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Roman Living
Five-Day Lesson Plan For Elementary Latin Students
by Anne Starkey, University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Teacher's Guide

Throughout the five-day lesson develop the ideas presented in the next few pages. Pay particular attention to changes in the Perspectives, Practices, and Products listed below as different types of housing arise after the domus. Those changes are not listed, but, they should become self-evident. For example, compare and contrast the functions of a villa to a domus. Compare and contrast the open design of a villa to the closed design of a domus. Compare and contrast the garden of a villa and a domus. Explore the availability of light in all forms of housing. Is natural light important? Who had heating and running water? What classes had better amenities? Why were public buildings made out of the strongest and most expensive materials?

Use the sections on Multiple Intelligences and Assessment as adaptable models. They are provided as possible suggestions.

I. Perspectives, Practices, and Products

  • Perspectives
    • Pater familias holds the highest authority as head of household.
    • Power of the pater familias is assured through rituals.
    • The home is not always private. It is a place of social, political, and business activities.
    • The house is open to invited and uninvited guests.
    • The pater needs large and impressive rooms to conduct business.
    • Romans enjoy the outdoors, and need to feel as if outside when indoors.
    • Location, size, and decoration of rooms codify behavior.
    • Rituals define space and provide plans for architecture.
    • Gardens reflect personal choice.
    • Romans emphasize interior space and decoration more than exterior.
    • The traditional domus has few windows to ensure security, like a fortress.
  • Products
    • A long axis runs through the house: fauces-atrium-tablinum.
    • The house has a symmetrical floor plan around the axis.
      The fauces is the entryway. The doors are not flush with the road and open inward.
    • The atrium is the central hall and reception area.
    • The tablinum is a reception area and stores imagines of ancestors and family records.
    • The triclinium is the dining room.
    • The hortus is the garden.
    • Cubicula are little rooms that cluster around the atrium, and later, around the peristyle garden.
    • The compluvium is the skylight that allows air, light, and water into the house.
    • The impluvium is the rain collecting pool beneath the compluvium.
    • The wall facing the road is solid with the exception of the front door and a few small windows.
    • Sometimes a shop would open directly onto the road.
    • When entering through the fauces, the line of sight is aligned with the tablinum where the pater sits. The tablinum appears to be framed by the walls, floor, and ceiling of the fauces, by the columns of the atrium, and by the framed view of the garden in the background.
  • Practices
    • The salutatio is the visit to the pater by his dependents (clientes).
    • Dependents may include sons who have established independent households, freedmen, and all who make daily rounds to the pater to assure his power and their security.
    • The ritual of the salutatio shaped the structure of the house.
    • The pater sits at the end of the tablinum facing the fauces to see everyone who enters to offer greetings.
    • Rituals of death (wake) and purification by water take place in the atrium.
    • Brides are carried over the threshold through the fauces. The marriage bed is placed in the atrium as a symbol of the marriage.
    • Wreaths are placed on the front door to announce the birth of a child.

II. Consider Multiple Intelligences

  • Linguistic: Include a translation passage, have students read handout aloud, have them do a crossword puzzle.
  • Math: Have students figure out dimensions of a particular house and find the area, or ask how long they think it might take to a build a domus and why. Have students compare the size of their homes to the size of a sample domus (see pictures on web site: http://romanliving.homestead.com/domus.html).
  • Spatial: Have students draw a floor plan for a domus and draw their own house, or, as a project, construct a model domus.
  • Bodily Kinesthetic: How much work was involved in building a domus? Construct a model domus.
  • Musical: What kind of dinner music might have been played?
  • Interpersonal: Have students work in groups to construct a model of each room.
  • Intrapersonal: Have students write an essay comparing their homes and habits to those of the Romans.

III. Assessment

  • Have students label and describe functions of rooms on a floor plan of a domus. See sample quiz.
  • Have students write the Intrapersonal essay mentioned above.
  • Have students look up the web page (http://romanliving.homestead.com/intro.html) and have them compare and contrast the pictures of the domus to their own homes.
  • Have students design a floor plan of a domus. Let them be creative. Let them create new rooms, such as a rec room, in addition to the traditional rooms.

Table of Contents >> The Domus

 

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