the earthquake of AD62, Julia Felix, must have
decided to rent out part of the house along with opening her private
baths to the general public. A notice to this effect , found on the
front of the property reads:
To let, for the term of ﬁve years, from the thirteenth
day of next August to the thirteenth day of the sixth August thereafter,
the Venus bath, ﬁtted up for the best people, shops, rooms over shops,
and second-story apartments in the property owned by Julia Felix,
daughter of Spurius.
The doorway at No. 3 (pictured upper right) open directly onto a
large rectangular atrium (pictured right) with a shallow central
impluvium. The atrium (a) is unusual in that no rooms open directly off
it although it does give access to other parts of the house by means of
corridors and a porticoed ambulatory.
walls of the ambulatory are decorated with square red panels bordered
in black alternating with rectangular red panels with a central yellow
field all above a lower black frieze (pictured right).
the centre of the ambulatory is a summer triclinium
(f) (pictured above and right) which is fully open along its eastern
side. The couches of the
triclinium are veneered with marble as are the three surrounding walls
up to the level of the broad dado rail. The nymphaeum on the west wall
consists of a marble veneered cascade framed by niches.
southern end of the ambulatory a doorway (g) leads to a second atrium
(h). This part of the house is a virtually self contained apartment with
its own access off the Vicolo de Giulia Felice at Nos. 10 and 11.
atrium (pictured opposite) has a central, marble lined impluvium and
has rooms off all four sides. The decoration, based on the remaining
plaster remnants, was in the fourth style and consisted of a red central
zone above a lower black frieze.
Two rooms of particular note, both accessed off the east side of the atrium, are the biclinium (i) and the tablinum (j).
The furnace room or praefurnium (b) has its own access onto the Via
dell'Abbondanza at door No. 3. The large area (pictured right)
was unroofed and contained the furnaces required for heating the warm and hot rooms of the
adjoining private bath suite located on the other side of the south
Access to the baths
complex itself is by way of a grand doorway framed by engaged brick half
columns topped by a triangular brick pediment (pictured right and
entrance opens directly onto a square court (k) which
is colonnaded on all four sides. The walls of the colonnade are
decorated in the fourth style with red panels with decorative borders
above a lower black frieze. The upper zone is in white with occasional
geometric patterns outlined in red. The columns of the colonnade are of
brick, stuccoed and painted red and topped with white capitals. The
north east corner of the colonnade was furnished with benches for
(l) opens off the south side of the court. The apodyterium (shown
right) is decorated in the fourth style with red panels with decorative
borders above a black frieze.
The remainder of the bath suite, unfortunately, has
not survived as well as the apodyterium and is generally in a rather
poor state of repair. A doorway in the west side of the apodyterium leads
through to the tepidarium (m). This room has lost its floor but the walls
are substantially complete with a few remaining plaster remnants.
A small laconicum opens off the north west corner of the tepidarium
while access to the caldarium is gained by way of a door in the middle
of the west wall. The caldarium (n) (pictured right) is in much the same
state as the tepidarium with substantial walls bearing the remnants of
the baths complex is a large open air pool (p) accessed off the east
side of the entrance court. The pool (pictured right) measures about
8.5m by 4.5m and is about 1.5m deep. Immediately south of the pool is
the bath complex's latrines (o) (the vaulted building in the right of
the picture opposite).
The remaining buildings belonging to the property comprise a thermopolium (q) with an adjoining caupona. The thermopolium, which opens off the Via
dell'Abbondanza at No. 7 has an 'L' shaped marble topped counter
with insets for food. In the north west corner of the bar is a small
oven and next to it a window come hatch linking the thermopolium to the
entrance court of the baths allowing food to be served to the baths'
dining room (r) off the east side of the thermopolium has of a series
of masonry benches and tables along the south side of the room (pictured
right) with a large masonry triclinium occupying most of the north
side. Immediately west of the triclinium is the kitchen area which
served both the bar and the caupona.
The remainder of the insula is made up of a large vegetable and fruit garden with outbuildings, possibly for stabling.
|The House of Julia Felix is situated on the south side of the Via
dell'Abbondanza near its eastern limit, close to the Palaestra and Amphitheatre. First
excavated between 1754-57, the house was subsequently re-buried after
much damage had been done. It was re-excavated and restored in 1952-53.
The house and gardens occupy one of the largest plots in Pompeii,
taking up virtually an entire block.
The property had been created out
of two complete insulae which had been merged together along with the intervening street. The loss of such an important
street leading to the amphitheatre was compensated for by
the widening of the next street, the Vicolo dell'Anfiteatro, which
gained ground at the expense of
Julia's estate. About one third of the area was occupied by the house
and associated buildings while the remainder was given over to an
extensive vegetable garden.
atrium, which has lost much of its fresco decoration, was decorated in
reds and yellows with a long horizontal frieze depicting everyday life
in the forum (a portion of the frieze is shown left). (The
additional fresco lower left is a further market scene found in the
house but no long longer in-site; it can now be seen in the National
Archaeological Museum in Naples).
east side of the atrium a door leads to the service area (b) for the
bath complex. A long service corridor (c) opens off the south west
corner of the atrium while a wide opening in the centre of the south
wall opens onto the porticoed ambulatory (d) (pictured below) that runs
along the west side of a large central garden (e). The garden is framed
by elegant stuccoed columns and has a long water feature thought to
represent the Canopus canal in Egypt.
biclinium (pictured left and below) is decorated in the fourth style
with light blue panels framed in red separated by fantastic architecture
on a white ground, all above a red lower frieze. The blue panels
contain occasional pictures including the scene shown lower left. The
room has windows overlooking the formal garden to the north and the
vegetable garden to the east.
..The adjoining tablinum is decorated in the fourth style
with alternating red and yellow panels with decorative borders separated
by architectural themes on a white ground, all above a lower black
frieze. The panels contain small landscapes and floating figures. A
large part of the fresco decoration on the south wall has been removed
(pictured below) and can now be viewed in the National Archaeological
Museum in Naples.....
upper zone, visible in the picture above, consists of a series of
framed still lifes, details from two of which are pictured opposite. On
the east wall is a window which overlooks the vegetable garden to the
in the middle of the south wall is a cold plunge
pool lit by small windows on three sides. The entrance to the pool is
framed by an arch (pictured left) which is decorated with
stucco while the lower parts of the walls of the pool are painted light
The floor of the apodyterium is paved in black and white mosaic
incorporating large white circles. The mosaic floor is framed by a broad
band of white.