Published online by Cambridge University Press: 29 September 2022
The Roman imperial court was not confined to the palaces of Rome. Emperors owned lavish villas in rural and seaside areas of Italy, at which they and members of their court would often sojourn. This chapter examines the imperial villas for which there are substantial archaeological remains, including Tiberius’ Villa Iovis on Capreae, Domitian’s villa at Lacus Albanus, Hadrian’s villa at Tibur, and the Antonine Villa Magna near Anagnia. The remains of these complexes suggest that they were simultaneously places of luxurious leisure (otium) for emperors and their courtiers, but also locations where the serious business of running an empire could take place. A powerful ideological statement about the emperor’s power to transform nature itself was also encoded in the architecture of some of these villas.