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ECCE! IV A Day in Pompeii PDF Email


A Day in Pompeii

One of several recent exhibits on ancient Roman culture to tour internationally, "A Day in Pompeii" was presented at the Gulf Coast Exploreum in Mobile, Alabama, earlier this year. This show was centered around everyday life in the seaside resort of Pompeii just prior to its catastrophic end on August 24, 79.

The show included displays of commercial and domestic life -- the corner "fast food" shop, a shipping agent office with scales and amphorae ready for loading aboard ships, a couple of rooms from a private home. The latter included richly colored wall frescoes. The Roman love of beautiful objects was apparent from the displays of delicate jewelry, marble and bronze sculptures, and even in the everyday items of cooking pots and serving dishes.

At any show of art or artifacts, I like to choose one or two items that I would like to take home. From this Pompeii exhibit there were two that I would sell my soul for. First, the small bronze Lares, household god, that would be prominently displayed in the home. These little statues were exquisitely worked, delicate and charming. The second, a portion of a garden wall decorated with paintings of, well, a garden. The colors were vibrant, the flowers and greenery lush, and the birds and insects delightful. It was noted that the Romans loved their gardens and if one's house were too small to include a real one, painting the walls of a small outdoor area to resemble a garden would do.

In a separate, dimly lighted, room at the end of the exhibit, was a collection of body casts of victims of the disaster. Caught in the last moments of their lives, these forms were haunting and touching. A couple clasped in their last embrace, a slave with a manacle on his ankle, a man and his faithful dog, another man holding a cloth to his mouth. The scene was sobering, but sensitively presented. After having viewed the vibrancy and beauty of Roman life in the previous rooms, the stark pathos of those figures emphasized the humanness of what was Pompeii



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