Giesecke, Annette. 2007. The Epic City: Urbanism, Utopia, and the Garden in Ancient Greece and Rome. Hellenic Studies Series 21. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_GieseckeA.The_Epic_City_Urbanism_Utopia_and_the_Garden.2007.
Chapter 3. Rome and the Reinvention of Paradise
in tenebris metuunt, sic nos in luce timemus
interdum, nilo quae sunt metuenda magis quam
quae pueri in tenebris pavitant finguntque futura.
hunc igitur terrorem animi tenebrasque necessest
60 non radii solis neque lucida tela diei
discutiant, sed naturae species ratioque.
in the viewless darkness, thus in the light of day do we fear
things which are to be feared no more than
what children shudder at in the darkness and imagine will come to pass.
Therefore, this terror of the mind and this darkness it is necessary
60 not for the rays of the sun nor light of day
to dispel but the aspect and law of Nature.
The pictorial rhetoric of the Odyssey Frieze conveys a sentiment similar to Lucretius’. It is no longer the case, as it was in Classical Athens, that Nature constitutes the frame for human action. Now Nature herself has shifted to center stage. Nature is ergon, and humanity, as well as human constructs, parergon. Therefore, the wanderings of Odysseus are no longer presented in Homer’s anthropocentric, polis-oriented terms. The landscapes through which he travels overshadow the Esquiline Odysseus, who is not preoccupied first and foremost with probing the minds and social systems of others. Further, these landscapes, fraught with dangers as they are, have been transformed into landscapes of desire.  The transformation has taken place on two fronts, one visually forceful, the other somewhat more subtle. First, the Odyssean topia ‘landscapes’, illusionistically inscribed by architectural members, have been appropriated by the domus whose walls they embellish. The pictorial frame of screen walls and pillars would have integrated these landscapes into the fabric of the house and thereby contributed to the deliberate blurring of the “inside” and the out-of-doors that came to characterize Roman domestic architecture. In the Roman world, living in and with Nature became a thing much desired. Inscription, the application of a frame, dissolved the tension between conflicting emotions of fear and longing that wild Nature engenders.
laciditatem. maxime enim hae natura quietae et aptissimae ad vitam hominum. ad cibum enim lacte et caseum adhibitum, ad corpus vestitum et pelles adtulerunt. tertio denique gradu a vita pastorali ad agri culturam descenderunt, in qua ex duobus gradibus superioribus retinuerunt multa, et quo descenderant, ibi processerunt longe, dum ad nos perveniret.
Varro presents an idealized vision of the past and of humanity’s place in the world. In the remote past, humanity, we are told, lived quite effortlessly off an Earth producing her bounty readily of her own accord. From this felicitous state, humanity descended into a second age, a pastoral age, in which people gathered fruit, berries, and acorns, and commenced the domestication of animals. In this pastoral age, the proximity of human and animal was at its greatest. Humans foraged like animals and, through domestication, incorporated animals into their households. In a third, less beatific age, humanity began to till the soil, but even this toilsome age was far removed from, and by implication better than, the present. The Varronian interlocutor goes on to state that “according to the ancients, the most illustrious men were all herdsmen, as both Greek and Latin and the poets of old make clear” (de antiquis inlustrissimus quisque pastor erat, ut ostendit et graeca et latina lingua et veteres poetae …, De Re Rustica 2.1.6). This vision unhistorically mythologizes in a way particular to sophisticated urban cultures. 
The beauty of the place affects, indeed enthralls, all the senses. Lovely, kalē, to behold as a whole, this place resonates with the song of the cicadas and is permeated by the sweet smell of a chaste tree in full blossom. Its stream is refreshingly cool to the touch, and the grass just thick enough to rest comfortably on. This is also a place palpably inhabited by rural deities, nymphs and Acheloos, offerings to whom Socrates espies. With the combination of shade, stream, floral perfume, and meadow, Socrates has described a classic locus amoenus, the “pleasant place” that will enjoy a particularly rich life in the Roman literary tradition, playing a significant part in shaping the Roman vision of paradise.  Though Phaedrus is astonished at the fervor of Socrates’ reaction to the spot and declares him atopōtatos ‘really out of place’ (ἀτοπώτατος, Phaedrus 230c6), being a person who never ventures beyond the boundary of the city walls (ἐκ τοῦ ἄστεος οὔτ᾽ εἰς τὴν ὑπερορίαν ἀποδημεῖς, οὔτ᾽ ἔξω τείχους ἔμοιγε δοκεῖς τὸ παράπαν ἐξιέναι. Phaedrus 230d1–2), only Socrates really has any idea “where” he is and what the true value is of the place in which he finds himself. He realizes that if the rural spaces and the trees are unwilling to proffer their wisdom, it is because the pupil is not sufficiently attuned, being instead roused to a counterfeit “enthusiasm” by the teachings of men in the city (Phaedrus 230d3–5). Socrates, equipped with a heightened sense of awareness, moves within the dialogue “from an embodiment of sobriety,” through possession by divine madness in the form of Bacchic frenzy issuing from the Muses, “to an embodiment of philosophy.”  The stages of his metamorphosis are all prefigured in the landscape: the locus amoenus is marked by the presence of a chaste tree (vitex agnus castus), which is sacred to Hera and representative of sobriety, while the plane tree is associated with Dionysus, quintessential Nature deity and regular consort of the nymphs. 
Pliny’s pronouncement has not been free of controversy.  Primarily on the basis of Epicurus’ will, as “preserved” by Diogenes Laertius, and the opening of Cicero’s De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum, it has been argued that Pliny overstates his case. As the will makes separate mention of Epicurus’ house in the deme of Melite and the Garden, it has been assumed that the house and garden were not only separate properties but that the garden, which housed Epicurus’ school, was in an entirely different deme and was, furthermore, located beyond the Dipylon gate outside, not inside, the city wall. Cicero appears to substantitate this theory. After listening to a lecture by Antiochus, the current head of the Academy, at the inner city gymnasium known as the Ptolemaion, Cicero and a group of his friends decide to take an afternoon stroll in the Academy. The friends pass through the Dipylon Gate and, once arrived at their destination, they comment on the “personal” associations of various landmarks. In this context, Cicero’s companion Pomponius remarks that they just passed (modo praeteribamus, De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum 5.1.3) the Garden of Epicurus. If modo is to be taken literally as ‘just now’, Epicurus’ garden, it is argued, would lie not in Melite but on the very fringes of the Academy. Neither bit of evidence, however, need be fatal to the veracity of Pliny’s assertion. For instance, Cicero’s stroll to the Academy vividly sets the stage for a philosophical discussion but certainly does not purport to be a cartographically infallible text. What’s more, modo may be used to mean ‘only recently’ as well as ‘just now’, and in the course of what was in all likelihood a fifteen or twenty minute walk from Piso’s house to the Academy, something seen at any point along the way would qualify as something seen “only recently.” As for Epicurus’ so-called will, if it does actually treat the house in Melite and the Garden as separable pieces of property, the location of the house in Melite may simply distinguish this house from others owned by Epicurus and his school.  Ultimately, whether the Garden was in Melite, “a large and populous deme, including industrial districts as well as the houses of a number of wealthy and notable citizens,” or in Kerameis, either just within or just outside of the Dipylon Gate, Pliny’s observation remains equally true; Kerameis, which straddled the city wall, was as “urban” as the inner city demes of Melite, Kydathenaion, Koile, Kollytos, and Skambonidai. 
Dance, especially the Bacchic dance, is irresistibly “catching.”  Mimicking entrancing, rhythmic motions observed in the animal kingdom, dance is perhaps the purest, oldest means by which to “cross the boundary between human and animal” and, in a blatantly nostalgic act, recover the “essential biological kinship” that human and animal possess.  It is little wonder that devotion to Dionysus in the post-Classical Greek world remained undiminished, spreading instead both in “territory” and intensity. Following in the footsteps of his devotee Alexander, the god returned from Greece to the Near East, where he was readily associated with a host of foreign deities. In the Hellenistic world, his worship experienced a renaissance in the guise of a true mystery religion, complete with initiation and purifying salvation, and from the Hellenistic East, Dionysus would “burst upon Rome” itself, as that city searched for deliverance from seemingly endless socio-political turbulence.  In Roman Italy Dionysus would come to rest, among other places, in the arms of his bride Ariadne in Pompeii’s Villa of the Mysteries.
στραφθέντες χὠ καλὸς Ἀμύντιχος ἔν τε βαθείαις
ἁδείας σχοίνοιο χαμευνίσιν ἐκλίνθημες
ἔν τε νεοτμάτοισι γεγαθότες οἰναρέοισι.
135 πολλαὶ δ᾽ ἄμμιν ὕπερθε κατὰ κρατὸς δονέοντο
αἴγειροι πτελέαι τε· τὸ δ᾽ ἐγγύθεν ἱερὸν ὕδωρ
Νυμφᾶν ἐξ ἄντροιο κατειβόμενον κελάρυζε.
τοὶ δὲ ποτὶ σκιαραῖς ὀροδαμνίσιν αἰθαλίωνες
τέττιγες λαλαγεῦντες ἔχον πόνον· ἁ δ᾽ ὀλολυγών
140 τηλόθεν ἐν πυκιναῖσι βάτων τρύζεσκεν ἀκάνθαις·
ἄειδον κόρυδοι καὶ ἀκανθίδες, ἔστενε τρυγών,
πωτῶντο ξουθαὶ περὶ πίδακας ἀμφὶ μέλισσαι.
παντ᾽ ὦσδεν θέρεος μάλα πίονος, ὦσδε δ᾽ ὀπώρας.
ὄχναι μὲν πὰρ ποσσί, παρὰ πλευραῖσι δὲ μᾶλα
145 δαψιλέως ἁμῖν ἐκυλίνδετο, τοὶ δ᾽ ἐκέχυντο
ὄρπακες βραβίλοισι καταβρίθοντες ἔραζε·
τετράενες δὲ πίθων ἀπελύετο κρατὸς ἄλειφαρ.
did we turn, and also handsome Amyntas, and on deep
beds of sweet rushes did we recline
and on freshly cut vine leaves, rejoicing.
135 And overhead rustled a multitude
of poplars and elms. And nearby the sacred water
splashed as it flowed down out from a cave of the Nymphs.
And on the shady sprays, smoky brown
cicadas kept busy chirruping. And the tree frog
140 from a distance was croaking in the dense thorns of the brambles.
Larks and finches were singing, and the turtledove was cooing,
and about the spring humming bees were flying all around.
Everything smelled of corn harvest most abundant, smelled of the fruit crop.
Pears by our feet, and by our sides apples
145 were rolling in great abundance. And hanging down
all the way to the ground were branches weighed down with peaches.
And the four-year-old seal was loosened from the mouths of the wine jars.
At a time when cities were growing in size and number, a degree of nostalgia and yearning for escape to the unspoiled countryside must have contributed to the amplified poetic awareness of the natural world, but it would be an oversimplification to state that it was the only, or even the primary, factor.  The Hellenistic poets’ “pastoralist” leanings are commingled with a host of distinctly urbane and academic concerns. Alexandrian poetry in particular strives for novelty and polish as well as smallness of scale paired with mythological, ethnographic, geographical, and all other forms of “scientific” erudition. It also evidences a new interest in realism, exoticism, and individualism, both in the emotional life of the individual and in his or her “place” in an increasingly impersonal world. A closer look at the Theocritean locus amoenus and the context from which it has been drawn quickly reveals the astonishing compositional complexity and polish of a poem that, at first glance, appears disarmingly simple, accessible, and familiar. Grounded, on the one hand, in “a solid, well-known reality based on the rural economy of Greece and southern Italy,” the seventh Idyll is surprisingly far-ranging, moving from the small, local Burina spring on Cos to the divine, poetically inspirational Castalian waters of Parnassus, and from wintry Thrace to sweltering Ethiopia.  Emotionally, the poem is just as far-reaching, celebrating life and death, love and loss, humanity and divinity, as well as Nature and art. This seemingly “homely,” spontaneous singing match between herdsmen in the fields is rendered so realistically that the audience, in a sense, becomes an “eye-witness.” However, this proximity is counteracted by a numenistic mysticism and allusive “subversion” that marks the poem as an epos ‘epic poem’ totally unlike any other.  Marked textually by Homeric cadences and epithets, the match between Simichidas and the goatherd Lycidas has roots in the meeting between Eumaios and the goatherd Melanthios in the Odyssey. But the Homeric encounter, hallowed in its antiquity, will affect the fate and order of a society, while the bucolic singing contest points the way to individual happiness. In the end, the Idyll’s manifold thematic tensions, which have by no means been dealt with exhaustively here, dissolve in Nature and in song. In the Theocritean world, Nature is the source of creativity, and through her, humanity may discover “the secrets of their own strengths and weaknesses.” 
ἀσπασίως ἄκρης Ἀχερουσίδος ὅρμον ἵκοντο.
ἡ μέν τε κρημνοῖσιν ἀνίσχεται ἠλιβάτοισιν,
730 εἰς ἅλα δερκομένη Βιθυνίδα· τῇ δ᾽ ὑπὸ πέτραι
λισσάδες ἐρρίζωνται ἁλίβροχοι, ἀμφὶ δὲ τῇσιν
κῦμα κυλινδόμενον μεγάλα βρέμει· αὐτὰρ ὕπερθεν
ἀμφιλαφεῖς πλατάνιστοι ἐπ᾽ ἀκροτάτῃ πεφύασιν.
ἐκ δ᾽ αὐτῆς εἴσω κατακέκλιται ἤπειρόνδε
735 κοίλη ὕπαιθα νάπη, ἵνα τε σπέος ἔστ᾽ Ἀίδαο
ὕλῃ καὶ πέτρῃσιν ἐπηρεφές, ἔνθεν ἀυτμή
πηγυλίς, ὀκρυόεντος ἀναπνείουσα μυχοῖο,
συνεχὲς ἀργινόεσσαν ἀεὶ περιτέτροφε πάχνην,
οὐδὲ μεσημβριόωντος ἰαίνεται ἠελίοιο.
740 σιγὴ δ᾽ οὔποτε τήνδε κατὰ βλοσυρὴν ἔχει ἄκρην,
ἀλλ ̓ ἄμυδις πόντοιό θ᾽ ὑπὸ στένει ἠχήεντος,
φύλλων τε πνοιῇσι τινασσομένων μυχίῃσιν.
ἔνθα δὲ καὶ προχοαὶ ποταμοῦ Ἀχέροντος ἔασιν,
ὅς τε διὲξ ἄκρης ἀνερεύγεται εἰς ἅλα βάλλων
745 ἠοίην, κοίλη δὲ φάραγξ κατάγει μιν ἄνωθεν·
τὸν μὲν ἐν ὀψιγόνοισι Σοωναύτην ὀνόμηναν
Νισαῖοι Μεγαρῆες, ὅτε νάσσεσθαι ἔμελλον
γῆν Μαριανδυνῶν· δὴ γάρ σφεας ἐξεσάωσεν
αὐτῇσιν νήεσσι, κακῇ χρίμψαντας ἀέλλῃ.
750 τῇ ῥ᾽ οἵγ᾽ αὐτίκα νῆα διὲξ Ἀξερουσίδος ἄκρης
εἰσωποί, ἀνέμοιο νέον λήγοντος, ἔκελσαν.
they arrived full of joy at the inner harbor of the Acherusian headland.
It, for its part, soars with steep crags
730 facing the Bithynian sea, and below it rocks,
smooth ones, stand fixed, washed by the sea. And around them
the wave roars loudly as it rolls along, but above
wide-spreading planes grow upon the topmost point.
And from it farther inland slopes down
735 a hollow glen beneath, where there is a cave of Hades
by woods and rocks over-arched, whence a breath
icy cold, wafting up from its chill recess
continuously, ever makes congeal a ring of bright-shining rime,
nor does it melt in the midday sun.
740 And silence never holds that grim headland,
but rather it murmurs constantly from the roaring sea
and the leaves rustled by the vapors from the cavern’s depths.
And here too come outpourings of the river Acheron,
which from the headland belches forth, casting into the sea
745 in the east, and a cleft ravine brings it down from above.
And in time afterwards, Sailors’ Savior was it called
by the Nisaean Megarians when they were setting out to settle
the land of the Mariandyni. For indeed it saved them
ships and all when they had met a baleful tempest.
750 By this way, straight through the Acherusian headland, their ship did these men
put to shore when the wind had only just fallen.
Thick with plane trees though it may be, the Acherusian headland is anything but a locus amoenus. Rather, the deafening roar of the wind-swept sea, the shuddering leaves, and the icy breath issuing forth from the cavern of Hades renders this a locus horrificus. The vivid description “create[s] a sense of disquiet and anxiety” in the reader, who, with a shiver, will recall just how close the Argonauts came to meeting their end amidst the Clashing Rocks, at the same time being reminded that the mission as a whole is terribly dangerous, sure to claim many lives.  Indeed, even at this stage, the tragic death of Idmon is imminent, this very headland the site of his future burial. Here the landscape creates a mood, assists the plot, and draws the reader in. Again, the reader becomes an eyewitness, experiencing “first hand” the terrors that beset the brave Argonauts. Landscape is clearly still the frame for human action, human actors in this drama being the poet’s focus. Instructively, the Acherusian passage closes with an obscure geographic detail: the outfall of the Acheron, the poet writes, was named Soōnautēs, Savior of Sailors, by grateful Nisaean Megarians. This grim and awesome wilderness will one day be tamed, its thundering waves drowned out by the urban din produced by the grand city of Heraclea ad Pontum. 
Employing Pompeii and Herculaneum as a basis for generalization, the integration of a garden was an essential ingredient in the success of the Roman house at becoming an urban oasis and providing a locus for respite and reflection. The fact that gardens are to be found almost everywhere in town signifies just how important the garden was to the Pompeiian psyche. Buildings of every size and variety contained them, shops, inns, bath buildings, schools, theaters, and temples included.  In fact, it has been remarked that, judging from the excavated area, gardens and cultivated spaces amounted to roughly seventeen percent of the town’s land, nearly the same amount of land as devoted to roads and public squares.  In the Pompeiian house, the primacy of the garden asserted itself from the very moment of entry. It became a visual vector that guided the visitor’s gaze from the entry through the atrium ‘entry-court’ and beyond the tablinum ‘library/office’ along an axis established by a special feature in the garden such as a fountain or statuette. Moving from the public to the more private spaces in the house, the visitor would still be guided by the garden, beckoned by the sound of water splashing in a fountain and ultimately treated to a sensual feast. Where space allowed for a covered walk, one could stroll around the garden observing the hanging ornaments, aptly called oscilla, gently swaying in the breeze as well as a host of wildlife: birds, bees, butterflies, and fish in a basin watched ever so attentively by a cat. Here one might also glimpse a pair of lively pups playing hide-and-seek amid an assortment of statuary: Dionysus and his band of satyrs, Venus at the bath, Mars the erstwhile god of agriculture, herms topped with brightly painted pinakes ‘tablets’, and, lending a bit of philosophical perspective, the godlike Epicurus.  The visitor would be enveloped by the sweet scents of lavender, rose, citrus, and thyme in their season, and by a changing spectrum of color supplied by a variety of blossoms, such as marigold, poppy, oleander, cornflower, lily, and periwinkle. At the garden’s far end one might recline to dine, converse, and read under the shade of a vine-clad pergola. Even if the weather should turn, the garden would not deny the visitor its various delights, for triclinia ‘dining rooms’ were oriented so as to provide an interesting, even “theatrical,” garden view in which painted landscapes playfully mirrored and extended planted compositions or revealed lions hunting in a fictively appended game park. Here Nature is ergon, and the domus, both its architectural members and its inhabitants, Nature’s parergonal frame.
urbis opus, longoque domat saxa aspera dorso.
qua prius obscuro permixti pulvere soles
et feritas inamoena viae, nunc ire voluptas;
qualis, si subeas Ephyres Baccheidos altum
35 culmen, ab Inoo fert semita tecta Lyaeo.
42 … vix ordine longo
suffecere oculi, vix, dum per singula ducor,
suffecere gradus. quae rerum turba! locine
45 ingenium an domini mirer prius? haec domus ortus
aspicit et Phoebi tenerum iubar, illa cadentem
detinet exactamque negat dimittere lucem,
cum iam fessa dies et in aequora montis opaci
umbra cadit vitreoque natant praetoria ponto.
50 haec pelagi clamore fremunt, haec tecta sonoros
ignorant fluctus terraeque silentia malunt.
his favit natura locis, hic victa colenti
cessit et ignotos docilis mansuevit in usus.
mons erat hic ubi plana vides, et lustra fuerunt,
55 quae nunc tecta subis; ubi nunc nemora ardua cernis,
hic nec terra fuit: domuit possessor, et illum
formantem rupes expugnantemque secuta
gaudet humus. nunc cerne iugum discentia saxa
intrantesque domos iussumque recedere montem.
60 iam Methymnaei vatis manus et chelys una
Thebais et Getici cedat tibi gloria plectri;
et tu saxa moves, et te nemora alta sequuntur.
a veritable city construction, and with its long roof-line, dominates the jagged rocks.
Where earlier was sunshine mixed with blinding dust
and the unlovely wilderness of the path, now it is a delight to walk.
It is just as if you should climb Bacchic Ephyre’s lofty
35 peak, a covered footway leads from Lyaean Ino.
42 … For the long array scarcely
have my eyes sufficed as I am led from one thing to another,
scarce my steps. What a mass of stuff! Is it the site’s
45 or the master’s genius that I should marvel at first? To the east does this part of the house
face and to Phoebus’ early rays; his setting does that part
hold prisoner and refuses to release his spent light
when the day is already tired, and over the ocean does the dark mountain’s
shadow fall, and the palace floats on the glassy deep.
50 These chambers groan with the clash of the sea, these others of the sounding waves
are ignorant and prefer instead the silence of the land.
Upon these Nature has bestowed her favors; here, vanquished
has she yielded and, docile, has become tamed to unwonted tasks.
A mountain was here where you see flat ground; beasts’ lairs were
55 what you now find as buildings. Where now you see tall forests,
here there was no land; the owner has won dominion, and in him
as he sculpts the crags and overpowers them, obediently
does the earth rejoice. Now behold the rocks learning to endure the yoke,
and the buildings forging their way in and the mountain ordered to retreat.
60 Now let the hands of Methymna’s bard and the one and only lyre
from Thebes and the fame of the Thracian plectrum yield to you;
you too move stones, you too do lofty forests follow.
The villa has overpowered Nature and has demanded acquiescence in its dominion, while Nature, utterly vanquished, has retreated from her position, ultimately assuming the yoke of her new master. Pollius, the villa’s owner, is a second Orpheus readily bending Nature to his sway.
In schemes of the new style, large-scale prospects were eliminated, reasserting the wall as an impenetrable surface. The viewer was thereby denied what might be construed as a “quasi-Epicurean,” fictive opportunity for retreat into a garden framed by the architectural accoutrements of demonstrative luxury.  In place of a beckoning prospect, the viewer was presented instead with a scheme replicating a pinacothece, a gallery displaying framed panel paintings on its walls. One could conceivably argue that the Second Style’s large windows into the world beyond were merely minimized, but there is no mistaking the “panels” at the center of a Third Style wall with a window onto an “accessible” landscape, even if it is a landscape that dominates the picture field.  There is a clearly perceptible distance between the viewer and the new landscapes; they are alluring but ultimately impenetrable.