Casa del Menandro

The House of Menander (Italian: Casa del Menandro) is one of the richest and most magnificent houses in ancient Pompeii in terms of architecture, decoration and contents, and covers a large area of about 1,800 square metres (19,000 sq ft).[1] Its quality means the owner must have been an aristocrat involved in politics, with great taste for art. Mussolini held a lunch party in Room 18 (Pompeii photo archive negatives A/234-236) when he visited Pompeii in 1940.

The house was excavated between November 1926 and June 1932[2] and is located in Region I, Insula 10, Entrance 4 (I.10.4) of the city.

Ownership of the house

Della Corte thought the owner could be Quintus Poppaeus Sabinus due to a seal and a graffito in the entrance corridor mentioning 'Quintus' and other graffiti in the house referring to 'Sabinus'.[2]

The nationality of the owner is more in dispute than their economic status. Pompeii’s Mediterranean climate enticed many Romans to invest in holiday villas there, so it is possible that the owner at the time of Vesuvius’ eruption in 79 AD was a wealthy tourist, not a local.[3]

Art, architecture, and graffiti

Fresco

The estate is referred to as “The House of Menander” because there is a well-preserved fresco of the ancient Greek Dramatist Menander in a small room off the peristyle. Some speculate the painting is not actually of Menander but rather of the owner of the house or another person reading works by Menander.

The house included other frescoes, including one depicting the death of Laocoön.

Classical style and Hellenism

The large columns in the peristyle of the Casa del Menandro are representative of the Doric style of architecture, an offshoot of the Classical Style, which also stems from Greece. The emphasis on Greek culture in Pompeian architecture is not surprising since Greek sailors had been using the port as a trading post before the Oscans founded the city in the 6th century BC.[4][5]

Graffiti

Numerous examples of Roman graffiti can be observed on the exterior walls of the house.[6]

References

  1. http://pompeiiinpictures.com/pompeiiinpictures/R1/1%2010%2004%20plan.htm
  2. "Casa del Menandro". www.stoa.org. Archived from the original on 2014-01-08. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  3. "Visiting Pompeii: 11 Top Attractions, Tips & Tours - PlanetWare". www.planetware.com.
  4. Roberts, Adam, Classical Architecture. London, Penguin Books. 1990
  5. Curran, Leo, Pompeii: House of Pansa: Atrium and Peristyle, 1988
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-02-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

Further reading

External video
Tour of the Casa del Menandro
  • Allison, P. M. 2004. Pompeian households: an analysis of the material culture. Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at University of California, Los Angeles.
  • Allison, P. M. 2006. The Insula of the Menander at Pompeii: Volume III - The Finds. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Beyen, H. G. 1954. ‘Die Grüne Dekoration des Oecus am Peristyl der Casa del Menandro’. Nederlands Kunsthistorische Jaarboek.
  • Ling, R. 1997. The Insula of the Menander at Pompeii: Volume I - The Structures. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Ling, R. & Ling, L. 2005. The Insula of the Menander at Pompeii: Volume II - The Decorations. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Lorenz, K. 2014. ‘The Casa del Menandro in Pompeii: Rhetoric and the Topology of Roman Wall Painting’. In J. Elsner & M. Meyer (eds.), Art and Rhetoric in Roman Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 183-210.
  • Maiuri, A. 1932. La casa del Menandro e il suo tesoro di argenteria. Rome: Libreria dello Stato.
  • Painter, K. S. 2001. The Insula of the Menander at Pompeii: Volume IV - The Silver Treasure. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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