The Domus of Marcus Lucretius Fronto

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The Domus of Marcus Lucretius Fronto…is one of the finest atrium houses in Pompeii

Behind a simple façade, along the street perpendicular to Via di Nola, there is one of the finest atrium houses in Pompeii…

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The Domus of Marcus Lucretius Fronto


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Behind a simple façade, along the street perpendicular to Via di Nola, there is one of the finest atrium houses in Pompeii.  While its original structure dates back to the second century BC, by the age of Augustus (end of the century.BC – beginning of the first century AD) it was inhabited by one of the c i t y ’ sleading families. Electoral inscriptions found on the façade during the excavations suggest that the owner’s name was Marcus Lucretius Fronto, a cultured man, who set out for a brilliant political career.

Though modest in size (about 460 m²), the house brims over with paintings befitting the elite status of its owner; albeit its simple furniture, it provided rich intellectuals stimuli through the paintings, which belong to the late Third Style. The central area of the house consists of the atrium and tablinum 2, 7, decorated with paintings in the late Third Style showing mythological scenes. The principal frescoes in the tablinum 7 are set next to small paintings with a black background, held by candelabra, depicting sumptuous imaginary villas overlooking the sea.



In the middle of the left wall, a dark-skinned Mars is bending over Venus, clearly with amorous intentions, in the presence of Cupido; on the opposite wall Bacchus and Ariadne are represented on a chariot. In the cubiculum 6, painted in deep yellow, two moralizing scenes are represented: on the left wall a cupid with cornucopia is placed next to Narcissus admiring his reflection in the water.Puttino_140417094353
On the other wall, Pero is nursing her old, imprisoned father Cimon, saving him from death by starvation. Two medallions with portraits of children placed next to the door suggest that the room might have belonged to the owner’s sons.

The decoration in the Fourth Style was probably part of the restoration work done in the room after 62 AD. In the triclinium 4, which is currently being restored, there is a picture with the murder of Neoptolemus by Orestes against a backdrop showing an imaginary  Delphic temple, while Hermione appears in despair at the foot of an altar.

The rear of the house is occupied to the left by a kitchen area, a viridarium and a portico with several small rooms opening towards it. On the left wall of the triclinium 12 Dionysus and a Silenus are depicted. In the neighbouring room 14, the skeletons of five adults and three children were discovered. They were crushed by the collapse of the roof during the eruption that destroyed the city in 79 AD. On the north wall of the garden area one can still recognize a hunting fresco with wild animals (lions, panthers, and bears) as well as domestic animals (bulls, oxen, horses).

The southern part of the wall painting was damaged when ancient diggers made a hole in order to enter the house (so called “cunicolari”). At the time of the eruption, restoration work was being done in the garden as an amphora full of lime, found under the stairs, demonstrates..

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