Sunday, 15 January 2017

My Big Fat Greek House

The writings of Vitruvius have always fascinated me – oh, how I love to explore his Ten Books on Architecture, and absorb his instructions on how to build city walls that resist battering rams, and learn how the Roman race has the keenest wit and share his musings on ancient cosmology. I quote: “The heaven revolves steadily around earth and sea on the pivots at the ends of its axis”. Beautiful, Vit; your sound bites rival those of another, 2,000-year-old tome. On a recent perusal of TBOA, I discovered the word “gynaeconitis”. No, it’s not yet another, weird down-there disorder, but the name given to the half of the Greek house where women (and slaves) sit and talk and weave their cloths. By implication, the androiditis is where the men converge and entertain their guests. This knowledge set me a-wondering if the modern house could be gendered? For example, how would you rate the wet and slippery bathroom, the clammy kitchen with its cooking odours, the dry, white and uptight living room, and the soft and lush bedroom with its array of scents and colours? I have my opinion on those, meanwhile, I’m returning to Vit’s TBOA, to explore subjects such as “scamilli impares” and to consider building a hoisting machine according to the principles of Chersiphron.

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