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House of the Tragic Poet

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19th Century photograph of the House of the ragic !oet
!lan of the "ncient city of !ompeii# House of the ragic !oet marked $y the num$er 1%
The House of the Tragic Poet &also called The Homeric House or The Iliadic House' is
a typical (nd century )C *oman house in !ompeii, +taly, he house, or villa, is famous
for its ela$orate mosaic floors and frescoes depicting scenes from -reek mythology,
.iscovered in /ovem$er 1%(0 $y the archaeologist ", )onucci, the House of the ragic
!oet has captivated scholars and 1riters for generations, "lthough the si2e of the house
itself is in no 1ay remarka$le, its interior decorations are not only numerous $ut of the
highest 3uality among other frescoes and mosaics from ancient !ompeii, )ecause of the
mismatch $et1een the si2e of the house and the 3uality its decoration, much has $een
1ondered a$out the lives of the homeo1ners, 4nfortunately, little is kno1n a$out the
family mem$ers, 1ho 1ere likely killed $y the eruption of 5ount 6esuvius in 79 ".,
raditionally, !ompeii is geographically $roken up into nine regional areas, 1hich are
then further $roken up into insular areas, he House of the ragic !oet sat in Regio VI,
Insula 8, the far81estern part of !ompeii, he house faced the Via di Nola, one of
!ompeii9s largest streets that linked the forum and the :treet of the om$s, "cross the
Via di Nola from the House of the ragic !oet sat the Forum )aths of !ompeii,
1 =ayout
( "rt 1ithin the House of the ragic !oet
o (,1 6esti$ule
o (,( "trium
o (,> a$linum
o (,0 !eristyle
> :cholarly Fascination 1ith the House of the ragic !oet
0 *eferences
? :ee also
@ ABternal links
[edit] Layout
*ecreated model of the House of the ragic !oet
=ike many *oman homes of the time period, the House of the ragic !oet is divided
into t1o primary sections, he front, south8facing portion of the house serves as a
pu$lic, presentation8oriented space, Here, t1o large rooms 1ith out1ard8opening 1alls
serve as shops run $y the homeo1ners, or, less likely, as servants 3uarters, hese shops
lie on either side of a narro1 entrance1ay, or vesti$ule, "t the end of this hall sits the
atrium, the most decorated of the rooms 1ithin the House of the ragic !oet, Here, a
large rectangular impluvium, or sunken 1ater $asin sits $eneath an open ceiling,
collecting 1ater to $e used $y mem$ers of the household, /ear the northern end of the
impluvium sits a 1ellhead to $e used for dra1ing 1ater from the $asin, :till farther from
the entrance sits the tablinum, a second, open common area,
From these main areas eBtend smaller, private rooms, marking the second section of the
house, "long the 1estern 1all of the atrium lie a series of cubicula, or $edrooms,
Cpposite these lie an additional cubiculum, an ala &a service area for a dining room',
and an oecus &a small dining area', he northern end of the tablinum opens onto a large,
open peristyle, or garden courtyard, o the 1est of the peristyle sits the dra1ing room,
1hich, in the House of the ragic !oet, is $elieved to have $een used as the main dining
salon, "dDacent to the dra1ing room is a small kitchen area, /ear the east end of the
peristyle, a small $ack door opens onto an additional street, Finally, into north81estern
corner of the peristyle is $uilt a small lararium, or shrine to $e used in 1orshiping the
Lares amiliares, or family gods,
"lthough records and archaeological eBperts have confidently confirmed the eBistence
of an upper story in the House of the ragic !oet, little is kno1n a$out its specific
layout, as it 1as most likely destroyed $y the eruption of 5ount 6esuvius,
[edit] Art within the House of the Tragic Poet
[edit] Vestibule
5osaic .og from floor of vesti$ule
he vesti$ule floor 1as decorated 1ith a mosaic picture of a domesticated dog leashed
and chained to an ar$itrary point, )elo1 the figure 1ere the 1ords EC"6A C"/A5,F
an ancient 1arning e3uivalent to the modern E)e1are of ;the< .og,F hese 1ords,
much like similar signs today, 1arned visitors to enter at their o1n risk and served as
protection over the more private 3uarters of the home, he rest of the vesti$ule floor
1as decorated in a tesserae or checker8like pattern, in $lack and 1hite tiles, his pattern
1as framed $y a $order of t1o $lack stripes that surrounded the room,
[edit] Atrium
he atrium 1as the focal point of art in the House of the ragic !oet, "fter the House of
the 6ettii, it contained more large8scale, mythological frescoes than any other home in
!ompeii, Aach image 1as approBimately four feet s3uare, making figures slightly
smaller than life8si2e, he images in the atrium fre3uently feature seated men and
1omen in movement, he 1omen are usually the focus of the images, undergoing
important changes in their lives 1ithin the storylines of the famous -reek myths,
Cn the south 1all of the atrium 1ere t1o imagesGone of Heus and Hera on 5ount +da
and another of "phrodite &no1 almost entirely destroyed', he image of Heus and Hera
cele$rates a 1omanIs loss of virginityGa transition from youth to 1omanhoodGas
HeraIs veil is clearly removed from her head, sym$olically eBposing her face, he
image of "phrodite 1as most likely a nude, outdoor image 1ith other figures, 5any
scholars agree that the image 1as pro$a$ly a representation of the Judgment of !aris,
he image of Heus and Hera is part of the collection at the "rchaeological 5useum in
/aples, +taly,
"long the east 1all are scenes of "chilles and )riseis and of Helen and !aris, +n the
first image, "chilles is seen releasing )riseis to the -reek king "gamemnon, 1ho
removes her veil to sho1 her 1eeping face, +n the second image, Helen $oards ship to
travel $ack to her homeland of roy, "lthough no longer in the image, it is $elieved that
!aris 1as already seated in the $oat as Helen $oards, )oth of these images are part of
the collection at the "rchaeological 5useum in /aples,
he 1est 1all of the atrium sho1s images of "mphitrite and !oseidon and of "chilles
and "gamemnon, he first image, sometimes informally called the a$duction of
"mphitrite, sho1s Aros and !oseidon fighting, 1ith multiple nymphs surrounding and
nude, he second, kno1n as the Wrath of "chilles, depicts the storyline of the +liad,
1ith "chilles angered from losing )riseis,
Iphigenia in !ulis Wall painting from north 1all, east of peristyle
[edit] Tablinum
he ta$linum floor, like that of the vesti$ule, 1as decorated 1ith an ela$orate mosaic
image, Here, actors gather $ackstage preparing for a performance, as one character
dresses and another plays a flute, Cther characters surround a $oB of masks to $e used
during the performance, )ecause this mosaic is the centerpiece of the room and
therefore seemingly important, modern archaeologists came up 1ith the name JHouse
of the ragic !oetJ to descri$e the entire villa,
[edit] Peristyle
he semi8outdoor peristyle area featured an imaginary garden scene or paradeisos in the
trompe8l9Kil style, his image, it is assumed, 1as intended to $lend in 1ith the actual
garden that 1ould have gro1n 1ithin the unroofed portion of the peristyle, o the left of
the peristyle 1as a fresco kno1n as the :acrifice of +phigenia, in 1hich +phigenia is
taken $y 4lysses and "chilles to $e sacrificed Dust $efore "rtemis delivers a deer to $e
sacrificed in her place,
[edit] Scholarly Fascination with the House of the
Tragic Poet
)ecause so little is kno1n a$out its o1ners yet such a 1ealth of scenes from -reek
mythology 1ere found inside it, the House of the ragic !oet has served as the focus of
many 1orks of fiction and poetry, "mong the more famous 1orks is =ord Ad1ard
)ul1er =ytton9s The Last "ays o# $ompeii, in 1hich the author invents the personal life
of the o1ner $ut rather accurately descri$es the house9s details, "nother 1ell8kno1n
1ork is 6ladimir Janovic9s The House o# the Tragic $oet, an epic poem imaged from the
mosaic and fresco images throughout the villa,
"rt historians and Classics scholars have long $een fascinated $y the House of the
ragic !oet $ecause of the uni3ue 1ay in 1hich it DuBtaposes images from different
periods and locations throughout mythological -reece, /o single angle 1ithin the villa
allo1s one to vie1 all of the images present, +nstead, one is re3uired to move around the
villa, looking at different com$inations of pieces, his logistical fact allo1s vie1ers to
dra1 on larger themes of -reek mythology, especially on the relationships $et1een the
po1erful men and 1omen and also the deities of ancient -reece,
[edit] eferences
/appo, :alvatore &19%%', $ompeii% &uide to the Lost 'ity, =ondon: Weidenfeld L
/icolson, 10(810?,
=ytton, =ord Ad1ard )ul1er &1%>0', The Last "ays o# $ompeii, /e1 Mork: 5errill and
)aker, >?801,
)ergmann, )ettina &June 1990', Jhe *oman House as 5emory heater: he House of
the ragic !oet in !ompeiiJ, The !rt (ulletin !" &(': ((?8(?@,
[edit] See also
House of the 6ettii
House of the Faun
House of =oreius i$urtinus
[edit] #$ternal lin%s
/ational "rchaeological 5useum
*etrieved from Jhttp:NNen,1ikipedia,orgN1ikiNHouseOofOtheOragicO!oetJ