The House of Menander: Key Questions

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The house of Menander

Why is it called the house of Menander?

It is named about the painting in a niche in the peristyle depicting a likeness of theGreek comic playwright of the 4th century BC holding a scroll. The picture is designed to make the owner of the house look intelligent, because it advocates literacy, and cultured, because it is a Greek poet. However, Menander is shown to be wearing a Roman toga, not the clothes of a Greek. This could imply either that the owner was unaware of this mistake when he bought/commissioned the painting and therefore is not as intelligent as he would like to make out, or perhaps he is trying to liken himself (as a roman) to the revered poet.

The house of Menander according to Vitruvius

The house of Menander fairly closely resembles the description of a Roman house by Vitruvius. For example he suggests that items of value should be “well secured from the attack of thieves”. The silver mirror was found in a room underneath the bath house showing it was being kept safe. The text also says that wealthy Romans there should be a “lofty atria” which the house of Menander does have (it has very high ceilings) however the Atrium did lack some things which we would expect to find such as statues of the Lares and also there is evidence that the impluvium was being repaired because parts of it were found


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