Cover image for Houses and society in Pompeii and Herculaneum
Houses and society in Pompeii and Herculaneum
Wallace-Hadrill, Andrew.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, [1994]

Physical Description:
xviii, 244 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 26 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DG70.P7 W33 1994 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
DG70.P7 W33 1994 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Few sources reveal the life of the ancient Romans as vividly as do the houses preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius. Wealthy Romans lavished resources on shaping their surroundings to impress their crowds of visitors. The fashions they set were taken up and imitated by ordinary citizens. In this illustrated book, Andrew Wallace-Hadrill explores the rich potential of the houses of Pompeii and Herculaneum to offer new insights into Roman social life. Exposing misconceptions derived from contemporary culture, he shows the close interconnection of spheres we take as discrete: public and private, family and outsiders, work and leisure.

Combining archaeological evidence with Roman texts and comparative material from other cultures, Wallace-Hadrill raises a range of new questions. How did the organization of space and the use of decoration help to structure social encounters between owner and visitor, man and woman, master and slave? What sort of "households" did the inhabitants of the Roman house form? How did the world of work relate to that of entertainment and leisure? How widely did the luxuries of the rich spread among the houses of craftsmen and shopkeepers? Through analysis of the remains of over two hundred houses, Wallace-Hadrill reveals the remarkably dynamic social environment of early imperial Italy, and the vital part that houses came to play in defining what it meant "to live as a Roman."

Author Notes

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill is Professor of Classics at the University of Reading in England.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

From its start archaeology has been allied with art history, but recently it has been moving toward social history. First steps in Roman studies were taken by John R. Clarke, The Houses of Roman Italy, 100 BC - AD 250 (CH, Jul'92). Now Wallace-Hadrill, already well known for studies of Suetonius and patronage, has focused on the cities destroyed in 79 CE. He reads the plans and excavation reports like texts, uses them to show the vocabulary of Roman domestic architecture, and then describes the social structures and conventions that produced that vocabulary. It is amazing how much is discovered about imperial society from sites long studied and familiar. For example, it is clear that freedmen were far more high-status and far more assimilated than had been believed. Good illustrations and plans support the text admirably; the style is a model of precision and clarity; extensive notes, bibliography, glossary, and index combine to make this a valuable tool for further study. Altogether a truly outstanding work, one that belongs in every classical collection. General and academic readers at all levels. R. I. Frank; University of California, Irvine

Table of Contents

List of Plates
List of Figures and Tables
Note on Form of References to Houses
Pt. I The Social Structure of The Roman House
Ch. 1 Reading the Roman Housep. 3
Ch. 2 The Language of Public and Privatep. 17
Ch. 3 The Articulation of the Housep. 38
Pt. II Sampling Pompeii and Herculaneum
Ch. 4 Houses and Urban Texturep. 65
Ch. 5 Houses and Householdsp. 91
Ch. 6 Houses and Tradep. 118
Ch. 7 Luxury and Statusp. 143
Ch. 8 Epiloguep. 175
Appendix List of Houses Surveyedp. 187
Notesp. 217
Glossaryp. 231
Bibliographyp. 233
Indexp. 241