Two weeks were enough to finish this fun and creativity-inspiring project. I’m a Latin teacher and have studied antiquity for more than half my life, but this is (almost) my first foray into the Roman world as a modeler. It was also my first complex diorama, but it certainly won’t be my last. I’m going to bring this scene into class to share with my students, and I can’t wait to hear what they have to say.
Read on for a peek at all the details and my thoughts on creating this piece.
My basic idea was to use the front of a tavern (a taberna, caupona, or popina, which mean roughly the same thing) as the backdrop to a crowded street scene. My goal was to recreate the bustle of ancient Roman daily life in the urbs. I looked for minis that not only allowed me to tell a story, but also showed characteristic Roman clothing, hair, etc across a wide range of social classes.
I wanted a really tight scene, so I limited myself to a 4”x4” footprint. I fit nine miniatures, three animals, and a portion of a building, to I’m going to pat myself on the back.
I also wanted multiple levels to the composition to create a sense of depth. Above you can see that the three individuals in the street represent a distinct layer, behind which stand the figures on the sidewalk and then the interior of the tavern.
At the same time, I wanted the figures to interact with one another. The shouting barkeeper, the wealthy merchant behind him, and the Greek traveler in the foreground are all focused upon something or someone off scene. The woman in the white tunic is turning and pulling off her hood to see what the fuss is about. The senator’s wife is glaring at the shouting pleb. The senator is looking disapprovingly at the slave carrying chickens, who is himself going about his business as usual. The legionary seems to be staring uselessly at the barkeeper, but in fact if you get down low enough you can see that his eyes have wandered to the elegant beauty across the way. Finally, the grubby boy inside the shop has taken this opportunity to pilfer a few unattended plums!
I think that dioramas really shine when they’re packed with details, so here’s a tour of those I tucked into mine.
Thanks to everyone who has followed my progress on this enjoyable project. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of this one, or what you think I should try next!