November/December 2758 auc

Fr. Apulo Caesare C. Popillio Laena consulibus

Certamen Petronium

Five Roman Boats

Roman Town Houses

Mines and Quarries

Ancient Roman Travel Series

Rhine River Patrol

Recipe, Columella's Preserved Turnip

Philosophy Efforts I

Public Virtues: Nobilitas

"Aquila" Editorship




Read the archive

Contact Aquila

Roman Town Houses

During the second century another aspect of house design appeared. This element was the idea taken from Hellenistic design styles and as with most Roman endeavors brought to a new height of purpose and design.
This element was the "peristylium" (peristyle). The Hellenistic models on Delos and elsewhere gave the roman engineers and designers this new idea. Essentially the peristyle was basically a green space or a garden which was enclosed with a colonnade, very like the cloister design.
This design now gave rise to several new ideas which provided many new diverse functions. For instance we have the "triclinia" (dining room for spring and summer, the "oeci"reeption rooms,and the "diaetae" (relaxation rooms). In the early design of the "domus" (townhouse) interiors was very large and cave like, and to a great degree very plain and severe. This problem was now relieved by the additional natural light which emanated from "hortus" (fruit and vegetable garden) or the peristyle (flower garden), and was reflected into the "domus" interior.


Both Herculaneum and Pompeii reveal the new movement toward these designs in the period following late third century B.C. right up to the date
of the Vesuvius eruption in 79 A.D. Older homes in Herculaneum (Samnite House), and Pompeii (House of the Surgeon) reflect the frequent remodelings that they felt were necessary to gain more and more recognition in attractiveness and pretentiousness. In the "Ten Books on Architecture" by Vitruvius (6.5.2, Morgan trans.) his comments on housing and the different classes of citizens follow:

"For capitalists and farmers of the revenue, somewhat comfortable and showy apartments must be constructed, secure against robbery; for advocates and public speakers, handsomer and more roomy, to accommodate meetings; for men of rank who, from holding office and magistracies, have social obligations to their fellow-citizens, lofty entrance courts in regal style, and most spacious atria and peristyles, with plantations and walks of some extent in them, appropriate to their dignity. They need also the libraries, picture galleries, and basilicas, finished in a style similar to that of great public buildings, since public councils as well as private law suits and hearings before arbitrators are very often held in houses of such men."


© NovaRoma 2005
editing by
Marcus Minucius-Tiberius Audens
designed by
Marcus Philippus Conservatus and Franciscus Apulus Caesar

pat_byza.gif (1051 bytes)

Main Page | Master Index