Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/69

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

measure reproduced! In some cases it has even been possible to recover the original arrangement of the garden beds, and to replant them accordingly, thus giving an appropriate framework to the statues, &c. with which the gardens were decorated, and which have been found in situ. The same character of elaborate decoration, guided almost uniformly by good taste and artistic feeling, is displayed in the mosaic pavements, which in all but the humbler class of houses frequently form the ornament of their floors. One of these, in the House of the Faun, 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.

The architecture of Pompeii must be regarded as presenting 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 a.nd 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 had varieties in the ornarnentation, and even in such leading features as the capitals of the columns, which remind one rather of the vagaries of medieval architecture than of the strict rules of Vitruvius or the regularity of Greek edifices. One practice which is especially prevalent, so as to strike every casual visitor, and dates from the early years of the empire, 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 fiutings 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 tufa, or lava, or Sarno limestone, or brick (the latter only used for the corners of walls). 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 whitish limestone wrongly called t raver tine, which, though inferior to the similar material so largely employed at Rome, was better adapted than the ordinary tufa 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 tufa. 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.

These materials are used in several different styles of construction belonging 'to the six different periods which Mau traces in the architectural history of Pompeii.-1. That of the Doric temple in the Foro Triangolare (6th century B.C.) and an old column built into a house in Region vi., Insula 5; also of the older parts of the city walls—date uncertain (Sarno limestone and grey tufa).

2. That of the limestone atriums (outer walls of the houses of ashlar-work of Sarno limestone, inner walls with framework of limestone blocks, filled in with small pieces of limestone). Date, before 200 B.C.

3. Grey tufa period; ashlar masonry of tufa, coated with fine white stucco; rubble work of lava. The artistic character is still Greek. and the period coincides with the first (incrustation) style of mural decoration, which (probably originating in Alexandria) armed at The paintings of the house of the Vettii are perhaps the best-preserved in Pompeii, and extremely fine in conception and execution, especially the scenes in which uplds take part. the imitation in stucco of the appearance of a wall veneered with coloured marbles. No wall paintings exist, but there are often fine floor mosaics. To this belong a number of private houses (e.g. the House of the Faun), and the colonnade round the forum, the basilica, the temples of Apollo and Jupiter, the large theatre with the colonnades of the Foro Triangolare, and the barracks of the gladiators, the Stabian baths, the Palaestra, the exterior of the Porta Marina, and the interior of the other gates—all the public buildings indeed (except the Doric temple mentioned under (1), which do not belong to the time of the Roman colony). Date, 2nd century B.c.

4. The “ quasi-reticulated ” period-walling faced with masonry not yet quite so regular as opus reticulatum, and with brick quoins, coinciding with the second period of decoration (the architectural, partly imitating marble like the first style, but without relief, and by colour only, and partly making use of architectural designs). It is represented by the small theatre and the amphitheatre, the baths near the forum, the temple of Zeus Milichius, the Comitium and the original temple of Isis, but only a few private houses. The ornamentation is much less rich and beautiful than that of the geceging period. Date, from 80 B.c. until nearly the end of the e u ic.

51? The period from the last decades of the Republic to the earthquake of A.D. 63. No homogeneous series of buildings-we find various styles of construction (quasi-reticulated, opus reticulatum of tufa with stone quoins, of the time of Augustus, opus ret-iculatum with brick quoins or with mingled stone and brick quoins, a little later); and three styles of wall decoration fall within its limits. The second, already mentioned, the third or ornate, with its freer use of ornament and its introduction of designs which suggest an Egyptian origin (originating in the time of Augustus), and the fourth or intricate, dating from about A.D. 50. Marble first appears as a building material in the temple of Fortuna Augusta (c. 3 B.C.). 6. The period from the earthquake of A.D. 65 to the final destruction of the city, the buildings of which can easily be recognized. The only wholly new edifice of any importance is the central baths. Outside the Porta Ercolanese, or 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 calledas usual without any authority-the villa of Arrius Diornedes; 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. In the cellar of this villa were discovered no less than twenty skeletons of the unfortunate inhabitants, who had evidently fled thither for protection, and fourteen in other parts of the house. 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 Cassius Dio, 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. Of late years it has been found possible in many cases to take casts of the bodies founda complete mould having been formed around them by the fine white ashes, partially consolidated by water. »-An interesting farm-house (few examples have been so far discovered in Italy) is that at Boscoreale excavated in 1895-1894, which contained the treasure of one hundred and three silver vases now at the Louvre. The villa of P. Fannius Synhistor, not far off, was excavated in 1900; it contained fine wall paintings, which, despite their importance, were allowed to be exported, and sold by auction in Paris (some now in the Louvre). (See F. Barnabei, La Villa pompeiana di P. Fanuio Sinistore; Rome, 1901.) The road leading from the Porta Ercolanese towards Herculaneum 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. 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, intheir perfect preservation. Hardly any scene even in this extraordinary city is more striking than the coup d'a2il 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. Most of them belong to the early empire.

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 was known by the name of Pagus Augustus Felix