Location, location, location
Domestic and public places and spaces
in A writer’s guide to Ancient Rome
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This chapter starts with a general introduction to the topic of civic space and rural life in the Roman Empire; the discussion includes the sources available for the writer. It is stressed that Roman literature on rural life, especially, tends to be greatly idealised by contemporary authors who viewed the life of a ‘gentleman farmer’ as a virtuous ideal. The Roman aristocrat based his wealth on how much land he owned – the contrast between the ideal Roman country estate and Pliny the Younger’s drudgery as a landlord would make a good case study. The chapter looks at life in the City of Rome as well as provincial towns which emulated what they knew of the centre. It discusses street conditions and layout, types of buildings, styles of architecture, and construction materials. Issues of safety and the dangers of city living are discussed – crime, fire, etc. There is also a discussion of the types of housing found in the city – imperial and aristocratic palaces on the one hand, and the life of an apartment (insula) dweller on the other.


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