Roman Elite's Desire for Luxury Holiday Homes and Exotic Escapes

TLDR Roman elites, like Pliny the Younger, sought luxury holiday homes by the sea, such as in the Bay of Naples, to escape and experience exoticism without traveling too far. They engaged in scandalous activities and sought art, history, and mythological resonance in their pursuit of leisure and cultural greatness.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 Pliny the Younger had a luxurious holiday home on the Laurentine coast near Rome in the 2nd century AD, which raises interesting parallels to modern-day holiday homes.
04:59 Roman elites, like Pliny the Younger, desired holiday homes by the sea, valued leisure with dignity, and sought escapism and exoticism in places like the Bay of Naples, which offered a taste of Greece without the need to travel all the way there.
10:03 In the Bay of Naples, high-end properties with heated swimming pools and volcanic ash piers sprouted up, attracting wealthy clients from Rome, while nearby resorts like Baye offered sulfur baths and spectacular architecture, reminiscent of Brighton or Blackpool, but exclusive to the rich.
15:12 Tiberius, the Emperor of Rome, retired to the secluded island of Capri and built the Villa Jovis, where he engaged in shocking and scandalous activities, such as swimming with young boys who would nibble at his genitals.
20:17 The Romans had a default assumption that if someone spent too much time secluded in a villa, it meant they were engaging in utter depravity, which is why Tiberius became the poster boy for this assumption, causing humiliation for senators who couldn't afford to visit him on Capri.
25:09 Nero marketed himself as a friend of the people by giving them a chance to experience something they wouldn't otherwise have, similar to an upmarket Billy Butlin, and Vespasian replaced Nero's pleasure park with the Colosseum to provide the masses with constant celebrations and public games.
30:08 Roman generals seize the opportunity to plunder the Greek world and bring back vast amounts of loot to Rome, including bronzes, statues, works of art, and even prostitutes, without any resentment or movement for restitution.
35:08 The Romans would go to various cities in Asia Minor and Egypt, seeking mythological and historical resonance, as well as great art and statuary, in their pursuit of a combination of art and the numinous.
39:46 Hadrian restores Athens to its former glory and enshrines it as the head of a confederation of Greek cities, while also attempting to revive the traditional Spartan way of life, reflecting the Roman desire to experience the historical and cultural greatness of these cities.
44:34 Roman tourists, including high-end travelers and those below the rank of senator, were drawn to tourist attractions such as Herod's Great Temple in Jerusalem and the statues of Memnon in Egypt, with some even inscribing their names on the statues as a form of graffiti.
49:27 Pilgrimages to places like Jerusalem and Rome became popular forms of travel and tourism, with pilgrims constructing tourist itineraries and visiting sites that were manufactured as biblical sites in the fourth century by Roman tour parties.
Categories: History

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