Richardson-Jr. L. Pompeii: An Architectural History
Johns Hopkins University Press; Reprint edition (March 1997). Pp. 480.
The American Journal of Philology, Vol. 110, No. 4 (Winter, 1989), pp. 672-675.
"This book is the product of forty years of thinking about Pompeii," so states the author at the beginning of his Preface, and the reader naturally looks forward to an impressive work of scholarship by a distinguished classicist, long associated with Pompeii and with the study of its monuments and the ancient patterns of its life. Unfortunately, the reader will be disappointed on many counts because the book is idiosyncratic in its conception, argumentative rather than demonstrative, so poorly illustrated that it is obvious that the author was much more interested in textual description than in visual representation, and fragmented in its organization despite the claim of synthetic presentation. It is also much easier to say what this book is not than to say what it is and for whom it was intended.
The reader's legitimate expectation is confirmed by the well-written Preface and Introduction (pp. xiii-xxiii) and by the chapter on the Historical Record (pp. 3-27). These provide a clear statement of the author's comprehension of the peculiar character of Pompeii as a famous archaeological site which, until fairly recently, lacked stratigraphic excavation because of the "treasure-house" mentality of the archaeologists who have worked there since 1748. Richardson's desire to present the urban history of Pompeii more effectively is a valuable impulse and in these few pages he provides an encapsulated version of that history very successfully: before the 3rd century Pompeii was a petty and poor place, it developed rapidly in the 3rd century, then again following the plantation of a Roman colony around 80 B.C. after the Social Wars, then again under the Julio-Claudians until the destructive episodes of the earthquake of 62 and the eruption of 79. The major portion of his book, arranged typologically and synchronically (pp. 67-368), adheres to this chronological scheme rather rigidly, concentrating discretely on the construction of public buildings, houses, villas, and tombs within each period, designated as the Tufa Period, 200-80 B.C., the Early Roman Colony, 80-30 B.C., Julio-Claudian Building, 30 B.C-A.D. 62, and from the Earthquake to the Eruption, 62-79.
Synchronic relationships among the various building types have not been actively pursued, while diachronic continuity has not been emphasized, with the result that the development of building forms over time has been obscured as well as the relation of the individual buildings and building types to the pattern of urbanization. In addition, Richardson claims that Pompeian architecture has not been respectfully treated as an important element in the architectural history of antiquity but, rather, as a particular, provincial manifestation. He wishes to correct that error of historical interpretation in order to reaffirm the full participation of Pompeian architecture in the development of Roman architecture as a whole-surely a worthy enterprise, and probably more accepted these days than the author acknowledges. Yet, little comparative material has been adduced to support this claim and there is not a single illustration of a work of architecture not from Pompeii or its immediate environs in the entire book. However, Richardson makes many pertinent observations about the Forum Triangulare as a religious precinct (p. 67ff.), on the Temple of Apollo and the development of the adjacent Forum (p. 98fF.), on the history of the Temple of Jupiter in the Forum and what preceded it (p. 138fF.), and on the buildings on or in the vicinity of the Forum (p. 191ff., 261 ff.); on the plan and decoration of the Casa di Pansa (p. 120ff.), the Casa del Fauno (p. 124ff.), the Casa dei Vettii (p. 324ff.), on the houses with large gardens (pp. 329-43), and on the Villa of Diomede (p. 348ff.); on the historical significance of the Theatrum Tectum (p. 131ff.) and the Amphitheater (p. 134ff.), both projected soon after 80 B.C.; and on the Temple of Isis (p. 281ff.) where the archaeological history of Pompeii began.
Despite the author's good intentions the usefulness of his book is soon compromised, not the least by a woeful lack of good, informative, well-reproduced illustrations. Of the 53 text illustrations, about half of them are plans and drawings, usually taken from earlier publications and without adequate labels and identifying markers; the rest, and totally insufficient in number, are dark, grainy black-and-white photographs, poorly reproduced and fairly uninformative. The plans and drawing do not represent a comparative series of a single building type over time, nor is there a single illustration of a whole tomb, although tombs are discussed repeatedly and extensively (pp. 184ff, 246ff., 361 ff.), while the total absence of comparable non-Pompeian works of architecture gravely weakens the authority of this book as "an architectural history."
Richardson's analysis of Pompeii's site and its geographical implications (pp. 28-35) is brief and not much helped by a single map (Fig. 1, p. 29); but, then, his long and well-informed discussion of "The Stones and Building Techniques of Pompeii" (pp. 369-81) is not illustrated at all despite the excellent models in this area of expertise long ago provided by E. Van Deman, M. Blake, and G. Lugli. His treatment of the development of the city-plans of Pompeii (pp. 36-43) and of the historiography of those plans omits the reproduction of any, a significant lack given the contentious views currently put forward about the early history of Pompeii and about the various stages in the city's growth over the centuries. A general plan of Pompeii has, indeed, been reproduced on the endpapers of the volume, one more useful for its indication of the regions and of the numbered blocks than for its historical value; the third appendix contains 23 large ground plans of Pompeian regions, all taken from Eschebach's plan of 1970, included almost as an after-thought at the end of the book.
The chapter on fortifications (pp. 44-50) offers good reasons for believing that the walls date from the 3rd century, yet here, too, the author fails to employ the visual evidence in his presentation despite its excellent state of preservation. There is one poor photograph of the exterior of the walls and the Porta di Nola; the various Pompeian gates are carefully distinguished in the text - one picture is worth a thousand words - but not illustrated, and no specific plan of the walls for the purpose of this argument is given. Similar observations can be made about the chapter on Water and Sewer Systems (pp. 51-63) which concisely discusses wells, fountains, standpipes, and sewers, but does not illustrate a single fountain despite their present abundance, nor specify the lines of water distribution, nor indicate the presence of latrines. In Appendix II, the author attempts a synoptic analysis of the development of "the Pompeian House" (pp. 382-400) without illustrating a single plan in the text or even a reference to the paltry illustrations of such houses earlier in the book.
It is very difficult to fathom the real intentions of this book on Pompeii, given Richardson's great familiarity with the monuments and the historiography of the ancient city, or to define its proper audience. Given the specificity of many of the arguments advanced in the text and the lack of an adequate body of illustrations and descriptive, informative plans, it is clearly not intended for the educated, interested tourist nor for the beginning student. Given the paucity of footnotes, the great number of controversial assertions - which does not mean that they are necessarily incorrect, but rather insufficiently documented, - the lack of comparative material despite the author's stated ambition to present an architectural history, and, once again, the excessive reliance on verbal description without the complementary benefit of abundant, well-chosen illustrations, this does not seem to be a book for the scholar either. Indeed, quite apart from the limited number and range of the footnotes, the bibliography is short, considering the topic, and does not include the recent useful works of J. B. Ward Perkins and A. Claridge, Pompeii A.D. 79 (exh. cat. Boston, New York, 1978/79), F. Zevi, ed., Pompeii 79 (Naples 1984), or Pompei. Travaux et envoi des architectes francais au xixe siecle (exh. cat. Paris & Naples 1981), but then Richardson does not deal in reconstructions either, yet his text is not unimaginative verbally.
Perhaps this book was written for an audience of one, the author himself, as a record of his ruminations on Pompeii. It remains, however, and most unfortunately, a hermetic aide-memoire, almost as much a mystery to the modern student or scholar as Pompeii itself was before the excavations began in 1748. Still, one is certain that Richardson's book, the pious offering of a distinguished Pompeianista, will eventually find its own proper place in the historiography of this ancient Campanian city.(источник)
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