The study considers the different forms of conspicuous consumption displayed
within Roman domestic spaces, with particular focus on the House of the Faun in
Pompeii. Sumptuary laws aimed at women were used to identify how women
displayed conspicuous consumption, which is used to identify the domestic display
of conspicuous consumption from early second century BCE until 79 CE when
Pompeii was destroyed.
The house and the woman were equated because both are extensions of the
paterfamilias. Thus, by firstly indicating that women in fact displayed conspicuous
consumption and by utilising sumptuary laws, it is possible to demonstrate that
conspicuous consumption was displayed in the domus even though no sumptuary
laws existed aimed at the domus. The structure of the house is analysed as if it were
women’s clothing and parameters for the basic layout of the house are established
to indicate how those displaying conspicuous consumption deviated from the basic
plan. In addition, parameters are similarly determined to analyse wall and floor art,
furniture and sculptures, gardens, and water features that determine how
conspicuous consumption was displayed in the House of the Faun.
The concept of conspicuous consumption has to be understood as well as the socioeconomic
circumstances under which it manifested during the Republic. The next key
concept is Roman women and how they were a vehicle for conspicuous display in the
private and public sphere. An analogy is created that equates the woman to the
house in order to identify certain forms of conspicuous consumption. After
identifying the ways women displayed status, the display of status in the domus is
discussed from the outside inward, in other words, from the architectural structure
moving inward to art, gardens and movable features.