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The Insula of the Menander at PompeiiVolume II: The Decorations$
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Roger Ling and Lesley Ling

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199266951

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199266951.001.0001

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The Insula of the Menander at Pompeii

Roger Ling

Lesley Ling

Oxford University Press

The Remaining Dwellings with Decorated pavements and wall-plaster are all small (ground floor areas of 125 sq. m. or less), and the surviving decorations barely adequate to justify conclusions about the function and meaning of spaces. At least one house (I.10.18) shows signs of having suffered a decline of living standards, in that its last-phase paintings mark a clear lapse in quality and ambition in relation to their surviving predecessors: there is, as a result, a disparity between the relative richness of the paintings and the relative importance of the spaces interpreted in terms of the normal patterns of house usage. Such anomalies, when combined with the almost total absence of figure subjects, make it difficult to investigate questions of taste among householders. Still less, given the defective nature of the evidence, is it possible to look at such questions in diachronic terms. For these reasons we shall deal with the remaining properties in a more summary fashion than the houses discussed in earlier chapters, and we shall tend to focus on the situation in the final phase. The decorations of this house are divided into two clearly defined groups. There are more or less complete Third Style decorations in the rooms on the axis of the street entrance (the so-called ‘atrium’ and ‘tablinum’), and fragmentary remains of what were probably Fourth Style paintings in the rooms to the east, including those of the upper storey. The only decorated pavements are those of rooms 1 and 3 (the so-called ‘atrium’ and ‘tablinum’); these consist of continuous cocciopesto inset with small chips of white stone and a few larger and irregularly spaced pieces of white and coloured marbles (a grey marble—either Hymettan or bardiglio scuro), portasanta (or africano?), and giallo antico), punctuated by a band of scattered white tesserae between the responds which mark the division between the two spaces. The types of marble, and datable material built into the stair-base against which the pavement abuts, point to a date no earlier than the first century AD, and it is likely that the pavements belong to the same decorative programme as the Third Stylewall-paintings of the two rooms.

Keywords:   Boscotrecase, villa of Agrippa Postumus

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