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Samnite Palaestra

Description of the Palaestra (Reg VIII, Ins 7, 29)

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A number of the Doric columns are still standing. Because of their slender nature it seems unlikely that there would have been a stone entablature; more likely the roof rested directly on a wooden architrave.

An Oscan inscription was found on the site which stated that the building was erected by the duumvir Vibius Vinicius with money which Vibius Adiranus had left for the good of Pompeii's youth.

Opposite the entrance near the colonnade on the south side is a pedestal of tufa, before which stands a small table (pictured right and lower right). The pedestal is reached by a narrow flight of steps. According to August Mau the pedestal held the statue of the patron divinity of the palaestra while the table held wreaths for the victors of athletic contests; the successful contestant would take a wreath and dedicated it to the deity by mounting the steps and placing it on the head of the statue. No trace of the missing statue has been found.
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A second statue stood at the foot of one of the columns on the south side. A copy of the doryphorus of Polyclitus (pictured above), it is now in the Naples Archaeological Museum.

At the west end of the court are dressing rooms (C) and a side entrance from the Triangular Forum (E) (both in the picture on the right).
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The Samnite Palaestra lies on the south side of the Via del Tempio d'Iside (pictured below) between the entrance to the Triangular Forum and the Temple of Isis. The entrance (A) opens onto a court which was originally entirely surrounded by a colonnade (B) with ten columns on the sides and five at each end.
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At a comparatively late date, probably soon after the earthquake of AD62, the columns at the east end of the court were removed and the space thus gained added to the neighbouring Temple of Isis.
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Images ©Jackie and Bob Dunn are reproduced by permission from their website at www.pompeiiinpictures.com
(Su concessione del Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali: Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei)




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