1902 Encyclopedia > Pompeii, Italy


POMPEII, an ancient town of Campania, situated on the shore of the Bay of Naples, almost immediately at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. To its proximity to that volcano it owes its celebrity,—the peculiar circumstances of its destruction by the great volcanic outburst of Vesuvius in 79 A.D., and of its rediscovery in modern times, having converted that which would otherwise have been known only as an obscure country town into a place of world-wide fame, as one of the most interesting relics preserved to us from antiquity. Of its previous history comparatively little is recorded, but it appears that, like most other towns in the beautiful region in which it was situated, it had a population of a very mixed character, and it passed succes-sively into the hands of several different nations, each of which probably contributed an additional element to its composition. Though its foundation was ascribed by Greek tradition to Heracles, in common with the neigh-bouring city of Herculaneum, no value can be attached to these mythological or etymological fables ; it is certain that it was not a Greek colony, in the proper sense of the term, as we know to have been the case with the more important cities of Cumae and Neapolis. Strabo, in whose time it was a populous and flourishing place, tells us that it was first occupied by the Oscans, afterwards by the Tyrrhenians (i.e., Etruscans) and Pelasgians, and lastly, by the Samnites. The conquest of Campania by the last-mentioned people is an undoubted historical fact, and there can be no doubt that Pompeii shared the fate of the neighbouring cities on this occasion, and afterwards passed in common with them under the yoke of Rome. But its name is only once mentioned during the wars of the Romans with the Samnites and Campanians in this region of Italy, and then only incidentally (Liv., ix. 38). At a later period, however, it took a prominent part in the outbreak of the nations of central Italy known as the Social War (91-89 B.C.), when it withstood a long siege by Sulla, and was one of the last cities of Campania that was reduced by the Roman arms. After that event the inhabitants were admitted to the Roman franchise, but a military colony was settled in their territory by the dictator Sulla, and there can be no doubt that the whole popula-tion became rapidly Romanized. Before the close of the republic it became a favourite resort of the leading nob let; of Rome, many of whom acquired villas in the neighbour-hood. Among the most prominent of these was Cicero, whose letters abound with allusions to his Pompeian villa, which was one of his favourite places of occasional resid-ence. The same fashion continued under the Roman empire, and there can be no doubt that during the first century after the Christian era, Pompeii, without rising above the rank of an ordinary provincial town, had become a flourishing place with a considerable population, for which it was indebted in part to its position at the moutli of the river Sarnus, which rendered it the port of the neighbouring towns in the interior. But two events only are recorded of its history during this period. In 59 A.D. a tumult took place in the amphitheatre of Pompeii between the citizens of the place and the visitors from the neighbouring colony of Nuceria, which led to a violent affray, in which many persons were killed and wounded on both sides. The Pompeians were punished for this violent outbreak by the prohibition of all gladiatorial and theatrical exhibitions for ten years (Tacitus, Ann. xiv. 17). A characteristic, though rude, painting, found on the walls of one of the houses, gives a representation of this untoward event.

Only four years afterwards (63 A.D.) a much more serious disaster befell the city. An earthquake, which affected all the neighbouring towns, vented its force especially upon Pompeii, a large part of which, including most of the public buildings, was either destroyed or so seriously damaged as to require to be rebuilt rather than repaired (Tacit., Ann., xv. 21 ; Seneca, Q. N., vi. 1). The actual amount of the injuries sustained, which is intimated in general terms by Tacitus and Seneca, is more accurately known to us from the existing remains. For the inhabitants were still actively engaged in repairing and restoring the ruined edifices when the whole city was overwhelmed by a much more appalling catastroplie. In 79 A.D. the neighbouring mountain of Vesuvius, the volcanic forces of which had been slumbering for unknown ages, suddenly burst into a violent eruption, which, while it carried devastation all around the beautiful gulf, buried the two-cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii under dense beds of cinders and ashes. It is singular that, while we possess a detailed description of this famous eruption in two well-known letters of the younger Pliny (JUpist. vi. 16, 20), he does not even notice the destruction of Pompeii or Herculaneum, though his uncle perished in the immediate neighbourhood of the former city. But their unhappy fate is noticed by Dion Cassius, and its circumstances may be gathered with certainty from the condition in which it has been found. These were such as eminently to conduce to its preservation and interest as a relic of antiquity. Pompeii, was not, like Herculaneum, buried in a solid mass of volcanic tuff, but merely covered with a bed of lighter substances, cinders, small stones, and ashes, thrown out by the volcano, and falling from above on the devoted city. It is clearly established that the whole of this superincumbent mass, though attaining to an average thickness of from 18 to 20 feet, was the product of one eruption,—though the materials may be divided generally into two distinct strata, the one consisting principally of cinders and small volcanic stones (called in Italian "lapilli"), and the other and uppermost layer of fine white ash, often consolidated by the action of water from above, so as to take the moulds of objects contained in it like clay or plaster of Paris.

So completely was the unfortunate city buried under this overwhelming mass that its very site was forgotten, and even the celebrated topographer Cluverius in the 17tht. century was unable to fix it with certainty. This difficulty arose in part from the physical changes consequent on the eruption, and it was not till 1748 that an accidental dis-covery drew attention to its remains, and revealed the fact that beneath the vineyards and mulberry grounds which covered the site there lay entombed the ruins of a city, far more accessible, if not more interesting, than those (previously discovered) of the neighbouring Herculaneum. It was not till 1755 that systematic excavations on the site were begun, and, though they were thenceforth carried on more or less continuously during the whole of that century, it was not till the beginning of the present century that they assumed a regular character ; and the work, which had received a vigorous stimulus during the period of the French government (1806-1814), was prosecuted, though in a less methodical and systematic manner, under the suc-ceeding rule of the Bourbon kings (1815-61). Of late years the process has been carried on, under the enlightened direction of Signior Fiorelli, in a much more careful and scientific manner than before, and the results have been in many respects of the highest interest. At the same time the invention of photography has enabled the directors to preserve a far more satisfactory record of every step in the explorations than could previously be attempted.

It would be impossible for us to present our readers in this place with anything like an idea of the results of these excavations. Interesting as are the numerous works of art that have been brought to light, and important as is their bearing upon the history of some branches of ancient art, they cannot compare in interest with the flood of light which this marvellous discovery has thrown upon ancient life in all its details, enabling us to picture to ourselves the ways and manners and habits of life of a cultivated and flourishing population eighteen centuries ago, in a manner which no amount of study of ancient literature could pos-sibly accomplish. We must confine ourselves in the present article chiefly to those points which bear more immediately on the topography and character of the town of Pompeii, referring our readers for other details to the numerous works in which they have been described and delineated.

The town was situated on a rising ground of small elevation, separated by a distance of less than a mile from the foot of the actual rise of the outer cone of Vesuvius. This eminence is itself undoubtedly due to an outflow of lava from that mountain, during some previous eruption in prehistoric times, for we know from Strabo that Vesuvius, though presenting in his time all the appearances of an extinct volcano, had been quiescent ever since the first records of the Greek settlements in this part of Italy. But the position of Pompeii in ancient times differed materially from that which it occupies at the present day. It was situated close to the sea-shore, from which it is now more than a mile distant, and adjoining the mouth of the river Sarnus or Sarno, which now enters the sea nearly two miles from its site, but the present course of this stream is due in part to modern alteration of its channel, as well as to the effects of the great eruption. It is certain, however, that in Strabo's time Pompeii owed much of its prosperity to its serving as the port of the adjoining plain, and the neighbouring towns of Nuceria, Nola, and Acerrse (Strabo, v. c. 4, § 8).

The area occupied by the ancient city was of an irregular oval form, and about two miles in circumference. It was surrounded by a wall, which is still preserved around more than two-thirds of its extent, but no traces of this are found on the side towards the sea, and there is no doubt that on this side it had been already demolished in ancient times, so as to give room for the free extension of houses and other buildings in that direction. These walls are strengthened at intervals by numerous towers, which occur in some parts at a distance of only about 100 yards, but in general much less frequently. They are, however, of a different style of construction from the walls, and appear to have been added at a later period, probably that of the settlement of the Roman colony by Sulla. Similar evidences of the addition of subsequent defences are to be traced also in the case of the gates, of which no less than eight are found in the existing circuit of the walls. Some of these present a very elaborate system of defence, but it is evident from the decayed con-dition of others, as well as of parts of the walls and towers, that they had ceased to be maintained for the purposes of fortification long before the destruction of the city. The gates are now known by names given them in modern times from the direction in which they led, as, the gate of Herculaneum, of Stabise, of Nola, &c. No trace has been found of their ancient appellations.
The general plan of the town is very regular, the streets being generally straight, and crossing one another at right angles or nearly so. But an exception is found in the street leading from the gate of Herculaneum to the forum, which, though it must have been one of the principal thoroughfares in the city, was crooked and irregular, as well as very narrow, in some parts not exceeding 12 to 14 feet in width, including the raised trottoirs or footpaths on each side, which occupy a considerable part of the space, so that the carriage-way could only have admitted of the passage of one vehicle at a time. The other streets are in some cases broader, but rarely exceed 20 feet in width, and the broadest yet found is less than 30, while the back streets running parallel to the main lines are only about 15 feet. They are uniformly paved with large polygonal blocks of hard basaltic lava, fitted very closely together, though now in many cases marked with deep ruts from the passage of vehicles in ancient times. They are also in all cases bordered by raised trottoirs on both sides, paved in a similar manner; and for the convenience of foot passengers, these are connected from place to place by stepping-stones raised above the level of the carriage-way. Such an arrangement must have presented a con-siderable obstacle to the passage of vehicles; and altogether it is evident that the streets of Pompeii, like those of most Roman towns, were calculated much more for foot passengers than for any extensive traffic of wheeled carriages. In other respects they must have been far from presenting the lively aspect of the streets of modern and even mediaeval towns, and must rather have resembled those of Oriental cities,—the living apartments all opening towards the interior, and showing only blank walls towards the street; while the windows were generally to be found only in the upper story, and were in all cases small and insignificant, without any attempt at architectural effect. In some instances indeed the monotony of their external appearance was broken by small shops, occupying the front of the principal houses, as it were let in to the main build-ing ; these were in some cases numerous enough to form a continuous facade to the street. This is seen especially in the case of the Street of Herculaneum, and that of Stabiae, both of which were among the principal and most frequented thoroughfares.
The former of these main lines of street, which, as already described, led from the gate of Herculaneum to the forum, was crossed, a little before it reached that important centre, by a long straight line of street, which led directly to the gate of Nola. Two other parallel lines of street struck off from the forum itself towards the east, and these have been followed as far as the points where they cross nearly at right angles another main line of street, which leads direct from the gate of Vesuvius to that of Stabiae, near the theatres, thus traversing the city in its whole width from north to south. Almost the whole portion of the city which lies to the west of this last line, towards the forum and the sea, has been more or less completely excavated; but the greater part of that on the other side of it remains still unexplored, with the excep-tion of the amphitheatre, and a small space in its iinme- j diate neighbourhood. Altogether it may be calculated that about two-fifths of the whole extent has been already excavated. But there can be little doubt that the portion already known is the most important, as it includes the forum, with the temples and public buildings adjacent to it, the thermae, theatres, amphitheatre, &c.

The forum was unquestionably at Pompeii, as at Borne itself, and in all other Italian cities, the focus and centre of all the life and movement of the city, and was at once the resort of the lounger and the gathering place of men of business. Hence it was surrounded on all sides by public buildings or edifices of a commanding character. It was not, however, of large size, as compared to the open spaces in modern towns, being only 160 yards in length by 35 in breadth. Nor was it a centre of traffic in the modern sense of the word, being only accessible to any description of wheeled carriages at one angle, and the nature of its pavement, composed of broad flags of traver-tine, excluding the idea of its being intended for their passage. It was surrounded on three sides by a portico, or rather by a series of porticos, some supported on arcades, others in the Grecian manner on columns; and these porticos were originally surmounted by a gallery or upper story, traces of the staircases leading to which still remain, though the gallery itself has altogether dis-appeared. It is, however, certain from the existing remains that both this portico and the adjacent buildings had suffered severely from the earthquake of 63, and that they were undergoing a process of restoration, involving material changes in the original arrangements, which was still incomplete at the time of their final destruction.

The north end of the forum, where alone the portico is wanting, is occupied in great part by a building, the most imposing in the whole city, which is now generally known, on grounds that may be considered satisfactory, as the temple of Jupiter. It was raised on a podium or base of considerable elevation, and had a portico with six Corinthian columns in front, which, according to Sir W. Gell, are nearly as large as those in the portico of St Paul's. This magnificent edifice had, however, been evidently overthrown by the earthquake of 63, and is in its present condition a mere ruin. On each side of it were two arches, affording an entrance into the forum, but capable of being closed by iron gates. The principal of these, at the north-east angle of the forum, was the approach by which that open space was entered in coming from the gate of Herculaneum; the passage, however, was barred to wheeled carriages by a descent of three small steps. On the east side of the forum were four edifices, all of them unquestionably of a public character, but of which the names and attribution have been the subject of much controversy. The first (proceeding from the north) is generally known, though without doubt erroneously, as the Pantheon, or temple of the Twelve Gods; but it is very doubtful whether it is a temple at | all, and the latest authorities are disposed to regard it as j a macellum or meat-market, though the situation would seem to be unhappily chosen for such a purpose. Next to this comes a building generally regarded as the curia or senaculum—the meeting-place of the local senate, or town council. Beyond this comes another temple of small dimensions commonly called the temple of Mercury, but j supposed also, on very slight grounds, to have been dedicated to Augustus; and beyond this again, bounded on the south by a street known as the Street, of the Silver-smiths, is a large and spacious edifice, which, as we learn from an extant inscription, was erected by a priestess named Eumaehia. Notwithstanding this, its purpose and character are open to considerable doubt; but it resembles a basilica in its form and disposition, and was probably designed for similar purposes. The name of Chalcidicum, by which it is commonly known, is an erroneous inference from the inscription just referred to. The south end of the forum is occupied by three small buildings of very similar form and arrangement, which are supposed to have served as courts of law, though their destination is a matter of much uncertainty; while the greater part of the west side is occupied by two large buildings,—a basilica, which is the largest edifice in Pompeii, and a temple, which presents its side to the forum, and hence fills up a large portion of the surrounding space. The former, as we learn from an inscription on its walls, was anterior in date to the consulship of M. Lepidus and Q. Catulus (78 B.C.), and therefore belongs to the Oscan period of the city, before the introduction of the Roman colony. The temple was an extensive edifice, having a comparatively small cella, raised upon a podium, and standing in the midst of a wide space surrounded by a portico of columns, outside which again is a wall, bounding the sacred enclosure. It is commonly called the temple of Venus, but without any evidence; the most recent authorities regard it, on somewhat better grounds, as dedicated to Apollo. Between this temple and the basilica a street of unusual width leads off direct to the gate which opens towards the sea, and is still preserved, though the walls on this side of the city have ceased to exist.

Besides the temples which surrounded the forum, the remains of four others have been discovered, three of which are situated in the immediate neighbourhood of the theatres. Of these by far the most interesting, though the least perfect, is one which is commonly known as the temple of Hercules (an appellation wholly without founda-tion), and which is not only by far the most ancient edifice in Pompeii, but presents us with all the characters of a true Greek temple, resembling in its proportions that of Neptune at Psestum, and probably of as remote anti-quity. Unfortunately only the basement and a few capitals and other architectural fragments remain, and, though these suffice to enable us to restore its plan and design, of course its effect as a monument is wholly lost. The period of its destruction is unknown, for it appears certain that it cannot be ascribed wholly to the earthquake of 63. On the other hand the reverence attached to it in the later periods of the city is evidenced by its being left standing in the midst of a triangular space adjoining the great theatre, which is surrounded by a portico, so as to constitute a kind of forum, though scarcely deserving that appellation. In the immediate neighbourhood of the preceding, and close to the great theatre, stood a small temple, which, as we learn with certainty from the inscrip-tion still remaining, was dedicated to Isis, and was restored, or rather rebuilt, by a certain Popidius Celsinus, after the original edifice had been reduced to ruin by the great earthquake of 63. Though of small size, and by no means remarkable in point of architecture, it is interesting as the only remaining temple dedicated to the Egyptian goddess, whose worship became so popular under the Roman empire. There is nothing peculiar in the arrange-ments of the building itself, but a small edifice within the sacred enclosure, to which nothing similar was found in any other instance, was doubtless in some way connected with the peculiar rites of the mysterious deity. Close to this temple was another, of very small size, and of little interest, commonly known as the temple of Aesculapius,. but by others supposed to have been dedicated to Jupiter and Juno. No real foundation exists for either attribu-tion. More considerable and important was a temple which stood at no great distance from the forum, at the point where the street leading thither from the gate of Herculaneum was crossed by the wide line of thoroughfare leading to the gate of Nola. We learn from an inscription, that this was dedicated to the Fortune of Augustus (Fortuna Augusta), and was erected, wholly at his own cost, by a citizen of the name of M. Tullius, unfortunately no connexion of the orator. This temple appears to have suffered very severely from the earthquake, and at present affords little evidence of its original architectural orna-ment ; but we learn from existing remains that its walls were covered with slabs of marble, and that the columns -of the portico were of the same valuable material.

All the temples above described, except that ascribed' to Hercules, agree in being raised on an elevated podium or basement,—an arrangement usual with all similar buildings of Roman date. Neither their materials nor the style of their architecture exceed what might reasonably be expected in a second-rate provincial town ; and the same may be said in general of the other public buildings. Among these the most conspicuous are the theatres, of which there were two, placed, as was usual in Greek towns, in close juxtaposition with one another. The largest of these, which was partly excavated in the side of the hill, was a building of considerable magnificence, being in great part cased with marble, and furnished with seats of the same material, which have, however, been almost wholly removed. Its internal construction and arrange-ments resemble 'those of the Roman theatres in general, though with some peculiarities that show Greek influence,, and we learn from an inscription that it was erected in, Roman times by two members of the same family, M. Holconius Rufus and M. Holconius Celer, both of whom held important municipal offices at Pompeii during the reign of Augustus. It appears, however, from a careful examination of the remains that their work was only a reconstruction of a more ancient edifice, the foundations of which, and some other portions, may be distinctly traced. The smaller theatre, which was erected, as we learn from an inscription, by two magistrates specially appointed for the purpose by the decurions of the city, was of older date than the large one, and appears to have been constructed about the same time as the amphi-theatre, soon after the establishment of the Roman colony under Sulla. From the same source we learn that it was permanently covered—a rare thing with Roman theatres;; but in the case of the larger theatre also the arrangements for the occasional extension of an awning (velarhim) over the whole are distinctly found. The smaller theatre is computed to have been capable of containing fifteen hundred spectators, while the larger could accommodate five thousand persons.

Adjoining the theatres is a large rectangular enclosure,, surrounded by a portico, the purpose of which has been the subject of considerable controversy, but it is now generally admitted to have been the quarters or barracks of the gladiators, who were permanently maintained in the city with a view to the shows in the amphitheatre. It is singular that it should have been at so considerable a distance from that building, which is situated at the south-eastern angle of the town, above 500 yards from the theatres. The amphitheatre was erected by the same two magistrates who built the smaller theatre, at a period when, no permanent edifice of a similar kind had jet been erected in Rome itself. But apart from its early date it has no special interest, and is wholly wanting in the ex-ternal architectural decorations that give such grandeur of character to similar edifices in other instances. Being in great part excavated in the surface of the hill, instead of the seats being raised on arches, it is wanting also in the picturesque arched corridors which contribute so much to _the effect of those other ruins. Nor are its dimensions (430 feet by 335) such as to place it in the first rank even of provincial structures of this class, though it may still strike a visitor of the present day as surprisingly large for . a town of the population of Pompeii. But, as we learn from the case of their squabble with the people of Nuceria, ithe games celebrated in the amphitheatre on grand occa-sions would be visited by large numbers from the neigh-bouring towns.

Adjoining the amphitheatre was found a large open space, nearly square in form, which has been supposed to be a forum boarium or cattle market, but, no buildings of interest being discovered around it, the excavation was .-filled up again, and this part of the city has not been since examined.

Among the more important public buildings of Pompeii were the thermae, or public baths, an institution that always held a prominent position in every Roman or Graeco-Roman town. Three different establishments of this character have been discovered, of which the first, excavated in 1824, was for a long time the only one known. Though the smallest of the three, it is in some respects the most complete and interesting; and it was until of late years the principal source from which we derived our knowledge of this important branch of the _economy of Roman life. The vast series of edifices known by the name of thermae at Rome, as well as those in other provincial towns, are in such a state of ruin as to throw Sittle light upon the details of their arrangements. At Pompeii on the contrary the baths are so well preserved as to show at a glance the purpose of all the different parts—while they are among the most richly decorated of ; all the buildings in the city. We trace without difficulty all the separate apartments that are described to us by Roman authors—the apodyterhim, frigidarium, tepidarium, aldarium, &c, together with the apparatus for supplying both water and heat, the places for depositing the bather's clothes, and other minor details which were for the first time revealed to us by the discovery of these interesting buildings. It is obviously impossible for us in this place oto enter into a detailed description of these arrangements, for which we must refer our readers to the professed 'treatises on Roman antiquities, as well as to the larger works on Pompeii (see also BATHS, vol. iii. p. 435). The greater thermae, which were not discovered till 1857, nor fully excavated till 1860, so that they are not described in the earlier works on the subject, are on a much more extensive scale than the others, and combine with the special purposes of the building a palaestra and other : apartments for exercise or recreation. The arrangements of the baths themselves are, however, almost similar to those of the lesser thermae. In this case an inscription records the repair and restoration of the edifice after the earthquake of 63, but the period of its original construction is unknown. It appears, however, that these two establishments were found inadequate to supply the wants of the inhabitants, and a third edifice of the same character, but on a still more extensive scale, was in course of construction when the town was overwhelmed. The remains of this, which were first discovered and excavated in 1877, are, however, of comparatively little interest from vthe incomplete state in which the buildings were left.

Great as is the interest attached to the various public buildings of Pompeii, and valuable as is the light that they have in some instances thrown upon similar edifices in other ruined cities, far more curious and interesting is the insight afforded us by the numerous private houses and I shops into the ordinary life and habits of the population of an ancient town. In this respect Pompeii stands alone, among all antiquarian discoveries,—the difficulties of exploration at Herculaneum having greatly checked all further investigations on that equally promising site. But here again it is impossible in an article like the present to do more than briefly advert to the general results of the excavations (compare ARCHITECTURE, vol. ii. p. 420-21, i and Pl. XVII.) [also this page]. The houses at Pompeii are generally low, rarely exceeding two stories in height, and it appears certain that the upper story was generally of a slight construction, and occupied by small rooms, serving as garrets, or sleeping places for slaves, and perhaps for the females of the family. From the mode of destruction of the city these upper floors were in most cases crushed in and destroyed, and hence it was long believed that the houses for the most part had but one story; but recent researches have in many cases brought to light incontestable evidence of the existence of an upper floor, and the frequent occurrence of a small staircase is in itself sufficient proof of the fact. The windows, as already mentioned, were generally small and insignificant, and contributed nothing to the external decoration or effect of the houses. In some cases they were undoubtedly closed with glass, but its use appears to have been by no means general. The principal living rooms, as well as those intended for the reception of guests or.clients, were all on the ground floor, the centre being formed by the atrium, or hall, which was almost always open above to the air, and in the larger houses was generally surrounded with columns. Into this opened other rooms, the entrances to which seem to have been rarely protected by doors, and could only have been closed by curtains. All the apartments and arrangements described by Vitruvius and other ancient writers may be readily traced in the houses of Pompeii, and in many I instances these have for the first time enabled us to under-| stand the technical terms and details transmitted to us by Latin authors. We must not, however, hastily assume that the examples thus preserved to us by a singular accident are to be taken as representing the style of build-ing in all the Roman and Italian towns. We know from Cicero that Capua was remarkable for its broad streets and wide-spread buildings, and it is probable that the Campanian towns in general partook of the same character. At Pompeii indeed the streets were not wide, but they were straight and regular, and the houses of the better class occupied considerable spaces, presenting in this respect no doubt a striking contrast, not only with those of Rome itself, but with those of many other Italian towns, where the buildings would necessarily be huddled together from the circumstances of their position. Even at Pompeii itself, on the west side of the city, where the ground slopes somewhat steeply towards the sea, houses are found ' which consisted of three stories or more.

The excavations systematically conducted for many years past have presented us with examples of houses of every description, from the humble dwelling-place of the artisan ; or proletarian, with only three or four small rooms, to the stately mansions of Sallust and Pansa, —the last of which : is the most regular as well as the most extensive of all, and may be taken as an almost perfect model of a complete Roman house of a superior class. But the general similarity in their plan and arrangement is very striking, and in all those that rise above a very humble class the leading divisions of the interior, the atrium, tablinum, peristyle, &c., may be traced with unfailing regularity. Another peculiarity that is found in all the more considerable houses in Pompeii is that of the front, where it faces one of the principal streets, being occupied with shops, usually of small size, and without any communication with the interior of the mansion. In a few instances indeed such a communication is found, but in these cases it is probable that the shop was used for the sale of articles grown upon the estate of the proprietor, such as wine, fruit, oil, &c, a practice that is still common in Italy. In general the shop had a very small apartment behind it, and pro-bably in most cases a sleeping chamber above it, though of this the only remaining evidence is usually a portion of the staircase that led to this upper room. The front of the shop was open to the street, but was capable of being closed with wooden shutters, the remains of which have in a few instances been preserved. Of course it is only in a few cases that the particular purpose of the shop or trade of its owner can be determined, though, from the exceptional manner of their preservation, this can be done more frequently than might be expected. Thus not only have the shops of silversmiths been recognized by the precious objects of that metal found in them, but large quantities of fruits of various kinds preserved in glass vessels, various descriptions of corn and pulse, loaves of bread, moulds for pastry, fishing-nets, and many other objects, too numerous to mention, have been found in such a condition as to be identified without difficulty. Cooks' shops appear to have been numerous, as well as thermopolia, where hot drinks were sold. Bakers' shops are also frequent, though arrangements for grinding and baking appear to have formed part of every large family establish-ment. In other cases, however, these w-ere on a larger scale, provided with numerous querns or hand-mills of the well-known form, evidently intended for public supply. Another establishment on a large scale was a fullonica or fuller's shop, where all the details of the business were illustrated by paintings still visible on the walls. A dyer's shop, a tannery, and a shop where colours were ground and manufactured—an important business where almost all the rooms of every house were painted—are of special interest, as is also the house of a surgeon, where numerous surgical instruments were found, some of them of a very ingenious and elaborate description, but all made of bronze. Another curious discovery was that of the abode of a sculptor, containing his tools, as well as blocks of marble and half-finished statues. The number of utensils of various kinds found in the houses and shops is almost endless, and, as these are in most cases of bronze, they are generally in perfect preservation.

Of the numerous works of art discovered in the course of the excavations the statues and large works of sculpture, whether in marble or bronze, are inferior to those found at Herculaneum, but some of the bronze statuettes are of exquisite workmanship, while the profusion of orna-mental works and objects in bronze and the elegance of their design, as well as the finished beauty of their execu-tion, are such as to excite the utmost admiration,—more especially when it is considered that these are the casual results of the examination of a second-rate provincial town. The same impression is produced in a still higher degree by the paintings with which the walls of the private houses, as well as those of the temples and other public buildings, are adorned, and which are not merely of a decorative character, but in many instances present us with elaborate compositions of figures, historical and mythological scenes, as well as representations of the ordinary life and manners of the people, which are full of interest to us, though often of inferior artistic execution. An illustration of the character of the Pompeian wall-paintings is given in the article MURAL DECORATION, vol. xvii. p. 42, fig. 8. Our knowledge of ancient paint-ing is indeed derived to a much greater extent from Pompeii than from all other sources whatever; and, when we contemplate the variety and beauty of what we find here entombed, we cannot but ask ourselves what would have been the result had a great and opulent city like Capua or Neapolis been preserved to us in the same manner as the comparatively insignificant Pompeii. The same character of elaborate decoration, guided almost uniformly by good taste and artistic feeling, is displayed in the mosaic pave-ments, which in all but the humbler class of houses frequently form the ornament of their floors. One of these, well known as the battle of Alexander, presents us with the most striking specimen of artistic composition that has been preserved to us from antiquity (see MOSAIC, vol. xvi. p, 851, where part of this composition is shown in fig. 2).

The architecture of Pompeii must be regarded as present-ing in general a transitional character from the pure Greek style to that of the Roman empire. The temples (as already observed) have always the Roman peculiarity of being raised on a podium of considerable elevation; and the same characteristic is found in most of the other public buildings. All the three orders of Greek architecture —the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian—are found freely employed in the various edifices of the city, but rarely in strict accordance with the rules of art in their proportions and details ; while the private houses naturally exhibit still more deviation and irregularity. In many of these indeed we find varieties in the ornamentation, and even in such leading features as the capitals of the columns, which remind one rather of the vagaries of mediaeval archi-tecture than of the strict rules of Vitruvius or the monoton-ous regularity of Greek edifices. One practice which is especially prevalent, so as to strike every casual visitor, is that of filling up the flutings of the columns for about one-third of their height with a thick coat of stucco, so as to give them the appearance of being smooth columns without flutings below, and only fluted above. The unpleasing effect of this anomalous arrangement is greatly aggravated by the lower part of each column being almost always coloured with red or yellow ochre, so as to render the contrast between the two portions still stronger. The architecture of Pompeii suffers also from the inferior quality of the materials generally employed. No good building stone was at hand; and the public as well as private edifices were constructed either of volcanic tuff, or brick, or the irregular masonry known to the Romans as opus incertum. Those which belong to the earlier or Oscan period of the city (before the establishment of the Roman colony) are for the most part of the former material, while those erected under the Roman empire, and especially those subsequent to the great earthquake of 63, are gene-rally of slighter construction, and of a less durable character. In the private houses even the columns are mostly of brick, covered merely with a coat of stucco. In a few instances only do we find them making use of a kind of travertine, found in the valley of the Sarno, which, though inferior to the similar material so largely employed at Rome, was better adapted than the ordinary tuff for purposes where great solidity was required. The portion of the portico surrounding the forum which was in the process of rebuilding at the time when the city was destroyed was constructed of this material, while the earlier portions, as well as the principal temples that adjoined it, were composed in the ordinary manner of volcanic tuff. Marble appears to have been scarce, and was sparingly employed. In some instances where it had been freely introduced, as in the great theatre, it would seem that the slabs must have been removed at a period subsequent to the entombment of the city.

Outside the gate leading to Herculaneum is found a house of a different character from all the others, which from its extent and arrangements was undoubtedly a suburban villa, belonging to a person of considerable fortune. It is called—as usual without any authority— the villa of Arrius Diomedes; but its remains are of peculiar interest to us, not only for comparison with the numerous ruins of similar buildings which occur elsewhere, —often of greater extent, but in a much less perfect state of preservation,—but as assisting us in understanding the description of ancient authors, such as Vitruvius and Pliny, of the numerous appurtenances frequently annexed to houses of this description. The remains of a still more extensive suburban house which were discovered in 1764, and to which the name was given, without the slightest foundation, of the villa of Cicero, are no longer visible, having been covered up again with earth (as was frequently done in the last century) after the works of art had been removed.

In the vaulted corridors of the first villa were discovered no less than seventeen skeletons of the unfortunate inhabitants, who had evidently fled thither for protection. Almost all the skeletons and remains of bodies found in the city were discovered in similar situations, in cellars or underground apartments,—those who had sought refuge in flight having apparently for the most part escaped from destruction, or having perished under circumstances where their bodies were easily recovered by the survivors. According to Dion Cassius, a large number of the inhabitants were assembled in the theatre at the time of the catastrophe, but no bodies have been found there, and they were probably sought for and removed shortly afterwards. Hence the whole number of such remains discovered is not so large as might at first be supposed. It cannot indeed be accurately estimated, the records of the excavations in the last century having been very imperfectly kept; but the total number as yet discovered can scarcely exceed three hundred. Of late years it has been found possible in many cases to take casts of the bodies found—a complete mould having been formed around them by the fine white ashes, partially consolidated by water.

The road leading from the gate of Herculaneum towards that city is bordered on both sides for a considerable extent by rows of tombs, as was the case with all the great roads leading into Rome, and indeed in all large Roman towns. Without of course approximating to the stately structures that adorned the Via Appia or Latina, these tombs are in many instances monuments of considerable pretension, and of a highly ornamental character, and naturally present in the highest degree the peculiar advantage common to all that remains of Pompeii, in their perfect preservation. Hardly any scene even in this extraordinary city is more striking than the coup d'ceil of this long street of tombs, preserving uninjured the records of successive generations eighteen centuries ago. Unfortunately the names are all otherwise unknown; but we learn from the inscriptions that they are for the most part those of local magistrates and municipal dignitaries of Pompeii.

There appears to have been in the same quarter a considerable suburb, outside the gate, extending on each side of the road towards Herculaneum, apparently much resembling those which are now found throughout almost the whole distance from thence to Naples. It appears to have been known by the name of Pagus Augustus Felix.

No manuscripts have been discovered in Pompeii. Inscriptions have naturally been found in considerable numbers, and we are indebted to them for much information concerning the municipal arrangements of the town, as well as the construction of various edifices and other public works. The most interesting of these are such as are written in the Oscan dialect, which appears to have continued in official use down to the time when the Roman colony was introduced by Sulla. From that time the Latin language was certainly the only one officially employed, though Oscan may have still been spoken by a portion at least of the population. Still more curious, and almost peculiar to Pompeii, are the numerous writings scratched or rudely painted upon the walls, which have in some instances a semi-public character, such as recommendations of candidates for municipal offices, but more frequently are the mere'expression of individual impulse and feeling, not uncommonly conveyed in rude and imperfect verses. In one house also a whole box was found filled with written tablets —diptychs and triptychs—containing the record of the accounts of a banker named L. Caecilius Jucundus.

The inscriptions of a more formal character have been published by Mommsen, first in his Inscriptiones Regni Neapolitani Latinae (fob, Leipsic, 1852) and again in the tenth volume of the great Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, published at Berlin (1883). The fourth volume of the same work published in 1871 contains all the scratched and written inscriptions discovered up to that date, edited by Zangemeister (under the title Inscriptiones Parietariae Pompeianae, Herculanenses, et Stabianae); but the number has been since greatly increased, and a supplementary volume is in the press. The Oscan inscriptions, which are not comprised in the above collections, have been published by Fiorelli.

Most of the movable objects from Pompeii are now in the Museo Borbonico at Naples (see vol. xvii. p. 189).

Of the numerous works devoted to the antiquities and description of Pompeii generally it must suffice to mention a few. The earlier works, especially that of Mazois (Les Ruines de Pompeii, with its continuation by Gau, 4 vols. fol., Paris, 1812-38), and the two well-known works of Sir W. Gell (Pompeiana, 1st series, 2 vols. 8vo, London, 1824, 2d series, 1830), are still valuable for reference, though necessarily very im] icrfect. The popular treatise published by the Society for Useful Knowledge (Pompeii, 2 vols. 8vo, London, 1831) gives a good account of what had been then discovered, and the light thrown by it on ancient manners and customs. The more recent works of Breton (Pompeia, 8vo, Paris, 1855) and of Mr Dyer (Pompeii: its History, Buildings, and Antiquities, &c., London, 1867) bring down the record to a later period; and the successive editions of Overbeck's Pompeii (first published in 1856) have been kept continually on a par with the progress of discovery and research. The last edition of this valuable treatise (1884) is much the most complete and useful compendium of the whole subject that has yet appeared, and will supply all the wants of the ordinary reader. More special students will find there detailed references to the official records of the later discoveries that have been made under the direction of Signor Fiorelli, and to the numerous dissertations to which they have given rise. The great illustrated works of Zahn (Berlin, 1827-29) and Presuhn (fol., Leipsic, 1882) will furnish more elaborate representations of the decorative works with which almost all the buildings are adorned, while the student of ancient art may have recourse to the less ambitious collection of the ancient paintings by Helbig (Wandgemälde der von Vesuv verschütteten Städte Campaniens, Leipsic, 1868), with a supplementary volume published by Sogliano at Naples. A complete catalogue of all the works concerning Pompeii and Herculaneum will be found in a little book published at Milan in 1879 under the title of Bibliotheca Pompeiana. Unfortunately all works are rendered imperfect within a few years by the continued progress of the explorations and discoveries on the site. (E. H. B.)


It may be observed that the names given in most cases to the houses are either arbitrary, or founded in the first instance upon erroneous inferences. Hence they are frequently changed, and great confusion arises in consequence in comparing the different works on the subject. A few only of the. best known may he considered as established by long usage, among which are the two here referred to.

The above article was written by: E. H. Bunbury.

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