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Caupona of Sotericus

Description of the Property (Reg I, Ins 12, 3)

The Caupona of Sotericus lies on the south side of the Via dell' Abbondanza immediately east of the bakery owned by the same proprietor. The caupona was excavated in 1914. On the facade was a sign, now no longer visible, painted with the helmeted head of Minerva. Also lost to the elements are some obscene graffiti left by the caupona's regular clients referring to the amatory services provided by the waitresses and hostess.
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On the wall to the west of the entrance are the remains of an electoral graffito (pictured opposite) proclaiming the merits of Aulus Trebius Valens: 'I, Sotericus, ask that you make Aulus Trebius aedile.' (CIL IV 7432).
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The east wall of the atrium is painted with red panels on a white ground with occasional additional detail while the west wall appears to be mostly white. Against the west wall is a masonry counter (d) (pictured below) with five insetted jars for hot food. The front and sides of the counter are plastered and painted yellow/white. On the opposite (west) wall a flight of stairs (e) led to the upper floor.
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In the south east corner of the atrium is a doorway (pictured below) which opens onto a small cubiculum (f). On the wall to the right of the doorway is a painted guard dog with a jewelled collar shown sitting next to a tree (pictured right).

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The upper decorative zone consists of flying birds, hanging heads and garlands in a simplistic architectural setting on a white ground. The cubiculum is lit by a small square window in its west wall. In the south wall is a circular hole probably made by looters shortly after the eruption.
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In the south west corner of the atrium is the 'tablinum' (h) which is open to the atrium over its full width. The east wall of the  tablinum (pictured right) is decorated in the third style; the red side panels appear to have featured perspective views while the central panel was set in an elaborate architectural frame. The upper zone consists of imaginary architecture on a yellow ground. In the south wall of the tablinum is a large window which overlooks the small back yard (i).

The yard, reached by way of corridor (g), is porticoed on two side with a single brick column supporting the inner margins of the roof. The walls of the portico are decorated with a red central zone topped by a white upper zone imitating ashlar blocks delineated in gray (pictured below and right). Although scarcely a garden (the yard has a solid floor of cocciopesto) there was a garden painting, now lost, on the south wall.
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Opening off the east side of the yard is the kitchen (i) (pictured opposite). In the north east corner of the kitchen is a shallow masonry water basin (j). Above the basin, on the east wall, is   a painted lararium (in the picture, right and enlarged below).
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The 'L' shaped masonry counter on the right side of the entrance to the caupona has a decorated front (pictured left) with stylized green and red flowers in a wallpaper pattern set on a white ground. The counter top is fairly narrow and does not have the customary jars for hot food inset into the worktop. These jars were located in the atrium to the rear.

The bar area at the entrance opens onto a rectangular atrium (b) (pictured left) which has
at its centre a substantial table (c) (pictured below) consisting of a circular marble top on a stuccoed and painted masonry base.
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The vaulted cubiculum (f) is decorated in the third style with large white panels separated by broad borders on a white ground (pictured lower left). In the centre of each wall was a mythological scene set in an architectural frame. The scene on the west wall, now badly faded, was of Ariadne and Theseus (pictured below).
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The colours of the lararium, while quite naively painted, are still vivid and fresh.
In the top half of the fresco are pictured two dancing lares (household gods) positioned, in this instance, on either side of a central altar rather than the more traditional genius. Beneath them a serpent, associated with the land's fertility and thus prosperity, approaches a laden altar.

There is no sign of an oven or a hearth in the kitchen. The room is lit by a small rectangular window in its west wall.
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Opening off the south east corner of the yard is an extremely narrow room (l). The function of the room is unknown, although it may at one time have been a latrine. The walls are coated with a layer of coarse white plaster.




* 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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