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In this court was the Venereum, or, as the Greeks called it, Aphrodision, a division of the house comprising apartments dedicated to the Cyprian goddess. No crevices were suffered to appear in the doors of these rooms, and they were completely protected from pry: ing eyes by curtains on the inside. The subject of the painting on the wall opposite to the door would be the punishment of the rash and curious Acteon'. The gallery surrounding this court was most in character when painted with figures on a black ground, a mode of decoration which gave a fine relief to the fairness of women's complexions, and also to their dress; the quantity of gilded ornaments, spread upon this black ground, destroyed whatever gloominess might otherwise prevail. Here also was placed a statue of Venus, with an altar at the foot of it. This, indeed, was the temple of the goddess, and had the greatest profusion of ornament bestowed upon it. Columns remark
1 Pitture de Pompeii, plate 1.
able for the beauty of their substance supported a gilded roof, which was reflected on the bright marbles of the pavement'; from the entablature were suspended veils tinged with purple, and embroidered with pearls, gathered in the Erythrean sea on the coast of Arabia. The whole plan of this suite comprehended a court in the centre, with a recess for the statue at the end, on each side of which was a cabinet, both alike. On the right hand of the court was a refreshment room, and on the left a small kitchen, together with a bath and its dependent offices?. Beneath the colonnade stood flowerpots filled with stimulating plants, and a round table or monopodium. Such tables covered with exquisite wines it will be remembered are frequently represented on Etruscan vases,
· It is generally supposed that the Romans understood the art of gilding as used at the present time; but some of their modes of inauration must have been much more expensive, since it appears the gilding of the Capitol cost twelve thousand talents, amounting to £2,325,000 English money. -Arbuthnot's Tables.
2 See the House of Acteon in Ruines de Pompeii, vol. ii.
placed near persons reposing on couches '. The subdued light admitted to the cabinets was a voluptuous refinement obtained by employing transparent alabaster, and by curtains drawn before it. The walls of the rooms in this division of the mansion were also decorated with painted subjects drawn from the licentious descriptions of the poets, of the mysteries of their wanton mythology.
1 The forms of the Etruscan vases were equally perfect and elegant. The ware of Arezzo, which was the most celebrated, was red; that of Chiusi differed from the ware manufactured at Volterra, which was very light covered with a shining black varnish, and decorated with bassi relievi and other ornaments as well executed as if in bronze. From the numerous sepulchres or Hypogei discovered without the ancient walls of Volterra, particularly on the hills of Portone and Monte Bradone, have been drawn the valuable specimens of Etruscan workmanship which enrich the different museums of Europe.—Hoare's Classical Tour through Italy, p. 8.
? Propertius, lib. ii. eleg. 6.
voted to the personal use of the master of the house, a door of communication led to those of his wife and the ladies of the family, which were denominated Gynæconites, a term originally employed by the Greeks to signify the upper part of the houses, in the arrangements of their dwellings'. The Romans, in many instances regarding the conveniences of life, imitated the Greeks, and in the extravagances of luxury, as in many other particulars, greatly surpassed their masters. Every considerable Roman mansion had therefore its Gynæceum, its Prothyrum, and its Exhedræ °; and it is known that almost all the architects of reputation came from Greece.
| From the account given by Vitruvius it may be inferred that the villas of the Greeks were of great extent, and contrived with a view to considerable comfort. The circumstance of separate suites of apartments being allotted to the reception of each guest, is a proof of great advances towards the perfect contrivance in distribution of the whole, and of the convenience they would afford in the economy of the household.-Gwilt's Cursory View of Ancient Architecture.
2 Vitruvius, book vi. chap. 10. Julius Pollux, a Greek grammarian, who was preceptor to the Emperor Commodus, compiled an Onomasticon, or vocabulary, one class of which
The Romans left the exercise of the fine arts to their freedmen, and therefore could boast of few men of great talent, especially amongst those who devoted themselves to architecture, a science which necessarily requires a highly cultivated mind, and ought exclusively to be the study of persons gifted with genius, and who in addition, have some knowledge of polite literature. Architecture has not, like painting, an imitation of nature for its object; the elements with which it works have merely conventional forms. Its rules, deduced from reason and experience, cannot be defined, but are transmitted by tradition and example. In short, it is only by combinations and repeated attempts that it can give to the inspiration of genius the stamp and character of the truly
comprises the Greek names of all parts of habitations; the best edition is by Lederlin and Hemsterhuis, published at Amsterdam in 1706. There is also a work by Grapaldus, "De Partibus Edium," published at Lyons in 1535.