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Villas in Roman Italy
A Companion to Roman Italy, Pages: 330 - 354
Swansea University Author: Nigel Pollard
The term villa typically has been applied in antiquity and in modern scholarship to denote a rural residence with some luxurious characteristics, reflecting the elite status (or aspirations to elite status) of its owner. Villas took many forms, and were built in varied environments and contexts, inc...
|Published in:||A Companion to Roman Italy|
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The term villa typically has been applied in antiquity and in modern scholarship to denote a rural residence with some luxurious characteristics, reflecting the elite status (or aspirations to elite status) of its owner. Villas took many forms, and were built in varied environments and contexts, including the suburbs of the city of Rome itself, on the coast (especially from Etruria to the Bay of Naples) and more generally in rural areas throughout Roman Italy, co-existing with other forms of rural settlement. In Roman Italy, villas are predominantly a phenomenon of the second century BC to the second-third century AD, particularly last decades of the Republic and the Julio-Claudian period. However, they may owe their origins to earlier forms of Italian or Hellenistic elite rural architecture, and certainly many villas continued to flourish in the late empire too. Ancient literary evidence tends to present villas either as centres of agricultural production or as centres of display and consumption, and this dichotomy is often preserved in modern scholarship on the topic. However, the ancient writers’ discussions reflect one extreme or the other of a moralising discourse, and the reality (as typically demonstrated by archaeological evidence, if archaeological investigation has been sufficiently comprehensive) was more complex, with a balance of both production and consumption/display in any given villa that varied according to location and ownership.
Roman, villa, agriculture, farm, economy, elite, suburb, luxury, production, consumption
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences