepidus, the augur, because he
paid 6000 sesterces (about £50) for his houserent (Vell. 2.10
), and Sulla, afterwards the
dictator, when a young man, paid only 3000 sesterces for his rooms on
the ground-floor, while a freedman in the upper part of the same house
paid only 2000 sesterces (Plut. Sall.
The earliest regulation we find respecting houses is a law of the XII.
Tables, that each building should be separated from another by a [p. 1.665]
space of 2 1/2 feet, called ambitus
(Fest. pp. 5, 11, M.; Varr. L. L.
5.22; Isidor. 15.16, 12). But this enactment was disregarded, and was
again enforced by Nero, when he rebuilt the city Tac. Ann. 15.43
; see below, p. 666
). As the city increased in
population, the houses were raised in height. “The immense size
and population of Rome,” says Vitruvius (2.8
), “make it
necessary to have a vast number of habitations; and as the area is
not sufficient to contain them all on the ground-floor, the nature
of the case compels us to raise them in the air.” The
buildings thus referred to are the Insulae,
which must be carefully distinguished from the Domus.
in which the
lower and middle classes lived, was a building of several stories, let
out in floors or separate rooms to different families or persons. The
(Suet. Nero 44
on the contrary, was a separate house, in later times a palace, usually
with only one story above the ground-floor, the abode of the rich and
great, and inhabited for the most part by a single family; though, as in
the case of the palazzi in modern Rome, parts of them, especially at the
back or top of the domus,
let out (Plaut. Trin.
1.2, 157; Liv. 39.14
Suet. Nero 44
7). In the general description of a Roman house our remarks apply only
to the domus,
properly so called, as the
was built on an entirely
different plan. But we must say a few words on the insula.
is defined by Festus (p. 111, M.)
to be a building not joined by common walls with neighbouring houses,
and surrounded by a street, so that it stood like an island surrounded
by rivers or the sea. It was thus, as has been said, very much like one
of the large hotels in modern cities, with one or more courts, and
bounded on all sides by streets, like the Louvre hotel at Paris. The
ground-floor was usually let out in shops (tabernae
), and the upper stories in flats or separate rooms,
as in continental cities in the present day. Such an insula,
containing various tenements and shops, is the
house of Paus. at Pompeii, described below (see p. 681 b
). The number of insulae
at Rome naturally exceeded that of the domus
; and accordingly we find in the
“Notitia,” which was compiled between A.D. 334 and 357,
that there were at Rome 44,171 insulae
ii. p. 120). To the same effect Suetonius, in
describing the fire at Rome under Nero, speaks of the “immense
number” of insulae
burnt, in addition to the palaces (domus
of the nobles (Suet. Nero 38
writers, in like manner, distinguish between the insulae
6.5, 5; Tac. Ann.
; Suet. Nero 16
; Cic. de Off. 3.1. 6
Becker and some other writers erroneously suppose that a single floor or
a separate room in such a house was also called insula,
but the proper name for such a separate lodging
ii. p. 221). The insulae
are first mentioned in B.C. 456 in
connexion with the Lex Icilia de Aventino
from which it appears that each occupier had a
story in absolute ownership, and could alienate and transmit it, as is
customary in modern Rome and other continental cities (Dionys. A. R. 10.32
Hist. of Rome,
ii. p. 301, Engl. Tr.). But it was
apparently more usual for an insula
been built on speculation, and let by the proprietor to different
occupants (Plut. Crass. 2
; Mart. 4.37
). Hence the stories or separate
rooms were called cenacula meritoria
(Suet. Vit. 7
; Dig. 7
) or conducta
; cf. “mutat
Hor. Ep. 1.1
). Cicero had some shops, which he let (Cic. Att. 14.9
insularum,” ib. 15.17). The rent (pensio,
) at Rome was considerable, even for
a miserable garret (Juv. 3.166
; cf. Mart.
). Poor persons in the time of
Julius Caesar appear to have paid 2000 sesterces (£17 or
£18) as the usual rent (Suet. Jul.
). Caelius was said to have paid 30,000 sesterces (about
£266) for the rent of a third floor in the insula
of P. Clodius, though Cicero says the real rent
was only one-third of this sum (Cic. Cael.
). Hence it was a profitable
speculation to build or hire a whole insula,
and to sublet the cenacula
to different tenants (Dig.
were not the occupants of the
but those who had charge of
and collected the rents. They
were also called procuratores insularum
; Petron. 95, 96;
i. p. 17).
appears to have been named after
the person to whom it belonged. Thus we find in inscriptions the
insula Arriana Polliana,
the insula Sertoriana
The upper stories and the separate rooms of the insula
were, as we have already said, called cenacula.
This word properly signifies rooms to
dine in; but after it became the fashion to dine in the upper part of
the house, all the rooms above the ground-floor were called cenacula
(Varr. L. L.
Hence Festus says (p. 54, M.), “cenacula dicuntur, ad quae scalis
ascenditur.” Jupiter humorously describes his abode,
“in superiore qui habito cenaculo” (Plaut.
3.1, 3); Ennius speaks of “cenacula maxima
coeli” (ap. Tertull. adv. Valent.
Prudentius (c. Symm.
1.580) of “celsa
cenacula.” There were different flights of stairs connecting the
upper stories with the lower part of the house, as we find to be the
case in houses at Pompeii. Sometimes the stairs had no connexion with
the lower part of the house, but ascended at once from the street.
; “si cenaculum ex publico aditum habeat,”
). As the different stories could not all be
lighted from openings in the roof, as in the domus,
they had windows looking out into the street (Liv. 1.41
Prop. v. (iv.) 7, 15, seq.;
). (On windows,
see p. 686 a.
) They also had
sometimes balconies, supported by brackets, projecting into the street,
from which an occupant could shake hands with his next door or opposite
neighbour (Mart. 1.86
). These balconies were
and the same name was also
given to the stories which projected over those below, as we see in some
old houses in England. (Fest. p. 134, 22, M.; Isidor. 15.3, 11; Vitr. 5.1
; V. Max. 9.12
; Cic. Ac. 4.2. 2, 70
; Dig. 50
.) Projecting stories were forbidden in A.D.
368 to be erected in Rome (Amm. Marc. 27.9, 8
) on account of the narrowness of the
streets and were again forbidden by the emperors Honorius [p. 1.666]
and Theodosius, unless there was an open space
in some cases of ten, in others of fifteen feet, clear of any adjacent
building (Cod. Just. 8
ii. p. 287). Such a projecting
story is seen in some of the Pompeian houses.
Maenianum or projecting story. (Overbeck, |
We find mention of a house three stories high in B.C. 218 (Liv. 21.62
) considered the third story, where he lived, as very high. If
we were to estimate the height of the Roman houses by the way in which
they are spoken of by the ancient writers, we should probably assign to
them too many stories; for the houses, as Friedländer observes,
probably appeared higher than they really were in consequence of the
narrowness of the streets. We have no express mention of any houses more
than four stories high. In Juvenal's description of Rome (3.199 seq.
) the dwellings of the poor are in the
fourth story, under the roofs, where the doves lay their eggs. In the
same satire he describes (3.269) the danger to which the passing
traveller was exposed from the potsherds thrown from the lofty
house-tops ( “tectis sublimibus” ). So frequently were
persons injured in this way that the praetor gave them a right of action
against the occupier. [DEJECTI EFFUSIVE ACTIO
] But from various
circumstances we may infer that some of the houses at Rome had a larger
number of stories than are expressly mentioned. Thus, as we shall
presently see, Augustus limited the height of houses to 70 feet, which
implies that they had been built still higher, and Cicero describes the
houses as hoisted up and suspended in the air ( “Romam cenaculis
sublatam atque suspensam,”
2.35, 96). In like manner Tertullian
100.7) compares the Gnostic idea of
several stages in heaven to an insula called Felicula,
which seems to have been celebrated for its
numerous stories. (On the height of Roman houses, see
Friedländer, Sittengesch. Roms,
i. p. 5 seq.
The houses let for hire were in Rome, as in London at the present day,
badly built by speculators. The upper stories were of wood (tabulata, contignationes
), and frequently fell
down, while their material made them more liable to fires, which were
very frequent in Rome. Many of the houses were propped up, and old
cracks simply plastered over (Juv. 3.193
). Catullus speaks ironically of the
advantages of a beggar, who had nothing to fear from the fire or fall of
houses ( “non incendia, non graves ruinas,” Catull. 23.9);
Strabo mentions both dangers (v. p. 235); and the fear of them drove
timid persons out of Rome ( “incendia, lapsus,”
; cf: Sen. Ep.
“tanta altitude aedificiorum est, ut neque adversus ignem
praesidium nec ex ruinis ullum ullam in partem effugium sit,”
2.9; Plin. Nat.
). The returns from house property in Rome were large,
but people feared to invest in it on account of fires (Gel. 15.1
). The inundations of the Tiber also
caused the fall of houses (Tac. Ann.
; Suet. Aug. 30
). (For further
details, see Friedländer, i. p. 26 seq.
To guard against these dangers, in the reign of Augustus the height of
new houses in streets was limited to seventy feet, by a
“Metropolitan Building Act,” as it would now be called
(Strab. v. p.235
recommended a work on this subject by Rutilius, entitled “De Modo
Aedificiorum” (Suet. Aug. 89
) gives some of the provisions of this Act, e. g. that houses,
if several stories high, were to be built pilis
lapideis, structuris testaceis, parietibus caementitiis;
is, on stone piers, with walls of concrete and burnt brick,--not of
sun-dried clay, as had been the usual custom. It was not, however, till
the reign of Nero that a complete reform was effected in the arrangement
and construction of the houses and streets of Rome. Nero had a new and
elaborate Building Act drawn up, which required fireproof materials,
such as peperino,
a hard volcanic stone, to be
used for the external walls of houses. He also enacted that each
building should have separate walls, and a space (ambitus
) left open all round it. As a means of escape and
assistance in the case of fire, he also caused arcades or colonnades to
be built at his own expense in front of the insulae.
(See p. 672 b.
) It is
not improbable that Nero, as Tacitus and Suetonius seem to think,
wilfully caused the great fire which destroyed so much of Rome, in order
that his new Act might come into immediate effect, and also that he
might lay out the streets on wider and straighter lines (Tac. Ann. 15.43
; Suet. Nero 38
). In Trajan's reign the limit of height for
street houses was fixed at sixty feet (Aur. Victor, Epit.
13). The emperors Antoninus and Verus again made an ordinance about the
space to be left round the insulae
We now turn to the history and construction of the domus,
or mansion of the great and wealthy. It was not
till the last century of the republic, when wealth had been acquired by
conquests in the East, that houses of any splendour began to be built;
but it then became the fashion, not only to build houses of an immense
size, but to adorn them with marble columns, paintings, statues, and
costly works of art. They covered a large space, most of the [p. 1.667]
rooms being on the ground-floor. The spacious
being open to the sky, did not permit an
upper story, which, if it existed, must have been confined to the sides
of the building, and could not have been very high, as otherwise it
would have darkened the atria
These splendid mansions were erected
for the most part on the hills, and along the slopes of the Palatine, on
the side near the Forum, which was the favourite quarter for the Roman
nobles. In later times the various palaces of the emperors swallowed up
almost the whole of this favourite site, especially the palace of
Caligula, which was built over the place where Cicero, Clodius, Crassus,
and other famous men once resided.
The house of the orator L. Crassus on the Palatine, built about 92 B.C., was the first which had marble
columns,--namely, the six (or four) columns of the atrium, 12 feet in
height, which were of Hymettian marble. For this Crassus was severely
blamed; and the stern republican M. Brutus nicknamed him the
“Palatine Venus” (Plin. Nat.
, 17. § § 2-6; V. Max. 9.1.4
). This house was valued at 6,000,000
sesterces, about £62,000 (Val. Max. l.c.
); but Pliny says (17.2) that it yielded in magnificence to
the house of Q. Catulus on the same hill, and was much inferior to that
of C. Aquilius on the Viminal. The house of Catulus had a fine colonnade
), adorned with the spoils of
the Cimbric war. It was near the house of Cicero, as a portion of the
colonnade was destroyed when Clodius razed the house of Cicero (V. Max. 6.3.1
pro Dom. 43
, 114; ad Att.
4.2, 4, 4.3, 2; ad Q. Fr.
In 78 B.C. M. Lepidus, for the first time in Rome, used the rich Numidian
marble (mod. giallo antico
) not only for
columns, but even for the thresholds of his doors (Plin. Nat. 36.48
); but the fashion of
building magnificent houses increased so rapidly that the house of
Lepidus, which, in his consulship, was the first in Rome, was
thirty-five years later eclipsed by a hundred others (Plin. Nat. 36.109
). Lucullus was
especially celebrated for the magnificence of his houses (Cic. de Off. 1.3. 9
The Romans were exceedingly partial to marble for the decoration of
their houses. Pliny (Plin. Nat.
), quoting Cornelius Nepos, says that marble slabs were
first used for wall-linings by a knight named Mamurra, one of Caesar's
prefects in Gaul: in whose house were columns of Carystian (cipollino
) and Luna marble. A further advance in
costly magnificence was made by the aedile M. Aemilius Scaurus in the
middle of the first century B.C. He purchased the above-named house of
L. Crassus and greatly enlarged it. He introduced as the supports of his
atrium, columns of the black “Lucullean” marble no less
than 38 feet in height, the weight of which was so great that he had to
provide security for an indemnity in case of injury that might be done
to the main sewers, while these immense blocks of marble were being
brought along the streets (Plin. Nat. 36.5
). This house was sold to Clodius for nearly
15 million sesterces, about £132,000; a price, says Pliny,
worthy of the madness of kings (Ascon. in Mil.
Or.; Plin. Nat. 36.115
). This is the
highest price recorded in the time of the republic for a house. The
consul Messalla bought the house of Autronius for 3,400,000 sesterces,
about £29,000, and Cicero the house of Crassus (not L.
Crassus, the orator) for 3,500,000 sesterces, about £30,000
(Cic. Att. 1.1. 3
, with Tyrrell's note; ad
5.6). Cicero's house was on the lower slope of the Palatine
towards the Regia,
the official residence
of Julius Caesar as Pontifex Maximus, whom Cicero calls his neighbour
5.6; ad Att.
13.45). It was
originally built by M. Livius Drusus, from whom it passed to Crassus, of
whom Cicero bought it. It was destroyed by Clodius during Cicero's
exile, but was rebuilt at the public expense on his return (Vell. 2.14
pro Dom. 37
). These houses will serve as
samples of the value of the mansions of the nobles during the republic.
Sallust speaks of them like cities in size (Cat.
Seneca describes them in the same terms under the empire
90, 43), when the imperial palaces, of which we
shall speak further on, became still more magnificent. Many of them,
like the houses of Sallust and Maecenas, described below, were
surrounded by gardens. The rich noble, we are told, was not content
unless he had a rus in urbe
cf. 8.68, 2), and the extensive pleasure-grounds are alluded to in other
passages (cf. Mart. 12.50
114, 9). The atria
with the baths and other
public rooms described by Vitruvius, were magnificent, but the sleeping
and other private rooms were small and inconvenient, so that Martial,
after describing one of. these mansions, adds (12.50, 7): “Atria
longa patent. Sed nec cenantibus usquam,
Nec somno locus est.
Quam bene non habitas!”
In describing the domus
properly so called,
our chief authority is Vitruvius, whose descriptions of the various
parts are elucidated by the existing remains of houses at Pompeii. There
can be no doubt that the latter are constructed upon the model of the
houses at Rome; and not, as some have supposed, borrowed from the
Greeks. The municipal towns imitated in their buildings those of Rome,
as Friedländer has pointed out (Sittengesch.
iii. p. 114). The plan and arrangement of the Pompeian
houses not only correspond in general with the description of Vitruvius,
but we find in them the atrium,
and the fauces,
are all characteristic of a Roman house, and have no counterpart in a
Greek house. Moreover, the Pompeian houses resemble those in the
Capitoline plan of Rome, made in the reign of Septimius Severus (see the
plan below, p. 676 a
), and the house of
Livia on the Palatine (see below, p. 674) (Marquardt,
p. 211). Still, it should be observed that the
Romans themselves derived all the later and ornamental additions to
their houses from the Greeks, as the names themselves show, their
peristylia, triclinia, oeci, exedrae, diaetae,
&c. Moreover, in the
disposition and arrangement of the rooms, it should be remembered that
Vitruvius in his description of a Roman house, as of a Greek house, is
giving his own private views on the subject, and not simply describing
the existing methods of arrangement. His chapters on this subject are
chiefly useful to the modern student for the [p. 1.668]
long list of names which he gives to the various parts of the house,
and his indications of the special uses of each part. Still the chief
rooms in the house of a wealthy Roman appear to have been arranged in
the same manner, while the others varied according to the taste and
circumstances of the owner.
According to Vitruvius, the principal parts of a Roman house were--1.
The parts of a house which were
considered of less importance, and of which the arrangement differed in
different houses, were--1. Cubicula,
We shall speak of each in
But before doing so, it must be observed that the old Roman house
contained only one room, the atrium,
which all other rooms were subsequently added, and that this was
probably the name of the old Roman house. Thus we find that there was in
Rome a considerable number of old buildings of simple construction
bearing the name of atrium,
such as the
in which the Vestals
lived, the atrium sutorium,
the atrium Libertatis,
Tiberina, atria Licinia, atria auctionaria,
(Marquardt, Röm. Staatsverw.
iii. p. 155). The
was probably derived from the
Etruscans, though we need not accept the etymology of Varro (L.
5.161), that it came from the Etruscan town of Atria or
Adria. Some ancient writers, indeed, derive it from the Latin word
Verg. A. 1.726
15.3, 4), an etymology accepted by many modern
writers, and among others by Marquardt; but the Etruscan origin is the
more probable. Its earliest form is represented in Etruscan cinerary
urns, of which an example is given below, where
Cinerary urn, in the form of an Etruscan house, from Chiusi,
the ancieut Clusium. (Dennis, Etruria, ii. p. 345.)
we see the opening in the roof, and the entrance door leading
direct into the atrium.
This opening was
intended to give light to the building, and as a vent for the smoke, but
as the atrium
became enlarged, it took the
form of the compluvium
mentioned below. The roof was
supported by four beams, crossing each other at right angles, and
sloping towards the roof in the centre. This kind of roof, only found in
later times in small houses, retained in memory of its origin the name
). The development of the atrium
is explained further on. We now follow the description of Vitruvius.
- 1. VESTIBULUM
There has been much dispute respecting the exact
signification of this word, which has arisen from the
different meanings attached to it at different periods of
history and in different kinds of houses. In the palaces of
the nobles the vestibulum was a
vacant space before the house, forming a courtyard or
entrance-court, surrounded on three sides by the house, and
open on the fourth to the street. The two wings ran out
beyond the façade of the building, and the door
was in the third side opposite the street. In some houses
the projecting sides were occupied by shops opening into the
street. In the vestibulum the
clients assembled, till the door was opened, to pay their
respects (salutatio) to the
master of the house, so that they might not be left standing
either in the street or within the house (Gel. 16.5, § § 3,
8, “vestibulum, quod est ante domum,” Varr.
L. L. 7.81; Macrob. 6.8.15; Sen.
ad Marc. 10, 1; Quint. Inst. 11.2.20;
Cic. Caec. 12, 35; Mil. 27, 75). Hence the
“vestibula regalia alta,” or
“magnifica vestibula,” as Vitruvius calls
them, were only required by the nobility on account of the
salutatio; and the ordinary
citizens ( “qui communi fortuna sunt” ) had no
occasion for a vestibulum
(Vitr. 6.8, §
§ 1, 2). Accordingly, in the smaller houses in Rome
and the municipal towns, there was either no vestibulum, so that the door opened
straight upon the street, as in the Capitoline plan of Rome
(see cut, p. 676 a), or the
vestibulum was simply
indicated by the door standing back a few feet from the
street, as in many of the houses at Pompeii. (See plans of
house of the Tragic Poet, p. 681 a, and house of Paus., p. 681 b.) Sometimes there were steps from the
street leading up to the vestibulum (Sen. Ep. 84). In the
houses of the nobility the vestibulum was adorned with statues, arms, and
other trophies (Plin. Nat.
35.7; Liv. 10.7, 22.57; Cic. Phil. 2.28, 68; Verg. A. 2.504;
Tib. 1.1, 54; Ov. Tr. 3.1,
33; Suet. Tib. 26, Ner. 38), sometimes with quadrigae
(Juv. 7.125; Sil. Ital. 6.434); and in
the vestibulum before the
Golden House of Nero there was the colossal figure of the
emperor, 120 feet in height (Suet.
Nero 31). [COLOSSUS] It was for the most part
uncovered (Plaut. Most. 3.2,
132), but sometimes had a porticus or colonnade (Suet. Nero 16; Tac. Ann. 15.43), and was
adorned with trees or shrubs (Verg.
G. 4.20). But as the influence of the nobility
declined in the first century of the Christian era, and the
clients gradually disappeared, there was no longer any
occasion for a vestibulum in
the houses of the nobles; and hence the exact meaning of the
word became a matter of dispute among antiquarians [p. 1.669]in the time of the Antonines
(Gel. 16.5, §
§ 2, 8). Moreover, as the master of the house no
longer lived in the atrium, but
in the peristylium and the
adjoining rooms, the atrium
became the place of waiting for visitors, and is thus
sometimes apparently used as synonymous with vestibulum (Liv. 5.41.2; Ov. Fast. vi. 297;
Suet. Aug. 100).
Public buildings also had vestibula, as the curia or senate-house (Liv. 1.48, 2.48), and various temples (Liv. Ep.
86; V. Max. 1.8, §
§ 2, 11; Tac. Hist.
1.86: cf. Marquardt, Privatl. p. 219;
ii. p. 239).
- 2. OSTIUM
The ostium was the entrance to
the house (Vitruv. ap. Serv. ad
Verg. A. 6.43 ; Isidor.
15.7), and is constantly used as synonymous with janua and fores, the door. But ostium properly signified the small vacant space
before the janua, whence
Plautus (Pers. 5.1, 6) says ante ostium et januam. Here stood
the antae, two posts or pillars
flanking the doorway (Isidor. l.c.;
Fest. p. 16, M.). [ANTAE] On the threshold the word Salve was frequently wrought in
mosaic, as we see in the Pompeian houses; and over the
threshold there sometimes hung a cage containing a magpie
(pica) or a parrot (psittacus), taught to greet those
who entered (Petron. 28; “pica salutatrix,”
Mart. 7.87, 6, 14.76; Pers. prol. 8). Over the door a few words
of good omen were sometimes written, such as “nihil
intret mali” (Orelli-Henz. Inscr.
7287), or “deprecatio incendiorum” (Plin. Nat. 28.20; Fest. p.
18, M.; Orelli, 1384). Sometimes the house was indicated by
a sign over the door, as in mediaeval times. Thus we are
told that Augustus was born “ad Capita Bubula”
(Suet. Aug. 5), and
Domitian “ad Malum Punicum” (Suet. Dom. 1). The street-door
itself is fully described under JANUA
Whether the street-door opened into a hall, or direct into
the atrium, has been a subject
of much dispute. Vitruvius mentions no entrance-hall in a
Roman house, and he seems to speak of the Greek
placed between two doors as a peculiarity of a Greek house
(Vitr. 6.10). But there are
reasons for believing there must have been an entrancehall
in the palaces of the nobility, as behind the door there was
a small room (cella) for the
house-porter (ostiarius or janitor),
and it is difficult to suppose that this was in the atrium (Ov.
Am. 1.6, 1; Suet.
de Rhet. 3, Vitell. 16;
Colum. i. praef. 10; Petron. 28),
especially as a dog was kept by his side, chained to the
wall, with a written warning Cave
Canem (Suet. Vitell. 16; Plaut.
Most. 3.2, 169; Sen.
de Ir. 3.37). Sometimes a dog was painted
on the wall (Petron. 29), or wrought in mosaic on the
pavement, as we find in the house of the Tragic poet at
Pompeii. At the end of the hall, which seems to have been
called ostium, there was no
inner door, as Becker describes, but the entrance to the
atrium was closed by a
curtain (velum), which was
drawn aside by the usher when he admitted strangers to an
interview (Lamprid. Alex. Sev. 5;
Heliog. 14; Sen. Ep. 20;
Plin. Ep. 2.17). The
entrance-hall was small, so that a person in the atrium could look through it at
persons walking in the street (Suet.
Cal. 41). The smallness of the hall explains, as
Göll says, the passages cited by Marquardt to prove
that the street-door led directly into the atrium (Marquardt,
Privatl. p. 222; Becker-Göll,
Gallus, ii. p. 238).
- 3. ATRIUM
The first point to he determined in connexion with the
atrium, upon which the
whole disposition of a Roman house depends, is, whether the
atrium and the cavum aedium (or cavaedium, as Pliny, Plin. Ep. 2.17, 5, writes it) denote two separate courts or one and
the same. Some modern writers, notably Becker in his
Gallus, whom Burn has
followed, maintain that they were distinct courts, and
accordingly place three courts in a Roman house,--first the
atrium, then the cavum aedium in the centre, and
lastly the peristylium in the
rear. But this view cannot be maintained; it is rejected by
the best modern authorities; it is in direct opposition to
the statements of Varro (L. L. 5.161) and
Vitruvius (6.3 and 8), who call
sometimes the chief room of the house atrium and sometimes cavum
aedium; and it is contradicted by the fact, that no
houses in Pompeii have yet been discovered containing more
than two courts,--namely, the atrium and peristylium. We may therefore conclude that the
atrium and the cavum aedium denote the same room,
the only difference perhaps being that cavum aedium indicated originally the open part,
and atrium the entire area; but
in general the two words are used as synonymous. The
atrium or cavum aedium was a large room or
court roofed over, with the exception of an opening in the
centre, called compluvium,
towards which the roof sloped so as to throw the rain-water
into a cistern in the floor, termed impluvium (Varr. l.c.; Fest. p. 108, M.; Liv.
43.13, 6; Plaut.
Amph. 5.1, 56). The water from the
impluvium flowed into a
well (puteus) under ground; for
before the construction of the aqueducts the Romans were
dependent upon wells for their supply of water. The word
impluvium, however, is
sometimes employed in a wider sense to denote the whole
uncovered space in the atrium,
and therefore the opening in the top as well as the cistern
at the bottom. (Cic. Act. in
Verr. 1.23, 61, with the note of
Pseudo-Ascon. p. 177, Or.; Serv. ad
Verg. A. 2.512; “per
impluvium introspectant,” Plaut.
Mil. 2.2, 3, 2.3, 16; Ter. Eun. 3.5, 40). Compluvium in like manner is sometimes used in
the same wide signification as equivalent to impluvium (Suet. Aug. 92; Varr. L. L.
5.125). The compluvium was
sometimes covered with hangings, as a protection against the
sun (Ov. Met. 10.595 ;
Plin. Nat. 19. §
§ 24, 25; Dig. 33, 7, 12.20).
The breadth of the impluvium,
according to Vitruvius, was not less than a quarter nor
greater than a third of the breadth of the atrium; its length was in the same
proportion according to the length of the atrium.
Vitruvius (6.3) distinguishes five
kinds of atria or cava aedium, which were called by
the following names:--
The atrium, as we have already seen, was originally the only
room of the house, serving as sitting-room, bed-room, and
kitchen, which it probably continued to do among the lower
classes even in later times (Serv. ad
Verg. A. 1.726, 9.648; Varr. ap. Non. p. 83,
s. v. cortes). Here was the focus, or hearth, which served not
only for cooking, but from its sacred character was used
also for the receptacle of the Lares or Penates, which were
sometimes kept in little cupboards near the hearth. (
“Juxta focum Dii Penates positi fuerunt,”
Schol. ad Hor.
Epod. 2.43; Plaut. Aul. 2.18,
15; Tib. 1.10, 20; Juv.
8.110; Petron. 29.) The Lar or tutelary god of the
house stood close to the entrance behind the door leading
into the atrium (Ov. Fast. 1.136
seq.); and we find him so placed in
some of the Pompeian houses. Near the sacred flame the
members of the family took the common meal (Serv. ll. cc.), and the same custom
continued in the country even in the time of Augustus (Hor.
Sat. 2.6, 65 seq.). In the atrium the master of the house kept his area or money-chest (Serv. ll. cc.), which was fastened to the
floor. [ARCA] Here
stood the nuptial bed (lectus
genialis, Fest. p. 94, M.) against the back wall,
opposite the entrance to the atrium, whence it was also called lectus adversus (Prop. iv. (v.) 11,
85; Gel. 16.9; Ascon. in
Mil. p. 43, Orelli). Here sat the mistress of
the house, spinning and weaving with her maids (Liv. 1.57, 9; Ascon. l.c.; Arnob.
2.67). Here all visits were paid, and the patron received
his clients (Hor. Ep. 1.5,
31, “more patrio
sedens in solio consulentibus responderem,”
Cic. Leg. 1.3,
10). Here the corpse was placed before it was carried out to
Here, in the alae (see below),
were placed the waxen imagines
of the ancestors of the house. [IMAGINES.]
But as wealth increased, and numerous clients came to wait
upon their patron, new rooms were built, and the atrium ceased to be the only room
for the family. A kitchen (culina; see p. 671 b) was made for cooking, the Lares were placed in
a special lararium (see p. 672
b); the meals were taken in
the upper story, hence called cenaculum (Varr. L. L 5.162; see
p. 665 b); the master and
mistress slept in a separate cubiculum. As the atrium now became the reception room, it was
fitted up among the wealthy with much splendour and
magnificence for the reception of their clients. The opening
in the roof was enlarged for the admission of more light,
and was supported by pillars frequently made of costly
marble (see p. 667 a). Between
the pillars and along the walls statues and other works of
art were placed (Cic. Ver.
1.23, 61; Apul.
Met. 2.4). In the middle of the impluvium was a marble fountain,
with jets of water, frequently adorned with reliefs, of
which many beautiful specimens have been found at Pompeii.
Near the fountain, where the hearth formerly stood, was a
marble table, called cartibulum
(Varr. L. L. 5.125). [CARTIBULUM]
The atrium, however, still
continued, as in ancient times, to be the chief room of the
house, and it was not only the room for the reception of
guests, but its primitive character was preserved by its
retaining the symbolical nuptial couch (Hor. Ep. 1.1, 87), the imagines of the ancestors, and the
instruments for weaving and spinning. The ancient writers
frequently contrast the simplicity of the ancient with the
splendour of the modern atrium.
“Cur invidendis postibus et novo
- (1.) Tuscanicum. In this the roof
was supported by four beams, crossing each other at
right angles, the included space forming the
kind of atrium was the
most ancient of all, as it is more simple than the
others, and is not adapted for a very large
- (2.) Tetrastylum. This was of the
same form as the preceding, except that the main
beams of [p. 1.670]the roof were
supported by pillars, placed at the four angles of
the impluvium. Such
an arrangement would be necessary in a large
atrium, as the roof
could not otherwise be well supported.
- (3.) Corinthium was
on the same principle as the tetrastyle, only that
there were a greater number of pillars around the
impluvium, on which
the beams of the roof rested.
- (4.) Displuviatum had its roof
sloping the contrary way to the compluvium, so that the water fell
outside the house instead of being carried into the
impluvium, and was
carried off by gutters.
- (5.) Testudinatum was
constructed in the same way as the displuviatum, but it was
roofed all over and had no compluvium. We are not informed,
however, how light was admitted into an atrium of this kind. This
form went out of use: we have no instances of it in
the Pompeian houses.
（Hor. Carm. 3.1.45; cf.
“caret invidenda sobrius aula,”
Hor. Carm. 2.10.7; Verg. G. 2.461
Plin. Nat. 35.6;
“atrium ex more veterum,”
Plin. Ep. 5.6.15.) The
magnificence of the atria under
the empire is constantly alluded to by the poets and other
writers ( “atria marmore tecta,”
Ov. Met. 14.260;
“purpureis effulta columnis atria,” Claud.
in Ruf. 2.135; “laqueata,”
Auson. Id. 10.49; “atria
ampla, alta, longa,”
Vitr. 6.5, 2; Mart. 12.50; Verg. A. 1.725).
The rooms which opened out of the atrium were lighted only through the compluvium, as there were no
windows, as a general rule, upon the ground-floor.
- 4. ALAE, wings. The Alae were two small quadrangular
apartments or recesses on the left and right sides of the
atrium (Vitr. 6.4), but at its further end, and open to
the atrium, as we see in the
Pompeian houses. Here the imagines were kept in the houses of the nobles.
But as the alae were really a
part of the atrium, the
imagines were frequently
described as standing in the atrium. (Juv. 8.19
Plin. Nat. 35.6; Or.
Am. 1.8, 65; Mart.
2.90, 6, 5.20, 5-7; Marquardt,
Privatl. p. 235.)
- 5. TABLINUM.
The TABLINUM was in all probability a recess or room at
the further end of the atrium opposite the door leading into
the hall, and was regarded as part of the atrium. It contained the family records and
archives. (Vitr. 6.4 and 8; Fest.
p. 356; Plin. Nat. 35.7.)
It appears from the houses of Pompeii to have been separated
not by a door, but simply by a curtain or velum, while it had a door at the back
leading into the peristylium.
Marquardt supposes that the tablinum was originally an alcove made of wood
(whence its name) built at the back of the atrium, in which meals were taken
during the summer, and was afterwards joined to the atrium by breaking through the walls
of the latter (Varr. ap. Non. p. 83, s. v. cortes).
With the tablinum, the Roman
house appears to have originally ceased; the sleeping rooms
being arranged on the upper floor. But when [p. 1.671]the atrium and its
surrounding rooms were used for the reception of clients and
other public visitors, it became necessary to increase the
size of the house; and the following rooms were accordingly
- 6. FAUCES
The FAUCES was a
passage by the side of the tablinum, which passed from the atrium to the peristylium or open court, as we see in the
Pompeian houses. We must not suppose, as Rich does, that the
plural indicates two passages (Vitr.
- 7. PERISTYLIUM
The PERISTYLIUM was in its general form like the atrium, but it was one-third greater
in breadth, measured transversely, than in length (Vitr. 6.4); but we do not find
these proportions preserved in the Pompeian houses. It was a
court open to the sky in the middle; the open part, which
was surrounded by columns, had a fountain in the centre, and
was planted with flowers, shrubs, and trees forming a viridarium. The atrium and peristylium were the two important parts of a
Roman house; the former, during the last century of the
republic and under the empire, being the public reception
room, and the latter the inner or private court-yard, which
gave access to the private rooms, such as the oeci or saloons, the triclinia or dining-rooms, the
baths, and the other rooms described below. The peristylium having never been used,
like the atrium, as a place in
which the family lived, the opening to the sky was much
larger than the compluvium in
the atrium, and the columns
which surrounded it more numerous. Thus, in the house of the
Faun at Pompeii, there were forty-four Doric columns in the
peristylium. It was
ornamented in much the same way as the atrium; and consequently it is sometimes
difficult to determine whether the description of this
ornamentation applies to the atrium or the peristylium. But the large. marble fountain, with
the steps leading down to it, on which the waters splashed
(Sen. Ep. 86, 6; “in peristylio
Suet. Aug. 82), and the
numerous shrubs and trees, of which the ancient writers
frequently speak, belong properly to the peristylium. Hence we may safely assign to
the peristylium the
descriptions of Horace (Hor. Ep.
“nempe inter varias nutritur silva
columnas,” and (Carm. 3.10, 5)
“nemus inter pulchra saturn tecta,” and of
Tibullus (3.3, 15), “et nemora in domibus sacros
imitantia lucos.” (Cf. Juv.
4.7; Plin. Nat.
17.4; Sen. Controv. 5.5.) Between the
columns of the peristylium
statues were placed ( “in silva sub divo,”
Cic. Ver. 1.19, 51), and vases filled with
flowers (Dig. 33, 7, 26).
The arrangement of the rooms leading out of the peristylium,
which are next to be noticed, varied, as has
been remarked, according to the taste and circumstances of the owner. It
is therefore impossible to assign to them any regular place in the
- 1. CUBICULA, bed-chambers, appear to
have been usually small. There were separate cubicula for the day and night (cubicula diurna et nocturna,
Plin. Ep. 1.3); the latter were also
called dormitoria, and were mostly on
the upper floor. (Id. 5.6, 21; Plin.
N. 30.52; Sidon. Apoll. Ep. 2.2.) Vitruvius (6.7) recommends that they should face the
east for the benefit of the rising sun. They sometimes had a small
ante-room, which was called by the Greek name of προκοιτών, in which the cubicularius or valet probably slept. (Plin. Ep. 2.17, 23.) In some of the Pompeian houses we
find a recess in which the bed was placed. This recess was called
zotheca or zothecula, and was used by Pliny in his villa in the
day-time as well as the night (Plin. Ep.
2.17, 21, 5.6, 38; Sidon. Apoll Ep. 8.16, 9.11). Statues
also were placed in this recess, as we learn from inscriptions
(Orelli, 1368, 2006).
- 2. TRICLINIA, dining-rooms, are treated
of in a separate article. [TRICLINIUM]
- 3. OECI, from the Greek οἶκος, were spacious halls or saloons
borrowed from the Greeks, and were frequently used as triclinia. (Cf. Plin. Nat. 36.184.) They were to have the same
proportions as triclinia, but were to
be more spacious on account of having columns, which triclinia had not. (Vitr. 6.5.) Vitruvius mentions four kinds of oeci:--
- (i.) The Tetrastyle, which needs no further
description. Four columns supported the roof.
- (ii.) The Corinthian, which
possessed only one row of columns, supporting the
cornice (corona), and a vaulted
- (iii.) The Egyptian, which was more
splendid and more like a basilica than a Corinthian triclinium. In the Egyptian oecus, the pillars supported a
gallery with paved floor, which formed a walk round the
apartment; and upon these pillars others were placed, a
fourth part less in height than the lower, which surrounded
the roof. Between the upper columns windows were inserted.
- (iv.) The Cyzicene (Κυζικηνοί) appears in the time of Vitruvius
to have been seldom used in Italy. These oeci were meant for summer use looking to the
north, and, if possible, facing gardens, to which they
opened by folding-doors. Pliny had oeci of this kind in his villa.
- 4. EXEDRAE, which appear to have been in
form much the same as the oeci, for
Vitruvius (6.5) speaks of the exedrae in connexion with oeci quadrati, were rooms for conversation and the
other purposes of society. (Cic. de
Nat. Deor. 1.6, 15; de
Orat. 3.5, 17.) They served the same purposes as the
exedrae in the Thermae and
Gymnasia, which were semicircular rooms with seats for philosophers
and others to converse in. (Vitr. 5.11,
7.9; BALNEAE p. 282 a.)
- 5, 6, 7. PINACOTHECA, BIBLIOTHECA, and
BALINEUM [see BALNEAE], are treated of in separate
- 8. CULINA the kitchen.
The food was originally cooked in the atrium, as has been already stated (see p. 670
a); but the progress of
refinement afterwards led to the use of another part of the
house for this purpose. In the kitchen of Paus.'s house, of
which a drawing is given on the next page, a stove for stews and
similar preparations was found, very much like the charcoal
stoves used in the present day. (See woodcut.) Before it lie a
knife, a strainer, and a kind of frying-pan with four spherical
cavities, as if it were meant to cook eggs.
In this kitchen, as well as in many others at Pompeii, there are
paintings of the Lares and Penates, to whom the hearth in the
atrium was sacred, and under
whose care the kitchen was also placed. (Serv. ad
Verg. A. 2.469; Arnob. 2.67.) In
the country the meals were [p. 1.672]taken in
the kitchen, as they were in ancient times in the atrium (Col.
1.6; Varr. R. R.
1.13). The kitchen was in the back part of the house,
and in connexion with it was the pistrinum or bake-house, where bread was baked at
home (Varr. ap. Non. p. 55, 18; Lucil. ap. Non. p. 217, 20); but
after B.C. 171 there were public bake-houses in Rome (Plin.
H. N. xviii, § 107). [PISTOR] In the houses
of the wealthy, as may be supposed, the kitchens were often of
great size (Sen. Ep. 114, cf. 64). In Pompeii
have been found sinks of kitchens, called confluvia (Varr. ap. Non. p. 544, 20) or coquinae fusoria (Pallad. R.
In close and inconvenient proximity to the kitchen was the
latrina (contraction of
lavatrina, Varr. L.
L. 5.118), or privy, in order that a common drain might
carry off the contents of both to the cloaca or public sewer (Varr. l. c.;
Col. 10.85; cf. Plaut.
Curc. 4.4, 24; Suet. Tib.
58; Apul. Met. 1.100.17, p. 15; on the
Spongia mentioned by Sen.
Ep. 70, 20, cf. Mart.
12.48, 7). In many of the
Pompeian houses we find the latrina
contiguous to the kitchen, as is shown in the annexed cut from
the house of Sallust. On the right are
Culina or kitchen, in Paus.'s house.
two small arches, which are the kitchen stove. On the
left is an arched recess, which is the latrina, originally closed by a wooden door, of
which the marks of the hinges may still be seen; and at the
bottom is the mouth of the pipe supplying the place with
Culina and Latrina in the house of Sallust. (Gell,
- 9. CENACULA, or rooms in the upper
stories;, have been already explained (see p. 665).
- 10. LARARIUM or SACRARIUM The Lares or
Penates were originally placed near the hearth of the house in the
atrium (see p. 670 a) but when the latter became only a
reception room, they were removed to a special chapel, called
Lararium (Lamprid. Alex.
Sev. 29, 31; Vopisc. Florian. 4; Capitol.
Anton. Phil. 3) or Sacrarium (Cic. Fam.
13.2; Cic. Verr.
4.2, 4), in which statues of other divinities were also
placed. Such a chapel is found in the peristylium of many of the Pompeian houses.
- 11. DIAETA does not
denote any particular kind of room, but is a word borrowed from the
Greek (δίαιτα) to signify a room
used for any of the purposes of life. (Plin. Ep. 2.17, 12 7.5,
1 ; Stat. Silv. 2.2, 83.) Each diaeta was sometimes called by a name, as the one
belonging to Claudius (Suet. Cl. 10).
Thus it denotes also a bed-chamber (Plin.
Ep. 6.16, 14), a
dining-room (Sidon. Apoll. Ep. 2.2), a summer-house
or a room in a garden (Plin. Ep.
2.17, 20; Dig. 7, 1, 66.1; Orelli, Inscr. 4373, &c.).
It is also the collective name of a set of chambers, Thus Pliny
speaks (5.6, 31). of two diaetae, in
one of which were four bed-chambers, and in another three.
- 12. SOLARIUM
literally a place for basking in the sun, denotes a terrace on the
flat roof of a house, frequently used by the Romans, as is still the
case in Italy and the East. (Isidor. 15.3, 12; Dig.
8, 2, 17; Plaut. Mil. Glor. 2.3, 69, 2.4, 25; Suet. Cl. 10; Macrob. 2.4, 14.) In the
time of the emperors, these solaria on
the tops of houses were turned into gardens, which contained even
fruit-trees and fish-ponds (Sen. Ep. 122;
Contr. Exc. 5.5). Somewhat similar were the
solaria built by Nero on the
colonnades in front of the insulae and
domus (Suet. Nero 16; Tac. Ann.
15.43). Sometimes the solaria
were covered by a roof ( “tectum solarium,” Orelli,
Some other parts of a Roman house require a brief mention.
- 1. CELLAE SERVORUM, FAMILIARES or FAMILIARICAE, the small bed-rooms of the
slaves, were usually situated in the upper story, as in the house of
Paus. at Pompeii, or in the back of the house, with the exception of
the cella of the house-porter, which
was naturally close to the front door (see p. 669 a). (Col. 1.6 ; Cic. Phil. 2.27, 67; Hor. Sat. 1.8, 8; Vitr. 6.7; Plin. Ep. 2.17, 9).
- 2. CELLA also denoted
the store-room, of which there were several, bearing various names,
according to their contents. Of these an account is given under CELLA No. 1, where the
cella vinaria is likewise
- 3. CELLARS underground and vaulted are
rarely mentioned ( “hypogea concamerationes-que,”
Vitruv. vi. (8) 11; “constructum sub terris
aedificium,” Isidor. 16.3), though several have been found at
Though no Etruscan houses are extant, we obtain a good idea of their
form and general disposition from their tombs, as there can be no
doubt that their cemeteries were often intentional representations
of their cities, and the separate tombs of their houses. The
arrangement of the latter throws light upon that of the Roman house,
the original [p. 1.673]
form of which was borrowed
from the Etruscans. (See above, p. 668 a.
) Thus in the cemetery of Cervetri,
ancient Agylla or Caere, the tombs have a large central chamber,
representing the atrium,
with others of
smaller size opening out of it, lighted by windows in the wall of
the rock, as they could of course have no opening or compluvium
in the roof. The ceilings of all
the chambers have the usual beams and rafters hewn in the rock. The
smaller rooms round the atrium
for each has a bench of
rock round three of its sides, on which the dead had been deposited,
reclining as at a banquet. (Dennis, Etruria,
i. p. 238.) The following plan of one of these
tombs shows a clear resemblance to an ancient house.
Plan of a tomb at Cervetri. (Dennis, Etruria, 1.256.)
- a. Rock-hewn steps
leading down to the tomb.
- b. Entrance-hall.
- cc. Small chambers, the
cellae of the
janitor or ostiarius.
- d. Doorway to the tomb.
- e. Principal chamber
- fff. Inner chambers or
We find a similar arrangement in the tombs at Chiusi, the ancient
Clusium, where the passage leads into the principal chamber or
out of which open several
smaller chambers or triclinia
vol. ii. p. 350).
Existing remains of Roman houses.
The oldest remains of a house in Rome are those of the Regia, which,
according to Dio Cassius (43.42), was the residence of the Pontifex
Maximus, and was on the site of the house occupied by Numa. The
Regia stood at the S.E. limits of the Forum, close by the Temple of
Vesta, adjoining the House of the Vestal Virgins (D. C. 44.17
; Cic. Att. 10.3
existing remains are of several dates: the oldest walls are of the
softest tufa, and belong probably to a structure many centuries
earlier than the Christian era ; next comes a part built of hard
blocks of peperino (lapis Albanus).
later part of the house is built of concrete faced with burnt
bricks, and has columns of the hard travertine thickly coated with
stucco, and painted in brilliant tints of blue and red. This is
probably part of the rebuilding carried out by Domitius Calvinus
after his victories in Spain, c.
Another portion of the same or an adjoining building was built of
solid blocks of white marble. This also may be part of Calvinus's
work. There are many reasons for believing that the Consular Fasti
(now in the Capitoline Museum) were engraved on the solid marble
walls of one of these rooms in the Regia (see Bull. Inst.
1886, p. 99). This interesting building
exists only in a very fragmentary state, and its complete plan
cannot be made out. The rooms are small, and the atrium
also appears to have been of very limited
extent. The mosaic pavements and painted decorations belong to the
alterations made in the time of Augustus.
One of the best preserved houses in Rome is also of special interest
from its early date. This is the small dwelling usually known as
“the House of Livia” or “of
Gemanicus,” which is built in a hollow in the N.W. part of
the Palatine hill. That it is probably not later in date than the
time of Augustus is shown by the construction of its walls, which
are formed of concrete faced with very neat opus
of tufa, no brick being used. The figure
on the next page shows its plan, which, owing to the irregularity of
the site, is at two different levels: the small rooms grouped round
the staircase F being at a much higher level than the larger rooms
by the atrium;
the stairs D lead from
up to the higher floor
behind. The main entrance is at B, approached down a short flight of
steps. C C are pedestals for a statue and an altar: E E are
bedrooms; G is a narrow crypto-porticus,
which branches out of H, another dark passage, forming hidden
communications with different buildings on this part of the
Palatine. A is a third vaulted passage which leads to Caligula's
palace: this is possibly the path by which Caligula's murderers
escaped when they hid themselves in the house of Germanicus (J. AJ 19.1
The paintings in the principal rooms of this house are among the
finest examples of Roman wall decoration that still exist (see
Renier, Les Peintures du Palatin
). The most
remarkable (in the tablinum
) is a scene
of the liberation of lo by Hermes, who approaches stealthily to kill
Argus, who is watching her. In composition, colour, and in delicacy
of touch, this is a work of much beauty. As the names of the figures
were painted under each in Greek, it appears probable that it is the
work of a Greek artist: only one name (ΕΡΜΗΣ
) is now legible. On the same wall is a
street scene, with lofty houses several stories high, and fanciful
balconies and porticoes. In the triclinium
are some very clever paintings of bowls of
fruit, in which grapes and apples are seen through the transparent
glass of which the bowls are made.
The floors are formed of marble mosaic in simple geometrical
patterns, very neatly fitted together, with much smaller tesserae
than were used under the later
On the upper floor a long passage, approached by the staircase D,
divides the house into two [p. 1.674]
parts. J K L M
seem to be small bath-rooms. N N are shops with no communication
with the house, facing a public street, O O. At P are
Plan of the so-called House of Livia.
- A. Passage.
- B. Stairs.
- C C. Pedestals for statues.
- D. Stairs.
- E E. Bed-rooms.
- F. Stairs.
- G. Crypto-Porticus.
- H. Crypto-Porticus.
- J K L M. Bath-rooms.
- N N. Shops.
- O O. Street.
- P. Early Building.
- Q. Piscina.
remains of a very ancient tufa building. Q is a piscina,
which seems partly to have supplied
the house with water. A number of inscribed lead pipes were found,
but these were of later date than the house itself: water was laid
on to the upper as well as to the ground floors.
As seems to have been usually the case in Roman houses till the reign
of Augustus, the only method of heating was by charcoal braziers
). In the tablinum
a small recess is provided for the foculus
The use of hypocausts for private houses was a
later introduction, and the very complete system of heating rooms,
which provided not only for hot air under the hypocaust floors, but
also wall-linings of flue-tiles all over the internal wall-surface
of a room, did not come into ceneral use till about the end of the
second century A.D. In the third century especially the
rapidly-growing effeminacy of the Romans led them to provide in the
most elaborate manner for the heating of their houses; and the
contrast is very great between the shut-in, highly-heated apartments
of the later empire, as compared with the half open-air life and
scanty warming of the earlier houses. In the above figured plan the
and its alae
are open on one side to the only partially
roofed atrium; an arrangement fitted only for a hardy race, such as
the Romans once were. The later houses, with their glazed and
curtained windows, hollow floors, and walls radiating heat from
their whole surface, must have had an atmosphere very like that of a
modern hot-house. For details of the construction of hypocausts and
the arrangement of flue-lined walls, the reader is referred to the
Owing to the fact that no Roman house now exists with walls perfect
up to the roof, it had for long been a matter of doubt how the hot
air and smoke from the hypocausts escaped after passing through the
flue-tiles which lined the walls. An explanation of this has now
been furnished by an extremely interesting mosaic picture found in
1878 at Oued-Atmenia in Algeria. (See Proceedings of the Soc.
Archéol. de Constantine,
vol. for 1878.) This
most valuable picture is a perspective view of a very large country
mansion, built by a wealthy Roman named Pompeianus, who was
Proconsul of Africa under Honorius. The mosaic itself formed part of
the pavement of the house which it represents. The building is one
of immense extent, and varies from four to six stories in height.
The ground-floor has only a few plain rectangular windows, fitted
with strong iron gratings. In the upper stories the windows, partly
arched and partly square-headed, are placed at frequent intervals.
The long line of the main block is broken by t c lofty tower-like
structures. The central and most important part of the house has a
low-pitched roof covered with red tiles, from the ridge of which, at
four different points, chimney stacks project, just as they would in
a modern house. What appears to be a conical smoke-cowl is set over
each chimney. This unique mosaic gives a clear notion of the
external appearance of one of the large mansions of the later
empire, such as could never be gained from an examination of any of
the very imperfect existing remains of Roman dwellings. numerous
though they are, from which little more than the plan of the
ground-floor can usually be gathered. And here it may be remarked
that most writers on the subject of Roman houses appear to have
ignored the fact that it was usually, if not invariably, the custom
to build with an upper story, and hence it is obviously a mistake in
examining the existing remains of any house to expect to find the
whole accommodation of the dwelling provided on the ground-floor. It
appears probable that in nearly all cases the best bedrooms were
placed upstairs, where there was ample space for rooms of a good
size, and yet it is usual to describe small cell-like rooms on the
ground-floor as being the chief sleeping apartments of the family,
in spite of [p. 1.675]
their obvious drawbacks from
damp and want of light. In Italy especially ground-floor bedrooms
are far from being healthy.
In 1874 remains of a very interesting house of the time of Augustus
were found on the Esquiline hill, not far from the Basilica of S.
Maria Maggiore: from its position on the line of the Servian wall
it has been called
“the House of Maecenas,” who lived in that quarter,
where he converted the public burial-ground into a large park (Hor.
1.8, 14; “horti
Suet. Tib. 15
). This palace of
Maecenas from its lofty position on the Esquiline is called by
9, 3) “alta domus,” and is
probably alluded to in another passage ( “molem propinquam
Hor. Carm. 3.29.10
); and on
account of its healthy situation Augustus slept there when he was
ill (Suet. Aug. 72
). Tiberius took up
his residence there. These gardens were of great extent, and were
united by Nero with his palace on the Palatine hill (Tac. Ann. 15.39
; Suet. Nero 31
), and it was from one of
the towers of Maecenas, which commanded an extensive view, that he
surveyed the conflagration of Rome (Suet.
; cf. Burn, Rome,
227). One fine
room of this house, still well preserved, is of especial interest;
this appears to have been a sort of greenhouse for plants and
flowers: it is a large vaulted chamber, with a semicircular apse at
one end; all round the walls are tiers of high steps once lined with
marble, intended to form stands for rows of flower-pots; arranged
exactly as in a modern conservatory. Prof. Mohr (Bull. Inst.
vol. for 1875) has pointed out that the
cultivation of shrubs and flowers in this way was largely practised
by the Romans. On each side of the hall are six recesses, decorated
with paintings of garden scenes, with fountains among the flowers,
treated in a skilfully deceptive way, so as to look as if each
recess were a window opening on to a real garden. The light was
admitted only through openings in the barrel vault of the hall, on
which were paintings of similar floral subjects; a remarkable
example of the theatrical scene-painter's style of decoration which
was popular among the Romans.
The House of Sallust
The House of Sallust,
the historian, was one of
the finest houses in Rome. It had, like the house of Maecenas,
extensive gardens, whence the residence was frequently called
the Horti Sallustiani.
It was built by Sallust
with the riches obtained in his government of Numidia
(Pseud.-Cic. Respons. in
, § 19); and after the death
of his heir, Sallustius Crisp us, in the reign of Tiberius, it
appears to have passed into the hands of the emperor, as it is
subsequently mentioned as an imperial palace, and the residence
of several of the emperors. So large were the gardens, that the
Emperor Aurelian, who preferred living there to the Palatine,
erected in them a colonnade, 1000 paces long,in which he took
horse exercise. Part of this house still exists in the narrow
valley between the Pincian and Quirinal hills, near the Porta Collina
in the Servian wall.
(Tac. Ann. 13.47
3.82; Plin. Nat. 7.75
; D. C.
; Vopisc. Aurel.
The position of this house is peculiar: part of it stands on the
lower ground at the foot of a cliff of the Quirinal, and part on
the top of the cliff; so that the floor of the third story of
the lower part was level with the ground-floor of the rest. The
figure shows the plan of the
House of Sallust in Rome.
existing remains, which will be soon destroyed by the
filling up of the valley, where the building stands, to make new
boulevards: a most serious loss. The circular part A is a lofty
domed hall: B B is a balcony-like gallery, supported on corbels,
which runs round the outside of the main building, at a height
of about forty feet above the ground: C is a fine vaulted room,
with two stories over it: D D is a retaining wall, built against
the scarped face of the cliff to keep the crumbling tufa rock
from decay: E E are rooms in four or five stories, some with
concrete and others with wooden floors: F are winding
marble-lined stairs, with mosaic landings, which led to the top
of the house and the rooms on the higher level of the hill. This
part is still about seventy feet high. G is another marble-lined
staircase. A great part of the house is still unexcavated. The
date of the existing portion is of the first century A.D., and is evidently part of
additions made by the early emperors. In the sixteenth century
an immense quantity of valuable marbles, including magnificent
columns of Oriental alabaster and Numidian giallo antico,
were found in the ruins of Sallust's
house, and used to decorate several of the churches of Rome.
Many inscribed lead waterpipes have been found there at different
times: some have the name of the estate, the reigning emperor,
the plumber, and the capacity of the pipe, e. g. XIII. ORTORVM SALLVSTIANOR. IMP. SEV.
ALEXANDRI AVG. NAEVIVS MANES FECIT. A topographical
indication on a Roman lead pipe is very rare.
Other private houses at Rome
Some very splendidly decorated houses have recently, during the
formation of the new Tiber embankment, been discovered and
then-destroyed, along the line of the Farnesina gardens, by the
right bank of the river. These were very richly ornamented with
paintings, and especially with stucco reliefs of extraordinary
beauty, evidently dating from the middle or early part of the
first century A.D. Many of these were almost of pure Greek
style, free from any of the usual Roman coarseness of detail or
clumsiness of form. The reliefs were executed rapidly by the
artist in the quick-setting wet stucco, which he applied in
lumps to the previously prepared flat [p. 1.676]
surface, and then, before the stucco had time to harden, he
modelled the figures into shape with his fingers and thumb,
assisted by a few simple wooden modelling tools. The decision
and rapid skill shown in this manipulation are very remarkable;
and an amount of life and vigour appears in these hastily
executed reliefs, which could hardly have been equalled by the
slow process of chiselling a hard substance. Many of the scenes
represented are Dionysiac, fauns playing on the double pipes,
nymphs dancing with timbrels and other musical instruments, and
sportive genii bearing the thyrsus
or bunches of grapes. Some figures of winged Victories are
marvels of delicate beauty, lightly poised on large wings, with
drapery flowing behind them in graceful curving folds. The
modelling of the nude limbs of the fauns is perfect for its
skilful suggestion of the play of muscles under a supple skin,
and is quite free from the anatomical exaggerations of the late
Attic School of Sculpture, which the Romans seem specially to
The Tiber banks opposite the Campus Martius formed a favourite
site for the houses of wealthy Romans: some of these are shown
on fragments of the Capitoline marble plan of Rome; most of them
have stairs leading down to the water's edge. The accompanying
Fragment of Capitoline Plan, showing plans of Roman
shows another fragment of this celebrated plan, which
was made in the reign of Severus to decorate the end wall of the
Templum Sacrae Urbis by the Forum. This shows us a common type
of street house in Rome, such as belonged to men of moderate
means. On this fragment are engraved the plans of three houses
in a row, almost identical in arrangement. (1) is the entrance
passage, with two
shops (2) on each
side. (3) is a small Tuscan atrium,
as Vitruvius calls it, being without columns: (4) is the passage
leading into (5) the peristylium,
round which are four small rooms (6), one at each corner.
Houses owned by corporate bodies.
Some interesting examples of houses not owned by private persons,
but used by corporate bodies, have been found during the last
few years. The chief of these is the Atrium Vestae or House of
the Six Vestal Virgins, which was exposed to view in 1883-4.
The plan above, reproduced from Middleton's Ancient Rome
1885 (p. 187), shows the position of the house,
near the circular Temple of Vesta, and close to the northern
angle of the Palatine, where the immense substructures of
Caligula's palace still exist. The rooms are arranged round a
long open peristylium
not unlike the plan of a mediaeval monastery. At one end is the
with three small
chambers on each side ; probably each of the six vestals had one
of these. On the N.E. side of the tablinum
is a large hall, with recesses for statues,
and on the other side is a bath-room, and near it a kitchen, a
baker's oven with a corn-mill, and other domestic offices. On
both the long sides of the peristylium
is a number of very handsome rooms,
decorated in a very costly and elaborate manner: in all cases
there was at least one upper story. On the verge of the N.E.
side of the house is a row of shops: at this place the remains
of the Regia
are indicated on the
plan. In the centre of the peristylium
was what seems to have been a series of
flower-beds, in the shape of a circle within an octagon: traces
of the low brick kerbs which separated these beds are still
easily distinguishable. On the S.W. side a great part of the
upper story still exists. here, as in the previously mentioned
houses of Livia and Sallust, the building is set against the
side [p. 1.677]
of a slope, so that in one part
an upper story has its floor level with the higher ground. In
this case a considerable part of the lower slopes of the
Palatine has been cut away to make a site for the Vestals'
house, probably at the time of its enlargement under Hadrian, to
whose period most of the existing structure belongs. The upper
rooms consist chiefly of bedrooms and small bath-rooms, mostly
with marble wall-linings and mosaic floors. Part of this upper
story was rebuilt in the reign of Severus, after a destructive
fire in the time of Commodus in 191 A.D.; and these later rooms have a very luxurious system
of warming, both with hypocausts and wall-linings of flue-tiles.
The stairs which led to a still higher floor still partly exist,
so the whole amount of accommodation must have been very large,
as befitted the dignified state of a Vestal's life. The internal
decorations were very magnificent; in some of the rooms both
walls and floors were covered with the rich coloured marbles
from Africa and Greece. In one of the six small rooms by the
a very curious
precaution has been taken to keep the floor dry. Halves of large
are set close together
all over the area of the room: over them concrete was laid, and
finally the marble paving-slabs were bedded in cement on the
concrete. The hollows formed by the half amphorae would prevent
the damp from rising. In some cases the rooms had moulded
skirtings and cornices made of very hard and brilliant marbles,
such as rosso antico,
the cost of which
must have been enormous. In some rooms niches for statues and
other parts of the wall-surface were encrusted with gorgeous
jewellike glass mosaics, and ceilings and vaults were richly
decorated with painting of the most glowing tints. As might be
expected, the dwelling of this wealthy and highly honoured
corporation of Vestals far exceeded in splendour even the
richest houses at Pompeii. See the separate works on the
Comm. Lanciani, Rome, 1884, and by Prof. Jordan, Berlin, 1885.
A corporate dwelling of a very different class is the Barrack
) of the Seventh
Cohort of the Roman Vigiles,
discovered in 1867 near the Church of S. Crisogono in
Trastevere. This is a handsome house of the second century A.D.; with a large mosaic-paved
or cloister, round which
are arranged rooms in two or three stories. The decorations are
partly of moulded terra-cotta, painted with brilliant colours,
and partly of the usual marble linings in very thin slabs. The
barracks of other cohorts of these Vigiles,
who combined the offices of policemen,
firemen, and lamplighters, have been found in many other
quarters of Rome, but none so well preserved as the residence of
the Seventh Cohort. (See Visconti, Coorte VII. de'
Rome, 1867, and Bull. Comm. Arch.
Another corporate or, as it might be called,
“monastic” establishment was recently excavated a
short distance outside the Porta
of Rome: this was the residence of the
of the Fratres Arvales,
one of the most
dignified of the priestly Collegia
of Rome; but its remains were too scanty for the whole plan to
Within the last few years a number of streets and houses have
been discovered at the mouth of the Tiber, at Ostia: these in
plan much resembled the Pompeian houses, but were much more
richly decorated with costly foreign marbles, most of which
would pass Ostia on their way to Rome, where they were unladen
on a long wharf called the Marmoratum.
Of the imperial palaces of Rome, which at last covered the whole
site of the primitive Roma Quadrata, the earliest was the house
of Augustus (Domus Augustana
which was built on the S.W. edge of the Palatine, overlooking
the Circus Maximus. He at first occupied, on the Palatine, the
house of Hortensius, a dwelling conspicuous neither for size nor
splendour; and when it was struck by lightning, he consecrated
the spot to a temple of Apollo, and bought some neighbouring
buildings, where he built a house for himself. (Vell. 2.81
; Suet. Aug.
The house of Tiberius (Domus
) on the Palatine is mentioned as distinct
from that of Augustus, though it adjoined it, the palace of
Augustus being more conspicuous towards the forum, while that of
Tiberius formed the back front. Its situation is indicated by
the descriptions of the ancient writers, that Otho descended
through the back of the palace of Tiberius into the Velabrum
(Tac. Hist. 1.27
6; Plut. Galb.
), and that Vitellius surveyed from it the
conflagration of the Capitol (Suet. Vitell.
During the reign of Augustus Tiberius lived first in the house
of Pompey in the Carinae, and afterwards in that of Maecenas on
the Esquiline (Suet. Tib. 15
but when he became emperor, he probably resided in this house on
the Palatine till he withdrew to Capreae. In later times this
palace was the residence of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius,
and a library was established there (Capitol. Ant.
10, Ant. Phil.
2; Gel. 13.19
2). The palaces of Augustus and
Tiberius were destroyed in the fire of Nero; but they were
rebuilt, as they are mentioned as separate buildings in the
and Josephus tells us
that the different parts of the complex of buildings forming the
imperial palace were named after their respective founders
The palace of Augustus was excavated in 1775, and drawings made
of it by Guattani, who published them in his Monumenti
Antichi di Roma,
1785; the whole was soon covered in
again, and no part is now visible. That part of the woodcut on
the next page, which represents the palace of Augustus, is taken
from Guattani's plan.
This palace, which was of very modest size, had a number of small
rooms in two stories grouped round one peristyle: its
comparative simplicity must have formed a striking contrast to
the stately splendour of the public halls, libraries, and
temples in the adjoining Area
all built by Augustus, and adorned by him
with countless works of art of every kind. (Prop. 3.29
; for other authorities, see Dict.
Gr. & Rom. Geogr.
ii. p. 805.) Nevertheless,
though the palace of Augustus was small, yet it appears to have
been designed with great taste, and decorated with considerable
richness in its mixture of white and coloured marbles. That it
was a very carefully designed architectural [p. 1.678]
composition is shown even by the bare plan, with
its series of domed and vaulted halls,
Palace of Augustus and the Flavian Emperors.
and small apse-like recesses arranged with some
complication and much ingenuity.
The Flavian Palace,
which is shown on the same
woodcut, was built by Domitian, adjoining the Area of Apollo and
the Palace of Augustus on the N.W. side. (Plut.
15; Mart. 8.36
Stat. Silv. 3.4
.) Extensive remains of this building still
exist, and are among the most conspicuous of the imperial
palaces on the Palatine. It was a very different building from
that of Augustus; being not so much a place of residence as a
magnificent series of state apartments intended for public use.
Hence Nerva had the words Aedes
inscribed on it. (Plin.
47.) At one end is a very splendid
throne-room, with a lararium
imperial chapel on one side, and a
for judicial business on the other. At the
other end of the peristyle is the triclinium
for state banquets; and beyond it a series
of stately halls, which may possibly be libraries (bibliothecae
), and an Academia
for recitations and other literary
purposes. A sort of Nymphaeum,
room containing a fountain, with flowers, plants, and statues of
nymphs and river-gods, was placed at one side of the triclinium,
if not on both, so that the
murmur and coolness of the water and the scent of the flowers
might refresh the wine-heated guests. The whole of this
magnificent palace was adorned with the greatest richness, both
of design and materials, with floors, wall-linings, and columns
of Oriental marbles, alabaster, and red and green porphyry. Even
the rows of colossal statues, which decorated the throne-room,
were made of the very refractory basalts and porphyry from the
quarries of Egypt, at a cost of an almost incredible amount of
labour: remains of these were found early in the last century.
The position of the Flavian palace is remarkable: it is built on
an immense artificial platform which bridges over a deep valley
or depression in the summit of the Palatine.
Remains of a lofty building of republican date still exist deep
below the floor-level of the so-called libraries; and a small
house of early imperial date, richly decorated with marbles and
paintings, can still be seen buried under the great peristyle.
In many parts of the palace traces are distinctly visible of
restorations made by Severus after the great fire in the reign
of Commodus (191 A.D.), which devastated a large portion of the
imperial palaces: the cracked and partly calcined marbles which
suffered in the fire were broken up, and used to make concrete
for the new walls of Severus; and thus, in many places, the
somewhat curious sight is to be seen of concrete made of the
most costly Oriental marbles and porphyries. (D. C. 72.24
; Herodian. 1.14;
Spartian. Sept. Sev.
19, 24.) Spartianus (l.c.
) says that Septimius Severus made
to the palace, so that it should
be the first object to strike the eyes of those coming from
Africa, his native country. Considerable remains of this
existed till near
the end of the 16th century, when Pope Sixtus V. caused the
pillars to be carried off to the Vatican. They are represented
in the drawing in the Diet of Greek and Roman
ii. p. 806, but the true nature of the
building remains doubtful.
The enormous palace of Caligula (see cut, p. 676) occupied the
northern corner of the Palatine hill, and the adjoining slopes
as far as the Forum, covering the ground once occupied by the
houses of Clodius, Cicero, and other wealthy Romans (D. C. 59.28
; Suet. Cal. 22
). The equally large palace of Severus
occupied the opposite end of the Palatine. They are both
remarkable for the gigantic substructures on which they stand,
constructed so as to form at the foot of the hill a basement for
state rooms on a level with the highest part of the ground, or,
in other words, at both places the Palatine itself was enlarged
by the construction of an artificial hill of massive concrete
walls and vaults. On one side Severus used the very stately
palace of Hadrian as a sort of platform on which to extend his
new palace at the higher level; and so we see the rough concrete
walls of Severus' substructure cutting through and rendering
useless the richly ornamented halls of Hadrian. The enormous
height of the palace of Severus must have made it one of the
most imposing of all the buildings of Rome: its southern part,
which stood at the foot of the Palatine hill, not only equalled
the hill in height, but towered high above its summit. In
costliness of material, though not in delicacy of design, this
palace more than equalled the buildings of the earlier emperors,
with the exception of that which Nero built. Some additions and
improvements were made to the palace of Septimius Severus by
Heliogabalus and Alexander Severus. (Lamprid.
3, 8, 24; Alex. Sev.
The Golden House
) of Nero, which covered part of the Palatine and
Esquiline hills and the great valley between them, must [p. 1.679]
have been a building of the most
marvellous splendour and extent. It was nearly a mile in length,
and included large gardens and parks for wild animals, all
surrounded by a triple porticus
colonnade of marble. The interior was decorated in the most
lavish way, with gold, ivory, and jewels. (Tac. Ann. 15.42
; Suet. Nero 31
2.) Some rooms, according to Suetonius,
were entirely plated with gold, and studded with precious stones
and pearls. The supper-rooms were vaulted with ivory panels
), from openings in
which flowers and perfumes were scattered on the guests. An
enormous number of works of art of every class collected from
Greek cities were brought to adorn the palace, and others were
made by Nero's orders, such as the bronze colossal statue of
himself, 120 feet high, the work of the Greek sculptor
Zenodorus, and a painted portrait on canvas of the same
ridiculous size. [COLOSSUS
] The destruction of the Golden House and the
restoration of most of its site to public uses were among the
most popular acts of the Flavian emperors. Both the Colosseum
and the great Thermae
of Titus stand on part of the
site of Nero's palace, of which a small portion was used, after
being stripped of its rich marble linings, to form the
substructures of part of the Thermae
of Titus. This is almost the only part which
now exists: remains of a large peristyle, and the lofty rooms
round it, are still fairly well preserved: the vaults are richly
decorated with stucco reliefs and paintings, which are rapidly
perishing. It was the discovery of these elaborate ornaments
early in the sixteenth century which gave so great an impulse to
the growing love for classical methods of decoration. Raphael
and his pupils with great skill copied the stucco-work, and
painted arabesques in the Vatican palace, in the Villa Madama,
and in a large number of other buildings. Owing to these
magnificent rooms having been used as the substructures of the
baths of Titus, most writers on the subject have described the
paintings as being part of the work of Titus: e. g. Mirri and
Carletti, Terme di Tito,
Rome, 1776, and De
Romanis, Terme di Tito,
Rome, 1822. Both these
valuable illustrated works, which give much that is now lost,
really deal with the Golden House,
not with the
Though the walls of
these two structures are mixed in a somewhat complicated way, it
is very easy to distinguish one from the other. Titus's walls
are of plain brick-faced concrete, without any stucco covering,
while Nero's are in all cases either coated with painted stucco,
or with the cement backing of the missing marble lining. Even
where the stucco has in some places fallen off Nero's walls,
clear evidence as to its former existence is given by the marble
plugs with which the wall-surface was studded to form a key for
Though of course less magnificent than the palaces of Rome, the
houses of Pompeii, from their exceptionally perfect state of
preservation, are of special value as examples of Roman domestic
architecture, and have the advantage of being in most cases of
known date. Few are older than the Christian era, and none of
course are later than 79 A.D., when
the city was overwhelmed by the eruption of Vesuvius. The
existing remains show us, as a rule, only the ground-floor of
each house; and it should be remembered that a number of the
best rooms--especially, there is reason to believe, the bedrooms
and the women's apartments--were on the upper floors. The
presence of stairs in apparently all the houses proves that
one-storied buildings were practically unknown in Pompeii: the
few fragments of the upper story which have been found standing
show that, in some cases at least, the upper part of the house
was partly constructed of wood, and was arranged so as to
project beyond the line of the lower story, very like the
half-timbered houses of England or France in the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries. (See cut, p. 666 a.
In one respect the Pompeian arrangement resembled that of
mediaeval and modern Italy: that is, the street front on the
ground-floor, even of large and handsome houses, was usually
occupied by a row of shops. In some cases these shops have no
doorway or passage communicating with the main house, and were
probably rented by the owner to independent tradesmen ; in
others the shops could be entered from the house, and in these
cases we may suppose that the shops were managed by the slaves
or clients of the house-owner, who perhaps in this way made a
profit out of the produce of his country estate.
The accompanying plan shows a small shop, to which is joined the
residence of its owner, forming a small block independent of the
adjoining larger house. (1) An open archway, in which a wooden
shop-front was fitted; the threshold of this opening is rebated
to receive the wooden partition, part of which was hinged so as
to form a narrow door: the upper
House with Shop.
part would be closed at night by flap-shutters hinged
at the top, an arrangement very like that of a modern Oriental
bazaar. This method of constructing shop-fronts was very common,
not only in Pompeii, but in Rome and elsewhere. The presence of
a shop appears always to be indicated by this long grooved sill,
with marks of the hinged door on one side. A large number of
examples still exist in Rome. The L-shaped counter (2) is formed
of concrete and brick stuccoed: in it are inserted a row of
apparently for the
reception of hot food or drink of some kind. At one end is a
charcoal stove (3); 5, 5 are the dining-room and store-room of
the shopkeeper; 4 is the staircase leading to the sleeping
apartments. The whole forms a complete house of the smallest
In the next cut (p. 680 a
) a similar
shop has more extensive private accommodation connected with it.
It has a separate passage from the street into the private part,
which leads into a very small atrium,
supported on four columns, two engaged in the
wall; out of the atrium
closet-like kitchen and a small dining-room. A very narrow
staircase leads to the upper floor.
A third variety was evidently the property of [p. 1.680]
a richer tradesman: in this case the front door is
in the middle of the facade; the passage from the street has a
small kitchen and other offices on one side and the shop on the
other, forming a wider frontage. Behind is a Tuscan atrium,
occupying the whole width of the
house, and behind it are two private rooms, probably dining-room
and parlour. The stairs are placed in an angle of the atrium.
House with Shop. (See p. 679.)
House with Shop. (See p. 679.) |
- 1. Ostium.
- 2. Taberna.
- 3. Atrium.
- 4. Impluvium.
- 5. Cubiculum or Triclinium.
- 6. Scalae.
- 7. Culina.
Next we come to a class of small houses with no shop attached: in
one of these (see cut opposite) the whole width of the house, a
space of 38 feet, is occupied by the dining-room and
entrance-hall, from which it is separated by two wide open
archways. Part of the dining-room was without a roof, forming a
sort of atrium;
the pavement of
this open part has a long gutter to catch the rain-water, which
was stored in an underground cistern, and drawn out through a
) at one end. The
or triple bench for
the diners, still exists under the covered portion of the room:
it is made of rubble stonework covered with stucco. Behind the
dining-room are a small kitchen and a lararium,
with an altar in front of a recess in
which a goddess holding a cornucopia is painted. Next comes a
small room, probably a cella
slave, and by the side of it the staircase to the bedrooms
In the larger houses the atrium
very important feature, on which the chief architectural beauty
of the building depends. It is usually supported by Corinthian
columns formed of concrete and brick, coated with brilliant
painted stucco: marble, except in thin slabs for
House without Shop.
- 1. Door.
- 2. Entrance-hall.
- 3. Scalae.
- 4. Cella for slave.
- 5. Winter Triclinium.
- 6. Culina.
- 7. Lararium.
- 8. Atrium or open court.
- 9. Triclinium.
- 10. Puteal.
pavements or wall-linings, is rare in Pompeii; and
even in the best houses display is made at the least possible
cost,--a striking contrast to the lavish expenditure on the rich
houses of Rome or even of Ostia. Shams of every kind were
specially popular at Pompeii. The central paved space under the
open part (impluvium
) of the atritun
is usually of marble, either in
thin slabs or in mosaic; a fountain is a very common ornament,
and flower-pots seem often to have been ranged round it.
Atrium of the House of the Quaestor.
The two woodcuts annexed represent two atria
of houses at Pompeii. The first is the atrium
of what is usually called
“the House of the Quaestor.” The view is taken
near the entrance-hall facing the tablinum,
through which the columns of the peristyle
and the garden are seen. This atrium,
which is a specimen of what Vitruvius calls
the Corinthian, is surrounded by various rooms, and is
beautifully painted with arabesque designs upon red and yellow
The next woodcut represents the atrium
of what is usually called “the House of
Ceres.” In [p. 1.681]
the centre is
and as there are no
pillars around the impluvium,
must belong to the kind
called by Vitruvius “the Tuscan.”
Atrium of the House of Ceres.
The three following plans are good typical examples of the best
class of houses in Pompeii. The first is popularly known as
“the House of the Tragic Poet.”
House of the Tragic Poet.
Like most of the other houses at Pompeii, it had no vestibulum
according to the meaning
which we have attached to the word (see above, p. 668 b
). The ostium
or entrance-hall, which is six feet wide, is
nearly thirty long,--a length occasioned by the shops on each
side. Near the street door there is a figure of a large fierce
dog worked in mosaic on the pavement, and beneath it is written
The two large rooms
on each side of the vestibule appear from the large openings in
front of them to have been shops; they communicate with the
entrance-hall, and were therefore probably occupied by the
master of the house. The atrium
about twenty-eight feet in length and twenty in breadth; its
is near the centre of
the room, and its floor is paved with white tesserae,
spotted with black. On the left-hand
corner of the atrium
is a small
room (marked 1 in plan), perhaps the cella
of the ostiarius,
with a stair-case leading to the upper rooms. On each side of
are chambers for the use
of the family, or intended for the reception of guests, who were
entitled to claim hospitality. When a house did not possess a
or rooms expressly
for the reception of guests, they appear to have been lodged in
rooms attached to the atrium.
] At the
further end of the atrium
with the fauces
or passage at the side, leading
into the peristylium,
columns and garden (viridarium
large room on the right of the peristyle is the triclinium;
beside it is the kitchen,
with a latrina.
The second cut contains the ground-plan of an insula
surrounded by shops, which belonged to the
owner and were let out by him. The house itself, which is
usually called “the House of Paus.,” evidently
belonged to one of the principal men of Pompeii. Including the
garden, which is a third of the whole length, it is about. 300
feet long and 100 wide.
Ground-plan of an Insula, known as the House of Paus.
- A. Ostium, or
entrance-hall, paved with mosaic.
- B. Tuscan atrium.
- I. Impluvium.
- C. Chambers on each side of the atrium, probably [p. 1.682]for the reception of
- D. Ala.
- E. Tablinum,
which is open to the peristylium, so that the whole
length of the house could be seen at once; but
as there is a passage (fauces), F, beside it, the tablinum might probably
be closed at the pleasure of the owner.
- C. Chambers by the fauces and tablinum, of which the use is
- G. Peristylium.
- D. Recesses in the peristylium.
- C. Cubicula by
the side of the peristylium.
- K. Triclinium.
- L. Oecus, and by
its side there is a passage leading from the
- M. Back door (posticum
ostium) to the street.
- N. Culina.
- H. Servants' hall, with a back door to the
- P. Portico of two stories, which proves that
the house had an upper floor. The site of the
stair-case, however, is unknown, though it is
thought there is some indication of one in the
- M. Q. The garden. R. Reservoir for supplying a
The preceding rooms belonged exclusively to Paus.'s house; but
there were a good many apartments besides in the insula,
which were not in his
Six shops let out to
tenants. Those on the right and left hand corners were bakers'
shops, which contained mills, ovens, &c., at b.
The one on the right appears to have
been a large establishment, as it contains many rooms. c.
Two houses of a very mean class,
having formerly an upper story. On the other side are two houses
much larger, d.
Mr. Fergusson observes “that architectural effect has been
carefully studied in the design
Plan of the House of Sallust.
A. PUBLIC ROOMS.-- |
B. PRIVATE ROOMS.--
- 1. Entrance.
- 2. Hall. 16. Probably the cella of the
communicating with the hall and the atrium.
- 3. Shop communicating with the house.
- 4. Shop.
- 5. Shop with two rooms backwards, also
- 5. Between 4 and 5 in the party-wall is a
cistern common to both.
- 6. Bakehouse; the sites of three mills
being indicated by round figures. There are
remains of stairs leading to an upper story.
- 7. Oven.
- 8, 9. Rooms connected with the bakehouse.
- 10. Tuscan
- 11. Impluvium.
- 12. Antechamber, leading to
- 13. Probably a triclinium for winter use.
- 14, 15. Cubicula for guests (see House of
Paus., p. 681).
- 17. Alae.
- 18. Small room leading out of the
- 19. Tablinum.
- 20. Fauces
- 21. Porticus
or colonnade, occupying the usual site of
- 22. Summer Triclinium.
- 23. A small room.
- 24. Garden, to which there is an ascent by
three steps from the porticus or colonnade.
- 25. Triclinium, or summer-house,
covered by a trellis.
- 26. Kitchen and Latrina.
- 27. Back entrance.
- 28. Room opening from the porticus.
- 29. Entrance to the private apartments.
- 30. Cella of
to the private apartments.
- 31. Peristylium, supported by
Corinthian columns, with
- 32. Impluvium
in the centre.
- 33, 34. Small rooms opening from the
- 35. Triclinium.
- 36. Open space containing stove, with
staircase to rooms above.
of Paus.'s house, a vista nearly
300 feet in length being obtained from the outer door to the
garden wall, varied by a pleasing play of light and shade,
and displaying a gradually increasing degree of spaciousness
and architectural richness as we advance. All these points
must have been productive of the most pleasing effect when
complete, and of more beauty than has been attained in
almost any modern building of like dimensions”
(Hist. of Arch.
i. p. 370).
The third plan is that of one of the most elaborately decorated
houses, usually (though without any real reason) called
“the House of Sallust,” which is remarkable for
its very complete separation into two parts; one of which is
carefully cut off from the more public rooms, and is supposed by
many writers to be a venereum,
women's division of the house. But the division of a house into
men's and women's apartments is quite foreign to the Romans; and
though the Pompeians may have borrowed in this instance the
Greek arrangement, yet it is better to conclude with Overbeck,
that these were really the apartments devoted to the private use
of the family. From the irregular nature of the ground, situated
between two streets, as seen in the plan opposite, the private
rooms could not be placed beyond the atrium
and around the peristylium,
which is here wanting, the usual
position of the peristylium
occupied by the porticus
garden. (See plan, Nos. 21, 24.)
A row of shops occupies the main street fronts In the usual way:
between two of these a wide passage leads into a large and
handsome Tuscan atrium,
the rooms of the more public part of the house are ranged:
behind is a small garden, in one corner of which is a miniature
summer-house, with three marble seats, and a fountain by it. The
side of the house which fronts on to this little garden has an
open loggia or portions
built along it.
The private apartments are approached from the main atrium
by a narrow door guarded by a
small porter's cell. This, the only means of access, leads into
a Corinthian peristylium,
very small room cut out of each angle, and one larger apartment
at one side. The bedrooms seem all to have been upstairs, and
the fact that the same complete division of the two parts was
kept up in the upper story is shown by the existence of a
separate staircase in each portion of the house. A picture on
the wall of the peristylium
opposite the entrance, representing the fate of Actaeon when he
surprised Diana, may have been intended as a warning to
unauthorized visitors, supposing these apartments to be a venereum.
These are fairly typical examples of the arrangement of Pompeian
houses, though there is an immense number of variations. In the
main these first-century examples of Roman dwellings have a
great deal in common with the house which Vitruvius describes,
and show that his example as an architect was very largely
followed for some years. In later times, however, the Roman
houses were designed on a very different plan, less uniform in
type, and with rooms much less open to the air.
Roman houses in Britain and Gaul.
A very large number of important Roman houses has been discovered
in England and France, but most of these have been country
villas, not town houses like those at Pompeii. At Silchester,
however, one of the chief Roman towns in Britain, some remains
of street houses have been exposed, of various dates from the
first to the third century, showing a succession of alterations
and rebuildings. In its original form one of these houses was
very similar to some of the Pompeian dwellings: see
xlvi. p. 332. But in most cases
the existing remains in England, being those of country houses
and of later date than the buildings of Pompeii, have no
resemblance to them in plan.
More ample space, and a much colder and wetter climate, led the
Romans to adopt here a very different system of house-building
from that which suited them in their earlier and hardier days in
a mild climate like that of Italy. Thus we find that the later
Romano-British or Gaulish houses had no group of rooms with wide
arches opening on to a roofless atrium,
but instead of this the rooms are commonly
ranged in a long straggling line, with a passage along one side.
In many cases a peristylium
used, but the rooms only open on to it by small carefully closed
doors or well-glazed windows. The large villas at Lydney,
Woodchester, Chedworth, and many other places have an extensive
cloister or peristylium,
four sides of which the rooms are arranged very like the plan of
a mediaeval monastery: in none of these is there any atrium.
In other cases, as at Cromhall
in Gloucestershire, the rooms are ranged in L form, with one
long passage running the whole length of the building: in other
cases the rooms are all set in one line I and have a similar
passage from end to end. This seemingly inconvenient system of
house-plan was largely used in England down to quite recent
times; as, for example, in Hampton Court Palace. The villa at
Witcomb in Gloucestershire was a very large and handsome
building, arranged in the form of an H, with an octagonal hall
projecting from the centre of the middle block.
One peculiarity of the British houses is the extreme frequency of
rooms with semicircular apses at one end, especially in cases
where there is a hypocaust floor. The warming of Romano-British
houses was very completely provided for; a very large proportion
of the rooms have hypocausts, and many also have wall-linings of
flue-tiles. Moreover the use of glazed windows seems to have
been universal in Roman Britain; fragments of windows are
nearly.always found during excavations in the site of a house.
Glass of several kinds occurs: rough-cast plate, ground plate,
and crown glass are all common. Even in Pompeii remains of glass
windows have been found, though they were apparently much less
common there. (See below, Windows,
Construction of Roman houses.
The wall of a house was called paries
in contradistinction to maurus,
the wall of a city. The manner in which the
walls were built varied according to the date and the locality.
In Italy, during the Republican period in Rome, Pompeii, and
other places, some easily-worked stone, such as tufa or peperino
), was used, in
large squared blocks (opus
) for the best houses, unburnt brick [p. 1.684]
being the usual material for ordinary
dwellings. In the time of Augustus concrete began to be the
chief building material, faced at first with small squares of
stone, about four inches by four inches on the face (opus reticulatum
); then triangular
kiln-baked bricks came into use, first employed together with
the opus reticulatum,
alone. In all cases, however, in Central and Southern Italy the
main bulk of the wall was of concrete, and the brick only formed
a thin facing. In other countries, however, where a fine natural
cement like the pozzolana (pulvis
) of Italy was not to be found, a different
method of construction was used. In Gaul and Britain houses were
mostly built of rubble stonework, thickly bedded in hard mortar,
with “lacing courses” of large square tiles
) built in at
intervals of three or four feet; a method of building which
still survives in some flint districts, like parts of Sussex.
The inner walls of the rooms were originally simply whitewashed
subsequently covered with a white cement or stucco (opus albarium
), the workers of which
were called tectores albarii, or albarii
simply. (Vitr. 5.10
; Pallad. 1.14; Plin. Nat. 35.194
Cod. Theod. 13.4, 2; Orelli, Inscr.
plain surface of the walls was broken by quad-rangular panels,
N. 33.159; 35. § §
3, 32; Vitr. 7.3
] In the second century B.C., the
practice was introduced from Greece of painting these panels
with an endless variety of figures, landscapes, buildings,
gardens, &c., of which we have numerous examples in the
existing remains of houses in Rome and Pompeii. So general was
Wall-painting at Pompeii. (Fergusson.)
the practice that even the smallest houses in Pompeii
have paintings on their walls, of which a general idea may be
formed from the annexed cut. The way in which these paintings
were executed is described under PICTURA
In addition to painting, other methods of decoration were used:
in Rome especially the chief way of ornamenting the rooms of the
best houses was by lining the walls with slabs of sawn marble,
moulded into a skirting below and a cornice above. Mamurra, one
of Caesar's prefects in Gaul, was the first, as we have already
said (p. 667 a
), who lined the
walls of his rooms with marble slabs (Plin. Nat. 36.48
magnificence of effect was produced by the skilful admixture of
marbles of different rich colours, the moulded part being
usually of a deeper tint than the flat surfaces. In the most
careful work these marble linings were fastened to the walls by
bronze clamps, but more often the slabs were simply attached by
a thick bedding of cement behind them. (Sen. Ep.
§ 4; Dig. 19
Another very rich method of decoration was the application of
stucco reliefs enriched with gold and colours. The discovery of
fine [p. 1.685]
examples of these in a house near
the Tiber has been mentioned above.
A third system, applied also to vaults, was to encrust the walls
with mosaics, chiefly made of glass tesserae
of the most brilliant jewel-like colours.
which leads from the
Palace of Caligula to the Flavian Palace (see above, p. 673
), had the lower part of its
walls lined with Oriental marbles, the upper part and vault was
covered with sparkling glass mosaics, and the branch passage
which leads to the supposed house of Livia was covered with very
beautiful and delicately modelled stucco reliefs, gilt and
coloured. The splendour of the state rooms may perhaps be
guessed from the costly decorations of this long and
half-subterranean passage. On the whole, splendour of effect,
rather than refinement of design, was the chief characteristic
of Roman house-decoration, and after the first century A.D.
beauty of design and delicacy of workmanship were less valued
than costly richness of material.
The roofs (tecta
) of Roman houses
were in the oldest times covered with straw, of which a memorial
was preserved in the casa Romuli
even in imperial times (Vitr. 2.1
and see p. 645 b
). Next came the
use of shingles for the roofing of houses, which continued down
to the time of the war with Pyrrhus (Plin. Nat. 16.36
). Subsequently clay tiles, called
superseded the shingles (Plaut.
2.6, 24; Most.
1.2, 28; Isidor. 19.10, 15; Plin. Nat. 35.152
: see below).
The construction of the roofs of the atria
has already been explained (p. 669 a). The
roofs of houses were sometimes flat (see solarium,
p. 672 b
but they were also gabled (pectenata)
like modern houses. These were of two kinds, the tecta pectenata,
sloping two ways, and
the tecta testudinata,
ways (Fest. p. 213, M.) Both kinds of roofs were displuviata,
that is, sloping towards
the street, and the houses had around them, according to a law
of the XII. Tables, an ambitus,
vacant space of 21 feet, to receive the rain water running off
the roofs (see p. 665 a
projecting eaves of roofs were called suggrundae
(Varr. R. i.
; Dig. 9
). The gabled roofs rose to a point
(Cic. ad Qu. Fr.
, 4.14), though this word was strictly applied to the
triangular pediment, which was only allowed in the temples of
the gods and other public buildings. [FASTIGIUM
The roofs were usually of simple construction, with principal
rafters framed with tie-beam and king post. The roof-covering
was often very ,carefully fitted so as to exclude wet. The
with a flange on each
side, were nailed with bronze or large iron nails, and the
joints were covered by specially moulded joint-tiles (imbrices
), the ends of which at the
eaves were hidden by ornamental terra-cotta antefixa,
which formed a sort of cresting all
along the eaves. The eaves-course of tiles was often worked into
the form of the cymatium
wave-moulding of the cornice, and all along it pierced lions'
heads were moulded to form escapes for the rain-water. In other
cases less ornamental roofs were covered with doubly-curved
pantiles, exactly like those still used in Rome and some parts
of England. For the most magnificent buildings, such as some of
the imperial palaces, the roofs were covered with tiles made of
white marble, or even with bronze tiles plated with gold. For
further details, see TEGULA
In places where brick-earth was scarce or bad, and laminated
stone plentiful, as in Oxford-shire and Gloucestershire, the
Romans roofed their buildings with roughly-dressed tiles made of
such stone as the so-called “Stonesfield slate.”
Traces of Roman workings of the quarries of this stone at
Kineton Thorns in Gloucestershire have been recently found, and
extensive remains of the long barracks where the quarrymen were
housed, forming a sort of quadrangle about 300 feet square.
These “slates” were dressed in a lozenge form, and
fixed by one large iron nail at the top corner, which of course
was hidden by the lap of the next row of slates above. Clay
tiles of many other forms were used; and local materials were
nearly always utilized for roofing, as for all other purposes,
by the practical and ingenious Roman builders.
The floor (solum
) of a room was
seldom boarded ( “strata solo tabulata,”
Stat. Silv. 1.5
), except in the upper
stories. The floor on the ground-floor was usually of stone,
and, in the case of common houses, consisted of small pieces of
stone, brick, tiles, &c. (ruderatio,
), beaten down (pavita
) with a rammer (fistuca
), whence the word pavimentum
became the general name for a floor
(Plin. Nat. 36.185
). Sometimes the floors were
paved with thin slabs of richly-coloured marbles, brought from
Northern Africa, Arabia, or Greece (Fest. p. 242, M. ; Tib. 3.3
86, 6; Pallad. 1.9), and still more
frequently with mosaics (opus
For a fuller account of the different kinds
of floors, see PAVIMENTUM
and MUSIVUM OPUS
In Rome and other parts of Italy, owing to the wonderful strength
of the pozzolana,
the upper floors of
houses were very frequently made of concrete cast in one great
slab on temporary boarding, fixed at the required level. This
set into one compact mass, like a piece of solid stone. Examples
in Rome are to be seen where the upper floor had a span of
twenty feet, and simply consisted of one slab of concrete about
fourteen inches thick. On this, mosaic and other paving was
laid, as on the ground-floors. For the peculiar construction of
the hollow hypocaust
floors, see BALNEAE
p. 278. In
other cases in Rome, and nearly always in Britain, the upper
floors were of wood: projecting stone corbels were built to
carry the “plates” for joists on which floor boards
were nailed, just as in many modern buildings. Vitruvius (7.1
) also mentions mosaics being laid
on the wooden doors of upper stories, as is the custom in modern
Rome; but this appears not to have been done where there was a
strong cement with which upper floors could be made of
Ceilings were very commonly semicircular or “barrel”
), decorated with
stucco reliefs, mosaics, or painting [CAMARA
]. The extrados
of the vault was filled in level with concrete to
form the floor above. Wooden ceilings and flat concrete ceilings
were decorated in the same way. One common method of ceiling
decoration, applied both to brick and concrete or to wooden
ceilings, was to divide [p. 1.686]
the whole area
into a number of deeply-sunk panels, like pits or lakes
), whence they
were called lacunaria
; Cic. Tusc.
, 62; Hor. Carm.
). These were richly ornamented, either by
stucco reliefs gilt and coloured, or, in the case of wooden
ceilings, by inlaid work of ivory, ebony, or other precious
materials, as well as by paintings. In a few cases the
“coffers” were covered with enriched bronze
plates, thickly gilt. (Plin. Nat.
, 35.124; Hor. Carm.
. c.; Verg. A. 1.726
90, 42.) The artists who executed this
work were called laquearii
13.4, 2). The design of these coffered ceilings was derived from
the marble ceilings of the peristyles of Greek temples, such as
The Roman houses had few windows (fenestrae
). The atrium
were lighted, as we
have seen, from above, and the smaller rooms leading out of them
generally derived their light from them, and not from windows
looking into the street. The rooms only on the upper stories
) seem to have been
usually lighted by windows, and looked out upon the street, as
well as the inner courts. Hence they are frequently mentioned by
the ancient writers (Liv. 1.41
; Prop. iv. (v.), 7, 16; Juv. 3.270
; Plin. Nat. 19.59
). in Pompeii,
in like manner, the ground-floor rooms were mostly lighted from
the inner courts, so that few lower windows opened on the
street. There is an exception to this in “the House of the
Tragic Poet,” which has six windows on the
ground-floor. Even in this case, however, the windows are not
near the ground as in a modern house, but are six feet six
inches above the foot-pavement, which is raised one foot seven
inches above the centre of the street. The windows are small,
being hardly three feet by two; and at the side there is a
wooden frame, in which the window or shutter might be moved
backwards or forwards. The lower part of the wall is occupied by
a row of red panels four feet and a half high. The following
woodcut reprer sents part of the wall, with the apertures
fo-windows above it, as it appears from the street. The tiling
upon the wall is modern, and is only placed there to preserve it
from the weather.
Wall with apertures for the windows in a house at
The windows appear originally to have been merely small openings
in the wall, closed by means of shutters, which frequently had
two leaves (bifores fenestrae,
3.3, 5), whence Ovid
1.5, 3) says, “Pars adaperta fuit,
pars alters clausa fenestrae.”
They are for this reason said to be joined (junctae fenestrae
), when they are shut. (Hor. Carm. 1.25
.) Windows were
also sometimes covered by a kind of lattice or trellis work
), and sometimes by
network, to prevent serpents and other noxious reptiles from
getting in (Plaut. Mil. Glor.
2.4, 25; Varr.
3.7). The transennae
were a kind of lattice-work of the same
kind (Cic. de Or.
There has been much discussion whether glass windows were known
to the ancients; but in the excavations at Pompeii many
fragments of flat glass have been discovered, and in the
of the public baths
a bronze lattice was found with some of the panes still inserted
in the frame. (Gell, Pompeiana,
p. 99.) [VITRUM
Besides glass, other transparent substances were also used, such
as talc, the lapis specularis
Pliny (Plin. Nat. 36.163
and windows made of it were called specularia
90, 25; Plin.
2.17; Mart. 8.14
), though some modern writers think that specularia
also denoted glass windows.
The best pieces of this transparent highly laminated substance
came from Spain and Cappadocia, but it was also brought from
North Africa, Cyprus, and Sicily. Pliny mentions pieces as large
as five feet long (Plin. Nat.
). From an expression in Philo
(Leg. ad Caium,
§ 45) it appears
that the palace of Caligula had glass windows; and glass windows
are expressly mentioned by Lactantius (de Opif.
The subject of doors, with their locks and keys, is discussed
It is only
necessary to mention here that many of the rooms in Roman houses
had no doors, but only curtains, vela,
Plin. Ep. 2.17
; Petron. 7;
Lamprid. Alex. Sev. 4, Heliog.
14). Hence among
the slaves in the imperial household we find mention of velarii
2967). Sometimes, when there were doors, curtains were also
drawn across them (Suet. Cl. 10
xiii, 5; Sidon. Apoll.
7. The heating of Houses.
The rooms were heated in winter in different ways. The cubicula, triclinia,
and other rooms,
which were intended for winter use, were built in that part of
the house upon which the sun shone most; and in the mild climate
of Italy this frequently enabled them to dispense with any
artificial mode of warming the rooms. Rooms exposed to the sun
in this way were sometimes called heliocamini.
2.17, 20 ; Dig. 8
.) The rooms were
sometimes heated by hot air, which was introduced by means of
pipes from a furnace below (Plin. Ep.
6, 24; Sen.
90), but more frequently in earlier times
by portable furnaces or braziers (foculi
), in which charcoal was burnt. (See woodcut,
and under Focus.) The
however, was a fixed
stove, in which wood appears to have been usually burnt. (Suet.
8; Hor. Sat.
1.5, 81; Ep.
1.11, 19; Cic. ad Pam. 7.1.
; Sid. Apoll. Ep.
2.2.) It has been a
subject of much dispute among modern writers, whether the Romans
had chimneys for carrying off the smoke, except in the baths and
kitchens. From many passages in ancient writers, it certainly
appears that rooms usually had no chimneys, [p. 1.687]
but that the smoke escaped through the windows,
doors, and openings in the roof (Vitr.
); but chimneys do
not appear to have been entirely unknown to the ancients, as
some have been found in the ruins of ancient buildings, and it
is impossible to believe that, among a luxurious people like the
Romans in imperial times, they were unacquainted with the use of
chimneys. The passage of Horace ( “lacrimoso non sine
1.5, 80), which has been
quoted in proof that there were no chimneys, proves nothing, as
damp wood would cause smoke, even if there had been chimneys. On
the heating of houses, see also above, p. 674 a.
8. The water supply
The water supply of a good Roman house was very complete in towns
the main usually ran under the pavement in the middle of the
street, and from it “rising mains” branched off to
the houses right and left, and often were carried to the upper
stories, where a cistern supplied the fountain-jets (salientes
) and other purposes below. For
further details on the water-supply, see AQUAEDUCTUS
ii. p. 213
ff.; Marquardt, Privatl.
p. 208 ff.; Guhl and Koner, p.
462 ff., 5th ed.; Hirt, Gesch. d. Baukunst,
iii. p. 267
ff.; Fergusson, Hist. of Arch.
i. p. 363 ff.; Burn,
p. lxvii. ff.; Friedländer,
i. p. i. ff.,
26 ff.; Ménard, La vie privée des
Paris, 1880-3; Zumpt, Ueber die bauliche
Einrichtung des Röm. Wohnhauses,
Jena, 1863. Although a large number
of well illustrated works on Pompeii have been recently published, they
have by no means superseded the earlier ones, which describe a great
deal that is now lost: this is specially the case with Sir William
Gell's valuable Pompeiana,
and second part, London, 1832. The objects discovered are well
illustrated by Pistolesi, Real Museo Borbonico,
Dyer's Ruins of Pompeii,
London, 1867, is a convenient
handbook. Niccolini and others, Le Case di Pompeii,
Naples, 1854-84, is a valuable work, which gives the more recent
discoveries. A very splendidly illustrated work is the Recueil
des Peintures, &c. de Pompéi,
1870-77. See also Zahn, Die schönsten Ornamente aus
Berlin, 1827-59; Mazois et Gau, Les Ruines
Paris, 1824-38; Ternite,
Wandgemälde aus Pompeji,
Berlin, n.d. ;
Presuhn, Les décorations de Pompéi,
Leipzig, 1878; Mau's edition of Overbeck's Pompeji,
Leipzig, 1884; and Nissen, Pompejanische
Leipzig, 1877. Middleton, Ancient Rome
1885, gives some account of existing houses in Rome.
Information about the Roman houses of Britain is mostly scattered
through the publications of various societies, such as
the Journal of the Archaeological
and the Proceedings of a large number of local
societies. See also a well-illustrated work by Thomas Morgan,
Romano-British Mosaic Pavements,
Wright's The Celt, the Roman, and the Saxon,
1875, has much information in a small space, and there are many separate
monographs on single houses.)
] [W, S.]