Cities of Vesuvius

- Syllabus Content -

Everyday life: leisure activities, food and dining, clothing, health, baths, water supply and sanitation


bottom paragraph p.123; Women - last paragraph before "Dinner Parties" p.125

Fresco showing the fullling process from workshop of L. Veranius Hypsaeus

  • 295px-Theatre-statue-Calatorius.JPGThere are few archaeological remains to provide evidence for clothing: some fabric, shoe leather, metal fasteners and pins.
  • Evidence comes from busts, statues and frescoes.
  • Busts and statues are representations of the elite and show them in clothes that would not have been worn every day.
  • Marcus Nonius Balbus and Marcus Calitorius (Herculaneum) wear the heavy Roman toga which would only have been worn on rare formal occasions.
  • Marcus Halconius Rufus (Pompeii) wears a military uniform with cuirass. This represents his honorary position as military tribune.

Marcus Holconius Rufus

  • Usual clothing for men: a knee-length tunic with purple stripes on the back and front. A winder stripe signified one’s higher rank in society.
  • Respectable women wore an ankle-length stola and a woollen palla or mantle. These signified her chastity and modesty.


  • Frescoes of everyday life show the clothes that were commonly worn.
  • Frescoes from the Praedia of Julia Felix show textiles being sold, a school boy being punished and shoes being sold.

Punishment of a schoolboy - from Praedia of Julia Felix - now in NAM
Above: Punishment of a schoolboy. A group of at least seven schoolboys, standing or seated with a writing tablet on the knees, beneath a high-columned portico, observe the punishment of a classmate by two male figures who strike him with a whip. The youth, naked for the punishment, is held by the arms and raised from the ground on the shoulders of a classmate, while another restrains his legs. On the left is the magistrate, recognisable by the long tunic and the goatee beard.

Selling textiles - from Praedia of Julia Felix - now in NAM
Above: The selling of textiles. Two ladies seated on a bench are examining a cut of red cloth. Behind them, a serving girl watches the scene. On the right, another vendor with a roll of green cloth on his shoulders is in animated discussion with two ladies: the old one wears a yellow cloak (palla) and has her hair gathered in a bonnet; the younger one wears a long red tunic.