The House of Menander (Casa del Menandro) - part of the magnificence of the ancient Pompeii

In the olden times, Pompeii was an ancient settlement at the foot of the Vesuvius volcano, which became part of the Roman Empire in the 1st century before the New Age (BC). For about 150 years Pompeii has developed as an important provincial Roman center and port city. The inhabitants of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii and its region have led their everyday life, favored by natural resources, the fertile land that has given more than one harvest annually, the proximity to the sea and the important commercial maritime roads. The picturesque surroundings has been a preferred place and even a matter of prestige for building out-of-town houses of the rich Roman elite. In the ancient times, Pompeii was a well-planned city with long straight streets, zoned neighborhoods, large houses with landscaped courtyards, aqueducts and sewerage. The houses have been splendidly decorated with frescoes typical of the famous Pompean style, with wide atriums and therms. In the everyday life of its wealthy inhabitants were used magnificent silver and gilded vessels, artfully inlaid, many ceramic colorfully decorated vessels, and above all - the richly situated multicolored frescoes depicting scenes of renowned antique battles and heroes as well as scenes of birds and animals. The richly decoration have been a sign of prestige and social level in the hierarchical system of ancient Rome and Roman society. This was the once magnificent Roman city, located in the Italian region of Campania, at the foot of Vesuvius, but .... before the catastrophic natural power of the volcano rising above Pompeii to fall over it. The tragic destiny of the city and its inhabitants, which occurred in 79 AD, is known.  The antique city, buried by Vesuvius, remained completely preserved under the ashes for about 1670 years (more than 16 centuries and a half), until it was discovered in 1748 when the first archaeological excavations took place in the area. In nowadays, Pompeii is an amazing historic outdoor museum where it's still possible to stroll along its ancient streets and see the remains of the former magnificent houses, to go through the doors of the rooms, to remain fascinated by the appearance of  some frescoes, witnesses of the past life of its inhabitants....

The House of Menander has been one of the largest houses in Pompeii and was belonged to a relative of Emperor Nero through his second wife the Empress Poppea Sabina. The owner himself of this large complex of buildings, each with its own purpose, was Quintus Poppaeus Sabinus of the Poppeiian family. According to the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden), Leiden: "The House of Menander derives its name from a wall painting, showing the famous Athenian playwritht. Various annexations have made this house the largest of the whole block of houses, which the Romans called an island (island)".

The “House of Menander” has an area of about 1,800 m² (19,000 sq ft), and was excavated between 1926 and 1932. Obviously, the family of Quintus Poppaeus Sabinus has honored Menander - one of the most famous ancient Athenian dramatist and Greek New Comedy writer in the Early-Antique epoch because in the representative entrance of the house there is a magnificent colorful fresco of the seated Menander, in Portico.  Menander lived in the IV-III century before the New Era and was wrote more than 100 comedies. He was a student of Theophrastus, follower and successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. That's why the house is called "House of Menander".

According to: “A Guide to the Pompeii Excavations”.pdf, p.20; http://pompeiisites.org/
“This large house was involved in the development of building complexes and is a typical example of a home of a high-ranking family. The atrium has frescoes with scenes from the Iliad and the Odyssey. The peristyle is rhodium-shaped, with the north side higher. The house owes its name to a picture of Menander, an Athenian playwright, placed in the portico. The house has a small thermal area below which there is a basement, perhaps a cellar, where a box was found with 118 pieces of silverware, now on display at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. This treasure had been hidden before the restoration works began and constituted the family service. The crockery included shapes to serve wine but mostly plates and cups used at banquets. The south side leads to the rustic area, where the reconstruction of a wagon is exposed.”

The presented in Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden model of the "House of Menander" shows an impressive in its size complex of houses that belonged in the ancient times of one of the most prominent Roman families in Pompeii. This model was made by H.R. Allen, and is a gift from the University of Manchester, Department of Art History & Archaeology to the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden), Leiden, Netherlands.

Photos: own archive.

Related images

House of Menander, model by H.R. Allen in the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden

House of Menander, model by H.R. Allen in the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden

House of Menander, model by H.R. Allen in the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden

House of Menander, model by H.R. Allen in the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden

House of Menander, model by H.R. Allen in the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden

House of Menander, model by H.R. Allen in the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden

House of Menander, scheme of the model in the National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden, Netherlands

Related links

http://www.pompeionline.net/pompeii/houses.htm

http://www.ancienthistoryarchaeology.com/the-house-of-menander

https://sites.google.com/site/ad79eruption/pompeii/regio-i/reg-i-ins-10/house-of-menander

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casa_del_Menandro#/media/File:Casa_del_Menandro_Pompeii_14.jpg