Access to Stages 1 and 2 is free. Stage 3 onwards requires a subscription.
This first Stage introduces us to the members of the Pompeian family that we'll be following throughout Unit 1. Caecilius, a banker, is the head of the household; Metella is his wife; and Quintus is their son. Meet other members of the family in the story "Cerberus", and then discover more about their lives and their home in the websites listed below.
Stage 1 WebBookCerberus
Caecilius may be the head of the household, but it's Cerberus, the greedy guard-dog, that's the star of this story. Will he be 'top dog', or will he be in the dog-house?
Explore the story
Practicing the Language
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|THE TOWN OF POMPEII
Click for our main section of links.
For houses in Pompeii see separate section on Roman Houses below...
|Bay of Naples map: detailed|
||Includes the modern Italian and ancient Roman names of many of the important towns and villas around the Bay of Naples.|
|Caecilius 1: the bronze head|
||This portrait sculpture of Caecilius was found in his house in Pompeii.
Wonder what he'd think of it featuring on the cover of the world's most popular Latin course?|
|Caecilius 3: the business head|
||The Wikipedia page on Caecilius provides more info on his business activities. In essence, Caecilius was a money-lender.|
|Caecilius 4: his iPad tablet|
||Romans used wax tablets to jot things down. This is a drawing of one of the many tablets found in Caecilius' house detailing his business transactions.
The tablets were made of wood with a layer of wax set in them. The wax (now blackened with time) could be scratched into with a "pen" and then later erased and written upon again.
Look at this fine example from near Cologne in Germany.
There's more info and links in our section on Roman Writing.
|Caecilius' House 2|
||A detailed website on the recent excavations by Swedish archaeologists. Clickable plans allow you to explore the house in detail.|
|Roman Houses 3: cgi movie|
||Enter the world of a typical Pompeian house in this terrific, virtual recreation. See if you can identify the rooms as you fly though. Made for the recent "Day In Pompeii" exhibition.|
|Roman Houses 4: general plan|
||A more detailed explanation of the design of Roman houses; click rooms on the interactive plan to learn more about each area.|
|Roman Houses 5: Pompeii|
||A more complex explanation of the Roman house - from the official Pompeii website - indicating how it developed over time. Additionally, this page links to individual descriptions and pictures of selected houses in Pompeii. |
|HOUSES IN POMPEII
A selection of some of the best-preserved and most famous villas.
* House of the Fruit Orchard
||A typical, small house with wonderful paintings.
- Location: marked here in red outline since it's not numbered on the official map.
- Absolutely fabulous, virtual-reality website from the British School of Archaeology in Rome where you can view 3D models of houses in Insula (Block) I.9. Definitely check out the great animation of the House of the Fruit Orchard (Casa Frutteto or House 5) which flies into the reconstructed bedrooms and dining room. Examine 3D archaeological finds and view clickable panoramas of streets and houses.
|HOUSES NEAR POMPEII
Just outside Pompeii archaeologists have uncovered a few rural villas that were destroyed by Vesuvius.
|HOUSES IN HERCULANEUM
Near to Pompeii lies the Roman town of Herculaneum, also destroyed in the volcanic eruption of AD 79, but now yielding up some amazing finds. Here are just a few of the houses:
The Rich and Famous on the Bay of Naples
||As well as towns like Pompeii that were full of hard-working people, there were lots of luxury villas dotted around the Bay of Naples.
This short video looks at who these rich Romans were and why they came to the Bay.
|Roman Gardens 1|
||Great webpage about the types of plants found in Roman gardens, illustrated by actual Roman wall-paintings of the plants! Beautiful!|
|Roman Gardens 2|
||Short webapge on Roman gardens but includes the wonderful "Garden Fresco" from the House of the Braclet in Pompeii that faced and perhaps copied the real garden opposite it. Click the small version to learn about the plants and birds depicted - and hear their birdsong.|
|Roman Gardens 3|
||Super description of Roman gardens by Natasha Sheldon. Now back online.|
|Roman Gardens 4|
||Roman wall-painting from the Villa of Livia at Primaporta near Rome showing an almost wild garden full of trees, flowers and birds. Now in the Palazzo Massimo Museum of Rome.|
ROMAN FAMILY LIFE & CHILDREN
|Roman Gardens 5: podcast|
||"Pompeii and the Roman Villa, Part 2: Courtyards and Gardens", a 5-minute podcast in which Roman gardens are discussed. Also available to download.
Produced by the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.
|The Roman Family 1|
||The structure of the family, the roles of the father and the mother, and marriage are explored in this accessible webpage.|
|Roman Children 1: sculpture|
||This Roman sculpture shows various stages in a boy's life: from a suckling baby, to a toddler in his father's arms, to playing, to learning at his father's knee.
Part of the sarcophagus (stone coffin) of M. Cornelius Statius; 2nd-century AD; now in the Louvre Museum, Paris.
|Roman Children 2|
||Short description of a child's life - from birth to coming-of-age.|
|Roman Children 4: toys|
||A selection of Roman toys, including some that would be familiar to children today: a doll, rattles, dice, and small dishes for playing house. In the National Archaeoligical Museum in Tarragona, Spain.
|Roman Children 5: rocking cradle|
||Wooden rocking cradle preserved in the volcanic ash that covered Herculaneum in 79 AD. The wonder of its preservation is tempered by the knowledge that the little baby that was in it was killed in the disaster.
From the House of M.Pilius Primigenius Granianus.|
||A look at love, engagement and marriage!|
||Excellent few pages on the different aspects Roman marriage:
Introduction & Types of Marriage; Preparing for a Wedding;
The Wedding Ceremony;
and the Ideal Marriage.
This page takes you to the "Wedding Ceremony" section.
||A re-enactment of a marriage ceremony. The enormous age-gap between bride and groom in this instance while not terribly unusual in Roman times, should not be thought of as normal.|
|Marriage 5: here comes the bride|
||The distinguishing veil on a Roman wedding dress is described as "flame-coloured". Modern reconstructions thus vary from red to yellow depending on your interpretation of the colour of a flame!|
||Extremely detailed, hyperlinked analysis suitable for older students.|
|Marriage 7: sculpture|
||A marble relief sculpture of a wedding ceremony. The groom, holding the wedding contract, joins hands with his bride (wearing the veil) as part of the ceremony; between them stands either the pronuba (maid-of-honour), the goddess Concordia ("harmony") or Juno in her role as goddess of marriage. The smaller figure to the left is a witness. |
Part of a Roman sarcophagus (stone coffin), dating to 150-175 AD; found in Rome, now in the British Museum.
|Marriage 8: sculpture|
||The central relief on this stone sarcophagus shows a scene from a couple's wedding day: they clasp hands while Cupid stands between holding the ceremonial wedding torch. In the Glyptothek in Munich.|
|Marriage 9: sculpture|
||Marble cinerary urn of Vernasia Cyclas. She and her husband are depicted with their right hands joined as during their wedding ceremony. The letters 'F A P' between them may stand for Fidelissimae (most faithful) Amantissimae (most loving) Pientissimae (most devoted).
Originally from Rome; now in the British Museum. 1st century AD.
|Marriage 10: rings|
||A Roman, gold wedding ring engraved with two clasped hands, a poppy head and two stars.In the British Museum.|
|Marriage 11: rings|
||A wonderful gold betrothal ring, one of only three found in Roman Britain.
|Marriage 12: wall-painting - wedding-night nerves|
||This famous painting is known as the "Aldobrandini Wedding" fresco.
Found in 1601, it was one of the first ancient figured wall-paintings to come to light after centuries of the Roman culture having being forgotten and/or neglected. It was cut from the walls of a late 1st century BC Roman house on the Esquiline Hill in Rome and entered the possession of the Aldobrandini family until purchased for the Vatican in 1818 where it is now displayed. On its discovery it enjoyed enormous fame and prestige.
The nervous-looking bride has taken off her flame-coloured (golden-yellow) veil and laid it on the bed while getting reassurance from her friend; the groom sits by the bed with nervous expectation, while other rites and musical celebrations take place outside the bedroom.
|Marriage 15: the Portland Vase|
||An expensive wedding present? The Portland Vase is one of the most famous pieces of Roman glass - and its scenes of love and marriage would have made it a fitting, but very expensive, pressie!|
|Love and Marriage didn't necessarily go together ("like a horse & carriage" as the song goes) in Roman times...
However, for some sweet images of Romans in love, see the section:
amor: ROMAN IMAGES OF LOVE
|Roman Women 1|
||Excellent introduction to the place of women in Roman society, concentrating on the discrimination they faced, as well as noting that some asserted their individuality.|
|Roman Women 2|
||A picture of Roman women using ancient Roman sources.|
|Roman Women 3|
||Excellent website - The Women of Rome - detailing the lives of the famous, the rich and the poor. Beatifully illustrated with portraits of Roman women.
This is a PDF version of the now-offline website.
|Roman Women 4|
||Detailed examination of the lives of women in Roman society.|
|Roman Women 5: the ideal woman|
||An account of Cornelia Africana who was regarded by Romans as a role-model for women, not least for putting her children - her "jewels" - before her own happiness.
But, love for her children was not necessarily her motive.
|Roman Women 6: playing the kithara|
||It seems that by the time of the Roman Empire it was then considered acceptable for upper class ladies to be able to play instruments such as the harp or lyre. This wonderful wall-painting from a villa near Pompeii shows an elegant lady playing the kithara (type of lyre) attended by her ?daughter.
From the Villa of Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale, ca. 40-30 B.C.; now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York.
Click for links to clothes, hairstyles, jewellery and more...
DOGS in GREECE & ROME
|Cerberus, named after the mythical dog that guarded the Underworld, has been given the slender features of the dog that appears in the doorway-mosaic of Caecilius' house.
Although, difficult to specify his breed, it's obvious that he's neither a poodle nor a rottweiler. The ancient authors frequently mentioned Molossian hounds and Laconian Hounds as favourite hunting and guard dogs, but it seems to this webmaster that our Cerberus looks most like another famous ancient breed, the Cretan hound. What do you think?
|Classical Dogs 9: Roman mosaic|
||It's the famous "cave canem" ("Beware of the dog!") mosaic from the House of the Tragic Poet in Pompeii. Still in situ.|
|What have the Romans ever done for us?|
||It's now a "classic" clip... and one that everyone should know by heart - and it's still funny! In fact, a Blockbuster poll recently voted it the funniest movie scene ever!|
So, what have the Romans ever done for us...?
Additionally, here's the script...