Houses of Pompeii
There is ample documentation of the Roman house in Pompeii, from
modest dwellings to large and magnificent villas with sumptuous
decorations, from simple workmen's houses to the elegant residences
of the noble class, from the homes of merchants which were built
around their workshops, to those with their own vegetable garden and
plots of land used for agricultural purposes.
The typical house is variable in size and has a rectangular plan. It is almost totally devoid of windows on the outside, since all the rooms face onto the inner courtyards.
Typical house of the first period: "Tuscan" atrium: the entrance or vestibulum, often closed off by a wooden door, gave access to the atrium. This was covered by a sloping roof (compluvium) open in such a way as to channel rainwater into the impluvium . In subsequent periods it was known as tetrastyle, because it was embellished with four columns which held up the implucium. Around this room ran a colonnade and a series of rooms known as cubicula, which were the family's sleeping quarters.
The atrium was followed by the tablinium (meeting and reception room) and the triclinium or dining room.
The garden opened onto the back of the house and was surrounded by a colonnade or peristylium. The latter, adopted from Hellenistic models, was the result of the transformation of the old kitchen garden (several villas had a garden as well as a vegetable patch) and led to the expansion of the residence and to the creation of rooms used for receiving guests (oecus). At the back of the house were the kitchens and storehouses. With the passing of time the house greatly increases in terms of size, the spaces and rooms being doubled, to the point that it occupies almost an entire insula. At the same time it becomes particularly refined and pays special attention to embellishments and elegant decorations.
With the gradual development of the middle-class, the model house saw further modifications dictated by the new needs of the resident families. First and foremost, workshops were added in which the owner could carry out his activity. The apartment lay at the back of these and above and, in most houses, is linked to the rest by staircases and accessways.
In this case the house shows a more simplified plan, since part of the space was taken up by the workshops.
Casa della Caccia Antica or House of the Ancient Hunt or House of the Hunt or House of the Wild Boar
Reg. VII- 4, 48
This house contains the remains of some very interesting mosaics. Particularly worthy of mention is the one which gives the house its name and which, placed on the floor of the atrium, depicts a hunting scene showing a "wild boar assailed by dogs". There is also a precious mosaic decoration distinguished by geometric motifs. The marble floors and the area around the garden are of immense beauty.
HOUSE OF HOLCONIUS RUFUS
Reg VIII- 4, 4
It belonged to one of Augustus' tribunes, a prestigious personage of the age. The house is spacious and elegant. The remains allow us to guess at the architectural structure, which must have been particularly beautiful in the area of the tablinium and the peristyle characterized by an airy open gallery. Precious pictorial decoration covered a large part of the walls of the house. Of additional interest would have been the summer triclinium, adorned with fountains and a cycle of paintings. The frescos, which must once have been splendid, are now only partly visible as a result of deterioration: they depict "mythological scenes and characters".
HOUSE OF THE CITHARIST
This is one of the largest houses in Pompeii and is made up several houses merged into one. The name derives from the statue depicting "Apollo the citharist" found here and housed in the Archaeological Museum in Naples, as is the very fine mosaic showing a "Wild Boar assailed by dogs". Notwithstanding the fairly poor state of preservation, this house allows us to guess at the magnificence of the architecture of the interiors and the richness of the decorations which once made it splendid. Of great spectacular effect are the three superimposed peristyles.
HOUSE AND WORKSHOP OF VERECUNDUS
This complex is of the greatest interest in that it provides an example of a typical workshop belonging to the sellers and dyers of cloth, an activity which in Pompeii was particular
ly well developed and so renowned that a building in the Forum square was dedicated to them, the Building of Eumachia. Precious paintings embellish the workshop and depict the activity carried out there and the protector gods. Note in particular: "Mercury with a moneybag", "Venus on a carriage", "The cloth sellers" and "The weaving of cloth". They are all depicted with great immediacy.
HOUSE OF CASCA LONGUS
The group of workshops which occupy part of insula no.6, belong to a single owner, a certain Casca Longus who had his house built in close communication with the shop. On the walls of the atrium a delightful decoration showing scenes related to the theatre can be admired, and in one of the rooms, another one with floral motifs. The house owes its name to the inscription borne by the trapezophori, that is the statues which
support the table, and probably belonged to that Casca Longus who was one of the protagonists
in the conspiracy which led to the assassination of Caesar.
HOUSE OF THE LARARIUM
A room near the tablinium and commonly known as the Lararium shows refined decoration with depictions of "scenes from the Iliad". The blue colouring of the background is interesting and creates an intensely atmospheric effect. There is a large painting in the so-called Hall of the Elephants. From an examination of the plastered walls and the material found in the rooms, we can infer that, at the moment of the catastrophic tragedy, the house was in the process of being decorated.
HOUSE OF THE CRYPTOPORTICUS
It takes its name from the cryptoporticus - a room of startling effect thanks to apertures which allow shafts of light to filter in - which was the underground cellar of the house used for storing wine. It contains an exhibition of plaster casts of people who died during the eruption of Vesuvius. The house also contains pictorial decoration related to the II style. It consists of Episodes taken from the Iliad incorporated into a frieze (in the colonnade). In addition there are some admirable caryatids painted in red and still lives.
HOUSE OF LUCIUS CEIUS SECUNDUS OR HOUSE OF THE CEII
The house stands along the lane which leads off to the right from Via dell'Abbondanza. Its name can be inferred from the electoral inscriptions found on the front of the house. This dwelling is distinguished by the panelled decoration on the facade. It has a precious tetrastyle atrium. Inside there are several ornaments and some furniture - particularly noteworthy is the cast made of the wardrobe - as well as the staircase which joined the ground floor to the top floor In the garden a delightful picture depicting animals and plants can be admired.
HOUSE OF MENANDER
This is one of the largest and most elegant houses in Pompeii, very rich in its decoration and highly complex in the division of the rooms. Its name derives from the portrait of Menander, but is it also known as the "house of the silverware" because of the copious collection of pieces found in a chest in the cellars of the house: a total of 118 pieces of silver as well as numerous others made of gold and coins. The house belonged to the Poppei family and underwent various building phases. Begun in the 3rd century B.C., it was later extended and embellished; at the moment of the eruption of Vesuvius the building works were still underway. From the entrance - distinguished by two pillars with Corinthian capitals - access could be gained to the atrium (of Tuscan type), which is fairly well preserved and atmospheric as a result of the decoration in the IV style, the charming little temple placed in one corner and above all because it preserves intact its jutting out wooden roof open at the centre to allow light to pass through and to facilitate the collection of water. The rooms to the left of the entrance contain paintings showing scenes taken from Episodes of the Iliad. Beyond the tablinium is the peristyle, an elegant and refined room with its beautiful painted colonnade. A series of rooms leads off from here: on the right is the kitchen and bathroom area; on the left is the triclinium flanked by two rooms with frescoed walls. The exedrae situated beyond the rooms set aside as servant accommodation contain refined paintings of a mythological and theatrical nature (masks) and the portrait of the poet Menander mentioned above. The western area of the house is occupied by the quarters set aside for use as bathrooms: there is a fine calidarium whose mosaic and pictorial decoration is virtually intact. One section of the house was reserved for the curator of the property, a freedman called Eros (we have learnt his name from the seal found on his body), who safeguarded the goods in the house and who bore the title of Procurator.
HOUSE OF THE LOVERS
Reg I-10, 11
This house, albeit of modest proportions, is an architectural jewel. The decoration of the walls shows great refinement and the peristyle surrounded by a double open gallery is truly delightful. The ceilings and floors of several of the rooms are intact. In the atrium is a collection of friezes, panels and painted medallions. The name of the house derives from an inscription which refers to the sweetness of love and states that "lovers, like bees, wish life to be as sweet as honey".
HOUSE OF PAQUIUS PROCULUS
Paquius Proculus was a highly influential political figure in Pompeii.
This complex structure underwent various phases of construction. The mosaic decoration in the atrium with geometric panels depicting animals is very elegant. The tablinium has a fine alabaster floor. The pictorial decoration has partially survived and shows the remains of some "still lives". Several skeletons of children were found in this house.
HOUSE OF THE PRIEST AMANDUS
In the fine triclinium is an admirable series of paintings with a mythological subject: "Hercules", "Polyphemus", "Perseus" and "Daedalus and Icarus". A painting of the pre-Roman epoch can also be found near the entrance. There is a noteworthy plaster cast of a tree in the garden of the peristyle.
HOUSE OF THE EPHEBUS
Reg I-7, 10-12
It takes its name from the statue of the Ephebus, a bronze copy of a similar Greek work of the 5th century B.C., found here and transported to the Museum in Naples. It is a very large house and sumptuous both in terms of its architectural design (it consists of three houses merged into one), and in the decoration which characterises it. This confirms that it belonged to a family of the rich middle-class who were keen on an ostentatious display of their high standard of living.
Of the paintings preserved here, that of "Venus and Mars" is worthy of mention. The marble covering of the floors is quite remarkable - the one in the triclinium is particularly precious in that it was executed with rather rare coloured marble - as is that of several walls.
Among the objects found here are four statuettes - the placentarii - which were used as sauce boats and which are characterized by their provocative nature (Museum in Naples). Worthy of attention is the small house connected to the former where some outstanding paintings embellish the tablinium, having as their subject "The marriage of Venus and Mars".
HOUSE OF THE ORCHARD
Reg I-9, 5-7
It owes its name to the pictorial decoration showing "Trees and fruit" which adorns some of the rooms, one of which has a blue background and one black. They are paintings of extreme freshness and refined elegance.
Several types of trees (fig, plum, cherry, arbutus and lemon) are faithfully reproduced; in the fascia below, a delightful garden is depicted. Some experts have connected these paintings with the Dionysian cult; others, more simply, have imagined that the owner was a fruit-grower.
HOUSE OF TREBIUS VALENS
The name of the owner can be inferred from an inscription in the bedroom. Its facade was once covered by inscriptions which almost certainly served as public announcements. Inside is an admirable peristyle with an unusual pictorial decoration of geometric motifs and a triclinium furnished with fountains and a pergola. One bedroom contained a collection of small bottles for ointments and jewels, which leads to the supposition that the room belonged to the owner's wife.
HOUSE OF LOREIUS TIBURTINUS or House of D. Octavius Quartio
The house underwent two phases of construction: the first relates to the area within the Tuscan atrium (Samnite epoch); the second, centred around the peristyle area, is to be attributed to the imperial age. The house is distinguished by its magnificent garden consisting of an open gallery and a pergola embellished by water channels, fountains and a temple as well as by pictorial decorations and
sculptures. The mythological depictions bear the signature of their author, a certain Lucius. Precious paintings adorn the triclinium (Episodes from the Iliad). Other paintings, for the most part belonging to the IV style, decorate one of the small rooms next to the large hall. An interesting feature is provided by the cast made of the great entrance portal to the house. The combination of the decoration and the architectural layout of this house bear witness to the prestige and affluence of the family who lived there.
HOUSE OF VENUS IN THE SHELL or House of the Marine Venus or House of D. Lucretii Satrii Valentes
This was the residence of a well-to-do family, as can be inferred from the richness of the materials used and from the decorations. Apart from the fresco depiction of "doves, fountains and flowers", there is a remarkable large fresco of "Venus in a sea-shell" on the garden wall. The scene is delightful in appearance: the Goddess is ploughing through the waves in a shell escorted by Cupids. The fresco is peopled with birds and flowers. On one side is a depiction of the god "Mars with weapons". Other rooms contain paintings including the particularly fine ones on a black background.
VILLA OF JULIA FELIX
This is a magnificent construction and occupies the whole of insula no.4: it consists of a villa, a thermal complex given over to public use and a collection of workshops merged into one.
The house proper, furnished with two entrances, is spacious and luxurious. At one time it was adorned with paintings, though these have now been removed and are housed in the Louvre Museum. The garden enlivened by fountains, bridges and columns is highly atmospheric. In the triclinium the beds are made of marble and the bath complex is furnished with every comfort - frigidarium, tepidarium, calidarium and also a sauna facility - it is laid out according to the typical public bath design and also includes an outdoor pool. Initially it belonged strictly to the villa, but was later given over to public use upon payment of a fee, as demonstrated by an inscription to this effect found here. The complex of workshops and rooms situated along the lane to the west was also created by the landlady with the intention of leasing them out. A vast area lies at the back of the villa, set aside for the cultivation of fruit and vegetables.
HOUSE OF THE BLACK WALL
An elegant and refined dwelling characterised by a magnificent decoration on a black background - hence its name - with small painted putti representing Cupids. The peristyle is very elegant and distinguished by columns decorated with plaster.
HOUSE OF THE FIGURED CAPITALS
This belonged to a noble family. Its construction dates back to the Samnite epoch, as can be appreciated by the sober and severe architectural design. Of particular interest are the sculptures of the capitals which are now housed in the Pompeii Museum. These depicted "Bacchic scenes". Also worthy of mention is the Lararium and the sundial in the garden.
HOUSE OF ARIADNE or House of the Coloured Capitals
This is one of the oldest houses in Pompeii. Here it is possible to admire some fine painted capitals - for this reason the dwelling also bears the name of House of the Coloured Capitals - as well as various other paintings executed in the Roman age and belonging to the IV style.
HOUSE OF THE ANCIENT HUNT or House of the Wild Boar
Constructed in the Samnite epoch, as witnessed by the architecture as a whole and the choice of materials - worthy of particular notice is the tuff facade - it is a noble house and severe in its design. It houses precious pictorial works reproducing for the most part "Mythological scenes and characters" and several "Hunting scenes" which are particularly delightful. The paintings in the tablinium with a mythological subject have been transferred to the Museum in Naples.
HOUSE OF THE HANGING BALCONY
It stands in the lane which takes its name from the house. It is a truly delightful dwelling and especially interesting for the balcony which adorns the facade. The terrace is a recurrent feature in the architecture of Pompeii and it is widely found in the area of the New Excavations especially.
HOUSE OF MARCUS LUCRETIUS
Reg IX-3, 5-24
It belonged to a notable of Pompeii who held, among others, the office of priest of Mars. It is an elegant construction whose rooms were finely decorated with pictures now housed in the Museum in Naples. Those remaining show decorations with imaginary architectural buildings, as well as Mythological scenes, depictions of "Cupids" and a large painting representing "Bacchus". There is a charming garden area, raised compared with the rest of the house, and embellished with statues, niches and fountains.
HOUSE OF THE SILVER WEDDING
Reg V-2, i
The house takes its name from the fact that the remains were brought to light on the oc
casion of the silver wedding of the royal family (1893). It is one of the finest examples of a gentleman's residence: the architectural design is extremely sober and classical, the decoration magnificent. Executed in the Samnite epoch, it was renovated in the early 1st century A.D. Worthy of particular attention is the atrium consisting of a colonnade of the Corinthian order, grandiose in proportions and soaring dynamically upwards. Worthy of note are the rooms which flank the peristyle: these offer examples of decoration in the II style. The exedra is elegantly ornamented with festoons; another room shows the original barrel ceilings.
HOUSE OF THE CENTENARY
This is one of the largest of the houses among those excavated in Pompeii, being made up of several houses merged into one, which gives it an extremely complex structure. Brought to light on the occasion of the centenary of the eruption of Vesuvius - hence its name - it shows several styles, both in its architecture and in its decoration, indicative of the various building phases. As well as remembering the "The young Satyr with wineskins", a statuette housed in the Archaeological Museum in Naples, worthy of mention are the decoration of the colonnade on a yellow background with the depictions of several divinities and floral motifs which embellish the two rooms next to the tablinium and the peristyle with a series of decorative motifs consisting of fish and birds. The peristyle was also furnished with a pool and fountains.
HOUSE OF LUCRETIUS FRONTO
Reg V-4, a
It is one of the most elegant and well-balanced dwellings in Pompeii. It is of modest dimensions, but the rooms are harmonious and the decoration of the various rooms extremely refined. Let us mention among the numerous works present, a series of pictures showing delightful "landscape views", the depiction of "Venus", "Mars" and "Bacchus", "Narcissus gazing at his reflection in the spring", "Theseus and Ariadne" and "Venus bathing". The large fresco in the garden portrays "African-type flora and fauna".
HOUSE OF THE GLADIATORS
Reg V-5, 3, a
This is an actual gladiators' barracks. When the gymnasium in Pompeii was specially built for them to train in, this building was used to provide accommodation for their families. Of interest are the numerous inscriptions found on the columns, all concerning the gladiatorial games and some providing a record of their successes.
HOUSE OF THE FAUN
It is a dwelling of remarkable proportions, harmonious and well-balanced in its design and elegantly decorated in its various rooms. It represents the classical type of Roman house. It undoubtedly belonged to one of the most prominent local figures, that is the nephew of Sulla who dealt with the political organization of the city. Its original structure dates back to the Samnite period, that is to the 5th century B.C.; its present-day condition should be dated to the transformations of the 2nd century B.C. The Tuscan atrium belongs to the first period and has a stone floor. The second atrium is, on the other hand, of the Hellenistic type and has four Corinthian columns. Its reputation and its name are linked essentially to the small bronze of the "Dancing Faun" found here, a small masterpiece of ancient statuary. Not to be forgotten, however, is the mosaic housed in the Archaeological Museum in Naples showing the "Battle of Alexander", exceptional in terms of its size - it does in fact measure 3.5 m x 6 m - but also in its expressive power: it shows a throng of soldiers, lances and horses captured at the moment when Alexander, by now the victor and proud of his troops, is just about to inflict the decisive blow on the routed enemy. This mosaic paved the tablinium.
Among the rooms particularly worthy of mention are the two peristyles: the first has an Ionic colonnade partly decorated with stuccos and with a magnificent exedra, which is also decorated with mosaics, the subject being "flora and fauna from the Nile region".
The second, the larger of the two, has a Doric colonnade disposed around the garden.
HOUSE OF THE GOLDEN CUPIDS
Reg VI-16, 7
This particularly sumptuous and elegant dwelling belonged to the Poppei family. its state of preservation allows for particular appreciation of the pictorial complex as well as of the wellbalanced and harmonious architectural layout. It takes its name from the decoration depicting "Cupids" situated in one of the cubicula: the graceful figures are painted on gold leaf. A fairly recurrent feature in this house is the presence of theatrical masks. The peristyle - perhaps the most beautiful part of the house - is partly raised and almost takes the form of a stage: this reveals a certain tendency by the owner to search for new and effective solutions which, however, are not lacking in sobriety and elegance. This space was perhaps intended for theatrical representations, as can be inferred from the presence of a flight of steps and three entrances. Worthy of note is the decoration of several rooms, for the most part belonging to the III style, and having as their sub ject "Mythological episodes and characters". Among the curiosities present worthy of mention are the temple dedicated to the cult of the Egyptian goddess Isis - very rarely found in Roman society -, one dedicated to the cult of the Lares and finally the remains of an obsidian mirror.
HOUSE OF THE VETTII
This provides a very precious record of Pompeian painting and is one of the most beautiful and interesting houses in the town. The excellent state of preservation allows us, from a distance of centuries, to appreciate the magnificence attained by the dwellings belonging to the most well-to-do class in Pompeii and to observe how the rich local middle-class tended to display their prestige and their high standard of living by their extravagant construction of sumptuous buildings, equal, if not superior, in terms of decorative richness, to those of the aristocracy. The house of the Vettii, belonged to Aulus Vettius Restitutus and to Aulus Vettius Conviva, and expresses as few others do, the economic position which they had attained at the end of the 1st century A.D. Actually, the execution of a large part of the pictorial decoration, a dazzling testimony of painting in the IV style, should be attributed to the period after the earthquake of 62 A.D.
We shall now examine in greater detail the various rooms and their painting cycles. The dwelling has remained virtually intact, or has been minutely renovated, and this contributes to the unforgettable atmosphere and impression of stepping back into the past. In the entrance is "Priapus", a very common pornographic figure in Pompeian houses, in that it symbolized fertility, but most importantly served to ward off evil influences from the house. The decoration of the Atrium - here there are two safes where the owners kept their valuables - takes for its subject "Cupids" and "Psyche". The roof has been completely rebuilt so as to recreate the most accurate picture possible of that time, as well as a highly evocative atmosphere. The rooms which open off the atrium contain paintings showing mythological scenes, some of which are very interesting in terms of their expressive immediacy. There is a magnificent peristyle, which skilful renovation has restored to its original form, even as far as the vegetation which characterized it is concerned. It is a precious complex in terms of charm and the admirable fusion of architectural, sculptural and pictorial, as well as naturalistic, features. The triclinium is the room which has become quite rightly famous for its paintings. The latter, which almost entirely cover the walls (one part has been lost) are on a red background and the depictions are incorporated into mock panels. The large scenes reproduce mythological characters. "Perseus and Andromeda", "Ariadne and Dionysus", "Daphne and Apollo" and "Neptune and Amymone". Of particular interest is the long frieze which runs round the perimeter of the walls: it contains depictions in miniature depicting "Cupids intent on various activities", and is of the most refined workmanship. Let us look at them in detail: "Cupids at target practice, Cupids with garlands of flowers, Cupids selling perfumes, Cupids with chariots, goldsmith Cupids, Cupids manufacturing cloth, Cupids celebrating sacred rites, Cupids gathering grapes, Cupids celebrating Bacchus and Cupids selling wine". The large fascia lower down bears depictions of "Psyche" intent on weaving garlands of flowers and "Mythological scenes". Other rooms show precious pictorial decoration, for the most part belonging to the IV style. A room in the east section contains pictures representing "Daedalus and Pasiphae" and " lxion being tortured", together with large fascias decorated with marine flora and fauna another room in the same section there are paintings on mock architecture enclosing depictions of "Hercules pilling the serpent", the "Torture of Dirce" and the "Torment of Pentheus". Of novel interest are the servants' quarters and the kitchen in particular which allow for a reconstruction of domestic life.
HOUSE OF THE LABYRINTH
This house, which takes its name from the subject of the mosaic "Theseus in the labyrinth" - dates back to the Samnite period, as can be inferred from the style and from the Tuscan atrium in particular. Another atrium, the one which opens out after the entrance to no.10, is tetrastyle. The pictorial decoration is very fine. That on the walls in the reception area is particularly outstanding and provides, perhaps, one of the most important examples of painting in the 11 style, characterized by admirably executed mock architecture. In the course of the renovations undergone over the years, the house was equipped with a system of private baths and its own shop for the grinding of grain and for the baking of bread.
HOUSE OF APOLLO
The structure and the materials used bear witness to the fact that this dwelling belongs to the most ancient type and that, at a later stage, it was embellished with decorations in the IV style. The name derives from the depictions of "Apollo and Marsyas" which decorate the walls of a cubiculum where mock buildings reminiscent of the structure of a theatre can also be found. Of interest are the mosaics situated outside the above-mentioned room and those which once embellished the fountain.
HOUSE OF MELEAGER
This was built in the Samnite epoch, but transformed, especially as far as the decorative part is concerned, in the following era. Worthy of attention is the room used for receptions, characterized by an elegant colonnade with Corinthian capitals. There is also a delightful peristyle with a colonnade which follows the perimeter of the central pool.
HOUSE OF ADONIS
Reg VI-7, 18
lt takes its name from the marvellous painting entitled "Adonis wounded" which is one of the most beautiful and interesting examples of ancient painting. It occupies one of the garden walls and is incorporated in the midst of paintings of a landscape nature. Other paintings depicting "The Toilet of Hermaphroditus" decorate one of the rooms looking out onto the same garden.
HOUSE OF CASTOR AND POLLUX (casa dei Dioscuri)
Reg VI-9, 6
The dwelling consists of a number of smaller houses, renovated at one time or another, merged into one. Of noteworthy interest is the atrium where a magnificent colonnade with Corinthian columns stands out, as does the pictorial decoration of several rooms, including the series of pictures with mythological scenes depicting "Apollo and Daphne", "Adonis", "Silenus" and "Scylla". The House of Castor and Pollux or of the Dioscuri, owes its name to the depiction of the "Dioscuri" which decorated the entrance and which is now housed in the National Museum in Naples, together with other paintings which embellished the other rooms.
HOUSE OF THE SMALL FOUNTAIN AND HOUSE OF THE LARGE FOUNTAIN
Reg VI -8,23-24
Reg VI-8, 22-1
Both have a fountain, absolute masterpieces of the mosaic art.
The one in the House of the Large Fountain consists of a niche which is completely covered with polychrome tesserae it is embellished with a bronze statue and theatrical masks. These nymphaea, made of glass paste stones, are rare examples of non-floor mosaics. Of additional interest is the pictorial decoration in the first of the two houses, which contains some delightful small pictures inspired by the landscape.
HOUSE OF THE TRAGIC POET
Its name derives from the mosaic scene depicting a "Master of the theatre". It dates back to the imperial age and is luxurious and refined, especially in terms of the fine decoration of some of the rooms. The architectural design is composite and harmonious: it is of modest but well-balanced proportions. The presence of workshops adjacent to the dwelling leads us to suppose that the owner was involved in commerce. At the entrance is the characteristic "cave canem" (beware of the dog), one of the best-known images from Pompeii. The depiction of the "tragic poet" was found in the tablinium and has given its name to the dwelling and several paintings. The series of paintings in the triclinium take as their subject scenes from mythology: Theseus and Ariadne and Venus and cupids. Other paintings with a mythological subject decorate the walls of the cubicuIa. There is a very fine fresco showing the "Sacrifice of tphige nia" housed in the Archaeological Museum in Naples. Some experts have identified it as a House o f the Tragic Poet: in the entrance is the well-known depiction of the "cave canem" in mosaic. copy of the work by the famous Greek painter Timante of the 5th century B.C.
HOUSE OF PANSA
Reg VI-6, 1-8-13
A building of vast proportions, to the extent that it alone occupies the whole of insula no. 6. The original structure dates back to the Samnite period. Subsequently the dwelling was subdivided into a series of small rooms intended to be let, as is proved by an inscription to this effect and by the presence of an independent entrance to each of these small apartments. This conversion of the building is proof of the changing needs of Pompeian society which, in the Ist century A.D., passed from being a primarily agricultural economy - the inhabitants of the houses were land-owners, as is indicated by the presence of the plot of land behind the house - to one based on enterprise and commerce. There is a beautiful Tuscan atrium (it is part of the original construction) and a peristyle which is laid out around a pool. Behind it open out the rooms set aside for service purposes, including kitchens, latrines and a building for housing vehicles as well as the area intended for use as a vegetable garden. The original decoration has been completely lost.
HOUSE OF SALLUST
Reg VI-2, 3-5-30
An interesting construction of the Samnite epoch, as demonstrated by the Tuscan atrium with its jutting out roof sloping towards the impluvium to facilitate the collection of rainwater. The decoration is primarily in the form of plaster coverings and belongs to the I style. Some rooms show evidence of renovations and paintings of a period subsequent to the date of construction. One such example of this is the fresco depicting the myth of Actaeon assailed by dogs which adorned the garden.
HOUSE OF THE SURGEON
Reg VI-1, 10-23
Its name derives from the series of surgical instruments found here which are now housed in the Archaeological Museum in Naples, and the nature of which leads us to suppose that a doctor lived here. The structure corresponds to the type of the oldest houses in Pompeii, both as regards the architectural design, the distribution of the rooms, and the materials used in its construction (4th-3rd century B.C.). The simple and severe facade is covered with stone slabs.
VILLA OF THE MOSAIC COLUMNS
This takes its name from the magnificent and original columns covered with mosaics found here during the excavation works. These can be admired in the Archaeological Museum in Naples. There is a beautiful mosaic fountain adorning the garden.
VILLA OF DIOMEDES
Here we have before us one of the masterpieces of Pompeian architecture, especially in terms of the unusual design of the building. Indeed, though it maintains certain important features of the Roman-type house, it is laid out with an eye for space and light and above all is spread over various floors, following the natural inclination of the terrain, resulting in the building being constructed in an airier and more original way. This residence, situated along the Via dei Sepolcri, is of vast proportions. The principal nucleus is that of the equally enormous garden, surrounded by a long colonnade which creates a porticoed space, furnished with a pool. The rooms lie on one side of the garden itself and are arranged in their turn around a peristyle which communicates directly with the outside. Worthy of particular attention is the large apsed room, characterized by its airiness and the wideranging view which it enjoys. There is a beautiful open gallery which also shares views of the gulf, as does the terrace, which at one time lay along the whole length of the colonnade. At the corner of the entrance to the villa are the baths furnished with a small pool. A series of little steps links the staggered floors to one another, creating further interest. One of these staircases leads to the cryptoporticus, that is to say the underground rooms of the dwelling. Eighteen bodies were found in this house, a further proof of the disaster which struck Pompeii in 79 A.D. The villa was brought to light in the second half of the 1700s and thought - though in an arbitrary way - to be the house of Arrius Diomedes because it was situated opposite his tomb.
VILLA OF THE MYSTERIES
This villa stands right on the outskirts of Pompeii, beyond the archaeological area proper. Grandiose in its proportions and famous for its magnificent fresco cycle, it has, since the discovery of the first rooms, created great excitement among the experts owing not only to its complexity and the special nature of its architectural design, but above all for the precious pictorial cycle and for the interpretation of the latter, connected with the religious cults which existed alongside the official religion. The villa was built around the 2nd century B.C., but was renovated and embellished in the imperial age, an epoch in which it assumed the splendid appearance which is still recognisable today, even if somewhat impoverished by the loss of certain furnishings and many precious ornaments as a consequence of the earthquake of 62 A.D. when it was abandoned by its owner.