Those Roans who were considered 'rich' had very different housing arrangements. They lived in homes, as Orberg states, "In Italia sunt multae villae cum magnis hortis", 'many houses with great gardens'. These gardens were located in a central hall of the home, called an atrium, at each end. At one end you had the 'hortus' - garden - and at the other end was the peristylum, another garden, shady in design and surrounded by columns, used for gathering and meeting.
Here we see the influence of the Greeks in the naming of the peristylum. In Greek and Roman architecture a peristyle is a continuous porch formed by a row of columns surrounding the perimeter of building or a courtyard.
The roof's above each garden was open thus allowing rain to enter which was collected into a cistern and stored for later use. Rooms were located off of the gardens and there was a door with windows at the end of them which led to the outside.
The rooms housed the owners, their family, servants, the kitchen, storage and other necessities and were separated from peristylum not by wooden doors but by heavy curtains. Decorations and furniture were basic and if the owner desired to improve the look of his home, paintings or mosaics were used, which were done by experts.
Usually on either side of the main entrance were two rooms which were rented out as shops to local businessmen. The home's owner also conducted business within his home inviting his visitors into the atrium or, for special visitors, into the peristylum to spend time with his family.
In my next entry I will explore how Roman culture relates to property management.
"Iulius in magna villa habitat"
So begins Orberg's chapter on Roman houses and our insight as to how houses, during the rule of the Romans, were constructed and managed.
The average Roman citizen lived in, what today we would call an apartment, commonly called 'insulae' (island) which usually consisted of 2 small rooms and did not contain a kitchen, bathing nor toilet facilities. Those functions were fulfilled by the tenants visiting the public communal baths.
The rich lived quite differently and that is the content of Orberg's chapter, 'Villa Et Hortvs'. In the next post we will begin to explore exactly how they lived.