After almost two millennia, the ruins of Pompeii still continue to astound us with its rich archaeological legacy. Following the incredible discoveries of last year, the ancient Roman site has now revealed a magnificent fresco depicting the mythological character of Narcissus gazing at his own reflection. A rather popular trope found in many Classical artworks, the narrative of Narcissus falling in love with his own reflection gives rise to the oft-used term ‘narcissism’.
Pompeii Superintendent Massimo Osanna said –
…the whole ambience is pervaded by the theme of ‘joie de vivre’, beauty and vanity, underscored also by the figures of maenads and satyrs who, in a sort of Dionysian courtship dance, accompanied the visitors inside the public part of the ancient house. It is a deliberately luxurious, and probably dating back to the last years of the colony, as is testified by the extraordinary state of conservation of the colours.
This particular discovery was made at the Regio V, the northeastern section of the Pompeii archaeological park that still retains its fair share of mysteries due to relative archaeological inactivity (at the specific site) for the last 50 years. In fact, this particular zone revealed another famous mythological trope – via a fresco depicting Jupiter taking the form of a swan to impregnate Spartan queen Leda. The archaeologists responsible for the find, said –
Refined decorations of the fourth style characterise the entire Room of Leda. Delicate floral ornamental elements, interspersed with griffins and cornucopia, flying cherubs, still lifes and scenes of animals fighting abound. The harmony of these precious designs extended up to the ceiling, which collapsed in ruins under the weight of the volcanic stones called lapilli, but the fragments have been recovered by restorers who will put them back together.
The researchers further added –
Also very interesting, in the atrium of Narcissus, is the still visible trace of a staircase that led to the floor above, but above all the discovery in the space of a the stairwell, which was used as a store room, of a dozen glass containers, eight amphorae and a bronze funnel. Then, there is a bronze ‘situla’ (container for liquids) which was discovered next to the impluvium.
Images Credit: Archaeological Park of Pompeii