Sculpting Theatrical Performance at Pompeii’s Casa degli Amorini Dorati


Pompeii’s Casa degli Amorini Dorati (VI.16.7) is noteworthy for the opulent and theatrical treatment of its wall decorations, sculpture and architectural layout of the garden. Typically, however, interest in this house has concentrated on the theatrical elements of the Fourth Style wall paintings found inside. This paper argues that the patron of this domus, possibly a member of the gens Poppaea, chose an architectural layout for the garden area suitable for performances such as pantomime and other small-scale productions that generated interest amongst spectators, especially in the time of the emperor Nero. The paintings, sculptural program, and the elevated western end of the garden area of the Casa degli Amorini Dorati are not only appropriate for the decor of the domus as a whole, but, more importantly, have a more functional element: they may serve as a suitable theatrical backdrop for both performers and audience alike.