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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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(p.1) Introduction
The Insula of the Menander at Pompeii

Roger Ling

Lesley Ling

Oxford University Press

The Present Volume takes Forward the Study of the Insula of the Menandro started with the architectural analysis of Volume I (1997). It examines the interior decorations (paintings on walls and ceilings, mosaics and other patterned pavements on floors, and stucco relief on ceilings). This is done, as in Volume I, by separating the analytical discussion, which comes first, from a full descriptive catalogue—the counterpart of the architectural gazetteer (Appendix A) of the fiirst volume— which occupies the second half. In the analytical discussion the decorations are tackled from three main viewpoints. A first section deals with typology and chronology. This involves analysing both the general syntax and also individual motifs, using comparanda from other houses at Pompeii and where necessary outside Pompeii, to determine their place within the evolution of the decorative formulae for each medium. In the second section we examine iconography, concentrating especially on mythological scenes and figures which are more than simple stereotypes. These are related to parallels in other houses to establish how far they conform to, or conflict with, the normal patterns of representation, viewed where possible from a chronological standpoint. The final section scrutinizes the relationship of the decorations to the house as a functioning unit. This entails addressing various questions: how mosaics and paintings were adapted to the shape and scale of rooms, to the position of viewers, and to patterns of circulation, how far choices of patterns and subjects may have reflected the uses to which rooms were put, and to what extent such choices justify us in drawing conclusions about the tastes and aspirations of successive householders. Once again we attempt, where possible, to look at these questions in relation to different chronological periods within the houses’ history. One of the most important aspects of our study of the Insula del Menandro is that we are analysing the whole city-block and not (as many other studies have done) isolated houses. But the nature of the material covered by the present volume leads to one major difference in structure in relation to Volume I. Our discussion (but not the catalogue) deals with the houses not in numerical order, that is proceeding counterclockwise round the block, but in a hierarchical order, that is according to size and importance.

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