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House of the Ephebus

Description of the House (Reg I, Ins 7, 10-12)

The House of the Ephebus, also known as the House of P. Cornelius Tages, takes its name from the statue of the ephebus (a bronze copy of a Greek work of the 5th century BC) found there.
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It is a very large
property occupying a large part of the east side of Insula 7 (pictured below looking north). The house is sumptuous both in terms of its design (consisting as it does of three houses merged into one), and in its decoration, which is mainly in the fourth style.
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On the wall outside the cubiculum (c) on the south side of the fauces is a painted lararium with a niche above (pictured right).  Along the north wall is a flight of stairs that led to the upper floor.

On either side of the fauces are cubicula (c) which are decorated in the fourth style. On the west side of the atrium is a large exedra which was possibly originally the tablinum. The room (d) is decorated in the fourth style with white panels with ornamental borders on a white ground above a lower white decorative frieze.
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The room (pictured right) is decorated in the fourth style with white panels on a white ground separated by architectural elements above a lower white, decorated frieze. The white panels have ornamental borders and contain small studies of fish, birds and other wildlife (pictured below).
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Next to the cubiculum, off the south side of the atrium, is room (m). This room is fully open to the atrium to the north and room (n) to the south and provided the main access from the north side of the house to the garden area. The room is decorated in the fourth style with green, yellow and red bands on a white ground. In this room was found the statue of the ephebus (pictured right) after which the house was named. The statue is believed to have held two candleabrum branches. The right arm of the ephebus was found in atrium 'g', some distance from the rest of the statue.

In the centre of the west wall of atrium 'g' is the tablinum (i)

which is undecorated, the walls simply being covered with a layer of coarse plaster.
In it was found the remains of a chest containing four gilded bronze statuettes (the placentarii) carrying silver trays. These can now be seen in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.
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On the north side of the tablinum is a cubiculum (h) (shown above) which has a window in its east wall overlooking the atrium. The vaulted room is decorated in the fourth style with white panels on a white ground above a lower white frieze decorated with leaves.
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The exedra (n), accessed of the south of room 'm', is fully open on its west side and opens onto the ambulatory (q) to the south. The room (pictured right) is decorated in the fourth style with a white central zone decorated with ornamental borders above a lower white frieze with plants and birds. In the centre of the floor is a square of polychrome marbles on a white ground representing stylized flowers and birds.
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The large triclinium (p) (pictured above and right) opens off the ambulatory which runs along the north side of the garden. The triclinium is also accessible from the west sides of rooms 'm' and 'n'. The room is decorated in the fourth style with a white central zone with above a lower white compartmentalized frieze. The central zone is decorated with a large fresco of Helen and Meneleus on the east wall with floating figures set in fantastic architecture occupying the side walls.

A number of decorative bed fittings were found in the room, probably from wooden couches. Much of the floor is paved in coloured marbles in opus sectile. At the entrance to the triclinium on the west wall of the house is a painted lararium (o) (pictured right).

A third fauces (r) opens off the
Vicolo dell'Efebo. It has no decoration save a coarse layer of plaster on its north and south walls. Below the coarse plasterwork on the south wall is a high pink frieze. Opening off the south side of the fauces is the kitchen and latrine (s). Immediately to the west of the kitchen is a small cubiculum (t). This room is decorated in the fourth style with white panels on a white ground above a lower compartmentalized white frieze. The white central zone is decorated with architectural elements, garlands and ornamental borders.
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Centred on the fountain is a summer triclinium (x), sheltered by a pergola supported by four columns (pictured below). In the centre of the three dining couches is a rectangular marble table. The sides of the couches are decorated with Nilotic scenes in the fourth style, a sample scene from which is pictured bottom right.
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The fauces (a) opened off the west side of the Vicolo dell'Efebo. This entrance has been blocked off since it was originally excavated. Inside the bricked up entrance is a cast of the original doors which were firmly barred and bolted at the time of the eruption; the fauces is in the centre of the photograph opposite with the cast of the doors visible at its east end. The fauces is decorated in the fourth style with candelabra and small scenes on a white ground.

The fauces opened onto a testudinate atrium (b) (pictured left). The north and south walls were decorated in the fourth style with white panels with ornamental borders containing small still lifes and floating figures above a lower white decorated frieze.
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The panels contain medallions and small still lifes (pictured left). A narrow doorway in the south west corner of the room leads to a small courtyard (e) which in turn gives onto a service area to the north.

On the south side of the atrium an opening leads through to a second atrium (g) which has the remains of a central impluvium. This second atrium (pictured lower left looking south) appears to have been undecorated at the time of the eruption, the walls being simply covered in a layer of coarse plaster.

Access from the street was gained through the fauces (f) which retains remnants of its fourth style decoration. The decoration consisted of white panels on a white ground above a lower black frieze. On the north side of the fauces is a flight of stairs to the upper floor while on the south side is a small cubiculum (j). This room is decorated in the fourth style with white panels with ornamental borders above a lower frieze in faux marble. The white panels contain small, unframed studies.

Immediately to the south of this room is a winter triclinium (k). This narrow room is decorated in the second style with black rectangles bordered in red above a lower black frieze topped with a yellow cornice (pictured left).

Connected to this room and with its own access off atrium 'g' is cubiculum (l). The room acted as an annex to the triclinium;
a similar arrangement can be found in the House of the Orchard.
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The central white panel on each wall contains a mythological scene; on the north wall the scene is of Echo and Narcissus (pictured left), on the west wall Venus and Aphrodite Pescatrice and on the south wall Apollo and Daphne (pictured above). The side panels contain floating figures.
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A covered ambulatory (pictured left) leads from the fauces along the north side of the garden to rooms 'n' and 'p'. The east, north and west walls of the ambulatory are decorated in the fourth style consisting of white panels with ornamental borders above a lower white frieze decorated with plant life.

At the western end of the ambulatory is an arched lararium niche
(u) embellished with white stucco on a blue background. Abutting the lararium is a water filter tank (castellum aquae), disguised to some extent by a large painting of the loves of Mars and Venus (pictured left).

On the south side of the ambulatory is the garden area (v). The south wall of the garden is decorated in the fourth style with a hunting scene above a lower red frieze. Against this south wall is a temple style fountain (w) (pictured below). A bronze female statuette, found nearly, is believed to have once stood in the fountain niche.
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In the north east corner of the garden against the north wall (y) a large signinum tub was found next to a stack of amphorae. At the rear of the garden steps (z) lead to another apartment (Reg. I, Ins 7, 19) which may have been part of the property.
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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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