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The Influence of Greek and Egyptian Cultures in Pompeii and Herculaneum essay example
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The Influence of Greek and Egyptian Cultures in Pompeii and Herculaneum

Greeks settled in the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum soon after it was established and both cities conducted many trades with the Egyptians.

It is widely evident that the Greek and Egyptian cultures had a significant influence on the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in various ways including architecture, religion, art and literature. The distinct Greek architectural style is evident in many buildings and structures in Pompeii and Herculaneum. The Doric Temple is exclusively a Greek temple in plan and ornamentation and was one of the first temples built in Pompeii; build during the 6th century BC.

It occupied the southern part of the Triangular Forum which had the shape of the Greek acropolis. This also supports the idea of early Greek inhabitation as Greek workers or settlers must have built the temple. The Temple of Apollo also resembled the Greek Doric architectural style due to the use of 28 Corinthian columns. The Temple of Apollo also indicates Greek architectural influence due to its Doric architrave of metopes and triglyphs (this refers to the design above the columns). Theatres in both Pompeii and Herculaneum show traits of Greek architecture.

The large theatre in Pompeii is set into the slope of a hill just as classic Greek theatres were. The theatre in Herculaneum also resembles classic Greek theatres but it is supported by archways. The baths in Pompeii and Herculaneum and the large palaestra in Pompeii are peristyle structures, having columned porticos around their internal courtyard, a distinct Greek architectural style. The city layout of Herculaneum and the north-western and eastern sectors of Pompeii are laid out with a rigid grid of parallel streets and long rectangular blocks. According to Roger Ling, most Greek colonies in southern Italy and Sicily were laid out with this architectural style of patterned and ordered streets. Greek religion heavily impacted Pompeii and Herculaneum. Many Greek gods and goddesses such as Apollo, Hermes, Demeter and Minerva were worshipped in Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Temples were built specifically dedicated to the gods and used for worship such as the Temple of Apollo. An example of worshipping Greek gods by the people of Herculaneum was the bust of Hermes found in the atrium of a family home in Herculaneum. Venus was the Roman name given to the Greek goddess Aphrodite, who was the patron goddess of Pompeii. Venus was also honoured annually on the 1st of April in an event called the Veneralia. This shows the large impact Greek religion has on Pompeii and Herculaneum. August Mau believed that Roman art was not dependant on Greek origins but did incorporate Greek influences within a distinctly Roman- Italian expression.

Many painting, frescos and sculptures in Pompeii and Herculaneum are either direct copies of Greek artworks or incorporate Greek elements. The relief in the House of the Relief of Telephus in Herculaneum depicts a distinctly Greek scene involving Achilles, a Greek hero. The Alexander mosaic in the House of the Faun in Pompeii is a direct copy of a Greek artwork. Greek literature heavily influenced Pompeii and Herculaneum. The Greek language continued to be spoken and a person that was fluent in the Greek language was highly regarded. The Greek language was used in some inscriptions such as the inscription of Hephaistion from the Temple of Jupiter In Pompeii and also used in graffiti around the baths in Herculaneum. Greek literature was treasured in many wealthy Roman??ā„¢s house libraries. Over 1800 papyrus scrolls and books written in Greek were found in the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum.

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Egyptian architectural influences are evident in Pompeii and Herculaneum. According to Wallace Handrill the conquest of Egypt by Rome led to an influx of Egyptian craftsmen and a fashionable copying of Egyptian motifs and styles. This led to the decorative use of sphinxes, Isis symbols and scenes of the Nile in many areas of the cities. The Egyptian culture has a large influence on the religion of Pompeii and Herculaneum mainly through the introduction of the worship of the Egyptian goddess Isis. The Temple of Isis in Pompeii provides evidence of the importance of this goddess as it was the only temple rebuilt after the AD62 earthquake. A fresco from Herculaneum shows the ceremony of Isis in progress which occurred twice every day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The Egyptian funerary statuette found in a put in the court of the Temple of Isis provides evidence towards the idea that Egyptian funerary practises were being practised within Pompeii and Herculaneum.

The people of Pompeii and Herculaneum were fascinated with the exotic and intriguing animals and landscapes of Egypt. Many frescos and mosaics incorporated Egyptian animals, and scenes of the Nile along with images of Egyptian gods, goddesses and symbols. The mosaic of a Nile scene from the House of the Faun in Pompeii and the statue of the goddess from the temple of Isis carrying a traditional Egyptian ankh support this. Egyptian literature was influential and mainly connected to religious practises such as the worship of Isis. A limestone stele with twenty lines of hieroglyphs that was found on a pillar at the entrance of the Temple of Isis relates to the last twenty years of Egyptian rule before being conquered. This signifies that the Egyptian language was being used at the least. In conclusion, it is highly evident through many sources that the Greek and Egyptian culture influenced Pompeii and Herculaneum in a wide variety of ways including the architectural design of the cities, the religion of the people, the art they produced and the literature the read and wrote.

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