Jackie & Lori

What do the ruins of Pompeii tell us about the private lives of Romans?


Through the chipped lava from solidified plaster, private lives of Romans back in the Pompeian period, show huge similarities to the Greeks through society and arts.Some sources say that the origin of the city of Pompeii started with a group of Italian people known as the Oscans, and most of these prehistoric settlers were hunters, gatherers and or fishers. Their settlement started out as small trading spots, and as time passed by they grew into successful merchant cities which made their people wealthy. Pompeii was located in the region of Campania, and the people remained under Hellenistic control for long period of time. During fifth century BC, the Samnite warriors invaded and seized control of Pompeii. Later on, the Romans drove the Samnites out of the region at around fourth century B.C, and they took Pompeii as its own ally at about 290 B.C. Pompeii was a port city, located on the blue waters of the Bay of Naples, the people who lived there could take advantage of the many ships that made port in Pompeii. They brought goods from many other, exotic locations, to trade and sell in Pompeii. This opportunity opened the doorways for Pompeii to connect with other Roman and Greek cities, which brought cultural diffusion upon their society.

Ruins and Artifacts Beneath the surface of lavas throughout Pompeii, showed paints, mosaics, vases, and sculptures spoke of the abilities of the artisans in the town. In addition, some of the art at the site of Pompeii were so precious that they even became art collections of nobilities around the world. Exquisite objects from the richly decorated villas reveal the breadth and richness of cultural and artistic life, as well as the influence of classical Greece on Roman art and culture in this region. Although Pompeian art was highly valued, but some excavators have found evidences showing that their art style was rather erotic. After extensive excavations, many frescoes, symbols and household items found indicate sexual themes, and even some with pornographic imagery. However, some people argue that these erotic arts are their ways of expressing fertility. These eccentric art pieces suggest their ancient Roman culture were more liberal and open minded than the view of present day society. Roman artisans made also made sculptures of gods and goddesses for people who worshipped at temples and for the public to enjoy, this tradition is much like the Greeks, except their gods had different names. After the Vesuvius volcano erupted, over 2,000 lives were buried by the ashes. Since lava hardened around objects and human, the only way to find out what was under the ruins of Pompeii was to pour liquid plaster. An archaeologist called Giuseppe Fiorelli, poured liquid plaster and solidified the plaster so that the lava could be chipped away. Actions from the buried people shows family love, when an adult is protecting a child from the ashes. A compassionate doorkeeper was found covering his daughter's head with a pillow when the Vesuvius volcano had erupted. Even though they couldn’t run away from their death, the doorkeeper still protected his daughter anyway.

Roman LifestyleSimilar to the Greeks, the Romans had socializing places as well as places for entertainment. The Romans had lead pipes that brought water that laid beneath the paved streets. They were connected to public bathing places, private villas, kitchens, and intersections of city blocks. Public bathing places were usually the places people would go to socialize and talk about their business. Brothels were for men to fulfill their own desires and relax. Looking over their social lives, it seems like they never got bored of it because they had large theaters that could hold up to 5,000 audiences and amphitheaters that could hold up to at least 20,000 audiences! The Greeks held their Olympic games and plays both in the amphitheater, but the Romans only hold their gladiatorial battler there. They perform their plays in the theater, which was smaller, unlike the amphitheater. Both of the amphitheaters for Greeks and Romans included the same parts in it such as the theatron, orchestra, skene, parados, and proskenion. These gladiators in the battles in the amphitheaters were mostly slaves (criminals), prisoners of war, or volunteers who were willing to sign up. The Romans would also spend their free time gambling at gambling dens.

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Pompeii Victim


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