Thursday, 4 February 2010

Notes from David Macaualay's book and video, Roman City

Pompeii / Herculaneum 79 AD
- ash & volcanic mud inundate the coastal resort cities.
- highest standard of living in western world

* Roman city design has distinct impact on western world to this day.
* Pax Romana: "Peace of the Romans," 150-year period of stability and relative peace in Mediterranean world.
* Romulus & Remus and the mother wolf legend in founding of Roma.
* Collapse of empire about 400 AD.
* City of Roma at peak: 1 million inhabitants; noisy, congested, expensive.
* Forum at heart of city: politics, temples, marketplace.

- Julius Caesar defeats Gauls (Celts) after generations of struggle in Gaul.
- Augustus Caesar builds cities in Gaul (France) to solidify the conquest.
- "The Romans have spanned the sacred river." Druids, the Celtic priest class, oppose the Latins.

* Aqueducts: movement of water via gravity. Water to reservoir. Thence to public fountains, bathhouses, homes of the wealthy.

* Thermae: bathhouses based on 3 pools:
- tepidarium (tepid)
- caldarium (hot)
- frigidarium (frigid)
- additionally: exercise, news, eating, laundry.

* Concrete developed by Romans.
- Stone and cement.
- Was a plastic building material.

* Roman villa
- atrium: central hall, open to sky.
- impluvium: pool in floor of atrium; water to house's reservoir.
- house oriented inward.
- peristyle: shaded area surrounds garden.
- slave labor.

* Ostia - city on Mediterranean close to Rome.

* Insulae: apartment buildings ("islands")
* Circus Maximus: chariot races in enormous stadium.
* epicurian skills: care for food.
* portents: symbols of future happenings seen in natural events.
* Greeks: source of ideas, sense of style, art, for Romans.

*Depraved entertainment in coliseum:
- crowds cheered deaths of prisoners, defeated enemies, minority groups.
- sense of order maintained.
- militaristic spirit satisfied.
- death at a symbolic level for the audience.

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