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Pompeii Essay Research Paper Pompeii is possibly

Pompeii Essay, Research Paper Pompeii is possibly the best-documented catastrophe in Antiquity. Because of it, we know now how the Pompeians lived because they left behind an extensive legacy of art,

Pompeii Essay, Research Paper

Pompeii is possibly the best-documented catastrophe in Antiquity. Because of it, we

know now how the Pompeians lived because they left behind an extensive legacy of art,

including monuments, sculptures and paintings.

Pompeii lay on a plateau of ancient lava near the Bay of Naples in western Italy in

a region called Campania, less than 1.6 kilometers from the foot of Mount Vesuvius. With

the coast to the west and the Apennine Mountains to the East, Campania is a fertile plain,

traversed by two major rivers and rich soil. However, in the early days, it was not a

remarkable city. Scholars have not been able to identify Pompeii?s original inhabitants.

The first people to settle in this region were probably prehistoric hunters and fishers.

By at least the eight century B.C., a group of Italic people known as the Oscans occupied

the region; they most likely established Pompeii, although the exact date of its origin is

unknown. ?The root of the word Pompeii would appear to be the Oscan word for the

number five, pompe, which suggests that either the community consisted of five hamlets

or, perhaps, was settled by a family group (gens Pompeia)?(Kraus 7).

In the course of the eight century B.C., Greek and Etruscan colonization

stimulated the development of Pompeii as a city around the area of the Forum. A point for

important trade routes, it became a place for trading towards the inland. Up until the

middle of the 5th century B.C., the city was dominated politically by the Etruscans. In the

course of the 6th century B.C., the influence of Greek culture is also documented by

terracottas, ceramics and architecture. A group of warriors from Samnium, called

Samnite, invaded the region in the 400?s B.C. Pompeii remained a relatively unimportant

village until the 200?s B.C., when the town entered a prosperous period of building and

expansion. The Romans defeated the Samnites, and Pompeii became part of the emerging

Roman state. Pompeii joined the Italic revolt against Rome, the Social War of 91-87 B.C.,

and was crushed by Sulla. Although the city was not destroyed, it lost its autonomy,

becoming a colony called Colonia Veernia Cornelia P, in honor of its conqueror L.

Cornelius Sulla. By 79 AD, Latin had replaced Oscan as the principal language, and the

laws and culture of Imperial Rome were implanted. The ?romanization? had began.

Pompeii grew from a modest farming town to an important and sophisticated

industrial and trading center. In 62 A.D., the first disaster, a terrible earthquake hit the

city. As the city was being rebuilt the second disaster struck. In the summer of A.D. 79,

Vesuvius suddenly erupted with violence. Hot ashes, lava and stones poured into Pompeii.

The eruption caught Pompeians by surprise: ?They heard the crash of falling roofs: an

instant more and the mountain-cloud seemed to roll towards them, dark and rapid, like a

torrent; at the same time, it cast forth from its bosom a showe of ashes mixed with vast

fragments of burning stone! over the crushing vines- over the desolate streets- over the

amphitheater itself- far and wide- with many a mighty splash in the agitated sea- fell that

awful shower.?, (Bulwer-Lytton 1).

The remains of about 2,000 victims out of a population of 20,000 have been found in

excavations. Some of them were trapped and killed in their homes. Others died as they

fled. Archaeologists have found the shells (molds) of the bodies preserved in the hardened

ash. By pouring plaster into the shells, they can make copies of the victims, even to the

expressions of agony on their faces.

Pompeii was not forgotten. Peasants in the area searched for hidden treasure and

they made tunnels. In the 1500?s workers digging a tunnel to change the course of the

Sarno river discovered parts of a temple and the forum, but no one paid much attention. In

1748, a farmer discovered a wall and the authorities in Italy began a series of excavations.

After 1860, Giuseppe Fiorelli served as director of the excavations. He directed the first

uncovering of the whole city block by block. The Italian government has provided funding

money for this project. After many years of work, we can now walk in Pompeii ?as

Pompeians did?.

After standing in line for quite a while and paying for a ticket, the tourist

experiences what are about to live are quite unique. When walking in Pompeii, you can

close your eyes and feel the magic of the city, because it seems like the time has not gone

by. Visitors can see the buildings as they stood 2,000 years ago. They can walk in and out

of houses and up and down narrow streets, see the Temple of Jupiter, which was an

ancient ruin at the time of the eruption, or sit in a tepidarium (part of a Roman public

bath). Tourists can also visit the Antiquarium and see the casts of some of the bodies,

houseware, the remains of food such as carbonized loaves of bread, eggs and other things

that also date back to ancient Rome.

The center of public life is called the Forum, and it played a fundamental role in the

political, religious and economic life of the city. It had the Temple of Apollo, the Temple

of Vespasian, the Sanctuary of the Lares Publici, Macellum, a Basilica, public buildings,

etc. In Pompeii, there are two theaters, gladiators barracks, an amphitheater, private and

public baths, temples, gates, houses and villas, and even a bakery.

Pompeii attracted many wealthy Romans. They built great villas near the

Mediterranean shore, where they could enjoy the mild, sunny climate. It is in the houses

where wall paintings are founded, and, believe it or, not Pompeii owes its fame to the

mural art preserved because they were ?hermetically sealed by hardened lava and slime

from all destructive atmospheric influences?(Kraus 156). Because of that, the houses of

Pompeii have given us a treasure of mural paintings, the most complete record of the

changing fashions in interior decoration in the entire ancient world. The quantity of the

paintings, tells us about both the prosperity and the taste of the times. In the early years of

exploration, excavators were interested exclusively in the mural paintings, especially those

about Greek heroes and famous myths. They were cut out of the walls and transferred to

the Naples Archeological Museum. Later, archeologists stopped this practice and serious

attention was given to the mural designs as a whole. At the end of the 19 century, August

Mau, a German art historian, divided the paintings into four so-called pompeian styles.

The technique used in these walls differed considerably from that used in Renaissance

frescoes. Before the artist could begin his work, the rough wall had to be covered with

three coats of fine lime mortar, followed by other three coats of a mortar using powdered

marble. When the wall surface was ready, it was polished with mable dust and the colors

laid on at the same time. By doing that, the walls were protected against future cracking

and had a brilliant surface like that on marble itself. ?The mirror-like glaze over the surface

involved not only polishing with marble dust, but also going over the surface with smaller

rollers. The whole process, it is clear, was so elaborate and expensive that it was of

necessity confined to the paintings in the ?best? rooms of the house, the others being much

more simply decorated.? ( Kraus 156)

The First Style (or incrustation). It has also been called the masonry style because

the decorator tried to imitate, using stucco relief, the appearance of expensive and costly

marble panels. It appeared about 200 B.C., when it became fashionable to paint the inner

walls of private houses as well as public and religious buildings. ?This decorative mode

was of Greek derivation, directly inspired by the isodomic masonry technique, and used

polychrome stucco to reproduce the projecting elements such as the dado, the middle

zone in large panels, the upper zone in smaller panels, the cornices, and sometimes the

pilasters which articulate the walls vertically. The lively color contrast are no more than a

translation into the pictorial idiom of the Hellenistic innovation of employing various types

and colors of marble, in the realization of the single elements.? ( Giuntoli 6). They give an

illusion of actual marble panels. Roman paintings were true frescoes, the colors were

applied while the plaster was still damp, but the brilliance of the surfaces was achieved by

painstaking preparation of the wall. The plaster was combined with marble dust if the

patron could afford it. Obviously incrustation was a process of decoration often beyond

the reach of any but the most powerful and wealthiest.

A good example of the First Style is The North wall of the tablinum, House of Sallust.

(pic. 1). , of unknown artist, this painted wall in Pompeii is about 12? x 8?. Despite some

later alterations and additions, the nucleus of this house, the rooms around the atrium(The

court of a roman house that is near the entrance and open to the sky), stayed as it was

until the end of the Tufa period. The decoration of the tablinum has a band along the base

of the wall (a dado), which is mounted by painted and stuccoed imitations of large stone

blocks (orthostates). These blocks are outlined and give a good idea of the colorfulness

typical of this style(red, yellow, orange and green). In this style there is no figuration or

ornamental motifs. The wall is divided into three horizontal zones and the top area was a

painted cornice. There is no hidden symbolism or religious meaning in this particular

painting. It is probably been done at the late phase of the style, ?the individual field were

once again enclosed in a real three-dimensional framework of stucco rather than relying

only on illusionistic painting?. ( Kraus 165)

The Second Style, also called architectural, became popular in the years when

Sulla?s military colony was established, around 80 B.C. ?The decoration on the walls

proposed perspective views with architectural elements illusionistically articulated on

different planes with foreshortenings and complex perspetive effects which culminated in

breaking through the wall towards an imaginary open space. The immediate models were

the illusionistic stage sets of the Hellenistic-Roman theater and the new ?baroque?

fashions of 2nd-1st cent. B.C. architecture.? (Giuntoli 6). Some scholars have argued that

this style also has precedents in Greece, but most believe that is roman invention. The aim

of this style painter?s was not to create the appearance of elegant marble walls, but rather

to dissolve the confining walls of a room and replace them with the illusion of a three

dimensional world constructed in the artist?s imagination. It seems he is inviting us into his

world. In the cubiculum 16, in the Villa of the Mysteries, we can see how this style is

characterized by painted columns ?breaking through the picture plane, architectural vistas

teasing the eye with perspective recessions? (Pompeii 1). It seems that the aim of the artist

is to make the room look larger, and also appears deeper than it really is. He uses bright

colors to achieved these effects. There is an optical effect stronger than the one of the

First Style.

The Third Style, or ornamental, was a reaction to the illusionism of Style II,

together with the preference for a more classic typical art of the Augustan period. Painters

no longer wanted to replace the walls with three-dimensional worlds of their own creation.

Instead they decorated the homes of rich Romans with delicate linear fantasies, ?The walls

are once more simple flat surfaces which mark the boundaries of an enclosed space are

subdivided horizontally and vertically into monochrome areas articulated by slender

architectural and decorative elements. The focal point is a painting in the center, generally

of mythological, religious or idyllic subject, set inside an aedicule flanked by panels with

small scenes suspended in the center which depict miniature figures and landscapes.?

(Giuntoli 7). In the North wall of the red cubiculum, from the Villa of Boscotrecase, in

the Museo Nazionale, Naples, we have one of the best examples of the 3rd Style. The villa

was owned by Agrippa Postumus and was decorated about 11 B.C. We can see here, a

landscape, in the middle of the red wall, representing a sacred precint dominated by the

statue of a seated goddess. It measures only 15? by 17?9?, and it was appropriate to this

hall of 19?8? by 29?, one of the largest in Pompeii. It does not fill the whole wall as in the

Third Style, now is only a picture in every central wall. It is almost square and has smaller

dimensions. The artist wanted to give us the impression of a picture hanging on the wall.

The colors have changed from lively reds, greens and oranges to broken tones, combining

soft browns, a green somewhat on the blue side and an unusual violet. Now, we begin to

see a contour around the figures.

The Fourth Style, became popular in the period of Claudius and Nero, when the

earthquake struck in A.D. 72 and the Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. Returns once again to

the architectural illusionism. It is inspired by the Second and Third styles. It was originated

in Rome. ?The colors are more decided and tend to contrasting lively color effects, the

decorative element multiply and crowd together, alternating with illusionistic architectural

views and pictures of mythological subjects often painted in the impressionistic technique.

A particular type is that of suspended carpets with small pictures and figures in the center,

inspired by the Hellenistic fashion of hanging decorative tapestries on the walls?.

( Giuntoli 7). In the Large hall, House of Fabius Rufus, we have one of the best examples

of the 4th Style. The house is situated on the southwest edge of the city and it has a

splendid view of the sea, it is the largest room of the house. On a black-ground enlived by

animals, vases, musical instruments and others, we can see the three-dimensional effects,

enhanced, for example by the woman on the balcony on the left. Apollo, Bachus and

Venus appear in the main picture, in the upper zone above them is Leda with her swan,

and small personifications of muses stand alone in the sides. The decoration stands out

because of the blackground.

From personal experience, I can say that after touring Pompeii, I was glad that

such a catastrophe preserved the city. If you enjoy art, it is a must see.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Giuntoli, Stefano, Art and History of Pompeii. (Erika Pauli for Studio Comunicare, trans.)

Florence, Italy: Casa Editrice Bonechi, 1995.

Kraus, Theodor, Pompeii and Herculaneum: The Living Cities of the Dead. ( Robert

Erich Wolf, trans.) New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1975.

?Pompeii?, World Book Online, http://www.worldbookonline.com/na/ar/fs/ar438760.htm,

November 9, 1999.

?Pompeii undercovered?, http://www.eliki.com/ancient/civilizations/pompeii/content.htm

October 25, 1999.

Pompeii is possibly the best-documented catastrophe in Antiquity. Because of it, we

know now how the Pompeians lived because they left behind an extensive legacy of art,

including monuments, sculptures and paintings.

Pompeii lay on a plateau of ancient lava near the Bay of Naples in western Italy in

a region called Campania, less than 1.6 kilometers from the foot of Mount Vesuvius. With

the coast to the west and the Apennine Mountains to the East, Campania is a fertile plain,

traversed by two major rivers and rich soil. However, in the early days, it was not a

remarkable city. Scholars have not been able to identify Pompeii?s original inhabitants.

The first people to settle in this region were probably prehistoric hunters and fishers.

By at least the eight century B.C., a group of Italic people known as the Oscans occupied

the region; they most likely established Pompeii, although the exact date of its origin is

unknown. ?The root of the word Pompeii would appear to be the Oscan word for the

number five, pompe, which suggests that either the community consisted of five hamlets

or, perhaps, was settled by a family group (gens Pompeia)?(Kraus 7).

In the course of the eight century B.C., Greek and Etruscan colonization

stimulated the development of Pompeii as a city around the area of the Forum. A point for

important trade routes, it became a place for trading towards the inland. Up until the

middle of the 5th century B.C., the city was dominated politically by the Etruscans. In the

course of the 6th century B.C., the influence of Greek culture is also documented by

terracottas, ceramics and architecture. A group of warriors from Samnium, called

Samnite, invaded the region in the 400?s B.C. Pompeii remained a relatively unimportant

village until the 200?s B.C., when the town entered a prosperous period of building and

expansion. The Romans defeated the Samnites, and Pompeii became part of the emerging

Roman state. Pompeii joined the Italic revolt against Rome, the Social War of 91-87 B.C.,

and was crushed by Sulla. Although the city was not destroyed, it lost its autonomy,

becoming a colony called Colonia Veernia Cornelia P, in honor of its conqueror L.

Cornelius Sulla. By 79 AD, Latin had replaced Oscan as the principal language, and the

laws and culture of Imperial Rome were implanted. The ?romanization? had began.

Pompeii grew from a modest farming town to an important and sophisticated

industrial and trading center. In 62 A.D., the first disaster, a terrible earthquake hit the

city. As the city was being rebuilt the second disaster struck. In the summer of A.D. 79,

Vesuvius suddenly erupted with violence. Hot ashes, lava and stones poured into Pompeii.

The eruption caught Pompeians by surprise: ?They heard the crash of falling roofs: an

instant more and the mountain-cloud seemed to roll towards them, dark and rapid, like a

torrent; at the same time, it cast forth from its bosom a showe of ashes mixed with vast

fragments of burning stone! over the crushing vines- over the desolate streets- over the

amphitheater itself- far and wide- with many a mighty splash in the agitated sea- fell that

awful shower.?, (Bulwer-Lytton 1).

The remains of about 2,000 victims out of a population of 20,000 have been found in

excavations. Some of them were trapped and killed in their homes. Others died as they

fled. Archaeologists have found the shells (molds) of the bodies preserved in the hardened

ash. By pouring plaster into the shells, they can make copies of the victims, even to the

expressions of agony on their faces.

Pompeii was not forgotten. Peasants in the area searched for hidden treasure and

they made tunnels. In the 1500?s workers digging a tunnel to change the course of the

Sarno river discovered parts of a temple and the forum, but no one paid much attention. In

1748, a farmer discovered a wall and the authorities in Italy began a series of excavations.

After 1860, Giuseppe Fiorelli served as director of the excavations. He directed the first

uncovering of the whole city block by block. The Italian government has provided funding

money for this project. After many years of work, we can now walk in Pompeii ?as

Pompeians did?.

After standing in line for quite a while and paying for a ticket, the tourist

experiences what are about to live are quite unique. When walking in Pompeii, you can

close your eyes and feel the magic of the city, because it seems like the time has not gone

by. Visitors can see the buildings as they stood 2,000 years ago. They can walk in and out

of houses and up and down narrow streets, see the Temple of Jupiter, which was an

ancient ruin at the time of the eruption, or sit in a tepidarium (part of a Roman public

bath). Tourists can also visit the Antiquarium and see the casts of some of the bodies,

houseware, the remains of food such as carbonized loaves of bread, eggs and other things

that also date back to ancient Rome.

The center of public life is called the Forum, and it played a fundamental role in the

political, religious and economic life of the city. It had the Temple of Apollo, the Temple

of Vespasian, the Sanctuary of the Lares Publici, Macellum, a Basilica, public buildings,

etc. In Pompeii, there are two theaters, gladiators barracks, an amphitheater, private and

public baths, temples, gates, houses and villas, and even a bakery.

Pompeii attracted many wealthy Romans. They built great villas near the

Mediterranean shore, where they could enjoy the mild, sunny climate. It is in the houses

where wall paintings are founded, and, believe it or, not Pompeii owes its fame to the

mural art preserved because they were ?hermetically sealed by hardened lava and slime

from all destructive atmospheric influences?(Kraus 156). Because of that, the houses of

Pompeii have given us a treasure of mural paintings, the most complete record of the

changing fashions in interior decoration in the entire ancient world. The quantity of the

paintings, tells us about both the prosperity and the taste of the times. In the early years of

exploration, excavators were interested exclusively in the mural paintings, especially those

about Greek heroes and famous myths. They were cut out of the walls and transferred to

the Naples Archeological Museum. Later, archeologists stopped this practice and serious

attention was given to the mural designs as a whole. At the end of the 19 century, August

Mau, a German art historian, divided the paintings into four so-called pompeian styles.

The technique used in these walls differed considerably from that used in Renaissance

frescoes. Before the artist could begin his work, the rough wall had to be covered with

three coats of fine lime mortar, followed by other three coats of a mortar using powdered

marble. When the wall surface was ready, it was polished with mable dust and the colors

laid on at the same time. By doing that, the walls were protected against future cracking

and had a brilliant surface like that on marble itself. ?The mirror-like glaze over the surface

involved not only polishing with marble dust, but also going over the surface with smaller

rollers. The whole process, it is clear, was so elaborate and expensive that it was of

necessity confined to the paintings in the ?best? rooms of the house, the others being much

more simply decorated.? ( Kraus 156)

The First Style (or incrustation). It has also been called the masonry style because

the decorator tried to imitate, using stucco relief, the appearance of expensive and costly

marble panels. It appeared about 200 B.C., when it became fashionable to paint the inner

walls of private houses as well as public and religious buildings. ?This decorative mode

was of Greek derivation, directly inspired by the isodomic masonry technique, and used

polychrome stucco to reproduce the projecting elements such as the dado, the middle

zone in large panels, the upper zone in smaller panels, the cornices, and sometimes the

pilasters which articulate the walls vertically. The lively color contrast are no more than a

translation into the pictorial idiom of the Hellenistic innovation of employing various types

and colors of marble, in the realization of the single elements.? ( Giuntoli 6). They give an

illusion of actual marble panels. Roman paintings were true frescoes, the colors were

applied while the plaster was still damp, but the brilliance of the surfaces was achieved by

painstaking preparation of the wall. The plaster was combined with marble dust if the

patron could afford it. Obviously incrustation was a process of decoration often beyond

the reach of any but the most powerful and wealthiest.

A good example of the First Style is The North wall of the tablinum, House of Sallust.

(pic. 1). , of unknown artist, this painted wall in Pompeii is about 12? x 8?. Despite some

later alterations and additions, the nucleus of this house, the rooms around the atrium(The

court of a roman house that is near the entrance and open to the sky), stayed as it was

until the end of the Tufa period. The decoration of the tablinum has a band along the base

of the wall (a dado), which is mounted by painted and stuccoed imitations of large stone

blocks (orthostates). These blocks are outlined and give a good idea of the colorfulness

typical of this style(red, yellow, orange and green). In this style there is no figuration or

ornamental motifs. The wall is divided into three horizontal zones and the top area was a

painted cornice. There is no hidden symbolism or religious meaning in this particular

painting. It is probably been done at the late phase of the style, ?the individual field were

once again enclosed in a real three-dimensional framework of stucco rather than relying

only on illusionistic painting?. ( Kraus 165)

The Second Style, also called architectural, became popular in the years when

Sulla?s military colony was established, around 80 B.C. ?The decoration on the walls

proposed perspective views with architectural elements illusionistically articulated on

different planes with foreshortenings and complex perspetive effects which culminated in

breaking through the wall towards an imaginary open space. The immediate models were

the illusionistic stage sets of the Hellenistic-Roman theater and the new ?baroque?

fashions of 2nd-1st cent. B.C. architecture.? (Giuntoli 6). Some scholars have argued that

this style also has precedents in Greece, but most believe that is roman invention. The aim

of this style painter?s was not to create the appearance of elegant marble walls, but rather

to dissolve the confining walls of a room and replace them with the illusion of a three

dimensional world constructed in the artist?s imagination. It seems he is inviting us into his

world. In the cubiculum 16, in the Villa of the Mysteries, we can see how this style is

characterized by painted columns ?breaking through the picture plane, architectural vistas

teasing the eye with perspective recessions? (Pompeii 1). It seems that the aim of the artist

is to make the room look larger, and also appears deeper than it really is. He uses bright

colors to achieved these effects. There is an optical effect stronger than the one of the

First Style.

The Third Style, or ornamental, was a reaction to the illusionism of Style II,

together with the preference for a more classic typical art of the Augustan period. Painters

no longer wanted to replace the walls with three-dimensional worlds of their own creation.

Instead they decorated the homes of rich Romans with delicate linear fantasies, ?The walls

are once more simple flat surfaces which mark the boundaries of an enclosed space are

subdivided horizontally and vertically into monochrome areas articulated by slender

architectural and decorative elements. The focal point is a painting in the center, generally

of mythological, religious or idyllic subject, set inside an aedicule flanked by panels with

small scenes suspended in the center which depict miniature figures and landscapes.?

(Giuntoli 7). In the North wall of the red cubiculum, from the Villa of Boscotrecase, in

the Museo Nazionale, Naples, we have one of the best examples of the 3rd Style. The villa

was owned by Agrippa Postumus and was decorated about 11 B.C. We can see here, a

landscape, in the middle of the red wall, representing a sacred precint dominated by the

statue of a seated goddess. It measures only 15? by 17?9?, and it was appropriate to this

hall of 19?8? by 29?, one of the largest in Pompeii. It does not fill the whole wall as in the

Third Style, now is only a picture in every central wall. It is almost square and has smaller

dimensions. The artist wanted to give us the impression of a picture hanging on the wall.

The colors have changed from lively reds, greens and oranges to broken tones, combining

soft browns, a green somewhat on the blue side and an unusual violet. Now, we begin to

see a contour around the figures.

The Fourth Style, became popular in the period of Claudius and Nero, when the

earthquake struck in A.D. 72 and the Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. Returns once again to

the architectural illusionism. It is inspired by the Second and Third styles. It was originated

in Rome. ?The colors are more decided and tend to contrasting lively color effects, the

decorative element multiply and crowd together, alternating with illusionistic architectural

views and pictures of mythological subjects often painted in the impressionistic technique.

A particular type is that of suspended carpets with small pictures and figures in the center,

inspired by the Hellenistic fashion of hanging decorative tapestries on the walls?.

( Giuntoli 7). In the Large hall, House of Fabius Rufus, we have one of the best examples

of the 4th Style. The house is situated on the southwest edge of the city and it has a

splendid view of the sea, it is the largest room of the house. On a black-ground enlived by

animals, vases, musical instruments and others, we can see the three-dimensional effects,

enhanced, for example by the woman on the balcony on the left. Apollo, Bachus and

Venus appear in the main picture, in the upper zone above them is Leda with her swan,

and small personifications of muses stand alone in the sides. The decoration stands out

because of the blackground.

From personal experience, I can say that after touring Pompeii, I was glad that

such a catastrophe preserved the city. If you enjoy art, it is a must see.

Bibliography

Pompeii is possibly the best-documented catastrophe in Antiquity. Because of it, we

know now how the Pompeians lived because they left behind an extensive legacy of art,

including monuments, sculptures and paintings.

Pompeii lay on a plateau of ancient lava near the Bay of Naples in western Italy in

a region called Campania, less than 1.6 kilometers from the foot of Mount Vesuvius. With

the coast to the west and the Apennine Mountains to the East, Campania is a fertile plain,

traversed by two major rivers and rich soil. However, in the early days, it was not a

remarkable city. Scholars have not been able to identify Pompeii?s original inhabitants.

The first people to settle in this region were probably prehistoric hunters and fishers.

By at least the eight century B.C., a group of Italic people known as the Oscans occupied

the region; they most likely established Pompeii, although the exact date of its origin is

unknown. ?The root of the word Pompeii would appear to be the Oscan word for the

number five, pompe, which suggests that either the community consisted of five hamlets

or, perhaps, was settled by a family group (gens Pompeia)?(Kraus 7).

In the course of the eight century B.C., Greek and Etruscan colonization

stimulated the development of Pompeii as a city around the area of the Forum. A point for

important trade routes, it became a place for trading towards the inland. Up until the

middle of the 5th century B.C., the city was dominated politically by the Etruscans. In the

course of the 6th century B.C., the influence of Greek culture is also documented by

terracottas, ceramics and architecture. A group of warriors from Samnium, called

Samnite, invaded the region in the 400?s B.C. Pompeii remained a relatively unimportant

village until the 200?s B.C., when the town entered a prosperous period of building and

expansion. The Romans defeated the Samnites, and Pompeii became part of the emerging

Roman state. Pompeii joined the Italic revolt against Rome, the Social War of 91-87 B.C.,

and was crushed by Sulla. Although the city was not destroyed, it lost its autonomy,

becoming a colony called Colonia Veernia Cornelia P, in honor of its conqueror L.

Cornelius Sulla. By 79 AD, Latin had replaced Oscan as the principal language, and the

laws and culture of Imperial Rome were implanted. The ?romanization? had began.

Pompeii grew from a modest farming town to an important and sophisticated

industrial and trading center. In 62 A.D., the first disaster, a terrible earthquake hit the

city. As the city was being rebuilt the second disaster struck. In the summer of A.D. 79,

Vesuvius suddenly erupted with violence. Hot ashes, lava and stones poured into Pompeii.

The eruption caught Pompeians by surprise: ?They heard the crash of falling roofs: an

instant more and the mountain-cloud seemed to roll towards them, dark and rapid, like a

torrent; at the same time, it cast forth from its bosom a showe of ashes mixed with vast

fragments of burning stone! over the crushing vines- over the desolate streets- over the

amphitheater itself- far and wide- with many a mighty splash in the agitated sea- fell that

awful shower.?, (Bulwer-Lytton 1).

The remains of about 2,000 victims out of a population of 20,000 have been found in

excavations. Some of them were trapped and killed in their homes. Others died as they

fled. Archaeologists have found the shells (molds) of the bodies preserved in the hardened

ash. By pouring plaster into the shells, they can make copies of the victims, even to the

expressions of agony on their faces.

Pompeii was not forgotten. Peasants in the area searched for hidden treasure and

they made tunnels. In the 1500?s workers digging a tunnel to change the course of the

Sarno river discovered parts of a temple and the forum, but no one paid much attention. In

1748, a farmer discovered a wall and the authorities in Italy began a series of excavations.

After 1860, Giuseppe Fiorelli served as director of the excavations. He directed the first

uncovering of the whole city block by block. The Italian government has provided funding

money for this project. After many years of work, we can now walk in Pompeii ?as

Pompeians did?.

After standing in line for quite a while and paying for a ticket, the tourist

experiences what are about to live are quite unique. When walking in Pompeii, you can

close your eyes and feel the magic of the city, because it seems like the time has not gone

by. Visitors can see the buildings as they stood 2,000 years ago. They can walk in and out

of houses and up and down narrow streets, see the Temple of Jupiter, which was an

ancient ruin at the time of the eruption, or sit in a tepidarium (part of a Roman public

bath). Tourists can also visit the Antiquarium and see the casts of some of the bodies,

houseware, the remains of food such as carbonized loaves of bread, eggs and other things

that also date back to ancient Rome.

The center of public life is called the Forum, and it played a fundamental role in the

political, religious and economic life of the city. It had the Temple of Apollo, the Temple

of Vespasian, the Sanctuary of the Lares Publici, Macellum, a Basilica, public buildings,

etc. In Pompeii, there are two theaters, gladiators barracks, an amphitheater, private and

public baths, temples, gates, houses and villas, and even a bakery.

Pompeii attracted many wealthy Romans. They built great villas near the

Mediterranean shore, where they could enjoy the mild, sunny climate. It is in the houses

where wall paintings are founded, and, believe it or, not Pompeii owes its fame to the

mural art preserved because they were ?hermetically sealed by hardened lava and slime

from all destructive atmospheric influences?(Kraus 156). Because of that, the houses of

Pompeii have given us a treasure of mural paintings, the most complete record of the

changing fashions in interior decoration in the entire ancient world. The quantity of the

paintings, tells us about both the prosperity and the taste of the times. In the early years of

exploration, excavators were interested exclusively in the mural paintings, especially those

about Greek heroes and famous myths. They were cut out of the walls and transferred to

the Naples Archeological Museum. Later, archeologists stopped this practice and serious

attention was given to the mural designs as a whole. At the end of the 19 century, August

Mau, a German art historian, divided the paintings into four so-called pompeian styles.

The technique used in these walls differed considerably from that used in Renaissance

frescoes. Before the artist could begin his work, the rough wall had to be covered with

three coats of fine lime mortar, followed by other three coats of a mortar using powdered

marble. When the wall surface was ready, it was polished with mable dust and the colors

laid on at the same time. By doing that, the walls were protected against future cracking

and had a brilliant surface like that on marble itself. ?The mirror-like glaze over the surface

involved not only polishing with marble dust, but also going over the surface with smaller

rollers. The whole process, it is clear, was so elaborate and expensive that it was of

necessity confined to the paintings in the ?best? rooms of the house, the others being much

more simply decorated.? ( Kraus 156)

The First Style (or incrustation). It has also been called the masonry style because

the decorator tried to imitate, using stucco relief, the appearance of expensive and costly

marble panels. It appeared about 200 B.C., when it became fashionable to paint the inner

walls of private houses as well as public and religious buildings. ?This decorative mode

was of Greek derivation, directly inspired by the isodomic masonry technique, and used

polychrome stucco to reproduce the projecting elements such as the dado, the middle

zone in large panels, the upper zone in smaller panels, the cornices, and sometimes the

pilasters which articulate the walls vertically. The lively color contrast are no more than a

translation into the pictorial idiom of the Hellenistic innovation of employing various types

and colors of marble, in the realization of the single elements.? ( Giuntoli 6). They give an

illusion of actual marble panels. Roman paintings were true frescoes, the colors were

applied while the plaster was still damp, but the brilliance of the surfaces was achieved by

painstaking preparation of the wall. The plaster was combined with marble dust if the

patron could afford it. Obviously incrustation was a process of decoration often beyond

the reach of any but the most powerful and wealthiest.

A good example of the First Style is The North wall of the tablinum, House of Sallust.

(pic. 1). , of unknown artist, this painted wall in Pompeii is about 12? x 8?. Despite some

later alterations and additions, the nucleus of this house, the rooms around the atrium(The

court of a roman house that is near the entrance and open to the sky), stayed as it was

until the end of the Tufa period. The decoration of the tablinum has a band along the base

of the wall (a dado), which is mounted by painted and stuccoed imitations of large stone

blocks (orthostates). These blocks are outlined and give a good idea of the colorfulness

typical of this style(red, yellow, orange and green). In this style there is no figuration or

ornamental motifs. The wall is divided into three horizontal zones and the top area was a

painted cornice. There is no hidden symbolism or religious meaning in this particular

painting. It is probably been done at the late phase of the style, ?the individual field were

once again enclosed in a real three-dimensional framework of stucco rather than relying

only on illusionistic painting?. ( Kraus 165)

The Second Style, also called architectural, became popular in the years when

Sulla?s military colony was established, around 80 B.C. ?The decoration on the walls

proposed perspective views with architectural elements illusionistically articulated on

different planes with foreshortenings and complex perspetive effects which culminated in

breaking through the wall towards an imaginary open space. The immediate models were

the illusionistic stage sets of the Hellenistic-Roman theater and the new ?baroque?

fashions of 2nd-1st cent. B.C. architecture.? (Giuntoli 6). Some scholars have argued that

this style also has precedents in Greece, but most believe that is roman invention. The aim

of this style painter?s was not to create the appearance of elegant marble walls, but rather

to dissolve the confining walls of a room and replace them with the illusion of a three

dimensional world constructed in the artist?s imagination. It seems he is inviting us into his

world. In the cubiculum 16, in the Villa of the Mysteries, we can see how this style is

characterized by painted columns ?breaking through the picture plane, architectural vistas

teasing the eye with perspective recessions? (Pompeii 1). It seems that the aim of the artist

is to make the room look larger, and also appears deeper than it really is. He uses bright

colors to achieved these effects. There is an optical effect stronger than the one of the

First Style.

The Third Style, or ornamental, was a reaction to the illusionism of Style II,

together with the preference for a more classic typical art of the Augustan period. Painters

no longer wanted to replace the walls with three-dimensional worlds of their own creation.

Instead they decorated the homes of rich Romans with delicate linear fantasies, ?The walls

are once more simple flat surfaces which mark the boundaries of an enclosed space are

subdivided horizontally and vertically into monochrome areas articulated by slender

architectural and decorative elements. The focal point is a painting in the center, generally

of mythological, religious or idyllic subject, set inside an aedicule flanked by panels with

small scenes suspended in the center which depict miniature figures and landscapes.?

(Giuntoli 7). In the North wall of the red cubiculum, from the Villa of Boscotrecase, in

the Museo Nazionale, Naples, we have one of the best examples of the 3rd Style. The villa

was owned by Agrippa Postumus and was decorated about 11 B.C. We can see here, a

landscape, in the middle of the red wall, representing a sacred precint dominated by the

statue of a seated goddess. It measures only 15? by 17?9?, and it was appropriate to this

hall of 19?8? by 29?, one of the largest in Pompeii. It does not fill the whole wall as in the

Third Style, now is only a picture in every central wall. It is almost square and has smaller

dimensions. The artist wanted to give us the impression of a picture hanging on the wall.

The colors have changed from lively reds, greens and oranges to broken tones, combining

soft browns, a green somewhat on the blue side and an unusual violet. Now, we begin to

see a contour around the figures.

The Fourth Style, became popular in the period of Claudius and Nero, when the

earthquake struck in A.D. 72 and the Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. Returns once again to

the architectural illusionism. It is inspired by the Second and Third styles. It was originated

in Rome. ?The colors are more decided and tend to contrasting lively color effects, the

decorative element multiply and crowd together, alternating with illusionistic architectural

views and pictures of mythological subjects often painted in the impressionistic technique.

A particular type is that of suspended carpets with small pictures and figures in the center,

inspired by the Hellenistic fashion of hanging decorative tapestries on the walls?.

( Giuntoli 7). In the Large hall, House of Fabius Rufus, we have one of the best examples

of the 4th Style. The house is situated on the southwest edge of the city and it has a

splendid view of the sea, it is the largest room of the house. On a black-ground enlived by

animals, vases, musical instruments and others, we can see the three-dimensional effects,

enhanced, for example by the woman on the balcony on the left. Apollo, Bachus and

Venus appear in the main picture, in the upper zone above them is Leda with her swan,

and small personifications of muses stand alone in the sides. The decoration stands out

because of the blackground.

From personal experience, I can say that after touring Pompeii, I was glad that

such a catastrophe preserved the city. If you enjoy art, it is a must see.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Giuntoli, Stefano, Art and History of Pompeii. (Erika Pauli for Studio Comunicare, trans.)

Florence, Italy: Casa Editrice Bonechi, 1995.

Kraus, Theodor, Pompeii and Herculaneum: The Living Cities of the Dead. ( Robert

Erich Wolf, trans.) New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1975.

?Pompeii?, World Book Online, http://www.worldbookonline.com/na/ar/fs/ar438760.htm,

November 9, 1999.

?Pompeii undercovered?, http://www.eliki.com/ancient/civilizations/pompeii/content.htm

October 25, 1999.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Giuntoli, Stefano, Art and History of Pompeii. (Erika Pauli for Studio Comunicare, trans.)

Florence, Italy: Casa Editrice Bonechi, 1995.

Kraus, Theodor, Pompeii and Herculaneum: The Living Cities of the Dead. ( Robert

Erich Wolf, trans.) New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1975.

?Pompeii?, World Book Online, http://www.worldbookonline.com/na/ar/fs/ar438760.htm,

November 9, 1999.

?Pompeii undercovered?, http://www.eliki.com/ancient/civilizations/pompeii/content.htm

October 25, 1999.

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