A June 1999 trip
to Pompeii by Barb B
Quote: As you walk within these rocky ruins, you sense the many echoes of Pompeii's daily life. At once you are reminded of how, in an instant, Vesuvius raised her horible hand and life here suddenly came to an end. This is a venture back in time through this historic site.
Hidden from view for more than 1700 years,today two-thirds of the city has been excavated and the ruins of this once flourishing civilization are being restored to life; thereby, providing significant evidence of the customs, art, trade and everyday occurrances of day-to-day life.
Because of the significance and complexity of a visit to Pompeii, I have divided my journal into parts which are more manageable geographically.
Attraction | "The Forum of Pompeii"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 22, 2000
Stores, warehouses and workshops line the streetfronts, displaying varying examples of construction and architecture. Crowded shops, houses and workshops back onto one another, each struggling for the small amount of space available.
A 'fullonicae' (place for the treatment of cloth) is on the right and demonstrates the extent and importance of textiles in the economy. Several bakeries and grain mills are located along the way and, due in part to the restoration efforts in this area; the huge ovens appear almost ready to bake a fresh batch of bread. In many cases, warehouses are attached to the shops where grains, materials and other supplies are stockpiled. Still other shops have family living quarters or apartments at the back or above linking the family with the demands of work. Generally, those shops with the living quarters attached are the more modern homes and the larger the living space, the more modern the building.
Further along the street, row after row of warehouses provides storage for local supplies, goods and exports; thereby affirming the excellent wealth and trade of the area. Pompeii also had a wealth of hotels, rooms to rent private baths and gambling dens. Several buildings bear inscriptions or advertisements offering them for sale or available. Many 'thermopile,' refreshment rooms also dot the street. Equivalent to our modern day bars, they are intended to serve drinks to patrons and offer a place of relaxation and comfort. The thermopile are easily recognized by their holes evenly spaced along the counters to hold amphoarae.
Signs outside the shops are often painted pictures, depicting the activity carried out therein, and often the name of the business owner. Early forms of graffiti are also seen as we note that many of the houses are dotted with inscriptions of public announcements of performances, advertisements and electoral propaganda messages.
As we walk the street, we note the very large stones placed crosswise in the streets. These stones provided the ancient pedestrian crossings. They enabled the citizenry to cross the streets during rainy periods and avoid getting their feet wet. Statuary and fountains enhance the the thoroughfare as it leads to the crossroads of the Amphitheatre and the forum.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 20, 2000
Attraction | "The Amphitheatre"
The amphitheatre, meaning double or circular theatre, consisted of several sections. Not unlike our current day ballparks, each was intended for occupancy by the various social classes: seats in the lower central area area were reserved for dignitaries while those high up were for the plebeians. The richer you were, the better seat you received!
The construction of the ampitheatre dates back to 80 B.C. It is one of the oldest buildings in existence and was probably used as a model for the subsequent amphitheatres built in Rome. Unlike the other Roman amphitheatres, this one does not have an underground section. It was, however, equipped with a velarium, a cover which was stretched over the complex in case of rain. The rings to which the huge canopy were affixed can still be seen.
We were struck by the sheer size of the arena. Our guide explained that the majority of the gladiators who fought here were slaves or prisoners of war who were seeking their freedom. And yes, by the way, this was the scene off the infamous and tragic slaughter of the Christians.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 26, 2000
The largest of the brothels is located near the Porto Vesuvio and provides remarkable insight into the daily lives of the citizens of Pompeii. The inscriptions and graffiti on the walls relate to diverse subjects, which paint an extremely frank picture of contemporary social life. There were comments on particular people and events, risqué jokes, reflections on love and remarks regarding the pleasures one experienced in various rooms of the brothel.
The brothels generally were characterized by being built on two levels. An entryway or vestibule, waiting area and latrines were all provided for customers. Narrow hallways connected a labyrinth of tiny rooms or cubicles each with a stone bed. Throughout the buildings, walls were decorated with frescoed erotic scenes. Elaborate paintings of amorous embraces are in evidence in many of the cubicles.
Although thermal baths are located throughout the city, the Stabian thermal complex is the largest and occupies a vast area between the Brothel lane and the Holoconius crossroads. The oldest of the baths, it was established in the 1st century BC. Since at that time, the baths functioned as a form of entertainment, they were elaborately decorated and carried marvelous frescoes, statues, fountains and plaster ornamentation.
Divided into sections for male and female, the areas reserved for the female patrons generally exhibited far less decoration. An intricate heating and cooling system was achieved by running pipes through the cavities of the walls. This enabled the various forms of bathing: a frigidarium (frigid bath), tepidarium (tepid bath) and calidarium (high temperature steam baths). Designed around a central area used as a gymnasium, private baths and changing rooms lined the eastern side and a gigantic pool occupied the Western Wall of the complex.
During the excavation many impressions were found in the bath areas: A mournful reminder of the tragic end to the inhabitants of Pompeii.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 25, 2000
Baths and Brothels
Napa, CA and Hereford, AZ , Arizona