Pompeii, Commercial Gardens, Otium, Negotium, Triclinium


Previous scholarship has designated Roman gardens into binary otium or negotium designations; however, this research on Roman gardens suggests that these concepts often exist in spaces simultaneously. The reevaluation of commercial gardens in Pompeii presented in this article allows for an integrative analysis of garden spaces, which reveals that commercial gardens have coinciding qualities and functions with private elite gardens and that various trades were actively integrating these features into commercial settings to promote and financially supplement their businesses. This research challenges the assumption that non-domestic, commercial gardens only have qualities indicative of negotium and that garden spaces were not multifunctional. My research reflects that these gardens were combining elements of otium and negotium. This evidence suggests non-elite Romans used non-domestic, commercial gardens for pleasure just as elite members of society did in their own private gardens or simulated garden rooms. My work highlights that a new, inclusive, and multifunctional approach to commercial gardens is needed in order to consider the role they had in shaping the urban experiences of the non-elite class during the early Roman Empire. This reevaluation contributes to a more holistic understanding of the urban experience in Roman society by focusing on how the businesses used and democratized commercial gardens in Pompeii during the 1st c CE.