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La Victoire de Samothrace, Unknown, 190 BC

House of the Vettii


1st c. AD


If the House of the Faun oozed elegance and sophistication, the House of the Vettii was a house of "nouveaux riches".

It's believed to have been the home of two freedmen, whose names were found on a gold ring and bronze stamps.

It's one of the richest and best-preserved villas of Pompeii.

The villa is famous for its (well preserved and rude!) frescoes.

In the hallway, Priapus can be seen weighing his giant member on a set of scales.

This wasn't unusual. Priapus was the god of fertility and abundance, and phallic symbols were placed everywhere for good luck.

Fun fact : it's thought that the little marks near the fresco were there to hold a shutter, which could be opened or closed for visitors in exchange of payment.

Like all Roman houses, the atrium was the most important room in the house, where the family would relax and welcome guests.

The open roof would bring light in and help ventilate the house, as well as collect drinkable rain water.

The room is lined with friezes of children carrying vases and Cupids riding tiny tortoises and lobsters.

Off the atrium is the living room.

It has a fresco of Cyparissus, loved by Apollo. Apollo gave Cyparissus a stag as a token of love but Cyparissus killed it by mistake when hunting. His sadness was such that he turned into a cypress tree.

The room also has a fresco of Dionysus and his wife Ariadne watching a fight between Pan and Eros (gods of the wild and of love).

The living room by contrast, has gruesome frescos.

The first represents Pentheus, king of Thebes, being shred to pieces by his mother and sister, who mistook him for a lion.

The second fresco represents Dirce being crushed by a bull on orders from her nephews.

The third fresco represents Hercules, an illegitimate son of Zeus, strangling snakes in his crib sent by Hera, Zeus' legitimate wife.

To the right the conversation room looks into the garden.

Archeologists have managed to replant the vegetation in the exact place where it would have initially been planted.

The room has frescoes of Dionysos lustfully watching over his wife Ariadne ; Ixion, the king of a Greek tribe, being attached to a wheel of burning fire and Pasiphae lusting after a golden cow.

The room on the right is the dining room, with frescos of small Cupids pressing wine, training at archery, racing in chariots...