Friday, March 27, 2015

Classical Italy Day 4: a lifelong student (part 2)

The students think it is hysterical that I would take a selfie. I think my kids will want to see more than just wall paintings. 

A two hour tour of Pompeii was thorough and almost kept student interest the whole time.  Our tour guide Anna Levi explained the Roman pipe system and roads especially well.  After a tour of Pompeii's forum, we split up to explore Pompeii on our own.  This next hour was the best I have ever spent in Pompeii and I have been at least seven times.  I headed quickly for the section of the city I hadn't explored yet -- the houses on the northern side.  My first find was the house of Apollo.  In it there was a room with a wonderful mosaic and a still vibrant and detailed fresco.  I was also struck by the expression on a woman's face in a fresco along the vestibulum (entryway of the house).

was struck by her demure smile and eyes

The protected room in the corner of the House of Apollo

  A mosaic with shells in the wall (most mosaics were found in the ground)

                       What a room!

Look at the illusion of marble in the fresco

 Shading and perspective (got a woah from Malcolm Reynolds when I showed it to him -- he was impressed by the artistic  ability of the painter)

One street over I discovered the house of the Prince of Naples.  It was so called because he apparently gave money to help with the excavation. Many houses are named from a feature found within such as the house of the faun in which a statue of a faun was discovered. Keeping with Pompeiian nomenclature, I would like to call this the house of Perseus and Medusa.  There was a wonderful fresco of Perseus and Andromeda with Medusa's head in Perseus' hands and a reflection if her head in the water.  A few things a peculiar about the fresco.  Why is her reflection not a true reflection. The head should be facing the other way.  Pompeiians knew about perspective and reflection as evidenced by the next house, the house of the very large altar (Casa Dell'ara Massima), in which Narcissus sits staring at his own reflection.  Notice the accurate position of the head in his reflection.  In addition, it is peculiar that Perseus would hold the head before Andromeda because he wouldn't want to turn his lover to stone. 

Notice the reflection in the pool below

Notice the reflection in the lower left corner

Same style as the woman in the house if Apollo. Same artist perhaps?

I found a great lararium (shrine to the household gods) in the Casa degli amorini dorsati. 

This small shrine would have had a figurine or statue of the household god (Lar)

Amidst the candy shop of houses filled with colorful treats, I discovered a drain for a fountain.  It had a small man-size hole so naturally I crawled in. Inside there were slanted floors which appeared to channel the water to the drain.  In front of me there was a long tunnel through which the water would enter the city.  Although only three feet high, all six feet of me managed to squeeze down the 30 meter tunnel to the light on the other side.  I popped up only to discover that I was outside a wall and in a man hole surrounded by five feet high railings.  The best part, however, was startling the couple who happened to be walking by and jumped as they saw me pop out and look around like a gopher from his hole.  

A flashlight would have been helpful.  Always bring one when traveling. I had left mine on the bus.  

In one final house, Casa Della Caccia Antica, I saw some frescos with wonderful 4th style Pompeian frescos in which the columns look fanciful and spindly more thin garlands. 

4th style Pompeian frescoes

I hope you have enjoyed some of these finds as much as I did.  It was an incredibly productive, but more so, soul enriching hour.  I dashed down to meet the students at the exit and hop on the bus.  

Stay tuned for part three.  Yep, it keeps getting better. 

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