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House of Paquius Proculus

Description of the House (Reg I, Ins 7, 1)

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The house has a reasonably standard atrium, tablinum, garden plan. The fauces (a) opens off the south side of the Via dell'Abbondanza. The wall decoration of the fauces is fairly plain but its most striking feature is the fine mosaic paving which depicts a guard dog chained to a door (pictured lower right).
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The fauces opens onto the atrium (b), the floor of which is literally covered with mosaic panels of animals framed with decorative borders (pictured below).
Around the central impluvium the mosaic depicts an arched colonnade with symbolic figures and designs set between the columns.
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The atrium
is slightly unusual in that it only has rooms on two sides, north and south. The walls are decorated in the fourth style with alternating panels of red and yellow above a black frieze. The panels contain small decorative elements including animals and still lifes. Much of the decoration of the upper zone is missing, but it would appear to have been quite simple based on a white ground. The plainness of the east wall is broken up by three door sized niches (pictured upper right).
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On either side of the fauces are cubicula (c and d)
which are both in a rather poor state of repair. Of the two, cubiculum (d) has survived in slightly better condition with several large areas of remaining plasterwork (pictured opposite). The room has a small walk-in space off its south east corner.
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The peristyle has rooms off on three sides. On the north side (pictured right) three rooms follow the general decorative theme of the house by having fourth style decoration on a red ground. The oecus (i) (pictured below) is decorated with red panels framed with delicate borders above a lower light brown frieze. The upper zone features square and rectangular panels containing stylised flowers.
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The 
triclinium (j) (pictured opposite) opens off the north east corner of the peristyle. The decoration consists mainly of red panels above a lower dark red frieze. The panels are topped with a broad dark red decorative band.
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In the centre of the east side of the peristyle stairs (pictured opposite) led to a lower service area which included storerooms and a kitchen.
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The House of Paquius Proculus lies on the south side of the Via dell'Abbondanza. It was excavated in 1911 and again between 1923 and 1926. It is a relatively small building, but it does possess a large peristyle and some fine decorative details.
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The house derives its name from one of several election inscriptions posted on either side of the entrance. The house is also known as the House of Cuspius Pansa from graffiti found on the west side of the fauces.
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At the rear of the atrium is the tablinum (e) which is open to the atrium over almost its full width. The tablinum (pictured left and below) is decorated in the fourth style with large red panels on a white ground above a lower black frieze.
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The tablinum has a fine white mosaic floor with a narrow double black border. In the centre of the floor is a striking panel with a central marble disk surrounded by small scenes of wildlife (pictured opposite).
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The tablinum has a wide doorway in its south wall which opens onto a large peristyle (g) by way of the ambulatory (f). The garden in the centre of the peristyle contained the summer triclinium (h) which was shaded by a pergola supported by four columns. Immediately north of the triclinium is a marble lined basin. The surrounding walls of the peristyle are decorated in the fourth style with red panels above a lower black frieze. The columns of the colonnade are of stuccoed brickwork painted in the traditional red and white.
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The room retains some of its mosaic paving including a colourful central panel showing a comic scene of pygmies fishing on the Nile (pictured opposite). In the scene, one of the pygmies is shown falling from the boat while below crocodiles and a hippopotamus with gaping jaws wait for him in the water.
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In one of the rooms on the east side of the peristyle the remains of seven children were found, killed by the pyroclastic surges that overran the city.
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The rooms along the south side of the peristyle (pictured below) suffered most from the effects of the eruption. Little remains of the three rooms, but during excavation of one of the rooms a mosaic panel was unearthed. The panel (pictured left) depicts a comic scene where an ass is seen collapsing under the weight of Silenus,
the teacher and faithful companion of the wine-god Dionysus.
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As a footnote, the portrait often ascribed to Paquius Proculus and his wife, pictured left, was actually found in the House of T. Terentius Neo (Reg VII, Ins 2, 6). This portrait, which is presumably of Terentius Neo and his wife, can now be viewed at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples.


* 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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