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roof, which, instead of being inclined towards the Impluvium in the middle of the court, conveyed the water outside the Cavædium.
The fifth, called Testudine, having no open space at the top like the others, could only be employed in small houses, and derived its name from a resemblance of the roof to the shell of a tortoise. It was a vaulted room of no extraordinary dimension '.
The Atrium was unquestionably the most essential and most interesting part of the Roman mansion. It was here that numbers assembled daily to pay their respects to their patron, to consult the legislator, to attract the notice of the statesman, or to derive importance in the eyes of the public from an apparent intimacy with a man in power. Of this custom the modern Levee, or morning reception of company, is evidently a derivative.
The subjects of the more tasteful paintings which were employed to decorate the walls of
Specimens of the several kinds of Atria are engraved in Ruines de Pompeii, vol. ii.
the Atrium, were usually drawn from the Iliad and the Odyssey, with inscriptions placed at intervals on the frieze'.
Other inferior subjects, particularly the combats of gladiators, were employed to embellish the taverns and dwellings of the lower class of citizens, but were seldom seen in noble houses. Davus, the servant of Horace, avows his ad- . miration of the rude designs in pictures of this description, and speaks in raptures of Rutilius and Placiduanus, two gladiators, so well painted with red and black,
Methinks in very deed they mount the stage,
At Pompeii have been found several instances
| Heroic fable is the subject of all the great pictures in Herculaneum, of those painted on the Greek vases, of those described or imagined by the Philostrati, and of those which Pausanias and Pliny enumerate. Every artist wrought on the elegant fictions of Greece; fictions which overspread poetry and religion,-nay, encroached on the sacred page of history, and pretended to embellish that which knows no beauty but truth. Forsyth's Italy, p. 230.
2 Francis's Horace, Sat. vii. book 2.
of similar paintings, certainly executed by inferior artists, and calculated for the amusement of the populace.
The farther extremity of the Atrium contained three principal apartments; the Tablinum, and its Alæ, or wings, one on each side. The Tablinum, completely open in front, was of tolerably ample size, and contained all proofs of the rank of the possessor of the mansion, the archives of the family, and records of the acts of each member who had held offices of state. Both the Tablinum and the wings were ornamented with pedigrees attached to ancestral figures '; it being the custom amongst the Romans to place these representations of their progenitors in the most conspicuous part of the house, together with all the names of noble families whence they derived their de
| Pliny, book xxxv. chap. 2. who tells us, “ there is extant an act of Messala, an orator, wherein upon a great indignation he expressly forbad that there should be intermingled one image that came from another house of the Levini among those of his owne name and lineage, for feare of confounding the race of his family and ancestors."
scent. Virgil particularly describes it, and alludes to the arrangement on the entablature:
Above the portal, carv'd in cedar wood, Plac'd in their ranks their godlike grandsires stood. The multitude of statues with which this part of the house was sometimes adorned, gave it more the appearance of a Forum than of the Atrium of a citizen.
The Jus Imaginis, or right of having pictures or statues at Rome, was equivalent to the modern custom of bearing a coat of arms; it was all indeed which those ages knew of “the boast of heraldry S.”
Every family also honoured the shades of their ancestors under the appellation of Lares, or benevolent domestic deities, who they supposed had not relinquished in death their affec
1 Dryden's Virgil: Æneis, book vü. 2 Pliny, book xxxiv. chap. 4.
3 It was only allowed to those persons whose ancestors or themselves had borne some curule office; that is, had been Curule Ædile, Censor, Prætor, Dictator, or Consul. Whoever had pictures or statues of his ancestors was called noble; he that had only his own, new.
tion for that house where they had formerly lived ;-from this belief by degrees sprung the whole ancient mythology'. Besides statues of bronze and marble, the Tablinum contained encaustic paintings, and diptychs inclosing family portraits in wax'.
In the earlier times of the Republic the Atria were less sumptuous, and contained few ornaments excepting the prizes, taken in war, and effigies of conquered nations, which makes Tibullus that “ Victory places before the palace the spoils of the enemy.”
From a passage in another ancient author it is clear that the officers who had the care of
1 Lares is said to be derived from the Etruscan word LARS, which signified conductor or leader. The
of these deities was supposed to extend not only over houses, but also over the country, &c.; the Lares Urbani presided over cities; Lares Familiares, over houses, &c.
2 A portrait is represented in plate 34, vol. iv. of Pitt. Ercol.
3 Petronius, a favourite of the Emperor Nero, wrote his Satiricon in elegant Latin, the best edition of which is by Burman: Amsterdam, 1743. An English translation had been published by Addison in 1736.