Classical Association Lecture
On Thursday 4th May at Dean Close School, Katharina Lorenz, Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Nottingham, gave an insightful talk on the importance of wall paintings in Pompeian villas.
Firstly, she established the significance of Pompeii as an archaeological site due to the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD. This left much of the city preserved as it was and the use of plaster casts, invented by Giuseppe Fiorelli, captured the citizens’ final moments. Interestingly, she mentioned that the emotional response to these casts, while useful in getting the public to engage in history, could have a detrimental effect on the objectivity of researchers such as herself.
Professor Lorenz also touched on the overlapping nature of various sources, using a riot at an Amphitheatre, for which we have both written evidence, and a wall painting, as an example. We were also enlightened about the difference between Greek and Roman architecture - while the Greeks could only have a theatre, the Roman invention of concrete enabled them to build arches and amphitheatres as well.
Finally, Professor Lorenz focused on the house of M.Lucretius, a small house with surprisingly detailed wall paintings. One bedroom held two portraits of young children and two mythological scenes, Narcissus at the spring and Pero with her father Cimon. One of the children was dressed as Hermes, perhaps suggesting that they had passed away, due to the fact that Hermes was a psychopomp (a guide who escorts the deceased souls to the afterlife). This concluded a series of talks given by the Classical Association this academic year.
We look forward to the next year’s lectures!
Gracie Fry, Lily Buchanan, Ophelia Hazzan and Catherine Ogilvy (SFC1)