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House of Sallust

Description of the House (Reg VI, Ins 2, 3-5,30)

The House of Sallust is situated on the east side of the Via Consolare just south of its junction with the Vico di Narcisso (pictured below). The house is named after an election notice painted on the facade of the building in which Gaius Sallustius is recommended for office. The house is sometimes also referred to as the House of A. Cossus Libanus, after a seal of his found in the house.

The house was first excavated between 1805 and 1809. It was damaged by bombing during WWII but subsequently restored in 1970. The house belongs to the Samnite period and is typically built of blocks of tufa.

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The fauces (a) with its shops on either side (shop (b) is pictured above) opens onto a monumental atrium (pictured right and below). The treatment of the entrances to the tablinum (j) and the alae (i), with pilasters joined by projecting entablatures, the severe but simple first style decoration and the downlighting from the compluvium all add to the apparent height of the room.
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The triclinium (k), decorated in the first style, may have once belonged to the bakery; the anteroom leading to it was created out of one of the side rooms of the atrium. The remaining rooms on the sides of the atrium were cubicula. The alae and tablinum (pictured right) were, like the atrium, decorated in the first style. In its original layout, the rooms either side of the tablinum were entered from the atrium. The entrance to the room (m) on the left was blocked off at some time and a new large entrance created opening onto the colonnade to the rear. The room on the right was split into an andron (n) serving the colonnade and two smaller rooms. At the rear of the tablinum is a broad window overlooking the colonnade and garden.

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On the west side of the colonnade is a large triclinium (t) while off the north east corner is the kitchen area. The stairway in the kitchen led to the flat roof of the colonnade. This portion of the house probably dates from the latter part of the Republic and underwent only minor changes in the course of the century it was in use. Prior to this the area was probably a garden which was overlooked by a window in the rear wall of the east ala which was later sealed up.
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The rooms on the left (north) side (f - h) of the property were used as a bakery. Those at the front (b - e) were shops; two of them (b and c) at the time of the eruption opened onto the fauces and another (e) consisted of 3 interconnecting rooms, one of which was entered from a side street.

The rooms at the right (south) (s - v) were private apartments added later and connected with the rest of the house only by means of a corridor (l) which was converted from one of the side rooms of the main atrium.

The remainder of the property once formed a symmetrical whole from its Tuscan atrium and associated side rooms through to the small colonnaded garden at the rear. (A restored section through this part of the house is shown pictured left).
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The stately pre-Roman house appears to have been converted to an inn during Roman times; the shops either side of the entrance were altered to open onto the fauces as well as the street and the number of cubicula increased by the addition of a second floor reached by way of the stairway in room (o). Access to the private apartments on the south side was controlled by a porter stationed at the entrance (l).
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The narrow garden and colonnade (p) (pictured opposite) are on two sides of the house. In the north east corner of the garden is on open air triclinium (q) and a nearby altar. The room (r) in the south east corner of the garden was connected to the street at the rear (Vicolo di Modesto) by a posticum.
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The private apartments (s - v) present a marked contrast with the rest of the house. They are relatively low, the eight sided, dark red columns of the colonnade being less than 3 metres high and the dark shades of the decoration, which is in the fourth style on a black ground, give the apartments a more sombre appearance.
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There was a small fountain in the middle of the small garden (s) (pictured opposite), the rear wall of which is covered by a painting representing the Fate of Acteon, torn to pieces by his own hounds (pictured bottom left). To the right of this scene is a nymph in the guise of a statue, holding a fountain bowl. On either side of the garden is a cubiculum (u and v). On their outer walls are two paintings of similar design, Europa with the Bull and Phrixus and Helle and the Ram. The rear wall of the western cubiculum (v) contains frescoes of two pairs of lovers, Paris and Helen in the House of Menelaus and Ares and Aphrodite. The upper scene in the picture below is that of Ares and Aphrodite, while the smaller scene of Paris and Helen is much faded in the red panel beneath.
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