By Jérôme Carcopino; H.T. Rowell (ed.); E.O. Lorimer (trans.)
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Extra resources for Daily Life in Ancient Rome (Peregrine Books)
Even in the most luxurious Roman house, the lighting left much to be desired: though the vast bay windows were capable of flood ing it at certain hours with the light and air we moderns prize, at other times either both had to be excluded or the inhabitants were blinded and chilled beyond endurance. Neither in the Via Biberatica nor in Trajan's market nor in the Casa dei Dipinti at Ostia do we find any traces of mica or glass near the windows, therefore the windows in these places cannot have been equipped with the fine transparent sheets of lapis specularis with which rich families of the empire sometimes screened the alcove of a bedroom, a bathroom, or garden hothouse, or even a sedan chair.
In the Roman insula, on the 47 DAILY LIFE IN ANCIENT ROMB contrary, the tenant could be comfortable only when the windows were neither completely open nor completely shut; and it is certain that in spite of their size and number, the Romans' windows rendered them neither the service nor the pleasure that ours give us. 66 As the atrium had been dispensed with, and the cenacula were piled one above the other, it was impossible for the inhabitants of an insula to enjoy the luxury common to the peas antry, of gathering round the fire lighted by the womenfolk in the centre of their hovels, while sparks and smoke escaped by the gaping hole purposely left in the roof.
It is safe to assume that the discrepancy between these documents is due to the muddle-hcadedness of the copyist of the Notitia, who appears to have dozed over the detailed enumerations which he had to transcribe. In the course of his uncongenial task he frequently mangled or omitted items before his eyes, or simply duplicated them, as when he attributed the same number of domus to the tenth and eleventh regions and the same number of insulae to both the third and fourth and the twelfth and thirteenth regions.