Civilised garden or fantastical wilderness?: the ‘Garden Room’ in the Villa of Livia in Rome

Myth Reading Group

Thursday 31 May

12.00-1.30pm in Room 4.204

Abigail Walker (King’s College, London)

We are delighted to welcome Abigail Walker (Department of Classics, King’s College London) to the Centre for Myth Studies. Abigail will continue our discussion of Trees & Forests with a session on the so-called ‘Garden Room’ from a first-century BCE Roman villa found in the suburban region of Prima Porta

Photo for website

Detail of the ‘Garden Room’ frescos, Southern wall, in the Villa di Livia, Prima Porta, Italy [Wikimedia Commons]

In the session we will reconsider the horticultural interpretations that have given this room its modern name and explore a rather more fantastical reading of the depicted trees and forests. We will discuss the other-worldly experience of nature that the ‘Garden Room’ and its frescoes offer the viewer, transporting them into a mythological panorama, a fantastical forest of metamorphic narratives and wilderness, blooming untamed by civilisation.

Suggested reading: Bergmann, B. (1992) ‘Exploring the grove: Pastoral space on Roman walls’ in J.D. Hunt (ed.) The Pastoral Landscape: Studies in History of Art, 36, Washington, 21-46.

Images of Villa di Livia ‘Garden Room’ frescos are available on Wikimedia Commons


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