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Discovered Frescoes in Pompeii

Frescoes buried by Vesuvius were recently uncovered in an ancient dining room in Pompeii. For those who don’t subscribe, I have copied and pasted the article below from the Washington Post about this discovery:



This photo of the banquet room, released by the Pompeii archaeological park on Thursday, shows a fresco depicting mythological characters Apollo and Cassandra.

In the ancient city of Pompeii, which was preserved under a blanket of ash and smoke from the Mount Vesuvius volcano eruption in 79 A.D., archaeologists have uncovered a banquet room decorated with beautiful frescoes of mythological characters inspired by the Trojan War.

The room “provided a refined setting for entertainment during convivial moments, whether banquets or conversations,” the Pompeii archaeological park said in a statement Thursday.

The walls of the room were painted black to prevent the smoke from oil lamps being seen, explained Gabriel Zuchtriegel, the director of the Pompeii archaeological park.

“People would meet to dine after sunset; the flickering light of the lamps had the effect of making the images appear to move, especially after a few glasses of good Campanian wine,” he said in the same statement Thursday.

The room, with its frescoes and mosaics, was part of “an elegant lifestyle” of its ancient owners, according to the site.

Sophie Hay, an archaeologist in the park’s press office, said in an email Friday that while the room’s excavation began at the end of last year, “the exquisite wall paintings only started emerging just over a month ago.”

The area’s excavation is “incredibly important” and offers “a more complete story” of not just the city’s destruction, but also of the lives and deaths of some of its inhabitants, she said, adding: “The discovery of the black room intended for entertaining on a large scale sets the scene as to how rich Pompeiians propelled themselves in their society.”

Another photo released by the Pompeii archaeological park on Thursday shows the room with frescoes, where walls were painted black so they wouldn’t show the smoke from oil lamps.

The site at Pompeii contains more than 13,000 rooms across 1,070 residential units, the park says, in addition to public and sacred spaces. According to UNESCO, which lists it as a World Heritage site, Pompeii is “the only archaeological site in the world that provides a complete picture of an ancient Roman city.”

The paintings recently discovered included references to figures from the legendary Trojan War between the early Greeks and the people of Troy in Western Anatolia around the 12th or 13th century B.C., which is featured in ancient Greek works such as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, as well as in Roman literature.

The recently discovered artworks include a depiction of Helen of Troy and Paris, the son of the Trojan king, who is identified in an inscription by his Greek name, Alexandros. The images also show Cassandra, a figure from Greek mythology who could predict the future, and the god Apollo, who cursed her and left her unable to prevent the capture of Troy.

A photo from the Pompeii archaeological park shows a fresco of Helen of Troy and Paris, according to a Greek inscription placed between the two figures.

“The mythological couples provided ideas for conversations about the past and life, only seemingly of a merely romantic nature,” Zuchtriegel said.

“In reality, they refer to the relationship between the individual and fate: Cassandra who can see the future but no one believes her, Apollo who sides with the Trojans against the Greek invaders, but being a god, cannot ensure victory, Helen and Paris who, despite their politically incorrect love affair, are the cause of the war, or perhaps merely a pretext.”

A fresco of a mythological character from the Trojan War, in a photo from the Pompeii archaeological park.

Paintings of mythological figures often adorned the living and dining rooms of Roman houses, where they would entertain guests, the park said.

The uncovered room measured about 49 feet long and 20 feet wide, and opened onto a courtyard with a staircase to the first floor, the park said. Building materials were stored under arches beneath the staircase, where charcoal drawings of “two pairs of gladiators and what appears to be an enormous stylized phallus” were found.

Another fresco from the room at the Pompeii archaeological park.

The banquet room was discovered as part of ongoing excavation works in the Regio IX area of the site and a wider project to shore up the perimeter between excavated and unexcavated portions.

It is in the same area as two interconnected houses and a house with a bakery that have already been excavated.

“Pompeii is truly a treasure chest that never ceases to surprise and amaze us because, every time we dig, we find something beautiful and significant,” Italian Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano said, according to a statement.

Other recent discoveries in Pompeii include a prison bakery where enslaved workers and donkeys were held together, and a fresco that appears to show an ancient precursor to pizza.

A third of the area within the city’s walls has yet to be excavated, according to Hay, the archaeologist, who added that the work was “shedding light on the diverse lives of those who inhabited these properties.”

“We see in one property the evidence of a lavish life with entertaining at the heart of it,” she continued, “but just next door we see evidence of the dark side of life in Pompeii for enslaved people forced to live and work in harsh conditions in the bakery; the walls of which incarcerated these people.”

Mosaics from the black-walled banquet room.


What follows are Latin translations that I have done of Catullus, Ovid and Petronius. I hope that you enjoy them.


Carmina Catulli: 1 – 7


Lines 644-691 from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book Three with a photo by Stanley Stellar


Catullus 2: Passer, deliciae meae puellae


Translation of some of the Satyricon by Petronius kind of as a rock lyric

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