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VILLA Atrium Houses Atrium Tablinium Peristylum Triclinium

As can be seen from the houses remaining in Pompeii ad Herculaneum, Roma bedrooms or cubiculae were quite small. Jerome Carcopino says that there was little within the bedroom to tempt its occupants to lie abed: its furnishings were kept to a minimum, and if the shutters kept out light and the weather, they could not protect its occupant from the bustle of early risers either in the streets or within, as slaves, armed with cleaning supplies, bustled around the house.

Each bedroom was equipped with a bed, or cubile, by which the room took its name. Also within the room was a chest, or arca, for money and possessions and possibly a chair for visitors. Under the bed, most likely, was a chamber pot or lasnum.

The bed itself was unlikely to provide overmuch in the way of comfort. Webbing straps were woven on a framework of wood or bronze on which a mattress, or torus, and bolster, or culcita were placed. This was stuffed with straw in most poorer households; in wealthy bedrooms, the stuffing might be of wool or even swans' down.

The torus was spread with two coverlets or tapetia-- the sleeper lay on the first and pulled the second over, with a counterpane, lodix or multicoloured damask quilt (polymitum).

By the bedside was a mat, or toral-- an essential item for early risers on cold mornings, as Roman floors were usually stone, and warm stockings were unknown.

Romans generally went to bed with most of their clothing on, so rising early posed little problem: on went the soleae or sandals, and the outer clothing, or amictus, and the sleeper was prepared to greet the day.

References: Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome, Lesley Adkins and Roy A. Adkins (Oxford University Press, 1998); The Romans, their Life and Customs, E. Guhl and W. Korner, Senate Press, 1994


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