Welcome home, Valerius
I've talked a lot before about how on one hand we all know that the past is a different country and one that is incredibly foreign to us at times, button the other hand, so many things are wonderfully familiar. Today I'm initing you on a tour of Valerius's house. Well, almost. This amazing video of a Roman domus is courtesy of Ancientvine on YouTube, and, apart from the lack of electric wiring and wifi, there's no reason you wouldn't love to move into a house like this today.
I'd replace the mattresses, and update the kitchen, but everything else? It's perfect.
It's not quite Valerius's house though. I based Valerius's house on something like this, where the second floor overlooks the impluvium.
The key is as follows:
A. A shopfront. Shopkeepers paid rent to homeowners. In Sub Rosa, Valerius makes a point of noting there are no shopfronts on his section of the Caelian Hill. He's old money rich, that's why.
B. The atrium. The largest and most central room of the house. The compluvium (the hole in the roof) lets in rain and sunlight. The rainwater is collected in the pool in the middle of the atrium, called the impluvium.
C. Slave quarters and work rooms are at the back of the house.
D. Windows are small for security - hence why the house is designed for most of the light to come from the atrium or the peristyle.
E. The peristyle. A open courtyard garden. There is usually a fountain here too, connected to the nearest aqueduct.
F. The tabling, which is the living/dining room. Valerius's house has several.
G. A bedroom. In Valerius's house, his bedroom is upstairs.
Roman patricians conducted a lot of their business in their homes. The front part of the house was almost a public space, where clients and friends would meet each morning. The back part of the house was more private. A guest's social status could be judged by what parts of your house they were welcomed into. Not that Valerius stands much on ceremony, a fact his Uncle Maro points out when half the vigiles in the neighbourhood are hanging around leaving grubby fingermarks on the walls. Then again, Valerius has a lot of ideas that don't necessarily mesh with the proper Roman way of doing things!
I can't wait for you to meet him!