Spectacle, violence, and viewership : paradeisos scenes in the Pompeian garden
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Paradeisos scenes, painted compositions featuring dueling wild animals, appear rather frequently in the gardens of Pompeii. Although these scenes have received some scholarly attention, there has been no attempt to definitively lay out the precise features that constitute a paradeisos scene. Further, the scholars who have dealt with these compositions have done so within a larger conversation about wall painting or garden painting as a whole. The present study attempts to define the paradeisos and treat these scenes as a phenomenon in their own right. Chapter One opens the discussion by looking at the presence of wild animals in the triumphal procession and in the ludi of the Roman amphitheater, two highly visual occasions that would have informed a Roman conception of wildlife elsewhere in visual culture. Chapter Two takes an in-depth look at the paradeisos scenes themselves through four case studies, contextualizes these scenes within the larger framework of the home, and provides an updated, clear-cut definition of the paradeisos. Finally, Chapter Three expands the discussion to Roman gardens, tying the violent imagery of the paradeisos to these supposedly serene zones. Ultimately, this fresh approach to the paradeisos demonstrates that the violent imagery of these scenes reflect large-scale societal drives in the small-scale context of the suburban, Pompeian home.