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Pompeii‎ > ‎Regio VII‎ > ‎Reg VII, Ins 1‎ > ‎

House of Siricus

Description of the House (Reg VII, Ins 1, 47, 46, 25)

The House of Siricus or the House of Vedius Siricus and Vedius Nummianus lies on the Vicolo dei Lupanare, a narrow winding street which joins the Via degli Augustali with the Via dell'Abbondanza. The house was initially excavated in the mid 1850s and again in 1862 and 1872. The house is a double atrium house composed of two linked properties with separate entrances at door No. 47 on the Vicolo dei Lupanare and door No. 25 on the Via Stabiana. The house derives its name from inscriptions containing the name Siricus found next to these two main entrances.
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The fauces opens onto a square atrium (c) which has a central impluvium. The impluvium is lined with fine white marble and is ornamented by two marble tables and a plinth which once supported a small statue come fountain. On the right of the impluvium is a puteal of Tiburtine stone.

Opposite the entrance, is the tablinum (d) (pictured lower right). The tablinum, which is open to the atrium over its full width, was undecorated, and seems to have been used for business purposes. The bones of a dog and many other objects were found in this room, among them a bronze seal with the letters SIRICI in relief, and a large gold ring set with a cornelian engraved with a man's
head.

Opening off the north east corner of the atrium is the triclinium (e) which overlooks the garden to the east. The triclinium is decorated in the fourth style with black panels separated by red and yellow zones, with candelabra and architectural members mixed with birds, dolphins, Tritons and masks and in the middle of each panel is a bacchante. In the centre of each wall is a small mythological scene.
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In the centre of the north side of the atrium is a large exedra (f) which is decorated with orange panels with broad dark red frames flanking central panels containing large mythological scenes (pictured below). Separating the central panels from the orange side panels are scenes of fantastic architecture set on a white ground. The scene on the west side of the exedra shows Neptune and Apollo presiding over the building of Troy (pictured right). Neptune, armed with his trident, is seated while Apollo, crowned with laurel, is standing, and leans with his right arm on a lyre.
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The scene on the north wall (pictured right) depicts a drunken Hercules, crowned with ivy, lying on the ground at the foot of a cypress tree. He is clothed in a sandy, a short transparent tunic, and has on his feet sandals, one of which he has kicked off. He supports himself on his left arm, while the right is raised in drunken ecstasy.

On the east wall is a picture of Vulcan presenting the arms of Achilles to Thetis. The celebrated shield is supported by Vulcan on the anvil, and displayed to Thetis, who is seated, whilst a winged female figure standing at her side points out to her with a rod the marvels of its workmanship.

The upper zone, a detail from which is pictured opposite, displays a perspective view showing a large portal on either side of a central alcove containing a statue set on a pedestal. The intervening spaces are festooned with ribbons and hanging garlands.

On the left of the fauces is an open room with two doors, one opening on a wooden staircase leading to an upper floor, the other onto cubiculum (g) which is decorated in the fourth style with alternating red and yellow panels on a white ground. The panels contain the symbols of the principal deities; the eagle and globe of Jupiter, the peacock of Juno, the lance, helmet, and shield of Minerva, the panther of Bacchus, a Sphinx, having near it the mystical chest and sistrum of Isis and lastly the caduceus of Mercury. There are also two small landscapes. The room is lit by a window high on the west wall.
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This second part of the property
was at first considered as a separate house and has been called the House of the Russian Princes from some excavations carried out in 1851 in the presence of the sons of the Emperor of Russia. The non- standard features observable in this part are that the atrium (m) and peristyle (n) are broader than they are deep, and are not separated by a tablinum and other rooms, but simply by a wall.
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In the centre of the atrium, entered by way of fauces (l) (pictured right), is a marble lined impluvium (pictured below). On the west side of the impluvium is a square pillar, veneered with marble, from which a fountain sprayed water into a square basin that was supported by a base of white marble.
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The description of the decoration of those rooms of the house where no photographic material is available is based on the early book Pompeii: Its History, Buildings And Antiquities by Thomas H. Dyer published in 1875.
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The fauces (a), which opens off the east side of the Vicolo dei Lupanare, has lost most of its decoration, the remaining plaster being too weathered to allow a realistic description. The fauces has a dark gray pavement set with rows of small pieces of white marble. Next to the threshold to the atrium are inset the words SALVE LUCRUM, hail profit (pictured left).

On the south side of the fauces a narrow doorway
opens onto a an oecus (b) which is decorated in the fourth style with a white central zone divided into individual panels by red lines and candelabra. In the middle of each panel are vignettes of griffins and swans set amongst fantastic architecture. The room is lit by a window high in its west wall.
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The first of these, which has been removed and is now in the National Archeological Museum in Naples, shows Aeneas in the company of Mnestheus, Achates, and young Ascanius being attended by the surgeon, lapis. Aeneas supports himself with a lance in his right hand and leans with the other on the shoulder of his son while lapis, kneeling on one leg, is intent on extracting the barb of an arrow with his forceps.
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The remaining two pictures are both badly damaged and the subject matter unclear. One of the scenes may be of Turnus, Lavinia, and Amata while the other shows Hermaphrodite surrounded by six nymphs.
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Between the exedra and the triclinium is a passageway which leads to a small bakery (h) (pictured left) complete with oven. Next to the oven were found fragments of a millstone and catallus. A narrow corridor on the west side of the bakery leads to a secondary entrance (i) on the Vicolo dei Lupanare at door No. 46.
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From the atrium an andron to the north of the tablinum leads to the peristyle and garden (j) which is porticoed on two sides. Three steps (k) on the north side of the peristyle (in the extreme right of the picture opposite) connect this part of the house with the other portion which has its entrance on the Via Stabiana.

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Next to the impluvium was a marble table supported on two legs which were sculpted with the images of a chimaera and a griffin. On the table was found a little bronze group composed of Hercules armed with his club, and a young Phrygian kneeling before him.

On the west side of the atrium a wide doorway opened onto the peristyle (n). The peristyle is about fourteen metres broad by eleven metres deep (pictured left in an old sketch). The inner margins of the portico were sustained by ten fluted columns while the walls of the portico were painted with alternating red and yellow panels. The panels were ornamented with figures of Latona, Diana and maenads. The rooms off the west side of the peristyle were a triclinium (o), an oecus (p) with two pillars richly ornamented with scrolls and foliage and, in the south west corner, a cubiculum (q).

Four skeletons were found in the house five metres above the original ground level. Four metres lower was a fifth skeleton. It appears likely that these persons perished while searching for valuables after the catastrophe.



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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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