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House of Trebius Valens

Description of the House (Reg III, Ins 2, 1)

The House of Aulus Trebius Valens lies on the north side of Via dell'Abbondanza and was first excavated during 1913. Initially only the front of the property was excavated and it wasn't until 1915 that excavators began to clear the interior.

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The facade of the building originally held a collection of electoral propaganda as well as adverts for events at the amphitheatre. Unfortunately the facade and much of the front of the building was destroyed by a bomb in September 1943. Only a few of the graffiti survived and these have since been restored and protected from the elements.
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In the south west corner of the atrium stairs led to the upper floor. Next to the stairs, the cubiculum (c) (pictured right) is decorated in the second style, with the name of the owner scratched on one of the walls. The decoration consists of panels of red and yellow set behind a series of illusionary painted columns. The room is lit by a small window high up on the west wall.

Immediately to the north of this cubiculum is an ala, (pictured lower right) which is decorated in the third style with white panels containing small studies of birds framed with a narrow border of red, all above a lower red frieze.

In the cubiculum (c') on the east side of the atrium, the discovery of a chest with precious objects and ointment jars suggests that it was the mistress's bedroom. The cubiculum is decorated in the second style on a white ground and featured a small circular window above the entrance doorway.

At the rear of the atrium, in the centre of the north wall, is the tablinum (f) (pictured below) which overlooks, but does not give access to, the peristyle and garden to the north.
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The House of Trebius Valens has the distinction of possessing the smallest installation so far found, where two tiny rooms (j) and (k), both 1.7m wide and respectively 1.78m and 2m long served as a balneum. In order to maintain a high temperature these rooms were almost windowless, the only light being provided by a lamp or a small oculus, while the only access to the caldarium (k) was through the tepidarium (j), each having a very narrow door (50cm).
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One such inscription (pictured above) advertised a forthcoming event at the amphitheatre (CIL IV 7991):
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20 pairs of gladiators of Gnaeus Allius Nigidius Maius, quinquennial, and their substitutes will fight without any public expense at Pompeii.
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The interior of the house was excavated fully after restoration work in 1952. Further restoration work was carried out early this century.

The house has a standard atrium/garden plan. A short fauces (a) leads to a square atrium (b) (pictured left). On entering the atrium it is the checkered polychrome decoration of the back wall of the garden, glimpsed through the tablinum, that catches the eye. The rest of the house is more conventionally decorated, mostly in the third style.


Off the south east corner of the atrium there is an oecus (d) which is accessed via a small room (e). The oecus (pictured opposite) is decorated in the third style with birds and other animals painted on a black ground above a lower black frieze.
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The tablinum is decorated in the third style with alternating black and red panels all above a lower black frieze (pictured left). The central black panels feature a small mythological scene while the flanking red panels contain flying figures. The upper zone contains small rectangular pictures and medallions on a white ground.

To the right of the tablinum a passageway leads through to the peristyle to the north. Off this passageway is a small kitchen, latrine and praefurnium (i) used for heating the houses small private baths.

The peristyle is colonnaded on three sides. Off the west end of the south side of the peristyle a posticum (m) opened onto the as yet un-excavated side street (pictured lower left).

In the south east corner of the peristyle is a 'bath suite', remarkable for its diminutive size. In their simplest form private baths consisted of two rooms; one used both as a changing room and tepidarium (pictured below), and a second as the caldarium with the actual bath itself.
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Off the opposite south west corner of the peristyle is the house's winter triclinium (g) (pictured left). The room is decorated in the third style with central yellow panels flanked by red panels featuring small studies of flying birds. The panels are set on a black ground above a lower black frieze. Little of the upper zone decoration has survived, but it appears to consist of geometric and architectural motifs on a white ground.

In the centre of the garden (pictured lower left) was a small semi-circular pool and fountain. Set against the checkerboard rear wall, is the summer triclinium which is sheltered by a pergola. The decoration consists of red, blue and yellow squares separated by white rectangular blocks above a lower black frieze.
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In the centre of the masonry couches of the formal triclinium is a small circular table with a marble top. On the west side of the triclinium the wall has two niches, one arched and one rectangular in shape. The wall is also pierced by a small hatch through which meals might have been served from the nearby kitchen area (l).  Four bodies were found in the peristyle during excavations.
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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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