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Image: Atrium of House of Gaius Cornelius Rufus
Gaius Rufus

Gaius Cornelius Rufus
Pompeii, House of Gaius Cornelius Rufus
1st Century BC–1st Century AD
Ufficio Scavi, Pompei


Two Table Supports
Pompeii, House of Gaius Cornelius Rufus
1st century BC–1st century AD
Ufficio Scavi, Pompei

A family's prosperity and status were on display in the public rooms of Roman houses. In addition to portraits, furnishings included bronze lampstands, some in the form of statues, and tables made of marble. The legs of a table with elaborately carved images of griffons come from the Pompeian House of Gaius Cornelius Rufus, whose portrait is also on view on the exhibition. A nineteenth-century photograph taken soon after the house was excavated shows them in situ.

image: A harbor town, probably 1st century ADimage: Two seaside villas, probably 1st century ADimage: A harbor town, probably 1st century ADWhereas houses in Pompeii turned a blank wall to the busy streets, the exteriors of the opulent maritime villas were lined with long, colonnaded walkways that offered sweeping vistas of the sea. The small frescoes illustrate their appearance. Such frescoes often adorned the walls of Pompeian houses, perhaps reflecting the owner's desire for a magnificent country retreat. Others have been found in the villas themselves, as if the landowner could enjoy a bird's-eye view of his domain even while indoors.

image: Portraits of Patrons

Portrait of Patrons

Image: A Pompeian Interior, 1882The portraits here are of Romans who owned villas around the bay and of citizens in the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Portraits of family members and ancestors were displayed in the public rooms of a house. Visitors first entered the atrium, a large hall with an opening in the roof to bring light to the interior and allow rainwater to catch in a rectangular basin in the floor. Just beyond the atrium was the tablinum, which served as an office and reception room for the master of the house.

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