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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter 2021

All the World’s a Stage: On the Interplay of Decoration in Pompeian Houses

Katharina Lorenz


The juxtaposition of three or four mythological figure panels within individual rooms is a key characteristic of wall paintings in Pompeian domestic contexts from the Augustan period onwards. While the mechanisms employed to create meaningful connections between the individual panels are well understood, appreciation of the relation of these panels to other elements of the decoration has been more limited. Concentrating on the wall decorations in one Pompeian dwelling, the Casa dell’Ara Massima, this paper examines the patterns of intermediality shaped by the choices made on the walls of this house, which was decorated in the period of the Fourth Style. For its interpretative framework, the discussion draws on parameters gleaned from Roman stagecraft, specifically the mechanisms of Roman pantomime, and applies them to describe and interpret the interdependency of decor, architecture and human practice.

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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