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Pompeii‎ > ‎Regio IX‎ > ‎Reg IX, Ins 3‎ > ‎

House of Marcus Lucretius

Description of the House (Reg IX, Ins 3, 5, 24)

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The fauces (a) opens off the east side of the  Via Stabiana. The fauces is decorated in the fourth style with light blue panels above a dark red frieze. The central panels on each of the side walls contain a large painting; on the south wall (pictured above) is the scene of a group of female musicians after which the house was originally named (a copy of the scene is pictured right) while on the north wall is a fresco of Ceres. A narrow doorway on this side of the fauces opens onto a small room which lies under the stairs (c) which lead off the atrium to the upper floor.
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The second cubiculum (f) is very similarly decorated. In this instance the mythological scenes feature Venus Pescatrice on the north wall, Polyphemus receiving Galatea's Letter on the west wall and Phrixus and Helle (pictured right) on the east wall (now in the Naples Museum). The side panels contain painted standing figures and large medallions featuring the heads of various characters from mythology.
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The central panels of the middle zone contained large mythological scenes; on the east wall was a fresco of Hercules and Omphalos, (pictured right) which can now be seen in the National Museum in Naples. The scene on the north wall is in-situ and features the Triumph of Bacchus while the fresco on the south wall has been lost. The subjects of the missing paintings in the side panels are also unknown.
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In the north east corner of the triclinium is a window which overlooks the small enclosed garden. The room has a fine mosaic floor in a black and white geometric design with a plain banded white border.
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The mythological scenes in the central panels of cubiculum (n) (pictured above) feature Seleme and Endymion on the west wall, Chiron and Achilles on the south wall and Nereide on a Seahorse on the east wall. The side panels contain standing figures, one of which is pictured opposite.

To the left of the tablinum a short flight of stairs leads to the two rooms on the north side of the garden. The first room (o) (pictured below) is decorated in the fourth style with red panels separated by painted columns above a lower red frieze. On the south wall is a window which overlooks the garden to the south. The adjoining room (p) is decorated in the fourth style with small panels framed in yellow and red on a white ground above a lower red and yellow frieze. It was in this general area that the painting after which the house was finally named was found. The painting (pictured lower right) depicts writing implements together with a scroll addressed to M. Lucretio.
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The raised garden (q) is the focus for a second series of rooms which are, unfortunately in a poor state of preservation. The garden acts as a backdrop to the whole house and features a stepped marble fountain feeding a circular pool beneath (pictured below and lower right). Once statuettes of satyrs and cupids were placed around the garden, but unfortunately these small artifacts are now lost or have been removed to storage.
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On the northern side of the garden is a large service area formed by the inclusion of the house at No.24. This service area includes a room (r) with a flight of stairs to the upper floor (pictured above) and its own tablinum, atrium (s) and street access (t) at No. 24.

The House of Marcus Lucretius was first excavated in 1846/47. The house was initially called the House of the Female Musicians from a fresco in the fauces. The name was later changed after the discovery of a painting including the name of Marcus Lucretius in a room on the north side of the garden.
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The house originally had a fairly standard atrium/garden plan, but this was altered when a second property (No.24) was included opening off the garden area, providing what was probably a service wing.
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The fauces opens directly onto a fairly square atrium (b) which has a central impluvium. The atrium has lost much of its fresco decoration. From the plaster remnants it would appear to have consisted of a yellow central zone above a lower red frieze. On the west wall of the atrium, immediately south of the fauces is a temple style lararium (d).

Two vaulted cubicula open off the north side of the atrium. Cubiculum (e) is decorated in the fourth style with white panels framed in yellow above a lower yellow frieze. The central panels contained mythological scenes; on the north wall (pictured opposite) that of a Satyr and a Maenad, on the west wall Narcissus with a Cupid (now in the National Museum in Naples) and on the east wall a much faded scene depicting Venus with Cupids.

In the side panels are painted standing figures. The upper zone consists of human figures and small scenes set in an architectural framework framed in red.
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Immediately to the east of cubiculum (f) is an ala (g) (pictured left). The ala is decorated in the fourth style with yellow panels above a lower red decorated frieze. A doorway on the north wall leads to the kitchen area and latrines (h) (pictured below). A second doorway, this time on the east wall, leads to a small room (i) with little or no decoration.
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Facing the entrance in the centre of the east wall is the tablinum (j). The walls retain some much faded plaster remnants. The large central pictures on both the side walls have been removed but unfortunately there is no record of the subject matter.

The tablinum has a fine mosaic floor (pictured left) in opus tesselatum, a geometric pattern in black and white, with a central panel in opus sectile. Running the full width of the north wall of the tablinum is a large window which overlooks the raised garden area to the east.

To the right of the tablinum is a large triclinium (k), pictured left. This room is richly decorated with yellow/red panels above a lower yellow and red lower frieze decorated with black rectangular panels containing floral motifs.
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The ala (l) lying on the south side of the atrium (pictured left) is decorated in the fourth style with red/yellow panels above a broad dark red decorative band containing rectangular panels featuring fantastic marine life. The panels in the middle zone contained frescoes which have long since been removed; the painting on the west wall was of a poet and a comic actor, but the subject matter of the other scenes is unknown.
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The upper zone features human figures set amongst fantastic architecture on a white ground. Like the triclinium, the ala has a fine black and white mosaic floor in a geometric pattern with a white banded border.
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Completing the rooms opening off the atrium are two further cubicula. Like the cubicula on the north side of the atrium, these rooms are decorated in the fourth style with white panels above a lower yellow frieze. The mythological scenes in cubiculum (m) include pictures of Galatae on the west wall, Cyparissus on the south wall and Polyphemus and Galatae on the east wall. In the side panels are rectangular panels with mythological themes on a dark red ground.
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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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