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Pompeii‎ > ‎Regio VI‎ > ‎Reg VI, Ins 9‎ > ‎

House of Meleager

Description of the House (Reg VI, Ins 9, 2, 13)

The House of Meleager, situated on the Via di Mercurio, was first excavated in 1829, then again in 1836 and 1966. Behind its simple facade (pictured below) this Samnite house hides an interior richly decorated in a mixture of first, third and fourth styles.
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The fauces (a), which opens off the east side of the Via di Mercurio, is decorated in the fourth style with red panels separated by architectural motifs above a lower black frieze. The central panel on each side contains a mythological scene; on the left side (north) is the now much faded painting of Meleager and Atalanta after which the house was named, while on the southern side is a painting of Demeter and Hermes. The fauces (pictured right) has a fine black and white mosaic floor in a geometric pattern.
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The fauces opens onto the western side of the atrium (b) (pictured above) which has a central marble-lined impluvium with a rectangular marble table at its eastern end. Due to the limited space available, the house has an irregular layout with the peristyle set off the main atrium/tablinum axis, being accessed directly from the north side of the atrium.

The atrium has rooms ranged round the other three sides. This part of the house is in a generally poor condition, with little surviving decoration.
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The central panels each contained a mythological scene (long since removed) while the side panels held floating figures. The upper zone (pictured right) contains human figures set amongst fantastic architecture with bird life and small scenic pictures on a white ground. As well as being accessible off the atrium, this room also opens directly onto the peristyle to the north.

The service room (d) off the south west corner of the atrium has a flight of stairs to the upper floor. This room, together with the cubicula (e) and the triclinium (f) are in a semi-ruinous state with a few surviving plaster remnants. One particularly attractive fresco was removed from the westmost cubiculum before weathering took its toll. It features a Cupid leading Zeus's eagle to Ganymede (pictured lower right). It can now be seen in the National Museum in Naples.

On the east side of the atrium is the tablinum (g). This room is also in a very poor state of repair, stripped of its fresco decoration with only bare walls and a few plaster remnants as witness to many years of neglect.
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When first excavated the walls of the room were alive with frescoes. In the centre of the north wall was the mythological scene of Io and Argo (pictured above) while on the south wall was the picture of Mars and Venus (pictured right) - both frescoes can now be seen in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. Immediately to the north of the tablinum is a corridor which leads to the service area and kitchen (h).
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In the centre of the peristyle is a garden (j) with a large central fountain and pool (pictured below).
There are no rooms off the western and northern sides of the peristyle, but there are three imposing rooms arranged along its eastern flank.
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The triclinium (n) off the north east corner of the peristyle is decorated in the third style with alternating black and red panels above a lower black decorated frieze (pictured below). The frieze contains standing and reclining figures, still lifes and, in the centre of the real wall, a griffin.
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When the house was first excavated the best frescoes adorning the atrium were removed and can now be seen in the National Museum in Naples. The mythological scenes depicted included Dido Abandoned (pictured above) and Hephaestus and Thetis.
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The best preserved of the rooms ranged round the atrium is the cubiculum (c) off its north west corner. The room is decorated in the fourth style (pictured left) with sky blue panels featuring fantastic architecture above a lower dark red decorated frieze.
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A wide portal on the north side of the atrium opens onto a large peristyle (i) (pictured left). The walls of the peristyle have lost much of their decorative detail due to weathering. The decoration included many mythological scenes, most of which were removed when the property was first excavated, which was perhaps not such a bad thing due to the current state of preservation. The frecsoes included paintings of Hymenaeus, Thetis and Apollo and scenes featuring Adonis and Aphrodite and the Fight between Pan and Eros (pictured below).
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The most unusual of these three rooms is the oecus
(k) which has an internal Corinthian colonnade and is decorated in the third style with yellow panels on a yellow ground above a lower dark red decorated frieze (pictured left and below).
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The oecus has a fine white mosaic floor bordered by two narrow black bands. The threshold to the room consists of a black and white geometric mosaic.
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Immediately to the south of this oecus is a smaller room (l) which is in a poor state of repair. The room on the north side of the central oecus fared much better and retains much of its third style decoration (pictured left).
The side panels on each wall contain a painted sky blue carpet on a red ground while the central panel holds a large mythological scene. Beneath this central zone is a lower black frieze (left and below) which contains reclining female figures either side of a male posed supporting the upper architecture.
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The triclinium has a white mosaic floor with a border consisting of two narrow black bands. The threshold of the triclinium consists of a black and white mosaic in a geometric pattern.
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To the west of the triclinium is a room (o) with stairs to a cellar while to the east are a series of service rooms. In the far north east corner is a posticum (p) which opens onto Vico del Fauno at No.13.




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