Gardens of the Roman World
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Romans loved their gardens, whether they were the grand gardens of imperial country estates or the small private spaces tucked behind city houses. Gardens were treasured both as places for relaxation and as plots to grow ornamental plants, fruits, and vegetables. The soothing sound of fountains often added further to the pleasures of life in the garden. Romans constructed gardens in every corner of their empire, from Britain to North Africa and from Portugal to Asia Minor. Long after their empire collapsed, the gardens they had so carefully planted continued to exert influence in the far-flung corners of their former world. The author discusses the many kinds of Roman gardens, from small vegetable and fruit plots to vast, carefully landscaped spaces filled with marble furniture, bronze and marble sculptures, mosaics, pools, and fountains--grand spaces suitable for lavish entertainment of guests. Whether large or small, gardens were an extension of the interior living space of Roman houses; often surrounded by covered walkways, gardens served as cooling refuges in hot climates. This book describes the variety of Roman gardens throughout the empire, from the humblest to the most ornate, which include such renowned locations as Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli and the gardens of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The influence of Roman gardens is traced through Arabic, medieval, and Renaissance gardens to the present day. The text is accompanied by lavish illustrations, many commissioned especially for this book.
hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) as Roman times to ancient Mesopotamia, at least. well as the bay tree belonged to Apollo. As Virgil For example, Assyrian records mention exotic (70-19 B.C.) wrote in one of his Eclogues, "My trees as part of the plunder available from the garden is Apollo's seat; I give him gifts of the bay conquest of foreign lands. Later, Egyptian gardens tree and the hyacinth." also contained many exotics, probably because Fig. 47Table from the House of the Golden
famous gardens made by Sallust near the Esquiline Hill during the Roman Republic, which had become part of the imperial estate by the time of Vespasian's reign. Domitian therefore erected a new palace and gardens for himself on the Palatine. The complex covered an area of approximately twelve and a half acres and was divided into two sections. The first section contained the public and ceremonial rooms and was known as the Domus Flavia, as Domitian hailed from the Flavian dynasty. The second
107. Fresco from the Villa of Poppaea, Oplontis. A painting of a pair of projecting columns, one painted in false marble, the other enriched with gilded tendrils, illustrates the sumptuous nature of the villa's decoration. Between the columns is an elegant incense burner of gilded bronze. 97 98 FROM I M P E R I A L PALACES TO PUBLIC PARKS Fig. 108. The Villa of Diomedes, Pompeii. The vestigial columns of a domestic temple are seen at the heart of a typically verdant villa garden. Fig. 109.
anticipates the arrangement in the medieval cloister (see fig. 164). FROM THE EASTERN EMPIRE TO BRITAIN Fig. 138. Fresco from Leptis Magna, Libya. This painting shows a colonnaded villa on the banks of a Nile-like river teeming with scenes of everyday life. On the upper right side is a narrow planting bed that acts as a "green plinth" to the building beyond. 127 128 PROVINCIAL GARDENS Many African gardens compare closely in plan and detail with those on the Italian mainland. The
the outer edge of the house roof. Sometimes, low walls or balustrades linked the columns at the bottom. Occasionally, these low walls between columns were hollowed out on top to provide planting troughs. In the upper space between AN INTRODUCTION much so that in many villas the portico or porticoes came to have a visual importance greater than that of the villa itself. The architectural lines established by the portico were often continued into the design of the garden, becoming the frame